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On March 1999 Hewlett-Packard (HP) made a surprise public announcement stating it was going to split off its medical technology division from its computer division. The news was well received by most stakeholders but came as a surprise to their employees. In creating a new company management was challenged with keeping the successful aspects of "The HP Way," the HP culture, and establishing a new corporate identity. The new medical technology division was named Agilent Technologies (AT). Leadership under CEO Ned Barnholdt established its core values, vision, and purpose and consistently communicating them through the use of symbols. Ultimately management at AT was successful in transforming and defining the company's culture.
The announcement was effective in communicating management's objectives to a broad number of constituencies, but was unsuccessful in accomplishing the corporate communication objectives. The announcement, a form of corporate communication, had three parts including the organization, the constituencies, and the (Reader, 505). Annette Shelby states that, "The unique relationship of the three variables determines which messages will be effective and which one will not" (Reader, 506). The anxious employees is most likely not the management's objective, which indicates that management did not realize that communication has implications for all stakeholders and did not properly establish communication objectives based off the required response (Reader, 507). As a consequence of not personally communicating the news with employees, top management is faced with correcting the effects of poor communication which is costly (Reader, 509).
Employees should have heard the news from a leader rather than CNBC and the announcement could have been more effective had it been couples with a memo or email to employees (Reader, 515). The blurred line between constituencies makes it important to communicate changes with employees before other constituents. For example, employees with stock options are also shareholders and they might hear information from other sources that could create negative sentiment and low morale (Reader, 511). Additionally, internal audience is more important than ever before because the internal audience is the largest advocate of the firm (Reader, 552). It is recommended that before delivering the message management considers the channel in which the message is communicated and what employees know about the topic of communication and how they feel about it (Reader, 531).
The Use of Symbols to Communicate the Vision and Purpose:
Symbols act as frames of reference that facilitate conversation about abstract concepts. Organizational symbols captures meaning into shared codes that undergird organizational culture and give a nonverbal message that reinforces the company image in the mind of the viewer" (Reader, 647). AT management used symbols to represent underlying values and expectations of organizational life and to teach organizational behavior through association. Utilizing and discussing organizational symbols provide a way for organizational members to understand the identities and values that come along with a major organizational change (Schmitt & Simonson, 1997: 28  ). Symbols are powerful because they fuse emotion and logic into a communications shortcut that employees easily understand, thus helping with information overload (Reader, 556).The symbols used to help employees transition into AT did not vary allowing the firm to create a reputation (Reader, 532). Furthermore the emotional response stimulated by symbols allows employees to believe the vision and purpose of the firm and become better advocates (Reader, 561). Finally, symbols, such as a logo, let messages for different audiences reinforce a single identity unifying the internal and external stakeholder (Reader, 631).
Goodman states, "One of the most important messages to deliver in the internal program is to create and define the company's values and beliefs to the employees who will thus have a clearer sense of what it means to be a member of the organization" (Reader, 630). AT ability to define the company's values in its vision and purpose statement and represent them through symbols is the predominate reason why the transition went smoothly. Management at AT, including CEO Ned Barnholdt, knew the significance of informing the mission and vision with employees so that they can be connected to the company's vision and send the message through the employee-customer-profit chain leading to financial performance (Reader, 516). Additionally, AT linked their corporate strategy to their corporate communication which created a high public reputation (Reader, 516). Furthermore AT's vision and purpose was communicated consistently externally and internally which is necessary to have employees identify with their organization and show a supportive attitude toward it, accept its premises, and make decisions that are consistent with organizational objectives (Reader, 634). Overall management was successful in implementing the firm's vision and purpose allowing them to strengthen the reputation and credibility of the firm in the eyes of the internal stakeholders by emphasizing values of the organization, its strong culture, and its congruent communication system (Reader, 635).
