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This report discusses the risks of managing diversity, analysis of UPS diversity policies and how the risks are mitigated and also to suggest general framework applicable to their specific organisational environment. This report also includes a detailed analysis of the trends in the use of communication channels and examines the possible gaps which may exist in the communication channels of UPS and understand how leaders can overcome them.
Introduction to Diversity
At the turn of the 21st century, labour market statistics have indicated that diversity factors like race and ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation and political and religious beliefs have never been more pronounced. The ever-increasing acknowledgment and celebration of diversity has impacted almost every aspect of human resource management today.
The result of diversity management does not necessary bring about competitive advantage for businesses. Allard (2002 p. 200) notes that "Just having diversity does not by itself guarantee greater business success nor does it guarantee qualitative social and creativity improvements." General disadvantages of mismanagement include difficulty in achieving consensus, miscommunication, confusion, uncertainty, fear, increased resistance, reverse discrimination from majority groups, impractical expectations and hiring complications. It is thus conclusive to note that ineffective or inappropriate management of diversity is detrimental to an organisation.
Risks Involved in Managing Diversity
Exhibit 4 highlights some key challenges faced by leaders from the EU while addressing diversity issues. The following risks highlighted by this exhibit will be elaborated further in this section.
Perception of Diversity Risks
Inaccurate managerial perceptions caused by common misconceptions leads to risks identified in Exhibit 3. This is important as it affects an organisation's 'diversity consciousness' (Exhibit 17).
Exhibit 2: Managerial Perceptions (Relationships of Myths with Risks to Managing Diversity)
Risks Arising from Myths
Diversity = Women & Minorities
Failed initiatives, employee backlash, increased turnover, employee dissatisfaction, divisiveness
Address all dimensions of diversity
Diversity = Deficiency of KSAs
Diversity is an advantage
Diversity = Divisiveness
Diverse groups are more effective in the long run
Diversity = Symbolic Ethical Practice
View diversity management as a value-added program instead of a 'feel good' activity
Diversity should be led solely by CEO
Proactive diversity leadership by all management staff
Exhibit 3: Diversity Myths and Debunking Them
EBTP Study on Risks
Exhibit 4: Challenges that EBTP companies face when addressing diversity issues (N=188)
Source: Focus Consultancy, "Diversity Management in 2008: Research with the European Business Test Panel", 2008, p.21
Exhibit 4 highlights some key challenges faced by leaders from the EU while addressing diversity issues. The most prominent challenge identified is leadership commitment. More than 80% of corporations felt that inadequate management commitment poses an important risk against diversity initiatives (Rank 1 and 2 combined). Vivian (2009) relates the need to differentiate diversity management and diversity leadership. He notes that 'management' essentially deals with rules and policies while 'leadership' deals with 'changing hearts and minds' and holding people accountable.
Lack of Budget
While it may be true that diversity brings fresh perspectives to the meeting room, there is a possibility that the high costs of integrating such diverse workgroups outweigh the increased performance (Ancona and Caldwell 1992; Murray 1989). Ancona and Caldwell (1992 p. 323) further explains, "The group literature points to the difficulty of merging different cognitive styles, attitudes and values, such as those found in teams with diverse members. If not managed effectively, this diversity can create internal processes that slow decision making and keep members from concentrating on the task. Teams made up of individuals from different "thought-worlds" may find it difficult to develop a shared purpose and an effective group process."
Lack of Information/Awareness
One of the most debated and common perception is that diversity management has no place in modern egalitarian societies. This ideology is based on the assumption that the both factors negate each other. This assumption may hold some truth if diversity management is viewed as affirmative action. Organisations that make this presumption face a dilemma in formulating initiatives, especially in Singapore. Management initiatives focus on diversity as a threat and propose actions pertaining to control or concealing employee differences. This negative approach does not address the issue directly or in a way that benefits the organisation.
Exhibit 5: Risks to Managing Diversity Due to Demographic Changes by Chevrons Singapore
In Singapore, generation Y workers are seeing a big influx of foreigners while having to cope with existing competition among the locals for higher value-added jobs. Organisations will have to cope with assimilating these workers into their corporate culture most effectively and efficiently.
