Effective Communications and Soft Skills

Think Piece One

According to the Myer Briggs test, my psychological type is an introvert. My personality type (introvert) is likely to affect my organizational performance in the sense that, I derive my energy from working by myself and often, I will be action-oriented (more like extroverts). This trait will affect my contribution to the organization because my working behavior will not be directed towards objects and people but rather, ideas and concepts. Also, as an introvert, I am highly inclined to take a lot of time thinking through issues, and in this manner I can earnest my creativity and undertake tasks only after carefully thinking everything through. My contribution in the organization will therefore be tailored towards balancing out the input of extroverts in the organization.

Considering many organizations lack leadership qualities from their employees, introverts I can act as a good substitute to this void because it is a known fact that, introverts are likely to make better leaders than extroverts (Williams 517). This observation is affirmed by research studies which suggest that, introverts are the bearers of unique personality traits which are very important in defining a good leader (Williams 517). Part of these qualities emanate from the fact that introverts are careful thinkers, and this trait is further complemented by the fact that, introverts draw a lot of energy by working independently. Some of the other qualities (of introverts) identified to provide good leadership in the organization are: introverts prefer to listen first and talk later, introverts have a lot of focus on the depth of a situation; introverts prefer a lot of calm; introverts prefer written communication and introverts embrace solitude (Williams 517). These traits enable introverts to be very good leaders in the organization because from the above qualities, introverts are: keener on details; embrace clarity and consistency; good in articulating their positions (through written word) and focus on the important bits of an issue. These issues withstanding, I am able to contribute to the leadership strategy of the organization.

The personality type of someone who is completely different from my personality type will be an extrovert. Such a personality type may significantly clash with my personality type, based on the fact that, we will both seek different mechanisms of deriving personal energy. The extrovert derives his energy from interacting with people and I will derive my energy from working alone. For example, Williams explains that:

“Extroverts are motivated from “without” and their attention is directed outward. They are people who are sociable, friendly, self-confident and outgoing. They appear relaxed and confident. Extroverts have trouble understanding life until they have lived it. When extroverts are feeling bad, low in energy, or stressed, they are likely to look outside themselves for relief. They might go shopping, call friends to come over, or arrange a party. They are energized from without, and they look for meaning outside themselves” (Williams 517).

In such a case, I may prefer personal time alone, but the extrovert may require excessive interaction, which will ultimately pose a problem to me. There are other times where my personality type may be perceived as an act of unresponsiveness by extroverts in the organization. Other times, there may be a high likelihood of extroverts thinking I am secretive, closed and moody. This may cause them to exclude me from certain organizational tasks. There may also be instances where I perceive extroverts as extensively exhaustive, shallow-minded and extremely noisy because extroverts are known to be extensively social and often, they talk a lot (Williams 517).

The different strategies we will use to cope with organizational stress may also cause interpersonal conflict because the extrovert may prefer to relieve stress through excessive partying and interactions while I may prefer to self-reflect as a therapeutic method. In the implementation of these strategies, there is a high likelihood that, if both groups are synchronized, and fail to integrate; the extrovert may feel rejected while the introvert may have strong feelings of imposition by the extrovert. In this regard, it is possible that the stress reduction strategy for an introvert may be different from the extrovert. Here, there are likely to be ill-harbored feelings among both groups where the introvert may perceive the extrovert as too demanding, while the extrovert may perceive the introvert as too restrictive. However, we may complement one another in various organizational functions, in the sense that, the extrovert may be required to undertake organizational activities, which require excessive human interactions, like the marketing department, while the introvert can be mandated to undertake organizational activities, which only require substantial interaction – such as the manufacturing department.

Think Piece Two

The team communication challenges likely to be experienced within the case study of virtual working will be envisioned in the communication mediums to be adopted. For instance, virtual teams are likely to use telephones, voicemail, webinars, electronic mails and instant messaging for communication (Filek 1). These communication tools are going to be the basis for the realization of communication challenges. In this regard, Songsri is likely to experience several communication challenges like the inability to organize a common time of conversation among virtual team members (because the virtual teams will be in different time zones). With regards to email use, Songsri is likely to experience communication challenges, based on the fact that, the respondents may be overwhelmed by the contents of the e mail conversations, and therefore, ultimately fail to respond to each question in detail (Filek 1). For instance, if multiple topics are communicated via e mail, the respondents are likely to respond to the last topic, and ignore the former (Filek 1). With regards to instant messaging, security becomes a major communication challenge because it is not possible to verify the respondent on the other end of the communication line. With regards to voicemail communication, Songsri is likely to experience communication challenges, based on the fact that, neither the team members nor she, can be able to respond promptly to several communications because it is not possible to be checking one’s voice mail all the time (Filek 1).