"The HP Way" and Agilent Technologies Culture/Structure:
Management at AT was tasked with duplicating the favorable culture at HP. Their ability to duplicate aspects of HP culture was fundamental to their success of AT's transition. The cornerstone function of managers and corporate communications is to determine how the firm wants to be perceived and then choose how best to identify the firm (Reader, 513). The issue was that the split would have created a gap between the firm's image and its true identity, hindering management's ability to establish a culture (Reader, 635). Furthermore management had to build the corporate reputation so they needed to implement the correct communication strategy to drive change. To facilitate the cultural transformation and realign the firm's image and identity, management decided to develop strong communication channels between management and employees so that they could send the correct internal messages and creating a supportive culture (Reader, 536 & 644). The channels were corporate advertisements where leaders used symbols to change the culture and ultimately its image creating advocates out of employees. By clarifying what the organization values and what differentiated it from other organization, Ned Barnholdt (CEO) was able to establish a culture and provide focus and direction for all members" (Reader, 641). Additionally, facilitating the development of goodwill within the culture, the CEO frequently communicated with employees and became the embodiment of the corporate brand (Reader, 513). Although understanding a company's cultural past helps AT, it was AT's success in establishing a strong culture and identity which help pull the organizational members toward the vision of the organization, keeping the firm externally adaptive and internally cohesive (Reader, 626 & 629). To perpetuate this success a recommendation is for management to consider consolidating communication under strategic planning." (Reader, 562)
Culture is also influenced through organizational structure and incentives. The "loyal and long-term employees," that are "accustomed to consensus decision making" indicated a strong internal communication structure, which is known to generate a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce. AT was materialized from a bureaucratic infrastructure. Bureaucracy, as explained by Scientific Management theorist Henri Fayol, can culminate in a close relationship between management and employees, preventing soldiering and creating Esprit de corps or a union of purpose which would be beneficial to AT (Reader, 181). However Integrated Perspective theorist such as Thomas Perters and Robert Waterman state that bureaucracy can subvert employee morale and ultimately the bottom-line through poor productivity (Reader, 199). Moreover management's incentive to their fiduciary duty encourages communication to employees which has shown to produce a 26% return to shareholders compared to -15% by those that are less effective" (Reader, 547). On the other hand more educated employees are demanding intrinsic motivation by being informed of their performance and the values of the firm (Reader, 549). AT's culture, where management communicates and acts on the feedback given by employees, motivated employees to drive the company's goals and eased the transition (Reader, 550).
Strategic Communication Planning:
AT showed strategic communication planning through the creation of a corporate image that clearly conveys the firm's vision and mission, reflect its interest, and encourages its employees to feel that they are making a contribution and difference within the organization (Reader, 653). To establish a positive corporate image AT first scanned the market and identified the firm's mind identity and behavior identity and the necessary sequence of activities, timing, and strategy needed to achieve growth (Reader, 642). By splitting from HP, AT realized they could address the firms lumbering nature and guard against its sub-optimization (Reader, 628).
Management of the newly created AT established core values, a vision, and a purpose and integrated them with the future goal and the interest of its stakeholders. Yamauchi's philosophy states that organization success can be obtained from management communicating what they hope the company will one day become" (Reader, 641). After defining AT's identity top management began widely communicating the company's vision and purpose to employees, stockholders, and customers while emphasizing the three values speed, focus, and accountability with the goal of establishing a mutual understanding, a strong identity and maximize credibility. (Reader, 643)
However after noticing the anxiety of their employees management began a process of adjusting the values of their employees to match that of the firm's. To implement a more effective communication strategy, management had to use multiple communication channels to make sure communication was consistent internally and externally (Reader, 557). Thus they revised their strategic plan to utilize rituals and gifts consisting of symbols at many touch points and created incentives in the form of stocks options to "motivate and energize employees" and eventually they created "a distinct identity for the new company taking shape."
To successfully implement strategic communication management must auditing the identity program they created and review the corporate identity or perception its stakeholders have of it continuously. Management must look at the program objectives and evaluate via feedback whether the message has been decoded or properly communicated and expected outcomes have been reached (Reader, 644). Auditing will insure consistency and standardization of AT's identify, which is the key contributor to the unifying application thus enabling the success of the corporate strategy (Reader, 631).
