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The contemporary working environment consists of diverse cultural, ideological and hierarchical compositions. In this environment, conflicts and tensions will always arise between the different persons or groups as they interact within the work place. Therefore, even the best working environment and organizations, no matter its size cannot be immune from conflicts and tensions. Organizational conflicts are internal conflicts that often arise naturally from disagreements between the individual employees in the organization, or between other employees and the management. Champoux (2010) argues that these disagreements come about when individual values differ, or when one fails to meet their expected mandate. When poorly managed, the distress caused by conflict may inflict pain and disappointments to the individuals affected. Effective conflict management starts with strategic internal communication. This essay will be providing an effective communication strategy for an organization that has been experiencing internal conflicts directed to its employees by fellow employees. When these strategies are employed, they lead to increased communication by teaching employees the respect of diverse cultures; thus leading to a stronger relationship between employees and subsequently, clients. This will also increase productivity of the organization in question. Some of the strategies which are going to be discussed would also be helpful for a wide variety of businesses; due to the fact that cultural diversity is a fact of life in most workplaces these days due to the globalization of business and the world.
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LeasePlanUSA is a fleet management and vehicle leasing company that has its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia. In the past month, the company’s employees have been embroiled in conflicts that have caught the attention of the management. It has been identified that the conflicts have developed due to the cultural diversity in the workplace, leading to discriminatory tendencies. The second reason for conflict in the organization has been the tendencies of bullying and harassment, and lastly, due to power related issues and conflicting dialectics about issues among the employees. These tensions and conflicts in the work place hamper the spirit and morale of employees’ performance since conflicts erase the ideal conditions for a productive working environment. As such, client satisfaction suffers as morale in the workplace continues to decline. To address these issues effectively, I have developed an internal communication strategy that would ensure everybody in the organization feels protected, and respected, especially amongst colleagues in regards to their cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
The first approach of developing the adaptive internal communication strategy suitable for LeasePlanUSA is anchored on their organizational culture. LeasePlanUSA has anchored its organizational culture on four key values namely; passion, expertise, respect and commitment. These core values are supposed to be exemplified every day by the employees at LeasePlanUSA and through the delivery of excellent services to the clients. However, this seems to have escaped the minds of the employees as they engage in discrimination and harassment at the workplace and potentially with some clients as well. Culture can be defined as a system of knowledge, ideas, beliefs, values, powers and rules that are shared by the members of a particular society, and hence form the foundation for their way of interaction. To understand its relevance in conflict resolution, it is important to understand that culture is transmitted to other people through oral and written means, group/team bonding activities and socialization (Samson & Daft, 2011).
Therefore, restoring the organizational cultural values to the employees thought and action process when dealing with each other would be the ultimate goal of the internal communication strategy. The core values of the organization, namely; passion, expertise, respect and commitment should be practiced by each employee not only towards the organizations clients and governing body, but also towards each other. The major objective would therefore be placed at enabling the employees to revisit the company’s fundamental values of practice. The mini goals of this activity would be to enable the employees to practice and instill each value within them. This includes being passionate about their work, applying professionalism in all their undertakings, showing respect to one another and to other stakeholders and remaining committed to the company’s aspirations.
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Secondly, the internal communication strategy would largely anchor on the organizational structure of the company. In many companies, including LeasePlanUSA, the organizational structure sets the tone and determines the modes of interpersonal communication. While large organizations which are highly stratified are prone to usage of formal approaches of communication, smaller organizations which are relatively flat utilize informal modes of internal communications. However, it is important to note that the form of communication utilized by an organizational is largely dependent on the manager’s preferences and norms. Effective managers must learn how to develop appropriate communication styles to become the company’s norm.
For LeasePlanUSA, the success or effectiveness of the internal communication strategy would therefore be geared towards providing an effective interpersonal environment that would enable the employees across the job groups and hierarchical setup to be heard and respected. This would ensure that the mutual respect is restored, and that cases of harassment can be identified objectively. To facilitate this environment, the internal communications strategy will develop a feedback cycle that provides an interactive environment for every employee as cited by Dwyer (2012). The highly interactive communication will encourage the use of the feedback cycle to reach mutually beneficial decisions especially in dialectical conflicts.
The main purpose of internal communication includes; providing information, acquiring information, clarifying issues and influencing action. The effectiveness of this process can be determined by the type and timeframe of feedback elicited from the audience addressed by the communiqué. To encourage honest and effective feedback, this internal communication strategy for LeasePlanUSA will develop rapid feedback system that will enable quick communication between the employees.
