Delivery in day(s): 5
Diploma in Business
Unit Number and Title
Unit 6 MCKI
Information and knowledge need to be passed within the organisation with ease in an effective way so that each stakeholder will be on the same page. Flow of communication is very important in every division of each type of organisation. Irrespective of organisational structure and culture communication holds an important place in the effective way of carrying out activities. Importance of quick in understanding is as vital as the significance of managing the flow of communication in organisational context.
For a new retail business, both brick and mortar and online business, the decision making is an important activity. It will decide the future course of action by evaluating the current options of initiating the business. Major decision making will be based in three broad level:
Strategic decisions: long term based decisions have to be taken by the owner, which will have impact on every possible aspect of doing business. The business approach is the major decision: whether to go online channel or to stick to traditional brick-and-mortar model. For instance the store wants to expand its target market in the next quarter in order to attract more customers for the business.
Tactical decisions: these are medium term based on the decided steps related to implement the strategies of long term. This will include the marketing and sales related decisions which require continuous attention of the owner. For instance the structure of the work process needs to be re-design in order to maximise the productivity.
Operational decisions: these are related to the daily operation and continuous monitoring of various divisions of the retail operation. For instance the supervisor wants to change the volume of the team members under him by shifting one employee to another team in order to attend more customers in that specified time.
Information and knowledge required for a new retail operation are important to transfer the knowledge about the business vision and operation model to the workers. Data from the daily business operation need to be processed into information, which can be shared with everyone in the business to make better decisions. Buyers pattern and consumer behaviour are very important information to gain from the business, and then to understand in order to take better decisions (Applegate, 2007).
For examining the information and knowledge, DIKAR model can be followed in the following way:
Sources for information can be: formal and informal, which can also be further classified as internal and external information based on the source location. In the retail business, internal information can be obtained from formal sources like timely sales information, budgeting and financial performance data. Informal sources of information in a small retail operation can be the conversation between the employees, and first-hand feedback from the customers. However, the external sources of information can be obtained from the suppliers, market research findings, etc. besides the formal sources, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter can also be handy in obtaining information about the impression of the business in the market (Devita, 2000).
Frontline employees: Employees who are working in the frontline can serve as an effective source of information which can help the management to understand the real situation of the market.
Documents: Documents like cash memo, purchase order, sundry expenses sheet can give the real picture of the firm. The validity and the relevance can be ensured from this kind of source.
Market research conducted by the organisation helps to get the review of the customers and the market about their needs and wants.
The information of the Government can also proves to be the authentic sources where the demographic of the certain regions can be assessed and accordingly the business can fix their strategy.
In the initial but important stage of the business, reports and results resulting from the retail operation need to be converted into decisions based on the analysis. In order to make better customer relations, it is advisable that the retail operation should have a system that can track and manage better chances in terms of customer management and also assist improving the customer relationship in better way. Be it online retail or the traditional way of doing business, it is highly recommended that a business start-up must take its pilot stage carefully by assessing the customer views and choices. If the business is going online, then customers can be tracked with their IP addresses, which can present patterns and choices. This can as well help in providing customised busying offers to the buyers directly (Thach et al, 1994; Lewis, 1987).
Apart from that certain recommendations can be considered in order to operate the business effectively:
Stakeholders are the important part of the business that are directly and indirectly participate in the affairs business. Thus the identification of the stakeholders and to assess the level of influence stakeholder analysis is needed to be conducted in the following way: (Mukerjee, 2013)
From the power-interest grid we can able to identify four groups of stakeholders with their power and level of influence in the business.
The start-up can consider using customer relationship management (CRM) and data mining process in order to get clear idea about the various category and groups of customers. Better customer relationship management will help in skilfully addressing the buyers, and it better understanding of customer behaviour will also give the employees an advantageous position.
In both the channel of operation (online or brick and mortar), the nature of customers’ demands will be monitored through tools in place, and the identification of customer needs can boost the company’s bargaining power in both forward and backward channel. The data mining tool can be helpful in getting an idea of the supply demand pattern, which will give the leverage to the business over the suppliers (Putnam et al, 1987).
The most effective way of building the sturdy relationship with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders can be done though personal networking. It is developed by the owners and managers with the individuals or set of individuals who have the parallel interests. For price strategy and location strategy, three major approaches can be developed: professional networking, individual networking, and community networking. These three approaches will make sure that the business will get right amount of support and back up in selecting the right location in the right market, and also getting the materials at right price (Thach & Woodman, 1994).
