Today more people driving to work on luxury cars
complain about fatigue, than when officers used to cycle to work every
day. Fatigue being a consequence of modern stress-Ridden human disorder,
business now must devise new ways and strategies to stay competitive —
galloping through a fast moving commercial world. But business currently
in the throes of globalization, and wrestling with ever growing crisis,
can "Business Communication" assume the role of a Mighty Big
Word for its followers. The message for the effectiveness of business
Communication is a goal that many aspire to, but not all managers
achieve .Let us examine the complexities of this new management
philosophy, and see how it works.
In his classical work "Functions of the
Executives", Chester Barnard says a business organization consists
of persons who are 1. Able to communicate with one another
2. Willing to
serve and 3. United to accomplish a common purpose or goal. For the
business to exist, a combination of three elements is necessary,
communication probably assuming the most important role. Troubles arrive
when communication is withheld, stiffled or blocked in any way. Forward
— looking executives are therefore in agreement that communication is
the key to business success. Oral and written messages, formal and
informal — flow in many channels and directions in the company .
Vertical flow is up and down between levels of authority; horizontal
flow cuts across these levels. Effective two-way communication depends
upon both the quantity and the quality of messages.
Most of lifeless and dull writing in business is like
so much talking to the blank wall instead of to somebody. This causes
loss of necessary interaction between managers and employees, lowers
morale and weakens authority. Top men need to communicate policies,
instructions, objectives, and goals in such a way that all employees
understand and accept them.
Most communication in business tries to inform,
direct, persuade, or arouse customers. If the customer has to wrestle
with every sentence, wasting time in getting the meaning, it reflects a
failure of communication. The final test of business communication is
whether you produce desired results, quickly, correctly, effectively and
consistently. And the receiver of your communication like the proverbial
customer is Always Right.
Sandy Weil, one of the most highly paid CEO's of the
Citigroup, receiving around 28 million dollars compensation annually, is
now losing his magic touch on all fronts, mostly targeted for his
controversial new management structure and Poor Communication. Some
conservatives have inherited a secretive attitude from the
nineteen-century tycoon who was the sole owner of his business and ruled
it with a hard hand. Today most corporations are owned by stakeholders
and managed in a progressive manner.
But even today some of the bureaucratic dinosaurs of
the autocratic business organizations withhold a lot of information from
employees. A secretive policy about confidential matters, of course is
valid and necessary. But the wholesale policy of having a hush — hush
attitude towards employees is autocratic, paralyzing and dangerous. Some
self-important juniors keep others in the dark to build themselves up as
a storehouse of indispensible news. Another type puts up the
hypocritical excuse of having no time to communicate. These
communication prophets of doom, lacking in leadership and direction are
a liability on the payroll.
ARE WE POOR LISTENERS?
Poor communication in a way could be attributed to a
lack of our listening capacity. Turning to radio or television we hear
and watch every one in the world it seems, talking at once and trying to
make us listen. Thrown into a total confusion, many of us have developed
the dubious habit of half-listening. We turn away blatant insurance
salespersons, refusing to listen to their sales talk, at our peril of
not being thrift. This habit grows on us, carrying over into our
business. Managers exhaust themselves with hours of haggling. over
problems with other managers on many different committees or boards.
They think they are wrestling at a time, with endless communication
In companies where despotism of mediocrity still
rules, these unbuttoned business bureaucrats, listen only on their
horizontal plane, not to employees down — all the way down — the
line. When they realize the need for downward communication, they
smother the company with an avalanche of memos of all sorts, circulars,
pamphlets and uncluttered directives which the receiver (lower staff)
takes them with a pinch of salt.
But they are again barking up the wrong tree
altogether, when they reason at this time, why their customers are not
"What is tough about business?"
"Listening to customers" — as Tom Peters puts it lucidity in
his book, A Passion for Excellence. He goes on "IBM's only magic is
that the IBMs people are the lone players in a quarter-trillion dollar
industry who bother to answer the phones (of their customers)
"Turn customer input (information) into
innovation" says Anthony W. Ulwicks. "Companies"
according to him "go about listening to customers all wrong — so
wrong in fact, they undermine innovation and ultimately the bottom
On the national level, one of the main causes of our
ignorance, backwardness and lack of thoughtful analysis could be
attributed to our mind-numbling social, economic and intellectual
enertia, obstinate inflexibility and religious of obscurantism. Our
political and corporate leadership is prone to criticism much less
against its own wrong doings . Consequences - we are badly lacking in a
tolerant behaviour and a positive listening attitude. I wish our
juggernaut of bureaucracy and headstrong leadership could learn its
lessons from Milton's moral and intellectual humility:
They also serve, Who only stand and wait.
HOW TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION
A breakdown of communication is just as costly ruppee-wise
as the breakdown of a costly machine in a factory . Although we do not
compute the costs of nonmechanical failures, we must know they are
mighty large . Let us closely examine communication operations and
functions in a medium-size company. The normal use of oral and written
messages within the company's magazine, annual report, official
conferences, board meetings, bulletins etc. Then let us come clear: is
not there a lot of room for improvement? Therefore suggestions to
improve communication are listed below:
Communication training and workshop.