From a general point of view, there is also going to be a communication challenge experienced from the nature of virtual environment communications. For instance, there is going to be a lack of sign language during virtual communication, and this means that the respondents will not get a chance to conceptualize the information, as it would have been in the natural environment. This challenge is affirmed by studies which show that communication transcends verbal communication only (Filek 1). For instance, in an email communication, only part of the information will be obtained and not the “unseen’ components of the information, such as facial expressions. In such a case, the likelihood of misunderstandings happening, or confusions increasing in frequency is going to be high. Also, studies show that the use of informal channels of communication in the organization is an important platform of sharing knowledge and exchanging information through interactions bordering on coffee breaks, lunch times and the likes. However, in the virtual environment, this element lacks, and instead, communication is often highly structured and scheduled. Information sharing which could have occurred in the informal environment therefore lacks. Since the forum for a sufficient platform for informal communication lacks, the likelihood that, there will be a strong element of mistrust is strong and therefore, instances of miscommunication or unwillingness to cooperate in the virtual environment may easily occur.

If the above communication challenges are not effectively addressed, several consequences may be experienced. For instance, regarding poor security in instant messaging, information about the project management process may fall in the wrong hands and the project may be sabotaged in the long run. The project may also suffer extensive delays if issues regarding the efficiency of the communication process is not effectively addressed (Filek 1). Moreover, an increase in project costs may be experienced if the communication challenges are not addressed because inefficiency is likely to be realized, and this may increase project costs.

Due to the above consequences, it is important to employ several strategies to overcome the communication challenges. To overcome time difference challenges in telephone conversations, Songsri can set specific ground rules which all team members in the virtual community ought to adhere to. This will streamline the telephone conversation timelines and ensure every team member participates in the communication process (Filek 1). In avoiding communication challenges relating to e mail communications, it is best for the team leader to pursue one topic of conversation during one session. If she intends to discuss several topics in one session, she should be very clear (in communication) so that, instances of miscommunication is not realized. In overcoming security issues during instant messaging, it is important for Songsri to carry out independent verification questions to the recipients, like asking the respondent personal questions which the intended recipient (only) would know. In this manner, the probability of fraudulent persons hacking the system is effectively reduced. Introducing password verification measures before communication will also go a long way in ensuring the communication channel is safe.

In overcoming elements of miscommunication arising from a lack of informal environment for knowledge sharing and information exchange, the virtual team manager should organize for periodic informal meetings among virtual employees (if possible) so that team members can easily know one another. Moreover, the virtual team manager may organize rotational duties or tasks for different team members in different geographical locations so that; employees can work in various locations to facilitate the interaction of employees among one another. Finally, in overcoming communication inefficiencies from voicemail communications, the strategy of overcoming telephone conversational challenges should be adopted.

Think Piece three

Communication challenges occurring as a result of gender differences emanate from the different communication strategies adopted by both men and women. For instance, men are known to interpret wrongly women’s head-nodding as a sign of agreement or understanding, but in real sense, the recipients may not understand what they are saying (Li 1). Also, women may interpret the lack of smiling or nodding (among men) as a sign that a man is not paying attention to them, but in real sense, the man may be paying attention to them. In the organizational context, this may manifest in a female employee perceiving a male manager as not understanding or uninterested in what she is saying (by not nodding his head or smiling). However, in real sense, the manager may remain neutral to show that he understands, but due to miscommunication, the female employee may repeat herself (to make the manager understand), and the manager ultimately wrongly concludes that the female employee is not confident in herself.

