When done right, horizontal communication fosters positive workplace relationships and improves accountability—but done wrong, it can be distracting and foster a lack of discipline.
Striking a balance between effective communication and protecting your employees from burnout is vital, but how do you manage that?
Read on to learn more about horizontal communication and our top tips for its effective execution.
The Definition of Horizontal Communication
Horizontal communication, also known as lateral communication, is communication between departments, teams, and individuals of the same level within an organization.
Sending a memo to your colleague in finance, emailing your department, or even catching up with a teammate over a coffee are all examples of horizontal communication. It’s an integral part of most roles, and one you probably take part in daily without realizing it.
The Strengths of Horizontal Communication
Increased employee satisfaction
All employees can benefit from an effective horizontal communication strategy. It leads to increased collaboration, strengthening employee engagement, building workplace relationships, and creating a better company culture.
Employees will feel like they are a part of something bigger with improved horizontal communication.
Say you have a relatively new employee embarking on a project within your department. The teammates they’re working with don’t tell them where to find a crucial piece of information for the project.
They may be able to find it alone but the lack of communication will, at the very least, considerably hinder the process. When employees are given clear guidelines and precise expectations are set, they will be more productive overall.
Horizontal communication can increase a sense of unity and teamwork between colleagues of all departments and ensures teams are working towards shared goals.
For example, say a colleague from your HR department reaches out to a colleague from finance for support on the practicalities of rolling out a new employee benefit. Both can bring their relative expertise to this project, and the benefit will likely land better.
Horizontal communication allows teammates to collaborate cross-functionally on specific objectives. This increases creativity and transparency, which helps foster a strong company culture.
The Weaknesses of Horizontal Communication
While horizontal communication has many strengths, there can be drawbacks.
Let’s say, for example, you are a small business owner. You hire four employees who all work out of one office. Horizontal communication is easy: they just chat with the person next to them and email one another while working remotely—a simple, streamlined process.
However, then your business begins to grow. You introduce video calls, phone calls, messenger apps, and texts. Your communication channels are growing with your business but your team seems overwhelmed.
The rise in home working opened the floodgates to many new communication channels, all intended to streamline interactions—yet somehow they did the opposite. Teams are overwhelmed with too many options, leading to stress and fatigue. How can you protect your workforce from communication burnout?
How to Streamline Horizontal Communication
Horizontal communication is more straightforward when there are fewer streams of communication. Your employees may feel bombarded with requests from all angles, including email, video calls, phone calls, and webchat. This will hinder productivity and contribute to workplace stress.
We recommend that your employees stick to minimal communication channels. For example, consider using email or phone calls to receive tasks and assignments and messenger apps strictly for communication and team building.
Connecteam’s easy-to-use app allows you to streamline day-to-day information in a one-stop solution for team communications and minimizing workflow streams. Use the app to create secure one-on-one chats and facilitate peer-to-peer communication with the employee directory.
Put a face to a name
The intention and tone of a message can often be misconstrued via email or messenger. These types of miscommunication can increase tension and conflict in the workplace, building animosity and leading to more communication issues.
When delivering sensitive news or sending an email that could be misunderstood, deliver the message in person, or via video chat if you are part of a remote team.
Minimize group chats
Distracting or irrelevant group chats can be more of a hindrance than a help in the workplace. While team relations and camaraderie are essential to the workday, too many group chats can be distracting, especially for your neurodiverse employees.
Encourage your employees to mute or even leave group chats that do not support their workflow, and use the favorite function to prioritize chats that contribute to their productivity.
Connecteam allows you to favorite group chats and delete or mute any that have become a distraction. It can allow managers full access to communication channels to support employees in prioritizing their workflow.
With Connecteam, colleagues can effectively and freely share information with their teammates, and all systems are backed up to ensure you have a complete record of everything discussed.
Horizontal communication is a vital element of a strong workplace culture. Employees will build relationships cross-functionally and be more productive in the workplace.
Challenges arise when employees are bombarded with too many communication channels. They become overwhelmed with their workload, leading to stress and burnout.
Streamline Your Internal Communication with Connecteam
Let employees access one streamlined network where information can be shared freely between team members, increasing effective communication and collaboration.