Effective Communication

Effective Communication: Partnership in Italy Melissa Chang was asked to travel to Venice, Italy and meet with her company’s partnering company. Preparation for the trip was stressful. Not only had her colleague cancelled their recent trip to Moscow at the last minute, making the US partner look bad, but the Italian partner had made several requests for information which none of Melissa’s colleagues had fulfilled. She learned all of this information upon making phone contact with their office to confirm her travel plans.
After that initial phone call, Melissa was not looking forward to the trip. She felt that her company had not
upheld basic business standards, and adding a language barrier to the equation did not make things any smoother. She was very hesitant to make the trip and felt very guarded. She knew her Italian counterparts were frustrated and she could relate to their feelings. However, she also had a job to do – get more work out of them. If things did not get cleared up quickly, they could potentially lose the partnership. Melissa dreaded having to be the one to deliver that piece of news. Once in Venice and face-to-face with the partners, Melissa quickly realized their source of frustration. From their perspective, the US partner had not upheld their end of the business deal by providing some basic product information. Melissa had that information with her and easily provided the files. She was able to answer all their questions and explain the business process in the US during the first meeting. The second day of business meetings was even more productive. Melissa noted a change in her Italian counterparts’ disposition when she entered the office that second morning. They were much warmer and willing to sit down and discuss details. By lunch time, Melissa had information showing how much the Italian office had produced and where they were actually outperforming the US parent office. It was clear that their partnership was nowhere near being in jeopardy. As the week drew to a close, both Melissa and the Italian partners drew up a projected plan for the next fiscal year. Italy was on track to set new sales records. Their requests for information were basic in her opinion, and Melissa was able to provide them accurate details before her departure. While a few of the finer points she did not understand fully due to the language barrier, Melissa felt reassured seeing firsthand how committed they were to the product. She could not find anything that would cause concern for their business transactions going forward. She chuckled to herself thinking how much she had dreaded this trip initially. The Italians thought Melissa was a top businesswoman. Their appreciation was immeasurable. The president of the Italian office arranged a formal dinner in her honor. All employees attended with their families. Before dessert was served, he toasted Melissa’s professionalism during the entire week. The president noted her empathetic listening skills and ability to relate to their business needs as being critical to their future success. He also praised her for the quick actions and decisiveness she demonstrated during their meetings. Answer the following questions:

  1. Discuss how Melissa’s communication style impacted the performance of the Italian partners.
  2. What do you think were the primary sources of information prior to Melissa’s visit?
  3. What do you think the primary sources of information will be after Melissa’s visit?
  4. What might account for Melissa’s change in attitude about dealing with the Italian partners after her visit?

Leading Effective Teams Soda Can Company is opening up a new store location in sixty days. As Executive Director of Stores, you have to put together a strong team quickly. You hired Jim Beam to be the Store Manager based on his previous experience and track record with other competitors. You have a new site to open up, and your goal is to start producing as quickly as possible. You had a slight feeling that he was a little full of himself, but you associated it with self-confidence, which you needed this new manager to have since you would not have a lot of time to invest in this location. Julie Stevens has been one of your top production specialists for two years. You assigned her to Jim and the new store without hesitation. Her proven track record and existing knowledge of the product line would be actively used to get this new store performing within weeks. You have also taken great steps to recruit other internal employees who have strong performance records. Two or three are new to the company and not so experienced, but their eager attitude and desire to learn and get better will serve them well in this new location. It has been three weeks since the new store opened and early performance statistics are meeting expectations. It looks like the team is working together well. However, you have had numerous phone calls from Julie Stevens complaining about Jim Beam’s management approach. Among her complaints are comments like, “He exaggerates and tries to bully staff,” or “He does not understand the product line and belittles anyone who asks questions.” Yet he also makes personal statements as if trying to be nice but it seems like he ends up angering people instead. Such as, “Come to my house to watch the big game. I have a brand new 50 inch high definition TV.” Or, “I only shop at designer stores, don’t you?” Even a few of the newer employees have made cautious attempts to ask if Jim’s style is the norm for the Soda Can Company. Questions such as, “Is it acceptable for managers yell in staff meetings?” or “Is it company policy to get defensive when asked questions?” have been coming up frequently. You are sitting at lunch with your boss, Elizabeth Zone. She has just asked you casually about the new store opening – “How is the new location doing?” You are struggling with how you are going to approach Jim and confront him on his performance so far. You are concerned about the team overall, but you are hesitant to jump in and make changes so early. Could it be possible that Jim will settle down in a few weeks? Could this all just be pressure from the new store opening and working with a new team? Maybe they just need a few more weeks to get to know each other and find their own ways to work well? Answer the following questions:

  1. Elizabeth is waiting for your response. What do you say?
  2. Elizabeth has years of experience and has offered objective perspectives in the past, and she supports employee development while maintaining good performance on the job. You decide to share your concern about Jim’s early leadership style with her. What do you say?
  3. What are you going to track closely with the new team?
  4. How might you approach Jim about the team’s performance?
  5. What might you say to Julie? To the new employees?

Managing People to Perform Axis Inc. has instituted new “flexible” guidelines around appropriate attire, including piercings and tattoos. Along with all her colleagues, Rebecca Que, an Assistant Manager at Axis, received a printed copy of the new standards – and they’re still sitting in the envelope, unread. Included in this piece were a list of resources for her to contact if she had any questions or concerns – and a list of consequences for non-compliance. Rebecca thinks that these new standards are only for those in Denver at the corporate office. She thinks that for people “out in the world” at the stores, style and personal branding are important to the Axis Inc. experience, and her Store Manager seems to agree. Over the weekend, she’s going to get another piercing in her nose, and she is thinking of getting a bold new tattoo on her forearm. Answer the following questions:
• As the District Manager, list how you would manage Rebecca’s performance?

Building Commitments Buster was hired to revamp the processing center for the Federal Education Institute. They are an education facility that provides undergraduate and graduate degrees. Traditionally, their student population has come from International students wanting an education in the United States. Recently, competition within the education industry has increased dramatically. Federal Education Institute needs to change their marketing approach in order to expand their student population. While the company has known for several years that they needed to change several internal processes, they just could not break out of their usual ways of thinking and doing business. Buster was hired from a large competitor for his expertise and is expected to bring about these changes. While Buster knew that he needed to make several changes from the start, he took some time during the first few months on the job really getting to know key people in other departments. He soon determined that his strongest allies could be the IT, Financial Aid, and Business Development departments. He took time to establish communication with the head of each department.
After two more months, Buster was ready to start implementing his changes. He called upon things that he had found to be important to the IT department and referenced them during several cross-department meetings. He also researched and had specific examples of how the Financial Aid department assisted students during their most difficult period – admissions. When it came to the Business Development department, Buster included information in his presentations regarding how they want to expand the business based upon the needs of students. Ultimately, he believed that by expressing his desire for the same changes that these other three departments wanted to make, he showed support for their own initiatives. Buster is hoping that they, in turn, will support his change initiatives and back him up in meetings. Answer the following questions:

  1. Describe which type of decision making you think Buster engages in most often.
  2. Explain how Buster’s behaviors show various commitments: to the customer, organization, co-workers, and the task.

Sample Solution

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