Erica Lynn

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Effective Communication Levels Using Social Media Tools

Recently I was asked to participate in giving an effective communication presentation to my company’s marketing team.  Being a member of the commination department, my team and I

chose to focus on the process of communication and choosing the correct tool for each situation.  This led me to think about effective communication in the social media age, and how it has changed for companies. With the emergence of social media we are introduced to a number of new tools all with their own roles and rules changing the hierarchy of levels of communication. The article titled “5 Levels of Effective Communication in the Social Media Age” found on Mashable.com discusses integrating social media into the different levels of communication, each level having a specific purpose and etiquette. The article states “When we do not understand the role of these levels, they can become huge time wasters. When we do understand them however, they can help us more effectively engage and navigate these new waters.

Below are the 5 levels of communication outlined by the article, the appropriate tool for each level and the reasoning behind each choice.

Level One: The Public Reply

The public reply refers to a company communicating with its customers through a channel where the customers can receive information and reply publicly. Imagine a company wanting to encourage discussion about new products, promotional items and new special, or wanting to hear from a customer about their experience with using their product, dealing with the front line sales staff or filing a complaint. The article recommends this be done by using Facebook through comments on Fan pages or (even better) Twitter, where the company can use @replies to send and receive short viewable messages. By using these social media tools the company remains transparent by utilizing an open/viewable channel for the customers to interact with the company. The article states “Public interactions are a great starting point for a channel that never existed before social media, and if done correctly, can often lead to more fruitful direct communication.”

Level Two: The Direct Message

In this case, the direct message refers to a company sending a direct message to its customers
within a social network. The article suggests this is done only after a relationship is established through a public reply and that “a direct message creates a private connection without opening the floodgates of e-mail.” The direct message can be used when managing unhappy customers or communicating information to specific customers not appropriate for public viewing. The article suggest this be done by Facebook but never Twitter because of the limited length of messages and the function of only being able to receive direct messages from your followers.

Level Three: Email

As previously mentions email can often “open a flood gate” or in this case, allow for more in-depth communication. The fact that email can be forwarded and sent to more than one people at once allows for more than one person to get involved and aid in resolving the problem. For example, a customer can be unhappy with the level of service they received from a particular employee at one of the many store locations of the company. By using email to company is able to engage in a conversation with the customer asking them for more information including details such as, what exactly the problem was and at what store they were dealing with. The email can them be sent to the manager of that region, customer service representative of that region and anyone else who could help fix the problem. But, as the article states, “When not used effectively (email), can become a huge time drain, as people write lengthy messages without much thought of the time and attention they are asking of recipients. This fine line makes e-mail tough to master in the social media age.” But if written properly the email can engage the customer while solving the problem and maintaining a private channel.

Level Four: Phone

Although it may seem with the emergence of social media the phone call and the art of conversation are no longer needed, but the phone call still has it advantages. The article states “hearing someone’s voice allows people to get a better sense of one another. While communicating via text, a person can take time to carefully craft his or her words, potentially presenting an image that may not be true or is harder to trust. A phone call allows for more immediate back-and-forth, and can be particularly helpful if a subject matter is delicate or people are considering a more in-depth relationship.”

The phone call is often a good choice when an issue is more complex than previously thought or needs a ‘back and forth’ dialog to work out the best answer to solve the problem. It also allows for the communicators to know the message has been received unlike emails or Facebook messages which can remain unopened for months without the sender know it. It also cuts down on the time needed to discuss something removing the time gap between receiving and responding to emails or Facebook messages.

In a world of new social media communication tool it is easy for a company to not use the phone or see it as a ‘last resort’ but essentially it remains the most effective way for a small number of people to commination next to face to face meetings.

Level Five: In Person Meeting

Much like the art of conversation understanding body language is a lost concept, but something that should be resurrected. Through our body language we communicate things like comfort level, passion and overall vision. The article states “Meeting with someone in person allows for communication to occur on multiple levels, and people often come away with a much better sense of each other. “

While a meeting can be “enhanced by the natural progression of first digital communication”, the effectiveness of the commination cannot be entirely relied upon to manage in depth conversation often needed to resolve complex problems. The drawback of face to face communication is time and money. I have learned it is important to look around the table of a meeting and questions each person’s attendants bases on cost of time and resources. Social media has allowed companies to curb these costs by not having meetings as a starting point of communication, but a later stage that can be utilized at a higher level.

