PROFILE M. EHTESHAM ALBARI
COLUMN FOR THE RECORD
ENVIRONMENT DESERTIFICATION AND ITS CONTROL
MANAGEMENT BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY 1- DATA MINING FOR BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE
2- COMBATING SOFTWARE PIRACY

 

BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

 

The new management philosophy and how it works

By Prof Manzoor Ahmed
Jan 06 - 12, 2003
 
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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.

 

 

POOR COMMUNICATION

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 problems.

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 listening?

"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) consistently".

"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 line".

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:

1. Communication training and workshop.
2. Business restructuring and Divesture.
3. Not expanding business beyond your competence, resources and without getting yourself better connected with reformed business communication models. .4. 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).
5. Product development and diversification.
6. Better customer relationship.
7. Employee conferences.
8. Better media and high-tech communication.
9. Research and development of product and services.
10. 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:

1. Make a product or sell a service that fills a need
2. Master know-how of job.
3. Research to make it (product or service) better and safely, combined with effective communication.
4. Meet competition squarely.
5. Practice thrift and economy, waste nothing .
6. Assure additional capital when needed by conducing your business soundly and honorably.
7. Plow back earnings heavily.
8. Diversify product and departmentalize organizations.
9. Give personal attention to your business.
10. Always try to treat people right.
11. Intentions should precede performance .

 

 

QUESTIONS 1. Which of these ten points is central to the whole pattern?

2. Show why a company must use communication to accomplish each point above.

3. How has management improved communication in your company within the last five years ?

4. 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 Presentation thus:

Speakers are expected to entertain, inform, persuade and surprise.

Whereas presenters are expected to explain, elicit information and opinions, persuade and inform sufficiently to achieve sound decisions.

Rehearse your speech: Before the day, try to run through your speech several times in front of:

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 subconscious mmd.

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

QUESTIONS 1. Would you write a speech or a presentation for him on this occasion?

2. Is it true that sometimes a person's non-verbal behaviour generally has more bearing on communicating feelings and attitudes than do his words'

3. 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.

4. 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?