The difference in male and female communication has also been evidenced in the legal fraternity where it has been evidenced that, men often use obscure languages as opposed to their female counterparts (Tieszen 69). Men are therefore perceived to use archaic form of language, and in the same manner, exhibit strong use of syntax words which may often lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings in the organizational context. Interestingly, this form of male communication is often perceived to be more superior to the female form of communication. Often, the fact that, women use more subtle forms of communication arise from the fact that, due to the immense expectations of society on female conduct, females use more subtle forms of communication to gain acceptance by their peers (Tieszen 69). Usually, women who are very assertive or perceived to be strongly opinionated (use male forms of communication) are not openly accepted by their peers and therefore, they are seen to use forms of communication which is not meant for their sex (Tieszen 69). Some researchers have tried to draw a deeper distinction to the communication styles of males and females by stating that, female communication borders linear communication, while male communication centers on a hierarchical form of communication (Tieszen 69).

The consequences of gender-related miscommunications are diverse and they may range from a strong sense of confusion within the organization to personal bias, which may ultimately affect the performance of employees in the organization (Li 1). For example, in legal contexts, female communication has often been frowned upon, based on the fact that, it is normally perceived to be getting someone not to do something, as opposed to the affirmative form of the meaning (Tieszen 69). Sometimes, female-speak is often perceived as a tentative and weak form of communication, and is often associated with weakness or avoiding a situation where an individual is perceived to be strongly opinionated or showing instances of strong commitment towards a given purpose (Tieszen 69). If female communication is perceived in this regard, it is therefore obvious to note that many women are often assumed to be less committed towards different organizational tasks and sometimes perceived to fail to mean what they say (Tieszen 69). These assumptions often emanate from the fact that, female communication is normally perceived to be powerless in many organizations and managers would often prefer the contrary (Tieszen 69). Regardless of the above factors, establishing a sense of equilibrium in the workplace between men and women is likely to remedy the problem (Li 1).

The common kind of cross cultural miscommunication that occur include: dressing, language, religion, organizational hierarchy, face and face serving, personal responsibility, and non-verbal communication (Li 1). These problems can create trouble within the organization by aggravating or creating conflict. There is also bound to be a lack of trust among employees who experience cross-cultural miscommunication. Cross-cultural miscommunication is also known to be the root for a lack of cooperation within the organization and more so, among employees. A lack of cooperation is likely to cause a lot of inefficiencies and lack of task coordination in the organization because employees would prefer to work with people they trust and exclude those they do not. The element of criticisms is also likely to be brewed in the organization if elements of cross-cultural miscommunication are left to thrive. These types of criticisms are most likely going to be negative criticism with the parties not approving of the actions of one another. This situation may be further worsened by instances where one party feels more superior to the other.

Apart from brewing mistrust among employees, negative criticism can possibly lead to a lack of confidence among employees (especially those victimized). There is also likely to be a strong likelihood of employees practicing favoritism, whereby an instance of miscommunication is bound to pit two factions in the communication process against one another. Gender-related miscommunication is therefore a subset of cross cultural miscommunication, only to the extent that it involves a different understanding of way of life among different communication groups. In this regard, one gender can be attributed to one cultural group and the other gender can be attributed to another cultural group (in contention with the first).

Term Paper

From the analysis of the project budget, clearly, the project budget is exceeded by a small margin. However, this does not mean that the project costs cannot be effectively minimized into the initial project budget. The difference in project costs (actual vs. intended) is only 30,000 and the increase in project cost is realized as a result of the upsurge in material costs, maintenance costs and data centre service costs. Under continuing program costs, the staff costs increase marginally; and so does other miscellaneous costs. These general costs however remain constant for the periods of January through to March. The marginal increase in material costs, maintenance costs and data centre service costs also remains constant for the three months described above. However, projecting the hardware purchase cost for the rest of the period, preceding the completion of the project; no costs relating to the same will be realized. The maintenance costs are bound to remain the same as the initial projected cost, but the contract service costs for the last three months preceding the completion of the project is likely to increase by 5,000 (constantly for the three months). The other costs remain the same.

From this analysis, we can acknowledge that, we cannot change costs which have already been incurred during the first three months of the project. However, we can minimize the costs to be realized during the last three months of the project. Since contract service costs are projected to increase during the last three months of the project, effective measures will be put in place to minimize these costs, and staff costs will have to be reduced to mitigate the increase in project costs realized during the first three months of the project.

