In this assignment, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following competency:
- Apply communication techniques to effectively negotiate and manage conflict
JM&P HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS AND RESULTS HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY MERGER
You have been hired as a consultant to provide support during a major company merger. Following the resignation of its CEO, JM&P Health Communications will merge with Results Health Communications. Prior to the merger, JM&P Health Communications was rife with communication and management issues that led to a poor organizational climate.
Results Health Communications is excited to welcome JM&P Health Communications employees; however, they recognize that working in such a difficult environment may have impacted the JM&P Health Communications employees significantly. Situations like those at JM&P Health Communications are often a catalyst for distrust and uncertainty.
JM&P HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS
ABOUT THE COMPANY
JM&P Health Communications is a healthcare telecommunications company that offers the following services:
- Payment collection
- Technical support
- Customer service
- Prospecting for new customers
COMPANY CULTURE STATEMENT
JM&P Health Communications strives to support its clients and customers by providing compassionate, accurate, and timely support to the clients it serves.
THE DOWNFALL OF JM&P HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS
It was known widely that the CEO, Victor Armstrong, avoided conflicts whenever possible. He avoided both internal company conflict and, as the reality that the company was struggling economically came about, he seemingly avoided that as well. Victor was also notorious for having a short temper. As such, all employees were reluctant to come forth with information that Victor would not be happy with for fear of inciting his wrath. In fact, Victor had explicitly stated that he only wanted to hear good news.
The two other high-ranking company executives, CFO Donald Putnam and CIO Jason Venim, were part of Victor’s close-knit inner circle (and they were virtually the only people Victor discussed anything with). Previously, they worked with him at another telecommunications company. It was common that, when a new idea was brought to the table, it would be dismissed because that was not how it had always been done at their previous company. New ideas were generally discouraged, and employees were encouraged to “keep their heads down and do their work.”
Initially, Victor managed to increase the company’s profits from $1 million to $9 million over a period of 10 years through various acquisitions. Their economic success would soon plummet. As JM&P grew, technology increased rapidly. Customer service and technology issues became more complex, as did the need for better technology in order for employees to be efficient in their day-to-day work.
Victor turned the other way when these issues were presented to him. It was well known that, in fact, Victor openly refused to use email to communicate with his employees. For onsite employees, this meant weekly meetings that were becoming increasingly frustrating. Both more tech-savvy and newer employees especially expressed frustration with the basic updates and “too little, too late” tidbits of information that would be much better communicated via email.
Despite its reluctance to embrace technology, JM&P did have a significant number of employees who worked virtually and who lived all over the world. The virtual team members helped ensure that the company could have round-the-clock coverage. Virtual employees reported receiving very little communication from leadership and feeling disconnected from the company. When there were issues such as customer complaints, employees felt that they were treated unfairly by management. Employees were typically written up immediately without an opportunity to share their side of the story, and often little communication was provided about how they could improve or what the issue was.
Jason, the CIO, turned the blame on employees when they voiced a need for better technology resources. He told them, “People have made do with this for the past 10 years. Make it work.” He knew that requesting expensive technology upgrades would make Victor angry.
Victor saw the company revenue decreasing and blamed the employees for being lazy. Donald Putnam encouraged Victor to put the blame on the employees (better them than himself). Though he was part of Victor’s inner circle, he still was not eager to bring him bad news. Instead of creating a long-term financial plan that would work, Victor and Donald enforced sales goals, and if employees did not meet these goals after a specified amount of time, they were fired.
Victor encouraged employees to be dishonest with customers to make sales, and was known for saying things like, “Shareholders are the only people we care about. We need to keep them happy.” He continued to put pressure on employees, and made public examples of those who failed to meet goals. Clients began filing lawsuits, alleging that they had been pressured into making purchases they did not actually need, and claiming that representatives outright lied to them to make a sale. Despite his efforts, stock prices declined, and Victor resigned under pressure from the board of directors.