Exhibit 6: Resistance in Obtaining Funding for Training Foreign Staff
National Trades Union Congress LearningHub is reporting high resistance in obtaining organisational funding for training these staff. The main rationale is that most of these foreign expatriates come on a contract basis, which is a rising trend in Singapore. If not properly assimilated, organisations run the risks mentioned above by Chevrons.
Difficulty in Measuring Impact of Diversity
The most common obstacle to implementing diversity initiatives is the justification of the cost-benefit ratio. A 2005 survey of 113 leading UK companies revealed that while 91% identified a clear business case for diversity management, only 35% could roughly estimate the effects of the initiatives on profit (Personnel Today 2005). The difficulties in accurately quantifying the subjective effect of diversity initiatives can pose problems for managers to gain the support of the external stakeholders and the board of directors. Furthermore, the costs of implementing diversity initiatives are relatively high while quantifiable profit realisation may take five to ten years.
Discriminatory Behaviour amongst Staff
Metzler (2003) also identifies that the marginalisation of diversity due to the failure of executives to address the deeper issues of discrimination and biasness is one of the top risks to effectively managing diversity. Vivian (2009) highlights the fact that management is defined by many to relate solely to establishing external rules and policies, an effective leader has to influence the interpersonal level. The outcome of managing diversity based on marginalisation causes perceived inequality. The Korn/Ferry Corporate Leavers survey (2007) showed the impact of perceived inequality due to failed diversity initiatives.
Exhibit 7: Specific Forms of Unfairness Experienced by Respondents who Left Due to
Based on the table on generational differences (Appendix B), it has been noted that these significant differences have a great impact on businesses. In Singapore, there are 7 workers for every worker over 65 years. By 2035, there will be only 2 (UN population statistics). In a recent survey by KPMG, 56% of respondents saw Generation Y as critical to future success. This figure mirrors the fact that a demographic shift will begin in 2011 as the oldest Baby Boomers begin to hit retirement. Retention of Generation Y workers continues to be a problem.
Generation Y's penchant for immediate goals, enthusiasm and need for immediate gratification has caused them to be defined as impatient, impulsive and unrealistic by the other generation that emphasises practicality and work experience. An accelerated succession planning process for Generation Y workers may invoke feelings of unfairness among the older generation if not managed appropriately.
The younger generation also places more importance towards passion and seeks social and personal meaning in all their endeavours. This means that better compensation and benefits may not be sufficient.
Exhibit 8: Tripartite Guidelines & Tripartite Partners
In this section, we highlight the cons of affirmative action and how it places undue stress on corporations while failing to address the underlying issue.
'Diversity Coercion' = Reverse Discrimination
Exhibit 9: How Affirmative Action leads to Reverse Discrimination
Reverse discrimination is defined as, "bias against the members of a majority group in employment, promotion, or distribution of benefits." It is also specifically defined as, "arguments used by opponents of affirmative action that any policy of giving special favour to any groups automatically discriminates against other groups."
The result of affirmative action as Schwartz (2003) argues, is the irrational view by corporate leaders that political correctness is the prevalent rationale for diversity management. Various Singapore Minister's viewpoints on affirmative action are shown in Appendix C and D.
Exhibit 10: Diversity vs. Affirmative Action
Source: Management by Williams South-Western College Publishing (2000)
The case study of Singapore's politics is a prime example of the risks of implementing diversity initiatives based only on external pressure, ethnic or moral obligations. In Singapore, the perception of diversity management should be aimed at providing a level playing field for all employees while strengthening the concept of meritocracy concurrently.
For example, in UPS Asia, one in three employees in the management level is females. This statistic is the highest in the world; significantly higher than in UPS United States. This figure proves that diversity as a guideline places less pressure on the organisation and produces better results.
