According to Michael J. Papa, the author of Organizational Communication, “a corporation that focuses on horizontal communication places more importance on fostering collaboration than managing work. When a company expands, lateral or horizontal communication is an intelligent approach to maintain a sense of unity and have all of its parts work towards the same objectives.”
The act of exchanging information like knowledge, experiences, ideas, and so on across organizational boundaries, such as those among peers who report to the same manager or within a community, peer groups, departments, or administrative units, is known as horizontal communication, which is interchangeable with lateral communication.
Effective lateral communication entails the sharing of information among as well as among organizational constituents. As per the notion, knowledge in an organization doesn't pass vertically or from top to bottom. As a result, a company needs to be aware of its culture and organizational structure, which are the two main factors affecting the effectiveness of this communication style. For instance, peers at each hierarchical level should swiftly interpret and relay information directives communicated from upper to middle or lower positions on the hierarchy between and among peers at similar hierarchical levels.
Other than horizontal or lateral communication, there are generally two other types of communication: vertical and diagonal.
Vertical communication is conducted with individuals at various levels of the hierarchy. In other words, according to a linear system that relies on designations, information is handed from one employee to the next. This method is used when a corporation has a hierarchical structure or communicates sensitive or essential information.
Diagonal communication is the method used by employees from several organizational divisions and administrative levels to communicate with one another. This strategy is frequently employed when a company has an informal structure.
Effective communication is crucial to a company's success regardless of the business. Teams or departments within the organization are interdependent and work together to achieve a shared objective, yet they are separated based on roles and responsibilities. Communication between the teams should be seamless, like water flowing from one end to the other, because they must follow each team's outputs or updates.
Despite the company allocates a budget for fun activities with a clear objective of making every team member aware of each other to improve team coordination, it is impossible to do it successfully. There is a probability of attaining operational success if communication standards are created.
If internal communication is poor, it can halt the company's growth, hindering productivity, causing losses, diminishing employees’ morale, affecting customer relationships & operations flow, and slowing down the capabilities of products or services while stifling creativity and the spirit of entrepreneurship. Thus, companies should spend ample time establishing effective communication strategies and formulate every possibility of adhering to the standards.
The following are some of the elements that help promote horizontal communication.
Limit or restrict the amount of time dedicated to planning and communicating with departments, depending on the size of your project. You must be sure to ask for feedback and participate in the conversation. Following implementation, the strategy must constantly be continued, and you must solicit input from the relevant staff. This will allow you to adjust ongoing projects; if nothing else, it will aid future projects. For a complete solution, you must comprehend the issue at hand. After that, you can describe how to enhance communication.
Do not send emails for trivial matters. Even though you must convey every update, this does not imply that you or your team must spend time typing out the entire email when you can use your workplace collaboration software instead of sending instant messages. Moreover, instant messaging could be more formal. It saves time and effort not to worry about formal introductions or closings. The team communication tools available today are excellent in providing necessary Group chat privileges, like Troop Messenger. Create groups based on the project and limit information sharing to the project only.
Meetings for projects, as well as the length of time and frequency of communication across various departments, are all desirable traits. Use a flowchart to show how department heads and members are connected within the organization regarding communication frequency and timing. This will make management more aware of the horizontal transmission's core.
Aggressive behaviors among team members more concerned with self-success than team performance are one of the problems with a workplace culture that frequently obstructs efficient horizontal communication. It is vitally important to inform them about the purpose and significance of a team, and as a manager, you must share some productivity quotes pertaining to team coordination. Yet, rewarding incompetent workers can seriously harm team morale, so use the best employee recognition software, to be precise.
The benefits of horizontal communication include the following.
When team members understand the value of working together, they look forward to doing so, and it won't seem like depending but rather like teamwork. It is easier for coworkers to develop innovative solutions to challenges when they engage, collaborate, and discuss with employees of various departments. Most employees would choose a more direct approach when communicating with a team at the same hierarchical level. You can solve the issues between employees, and their relations will improve, but some experts believe there may be a risk of over-communication. Hence, to prevent misunderstandings, keep your communication focused on your tasks and ensure your goals and objectives are well-defined.
As was already noted, lateral communication involves employees at various levels connecting; this provides you the distinct advantage of being attentive to their issues. It aids in creating the optimal office environment for cooperation, teamwork, and other attributes. Poor communication can leave individuals trapped in their positions, while lateral communication promotes greater equality and flexibility at work.
Organizational activities involve the use of several departments or groups. For an organization to achieve its core goal, lateral communication helps different departments more easily coordinate their efforts.
Allowing horizontal communication among subordinates makes it easier to implement the policy and guarantees improved decision-making. When workers develop their skills in effective lateral communication and strengthen their ability to express their ideas and opinions, they will accomplish more at work and have greater self-esteem.
With lateral communication, information sharing will be of superior quality. A similar degree of experience, communication style, and acquaintance with industry terminology will make the engagement more beneficial for everyone involved. The exchange of information between sender and receiver is allowed directly, so there won't be any information distortion. They can talk about issues openly and honestly because of it. This leads to better interpretation, which makes it easier for employees to perform their responsibilities.
In every industry, communication is inexorably important. It is the only element with so many perks and no drawbacks. As a result, most businesses put a great deal of emphasis on internal communication. Effective communication will foster loyalty, resolving conflicts between the team, employee relationships, team collaboration, and other factors contributing to the business's success. Employing horizontal communication is one of the important organizational trends since it provides the above outstanding benefits.