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Organizational Communication Process Case Study

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Updated: Dec 8th, 2019

Introduction

In any company, effective communication is very important because it ensures smooth running of the day to day affairs. Transmission of positive information is majorly not an issue because people are always receptive of good message, and the channels of communication are not strained in delivering the message.

However, it is not always that the company will be in harmony of each person’s actions, and a time will come when a negative message has to be passed on to one or more employees. Negative messages spread faster than positive messages therefore; every company should take control of its communication channels to ensure that information is released procedurally and to the right people only.

This is because if the wrong people get the information then the reputation as well as performance of the company will be at jeopardy. In this regard, PC+ has to incorporate communication channels that would not give their competitors a competitive advantage and threaten their command in the market.

Problem Statement

There has been a communication breakdown between the sales manager, Leslie Jones, and the sales agents in Melbourne as regards the delay of the order that Coverpoint had placed. The weakness of communication channels is also manifested by the time that it takes to for the sales manager to discover that the order has not yet been delivered, as well as the direction from which the information of non-delivery is coming from.

It is expected that Leslie should discover that the order has not been delivered before his boss discovers so, but in this case the sales manager learns the problem from his boss. On top of that, Leslie needs to have direct contacts with at least major customers so that he can facilitate their transactions given that the company operates in a very competitive environment.

But in this case, Sam is not able to reach Derek, the sales agent, on phone while at the same time he cannot reach Leslie because it is not indicated that he has direct contact with him. Communication is also supposed to be inclusive and if there is any employee who is going to be affected, then the employee should be the first one to be informed before any other person gets the information (Adair 2011).

But in the case of PC+ Le Mary gets the information first before Derek and it is Derek who is directly affected. In addition to that, it is depicted that employees are not able to communicate their problems to the management such that action could be taken to prevent possible losses that may be imminent due to reduction in performance of the troubled employees.

Effective Approaches

Communication is paramount and the channels of communication play a key role not only in times of crisis, but also in all activities of the company. It is therefore important that any situation be cautiously handled bearing in mind that the mode of communication makes the employees, customers and competitors interpret the message differently (Woodside 2001).

PC+ had several problems which needed to be addressed and communication was important. To begin with, the information that an order for coverpoint had delayed is emanating from an associate contrary to the expectation that Leslie should have the information. In this regard, Sam needed an assurance that PC+ treasures him and they were committed on solving the problem while assuring him that the same would not happen again.

On top of that, the expectation of Sam from PC+ needed to be increased if his loyalty to PC+ was to be sustained. The theory of sense making insists that, during crisis management needs to show that it is committed and able to tackle the situation (Maitlis & Sonenshein 2010).

Additionally, since Leslie had confirmed from the warehouse that coverpoint’s order was due to be shipped the following day, he should have informed Sam before the IAPD meeting because this will show that action has been taken. This would also eliminate the chances of Sam talking badly of PC+ during the meeting.

It is PC+’s culture to deliver according to the requirements and within the deadlines except this time round, when Derek has been unable to deliver due to his personal issues. Leslie should have used this as his weapon when communicating with Sam. At the cocktail party, Leslie should have ensured that he talked with Sam and explained each change because after that there is no any other time.

The news to Sam must include a definite timeline within which the order will be delivered. Leslie should inform Sam that Mary will be working together with Derek and explain that this was done to ensure that orders do not delay in future. It should be noted that, though it is paramount for Leslie to attend the Hong Kong meeting, going there with definite answer as regards coverpoint’s order should be his main aim in order to protect the image of PC+.

On top of that, performance of Derek had declined and this had been attributed to the family problems that Derek was facing. Leslie should have aspired to satisfy Leslie’s needs thus, giving him time off was the best option. In the theory of human motivation, Abraham Maslow states that human beings can be motivated if their needs are satisfied beginning from the very basic ones and moving to the higher ones (Hollyforde & Whiddettt 2002).

In tackling the problem of Derek, Leslie was right to apply Maslow’s theory which categorizes human wants in the order in which they should be satisfied to increase their performance. In the theory, physiological needs come first followed by safety needs then belonging/love needs, esteem needs and finally self-actualization needs which improve the performance of an employee. Therefore, unless the belonging needs of Derek, which were in crisis, were satisfied his full potential could not be realized.

For that reason, the three months payable leave that Leslie suggested was important to help Derek sort his situation out. However, the mode of communication should have been different from the approach that Leslie used when he discussed the situation with Mary before passing the information to Derek.

Communication to employees is very effective if it is from the top, because it increases employees’ confidence besides convincing them that the option is the best (McGregor & Gershenfeld 2006). The fact that Mary received the information to take over from Derek before the situation was explained to Derek might have sent the wrong message to Derek and the other employees.

Though Leslie should have allowed Mary to handle Derek’s duties since Derek had a lot of issues to sort, he should have done so in a manner that could not have presented Mary as taking over from Derek, at least until he personally communicated with Derek.

