Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communication. Show all posts

Friday, June 5, 2015

Opening Communication Lines for Better Decision Making

Charles Dickens said in the Tail of Two Cities, “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” Communication is a process sharing information from one person to the next that lowers this mystery. Problems arise in organizations when communication is not accurate or reflective of actual events. Ensuring lines of communication are open is essential for creating more functional companies through better decision making.

Poor communication wastes intangible assets and creates inefficiencies among resources (Mazzei & Ravazzani, 2015; Hola & Pikhart, 2014). Intangible assets form the nucleus of the company and include relationships, intellectual capital, and decision making. What makes one company different from the next are the internal soft mechanics often ignored because they are not easy to define.

Misinformation can be intentional or unintentional. For example most of us have been subject to rumor or conjecture at one point in our careers. Despite lacking substance, false information can create havoc in our lives and damage work relationships. A corporate culture of rumor mongering is a sure way to destroy productivity in a company quickly.

An inability to solicit and respect multiple perspectives is a sign of short-sighted strategic development. It is easy to make decisions when you have no competing information; try sticking your fingers in your ears next time you don't want to hear something. The problem is that those decisions are based on skewed information and alternatives have not afforded proper weight. Managers expand their channels to ensure they are receiving all of the information needed to make appropriate decisions.

Information is the lifeblood of solid decision making and those who keep their communication lines open are better able to capitalize on that information. Organizations that seek to create productive communication among organizational members find that decisions are well rounded and more holistic in their approach. Short-sighted and self-seeking decisions are a sure way to limit the growth potential of any organization. Open information lines keeps your sonar active and your mind sharp.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How Technology is Narrowing the Gap Between Business and Academia

Someday we might be looking back at those old laptops and cell phones and blow the dust off the keyboards as you would the cover of some rare hard bound book. Across the nation educational platforms are changing bringing with it uncertainty about the future of higher education. As technology disrupts the foundation of business colleges there will be a closer alliance between businesses and academia to generate new solutions that improve the skill sets of graduates.

According to a Business Education Jam session it is possible to use technology to narrow the gap between academic and industry stakeholders (Freeman, 2014). The traditional gap that exists between academic knowledge and business knowledge is narrowing as stakeholders and universities take advantage of new technologies that offer a chance to connect at multiple levels.

Technology has advanced to the point that communication is moving at a much faster pace than in the past. New generation technologies and the way these technologies are used socially are impact the platforms of higher education (Rajesh, 2015). Higher education is adjusting to the new methods of communication to foster knowledge transference and this will have a natural impact on business-academia relationships.

Greater partnerships between employers and higher education can provide greater relevancy in curriculum development. Students should be learning skills that truly encourage greater ability to work in the modern market and develop systems thinking that can influence their ability to understand organizational operations.

The caveat being the courses that may not be directly career oriented but do support the general understanding of human nature and life. Greater communication will help industry stakeholders understand that ethics courses, philosophy, humanities, are not wasted courses when applied appropriately to human behavior and management. A shared understanding between colleges and employers can be found through perspective sharing.

The differences of perspective between the hallowed halls of higher education and the nitty gritty of corporate life will become more blurred in the future as communication technology advances and create permeability within these borders. Communication will influence the way leaders in both sectors think about challenges and opportunities. This increased level of communication doesn't need to be purposeful to create influence but implementing a more focused approach to sharing perspectives can lead to faster conclusions. 

Freeman, K. (2014). The call for innovation in business education. People & Strategy, 37 (2).

Rajesh, M. (2015). Revolution in communication technologies: impact on distance education. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 16 (1).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Importance of Unlocking Customer Non-Verbal Cues

Customers are the lifeblood to any business. If the customer walks away unhappy you may not only lose their lifetime patronage but also deter their friends from frequenting your business as well. The type of interaction between the company and the customer will often determine whether or not they will have a positive impression of your business. According to an article in the Journal of Marketing the ability of company employees to read the non-verbal cues of customers will influence customer affect (Puccinelli, et. al. 2013).