Dell Computer Corporation (Dell) Case Study:
As firms grow and transform into multi-nationals, corporate communication is necessary to support its mission and vision. Furthermore the success of a company's business strategy has become more contingent on how closely it is tied to the company's communication strategy and since organizations operate at the behest of the public will, the approach of aligning the firm's strategy and communication strategy is needed to form a strong reputation in the eyes of society that, more than ever before, depend on these organizations. This paper will examine the corporate communication structure and techniques used at Dell Computer Corporation to advance its strategic goals and how it helps the company in daily operations and help them to overcome obstacles and even crisis as described by Thea Haley. The paper will take a further look at foreseeable challenges facing the company and where applicable, the paper will make suggestions to prevent said challenges.
At the turn of 21st century Dell Computer Corporation (Dell) began a strategic move to diversify it product offering and began an expansion into the server and storage industry. In January 2000 Elizabeth Allen joined Dell as head of Corporate Communications. Due to the growing complexity of the nature of Dell's business, corporate communication have become an essential part of their business model with an average of 100 employees employed within corporate communication alone. Corporate communication had enabled Dell to stay true to the "direct" business model pioneered by Michael Dell internally and externally.
Corporate Strategies "The Soul of Dell" and its "Direct" Concept:
Dell's corporate strategies revolve around its "Direct" concept and the corporate philosophy known as "The Soul of Dell." The direct concept was developed by Michael Dell and originally referred to eliminating the middle man and the standard markups that go along with it (Dell, 1). Without middle men Dell was able to undercut competition by a wide margin and gain 14% of the global PC market. The Direct model also "put Dell closer to its customers" helping the company anticipate product trends and deal directly with any customer concerns giving them invaluable information. Tending towards the direct concept Dell established a commitment to "direct accountability" and called this corporate philosophy "The Soul of Dell." The philosophy served as a guide for the company's actions around the world creating a corporate identity that values customer, the Dell team, direct relationship, global citizenship, and winning. These values were the foundation for Dell's company culture. Utilizing these two philosophies Dell strived to maintain its position as the low-cost provider and in doing so focused on expenses and implemented a just-in-time manufacturing model. To keep competitive Dell began looking at diversifying beyond the PC market and looked to penetrate new "geographic markets, and to bolster its services business".
Dell's Corporate Communication:
Corporate communication becomes an imperative at a company like Dell that wished to implement the "direct" concept and "The Soul of Dell" throughout all facets of it 35,000 employee business. When Allen joined Dell she was put in charge of managing a team of 120, which is indicative of the importance of Corporate Communication. However she was "surprised to learn" that she would not be reporting directly to the CEO or CFO and was even more surprised to learn that investors relations did not come under her superiors, Tom Green's, "umbrella" (Dell, 2). Optimally, firms should have their Corporate Communication report directly to the CEO to make sure communication furthers the business strategy (Reader, 528). Rather than the CEO, the organization structure had her report to Green who "headed up four corporate functions at Dell." By amassing information regarding corporate communication at a head of major department Dell was able to insure communicating remained consistent throughout the organization which is important to an organization success in developing a strong reputation (Reader, 631). Furthermore Green was in the position to analyze the message developed by Corporate Communication to see if it fitted with Dell's Business model and functions allowing Corporate Communication to further the goals of the firm.
Although Investors Relations did not report to Tom Green, Dells decisions to have them report to the COO was an effective decision because it put the concern of the firm's shareholders into the heart of operations and made sure that shareholders has access to relevant and recent information. As the descriptive argument stipulated, the stakeholders view is simply a more realistic description of how companies really work (Reader, 571). Thus it is important that the shareholders are aware of the company's operations. The COO will be able to create an appropriate messages and choosing the right communication channels to deliver them. This will help the company align their goals with the interest of key stakeholders (Reader, 643). The feedback between shareholders and COO will insure corrective actions can be implemented (Reader, 636).
