Recently we have had two of our retailers contact us with problems regarding shipments they have received or have failed to receive. I know this is not the first time this has happened but I would like to minimize the possibilities of it happening again. It seems the root of our problem is miscommunication in the workplace. As a shipping manager that has seen this kind of issue before in past work experiences and I believe I know what we can do to solve our breakdown in communication between the various departments, retailers, and co-workers. As CFO I know you will see this proposal can benefit the company both financially and operationally.
First, I propose that the company implement a required form of communication. I believe hand written notes are a thing of the past and that we should upgrade our communication requirements to electronic mail. If we had an e-mail only policy we could have record of all communication on file without the risk of losing a post-it note. E-mail also includes the option of a read receipt, which allows the user to know when the receiver has opened and read the message or if they have not seen the message yet and another form of communication, such as a phone call, might be required to meet a deadline. The policy might also include that all e-mails must receive a reply no matter how simple the message.
I can head a short meeting at the end of the day to cover the implementation of this plan. The idea here is to eliminate hand written notes as well as informal communication such as instant messengers and social network communications. We will need to upgrade a few of the employee’s company cell phones and instruct them on how to use e-mail on these devices. Even though e-mails are good for keeping a history of communications, public relations expert Lisa Elias states, “When delivering delicate information, pick up the phone. A gentle tone of voice can soften bad news or express warmth and caring, whereas an email or text can easily be misconstrued,” (Kouremetis 2013).
Although e-mail can help eliminate the outside forms of communication, another possible resolution would be to implement task management software into the office. This alone may solve the issue. There are many different task management programs available but one that has caught my eye is AtTask, which is used by corporations such as HBO, Samsung, and Adobe. AtTask will allow us to run a free trial of the software prior to purchasing and claims the product will allow us to see what is going on with our projects, if we are on time, and when it will be done (“Services”, 2012).
You will even have access to the task manager to see what is going on in our shipping bay. AtTask even has an integrated communications technology that allows for instant messaging between co-workers and a notes system for the client list. That way, if one person speaks with a client of ours and they request a change to their order he can enter the message in the client’s message folder and we can all receive the notification straight to our smart phones and computers.
Even though, task management software will ultimately benefit company wide communication, another area that lacks focus is education on the subject matter of the workplace. A few of these men have worked here for over ten years and they know every part number by memory, but communication technology is outgrowing these few at a rapid pace. On the other end of the spectrum, these younger men have keen senses of current technological advancements, but they could use some more time in learning the step-by-step processes we face on a daily basis. I propose that we run a workshop meeting once every two weeks for a total of eight weeks to teach the young ones about the process of shipping from us, the supplier, to the consumer/retailer.
This workshop could possibly be run during hours if the time comes available, but will most likely need to take place on Saturday from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. The instructors will be chosen from 3 of our most experienced workers who will earn overtime from these extra hours. A separate workshop on communication technology for the employees that have been here should happen once a week for an hour, probably on Wednesday evenings after work. The employees will be eligible for overtime with this extra hour on the job. I believe that being educated on the subject matter of the workplace is vital to our success.
In addition to knowledge of the workplace being significant, another part of the communication process that has lacked in certain areas is feedback. Feedback is one of the four major communication functions (Belch 2012). It is the key to knowing your communication was successful. We need to emphasize in the training process that it is okay to ask questions. I have seen it happen before where someone is afraid to ask a question for fear of disapproval only to have to go back re-work what has been done. Asking the right questions can help us to do it right the first time (D.I.R.T.Fi.T.). I feel the previously mentioned workshops would be a great time to re-emphasize the importance of asking questions. Also, as mentioned in the first proposal, all e-mails must receive a reply or they will be followed up with a phone call.
We must remember that sometimes in order to receive feedback it must be asked for. After explaining a work order or process it is vital to ask, “Do you understand?” or “Do you have any questions for me?” Another way of obtaining feedback would be through face-to-face technology. With our smartphones and office computers we can send a more personal message with FTF video conferencing. Google Hangouts are part of the Google suite of applications that support multi-party video chat as well as other Google applications including Sketch-UP, Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and screen sharing and these types of technologies are being recommended as teaching formats to doctors and professors around the globe (Roseth, 2013).
In conclusion, I do believe there is work to be done in regards to the communication process in the workplace. I have proposed four strategies to minimize the possibility of future communication breakdowns. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. You may decide to choose one or to integrate all four, the choice is yours, but I do ask that you please take your time in considering the possibilities and I do trust you will choose what is best for the company.
Belch, G. E., & Belch, M. A. (2012). Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective, 9th Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Kouremetis, D. (2013). Choosing Communication Methods Wisely for Your Small Business. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/denakouremetis/2013/01/28/choosing-communication-methods-wisely-for-your-small-business/
Roseth, C. (2013). Blending Synchronous Face-to-face and Computer-Supported Cooperative Learning in a Hybrid Doctoral Seminar. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 57(3), 54-59.
“Services”. (2012). AtTask software services retrieved from http://www.attask.com/services