The project should be undertaken to the end because the increase in project cost is minimal and it can be compensated in several areas of the project operations. First, it would not be economical to terminate the project because the company would incur more losses than it would experience if the project were undertaken to its end. This is true because the project has already incurred 325,250 and if it is undertaken to its completion, it would incur an extra cost of 205,500. The two figures are very different from one another and collectively, they show the extent of loss the company may incur if it terminates the project. For instance, if the project is terminated, the company cannot recover the already spent money (325,250); meaning that, it would cost the company the same amount to terminate the project. If the company is to terminate the project, it would save 205,500 in project costs, which would have otherwise not been incurred under the new projected budget. There is still a loss the company incurs from the termination of the project because it would still incur a loss of 119,750 (325,250-205,500).

Since the project has only run half its course, according to the projected budget and after a few project strategies redesigning, the possibility of the project being completed is high. Project success may therefore be realized because none of the project infrastructure (which aid its completion has been damaged or eliminated). For instance, the technical team of the project is still intact and the required expertise in the project can still be availed in good time. Furthermore, the project resources are also available and they can still be used to complete the project in good time. Failing to use these project materials will lead to material wastages which ultimately compound the losses incurred as a result of project termination.

Project termination should occur if it can be established that the possibility of achieving project success is almost nil. However, this is not the case for this project because it cannot be termed a failed project and neither has it run half the course of its lifecycle. It would therefore be a premature move to terminate the project at this stage. There is also no termination plan or exit strategy for the project termination process, and a lack of this plan would mean that the termination plan will be disorganized and potentially, very costly. For instance, there may be suppliers who were contracted to work for the organization during the full period the organization was expected to run, and terminating their services may lead to legal battles (if they are not paid) or may lead to excessive financial penalties (if they are paid). Moreover, there have been no adequate consultations made with project team members about the termination of the project. Excluding project team members from this decision may have a lasting impact of lack of cooperation from project team members in future projects the organization intends to undertake.

A termination of the project would also mean a show of incompetency on the divisional manager and Joyce Cutler, who was supposed to oversee the project after Mark Wimmer resigned. To maintain a strong sense of team spirit within the organization, and to create a learning environment within the organization, it is important for the project to continue to its full term because it was already faced by significant setbacks when its project manager resigned from the organization. It would therefore be unfair to Joyce Cutler, the project assistant manager, to take fault for the failure of the project if she was not mandated to steer the project in the first place. A termination of the project would therefore jeopardize any future attempts of Joyce Cutler and her department to be given any project to steer. Furthermore, the termination of the project means that the project is a flop and not only will the project manager’s reputation be dented, the organization’s image will also be dented, especially because from a larger point of view, the project is the organization’s and not for an individual. The termination of the project will also have a lasting impact on the feasibility and practicalities of other projects to be undertaken by the organization in future.

During the tour of the project site, I intend to assess the available materials on site, which were purchased and intended to be used in the project. I also intend to assess the stage that the project has reached and determine the degree or amount of work needed to see the project run its full term. I also intend to assess the project needs on the ground and assess the staffing manpower available to complete the project needs. In addition, I also intend to assess the quality of the project work and especially determine the maintenance needs of the project, plus evaluate the maintenance work undertaken in the project process. Furthermore, I also intend to assess the data centre services undertaken in the project and more so, the project’s needs for such services. This will be an important step in assessing the needs of data centre services for the last three months, before the completion of the project.

While on tour to the project site, I also intend to test the relevant project softwares, by giving the project personnel (on the ground) a chance to evaluate their level of technological understanding. I will also validate the softwares to be used in the project by evaluating how useful they will be to the actual dynamics of the ground activities. In the same manner, I intend to assess the practical project site to have a clear understanding of the potential risks of the project. Through the interaction with the project personnel on the ground, I will be able to have a comprehensive assessment of information that will be useful in the development of the risk management plan.

In undertaking the above activities, I intend to identify specific project areas that can be used as ground for future cost minimization. I also intend to have a clearer picture of the justifications of the increase in project costs during the last three months of the project, regarding the data centre service costs. In the same manner, I will also determine if the strategy of cutting down staffing costs by firing some people; is feasible (after evaluating project needs). In assessing the use of the project softwares on the ground, I intend to familiarize the project personnel with the relevant technologies to be used, and in the same manner, I will be able to assess the applicability of the new software in the project management process, and assess the reaction of the employees to technology in the project management process. By visiting the project site, I intend to have a thorough knowledge of the risk assessment elements in the project site, which I can use to merge with the theoretical assessment of the risk management plan. I will therefore be able to merge the difference that exists in the theoretical and practical assessment of the risk management plan. From the visit to the project site, I will also be able to have a clear picture of the feasibility of change management processes because the project is subject to change, so that it can be completed in time and within the budget. I will therefore be in a position to ascertain if the theoretical changes I intend to undertake in the project management process, is feasible, and if they will yield the desired results

Outline of project tasks

  1. Assess the available materials on site
  2. Assess the stage that the project has reached and determine the degree or amount of work needed to see the project run its full term
  3. Assess the quality of the project work
  4. Assess the data centre services undertaken in the project
  5. Test the relevant project softwares
  6. Validate the softwares to be used in the project
  7. Assess the practical project site
  8. Identify specific project areas that can be used as ground for future cost minimization.