Source: http://mashable.com/2010/02/08/communication-social-media/

Additional links of interest:

http://mashable.com/2010/01/12/zen-social-media/

http://mashable.com/2010/01/07/social-media-changed-us/

Managing the Communication Process

What I’ve Learned

Managing the Communication Process has taught me the importance of a company to create and maintain a strong communication strategy that mirrors a companies existing overall corporate strategy. This course gave me the skill set needed to analyze and interpret current communication processes and formulate recommendations for improvement based on the core principles of good communication.

Through out the course I was exposed to the entire process of communication and how to manage it, from the step of creating/executing a creative brief to potential issues management. During the course I looked at all forms of communication, including non-traditional and traditional media and analyzed their specific features and how they communicate tone, message, credibility and reach. Managing the Communication process also allowed me to understand how the channels of communication are changing with technology and how to best utilize the most appropriate forms for separate situations.

Course Work Completed

While completing Managing the Communication Process my team and I reviewed a company’s communication process and made recommendations for improvement based on the skill set we acquired in the course. This project allowed me to see not only how important external communications are, but also how important internal communications are and how the two processes should link together under the corporate strategy.

My team and I also analyzed a number of ad campaigns and how they utilized certain communication tools to broadcast their message. Some of these companies included Starbucks, British Airline and Kellogg’s cereal brand. Through the evaluation of these ads my team and I were able to see how some companies have gone wrong and how they could have improved their communications based on the core principles of communication outlined in the course.

While attending this class I was also able to participate in  a number of debates that discussed modern day issues such as wither or not traditional media was dead, if companies were guilty of ‘Green Washing’ and if food companies are partly responsible for childhood obesity by not communicating the contents of their products. These debates made me very aware of how fast the role of communication is changing and how as a marketer I need to be aware of the changes.

Career Development

While completing this course I was able to obtain a job in the field working as a corporate communications assistant for Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers Canada. The skills I learned in this course allowed me to fully understand the duties of myself and co-workers while working for the company. While working for Ritchie Bros I am able to utilize these skills I have obtained and apply them to a real corporate environment. I look forward to being able to use my skill set and knowledge obtained in Managing the Communication Process to further my career development at Ritchie Bros Auctioneers and else where.

OM Exam Question

Define Ergonomics and give an example

Current Issues regarding Design of Work Systems

Topic: Improving Organizational Efficiency through arranging Employee Health Maintenance Programmes and Adopting Ergonomic Work System Design Changes

Issue

Technological advancements in the work place are having a negative impact on employees’ physical environment, resulting in decreased organizational effectiveness (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.28). Many companies today maintain their competitive by using the most up to date technology or newest form of automation. This trend has created an entirely different working environment seen 20 years before. The use of these technologies, while improving speed and complexity of products, has led to work systems being designed around the technology rather than the employee using it. In an article titled Achieving Organizational Effectiveness through Health Management and Ergonomics published in the journal of Advances in Mangement, the idea of the employees being the focused of the organization and their core competencies is revisited (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.28). This article argues that the shift from human capital to technical automation has created a work environment that contains a number of new hazards for the employee. These hazards in include chemical, environmental and psychological issues. These hazards are a result of the use of chemical processes, increase in noise/vibrations from equipment and increase stress and anxiety. While the increase chemical use and noise/vibrations result from the use of new technology, the increase in stress and anxiety stems from employees feeling their job has been dehumanized and becoming alienated and frustrated as a result (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.28). This increase of hazards decreases the efficiency of the organization by the increase turn over due to health issues, absenteeism due to injury or skilled employees moving to companies with better facilities (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.31).