However after beginning work at Dell, Allen quickly realized that the in practice, "the organization was more complex and more fluid than what could be depicted on a flat sheet of paper," and it was this fluidity that gave Dell a competitive advantage (Dell, 3). Allen's positioning did not hamper her ability to communicate with the CEO. The "direct" concept had infiltrated the communication structure within Dell and was even carried out by the CEO. Having the CEO act as culture carries allowed Michael Dell to set the tone that pulsed throughout the company (Reader, 562). It was Dell's decision to stay true to his direct concept that made him an embodiment of "The Soul of Dell" creating the brand that was recognizable internally and externally and has the company trading at an optimistic 36 times expected earnings (Reader, 528). The direct nature of internal corporate communication was Dell's unique characteristics and core competencies that help differentiate it from its competitors and allowed it to achieve growth (Reader, 642). The direct communication has a tendency to remove confusion, which allowed operations to move smoothly (Reader, 554). Michael Dell's stated "We don't let structure get in the way of communication," which in turn gave Corporate Communication access to the high levels of senior management where those executives believe in the values of the firm. This relationship allowed dell to achieve its corporate goals (Reader, 529).
Understanding Dell's organization structure is necessary as Allen stated to, "understanding how corporate communication was structures". Dell's organization spanned as much as 30 countries and as such it large corporate communication team did as well. To manage the team, it was "organized through a loose 'matrix' based on customers, products, and geography. The structure is also describes as "opportunistic" (Dell, 4). Whether to centralize of decentralize communication usually depends on the size of the corporate, but in the case of dell having a structure that was a hybrid of both help develops its opportunistic nature (Reader, 526). The matrix structure supports various elements of a business, and centralizing information at the top helps create consistent quality messages (Reader, 527). At the top the CEO developed the overall strategy for communication and delivering the message allowing for the most effective and powerful communication (Reader, 529). However having this centralize top management supplemented by a network of decentralizes operatives gave Dell the ability to adapt to the special needs of the independent business allowing the firm to function smoothly with its low 72 hour inventory in many adverse environment (Reader, 526).
Communication Success in Crisis Situation:
Dell found out that its commitment to Corporate Communication was a large competitive advantage when in 2002, 29 ports were closed in the United States do to strikes. Close ports caused the freezing of markets and threw the computer industry into the red. Competitive Value Framework of Corporation Communicated considers that remaining competitive requires constant and consistent communication with all stakeholders (Reader, 627). Dell's Corporate Communication successfully completed its fundamental function by determining how a firm wants to be perceived and effectively and regularly communicated this identity and building a reputation with the usual stakeholders including employees, customers, and shareholders, but also its suppliers a very important stakeholder.
The company's leverage its corporate communication department so that is was aware of competitive forces and the forthcoming strikes. The information Corporate Communication obtained protected it from external forces and from attacks (Reader, 517). Allen and Corporate Communication's direct access to information about Dell's strategic direction allowed her to focus on maintaining Dell's cost cutting goals even during the crises. Furthermore, Corporate Communication formulated a contingency plan that enabled the firm to live up to its values codified in it credo, "The Soul of Dell," during the 10-day supply chain blackout and continue communicating its values (Reader, 519). Dell came out of the crises without a single delayed order and virtual unscathed a. Having Allen involved with the inception of the firm strategy is what allowed them to avoid repercussions later (Reader, 518). Thus Corporate communication involvement in crisis planning and management "made the difference between good and poor crisis management" (Reader, 539).
Dell's, like most large organization, had relationships with many public rations (PR) firms and other agencies. It was Dell's unfaltering embrace of direct communication that "transcended the 'us and them' mentality" and yielded a more effective and unique relationship with the agencies. Dell hired agencies firms for specific projects and not just for crisis orientation and incorporated the employees from the agencies directly into the day-to-day activities. For example, many CGI staff worked fulltime at Dell's headquarters and interacted with Corporate Communication. The firms were able to review budget targets and make sure the budget was being allocated in line with business needs. Other agencies were used to build the firms identity and image which required a variety of different skills. Working with agencies Dell's Corporate Communication was more successful in implementing corporate advertisement, managing media relations and government relations and making sure these relationships were aligned with the firm's overall strategy (Reader, 539).
