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Gap Analysis: Global Communications

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Gap Analysis: Global Communications

Effective communication is the cornerstone to success in any organization. According to McShane and Von Glinow (2004), effective communication "improves decision making" and "is also a key driver in knowledge management." (p. 324) A lack of effective communication at Global Communications has caused several issues surrounding a business strategy that includes outsourcing jobs and laying off workers.

Due to pressures for revenue and business growth, the senior management team has developed a business strategy that includes outsourcing jobs to Ireland and India, and laying off a number of employees.

The management team has gained approval from the board to implement an outsourcing plan, but it has not developed an effective strategy for communicating the plan to its employees. Furthermore, the team did not include representatives from the Technologies Workers Union in strategy sessions. Negotiations with the union have broken down, and Union leaders are threatening legal action against the company.

Global Communications faces several challenges, but also several opportunities relating to this scenario. By researching organizational communication (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004), effective decision-making (Bateman & Snell, 2004), and business ethics (Badaracco, 1998, Trevino & Brown, 2004), Global Communications can effectively manage the business and experience growth.

Situation Analysis

Issue and Opportunity Identification

Global Communications' management has been tasked with growing the business in local and international markets, and has developed a new business strategy to address the business' needs.

Six months ago, the board of directors at Global Communications recruited Katrina Heinz as CEO, and tasked her with increasing both revenue and profits through more aggressive globalization. The senior management team has developed a strategic plan that includes the outsourcing of technical call centers to India and Ireland. The board approved the strategic plan, but the management team did not include an employee communication element to its plan, and it was forced to make a swift decision regarding how to communicate the layoff news. The senior leadership team is in conflict as to how to deliver the news while maintaining employee productivity and morale, and maintaining the company's ethical standards with regards to its employees.

The leadership team can develop a communication plan that provides for maximum understanding of the strategic plan, and a forum for employee feedback. It can also offer resources to allow employees to plan for future employment. However, the team must utilize appropriate media, so as to be "sensitive to the symbolic meaning of the communication medium to ensure that it amplifies rather than misinterprets the meaning found in the message." (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p.334)

The senior leadership team did not involve Union representatives, specifically Maria Antez (VP in the Technologies Workers Union), in the decision-making process regarding outsourcing. Maria was not aware of the new business strategy, and learned of the outsourcing plan on the day the board approved it. The level of trust between members of the decision-making team and the Union representative has been compromised, causing a personal barrier to further effective communications between the two groups. (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2003, p. 525)

The senior management team can work with Union representatives to determine how best to rebuild trust while making a mutual agreement to implement the outsourcing plan in a way that is beneficial to the company and to its employees. By agreeing to work together, both parties can begin the process of rebuilding trust and finding mutual goals. (Reina, D. and Reina, S., 2004)

Conflict between Global Communications and the Union is further intensified because of previous negotiations between the company and the Union that resulted in a win for the company and a loss for the Union. Specifically, the Union recently agreed to a 20 percent reduction in education and health benefits for all employees, which they were convinced would promote long-term growth in the company and an increase in the number of employees at Global Communications. The Union sees the outsourcing plan as another win-lose, and cites a possible ethics violation, believing the plan to be a ploy to manipulate around current contract conditions.

Through the use of the integrative negotiations (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2003) principle, the company and the Union can study the outsourcing problem and develop a plan that would provide a win for both parties, and providing common goals as they relate to the employees who would be affected by the outsourcing plan.

The Union, however, has cut off negotiations with Global Communications just six days after the outsourcing plan was approved, and just three days after the plan was made public. Union officials cite a lack of room for negotiation around the outsourcing plan. Global Communications now faces possible action from the Union through the government and other resources.

The decision to cut off negotiations in such a short time would indicate an emotional response on the part of the Union. The company and the Union can work to develop a system for negotiation that includes set goals and timelines, using objective decision-making techniques.

Stakeholder Perspectives/Ethical Dilemmas

There are five primary stakeholder groups in the Global Communications scenario. They are the shareholders, the Global Communications board of directors, the senior management team, the Technologies Workers Union, and Global Communications employees

Because there are so many stakeholder groups, there are many potential perspectives, and potential ethical dilemmas. Shareholders are primarily concerned with the ability of the company to produce a return on investment. This focus on stock prices and performance are causing pressure on all other stakeholders to make the company perform well.

The Board of Directors is elected by the shareholders, and is responsible for overseeing the total operations at Global Communications. The board has recently received some recommendations from senior management regarding ways to increase revenues and cut costs. However, communication has been distorted (Kreiter & Kinicki, 2004, p. 543) by the management team, because the team has not informed the board of its lack of communication with the union, nor of its lack of a communication plan with employees.

The senior management team is a key stakeholder because it is

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