A lack of technical knowledge is obviously bound to affect a project’s success (Everett 40). Since this project is subject to such factors, it is important to assess the situation to avoid experiencing any detrimental effects from the lack of technological knowhow in the project management process. However, as the new project manager, I intend to analyze the technological state of the project management process by interviewing the project staff and evaluating their feelings towards technology (Everett 40). This strategy will be used to assess the attitude of project employees regarding technology because it has been evidenced that a poor attitude among employees in technology adoption is not going to yield any positive results, even if new technology was to be introduced in a project (Everett 40).

Also, in determining the technical knowledge of the project personnel, I will carry out an independent examination of employee performance, with regards to the use of technological devices. For instance, I intend to challenge the employees to use various equipments and tools and assess how they will perform in this regard. Obviously, if the employees show a lack of proficiency in using the equipments, a conclusion will be drawn that, the employees are slowing down the adoption of technology in the project management process. From the evaluation of hardware technological equipments, I will also undertake a software evaluation exercise, where I will ask basic question about the use of technology in the project management process. For instance, I will randomly select employees and ask them to carry out basic computer processes like copying information and pasting it into another file. I will also ask general questions about specific softwares used in the project management process and assess if the employees understand them and know the basic functions of the softwares.

In ascertaining the attitude of project team members regarding technology, I can be able to categorize employees, in terms of those who are pro-technology and those who are against technology (Everett 40). Those who are pro-technology will be retained in the project because I intend to introduce new and efficient technology to ensure the project is completed in good time. Also in the same quest of assessing the technological input or contribution in the project, I intend to assess all project processes which have been completed using technological means (Everett 40). There are certain processes which are supposed to be completed through efficient technology, but if it is affirmed that technology was not used to complete the given projects; it can be ascertained that poor adoption of technology is a contributing factor to the poor implementation of the project (Everett 40).

After assessing the technical needs of the project personnel, I intend to undertake several strategies that will ensure the gap between technology and team members within the project management process is effectively reduced. First, I will organize interim and short workshops to educate employees on how to use technology in project management processes (Everett 40). In this context, my role will be limited to a facilitator and an intermediary between technology and the project personnel. In the workshops, I will explain how the employees can use the applicable technology and possibly, create a platform where the employees can exercise their skills in the practical work environment.

In certain instances, I will be required to eliminate employees who have a poor attitude to the adoption of technology in the project management process (Everett 40). This strategy will be used on employees who are not willing to learn how to use technology in the project management process because they will ultimately be a liability. Possibly, such employees are also indicative of the resistance to change in the project management process, which is the fundamental basis for the undertaking of a new approach to a change in project management strategy (to ensure the project is completed in good time and within the given budget). Employees, who have a positive attitude towards technology, are therefore employees who are willing to embrace change, and this group of employees will be the ones to be taken through the education program.

Lastly, I will pursue a strategy of only using user-friendly technology in the project management process so that project team members do not feel intimated by the presence of new technology (Everett 40). In fact, through this strategy, I intend to accomplish a wider goal of boosting morale in the project management process by helping the project team members to see that technology is a good thing as opposed to a challenge of the conventional way of undertaking project activities.

Works Cited

Everett, Anna. Learning Race and Ethnicity: Youth and Digital Media. MIT: MIT Press, 2008. Print.

Filek, Judith. Virtual Teams – the Communication Challenges. New York: Impact Communications, Inc, 2008. Print.

Li, Claire. Workplace Miscommunication: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. 2011. Web.

Tieszen, Bozena. Gender-Based Miscommunication in Legal Discourse and Its Impact on the Clarity of Legal Language. International Journal for the Semiotics Of Law, (2006), 19, 69–80. Print.

Williams, Chuck. Management. London, Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.