Lateral or Horizontal Communication

The horizontal communication is known as the flow of communication that moves across the functional areas within the organization. This is a transmission of messages between people, units or divisions of the organizations at the same level. The term “lateral” communication has also been used for this communication which involves co-coordinating the information and updates with the people or peers of the similar rank or position level in order to serve the purpose of collaboration with each other.
The horizontal communication consists of many advantages for the organization such as reducing any chance of misunderstanding between the departments while working on the same projects. This results in effectively carrying out the best top level decisions when the lower level employees are able to co-ordinate with each other in the implementation of the decision process made by the top level management.

The horizontal communication assists the team work when a project requires the task to be managed by different people or departments. This also promotes employee empowerment by creating a sense of comfort and motivation for the employees.

It ensures a better understanding for the employees in different divisions to perform their tasks effectively. By allowing the lower level employees to communicate with each other laterally, it will help strengthen the bond between the employees in departments and they are able to execute the decision made by the top management efficiently.
There are also certain disadvantages associated with the Horizontal communication such as the lack of control between the departments when the process of communication becomes intense as it may create problems for the management. It can also cause various conflicts between the peers due to any misunderstanding or miscommunication. The horizontal communication can become time consuming if the vertical communication has to approve the decisions to be implemented with the help of horizontal communication. Lack of discipline can hinder the overall flow of communication.

For instance, when you are working on a team project and communicating with a department manager or within the same department with your peer, the mode of your communication is Horizontal. In the horizontal communication, you are not directing your subordinates or seeking guidance from the supervisor rather it is the co-ordination with your peer groups that facilitates the process of horizontal communication.

One of the challenging aspects of this communication occurs when you have less frequent opportunities between each other and you merely depend upon the size of organization for interaction. Keeping in check with your emotions and avoiding any conflict that may become office fodder. The employees have to show resilience when differences in opinions exist and find a common ground to communicate effectively.

If an organization once had a rigid and a formal style of communication and now adapts to an employee oriented style of communication, the implementation of new horizontal communication becomes difficult. In the horizontal communication, the transmissions of messages are made possible through the medium of telephone, meetings, emails, memos, video conferencing depending on the recipient and the location.The horizontal communication is a key to a productive and satisfied workforce where each employee forms a strong communication with the peers to perform work task successfully and make them feel valuable to the organization.

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