Social influence in the business environment context enables individuals to improve or fine-tune their behaviors when communicating to meet the underlying needs and shifting demands of the dynamic business environment. I learn from current freelance projects and past full-time operational roles of the following characteristics of social influence that are necessary for an organization’s environment.
While trust may be visible within closest relationships, it can be subjective and may be difficult to build initially, but we need to persevere. There are times we need to change behaviors and actions to align we changing needs of the organization and its projects, but we need to stay relatively consistent and not to differ too much out of the norms and guidelines. Trust requires considerable amount of effort and time to build, it needs people to see and feel the authenticity of a person over a substantial amount of time and tested situations. Conversely, the authenticity erodes when a person’s core values and true intentions turned out to be the opposite of the identity he or she is trying to build and the subsequent actions are harmful to colleagues and the organization. Ultimately, the reason that organization and project members able to rely on each other is because of the strong bond and faith nurtured among them. Eventually, sharing knowledge and insights that can be trusted.
The depth level that we can narrate about industry knowledge and guide others in operational and project activities and issues. Knowledge types are namely explicit, tacit, and embedded. Explicit refers to written and codified in an organized and systematic manner, such as an organization’s knowledge repository where employees can store, retrieve, and share information. Tacit refers to non-codified knowledge and based on personal accumulated experiences from hands-on and trial-and-error activities. Work packages or discrete deliverables may contain the final actions or elements that only the employees executing it are familiar with. Similarly, activities that are prone to changes in market demand and supply require intuitiveness from employees.
Erkelens et al. (2015) mentioned knowledge embeddedness is the extent to which knowledge situated in the local environment, and when organizations integrate locally embedded knowledge, they facilitate organizational learning within internal stakeholders and external stakeholders as well.
IKEA’s products are wide-ranging with practical and functional designs that are modular, which helps consumers to self-assemble. While consumers follow the step-by-step instructions manual as the explicit knowledge, they apply tacit knowledge based on their experiences accumulated from assembling components to end products. Hence, this form a hybrid form that has a beneficial routine. Entrenched in IKEA’s product development is embedded knowledge that progress beyond explicit and tacit. Del Giudice, Della Peruta and Carayannis (2011, pp.31, 198, 207) explained that organizations must not lock up knowledge, because it deters the growth of individuals and institutions. IKEA Home Planner has interactive tools that provide the learning opportunity for consumers to customize products and layouts with its available inventories. IKEA Family local platform allows sharing furnishing information and requirements with its consultants and fellow consumers as well; thus, fostering a community that shares valuable knowledge with interactive engagement.
Organizations can recognize highly experienced and proven employees as subject matter experts (SMEs) based on years of working experience and courses accumulated. Besides possessing the ability to diagnose and resolve difficulties, SMEs need to be willing to share knowledge and contribute to discussions of new or refined solutions, within the organization, with the industry and its relevant associations. Regardless of attaining the level of SME, we need to be actively involved in our organization as a knowledge holder and content provider to build social influence.
Motivation and Attitude
Motivation comes in various forms in accordance with individuals’ dispositions. We need to develop the motivational drive and regulate mental and physical conditions to start the day on the right track. How well we regulate our condition and motivate ourselves and peers in accomplishing tasks throughout the day is vital to building social influence. While the power of positive thinking may be aspiring, we need to factor in reasonable negative thinking to keep ourselves from inflating hopes and outcomes. A balanced attitude with realistic positivity to build attainable possibilities and facilitate opportunities, and reasonable negativity to detect unrealistic outcomes. A balanced attitude enables maneuvering of difficult situations and consequently seeking the bright spot or silver lining, and in the process, treat them as lessons learned.
When we are capable to connect with peers with social influence, we will be able to sustain relationships and grow together in the organization. I may be wrong or not clear, please pardon me and would like to learn from the community. Thank you for reading.
Del Giudice, M., Della Peruta, M., & Carayannis, E. (2011). Knowledge and the Family Business: The Governance and Management of Family Firms in the New Knowledge Economy [Ebook] (2nd ed., pp. 198, 207). New York, NY: Springer. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=86eErFWiKFMC&printsec=frontcover
Erkelens, R., van den Hooff, B., Huysman, M., & Vlaar, P. (2015). Learning from Locally Embedded Knowledge: Facilitating Organizational Learning in Geographically Dispersed Settings. Global Strategy Journal, 5(2), 177-197. doi: 10.1002/gsj.1092
Philips (Speaker: Mr. Ramesh Krishnamoorthy, Head of Procurement, APAC, Japan & India)
According to a snoring study by the British Snoring and Apnea Association, almost 25% of women and around 40% of men snore, a significant sleep disturbance. To solve this problem, Ramesh highlighted the SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band as the company’s latest innovation to provide solutions for addressing 80% of sleep issues. Worn in a soft band tucked around the lower chest, it has a sensor that monitors the wearer’s sleeping positions. When it detects the wearers change positions and lie on their backs, it utilizes adaptive vibrations that prompt the wearers to move onto their sides to avoid the snoring position of lying down.
By breaking away from its long-established history as a manufacturer of consumer and household electronics, Philips is now evolving to an organization that offers IoT healthcare solutions with a key focus on connecting its value chain. The IoT solutions and services provide timely and accurate information sharing among its value chain partners that facilitate smooth coordination. With the establishment of the HealthSuite Digital Platform, Philips Japan’s cloud platform with IoT real-time connectivity, it employs Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology to help to overcome declining medical practitioners in internal medicine and surgery.