In the age of social networking, social networking is the next best strategy which will include future improvement opportunities. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be leveraged upon to give the personal touch to the buyers and the suppliers. The virtual networking platform provides a better view of the market, and gives maximum possible personal touch of the business with other stakeholders. However, this is not an improvement plan but an auxiliary process to boost the strategies of start-up retail business (Applegate et al, 2007).
The given organisation in the case study is a small voluntary organisation, which needs a clear communication process rather than an enormous and branched out company that needs gigantic and complex communication process. Hence in this case, it is important to make sure that the people in the hierarchy are given access to information thoroughly and the flow down the structure is moved swiftly. The importance of rapid communication is important because of the size of the organisation. In a smaller organisation, it is expected that things will move faster and decision making system will be in a swift mode. Moreover the lesser number of employees make the importance of a clear and rapid communication more significant (Kraemer et al, 1989).
The present system of vertical communication in the voluntary organisation involves a chain of command system that starts from the volunteer supervisor. However the practical approach to the vertical communication is not seen in the organisation because of the lesser clarity and more clutter in the communication flow. Over dependability on the volunteer supervisor is one of the root reasons of the clutter in the flow. She is also trying to more of other responsibility which is actually outside her scope. Doing small things which are supposed to be done by the subordinates (the volunteers) are collectively taking a toll on the work load and hence the communication approaches of the supervisor. Horizontal communication is also present in the communication structure, and the flow takes place in the same level of organizational hierarchy. The horizontal top down communication was not very effective in terms of rapid decision making and sending clear flow to other volunteers. The independence of works also takes a toll on the supervisors, which makes the delegation more difficult. In an overall communication review, the supervisor seems to have serious issues and the systems need to be corrected so that inefficiency can be shed.
Following are the various approaches of communication in a volunteer organisation:
In the previous part, we have discussed about the practises carried out by other voluntary organisations in order to achieve a better flow of communication in the organisation structure. The organisation in the case study (small voluntary organisation) can adapt the similar strategies in its structure. There should be an effective and active vertical communication flow in the current structure, which should start with immediate delegation of works from the supervisor to the volunteers. This would reduce the clutter and improve efficiency among the people. Adoption of various time saving communication systems need to be adopted, which include wider usage of emails, memos, and written communication processes. The pressure from Marketing/Communication Director and other similar people in the organisation need to be reduced, so that the supervisor will get a breathing space. Training sessions will help spreading the knowledge in the organisation so that absence of the supervisor will not have much impact on the overall system (Devita, 2000; Eppler, 2006; Martin et al, 1998).
Moreover, the proposed Influence model proposed by Cohen and Bradford (The Cohen-Bradford IWA model) should be followed meticulously. The fundamental of the model lies in helping someone else in the organisation, which will help you in return whenever there is a requirement in the future. The primary step is to lend helping hand to all, which would give a window of opportunity to leverage in later point of time. In the scenario of case study provided organisation, the supervisor needs to identify one or more other responsible and equally careful volunteer who can either delegate or share the responsibility. She should learn how to gain trust from others in the organisation and at the same time build stronger relationship with the identified individuals.
[The Cohen-Bradford Influence model]
Collection of information: this is the first and foremost part of the entire information communication process. The supervisor is part of the system that depends on the individual employees in order to get original and innovative ideas, which may or may not be related to the actual decision making system of the organisation. However, the sensitive side of the current flow is the discretion of the individual. The present system has the negative side of giving the volunteer to impact the data collection by their personal values and thoughts. The voluntary organisation should have people with very high morale and values, but that cannot be guaranteed and taken for granted in the case of data collection process. The current system can be improved by introduction of training to the volunteers who can be made aware about the seriousness of collecting data which are free of personal bias or preference of any sort. The supervisors can be given more responsibility to make sure that the data collection is taking place properly and with respect to the desired motive.
Formatting and Storage of information: usually companies or organisations at large scale conduct screening of data to format and store those. There are a number of tools and software available which can be helpful in storing data, further process collected data and finally generate report that can be helpful for the decision makers to take timely steps. In this case, because of small business organisation, it is important to filter the not-so valuable data before adding them into the storage system. The voluntary organisation doesn’t have any standard structure or flow in place to take care of the formatting process. Hence it is highly advisable to introduce such system in the organisation in order to format the data in standard format into information. For storage facilities, the voluntary organisation should consider various online and cloud based facilities, such as Google drive, Drop box, Microsoft cloud drive, etc. These options are not only very easy to use, but are also free to use which makes them first choice for a voluntary organisation.
