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Impact of Workplace Conflict on Research in Motion (RIM)

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 4678 words Published: 27th Apr 2020

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Research in Motion (RIM) a global mobile communications company that started in 1984, found its self like other telecommunications companies lagging when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007 and the IPAD in 2010.  RIM like most companies was not competitive in the market and made some poor management decisions, thus they lost some market shares in the telecommunication industry.  This case study will address management miscues by looking into the effect that employee unhappiness had on the development of the company.  We will address what communication mediums management will use to communicate with their target audience, whether internal and external on how they will handle the information that was detailed in the open letter from the anonymous employee that was released online by Boy Genius Report (BGR). We will address what conflicts that management will encounter when communicating with the intended audience.  We will address how communication will align with the company’s mission, vision, and goals. We will also address how the internal and external message will be monitored and measured and how the lessons learned will be documented.

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Good communication in the workplace is essential to any business success. The case study called “Research in Motion: Sincerely, a RIM Employee (A)” contained an “open letter” written anonymously to Co-CEO’s Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis then published online by Boy Genius Report (BGR) which showed how vital communication can be in the workplace and contributing factors. Those contributing factors included: “the need to focus on the end-user experience; recruiting senior software leaders; enabling decision-making and encouraging the flow of creativity; investing more in developers; the need for better marketing; employee accountability; establishing a safe, non-retaliation policy toward employees who wish to express their opinions; and encouraging interactions with the RIM employees” (Geller, 2011). These issues have an intended audience either internal, external or both; if the audience is internal, it means the factors affect those within the company, but the factors which include (recruiting, user experience, investing and marketing) will influence the external audience. The changes mentioned in this case must happen within the company; these areas that management cannot outsource. Communication between management and employees takes effort from each side and cannot be influenced by an outside party. The two specific issues that will be addressed are 1). Engaging with the employees to help make RIM an enjoyable place to work, and 2). Establish a more competitive environment in the industry. The contributing factors for the first issue are: no interaction (between management and employees), holding employees accountable, allowing employees to show creativity and listening to employees without retribution. The contributing factors for the second issue are recruiting senior software leaders; the investment in developers; focusing on end-user experience and marketing strategies.

Communication Goals

As addressed in the anonymous letter the writer told the Co-CEOs that they must interact and engage with their employees, “Reach out to all employees asking them on how we can make RIM better. Encourage input from ground-level teams—without repercussions—to seek honest feedback and absorb it” (Geller, n.d.).  This issue could be addressed internally by conducting an open meeting, emails, and observations and providing constructive feedback. The Co-CEOs were also told in this letter they need to hold their employee accountable for their work.to interact and engage with their employees. In the letter, it stated that “Rim has many people who underperform but stay in their roles. No one is accountable” (Geller, n.d.). When communicating accountability to employees, it should be addressed internally within the company by conducting morning meeting, these meetings should be conducted with senior management setting the first five minutes and then allowing the employees the time to offer feedback and provide clear documentation of the employee’s duties and expectations. When employees are not held accountable for their work performance, it could cause the company culture and morale to suffer. The lack of accountability of the employee could cause the leaders of the company’s credibility to be damaged and the loyalty of other employees will erode (S. Howard,2019). So, communicating the job description and expectations when the employee is first hired will help management to improve the accountability of the employees.

The employees at RIM need to show in their creativity. This will help the employee feel that we value their ideas, and it will help the company be more competitive in the industry. This factor could be addressed internally through team meetings, surveys, suggestions box, and regular brainstorming sessions.  By having the brainstorming sessions with management and a diverse group of workers could instill an appreciation for unconventional ideas (N. Fallon,2012). When using creative people, it gives you a more imaginative approach to a business problem. Creative thinking will set the business apart from the competitors in the industry, thus making the consumers want to have your products or services more than your competitors. There are several advantages of implementing creativity in the workplace, such as an increase in employee engagement, interactions, better staff morale, productivity, and teamwork. By also allowing your employee to be creative, they would like to learn more by seeking multiple ideas and solutions for the business (J. Gibbs,2019).  A business is more successful when management listens to their employees and in return, employees have a sense of comfort of providing honest feedback without fear of losing their job. This factor could be addressed internally through face-to-face meetings, suggestion boxes, and briefings. Listening to an employee will be very beneficial to a business when an employee feels that management doesn’t listen to their ideas, they tend to not put much effort into their work. If management actively listening to their employees’ ideas and feedback, they will notice a positive impact on the company’s bottom line and will also increase employee morale if they feel that their feedback will not cause retribution (R. Jose,2015).


Communication is difficult, the Co-CEO’s at RIM must make sure they are communicating the issues that were outlined in the “open letter” written anonymously by an employee. Engaging with the employees to help make the company a more enjoyable place to work. The company needs to determine what form of communication it will require for their intended audience (internal or external) and what information they feel that the audience need to know of (communication aim).

