A Business Encyclopedia

Formal Communication

Definition: The Formal Communication is the exchange of official information that flows along the different levels of the organizational hierarchy and conforms to the prescribed professional rules, policy, standards, processes and regulations of the organization.

The formal communication follows a proper predefined channel of communication and is deliberately controlled. It is governed by the chain of command and complies with all the organizational conventional rules. In the organizational set up the formal communication can observe any of the following forms:

Formal Communication

  1. Downward Communication: The downward communication is when the information passes from the management level to the subordinate level. This is the most common form of formal communication wherein communication flows downwards, i.e. from the people occupying top positions in the organization to the people at lower levels.

    It mainly includes orders and instructions and can either be written or oral depending on the importance of the message and also the status of individuals involved in the communication process. Reports, emails, letters, manuals, etc. are the commonly used communication tools.

  2. Upward Communication: The upward communication is when the message passes from the subordinate level to the management level. Here, the communication flows upwards i.e. from the subordinates to the managers in the form of request, reports, suggestions, complaints, and instructions.
  3. Horizontal or Lateral Communication: Horizontal communication means when the Co-workers with different areas of responsibilities, but at the same level in the organization communicate with each other. The communication between the managers of a different department, such as marketing, finance, production, HR, is the best example of horizontal communication.
  4. Diagonal or Crosswise Communication: When the employees of different departments at different levels communicate with each other irrespective of the chain of command, then the communication is said to be a diagonal or a cross-wise communication. The communication between the floor manager and the sales team is the example of diagonal communication.

The way in which the formal communication can be facilitated is called as the formal communication network. There are several forms of Formal Communication Network that individuals use to get their message transmitted to others.

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