UPS Diversity Policies
UPS Diversity Policies
Diversity Dimensions Addressed
How it Mitigates Generic Risks
Flexible Benefits Plan
- Points system
- Choose an ala carte range of benefits
- External dimensions
- Internal dimensions
- Individual dimensions
- Recognises diversity
- Upholds fairness
'Promotion from Within' Policy
- Staff gradually rise through the ranks
- Diversity management starts from the top
- All diversity dimensions
Addresses the lack of
- Leadership commitment
- Skills & Expertise
- Leaders able to address deeper issues of discrimination
Community Internship Programme (CIP)
- Potential leaders sent overseas to engage in community work
- Addresses need for social responsibility
- Country dimensions
- Organisational dimensions
- External dimensions
Exhibit 11: UPS Diversity Policies and How It Mitigates Risks to Managing Diversity
Flexible Benefits Plan
UPS is among a handful of organisations that adopts the flexible benefits plan.
'Promotion from Within' Policy
The very nature of the UPS business and culture creates high pressure for diversity. This is seen in their top directors' credentials, all of whom have at least a decade of experience in national, sub-regional and regional operations. This corresponds to the fact that UPS, being early adopters of diversity initiatives, has made it a point to incorporate their core values and diversity core policies in their management at the very start of their UPS careers. Supporting research has shown that on the long-term, diverse groups perform better than similar groups (Harrison, Price & Bell 1998). This policy therefore ensures that their management achieve homogeneity in their work processes.
In succession planning, apart from evaluating performance at the national level, potential managers are also required to prove competence at the regional level. Overseas assignments ranging from half a year to a year exposes leaders to different cultures and diversity management initiatives unique to the region.
Community Internship Programme (CIP)
UPS' commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) also highlights their involvement in employee development and diversity. UPS spends a significant sum on philanthropic work. More importantly, this proactive approach engages the selected future leaders by placing them in testing and diverse troubled communities. It promotes greater awareness about the deeper issues of discrimination.
UPS Policy Book
Exhibit 12: Application of UPS Policy Book towards a Fair and Inclusive Workplace
Exhibit 13: Extract from UPS policy book
As illustrated (Exhibit 12 and 13), UPS core values of inclusion, encouraging participation and advocating the best effort of everyone is put into practice. Generally, there are no models of diversity that UPS adheres to. What is concrete is that UPS holds very dear to their corporate core values while recognising the constant variations of diversity. The first four policies of their policy handbook relates to diversity policies (Exhibit 12 and 13). The recognition of this factor means that their diversity initiatives are not cast in stone. This provides flexibility in the formation of their strategic policies according to the rigours of their diverse and changing business environment. Fairness continues to play a primary role in UPS policies while diversity initiatives play a supporting role.
Strong Corporate Culture
The homogeneity in their core values and practices in all UPS branches enables job rotation in the form of overseas assignments avoid the threat of culture assimilation. Culture assimilation occurs when employees belonging to the ethnic minority take on cultural characteristics of another majority group. This poses a problem to MNCs that conduct extended overseas assignments. Employees who return after a long time take on values and practices of the overseas branch while ignoring the fact that external environmental variables form the basis of different policies and practices. The core values and practices ensure homogeneity in all branches and mitigate this problem.
Exhibit 14: How UPS addresses cultural dimensions
This framework depicts how the risks arising from the cultural dimension are mitigated by the strong UPS culture and their commitment to CIP.
In conclusion, UPS addresses most of the risks mentioned above with their strong corporate culture. Most of the best practices in diversity practices (Appendix E) are done in UPS except for feedback and accountability. This is because UPS does not establish any diversity measurement tools to quantify their diversity initiatives' impact on organisational profitability.
Thus, the advantages of diversity measurement tools will be mentioned in this next section.
According to the analysis of UPS' diversity policies, it is recommended that the following be implemented to mitigate the remaining risks of managing diversity that has not yet been addressed by UPS.
Strategic Responses to Managing Diversity
Exhibit 15: Strategic Responses for Managing Diversity and their implementation
Source: Academy of Management Executive, 1999, Vol. 13, No. 2
Exhibit 15 is a combination of both tables found in Appendix F. While it should be noted that this framework is a system of generic ideals that cannot effectively identify an organisation's wide mix of diversity initiatives, it has practical uses. This framework serves as a guide for identifying organisational perspectives for each dimension in order to identify potential risks. Combined with quantifiable diversity measurement tools, an effective and more justifiable business case for diversity management can be identified thus making diversity management much more practical to the UPS' unique business environment.