Internal Communication

Define Mediums

The medium that the Co-chief executive officers, Jim Balsillie, and Mike Lazaridis need to communicate with the company employees should be an internal memorandum since this communication will not be shared with the public, it should be sent as an attachment in the company email. By email, they could keep track of who received and read the memorandum. When choosing a communication channel, it involves “three basic considerations related to their limitations: richness, control, and constraints” (Cardon, 2017, pg. 190).  While having a face-to-face meeting to address the employees about issues will be a more ideal option, there are too many employees in various departments to reach. Therefore, the written memorandum will make sure all employees receive the same message at the same time. This medium of communication will also provide the CEO’s permanent record of communication.

Target Audience

The targeted audience for this internal memorandum will be the employees of RIM.  The primary goal of the Co- CEO’s is to make RIM, a better and more enjoyable place to work so, this communication will be assimilated to all the employees. Since this, all started because of, the anonymous employee letter written to the Co-CEOs was made public, so we should address any response to the entire company. It is more than likely that most the employees feel the same way as the anonymous employee, so they need to know that their voices are being heard and respected by the upper management team.

Draft Communication

We need to implement some changes for our company to remain competitive in the global mobile market.  We are sure you are all aware of the anonymous letter from a Senior-executive to us that was published in the Boy Genius Report.  One of the main reasons for the letter was that they felt that we were not open to listening to any ideas from anyone but ourselves to improve our company.  What we didn’t realize that we need to make sure our employees feel that they are respected and appreciated so our company could be more competitive in the industry.  To make RIM a much more enjoyable place to work, we will add an on-site fitness center, where you exercise and enjoy relaxing place to relieve stress and we will also install a suggestion box in the various areas where the employees could place ideas for things, we can do to improve the overall work environment.  We will also create an open-door policy, so our employees can discuss any problem or offer suggestions to fear retribution. We will make sure that we will address all ideas and if we decide that changes can’t be implemented, we will provide an explanation.   We would like to offer a sincere apology to our valued employees for creating such an environment.

We will also take steps in creating an incentive plan for each person or team that comes up with the best innovative idea for our company the monetary amount could total $150,000. We will place posters of the payment schedule for the incentives around the main office and the plant.  We will also provide other financial awards for work improvement and for other ideas that may lead to one idea for innovation.  We realize that the more ideas we have will be beneficial to the company’s success.

We will provide every department and every employee an opportunity to take a weekend retreat.  Per Cardon, it stated that “In any group, it takes about four meetings for everyone to become productive”. So, we believe that if all the employee has a paid weekend dedicated to team building, everyone on that team will become much more effective and productive.

Since our main goal to make working at RIM a more enjoyable place to work, by providing ‘people an opportunity to relax and the more relaxed an employee feel it will cause better innovation.  If you have any additional ideas or suggestions, please leave them in the suggestion box near the break room or come by the office.  Thank you all for patience during these changes. By working together, we will make RIM one of the best places to work in the industry.

The change of management of approach that was followed in this memorandum was the start at the top principal, which state that for employees to “buy-in” in the new policy the company’s leadership needs to embrace the new approach and offer the employees the support they need to accept the change. They also used the create ownership principal, states having employees accepting the plan is not enough, but leadership must take responsibility to make that change happen (Jones, Aguirre, & Calderone,2004). They not only accept ownership of the issue but they fully buy-in to the changes by offering the employees an incentive for their ideas.

Personal Needs and Development

To help employees, develop and enjoy working at RIM, management must take an active step to help the team members learn from each other and ask the employee what their needs and ideas are to improve their work environment. To accomplish this, management should first build a sense of community and peer learning, where they can learn from each other; This could occur when they offer employee retreats. To address employee needs and ideas, management should regularly solicit ideas about personal development from their employees, so they will get an idea on how they feel. If the company has a culture of personal development in place, the employees will talk about the ideas and goals with management that will benefit everyone (Forbes Coaching Council, 2017.


When changes occur within the company, it is necessary to offer support on all levels, so the changes will be more effective. The company retreat for each department will be one source of support for the employees.  It will ensure that senior management will have a way to get to know their employees on a personal level. During the retreat, upper management should make it clear if everyone doesn’t “buy-in” to the changes, the company cannot compete in the industry.  It will also allow the employees to learn about their other team members and build trust, which will make for a better work environment.  By offering a way for employees to provide feedback it will improve morale and will cause the employee great pleasure when they could earn an extra $150,000.00 bonus for their ideas.  The suggestion box and the open-door policy will be how management could offer support, because the employee will feel that the lines of communication will be open and that management is listening to their needs and fears about the changes and it will make it easy for them to buy-in to the changes (P. Economy, 2018).


Every organization encounters conflict during organizational changes.  Conflicts cannot be avoided, but management needs to minimize the conflict and not let it get out of control (G, Llopis 2014). The conflict has already happened at RIM, in the form of the open letter published on Boy Genius Report’s website.  The letter detailed how management was not listening to the employees and not an enjoyable place to work.  So, the conflict is why the changes are being made at RIM, therefore management should encourage the changes. The suggestion box will be a great source to keep management engaged with the employees, to gain new knowledge, ideas and potential grow the organization (G.Llopis,2014).

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External Communication

Once we communicate with our employees about the changes being made at RIM, the next step is to address our clients and shareholders since we must have a coordinated message to address the concerns in the anonymous letter. The external communication strategy for a company is to focus on providing information about a company’s products or services to clients and other business stakeholders, it also influences the company’s reputation (onyx health,2016).


