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Performance and Communication: Woolworths versus WalMart

Topic:  Organisational Communication. Select two real-world business organisations, one in which employees have been performing well due to their standard business communication skills, and another in which employees have substandard performance because of their poor communication skills. You are free to choose the organisations from any industry such aviation (e.g. Qantas, Southern China) and retail (Woolworths, IGA). You can choose these organisations by accessing information from the internet, the websites of the selected organisations or your professional and personal experience.

After choosing the two organisations, you need to do the following:

• Find the factors relating to the success of verbal and written communication skills of the better performing employees.

• Examine the causes of poor communication skills in one of your organisations.

• Provide recommendations for enhancing the communication of employees in the poor performing organisation by applying the theory (theories) you have studied in the course.

Answer

Business Communication

Comparison of performance and communication in Woolworths (America) and Wal-Mart (America) 

Introduction 

It is necessary to focus on skills of communication to ensure success in any field or domain. It helps in proper understanding and transfer of ideas thereby ensuing clarity in strategies directed to achieve the objectives. As discussed by Deborah and Snyder (2001), communication is necessary for people at work place to achieve the objective of growing teams and completing out the work in an appropriate manner. A transparent and effective communication at workplace ensures better adeptness at in majority of domains. It is of utmost significance that the communication between various stakeholders of the company is maintained in a clear manner resulting in an optimistic work environment. It ensures strong relationship and trust building among the company and the stakeholders like employees, management, customers, shareholders as well as government agencies. 

Wal-Mart is an American retail chain and Woolworths is an Australian retail chain. Their ways of operation and communication vary to a great extent due to cultural differences. Moreover Woolsworth has been training their employees to adapt to communication in the Chinese markets (Shegal, MK & Khetarpal, V 2008). 

Key communication and performance elements 

Communication is very important for a business. Elements of written and oral communication impact the overall network and agility of the business. It is crucial for a multi national business to understand the impact of communication on their collaborators and stakeholders. It is also required that they fine-tune their communication skills to suit the progress of a business in an international market (Deborah L. DuarteNancy Tennant Snyder2011). There are some activities in a business organization like sales and client communication that helps in creating profits and creates goodwill for the company. This makes persuasive and effectual communication compulsory among all parties ensuring proficiency in all the tasks and activities directed as per the pre-defined strategies (Shegal, MK & Khetarpal, V 2008).

Factors relating to the success of verbal and written communication skills of better performing employees 

An understanding of another culture is very essential to be able to succeed in verbal and written communication in an international market.  This can help build better levels of success and growth in terms of business performance. This results in maintaining a sustainable business environment where the organization is recognized for its performance and proficiency in the market. The same implications stand true even in case of a business organization where effective communication can enable the firm to grow and succeed through collaborating and networking with the local businesses, service providers and suppliers (Linda L. NeiderChester Schriesheim, 2005). 

 Hosfstede model : Implication of theory 

As argued by Gutamann (2013), it is necessary to maintain good communication for exploring the prospects ensuring apposite and adequate synchronization and collaboration within the organization. It is the route to desirable growth and profitability resulting overall proficiency of the organization. There is a route to build such effectual communication by remaining dedicated towards expectations and appraising improvement opportunities (Shegal, MK & Khetarpal, V 2008). 

According to Hofstede's dimension "long term orientation", Australian culture compares with American culture as it has a high long term orientation and America has a medium or low term orientation.  In case of Australia, it is possible to form long term contracts with employees and retention is easier when compared to America. Moreover, it is essential to focus on creation of a work environment in America which helps retain employees and helps them see individual growth in the success of the organization. This makes Australian culture more suitable for survival in the Chinese market (Linda L. NeiderChester Schriesheim, 2005). 

In case of Australia, senior levels of management focus on overall performance of the organization and its competitive position. In order to create effective business development, leaders focus on operational efficiency as a whole and deal with managers who actually communicate with the team members. Leaders at the senior management levels set goals and targets which help in ensuring that the organization is able to form the common vision. This is not the case in America, where in it is essential to focus on immediate managers and they are the ones who set goals collectively with employees (Garber, P 2010).

HR can plan for these possible changes by planning a balance in the workforce through interventions while employing. It is extremely important that they consider employing a fair mix of people from different cultures, countries and backgrounds. Only then it would be possible to build a workforce where in diversity can be obtained for efficient succession planning. It is extremely important for HR managers to consider futuristic work conditions and work culture while choosing employees as potential future leaders in the organization and grooming them accordingly. This trend is seen in Australian organizations as well as Chinese organizations. But in case of American organizations, the way HR is managed is very different. 

Causes of poor communication skills in Wal Mart 

Cultural differences is a major reason for difference in performance between Wal-Mart and Woolworth in the Chinese markets (Deborah L. DuarteNancy Tennant Snyder2011). Moreover though Wal-Mart and Woolsworth are a great success in their home markets, there is a wide difference in their performance in the Chinese market due to Wal-Mart not having focused on training their employees to understand the culture of China and how Chinese organizations operate. These elements lead to poor communication skills among employees in Wal-Mart functioning with the Chinese chain of retail owned by Wal-Mart (Linda L. NeiderChester Schriesheim, 2005). It is vital for a professional to be able to perform with groups. If the company fails in working with its group members, it would be challenging for a businessperson to be able to carry out all of the tasks by himself. In case of a team, communication is key to the functioning of the organization. Also, it is important that the need of such synergy is explained and communicated well across the organization so as to ensure proper understanding and acceptance of any of the strategies leading to organizational goals. Wal-Mart should focus on better team building through cross culture functioning and including local managers in their teams to help the business grow better. 

Recommendations

Wal-Mart should use a strong communication-training program which focuses on helping employees understand the ways in which Chinese organizations operate, their work culture and communication methods (Linda L. NeiderChester Schriesheim, 2005). 

It is also recommended that certain lines of informal communication are used as the route to understand the expectations of front-line and back-line employees. This will help in formulation of effective strategies to meet the communication needs of the workforce thereby ensuring effective communication with suppliers and customers. 

There is also a need of helping managers and leaders to learn and impart conflict management skills to their subordinates and team members. They should know the difference of positive conflicts that can result in some innovative solutions to business problems and the conflicts that needs resolution or complete avoidance to ensure efficiency of business operations. 

A culture of regular formal and informal discussions at different levels and within the management of the organization will help in improving the basic communication across the organization and helping the management to get cooperation of various departments and areas. This will in turn direct all the efforts towards business goals and objectives making the overall efficient and productivity improved and maintained. 


Conclusion 

Cultural diversity has several advantages. It leads to multiculturalism which helps broaden an individual's perspectives and spectrum of thought. It helps improve productivity and proficiency in the organization. But convergence is also of great importance as a balance is to be built. Commitment, obligation and respect along with kinship have been primary values of both the Chinese and Australian cultures thus making it easier for Woolsworth to operate in China whereas Wal-Mart faces several issues with communication due to cultural differences and lack of understanding of integrities of the Chinese culture. Ensuring that there be focus on convergence of understanding about organization cultures can help strengthen business communication in these organizations. A strong relationship and communication network is the effective route of maintaining long-term efficiencies and synergies while giving profit and growth to the organization as a whole. Therefore, business houses need to remain dedicated and define practical strategies of ensuring expected lines and levels of communication with various stakeholders thereby achieving success and stability in the domestic as well as international markets.  

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