Dissemination of information: it is as important as any other steps in communication flow process. The current system of information dissemination in the voluntary organisation is not very much effective. Instead of personally communicating all the information, the online sharing system can be very much helpful in disseminating the uploaded information. The suggestions mentioned in the above paragraph can be used and the dissemination can be simultaneously done smoothly as the storage (Applegate et al, 2007).
With all the above explained suggestions, the organisation can move towards becoming a place with better communication flow. The higher level supervisors and volunteers should make sure that each volunteer is conscious in relation to importance of discretion of information which must flow only within the organisation. Based on the seriousness and sensitivity of data, they can be divided into three categories confidential, internal and public. In order to control few data that can be confidential in nature, there can be a restriction in usage system to prevent unsolicited mishandling of sensitive information. With introduction of online and cloud based data storage the volunteers can be given more access to the data that is semi confidential in nature, and should be used for the betterment of the entire organisation. The voluntary organisation can also introduce intranet in its organisational infrastructure in order to provide a closed virtual environment for interaction between the employees. Based on the level of the individual in the voluntary organisation (whether they are volunteer, supervisor, director, etc.), the people in the system can be given the access to data storage based on the requirement and rank. The public data can be accessed by everyone and it can also be shared with the public outside.
The introduction of intranet and cloud based virtual storage system will be helpful in delegating a number of tasks that cannot be otherwise done smoothly. The supervisor can use the common shred folder in the virtual storage drive to assign various tasks to the volunteers. Any communication that should be passed immediately can also be run rapidly. A well-structured knowledge management infrastructure can come handy which will improve the level of mutual skill sharing in the organisation (Grosse, 2002).
If I am given the opportunity work as the volunteer supervisor in this case study, the first thing I would like to change is the level of work assigned to me. In the present scenario, the supervisor is facing a lot of tasks and pressure to deliver all at proper time. She is not being delegated properly by her superiors, which is again due to the barriers of communication. I will make sure that the bottleneck situation is removed from everyone’s responsibility. This can be done only through mutual understanding and cooperation. I will arrange frequent and regular meetings with my superiors and volunteers in order to bring everyone to the same platform. People need to be addressed about their responsibilities, and making the dispersive usage of delegation. This will reduce my tasks which often get piled up in critical times. For the smaller tasks which need to be delegated immediately, I will make sure that the volunteers are in the loop of task allocation and they are notified about every new task. If there are number of tasks pending and have been piled up in the system, then I would rank the volunteers based on their task affinity. This would help in allocating right task to right volunteer.
In case of enormous and expanded business, the criticality of communication management goes many degrees above. The present situation at the voluntary organisation described in the case study needs to be addressed keeping the stakeholders in mind. If the communication process is made smooth and free flowing, there will be increase in enthusiasm among the volunteers, and the supervisor can be more efficient.
Applegate, L. M., Austin, R. D., & McFarlan, F. W. 2007. Corporate information strategy and management: text and cases. Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Devita, G. 2000. Inclusive approaches to effective communication and active participation in the multicultural classroom: An international business management context. Active Learning in Higher Education, 1(2), 168-180.
Eppler, M. J. 2006. Managing information quality: increasing the value of information in knowledge-intensive products and processes. Springer.
Grosse, C. U. 2002. Managing communication within virtual intercultural teams. Business Communication Quarterly, 65(4), 22-38.
Kraemer, K. L., Leslie, J., Dunkle, D. E., & Lane, J. P. 1989. Managing information systems. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
Lewis, P. V. 1987. Organizational communication: The essence of effective management. Wiley.
Martin, E. W., Brown, C. V., Hoffer, J. A., Perkins, W. C., & DeHayes, D. W. 1998. Managing information technology: What managers need to know. Prentice Hall PTR.
Mukerjee, K. 2013. Strategizing for CRM to leverage its benefits.Business Strategy Series, 14(4), 118-122.
Putnam, L. L., Roberts, K. H., & Porter, L. W. 1987. Handbook of organizational communication: An interdisciplinary perspective. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Thach, L., & Woodman, R. W. 1994.Organizationalchange and information technology: Managing on the edge of cyberspace. Organizational Dynamics, 23(1), 30-46.