Negative information from an employee could have a great impact on the company’s reputation (Caramela, 2018).  With Research In Motion (RIM), the employee didn’t mean to harm the company’s reputation, but that open letter published on Boy Genius Report’s website caused bad publicity for the company.  The saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity does not apply to this case.  The Co-CEOs of RIM needs to reach as many people as possible.  The medium that they need to communicate their message is to release a press statement.  A press statement is used for events that had taken place and that the company wants to make public (Ace, n.d).  While we use a press release to make announcements or company updates, the press statement is a more reactionary statement (Ace, n.d.). The press statement that RIM will issue should be straight-forward and use plain language, we should post it on RIM’s website and the company’s social media sites.  Social media gets the information quicker to a much larger audience.  The press statement could be issued immediately on the company’s Twitter and Facebook, along with releasing to more conventional news outlets (Burdstrom, 2018).

RIM could use the press statement to respond to the open letter to the clients, suppliers, and consumers.  Per Cardon, a more effective persuasive external communication provides an influential appreciation that expects the thought of skeptical consumers.

Target Audience

It doesn’t matter what communication skills or networking strategies you have if you don’t how you going to send your message and who will receive that message (S. Harvey,2018).  The press statement issued by the RIM target audience will comprise the company’s investors, developers, and customers. The purpose of the press statement is to inform everyone change that will affect the RIM overall outlook.  In a persuasive external message, Cardon stated that you will want to validate the customer’s thinking.  RIM could use social media to concentrate on specific demographics that would use Blackberry products.  They could also focus on the ” mobile” user, for example, instead of the teenagers who use the phone to Face Time and message each other.  Eventually, RIM would want to branch out to other demographics, but they need to focus on the traditional Blackberry users for the time being.

External Communication


The press statement could cause the miscommunication with your external audience if the company does not have a clear and concise picture of what they want to communicate what you.  The press statement should have a minimal conflict, but the company may need to consider that they may have some Board members dislike the fact that RIM is apologizing for its past business practices.  Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie job is to make sure that everyone is on board with the apology and the changes being made at RIM. Using social media could a potential source of conflict.  Social media is a great way for a company to get a message out quickly, it also has its drawbacks.  Social media is a way for people to communicate in real-time.  Which could be a positive or a negative for a company?  It’s important for RIM to have a social media manager or team dedicated to responding to social media comments; especially the negative comments they may encounter.

Mission, Vision, and Goals

The messages that we created and delivered to the employees and consumers should help communicate how the CEO’s plan to deal with the employee unhappiness and how the message should align with the company’s mission, vision, and goals.  Research in Motion company’s vision statement is, “To be recognized as the world’s best telecommunication and wireless devices company, by infinite the possibility of the innovation and creation to produce our product and software devices; to ensure and enhance product quality as well as to satisfy our customers’ unlimited demand in the future.  RIM will provide ongoing development towards the product and customer services (including service after sales) to become the best in terms of customer value, employee talent and predictable growth.  RIM also intends to create a strong culture in our organization so that it may achieve a competitive advantage in the telecommunication industry.” (Scribd, n. d). The company’s vision statement clearly states that they want to create a strong culture to achieve a competitive advantage in the telecommunication industry.  The company is achieving a happier work environment by creating the on-site fitness center, installing employee anonymous suggestion box, providing awards and incentives, and issuing yearly employee questionnaire that creates an innovating environment and hiring the most talented people.  These people not only want to be well compensated, but they also want a good work environment.

RIM’s company mission states that “they want to be a leading designer and manufacturer of wireless solutions for the worldwide mobile communications market” (Scribd, n.d.). A happy employee will be more creative and innovative than employees who perform the same routine tasks every day with no incentive.  If the CEO’s had addressed the employee issues in the past, there would not have been the open letter from the anonymous employee which will not cause a crisis within the company.

Monitor Internal Message

The way the CEO’s can monitor and measure the effectiveness of the internal communication to the employees is to conduct an anonymous survey to determine if the information communicated in the internal memorandum was well received and how engaged the employees are with the changes that will be implemented.  The survey will be anonymous, so the employees will feel comfortable about expressing their concerns without being afraid of being reprimanded or terminated.

Monitor External Message

The CEOs can use the same method of issuing a survey to monitor and measure the effectiveness of external communication. We will use the survey to get a better understanding of how the consumers about the changes that will be implemented at RIM. This will help the company know the level of their happiness with our service and products that need to be improved.  They can also put metrics in place to monitor and test the company’s social media presence.  This metrics will help us measure consumer engagement and track the progress of the information on our company website.

Documenting Lessons Learned

The lessons we learned from this situation will be evaluated and documented, so we will reevaluate these incidents, so we will overcome these obstacles.  The biggest take away from this will be on how the CEO’s will handle this situation, as a company, and how they strive to provide their employees and consumers with the trust and offer them the best products.

We will also document and file any documentation from meetings we held within each department.  Our focus is to make sure that our employees are heard and make RIM the best place to work.


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