Horizontal Communication Advantages and Disadvantages

A barrier to communication as defined by Waltman A communication barrier is anything that impedes the communication process. These barriers are inevitable. While they cannot be avoided, both the sender and receiver can work to minimize them.

One of the main Barriers to effective communication is the channel, shown below is a diagram that shows how effective each channel is. A communication channel as defined by Waltman (2010) “Communication channels-or the media through which messages are sent-can have an influence on the success of communication”

In this case the channel that was used by Leigh Randell was a memo so as on the media richness graph it is listed on the bottom half of the triangle which is lower media richness. Media Richness definition as stated in Mcshane and Glinow (2003) “the data-carrying capacity of a communication medium including the volume and variety of information it can transmit”.

By choosing to write a memo Leigh Randell has used a channel that is not as effective as a Telephone call or a Face to face talk to communicate with Tom Ballard. Therefore the impact it would have on Tom Ballard was minor.

For instances if she called and explained her idea to him, she could have got an instant reply from Tom Ballard and could have got his ideas also on the strategy she was developing.

So this is one of the main Barriers to effective communication.

Information Overload

The Next Barrier is information overload as defined in Mcshane and Glinow (2003) “A condition in which the volume of information received exceeds the person’s capacity to process it”.

As stated in the case study Leigh Randell did not get any information from Tom Ballard. When questioned about the reason why he dint reply to the memo, he answered “Too busy” this could be a very realistic situation in which case he has so much of work that he can’t even reply to memos. This could be a problem in the organization, which therefore have a major impact on the communication process. This problem can be solved to some extent by dividing the organization employees into teams there by dividing the work load.

Authority, Gender and Attitude towards the sender

In this case we could say that there is a problem of authority, this could be seen by the statement of Tom Ballard “Besides, I don’t report to her”. This clearly shows that Tom Ballard is a person who does not consider ideas from people in the same level or lower levels on his job/field. Because Leigh Randell was in the same level in the organization hierarchy (shown below) Tom Ballard did not want to reply.

Organization Layout Model

Exhibit: Omega Airlines, Atlanta Organization Hierarchy

Also we could see that gender also has an issue in this case. This is clearly seen in the statements by Tom Ballard “To busy”, “Her question was out of sight. There was no time for me to answer this sort of request. I’ve got a job to do”.

This shows that even though Leigh Randell was more senior in terms of experience than Tom Ballard he dint consider it and decided to ignore her memos. This also can be related to the attitude towards the sender which is another barrier that causes a lot of problems in effective communication.

Read also  Advantages And Disadvantages of HRIS in Human Resource Management

“No, it dint look like that to me, I also had ideas on how to improve the system”

This shows that Tom Ballard (male) thinks his ideas are more superior to Leigh Randell (female). This is unfair to Leigh Randell who is going out of the way to help the organization.

Horizontal Communication effectiveness

Horizontal communication is basically when 2 employees in the same level of the organization hierarchy communicate. And in this case the effectiveness of the communication was very low.

Leigh Randell used the communication method show in red three times and had no reply from Tom Ballard. Then she used the communication method (Bottom Up) which is displayed in Green and contacted Alan Brock, which was effective.

We can come to an assumption that horizontal communication is not effective because the person is not compelled to reply, unlike top down communication.

We can come to a clear conclusion that because of the week horizontal communication the company

Organization Communication Model

Exhibit: Omega Airlines, Atlanta Communication graph


Is anyone “wrong” in this situation?

By what other means could Randell have requested the information from Tom Ballard?

What do you think of Tom Ballard’s reaction? Why?

a) After analyzing the case study the wrongs are as follows, Leigh Randell and Tom Ballard did wrong in various ways. First of all focusing on Leigh Randell’s wrong, she used a channel not suitable for inquires like that. She should have used a channel that has higher media richness such as a telephone call or a face to face discussion.

Also she should have switched the communication channel after she sent the memo twice and had no reply she should have got some idea that the channel is defective. But she continued to send memos to Tom Ballard. This is wrong on her part for choosing a bad channel and kept on using the same channel after not getting any results.

Next taking into consideration the wrong committed by Tom Ballard, he was wrong to read the memos and not reply to them. By not providing feedback to Leigh Randell, she was not able to continue her work, which could have beneficial to the organization.

Also having own idea on the same topic does not mean others have no right to express their views. He was being very self-centred about his thinking method. This could be clearly seen from his comments at the meeting, “To busy”, “Her question was out of sight. There was no time for me to answer this sort of request. I’ve got a job to do”.

