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Horizontal communication:

Horizontal communication normally involves coordinating information, and allows

people with the same or similar rank in an organization to cooperate or collaborate.
Communication among employees at the same level is crucial for the accomplishment of
work. Horizontal Communication is essential for:

Solving problems
Accomplishing tasks
Improving teamwork
Building goodwill
Boosting efficiency

Horizontal communication is the flow of messages across functional areas at a given

level of an organization. With horizontal communication, people at the same level
communicate directly without going through several levels of organization. Given these
connections, members within an organization have an easier time with problem solving,
information sharing across different work groups and horizontal communication "can also
enhance morale and afford a means for resolving conflicts.
According to research done by John E. Spillan, Mary Mino, and M. Susan Rowles,
"lateral communication involves not only the movement of information from the upper
levels to the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy but also is defined primarily as
the quality of information sharing among peers at similar levels. Specifically, lateral
communication occurs among coworkers, during staff meetings and informational
presentations, throughout shift changes, and among employees regardless of peer types.
Horizontal communication is less formal and structured than both downward
communication and upward communication, and may be carried our through informal

discussions, management gossip, telephone calls, teleconferencing, videoconferencing,

memos, routine meetings and so on.

The main objectives of horizontal communication are developing teamwork, and
promoting group coordination within an organization. It takes place between professional
peer groups or people working on the same level of hierarchy.
Another objective is to keep organizational personnel informed of all current practices,
policies, and procedures

Media of horizontal communication:

Horizontal communication is less formal and structured than both downward
communication and upward communication, and may be carried out through the
following media:
Informal discussions
Management gossip
Telephone calls
Videoconferencing and so on.

Forms/ methods of horizontal communication:

Horizontal communication is widely used in the organization to effect communication
among the peers. To make horizontal communication complete, both written and verbal
forms are used.
Written forms of horizontal communication include:

Reports, etc.

Verbal forms of horizontal communication include:

Telephonic conversation
Face-to-face conversation

Interviews, etc.

Both the mentioned methods are popular to make horizontal communication in an

Organization. Their presences are equally significant

Barriers to horizontal communication:

The barriers to communication are things or people that hinder effective interactions or
relationships. Communication barriers are things that affect the flow of communication.
These barriers interrupt the flow of communication from the sender to the receiver
Companies must develop a working environment that is conducive to open, trusting
caring relationships between peoplean environment that welcomes new ideas and
encourages constructive feedback; one in which management actively serves as a catalyst
for nurturing and then disseminating new ideas. One of the functions of management is to
recognize communication barriers so that the organization can avoid them. Discussed
below are some of the most significant communication barriers to avoid.

Rigid adherence to organizational charts:

Organization charts in a company neither define relationships as they actually exist nor
direct the lines of communication. If the organization doesnt reside in the minds and
hearts of the people, it doesnt exist

Management isolation:
Management should keep in mind that creating lavish executive offices, having
administrative assistants construct what amounts to barbed-wire enclosures around those
executive offices, establishing perquisitesthe corner office, executive parking spaces,
separate executive floors, private washrooms and dining rooms, limos, even flying first
class when others sit in coachloudly proclaim who is boss. These perks increase
personal distance and ensure that people feel that their leaders are unapproachable

The development of caste systems:

The caste system creates artificial barriers that inhibit communication. For example, does
your organization encourage clear language or is jargon the norm? Are there
opportunities for people at different levels and in different functional groups to spend
time with one another, or is there socializing only along status lines?

The existence of physical barriers:

Distance poses another kind of problem in the workplace. People communicate most with
those physically closest to them. Thomas Allen of MIT notes that beyond a distance of
25 or 30 yards, personal interaction drops off markedly. That is why it is important for
management to try to bring together as much as possible those who work together.

