Within your organization there are multiple channels of communication. These channels form the backbone of your company’s internal network. It can be tough to navigate these channels through toxic office gossip. However, tapping into the company grapevine can reap rewards for your career growth.

What are the Channels of Communication?

Organizations generally have three channels of communication. This includes formal, informal, and unofficial. Information flows in different ways through these channels and understanding how these channels work will enhance your organizational understanding.

So how do you recognize these channels and connect to the internal network?

Formal Communication

Formal communication is typically top-down and includes documented correspondence in the form of memorandums, letters, and policies. Company management will often communicate this information to employees through email, meetings, or a newsletter.

Understanding formal communication will provide valuable insight into company management, because this type of communication is in line with the company’s vision and goals. Disregarding company memos and policies may have consequences if management views you as someone who is not “onboard with the program.”

Informal Communication

Informal communication breaks the chain of command and can occur in break rooms and meetings. Imagine a top-level manager presenting to staff across varying levels within the organization. In this scenario, employees receive information in a less controlled format, however the information is still in line with the company’s goals and vision.

Any meeting with a top-level manager presents an opportunity to present yourself. You should ask meaningful questions to display engagement and avoid the urge to make a show of knowledge. Your manager will not be impressed by pedantry and this can harm your reputation.

Unofficial Communication

This form of communication is tied to the company grapevine. Office parties, water coolers, and company events are hotbeds for unofficial communication. The company grapevine transcends organizational structure and is a free flow of gossip and rumors.

Tapping into the company grapevine can provide valuable insight into the company. This can be a source of information on management, personnel, and operations. You should avoid toxic gossip and distance yourself from the spread of rumors. A good rule of thumb is to not say anything you wouldn’t say in front of company management.

Final Thoughts

If your goal is to rise through the ranks, it will take more than just hard work. Understanding who the players are and developing a professional relationship will be key to your success. If your company isn’t outlining a specific plan for succession, then it will be incumbent upon you to read between the lines. This is where the company’s internal network will provide crucial information.