Most of us have experienced poor interaction with company employees from time-to-time. It isn’t always the big things a business does that makes or breaks our impressions. Most businesses know how to avoid these large issues through processes and procedures.. It is the small actions and interactions that can hurt or damage customer perception.

Poor customer interaction often is a result of under trained employees that don’t read the customers needs and don’t know how to respond to those needs appropriate. For example, an agitated customer won’t be happy if you try and sell them another product versus solving their problem. A single mistake in judgement can lose that customer forever and leave a bitter taste in their mouth.

Non-verbal communication is also reciprocal. A customer who is reading the company representative non-verbal cues and picks up on lack of interest, condescending behavior, or annoyance will likely apply that impression to the entire business. They will interpret such behavior as an indication of the amount of value the company places on their customers.

When customers think and reflect on the business there are two aspects that may come to mind. On one hand, they could consider the service itself and whether or not they need that service. On the other hand, they may think of the interactions they have with people who work for the company and whether or not their patronage is appreciated. If either of these interactions are negative there is a chance the customer will find another business to requent.

The study highlights the need to train customer facing employees with the ability to read and understand customer cues and respond to them appropriately. This may occur through scenarios, examples and role playing. When representatives can interpret signals appropriately they will be much better able to respond to the customers needs. When they give off the right signals they can prompt customers to their value leaving them with a higher affect.

Puccinelli, M., et. al. (2013). The value of knowing what customers really want: the impact of salesperson ability to read non-verbal cues of affect on service quality. Journal of Marketing Management, 29 (34).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Learning the Art of Negotiation

Negotiation is something we do every day of our lives but we may not be overtly aware of it. We often think of negotiating contracts, wages and other business related concepts but we also negotiate for many small things like household chores and car maintenance. Learning negotiation skills in college or through your own personal reading can make a large difference in helping you get what you want while not compromising your values.

American society doesn’t provide enough daily experience negotiating like you might find in Europe or other parts of the world. People that go to the grocery story may negotiate the price, find deals, and look for other ways to save money. Even though just about anything can be negotiated Americans don’t often see it this way; the stated price is the only price. This is partly the problem with a nation accustomed to large department stores.

Despite 66% of people trying to negotiate big ticket items in the past 6-months, negotiation skills are still underdeveloped (Carrell & Manchise, 2011). Colleges typically don’t teach negotiation skills within their curriculum. Occasionally the topic may be included in a broader communication course but these fail to provide even the fundamentals.

Americans do engage in teamwork negotiations during the course of their employment and education that provides them with entry level platforms for work. Business graduates often learn negotiation by engaging in group assignments that require them to interact and create terms with others (Lawrence, 2002). There are some limitations on this negotiation learning if they have not been provided a level of information that helps them reflect on their negotiation styles.

Negotiation skills are necessary whether you are looking for a raise, lowering the cost on home repair, or seeking equality in a relationship. Americans don't have the same opportunities to engage in negotiation in recent decades as much as people from other nationalities. Negotiation skills can be improved by following a few tips that can help in solidifying your positions:

-Understand Your Initial and Final Position: Everyone has something they want and in an ideal situation they can get. However, this isn't likely to happen often. Knowing your initial position and your red line position will tell you when to start and stop negotiating. 

-Understand Your Goals: Understand what you want to accomplish in your work, life, or relationships. Having goals when entering negotiations will help you stay on track when things get confusing.

-Try Power With versus Power Over: There are times when power over is the only way to negotiate but this often leads to encampment and stubbornness of both powers. When both parties can horse trade to get what they want or compromise they are likely to soften their positions. 

-Use Your Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills: When negotiating people watch each other and look for clues and signs in the speech and impressions of others. Using strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills will improve upon the whole process of making breakthroughs and sewing a deal.