Exhibit 16: Criteria for Analysis
Source: Openminds Diversity Management Consultants 2004
Exhibit 17: Definition of Diversity Analysis Components
Source: Openminds Diversity Management Consultants 2004
To establish diversity initiatives as a long-term organisational commitment, continuous evaluation of employee satisfaction, involvement and suggestions need to be done. It is advisable for UPS to establish measurement tools to quantify the effectiveness of diversity initiatives on organisation profitability.
Diversity interfaces will be covered in data measurement tools in the last section of this report. Exhibit 16 effectively mitigates costs-related risks by structuring diversity planning and justifying the business case for diversity initiatives.
The intention of this next section is to highlight the potential erosion effect of UPS core values due to diversity initiatives and suggest value-added initiatives to prevent this risk. While it is noted that UPS core values provide homogeneity throughout the organisational framework and addresses much of the risks involved in diversity management, the rise of diversity challenges bring the level of flexibility of UPS's core values into new perspective.
Mitigating the Impact of Demographic Changes on
Balancing Generation X and Generation Y
As mentioned, demographic changes are greatly impacting Singapore's workforce. The future of Singapore's economy will depend on these two generations, making effective management of generational differences crucial.
While there are limitations to this issue, it is important to note that there would not be enough generation Y leaders included in the decision making process. The majority of generation X in management levels would still be unavoidable due to local demographics.
Once an employee is ready and has indicated interest in a vacant managerial position, the management will identify the right candidate. Developmental phase will take three to five years, including overseas assignments of half a year to a year. Based on improvements towards performance appraisals and other criteria, the developmental phase could be shortened by setting higher standards while shortening the time frame involved in these assessments. This arrangement can provide a greater challenge to young individuals while accelerating organisational learning and increasing performance. Another strategy would be to identify potential young leaders sooner and prepare them further through the developmental stage.
It should be noted that the business case for more efficient succession planning of generation Y leaders should be proven statistically in terms of better staff retention, performance levels and overall production. This cost-benefits analysis addresses the risk of perceived inequality by generation X (majority group) on succession planning since they took longer for promotion.
Technological Backlash on Work-Life Balance
While both generations are technologically-savvy, generation Y has greater preferences for social and internet connectivity and multi-tasking. With the wide use of Blackberry phones becoming a recent corporate phenomenon in addressing this preference, the achievement of work-life balance could be disrupted by twenty four hour connectivity towards work. It is therefore important that this benefit of increased connectivity is not used as justification for increased workload.
Measures recommended to avoid this include 'email-free' weekends, where organisations allow employees to go 'offline' to allow private space and time to employees during weekends. This policy can be implemented as a guideline and made known to all staff, suppliers and customers.
Effectiveness of Contingency Workforce
During the recent economic downturn, flexible measures like shorter workweek and unpaid leaves helped businesses tide through. In United States, the use of a contingency workforce (Exhibit 18) provides similar advantages to corporations.
Exhibit 18: Overview of Contingency Workforce and its Impact on Diversity
Diversity Measurement Tools
Shapiro and Allison (2009) revealed that corporations gain the most when executives can see immediate business results from diversity initiatives. It showed that executives who use the strategic approach (Appendix F) to diversity management produces some immediate results that continue to drive leadership commitment. This means that instead of implementing it as an isolated, separate policy and slowly as a supporting role for core organisational objectives, leaders integrate diversity initiatives into core organisational objectives that can portray immediate results.
Exhibit 19: Recommendations for Quantifying Impacts from Diversity Initiatives
Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Review of the Charge Agenda (2006)
Bridging Communication Gaps
With an increasingly diverse workplace, leaders must realise that the ways they communicate have a vital impact on cohering the workplace. Effective organisational communication has become a strategic tool for employee engagement, employee and organisational learning and a basis for promoting productivity, giving companies a competitive edge.