So finally we could say both parties committed wrong but more weighted on Tom Ballard for his ignorance and his attitudes, and for Leigh Randell she is been more traditional way of acquiring information.

b) Leigh Randell had many other ways and means to contact Tom Ballard such as,

  • Face to face meeting
  • Video Conference
  • Telephone call
Read also  Audio Transcription Technology

Using these modes of communication would have had a much more fruitful outcome, because media richness is high in these modes. In other words the variety and amount of information that could have been transmitted is higher.

These are the recommended channels to achieve the best results. The more modern modes will be discussed in the 3rd question under recommendations but few of them are as follows.

  • 3G Calls/ webcam
  • Instant Messaging
  • Google Wave

Explanations will be in the recommendation part.

C) Tom Ballard’s characters as depicted by his comments are very self cantered and arrogant in a way. This is in one way a disadvantage for him and his co-workers. This can be seen by his statements given below

“To busy”, “Her question was out of sight. There was no time for me to answer this sort of request. I’ve got a job to do”, “Besides, I don’t report to her”

“NO”, “It dint look like that to me. You know i.ve also had ideas on how to improve the system for quite some time. Anyway she is going about it all wrong”

The behaviour shows us a basic masculine instinct of trying to show who has more power, in other words dominance. He felt threaten by her because she was trying to do his job. By Tom Ballard’s action it is possible to say that he is not a team player and like to work alone. This is totally unacceptable in an organization that needs allot of coordination.

Also by his comment “You know I’ve also had ideas on how to improve the system for quite some time”. This shows that he does not want express his ideas on how to improve the company but keeps them to himself. Also showing us, he does not feel part of the company.


a) While communicating vertically up or down the organization does not present a major problem, why is horizontal communication more difficult to attain?

b) Give your recommendations to improve communication in this organization

To explain this the following model is down below

Organization communication model

Horizontal Communication

Exhibit: Omega Airlines, Atlanta Communication graph

The arrow displayed in green represents horizontal communication, the green box displays the horizontal communication happening in the organization. The reason it is not effective can be that

Problems In Horizontal Communication


  • Both have equal authority/ same level of power
  • Organization trips
  • Mismatch of Ideas between peers in same level
  • Get-togethers
  • Competitiveness in the organization
  • Organizational Parties
  • Attitudes towards other peers
  • Team building workshops

These are problem most organizations faces and have taken steps to increase the effectiveness of horizontal communication. The importance of horizontal communication is explained by Juneja, H (2009) “horizontal communication in an organization which is also very important. It is essential that people working at same level should have effective communication amongst them so that there is co-ordination between them”. Workers are more likely to be more serious when it comes to communication with their superiors

Read also  Differences Between Traditional Mail And Electronic Mail Information Technology Essay

In this case Kent Davis summoned a hastily meeting to solve the issue that had happen in this horizontal communication, showing us that the organization is taking its communication issues seriously. Especially for an Airline which requires allot of co-ordination.

For an Airlines or any organization to compete in this modern world they require the best state of the art technology in communication available. This is because communication is a key in achieving any objective.

Omega Airlines needs to improve its communication technology to overcome future problems. A quote from an article by Baker, K.A. (2002) “, new communication technologies can enable almost every aspect of organizational management and effectiveness, including change management, knowledge management, participative management, innovation, and organizational partnerships and alliances”

Server/ Database Creation

My recommendation firstly to build a Server or Database where only organization employees can access and store all data that can be used by other employees. This will not only speed up the information distribution and communication process but also organize the data in one place so all records can be viewed 24/7 365 days.

Source: Google images 2010

Video Conferencing/ webcam/ 3G calls –

This is a new way that modern companies contact employees, because the media richness is higher in a video call than a normal telephone call. And it is proven than visual communication has a bigger impact or stays in the brain/ memory much longer.

Source: Cisco Official Website 2010

Instant Messaging

These are Messaging programs that are very user friendly and do not take long to reply. For example when sending an email you have to get the address and then after sending you have to wait for a reply.

But with instant messaging software it’s not necessary, once the person comes to the organization he can login and any message will be sent and replied to instantly. Also the best thing it’s all free.

Source: Google images 2010

Google Wave

Source: Google wave website 2010

Google wave is a new technology that is revolutionizing the organization communication process. The description as given in Google (2010) “Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration, A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more”. In other words this plays the roles of an instant messenger, video conference software also it has the features of an email message. This is the future.

As a conclusion, by implementing these technologies all aspects of the organization will be improved drastically, especially in organization such as this where communication is KEY. Having technology is one thing but for people to adapt is the difficult part. But all the technology and software that was said here are very user friendly easy to use and easy to update. There by not only will make the organization a better more efficient organization but also an up to date one. And will give an assurance that incident like this between Leigh Randell and Tom Ballard not happen again.

Order Now

Order Now

Type of Paper
Number of Pages
(275 words)