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While some organizations prefer to release information directly to employees via a centralized communication model, others have chosen the information cascade model where top management communicates to employees via the layers of the organization's hierarchy. This article will detail what the information cascade model is, what its benefits are compared to other models, and how to implement it within your own organization.
Effective communication is essential for passing down messages from C-suite management to frontline employees. Organizations adopt varying communication models to communicate their priorities and strategies to their teams.
While some organizations prefer to release information directly to employees via a centralized communication model, others have chosen the information cascade model where top management communicates to employees via the layers of the organization's hierarchy.
This article will detail what the information cascade model is, what its benefits are compared to other models, and how to implement it within your own organization.
With an information cascade model, information is dispensed from one contact point through multiple channels to all employees. In practical terms, information will begin with a management team, who then pass information to senior management. Senior management will then be responsible for alerting middle managers who will cascade the information to the remaining employees at all levels.
To imagine the information cascade model in action, think of a multinational health provider that has introduced a new workflow for its laboratory staff. Top management communicates the new workflow information down the organizational structure, until the information reaches lab technicians on laboratory floors. This systematic reinforcement of management information through the ranks is known as the cascading effect.
The information cascade model encourages a direct and trusting relationship between employees, managers, and senior management. To receive information, employees must be receptive to their managers, and managers must prioritize alerting the entire organization hierarchy instead of letting information fall through the cracks.
For the information cascade model to work well, you must have a well-oiled responsibility matrix that almost places communication in your organization on autopilot.
The following must all be clear within your organization for successful information cascading:
To successfully cascade information in your workplace, you must have the following four conditions:
Workers may find sensitive communication from top management impersonal and doubly distasteful if it's bad news. Seeing a press release of your logistics company planning to fire half of its drivers can be shocking to staff. Communication from a direct manager, though painful, is unequivocally more personal and considerate.
A cascading communication model works well in organizations that are intentional at building good relationships among their teams, from top to middle management to the rest of the organization’s employees.
Although cascading information is a powerful communication tool, it runs the risk of distorting the information as it goes down the different teams. Therefore, there is a need for clear messaging.
As a manager, you must be prepared to clearly deliver any message necessary to the employees who report to you. You also must be available for follow-up questions or be prepared to contact higher-level management on behalf of the other employee. The most important part of an information cascade is that employees can trust their managers; without this trust, the information cascade model will not work.
Managers should anticipate any reactions, whether positive or negative, and funnel feedback upwards to top management.
Feedback doesn't necessarily mean that organizational decisions will change but gives an opportunity for workers to have their voice heard and offer valuable perspectives to top management.
An organization that promotes a two-way communication structure nurtures an engaged workforce that tends to be more productive. Employee satisfaction and retention increases when employees feel heard and valued by their employer.
It's the duty of line managers to effectively communicate organizational goals to all staff to avoid any possible communication breakdowns. Without effective communication of key objectives, goals, or even prioritizations, companies are at risk of losing out on crucial employee resources, as effective communication can lead to a near 30% increase in productivity.
It can be hard to push for change in your workplace, whether it’s structural or organizational. However, by creating an impactful, relatable, and functional communications strategy, your company will be taking the first steps towards a worthwhile corporate transformation.
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