Business restructuring and Divesture.
Not expanding business beyond your competence, resources and without
getting yourself better connected with reformed business communication
Better discipline of financial economics as well as of "market
micro-structure". Avoid the market illiquidity trap (financial-
economic models are based on the assumption of the market being liquid).
Product development and diversification.
Better customer relationship.
Better media and high-tech communication.
Research and development of product and services.
Interest in employees and their families.
CASE STUDY -1.
Communication is an absolute requirement of business organization. This
means certain policies, procedures, objectives, beliefs, feelings, and
actions. James Q. du Pont administrative assistant in public relations
for du Pont and company offered these ten suggestions to all firms large
and small, in his " Pattern for success', talks before the Tulsa
Chamber of Commerce couple of years ago:
Make a product or sell a service that fills a need
Master know-how of job.
Research to make it (product or service) better and safely, combined
with effective communication.
Meet competition squarely.
Practice thrift and economy, waste nothing .
Assure additional capital when needed by conducing your business soundly
Plow back earnings heavily.
Diversify product and departmentalize organizations.
Give personal attention to your business.
Always try to treat people right.
Intentions should precede performance .
Which of these ten points is central to the whole pattern?
Show why a company must use communication to accomplish each point
How has management improved communication in your company within the
last five years ?
Is communication in the final analysis a means or an end? Explain.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR VERBAL EDGE IN BUSINESS?
To be a successful man in business, you have to be a
good speaker. A great writer once said: "One of the most important
elements of success in business world is the ability to speak in private
conversation, at a conference, on a panel, over the telephone, or in a
public address or broadcast". Success in business as elsewhere,
depends largely upon presenting ideas in an orderly, persuasive, and
compelling way. To be followed, you must be understood and accepted.
The ability to interact with others is the most
important skill one may possess. There is probably more virtue in your
verbal ability, brevity and clarity than in any other thing in life. My
book — "Improve Your Writing and Speaking Skills To Be
Competitive" unfolds the secret of how our high-tech professionals
and business managers can outperfoma, how they can write winning
proposals to outwit competitors in the global market. Besides its 51
sample business letters reveal how fiercely competitive language our
companies can use in designing products or initiating business
communication to capture larger share market, maximizing profit.
Another point to pause and consider — our speech in
a highly prosaic business era unlike ornamental dress, should be
functional, ordinary and commonplace but at the same time Articulate.
Try to articulate your pronunciation and words carefully, then
articulate your feelings, opinions and ideas. You can then articulate
your speech successfully, effectively and consistently.
Types of public speaking:
These are Oration, Address, Discourse, Lecture Speech, Presentation and
Talk. Business leaders especially in insurance industry in order to be
fiercely competitive in their field should master these variety of
public speaking given in detail in my above book.
Speech and presentation:
My above book (on pages
515, 516) succinctly lays down the difference between Speech and
Speakers are expected to entertain, inform, persuade
Whereas presenters are expected to explain, elicit
information and opinions, persuade and inform sufficiently to achieve
Rehearse your speech:
Before the day, try to run through your speech several times in front
A friendly trial audience, A tape recorder,
A video camera and A mirror .
Look at yourself, listen to yourself and time
yourself . Know what you look like, sound like, making necessary
adjustments until you are satisfied.
Making your presentation:
It is not unusual for a speaker to use the gimmick of beginning to read
from a fully written speech, then discard it, speaking off the cuff.
Cards can be used to remind you of the highlights of your speech. A
successful speaker generally makes himself comfortable on the podium and
with his audience as well, by his good sense of humour and articulate
body language. When the chips are down he finds the courage to carry on.
Eye contact and body language:
In a successful presentation, the speaker and the audience must interact
with one another . Body language is the process of communicating by the
way one sits, stands, moves, by the use of gestures, postures and the
way one makes eye contact with the audience . If the audience avoids the
eye contact it may show audience's lack of interest . If the speakers
avoids the eye contact of the audience, it may reflect lack of sincerity
of purpose, or in some cases his nervousness.
USING VISUAL AIDS
Lastly, the speaker during his speech should avoid
being a victim of a hasty slip of the tongue . Mind you, the term
Crusade recently used by Bush Junior was not a mere slip of the tongue,
but really a Freudian slip which reveals the prejudice lurking in the
CASE STUDY 2:-
As a staff assistant, you are asked to write a speech for your Insurance
Field Manager. He is supposed to deliver it at the "Thrift and
Savings Week" in Karachi
Would you write a speech or a presentation for him on this occasion?
Is it true that sometimes a person's non-verbal behaviour generally has
more bearing on communicating feelings and attitudes than do his words'
Body language can provide clues to help you tell when someone is lying .
Do you have the courage to advise the field manager to be honest and
forthright instead of lying in his arguments.
How can your lecture on encouraging the "Thrift and Savings"
in Pakistan, stand out in equal brilliance in the ivory towers of
academia and in the real world of financial business?