Carrell, M. & Manchise, L. (2011). Developing bartering skills: real world exercise for a negotiation course. Business Education Innovation Journal, 3 (2). 

Lawrence, C. (2002). Integrating writing and negotiation skills. Business Communication Quarterly, 65 (2).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Are we Syncing Our Non-Verbal Cues in the Workplace?

The workplace is full of communication as people act and interact with each other to get the day’s events accomplished. Beyond what is said and the words we use it is possible that language works in the background as well. Inadvertently, you may be sync yourself with other people in the much the same way as you sync your electronic gadgets to each other.  

A recent study explains how people inadvertently sync to their social networks when communicating (Higo, et. al. 2014). Our non-verbal communication mannerisms start to mimic those within our social networks and create a language of their own. We naturally find a way of showing our engagement in further conversation. 

As we talk to people we engage with on a frequent basis we naturally make personal and emotional connections to those members. This happens because we share information, stories, and memories. Beyond the verbal obvious is the story embedded in our non-verbal communication patterns. 

When two people begin to share non-verbal cues they create a synchronous way of communicating. We can see this when a person is encouraged to keep talking simply by the body movements of the other person that expresses interest and a level of excitement with the information. Failure to sync means failure to connect on a meaningful level.

The power of non-verbal communication has been known for some time. The difference is that viewing non-verbal communication as a sync and not-sync helps explain how groups are formed, cultures are experienced, and the difficulties some people have with connecting to strangers. Over time when groups of people sync together they are “connected” and form a true entity. 

It is possible to think of how organizational cultures are formed through shared values and beliefs. Perhaps such beliefs are also formed from the way in which people act and interact with each other on a non-verbal level. As organizational members sync with each other they encourage and develop greater communication and organizational development. 

Higo, N. et. al. (2014). Interpersonal similarity between body movements in fac-to-face communication in daily life. Plos One, 9 (7).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Communication Skills Improve Employment Opportunities

Communication is an important skill that college graduates should develop to enhance their opportunities in the workplace and life. The benefits of strong communication skills reach across employment fields and social demographics to improve graduates employment prospects and chances for future promotion.  Learning to effectively speak and write is a skill highly sought after employers and is generally rewarded in the market. 

Because communication opens doors to a number of different opportunities that wouldn’t have been available otherwise it is important for college students to pay attention when professors provide feedback on papers or comment on speaking abilities. Before getting bent out of shape students should understand that feedback is used for improvement and not for criticism.

Employers want students who communicate well in verbal and written form. Employers seldom find the proper amount of oral communication skills among college graduates (Gray & Murray, 2011). The ability to express oneself and talk to each other to achieve goals is important in social situations to get one’s voice heard.  

Consider the regular use of email, letters, and other electronic formats of writing in the modern workplace. The ability to write and communicate using these mediums is a must for those who desire to successfully navigate the workplace.  Information and communication skills can lead to greater employment opportunities as well as higher pay and promotion (Walton, et. al. 2009). 

Communication also fits with other important skills used on the job. Employers seek candidates with soft skills like communication, integrity, courtesy, responsibility, social skills, attitude, professionalism, teamwork, flexibility, and work ethic (Robles, 2012). These skills are more complex than occupational learning and move a candidate more into the world of professionalism. 

Crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s may not be a whole lot of fun but it can have a significant impact on a person’s occupational success. Communication is a skill that develops over many years and as one becomes stronger at communicating they will naturally find more ears listening. Even though strong communication is extremely important for business graduates who desire to someday be managers its benefits are not exclusive to the business field alone. 

Gray, E. & Murray, N. (2011). A distinguishing factor: oral communication skills in new accountancy graduates. Accounting education, 20 (3). 

Robles, M. (2012). Executive perceptions of the top 10 soft skills needed in today’s workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 75 (4). 

Walton, R. et. al. (2009). Skills are not binary: nuances in the relationship between ICT skills and employability. Information Technologies & International Development, 5 (2).