In 2001 Corporate Communication was downsized to 80 fulltime employees. With the cuts, Allen's had direct reports outside the country and established a management method to best communicate with the globally dispersed team. To be successful Allen has to "listen to what [her employees] have to say and to get to know who they really are as individuals" (Reader, 563). Allen used the email and electronic communication based culture that was part of the work environment to facilitated her communication to here international employee base. However although email fostered the "direct" concept of communication, it lacked richness compared to other more personal communication and to be a effective manager Allen would need to get out from behind their (Reader, 563).Thus to supplement the emails, at headquarters, Allen followed a "management by walking-around" philosophy to interact with employees.
The benefits of using a physical presence to manage employees is that this informal channel will make them feel like they are catalyst of change and a part of management's decision which builds trust (Reader, 536). A physical presence also creates a strong internal communication network which has always generated a more engaged, productive and loyal workforce and furthers the organization's objectives (Reader, 634). Allen also utilized weekly meetings and active listening, which is a good way to inform employees about their performance (Reader, 554). Human Behavior theorist such as Elton Mayo, emphasize the interaction of individuals and as his Hawthorne effect states, giving workers attention influences productivity (Reader, 185). Allen's interaction and management of team communication turned employees into brand ambassadors and helped Dell stay competitive in its daily operations.
Foreseeable Challenges and Risk:
There are a few unforeseen challenges some are characteristic of the industry while others can be improved. These challenges are the broad roles the Corporate Communication plays at Dell, The Criticism Dell received from competitors, public confidence, and internal politicking.
A Survey by Weber Shandwick shows that The Corporate Commutation at a company like Dell is usually involved in approximately fifteen activates within the firm with over half of the department involved in nine of these activities (Reader, 531). Although it is expected, and usually beneficial, that Corporate Communication is performs a "wide variety of subfunctions and function," it is possible that with the firm expanding internationally that the broadening of roles will place too great of pressure on the department (Reader, 539). To help with communication Dell might consider a less fluid more centralized organization.
Allen recently received an email with an article criticizing Dell's spending on R&D. The criticism came from Sony, with whom they had strategic relations. Dell must be cautious in dealing with issues from organizations that historically are in good standing. Corporate Communication faces the challenge of address the criticism in a way that will not hamper Dell's cost cutting strategy that could be tarnishing. Direct communication with competitors will help (Reader, 652).
Poor reputation of big businesses like Dell presents the challenge of building a strong image. A study by Gallup revealed that public confidence in "big business" was the second lowest rated of all institutions in the United States, equal to the US Congress with a 22 percent vote of confidence (Reader, 539). Continuing to implement "The Soul of Dell," through all touch point with stakeholders will prove to be a valuable mean reputation building (Reader, 631).
Although the direct communication concept at Dell has proven to be beneficial for corporate communication it also presents the risk of politicking. It was easy for Allen to bypass Green and gain direct access to senior management (Dell, 4). To prevent employees from politicking going over their superiors' heads Dell might consider establishing a more bureaucratic structure to channel communication more vertically within the organization (Reader, 181).
The New Career Development Program that Ruins Careers
AMEX Corporation Case Study
Recruitment and training of employees is a primary concern for organization as they grow and wish to develop a corporate image. As a firm grows it will need to establish new programs and new employee promotion opportunities will arise. Management will then be faced with challenge of assigning employees to the positions. This paper will examine the challenges a training director at AMEX Corporation will face in determining project assignments and the disagreements that can arise if the situation is not managed correctly. The paper will take a further look at strategies and tactics used by management and employees during the decision process and where applicable will make recommendations to best remedy the conflicts.
Jane Johnson, director of AMEX training department, and her team was given the task of creating a new Career Development Program. After getting approval Johnson was faced with establishing how the work should be divided and who should take the lead position on the project. To find a solution Johnson held a meeting with her senior staff, Denise Giles, John Martin, Jill and Roger. Although Johnson's objective was to establish project allocations, Giles's made a comment that causing a shift in agenda towards deciding the lead person on the project. Johnson soon lost control of the meeting and her employees began debating who was most qualified for the position. The meeting concluded with Johnson telling Giles and John they were "out of line", and that she would see them both "individually" later in the day (AMEX).