MOVING FORWARD WITH RESULTS HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS
Results Health Communications is new to the healthcare communications field, but it expanded quickly and continue to grow. When an opportunity for a merger with JM&P came up, the company took it, knowing that it would take some work to get JM&P back on its feet. Results Health Communications strongly believes in and lives by its mission and passion to change people’s lives through offering the right solutions at the right times. The company encourages employees to treat every customer they interact with like they would a friend or family member. Employees describe their work environment as positive, fun, and encouraging. Many employees report that they consider their coworkers friends, and they enjoy coming to work.
Results Health Communications is excited to support its new colleagues through this transition, and it is hopeful that its new colleagues will be much happier with their new home. Often, when a company has been dealing with poor management and inadequate conflict resolution approaches, it can be difficult to adapt to a new culture. Employees might have a difficult time trusting and opening up to new management if they have been accustomed to a culture that discouraged transparent communication.
You have been hired as an outside consultant to provide an action plan and to avoid resistance that may be caused from using a representative from either company. It is important to outline specific steps that should be taken so that management can support employees and ensure an effective transition. For virtual and international employees, consider approaches for communicating information without having the ability to communicate face-to-face as well. These employees are hopeful that, with the merger in place, they will feel more included in company initiatives and will feel empowered to voice potential issues and concerns.
- Analyzing the Situation: In this section, gather as much information as you can and highlight the factors that led to the conflict in the scenario, including potential gaps in communication.
- Using the scenario, analyze the factors contributing to the conflict, including communication techniques and the conflict management style used for determining how these factors contributed to the conflict. In analyzing the conflict factors, consider what issues caused the conflict: Who were the contributors? What caused the conflict to escalate, and why? What are some examples of noncommunicative techniques and other factors that contributed to the negative environment in the scenario?
- After analyzing the factors contributing to the conflict, analyze the scenario for potential impacts related to corporate culture. Consider how communication techniques used or not used would have impacted employees and the overall workforce environment. Consider the emotional aspects the CEO and leadership demonstrated and their influence on the workplace environment. Provide examples to support your claims.
- Conflict Resolution: In this section, provide a resolution for the conflict presented in the scenario. Use examples from the scenario to support your ideas.
- Begin by specifically stating the desired outcome of the conflict resolution.
- Next, recommend specific action steps that should be taken for effectively managing the conflict and achieving the desired outcome stated above. For each action step, be sure to indicate specifically how the step contributes to the conflict solution, and propose a recommended timeline for completing the action step.
- Communication Strategies: One goal of the action plan is to outline strategic approaches that will be used moving forward to prevent conflict and foster a positive workplace environment.
- After recommending specific steps for conflict resolution, describe a strategic communication approach for employing the recommended conflict resolution approaches. This should include appropriate communication platforms to relay the information to the intended audience, including virtual employees.
- Next, suggest best practices that will be used moving forward to communicate effectively, and highlight approaches to using the communication strategies and platforms outlined above for conflict prevention, communication, and effective collaboration.
- In addition, describe specifically how the identified best practices can be applied to support ethnically and generationally diverse and virtual teams for maximizing communication efficiency and to facilitate a communicative and positive environment.
- Recommendations: In this section, build on the action steps outlined in the conflict resolution and communication strategies to outline recommendations to maintain the success and momentum that will result when the action steps are implemented.
- Describe corrective actions that must be taken by leadership to achieve the desired outcome, highlighting which stakeholders must be involved. For example, what actions will help prevent unhealthy conflict, and how much should leadership be involved? Provide examples that demonstrate how these actions foster a communicative and positive environment. Consider how these actions will support the diverse workforce and virtual employees.
What to Submit
Every project has a deliverable or deliverables, which are the files that must be submitted before your project can be assessed. For this project, you must submit the following:
Conflict Management Action Plan
Create a conflict management action plan to support a successful merger between two telecommunications organizations. The end goal of the action plan should be to provide a conflict resolution that outlines a plan to negotiate and manage conflict in a constructive way and provides recommendations that move the organization forward. Your action plan should be 4 to 5 pages in length.