Running head: COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN AT ATTAIN
Communication Breakdown at Attain:
The Importance of Maintaining Effective Business Communication
MGT 541: Leadership & Change Management
Holy Family University
COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN AT ATTAIN
Effective business communication is essential in all business environments, and must be driven by effective leadership at all management levels. Conversely, bad business communication will eventually destroy the business environment and its effectiveness resulting in reduced employee morale, loss of mission focus, or even lost revenue. In the Hill and Beckham (2011) case study, Kay Sunderland (Sunderland) is an account director responsible for client service activities at Attain Learning (Attain), a company that provides training services for other businesses. Sunderland is at a communications crossroad in determining how best to proceed to resolve problems that developed as a result of a fellow employee, Mike Morgan (Morgan) who contacted Sunderland’s most important client, Juan Nunez (Nunez), circumventing Sunderland’s preferred communication route. Additionally, Nunez expressed that he would like communication from Attain come only from Sunderland. In this scenario, Sunderland’s relationship with her most important client could be in jeopardy. There are three business communication pitfalls that Sunderland must properly navigate to ensure an appropriate and successful outcome with both coworkers and clients: silo organization communication, communication politics, and valuing viewpoints.
Silo Organization Communication
Sunderland is considering contacting her supervisor, Dr. John Chama (Chama), Chief Operations Officer (COO), before discussing the client communication issue with Morgan, as her interpretation of Nunez reaction to Morgan’s communication seemed serious and detrimental to the current client relationship. (Hill and Beckham, 2011) There is no evidence that Sunderland has communicated historically through the COO to other departments, however, Sunderland should consider the damaging effects of silo communication to her work relationships. Silo organization communication occurs when communication remains stove-piped or linear within
COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN AT ATTAIN
the organizational chart and does not cross organizational functions. Silo communication can hamper the free exchange of ideas and perspectives between departments, develop mistrust between department heads resulting in an “us versus them” mentality, and consume considerable COO resources.
In an article on communicating beyond the workplace, Clark (2013) emphasized that most pressing problems cannot be solved within the confines of business silos, and most employees experience greater success when they consider the bigger business picture and reach out to multiple stakeholders outside of their organizational chart line. This concept is true for both communications within and outside the business.
Further, Bolman and Deal (2008) demonstrated that Federal agency communication had followed the silo model within the complex organizational structures, and that the lack of communication between government organizations had contributed to the failure to respond to events leading up to, during, and following the 9/11 attack by terrorists on U.S. soil. Another unintended result of silo communication is the hampering of individual development. The ability of individuals to share ideas across organizational lines provides a platform for growth and understanding. Silo communications can be similar to that described by Grant (2013) as helicopter managers, or managers that hover around those lower on the organization chart to provide support. Grant (2013) points out that on the surface, this appears well intentioned, but often results in disruption of the learning process, including less developed independence and competence. Sunderland may be able to gain more understanding for why...
References: Bolman, L G., & Deal, T. E. (2008). Reframing organizations: artistry, choice, and leadership
(4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 19, 41.
Clark, T.B. (2013). Enterprise Leadership: We need people who can work beyond their
agencies to address public issues. Government Executive. August 2013. p. 37.
Grant, A. (2013). Management Matters: The Helicopter Manager. Government Executive.
August 2013. p. 35.
Hill, L, & Beckham, H. (2011). Kay Sunderland: Making the Grade at Attain Learning.
President and Fellows of Harvard College. No. 4289. Pp. 6, 7 (1-8).
Suesse, J. M. (1998). Margaret Thatcher. President and Fellows of Harvard College.
No. 9-497-018. p. 12.
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