Management Strategies Used by Johnson:
To implement a new program, goals must first be established and decisions concerning who the staff should report to needs to be set (Reader, 552). To make these decisions Johnson decided to hold a meeting with her employees. A meeting is good forums for making employees feel like a part of the decision process, thus increasing employee satisfaction of their job (Reader, 548). Johnson's employees were comfortable enough to offer advice to her which is characteristic of effective management (Reader, 553). Furthermore Johnson listened to her senior staff's opinions, which makes them feel more involved and reinforce a feeling that they are contributing to the company's performance (Reader, 550). Additionally, Johnson decision to keep the meeting small, which is known to facilitate problem resolution, was conducive to reaching her objectives (Reader, 555). Overall Johnson created the right environment for a well run meeting (Reader, 355).
Although Johnson created the correct environment to achieve her management goals, she failed to realize a frequent problem that is caused by not following an agenda (Reader, 355). The employee meeting quickly fell into disarray when it tried to accomplish both decision making and problem solving, which requires different meeting structures (Reader, 356). If problem solving was Johnson ultimate objective, then only those who are directly positioned to help the meeting reach its objective namely the stronger candidates, Jane and Giles, should be invited (Reader, 356). Johnson should have kept the meeting on track, encouraging information that would contribute to the meeting's purpose and effective employee communication (Reader, 357).
Employees' Communication and the Conflict:
The debates for a position of power intensified as the employees began to verbally attack each other. It was clear that both Martin and Giles could not communicate effectively, as they were unable to successfully persuade the other (Reader, 317). Besides their reputations, it appeared that Giles and Martin had limited information about the other's qualifications and Johnson had limited information about the workloads of the project. Without information and the ability to effectively communicate the information one cannot make good decisions (Reader, 320). Hostility, frustration, and feeling of superiority among employees continued and Martin said, "Giles you are doing it againâ€¦ you just won't confront things openly". John's statement lacked sensitivity competencies and will be detrimental to his future political career within the organization (Reader, 211). Due to the employees inability to demonstrate active listening they jeopardized their positions' within the organization and created an adverse work environment (Reader, 361). Ineffective communication and strong emotions had the project, "already ruining some careers" (AMEX).
Strategic Moves and Tactic used by Employee:
The new lead position presented an incentive for employees to use strategic moves to obtain the position. The competitive internal environment which was created was turned into a prisoner's dilemma. Giles and Martin both played their dominant strategy in order to maximize their chance to obtain the lead position (Reader, 252). Martin took the first movers advantage by initially voicing his qualifications forcing a rebuttal from Giles and taking the advantage in a sequential move game (Reader, 253). Giles tried to even the playing field through using a warning tactic and telling Martin that she is the senior member of the team and that everyone expects her to lead the project (Reader, 271). The warning tactic is usually an effective means in obtaining your objective and in this case communicated her qualification to the group in attempt to persuade Johnson (Reader, 227). Martin remarked by assuring his experience and threatening Giles, "I have never raised this point before", to manipulate Johnson insure his interest is achieved (Reader, 270). The outcome of their efforts was leaving a marred reputation on Johnson which is probably worse than if both colluded (Reader, 252).
The strategies used by Johnson's employees could have been improved had they used a step by step strategy to persuade to forgo the leadership role or a bargaining strategy where one would leverage the other by giving him or her more responsibility (Reader, 293). However as a consequence of the conflict between the two employees they destroyed their credibility making the use of strategies ineffective (Reader, 269). Moreover John's attempt to leverage his experience to qualify him for the position was matched by Giles experience. In order to mitigate this problem Martin should have made an argument designed to alter the beliefs of others in a direction favorable to him, such as being more amiable (Reader, 268). Before meeting next time Martin or Giles, if they want the position, should consider what resource(s) they have that the other wants and utilize the resource(s) to shift the balance of power into their favor. With more power negotiations have a better chance of closing in your favor.
