Trickle-Down Communication

September 10 2017
By: Terry L. Mathis

A majority of my client companies over the past decade still rely, to at least some extent, on what I call trickle-down communication. This is where the organizational leader tells his or her direct reports who in turn tell theirs, and communication flows down through the levels of the organizational chart to floor or field employees. In almost every organization, some of these channels work and others don't. This, of course, depends on the individuals flowing the information. Some middle managers and supervisors are excellent at keeping their workers informed, while others either hoard information or simply don't pass it along effectively.

Trickle-Down Communication

It is especially critical that safety information is communicated effectively and uniformly to the organization. For example, when accident-investigation data is not shared, workers tend to repeat the same types of accidents. Poor communication often means lessons are not learned and best practices are not shared. But it can also mean workers are not aware of what the organization is doing to improve safety. Misconceptions and informal channels of communication (grapevines) abound in the absence of good, formal channels of communication.

Check your own communication effectiveness by asking workers what types of accidents happen most often, what precautions could prevent the most accidents, and what the organization has done lately to improve safety.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.

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