The A-Model for Communication: A Guide for Line Managers

The A-Model Guide for Line Manager Communication

Mastering the art of effective communication within an organisation can be daunting, especially for line managers, who are the connective tissue between leadership and front-line employees. Research has highlighted the vital role that line managers play in organisational culture, particularly in reinforcing or modifying organisational practices (Cheney, Christensen, Zorn, & Ganesh, 2011). Hence, it’s not just the C-suite that crafts the culture and steers the ship; line managers translate abstract strategies into day-to-day actions.

Yet, despite their critical role, many line managers are often overlooked when it comes to training and development in communication skills. This is where the A-Model for Communication comes in.

What is the A-Model for Communication for Line Managers?

The A-Model for Communication is a pragmatic framework designed to serve as a reference point for new and seasoned line managers. This framework guides managers through the different pathways of corporate communication, ensuring they cover all bases when conveying messages or taking action. It helps line managers craft a coherent message and ensures that it reverberates consistently across various levels of the organisation. 

How Does It Work?

You only need the bare essentials: a pen and paper to use the A-Model. Draw a dot on the page, representing yourself—the line manager. At the top, jot down the topic you intend to communicate about.

Direct Reports 

The first leg of your communication journey involves your immediate team. Consider the message you must share, anticipate potential questions, and strategise your supportive role. As line managers, you are the first touchpoint for your team’s questions, concerns, and needs. Effective communication with this group is crucial, as poor communication has been shown to result in increased employee turnover and job dissatisfaction (Tourish, 2019).


Your next audience is the leadership team. Are you conveying new information or responding to an existing agenda? They’ll want to know the impact of what you are communicating and what organisational support you require. Your communication with the leadership team is the cornerstone of achieving strategic alignment, a factor heavily correlated with organisational success (Mankins & Steele, 2005).

Peer Managers 

Let’s not overlook your managerial peers across the organisation. Collaborative projects often require resources and support from various departments. Ensure that you are keeping other line managers informed so they can, in turn, support you and their team.

Teams of Peer Managers and Leadership

But your task doesn’t involve just conveying your message to peer managers. Remember that they, in turn, will communicate with their teams and leadership. Your awareness of these ripple effects will inform how you articulate your message, aiming for coherency and alignment.

The A-Model for Communication

Implementing the A-Model in Daily Management

Situation-Specific Applications

The A-Model can be your go-to framework after an important meeting or when an urgent issue arises. It serves as a checklist to ensure that all stakeholder groups are considered and communicated with effectively. 

Proactive Planning

The A-Model is also a proactive tool. At the start of each week, sketch out a big ‘A’ and formulate your game plan:

  • How can I support my team this week?
  • What do leadership need from me?
  • What needs to be communicated to other managers?

Related Reading: How to manage your team and work as a first-time manager

Helping you become a better communicator

The A-Model for Communication fills a critical gap in the managerial toolkit, serving as a comprehensive guide for targeted and effective communication. By consistently using this model, line managers can significantly reduce role ambiguity, foster a more collaborative environment, and ultimately contribute to organisational success.