Before calling for a meeting Johnson should have taken regular temperature checks of her employees' opinions and considered their values and characteristics (Reader, 549). The checks would have unveiled that Giles is an indirect communicator who speaks implicitly, and Martin is a direct communicator who speaks explicitly, which means that her employees have differing intrapersonal preferences (Reader, 516). Additionally Giles showed avoidance conflict behavior by saying, "I don't think we should be declaring who want the job" and attempting to avoid the ensuing conversation with Martin (AMEX). Meanwhile, Martin has a competitive conflict behavior demonstrated by declaring his desire to be the leader, a topic sensitive among the employees (Reader, 220). Furthermore, the other employees present at the meeting demonstrated accommodation conflict behavior as they quickly removed themselves from further consideration for the leadership position (Reader, 221). Finally, Johnson decision to resolve the conflict by hearing holding an open forum is an example of a compromise conflict behavior preference (Reader, 221). These conflict preferences are influenced by the employees' assessment of the situation where the recognize concerns for the task and their interpersonal relationships which they compare to their past experiences (Reader, 221). The differing conflict preferences were visible throughout the meeting and if they were recognized by Johnson or her employees the conflict might have been averted.
Conflict Avoidance Techniques:
To avoid the conflict Johnson should have used management and communication techniques to assess the situation with her employees. Johnson should have appointed a leader through interviewing her employees, Giles and John, separately. Separating the employees is better suited to their intrapersonal behavior, which appears to be composed of their self concept, needs and predispositions (Reader, 213). One-on-one communication with Giles and Martin would have made for a better environment to discuss the leadership position and give her the opportunity to understand her employees putting her in a better position to deal with the situation (Reader, 354). Furthermore, a survey to establish what is important to her employees would have uncovered that project assignments is not an appropriate topic for the meeting (Reader, 554). Additionally, mangers spend eighty percent of their time communicating and it is their responsibility to spend a significant amount of time communicating with their constituents (Reader, 563). Had Johnson communicated with Denis and Martin had she follow the meeting's agenda she would have been able to avoid the competing interest of her employees and would not have created the environment that fostered the (Reader, 512).
If Martin and Giles demonstrated effective communication they would have had better success (Reader, 317). To communicate more effectively they should have used a communication strategy to make sure the receivers' responses match their objectives. A communication strategy begins by knowing your audience and their predispositions and communication preferences so that one can tailor the message to best fit with their audience's preferences. After having an understanding of their audience Giles and Martin would be in a better position to deliver their more empathetic message and to achieve their goals (Reader, 211). Afterwards, Denis and Martin should take the opportunity to actively listen to feedback and make necessary adjustment (Reader, 240).
By engaging in a more proactive interaction Johnson and her employees would have acknowledged each other's conflict preferences and would have improved their interpersonal effectiveness (Reader, 238). In particular Denis and Martin would have been able to improve their interpersonal skills had they shown more courtesy and common sense (Reader, 333). By using more common sense and showing courtesy Giles and Martin would have realized that the meeting was not the place or time to discuss the leadership role and that they should use a descriptive messages which relies more on facts and less on accusations (Reader, 245).
Recommendation to Solve the Conflict:
After calling off the meeting Johnson has the task of developing a solution to the conflict which arose and although correcting communication mistakes is costly, she needs to deal with it in a timely manner to resume her $100,000 training project (Reader, 509). In the individual meeting with Giles and John, Johnson has to use effective communication to providing them with the information acknowledge their feedback and issue her decision in response. With effective communication Giles and Martin will feel more a part of the decision process and will be more susceptible to her decision (Reader, 319). Johnson must be sure to be clear, specific and convincing in order for them to accept and respect her decision (Reader, 319). To insure that Giles and Martin have internalized her decision, Johnson should pay attention to their body language and emotion in their response. These channels will deliver a better understanding of her employees' desire for the role and how accommodating they will be in the future (Reader, 360). If Johnson establishes a culture of effective communication she will create a stronger relationship with the members of her senior staff and eventually resolve the conflict revealed by the meeting.