Due to the costly failed attempt to expand to the European market, and recognition of the major underlying cultural problems which resulted in the unsuccessful expansion, our team has been tasked with proposing plans for revitalizing your corporate culture. Key personnel, who could have provided advice to avert the flawed expansion strategy, did not voice their concerns or advice because such actions were not culturally encouraged. As an executive management team, you have recognized that this failure to uphold a corporate culture which values candid communication at all levels was the ultimate cause of this setback. This proposal is designed to uncover potential obstacles to creating a culture which foster candid communication, and present a plan of action to alter the corporate culture from the ground up. Question 1:
The obstacles of fostering candid communication can be categorized into three areas: personal, physical and cultural. When discussing personal obstacles, the outer layers peel back to find both interpersonal and intrapersonal barriers that your organization will find in their journey to value candid communication. For example, interpersonal barriers occur between team members, such as differences in personality styles or behavioral preferences. Ignoring or not addressing these differences can lead to rivalry, competition and fear of speaking up due to retaliation or further dislike from other co-workers. Though individuals in your company may not like or be willing to work with one-another, the major obstacle is to first get them talking to address their differences. Furthermore, even if your employees hold similar behavioral or personality styles, another obstacle may be that their relationships might not be strong enough to support constructive criticism from others, indicating a lack of trust. The absence of trust is the first dysfunction of a team, according to Patrick Lencioni. “Trust is the foundation of a team” and the lack of trust is the team’s inability “to understand and open up to one another” (Lencioni, pg. 43-44). Strong, trusting relationships support providing feedback to other employees and supervisors without fear of future scrutiny. Lack of trust within a group also holds a strong influence on intrapersonal barriers to speak freely. Intrapersonal barriers are those that occur within the individual self or mind but are strongly influenced by their surroundings. For example, without the feeling of trust, employees may revert back to their safety zone by keeping quiet and holding back opinions in order to protective themselves (Lencioni, pg. 195). Likewise, other intrapersonal barriers can be as simple as the individual’s self-confidence level or working with individuals who prefer not to provide criticism for fear of rejection from the group. In addition, another obstacle is the absence of individual’s sense of belongingness to the company, one of Maslow’s steps in his Hierarchy of Needs. Belongingness comes from the company support of employees through personal development and job enrichment which play a critical role for employees to recognize that they and their opinions are valued enough to be shared. Secondly, physical barriers of separation, such as the physical distance between locations, geographic barriers like oceans or even walls between offices, can also hinder the ability to communicate openly to employees,. For example, as your company expands internationally, it will face the creation of virtual teams. Virtual teams are at a disadvantage to build trusting, strong relationships because they do not have the luxury of sitting across the table from one-another to work out disagreements. And, even if they wanted to, it would be extremely expensive for the company to fund trips back and forth across the pond. On the other hand, co-located employees may still feel that physical barriers impede their ability to share from blocked areas and closed doors providing visual cues...
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