Basically, any company may face serious problems in the process of its development. In this respect, the problem of effective communication within a company may be among the most serious problems a company can face. To prove this fact, it is necessary to analyze and research in details a company where the problem of communication is one of the most serious ones. In such a situation, it is possible to refer to the Industrial Control and Management Systems, Inc., the company located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The company provides system automation and integration services for a variety of industries. It should be said that the company is comprised of three departments: sales, engineering and manufacturing. The Sales manager is in charge of the sales department, which consists of four employees. The engineering department is headed by the engineering manager with five project managers reporting directly to him. Each of the project managers should obtain and manage resources for any given project. Finally, the Production manager is leading the manufacturing department. He supervises five employees who fabricate industrial control panels for various projects. All department heads report to the president of the ICMS.
The effective interaction and cooperation between all three units is of a paramount importance for the normal functioning of the company and successful market performance. On the other hand, the effective cooperation and interaction is virtually impossible without effective communication between the departments.
The problem of communication in ICMS
However, it is the communication between the sales department and engineering department that is the major problem ICMS is currently facing. In fact, there exist substantial gaps in the communication between sales and engineering departments to the extent that they cannot normally coordinate their actions and basically they function as two separate units which are united only by the brand but not by the actual contacts between people working in both departments.
Actually, it is possible to estimate that sales and engineering departments are focused solely on their own work, while it is practically impossible to ignore the necessity of close communication between both departments because the engineering department should clearly realize what customer do really need and what is their opinion about the products and services the company sales and therefore modify their work in accordance with customers preferences and interests. Moreover, the gaps in the communication between sales and engineering department lead to cost overruns and growing customers dissatisfaction in the execution of the projects. The latter fact is particularly important because it threatens to the position of the company in the market. In fact, customer satisfaction is one of the major conditions of the stable functioning of the company because it stimulates customers to remain loyal to the company and its brand naturally grows more and more popular. Otherwise, the lack of customer satisfaction enforces the negative public image of the company that undermines its position in the market.
At the same time, the problems in communication deteriorate considerably the atmosphere within the company and naturally they do not contribute to the formation of a positive organizational culture. As a result, the company cannot function as a solid, united team, instead, it gets divided into various interest groups which attempt to meet their own needs without regard to the final result of their work in terms of the company at large.
Obviously, taking into consideration the deteriorating performance and growing dissatisfaction of customers with the company’s services, it was necessary to research in details the current situation in the ICMS and clearly identify the essence of the problem. Naturally, this needed the application of effective research strategies. In fact, really effective strategies that had been used helped not only identify the major problem but it indicated to the ways of its possible solutions.
First of all the current situation and the general information about the internal atmosphere within ICMS was analyzed. The opinion of employees and their attitude to the current situation in the company was researched and assessed. This was done in order to clearly understand the position of each employees, especially those whose work was not very effective and who actually contributed to the deteriorating performance of the company. In such a situation, interviews were used to gather the essential information. For instance, in the interviews the employees were asked to assess the current performance of the company as well as their own department, the assessment ranged from absolutely unsatisfactory to very good and excellent. Also, they were asked to identify the major problems the company and their department has as well as problems that made their work less comfortable for them and less effective. In addition, they were asked to provide possible ways of the improvement of the situation in their workplace, department, and the company at large. Basically, interviews of people working in sales and engineering departments revealed the existing contradictions between them and, therefore, helped identify the problem and find possible solution of this problem that affected the normal functioning of ICMS.
Furthermore, the positive experience of other companies that facilitated team building was researched. In other words, this was the research of the positive experience of companies that had already had similar problems in the communication between its departments and employees. In fact, this strategy was really helpful since it provided the provided the opportunity to develop more effective models of communication. At the beginning, the current mode and style of communication of employees within the company was researched in order to base the strategy not on assumptions but on factual information. Another important step was the communication of managers to facilitate their mutual understanding of their style of work and the purposes. In other words, they managed to better understand each other through communication in such a way that both departments as well as heads of departments and employees could really understand what the style of work was really acceptable for them and made their work more effective and productive. Finally, when the personnel arrived to the mutual understanding they were rewarded for their cooperative team work that was a serious stimulus for them to succeed.
Another important strategy that was used was the analysis of the existing literature and works on the problem of communication and effective interaction between employees and departments of a company. In this respect, the work by Patrcik Lencioni “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” was particularly valuable since it helped better understand the causes of the existing problem in ICMS, the essence of the problem and mechanisms of the elimination of the negative effects of the problem and finding its solution. Basically, this work was really important because it did not simply reveals major problems a company or a team faced but it also showed the causes of such problems. Obviously, when the cause of the problem was identified, the problem could be easily solved.
Finally, more attention was paid to the work with the personnel. In order to better understand the mood, the position of employees, reviews of projects meeting minutes were applied, during which it was possible to assist to the growing cooperation and mutual understanding between representatives of all departments of the company. In fact, with the help of such meetings, managers and employees from different departments communicated with each other and acquired positive experience of their cooperation.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the ICMS, Inc. is facing a serious problem in communication between sales and engineering department that naturally threatens to the position of the company in the market through growing customer dissatisfaction and costs. In such a situation, it is possible to recommend the development of more effective team management and creation a positive organizational culture and one of the possible strategies to meet these goals is the implementation of principles of the total quality management that will make quality the primary concern of all departments that will naturally make the more cooperative and increase effectiveness of their communication for the sake of higher quality of service the company supplies to its customers.
Paddock, J.M. Engineering Manager. New York: Random
Lencioni, P. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.
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