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Vertical communication – Definition, Types and Benefits

Published by: Hitesh Bhasin

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Vertical communication is a communication that follows the organizational hierarchy to channelize the flow of information both up and down along the chain of command. Most companies have the general approach for communication flowing either from superiors to subordinates or subordinates to superiors.

Hence, in this, communication occurs when information flows from leaders, management, or superiors to lower-level employees, or when the front workers may send queries or raise an issue to the upper authorities for which again they reply. Thus, this up and down the process of communication or better known as vertical communication.

What is Vertical Communication?

Definition: Vertical communication is defined as a process of communication that flows from up to down or again from downwards to upwards in an organization. These are usually chains of commands or requests depending upon the hierarchy of the people who are involved in the communication within the organization.

The name vertical communication is enough in understanding the flow of communication that is through the channels. This type of communication is mostly available in organizations that maintain a proper hierarchy system.

Types of Vertical Communications

There are two types of vertical communication that any organization might follow.

1. Downward Communication

Downward communication is where the senior authorities share a message to the next junior level and the communication keeps on flowing downwards to the other junior members of the team.

This can be a command or a work project that has to be completed.

2. Upward Communication

Communication when information flows juniors to seniors, subordinates to supervisors, or employees to managers then it would be vertical communication.

Of course, this communication is just the opposite of downward vertical communication. Here the lower level employees send a message to the next senior level and then this message gets carried to the higher authorities.

It can be a request for anything or can be a completed project that you have to pass on to your seniors.

Channels for Vertical Communication

Channels for Vertical Communication

There can be several channels through which vertical communication can flow with an organization.

1. Verbal Channel

Messages can be passed upwards or downwards through verbal communication. Here, the sends can offer a message to the next immediate person through a phone call or even face to face and the process keeps on flowing. There can be several times when the intention and the essence of the message may get changed as different people have different levels of understanding and different ways of making others understand the same message.

2. Written Channel

The next is the written channel. One of the most common channels for written vertical communication is through emails. The senior manager emails to the team lead and the lead emails to the executives and so on. Apart from the emails, today several messaging applications have also emerged for the purpose.

Benefits of Vertical Communication

There are a tremendous number of benefits due to which organizations adopt vertical communication in their system.

1. Systematic Approach

Having vertical communication ensures discipline and a systematic approach in the organization. Whether it is the senior authority or the junior level staff, everyone follows the same proforma for communication and this maintains the decorum at the workplace.

2. Maintenance of Confidential Elements

There can be so much sensitive information that the higher authorities cannot share directly with the front workers. Such information has to be just within certain levels of the firm. In such a case, downwards vertical communication is of ultimate help.

When a manager sends a message with some confidential elements too to the next-level employees, then the message is passed on to even lower-level workers after filtering in the confidential details that have to be kept secret.

3. Error-Free Tasks

When a report of a task is initiated by an employee to reach the senior-most authorities, it passed through a lot of levels where the task gets edited a number of times. By the time, this report of the task reached the senior-most authority, it is absolutely perfect in nature due to the several edits through which it goes.

4. Personal Touch

One of the major benefits of vertical communication is that it offers a personal touch to the message each time. When a senior person is announcing a new company policy over the mic, there is no such personal touch in this message. But when the message runs down through different levels, the recipient feels a personal touch from the ultimate senior authority.

Disadvantages of Vertical Communication

Disadvantages of Vertical Communication

While the organizations practicing vertical communication may enjoy a lot of benefits, also there are certain disadvantages.

1. Barriers

There are several barriers between the higher authorities and the lower-level employees. If the employees at the middle levels are not efficient, then this can hamper the workflow, hampering the reputation of the company too. Also, due to dishonest employees at the middle levels, the lower level employees may get exploited too.

2. Delayed Process

At times, the whole process of information flowing down through different levels can make information reach the other side after a number of days. At times, such delays can lead to trouble in the work process.

3. Dependability Increases

There has been noticed that in such a process, the dependability of some people increases either on their immediate senior or even immediate junior. When work is passed down, it might happen that an employee has become so much dependent on his or her junior that the person starts overburdening and overpressurizing the junior with an excess amount of work.

Similarly, a junior employee may have got confidence that the immediate senior will correct all the errors and thus keeps on doing silly mistakes each time.

4. Negligence

A lot of times, the extreme junior-level employees may think that the highest level authorities neglect them and are more concerned about the levels in between. While good organizations make sure to take good care of all their employees, there can be some cases where actually the highest authorities unknowingly neglect the front workers.

Vertical vs Horizontal Communication

In vertical communication, information, reports, instructions or messages flows following systematic or hierarchical lines either up (junior to superior) or down (superior to junior).

While on the other hand, in the horizontal form of communication, information or messages flow among individuals who hold the same positions. It is also used for sharing information across all organizational levels.


Thus, a vertical system of communication has its own share of benefits and disadvantages. If proper channels and proper techniques are utilized, the organizations can enjoy just the benefits by removing out the disadvantages.

Meeting up the grassroots level employees once in a while to know their queries personally or to audit the communication going between two different levels are some of the ways through which an efficient process of vertical communication can happen.

What are your thoughts about the effectiveness of vertical communications in an organization? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below.

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Article by:

Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Digiaide and his vision is to make business knowledge accessible to everyone.