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Collaboration

Practices for managing information flows within organizations

Find out why this is crucial, and best practices for improving your knowledge management using digital business communication tools

By the team at SlackFebruary 7th, 2022

As businesses rely on an increasing number of communication tools and employees have access to more data than ever before, it’s crucial to have strong information flows in place to avoid data bloat, foster collaboration and boost efficiency. Read on for the lowdown on information flows and tips for simplifying them in Slack.

What is information flow and why is it important?

Information flow is the exchange of information among people, processes and systems within an organization. When you have employees working across different locations, devices and departments, it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page. Having strong information flows in place makes it possible to overcome challenges, so employees can stay aligned on business goals, make more informed decisions and work smarter, not harder.

Hand holding timer

Types of information flow

The direction of information flows within an organization can vary based on its size, structure, industry and more. The main types of information flow include:

Downward

When someone in a management or leadership position shares instructions or information with lower-level employees.

Upward

When someone in a lower-level position communicates with someone in a higher position, such as when an employee reports their accomplishments for the month to their supervisor.

Horizontal

When information is exchanged across various departments or aspects of business existing at the same level.

Diagonal

When there is cross-functional communication between employees at different organizational levels.

Warning signs of information-flow problems

Information-flow problems can make it difficult for your employees to do their jobs effectively, which can negatively affect your customer experience and bottom line. Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are employees unable to find the assets or information they need to complete their job tasks quickly?
  • Are employees unable to quickly refer to past records and reports in order to track progress and trends?
  • Are employees unable to provide information to the right people in the right departments?
  • Are employees unaware of companywide policies?

Tips for improving information flows

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, there may be knowledge management and information-flow problems in your organization. Luckily, we have some tried-and-true tips for how to improve communication and collaboration.

Create a culture of open communication and transparency

Strong company culture is based on transparency, and so are strong information flows. Employees are more engaged when they’re well-informed, so it’s important to foster two-way communication between employees and leadership by having an open-door policy and staying transparent.

Connect message to mission

Make your company values and mission clear to employees and ensure all messaging ties back to them. When all employees are aligned with leadership in their understanding of company goals, they will be able to work toward reaching them together.

Improve access to critical business tools

As more employees than ever work remotely, it’s crucial they have access to the applications, systems and software your organization relies on to do business. Without this, your team will be left dealing with bottlenecks and frustrations that could be solved with proper information flows.

Choose the right tools

Digital-collaboration tools like Slack can be used to improve information flows in a variety of ways, from tracking a project’s progress to fostering rapport between coworkers who have never met in person.

The creation of various Slack channels also eliminates information silos by providing employees with one convenient hub for cross-department communication. Here are some channel ideas to boost employee engagement and efficiency while streamlining information flows:

  • #CompanyKnowledge: Employees can share industry news and articles, learn about trends affecting other aspects of the business and keep skills sharp.
  • #Recognition: A channel dedicated to coworker shoutouts not only helps employees feel valued and appreciated but makes it possible for everyone in the organization to know what others are up to.
  • #Announcements: Keep employees informed with a regular cadence of announcements. Here at Slack, we have a companywide #announcements-global channel for the internal communication team to share a weekly digest of news from each department head, company stats, important deadlines that affect everyone and other valuable information.

Optimize information flows in your organization with Slack

In order to see success in the modern business landscape, your employees need to be able to share ideas, make decisions and move work forward quickly and accurately. Slack makes it possible to avoid data bloat and costly bottlenecks due to poor information flow by bringing the right people and information together.

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