Following technological advances, an increasing number of people are more inclined to communicate through electronic tools, which has also made the existence of virtual teams plausible. However, complete communication often does not occur due to the presence of communication barriers. To thrive in the new economic climate, leaders must learn to adjust their styles of communication to bridge the differences in cultures, perspectives and relationships to foster effective communication at all levels of the organisation.
The consequences are dire if communication is not well managed and the repercussions of communication failure can result in workplace conflict, a breakdown in employer-employee relationships and a drop in productivity.
Channels of Communication
UPS has a Code of Business Conduct which sets standards of conducts for its employees which includes a non-profanity rule. The Code allows the freedom to ask questions and voice concerns. No employee will be disciplined, dismissed or be retaliated against in any way for doing so. (Exhibit 19) shows the available channels for doing so.
Exhibit 20: UPS' Communication Channel
Adapted from http://www.ups.com/content/corp/code_conduct.html
These policies are aimed at facilitating communication among all employees across all levels and employees shall choose the method they are most comfortable with to voice their concerns.
Tools of Communication
There are numerous forms of communication which exist, especially with the introduction of electronic means in this technological age. These forms can be classified into formal and informal ways.
Exhibit 21 compares the efficacy of generic communication methods and those that UPS uses against the richness of these channels.
Exhibit 21: Efficacy of Communication Methods
Communication gaps arise from misunderstandings and confusions that may take place from both the managers and employees' sides, which could be due to the different perceptions of communicated information.
UPS' Communication Gaps
One of the main reasons for calling the UPS Help Line as pointed out by Ong (2009) is miscommunication between managers and their employees. This could be caused by messages that can sometimes get distorted when they are being passed from one person to another. Employees may also encounter selective retention especially when large amounts of information are communicated. This is usually solved by reiterating the point to the employees until they have demonstrated a clear understanding of the message.
Generational Communication Gaps
The workplace is currently made up of Baby Boomers, Generations X and Y. However, in about a decade or so, there would be an influx of the pioneer Generation Z. It is imperative to consider the differences this generation might bring to the workplace and be prepared.
Born in the technological era (1995 onwards), Generation Z lacks interpersonal skills due to the propagation of technological tools. Although research for this newer generation is not substantial, inferences of the different generational styles of communication can be derived from Exhibit 22.
Exhibit 22: Generational Communication Styles
Source: Aloysius M. Gallagher, SPHR, Adjunct Associate Professor, Carnegie Mellon University ,H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy & Management , Pittsburgh, PA, Fall 2004
Looking at the generational comparison of communication styles between the Baby Boomers, Generations X, Y and Z, it is apparent that Generation Z requires the use of more sophisticated and informal means of communication and what could be evolved to be a virtual workplace. The differences in generational preferences and need to use high-technological methods to communicate could create a communication gap which leaders would have to identify and plan for early.
Cross-Cultural Communication Gaps
While the workplace in UPS is made up of people from all walks of life, it is important for managers to understand the cultural constraints that might affect the communication process. The lack of cultural apprehension will preclude effective interaction in a culturally and ethnically diverse business environment.
When people from different cultures come together to interact, their messages are guided by their basic value orientations and cultural norms (Neuliep 2003). Interpersonal communication is not conducted the same way around the world. Thus, embracing cultural differences would be a step to bridging communication gaps.
This report will focus on the cross-cultural communication theories developed by Geert Hofstede and Edward T. Hall. (Appendix I)
From Hofstede's and Hall's theory, it is clear that communication is interwoven with culture. The lack of understanding of cross-cultural communication will lead to a communication gap. However, this may not be the case in UPS, because of the imbuement of its 102-year strong corporate culture. It should be noted that effective communication does not solely rely on cultural differences but also on the organisational culture that is involved.
Barriers to Communication
Exhibit 23: Barriers to Communication
When there is a breakdown in communication, it is usually a result of obstacles arising from the environment of UPS or the individual receiver (Exhibit 23). The message goes through external and internal barriers before finally being received, which can result in a highly misrepresented message.
The organisational environment of UPS can present several barriers that may obstruct the communication flow.