Solution

The articles proposed solution is arranging Employee Health Maintenance programmes in the company while adopting ergonomic changes to the working environment. This dual approach would integrate all elements to decrease amount of injuries at the work place (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.31). A Health Maintenance programme is designed to prevent occupational disease or injury rather than curing it after the fact (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.29). Ergonomics is a discipline involving deigning a work environment that’s purpose is to fit the people in it. In other words it is “the science of balancing between employees and they work they do” (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.30).For example the height of a chair can be adjusted to the height of a work bench allowing the employee to sit comfortably  rather than crouching down putting stress on the lower back and shoulders while working. Both of these methods take a preventative approach rather than a lagging repair approach. These changes can improve the overall efficiency of an organization through improving the working environment of the employees. “Success of an enterprise depends on its workforce. Hence, ensuring physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of employees is an inevitable task of employers” (Naidu & Ramesh, 2011 p.31).

Support

This idea a relationship between the ergonomic design of work environments is tested and confirmed in an article titled Providing External Validity of Ergonomics and Quality Relationship through review of Real-world Case Studies published in the International Journal of Product Research in 2011. This article describes five case studies performed in three manufacturing industries including an assembly plant, metal manufacturing plant and printed circuit assembly plant. All studies provided favourable results. For example, an assembly plant study was done in 2000 by Axelsson relieved that by addressing the issue of awkward postures and providing an ergonomic solution, the percentage of rejected parts was reduced from 8.9% to 5% (Erdinc & Yeow, 2011, p.953). Another case reviewed was a study done by Gonzalez and colleagues in 2003 at a metal manufacturing plant also addressing awkward postures. The result of an ergonomic change in job design was a drop of rejected parts from 1.62% to 0.87% and percentage of reprocessed parts dropped 1.51% overall (Erdinc & Yeow, 2011, p.953). The completion of these studies not only demonstrates a cause and effect relationship between ergonomic intervention, but also provides conclusive proof that “ergonomics is effective for quality improvement” ( Erdinc & Yeow, 2011, p.958).

Additional Benefits

The use of ergonomics to design work systems can also been used as a tool for lean manufacturing comparable to TQM and Six Sigma. The Internal Labour Organization estimates “40% of all costs are related to work related injuries” (Eswaramoorth et al, 2010, p.231). The relationship between lean manufacturing and ergonomics in this instance are concerning profits, rather than employee wellbeing or quality of output. The idea is for the employee to work more efficiently by using ergonomically designed work systems to cut done on waste generated by errors stemming from physical/mental stresses (Eswaramoorth et al, 2010, p.232). For example, referring back to the pervious example of Erdinc and Yeow’s case study of an assembly plant, the reduction in rejected parts from 8.9% to 5% translated into an annual saving of $20,000 US (Erdinc & Yeow, 2011, p.953).

Conclusion

The use of ergonomics for designing work systems can benefit an organization two-fold. The first benefit being that the employee health is supported and maintained both physically and mentally. The second benefit is a reduction of employee errors due poorly designed work systems. This reduction in errors translates into lower costs and a higher profit. This use of ergonomics can be comparable to lean manufacturing tool used. The use of ergonomics is often overlooked by companies who strive to become automated and technologically advances, but it is essential to maintain an efficient workforce and quality.

Reference

Erdinc, O., & Yeow, H.P.P., (2011)Providing External Validity of Ergonomics and Quality relationships through review of Real-world Case Studies, International Journal of Production Research,Vol.49(4),949-962.Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.kwantlen.ca:2080/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=ff65e170-2f6f-4204-9e61-4612ff3cafe7%40sessionmgr11&vid=4&hid=113

Eswaramoorthi, M., Mervyn, J., Arjun Rajagopal C., Prasad P.S.S., & Mohanram P.V.(2010) Redesigning Assembly Stations using Ergonomic Methods as a Lean Tool, IOS Press, Vol.35, 231-240. Retrieved fromhttp://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.kwantlen.ca:2080/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=ff65e170-2f6f-4204-9e61-4612ff3cafe7%40sessionmgr11&vid=6&hid=113

Naidu, M.T. & Ramesh G.(2011) Achieving Organizational Effectivness through Health Managament and Ergonomics, Advances In Managament, Vol4(4),  28-31. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.kwantlen.ca:2080/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=7&hid=113&sid=ff65e170-2f6f-4204-9e61-4612ff3cafe7%40sessionmgr11

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