On top of that, it is prudential for any aspects of change to be fully explained whether they are positive or negative, and the communication channels should personalize the explanations to address how each employee is affected by the changes (Collins 2009). Leslie did not achieve this because he was racing against time and just delegated Derek’s duties to Mary without any formal communication and explanation.

This could have been more effective if Leslie had contacted the head of Melbourne to explain the changes and let the head be the one to explain the changes to other employees. Alternatively, Leslie could have sent a senior employee from the main office to deliver the message and offer explanations at Melbourne thus, limiting negative reception of the changes which were the cause of employee unrest.

In addition to that, the information to Derek could easily be delivered by an E-mail because it is faster and confidential (Bidgoli 2010) and this will at the same time explain why he should take sometime off to solve his family issues. However, the mail should not make him feel that he his jeopardizing company affairs, but should portray a lot of expectations in him from the organization and make him feel that the organization treasures him and that is why they are concerned about his state of affairs. This will be inline with the theory of sensemaking.

Lessons to Learn

The situation in which PC+ found itself should serve as a lesson to advice the management about the weaknesses in the communication channels.

Firstly, PC+ should implement a two way communication channel which will help in speeding up the flow of information either from the management or from the employees. If this was in place, then the information that Derek’s problems were interfering with his work performance would have reached Leslie early and necessary action taken.

On top of that, PC+ management should ensure that all orders are followed up to ensure that delivery is done in time. The lack of this makes the information that coverpoint’s order has delayed than expected get Leslie by surprise while it is expected that, given the significance of coverpoint in the sales of PC+, Leslie should have had the information.

On the same point, it is noted that communication between the customers and the organization is not efficient, because despite the fact that Sam is a very influential customer when his order delays his calls go unanswered.

Maintaining close relationship with all customers ensures that any dissatisfaction on the part of the customers is communicated to the right people thus, eliminating the chances of the customers complaining to the competitors (O’Rourke 2009).

Moreover, it is important that customers are given the correct Information about the status of their orders besides making sure that their enquiries get feedback immediately. This can be achieved by putting in place a customer call center that will ensure that all customer queries are effectively addressed.

Furthermore, the unrest that was exhibited by employees when they learnt that Mary had taken over the functions of Derek was as a result of ineffective communication, where the information seemed to originate from their colleagues instead of emanating from the management.

In this regard, the PC+ management should learn that some kinds messages need to be communicated using the top down information channel as opposed to the horizontal channel (Daft & Marcic 2012). The information that Mary should replace Derek temporarily while Derek goes on leave, should be communicated by a senior official so as to make the employees see the need for it. Technology has also made communication easy and teleconferencing can enable communication of such matters effective (Bidgoli 2010).

In conjunction with that, employees need to be motivated to work and their needs should be satisfied if their full potential is to be realized. Therefore, any personal problem affecting an employee should be solved efficiently to enable the employee perform without distraction.

In this regard, PC+ needs to put in place mechanisms to ensure that employees are free to communicate their problems to the management so as actions could be taken. This will ensure that employees’ personal problems are discovered early and prevention mechanisms implemented to ensure that organizational activities are not affected.

On the same note, team work in an organization helps in improving organizational performance (Tubtimhin & pipe 2009). But this is not the case in PC+ organization, which is depicted when even Mary who sometimes helps Derek is not aware that Coverpoint’s order has not been delivered.

Conclusion

Communication is very important in any organization and the flow of information not only helps in giving an organization an upper hand in the competitive market, but also determines the success of the firm.

Additionally, it is important for any organization to ensure that the channels of communication used are the correct ones, and any information is explained properly to ensure that communication sends the intended meaning. Lack of effective communication channels can easily lead to failure of an organization, and for this reason each organization should ensure that communication is effective and efficient.

References

Adair, J 2011, Effective Communication: The Best Management Skill for All, Pan MacMillan, London.

Bidgoli, H 2010, The Handbook of Technology Management: Supply chain Management, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken.

Collins, S 2009, Effective Communication: A Workbook for Social Care Workers, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.

Daft, RL & Marcic, D 2012, Understanding Management, Cengage Learning, Stanford.

Hollyforde, S. & Whiddett, S 2002, Motivation Handbook, CIPD Publishing, London.

Maitlis S & Sonenshein, S 2010, ‘Sensemaking in Crisis and Change: Inspiration and Insights from Weick (1988)’, Journal of Management Studies, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 551-580.

McGregor, D & Gershenfeld, JC 2006, The Human Side of Enterprise, McGraw-Hill Professional, New York.

O’Rourke, JS 2009, Effective Communication, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Tubtimhin, J & Pipe, R 2009, Global E-Governance: Advancing E-Governance through Innovation and Leadership, IOS Press, Amsterdam.

Woodside, AG 2001, Getting Better at Sensemaking, Emerald Group, Bradford.

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