This is the concept I found to be most important. Communication flow refers to how the information, directions, and messages are conveyed in an organization. In Air Force, communication flow can either be vertical or horizontal. Vertical flow refers to communication between individuals of different rank or positions in organization setup. Horizontal communication also known as lateral communication refers to communication between individuals of the same rank in the organization. Vertical flow is further divided into two types; downward or upward. Whether vertical or horizontal, effective communication defines an effective Air Force.
Downward communication refers to communication that usually starts with the upper level of management in an organization and flows down the chain of command. The high level, in this case, can be the supervisor, superintendent, chief, commander, etc. There are various ways in which the information is relayed down in the chain. It can be in the form of memos, phone calls, meetings or letters, etc. depending on the information being relayed, urgency and the need for storing the information for future reference. Whichever channel is used, the message should indicate the origin, that is, where the information is coming from, who is receiving the information, the type of information and action expected after receiving the information (feedback). The Clarity of the communication influences positive or negative feedback from subordinates. In Air Force, effective leaders should ensure clarity of their tasks or instruction to prevent time and resource wastage as a result of seeking clarifications. After the information gets to the subordinates, feedback is sent to the higher ranks also known as upward communication flow.
Upward communication is the opposite of downward communication. It refers to communication flow from those in the lowest level in the organization to the topmost level in the order of ranks available. It is essential for the survival of the organization as it provides feedback on the effectiveness of downward communication. An effective top-down communication reduces upward communication and reduces the time and resource wastages while trying to seek clarifications. Great leaders try as much as they can to reduce wastages and confusion in their units. Also, upward communication it is an avenue for the subordinates can provide their reasoning, opinions, and ideas to the top levels in the organization.
With lateral communication, communication is neither upward nor downward but instead flows between individuals of the same rank, peers or across organization channels. In the Air Force, departments depend on each other to fulfill their respective missions. With lateral communication, there is coordination and integration of all diverse functions both within and outside in the organization. Departments get to exchange ideas and opinions. For instance, units in the small computer technical centers depend on units in the civil engineering electrical shops to effectively perform their mission.
Each communication channel plays a vital role in the Air Force. Downward communication might be effective, but if either the upward or lateral communication is poor, the who system becomes ineffective. The higher ranks should also create room for the lower ranks or subordinates to provide their opinions, facts, and ideas. The organization should also encourage lateral communication as it is the source of the ideas that can be provided to the higher level in the Force.
Also, when communicating emotions and thoughts are involved. Air Force consist of people with different interests, culture, attitude, and values which affect their feelings and thoughts. Therefore, leaders should use word and symbols that have the same meaning while communicating to avoid misinterpretations.
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