The development of an effective feedback system to facilitate the environment for an effective communication is also dependent on the organizational culture and organizational structure. Through these, the mode of packaging the internal communication can be determined. It has to be efficient, and acceptable by all standards. Therefore, the internal communication can be packaged and delivered as newsletters, on the intranet site, as personal emails, as face-to-face meetings, as group meetings or as team-building exercises. The nature of the conflicts in this organization has affected the core of the company’s values. The internal communication will therefore be presented in three modes. These include personal emails sent to every member of the organization, and regular group meetings to foster dialogue and cohesion; and through induction. These strategic conversations that foster dialogue enable the development of the normal internal environment for communication in the organization.
The major content in the communication is geared to understanding the individual frustrations and challenges faced by employees. LeasePlanUSA has up to about 130 employees. In order to facilitate efficient communication, the communication strategy will include long-term and short term activities. The long-term activities will include the induction program. The induction process is an ‘on boarding’ program applied to new members/employees. This includes welcoming the new employees, and introducing them to their new positions and their expected roles. The new employees will also be congratulated personally with letters from the company heads. The organization can go an extra mile and also send congratulatory messages to the family of the new employees. This is a very powerful communication tool that reinforces the culture of the organization on in the employee’s value system. By introducing this induction program, and complementing it with regular communication that remind the employees about the importance of cohesiveness and the importance of diversity, the organization can be guaranteed of less instances of discrimination and harassment. These feelings reduce the self-worth of employees, and can lead to organizations losing its talented employees because of frustration.
Secondly, the content of the communication can be packaged and delivered in the form of team meetings, and group meetings. This should be well prepared, and the agenda of the meeting discussed in advance by using the companies intranet and social sites (if present), and memos on the notice boards. To enhance the effectiveness of the group meetings, and to diffuse tensions that may further deepen the conflict. This includes depersonalization of arguments, and careful choice of wording. The meetings should be able to provide objective analysis and relevant arguments that are not personal attacks, but should anchor on analyzing the importance of the values. The communication should also emphasize about the fact that the selection process ensured any person getting onto the company was qualified; hence respect to one other should never be compromised.
Another approach to ensure an effective focus on the existing conflict is to turn it into research. The intention is to turn the conflict into a source of information that would enable the betterment of the work environment. This can be achieved by carefully phrasing questions into an open-ended format. This will enable the development of clarity of situations and especially provide for the development of specific examples of situations that lead or led to the conflict. However, it is important for the leaders to understand that the process has to always be kept in context to the company’s aspirations. This requires bipartisan moderation and guidance.
Consequently, it is important to understand that conflict can be perpetuated because of threat. This threat can be perceived to target their reputation, question their judgment or the people close to them. However, people might be threatened, or they might perceive to be threatened. With this in mind, the there is the need to further understand the truth of the matter by investigating the information provided. In this scenario, the conflict brought about because of harassment and will be addressed, as the communication strategy will revisit the desired and ethical standards of competition (Frey, 2002). The communication should also spell out the importance of the values, and how they play part in facilitating promotions, and hence iron out the threat perceived by some employees.
Lastly, as the short term and long term goals are implemented over time, the implementation of the internal communication may become ineffective because of obsoleteness of the communication tools. The tools of communication might become ineffective as time goes on. To maintain consistency and effectiveness of the internal communication strategy, continuous improvements and assessments need to be made to the communication strategy. This can be done by the use of bi-annual or annual surveys.
In conclusion, LeasePlanUSA can recover from the conflicts witnessed in the organization by developing and implementing a strategic internal communication strategy. Apart from squashing the recently witnessed squabbles at LeasePlanUSA, the implementation of the internal communications strategy will provide additional benefits to the organization. However, for the benefits to be realized, the implementation of the internal communication strategy would require a comprehensive, coordinated and long term approach (Cheney, 2011). To achieve those benefits we need a coordinated, comprehensive, long term communication approach.
The strategic internal communications plan that has been developed for LeasePlanUSA is tailored to the nature of conflicts experienced by the employees at the organization. The organization has experienced claims of harassment and bullying, discrimination and dialectical conflicts. The best way to address these issues in an organization is through the utilization of focus groups kind of meetings. These meetings, coupled with personalized emails and newsletters are bound to achieve the desires of the company; to create a conducive working environment where diversity is embraced.
Finally, through the utilization of an efficient feedback system, the conflict resolution process can be monitored and the effectiveness of the communication determined. The feedback system will provide the conflict handlers with an opportunity to gather the required information that will enable the development of follow up measures. The follow up measures include motivational and developmental actions that will enable the sustainability of the internal communication plan. Through the feedback, the communication and interpersonal relationship at the organization can be improved and fostered. According to Trevino & Nelson (2010), the management will therefore be more focused on developing the ethical, social and environmental atmosphere that can foster accountability in communication and actions that can be agreed to be detrimental to the healthy environment needed at LeasePlanUSA.
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