Lack of Alternative Channels
Referring to Exhibit 20, UPS mainly uses formal communication. Ong (2009) also mentioned that UPS prefers to communicate formally.
The lack of informal channels can cause messages to be communicated in a manner that does not suit a more formal approach. Multiple channels of both formal and informal communication should be encouraged.
UPS practises both upward (UPS Help Line and Open Door Policy) and downward communication. However, there are disadvantages of using such directional flows and this will create a communication gap (Exhibit 23).
Exhibit 24: Direction of Information Flow
Communication is also largely based and restricted by the leadership style of individual managers. Managers can be consultative, participative, autocratic or laissez-faire - all of which will demonstrate a different style of handling resources, disseminating information and being people or task oriented. (Appendix J)
Physical distractions in the workplace such as poor acoustics and lighting, background noise, poor telephone connection and many more can also affect the effective transmission of a message. Also, the time taken for a message to reach the receiver should be considered. Such is the 21-day lag time in the case of the UPS Help Line.
Other than the communication obstacles that the organisation can present, there are also individualistic barriers such as semantic and socio-psychological barriers.
Words and languages used can carry various meanings and be understood in different manners across the denotations (literal meaning) and connotations (cultural assumptions and values affecting interpretation).
Acronyms and Jargon
Acronyms can be commonly used in the office. The uninitiated will have a problem understanding the abbreviations, especially when it hasn't been explained to them or used in their context before.
Jargon, a type of language that may be limited to the knowledge of certain groups of people, could be commonly used in specific departments. Poor understanding of a particular jargon could hinder a smooth communication process, especially interdepartmental interaction. Thus, managers must try to avoid using incomprehensible technical terms and remain jargon-friendly.
Slangs and Colloquialisms
The world does not have an exclusive language. Language is unique among different persons and cultures. There are many registers of a single language, for example, English. In Singapore, Singlish (Singapore English) is used, and foreigners speaking the same language (English) may even have difficulty understanding this.
As UPS has operations worldwide and a very diverse workforce, it should be noted that slangs and colloquial language could pose a barrier when communicating with different people.
These barriers occur due to individual uniqueness in emotions, attitudes and opinions, body language and defence mechanisms. Information overload (unable to discern usefulness of information) can also cause messages to be distorted. While the list is ad infinitum, this report will look at other particular factors.
One of the common reasons for breakdown in communication is because the receiver of the message is a poor listener. In such cases, employees should be given courses for active listening. (Appendix J)
Communicating with employees with selective perception, retention and exposure can also pose some barriers to fully understand a message (Exhibit 24).
Exhibit 25: Selective Theories
Adapted from http://faculty.buffalostate.edu/smithrd/UAE%20Communication/Unit11.pdf
Deceptive Communication Tactics
Deceptive communication occurs when information is manipulated in order to avoid the appearance of having a problem or when (positive or negative) information is withheld. Employees and employers alike could also leave out crucial information, show inaccurate data and statics or even exaggerate situations. These tactics block out effective communication and usually lead to failure in conveying truthful messages.
According to the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a test used to determine psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions, different personalities can play a part in different communication styles. This test can be used to establish personality types and help leaders understand the way their followers and themselves would communicate.
DISC, another psychological behavioural model, is commonly used to understand human behaviour. Such psychometric tests can help leaders understand the way their employees think, feel and act and also the style of communication which suits them. (Appendix K)
Overcoming Communication Barriers
Some of the ways to overcome these communication barriers would be through repetition, empathy, understanding, feedback and listening.
Repetition, though done by UPS through sending the same message respectively (using the same channel), can be done through other ways such as using multiple channels (through telephone, memos, letters). It reduces the chance of miscommunication and even expresses the importance of the message to the employee.
The larger the gap in culture, learning and experiences, the more leaders must empathise with their subordinates and put themselves into their shoes. Feedback is also necessary to enable two-way communications to take place and achieve mutual understanding.
