Information can move horizontally, from a Sender to a Receiver, as we’ve seen. It can also move vertically, down from top management or up from the front line. Information can also move diagonally between and among levels of an organisation, such as a Message from a customer service representative up to a manager in the manufacturing department, or a Message from the chief financial officer sent down to all department heads.
There is a chance for these arrows to go awry, of course. In large organisations, the dilution of information as it passes up and down the hierarchy, and horizontally across departments, can undermine the effort to focus on common goals. Managers need to keep this in mind when they make organisation design decisions as part of the organising function.
The organisational status of the Sender can affect the Receiver’s attentiveness to the Message. For example, consider: A senior manager sends a memo to a production supervisor. The supervisor, who has a lower status within the organisation, is likely to pay close attention to the Message. The same information conveyed in the opposite direction, however, might not get the attention it deserves. The Message would be filtered by the senior manager’s perception of priorities and urgencies.
Requests are just one kind of communication in business. Other communications, both verbal or written, may seek, give, or exchange information. Research shows that frequent communications with one’s supervisor are related to better job performance ratings and overall organisational performance. Research also shows that lateral communication done between peers can influence important organisational outcomes such as turnover.