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Toyota Motor Corporation, headquartered in Toyota, Japan, is one of the world’s largest multinational automotive manufacturer and is found in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda. Their products include automobiles, luxury vehicles, commercial vehicles, and engines. Vehicles are produced under five different brand names such as Toyota, Ranz, Daihatsu, Hino, and Lexus. Moreover, Toyota’s expertise has been extended to other areas besides automobile manufacturing such as housing, communication, energy, financial support, marine and biotechnology.
External communication is one of the prominent factors in company strategy execution. It provides transparency, thus, enhancing business reputation. According to its code of conduct, Toyota commits that it will maintain an open and fair communication with its stakeholders while improving its image and transparency (Toyota Motor Corporation, 2006). Toyota created a website where people can find financial results and data, investors update, annual report, result of shareholders’ meeting, its vision and philosophy, and newsroom. On its website, Toyota also mentions that it also works on their innovations to develop the future of mobility by providing the safest and most responsible way to move people as well as to defy expectations (Toyota Global Vision, 2011).
Additionally, Toyota releases whitepapers to present solutions upon problems associated to certain topics.Toyota has produced a lot of advertisements in all sorts of medias, such as television, radio, magazines and newspapers, and social media. These advertisements adopt some forms of advertising communication messages in order to attract the targeted audience, like image ads, cognitive ads, endorsement, and one in particular is an emotional ad, Toyota’s ‘Good Odds’, which was named the Most Effective Super Bowl Ad on Key Brand Metrics and was scored based on its likely social and business impact (Tim Nudd, 2018).
Toyota approaches its customers by engaging with them through social media and giving them the sense of being ‘part of the family’ (Helene Montpetit, 2014). Staffs are trained to communicate directly with customers like friends on social media. Moreover, company’s strategies are shared on the Toyota Social Media Marketing Facebook page where fans can access. Hence, creating an impression of transparency. This interesting strategy successfully boosts buyers’ loyalty. Referring to “Respect for Other” in its basic philosophy, Toyota has been trying to maintain good relationships with local communities by actively giving contribution on areas like education, environment, society and culture.The company assures that internal communication is kept simple but it develops a complex social network simultaneously (Hirotaka Takeuchi, Emi Osono, and Norihiko Shimizu, 2008).
When delivering presentations, employees are only required to write the main points like the framework, objectives, analysis, and expected results in a single sheet of paper. Vertical relationship is created through training. As of 2018, Toyota has had 369,124 employees worldwide. As employees are widely spread, Toyota uses Chatter by Salesforce to connect them and transforming the way they work. Employees are also able to post questions and exchange advice with co-workers of other countries.Notwithstanding its size, Toyota’s emphasis is “everybody to know everything”. Information is disseminated freely vertically across hierarchies and horizontally between employees across functional and geographic lines. This requires employees to listen attentively in an open environment, as a result, information is transmitted quickly (Hirotaka Takeuchi, Emi Osono, and Norihiko Shimizu, 2008).
Toyota experienced a difficult time where it announced massive recalls a total of 7 million vehicles as accelerator pedals, brakes, seatbelts, and exhaust are found faulty. Toyota began the recall by early 2009. It took a year for the President of Toyota Motor Corporation, Mr. Toyoda, to break his silence and released an hour-long press conference where he apologised and admitted for the errors and that their biggest challenge ahead is to regaining the customers trust back. Toyota also committed to build a “special global quality committee,” also letting external experts to re-evaluate company’s overall performance, such as its engineering and manufacturing, sales, and marketing practices. However, this was the only time the President spoke to public. He instead appointed his top quality executive to communicate with the public (Norihiko Shirouzu and Yoshio Takahashi, 2010).
In order to emerge from the crisis, the President began by sending emails to its employees in Japan and asking them to work together with him to regain trust as well as to build ‘great cars’ through mutual effort, in which however, lower-level managers found the message was not specific enough (Norihiko Shirouzu and Yoshio Takahashi, 2010).Toyota was being denial to address the complaints of unintended acceleration in the first place. Therefore, the delayed respond from the President gave an impression that Toyota refused to acknowledge the problem until the company is forced to make an action (Jonathan Hemus, 2010).
Toyota should have admitted and apologized as soon as the complaint is proven to be true. Secondly, lack of open communication due to a strict hierarchical approach to management may cause the lower-level employees who acknowledge the signs of faulty first feel powerless to indicate it (Jonathan Hermus, 2010). In my opinion, Toyota has to communicate better within the company itself, vertical communication should not be restricted into mere teaching and mentoring relationships only, but more of a participative communication. Hence, everyone feels they have the rights to point out their perspectives.
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