To conclude, UPS employs a number of communication channels that are beneficial for effective communication. However, this may be hindered by barriers to communication which are inevitable. Times are changing and with the advancement in technology, people are now adapting to new styles of communication and thus to keep up with changes UPS should consider the recommendations listed below.
According to the analysis of communication gaps, it is recommended that the following be implemented to bridge communication gaps.
To bridge the communication gap and facilitate effective communication, it is recommended that leaders practice DIRECT Communication (Exhibit 25) with their subordinates.
Exhibit 26: DIRECT C
Adapted from http://www.thepracticeofleadership.net/2008/09/28/seven-ways-inspiring-leaders-communicate/
By using DIRECT C, UPS will be assured that there will be a higher rate of effective communication and lesser miscommunication.
LIFO, which stands for Life Orientation Training, is an applied behavioural system which is designed to foster individual and organisational productivity. It evolves around an unchanging principle which is to "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you". With this principle in mind, leaders can achieve effective communication if they are able to adjust their styles of communication to suit the employees as the way they process information is unique from others.
This LIFO technique will be useful in helping managers bridge communication gaps by recognising the 4 basic channels involved (Appendix L).
After identifying which channel the employee is on, leaders will be able to learn the interpersonal skills that are required to recognise things that are important to the employee, translate their requests and instructions so that managers would be able to understand and act on these requests (Exhibit 27).
Exhibit 27: LIFO Get Through Get Action
Source: Business Consultants Network
The advantage of using LIFO method is that nothing has to be changed at UPS. Rather, managers can use this set of recommendations to equip themselves with relevant interpersonal skills to facilitate better communication.
Consider Alternative Channels
One of the issues that UPS could face in the near future would be generational miscommunication. Those currently working in UPS may be adaptable to the present communication styles but the upcoming and later generations Y and Z may not be as adaptable as they work best when things go their way. They prefer other forms of communication which are mostly informal and social media based.
In order to prevent communication gaps that may arise due to this, it would be beneficial for UPS to learn about the various communication styles of the different generations and come up with new channels of communication. This will ultimately result in effective communication and productivity of the organisation.
Generational Communicational Preferences
Generation Z is predicted to be more indirect, informal and losing the essence of the richer communication channels (Exhibit 27).
Exhibit 28: Generational Communication Methods
Social media are a form of personalised and informal network which serves as an engine for personal expression and conversational medium. The social media landscape is made up of several platforms (Appendix L) and is complementary to the use of traditional communication methods such as those in UPS.
The use of this media has been on an upward trajectory since its introduction in the 21st century (Appendix L). Social media have begun to improve companies' ability to enhance employee communication (Watson Wyatt et al). If social media is properly implemented, it can help companies further engage their employees and build a workplace of trust and transparency where messages are more organic. The advantages of social media is displayed in Exhibit 29.
Exhibit 29: Advantages of Social Media
Implementing social media into the organisation is just like any other implementation process. Managers have to first understand the tools of trade and how they work, define organisational goals and needs among other steps and lastly, experiment! When the internet was introduced into the workplace during the mid-1990s, employers were also resistant to this. The gist of it is to set clear guidelines for acceptable use while adopting social media for a productive, internal purpose (Rudnick 2008).
Organisational communication channels should not be fixed, but rather, UPS could always find new ways of communication to better suit each generation's preference.
The manifestation of electronic technology will bring about a revolutionary change in the workplace, with the creation of multiple virtual teams. When there are virtual teams, large physical distance renders regular face-to-face meetings expensive and time consuming.
There are boons of using electronic media, but communication breakdown is inevitable. To bridge this gap, leaders should create a shared vision, mission, inspiration and enthusiasm. This often does not happen in traditional teams where the shared context is clear due to regular interpersonal interactions. Information which leaders disseminate should be transparent and authentic in order to gain members' trust.
When members of a team do not share their differing opinions, group-think happens and transparency problems surface. The reason why some leaders are reluctant to share information is because they have the perception that access to information is a perquisite of power and this should be dispelled. To create a culture of candour, leaders need to be role models to behave in a way their followers would take after.
Leaders should also share members' perspectives to enable better communication within the team and prevent possible conflicts and misunderstandings.