Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bottom-up communication is essential

Leaders are generally good with top-down communication, how else they would get their followers or members of the team to focus on the objective and keep them motivated? It is the bottom-up communication, however, that is given the short shrift by most of the leaders. They might think that the foot soldiers would not have much, if not anything, to contribute to the organisation’s thought process, or that there’s was to only carry out the orders unquestioningly, or that they were always at liberty to say ‘yes’. But these assumptions would be at great divergence from reality.

Today even the junior most members of the organisation think, and rightly so, that they are important and that they can make their unique contribution to the organisation’s well-being and have, therefore, a right to be heard by the powers that be. They may not be able to enforce this right and that makes them disengage themselves emotionally from their leaders. As a consequence, the team spirit takes a beating and the organisation suffers.

All this can be remedied easily if the leaders stop being dismissive about the capabilities of their juniors and subordinates and encourage them, instead, to voice their opinions and make suggestions for better running of the organisation. They should then put in place a system to capture those suggestions, vet them, and finally to implement the worthwhile ones from among them. Further, a communication channel to the top, it could be a dedicated email or voicemail box, should be provided for the people to be able to raise, anonymously, reasoned criticism of the leaders’ decisions, actions or work styles. And if sufficiently cogent case had been made for that, the leaders must change their ways and, of course, if they think they must defend themselves they can take their case back to the people by using the top-down communication system that already operates well in the organisation.

People are an organisation’s and its leader’s real asset, and empowered by a bottom-up communication culture the value of the asset would enhance incalculably.

1 comment:

Rob Linn and Rich Ottaviano said...

Sorry, I left a comment about this post on your prior post regarding "Sagacity."