Poor listening habits:

When report cards are given out for how well we listen, very few of us would receive
passing grades. Barriers to listening include assuming a subject is uninteresting and
tuning out, focusing on the delivery rather than the content, reacting too quickly before
the message is completed, picking up on emotional words and not hearing the rest of the
message, listening only for facts rather than trying to absorb ideas, allowing yourself to
be distracted, and avoiding listening to subjects that you dont understand. Everyone must
learn to overcome these barriers.
Other than the mentioned aspects some other difficulties may arise. Such as:
Team engages in unhealthy competition, causing employees to withhold information
from each other in hopes of using it to their own advantage.
Peers have a perception of favoritism which may lead employees to shun the one being
seen as favored by the boss.
Employees experience jealousy of another employee success which may lead to
employees gossiping or back stabbing in an attempt to bring the successful peer down.
Employees engage in increased rumor spreading which may damage people's careers
and reputations.
When managed correctly, horizontal communication in the workplace can make all the
difference between a team (department) at war and one where extraordinary results are
produced on a consistent basis

Way to overcome the barriers:

Eliminating differences in perception: The organization should ensure that it is
recruiting right individuals on the job. Its the responsibility of the interviewer to ensure
that the interviewee has command over the written and spoken language. There should be
proper Induction program so that the policies of the company are clear to all the

employees. There should be proper trainings conducted for required employees (for
example: Voice and Accent training).
Use of Simple Language: Use of simple and clear words should be emphasized. Use of
ambiguous words and jargons should be avoided.
Reduction and elimination of noise levels: Noise is the main communication barrier
which must be overcome on priority basis. It is essential to identify the source of noise
and then eliminate that source.
Active Listening: Listen attentively and carefully. There is a difference between
listening and hearing. Active listening means hearing with proper understanding of
the message that is heard. By asking questions the speaker can ensure whether his/her
message is understood or not by the receiver in the same terms as intended by the
Emotional State: During communication one should make effective use of body
language. He/she should not show their emotions while communication as the receiver
might misinterpret the message being delivered. For example, if the conveyer of the
message is in a bad mood then the receiver might think that the information being
delivered is not good.
Simple Organizational Structure: The organizational structure should not be complex.
The number of hierarchical levels should be optimum. There should be a ideal span of
control within the organization. Simpler the organizational structure, more effective will
be the communication.
Avoid Information Overload: The managers should know how to prioritize their work.
They should not overload themselves with the work. They should spend quality time with
their subordinates and should listen to their problems and feedbacks actively.
Give Constructive Feedback: Avoid giving negative feedback. The contents of the
feedback might be negative, but it should be delivered constructively. Constructive
feedback will lead to effective communication between the superior and subordinate.
Proper Media Selection: The managers should properly select the medium of
communication. Simple messages should be conveyed orally, like: face to face interaction
or meetings. Use of written means of communication should be encouraged for delivering
complex messages. For significant messages reminders can be given by using written
means of communication such as : Memos, Notices etc.
Flexibility in meeting the targets: For effective communication in an organization the
managers should ensure that the individuals are meeting their targets timely without
skipping the formal channels of communication. There should not be much pressure on
employees to meet their targets

Efficient Management: Efficient communication system in any organization depends on

the management efficiency. Poor management causes poor communication. So,
management should be efficient enough to make its communication system up-to-date
Communication Training: Higher officials and subordinates should be given practical
training regarding the types of communication, nature of communication, method for
overcoming barriers to communication and other aspects of communication.
Re-Organization: Effective communication depends much on the organizational
structure. It is seen that horizontal communication is very much productive. So,
reorganization of organizational structure may be required to activate horizontal
Consistency between Word and Work: If the work is according to word then
communication becomes effective and fruitful and barriers to communication can
Reducing Unnecessary Information: Unnecessary information causes confusion and
kills time. Relevant information should be considered to make proper communication.
Communication Audit: Communication audit acts as a fruitful method to improve
communication. It examines the network, activities, process and principles of
communication and therefore recommends for improvement.
Orientation: Newly appointed employees should be given idea regarding objectives,
activities, functions, principles and structure of an organization so that they become
conscious about their role during communication.
Any type of barrier to communication is a threat and can cause miscommunication,
misconception and confusion. All these work against unity, teamwork & co-ordination. At
conclusion, if above mentioned discussion are followed, Barriers to communication must
be avoided.