In its APAC Centre in Toa Payoh, Singapore, Philips develops the Electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU) program Telehealth for the intensive care units of hospitals and clinics. Building a strong database with accurate predictive algorithms, the program successfully diagnoses patients’ illnesses and prioritize for earlier or timely interventions. It also provides clinical training, workshops and 24-hour diagnostics helpdesk to guide hospitals’ and clinics’ staff and improve the healthcare institutions' equipment and services. Subsequently, the eICU program enabled successful clinical transformation with reduced mortality, hospitalization length and costs. Valuable insights are found on https://www.philips.com.sg/healthcare/product/HCNOCTN503/eicu-program-telehealth-for-the-intensive-care-unit/overview.
The digitalization of procurement in upstream and downstream partners of Philips’ Healthcare Division helps to improve the organization's value chain with healthcare institutions. The division evolves with consumers' diverse needs in rural hospitals and clinics in Japan, improving healthcare standards in rural municipalities and help residents living in these areas. The information shared among its preceding upstream partners (suppliers and vendors) and subsequent downstream partners (hospitals, clinics, remote communities) greatly improve the lives of Japan’s rural demographic. Philips Healthcare garnered positive reviews from institutions and patients in the aspects of healthy living and home care support, illnesses’ prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
The available pool of medical practitioners concentrates in Tokyo; thus, hospitals and clinics constantly have the difficulty of recruiting and retaining personnel beyond Tokyo. The company maintains its number 2 ranking of Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) in 2019, where it scored 82 out of 100 points in the Healthcare Equipment and Services industry sector. Moving forward, as a top health-tech company, Philips will continue to develop innovative processes, train human resources and build human capital to improve healthcare sustainability.
By focusing on geographical concerns with small squads comprises of Procurement staff and Solutions staff, IBM’s staff work closely together in co-locations with local stakeholders to better understand their concerns. Hence, able to bridge the gap between markets’ demands and supplies’ availability with more accurate forecasts. Nurture employees with sufficient technical and thinking skills and provide them with self-empowerment to access situations critically, reach consensus with colleagues and make optimal decisions.
Supplier development investment that collaborates with suppliers to provide solutions that are beyond cost savings, which was the focus of procurement in the past. Leverages on the Blockchain ecosystem to enhance its value chain network that incorporates suppliers and buyers, resulting in almost 70% in time savings, from 45 days to 14 days to approve a supplier and get it on board. Moving forward, IBM is working towards achieving a 3-day period, more than 90% of time savings. The encrypted system allows smooth tracking of upstream suppliers and downstream buyers and safe information sharing. With the information safely shared, IBM teams can detect possible technology failures and brainstorm viable solutions to prevent or minimize failures.
Philip also pointed out a challenge of digitalization: who should own access to data. When competing suppliers produce data and solutions that are similar, it causes conflict situations. Suppliers may have brand and data integrity concerns in collaborative data ownership with other suppliers. Hence, the technology firm works on enhancing data security with high encryption and strict access controls, as well as sustaining trust and transparency with the holistic management of technological risks and optimal allocation of risk ownership. Adding on, he mentioned that managing the physical supply chain is as important as innovative solutions; thus, it is important to align physical activities with digital solutions well.
While we embrace and immense in digitalization transformation projects, we need to focus on the rationale behind the transformation, evaluate technologies that are practical and scalable across affected product families and manufacturing facilities. Lots of research work required to carry out to analyze internal and external stakeholders’ returns and sustainability of new technology implementation.
Equally important, organizations need to invest in human capital by ensuring proper and gradual training, needful individual coaching, assessing and addressing employees’ concerns to ensure a progressive and smooth transition. As employees have untapped potential and may have understandable apprehension or hidden obstacles that prevent them to learn technologies, organizations’ managers and leaders need to exercise interpersonal skills to uncover employees’ concerns and work values diplomatically. Employees may discover they possess untapped knowledge and transferable skills to help them to learn new technological competencies effectively.
Consequently of ensuring machines’ ease of user interfaces and interoperability across the business and operational functions, organizations will be able to minimize employee resistance to changes and establish humans’ trust in machines. Therefore, organizations will be capable to implement technological changes effectively.
Communication in the workplace is crucial to an individual’s as well as workflows. Organizations interact significantly with various functional and project stakeholders of diverse structures and cultures in the global economy; thus, affecting the fluidity of message transmission and fluency of decoding the meaning. This post explores basic factors of communication, its appropriate approaches, probable impacts, and knock-on effects on individuals’, teams’ and organizations’ productivity. Factors covered in this write-up are “efficiency and effectiveness”, “purpose and importance”, “sensitive nature”, “structure and culture”, and “understand audience”. The common approaches to communicate include push, pull, mass, interpersonal, and interactive. Communication tools in the workplace are more diverse and sophisticated than ever. Development in computer and telephone technologies expands the range of options to facilitate sending and receiving messages. The tools for transmitting updates and reports to colleagues, superiors, customers and suppliers in real-time, virtual time and pre-set time are vital to successful delivery and receiving of intended messages.
1. Efficiency and Effectiveness
Efficient transmission conveys a message promptly, whereby the sender moves on to other tasks after sending the message. Text messages, emails and voice mails may all be viable methods, as they permit senders to complete the intended communication conveniently and swiftly. However, it is important to note that the usage of efficient communicating methods does not necessarily render effective communication, due to the absence of feedback loops and acknowledgement in person. When intended recipients did not receive the message in an intended manner, effectiveness is lacking.
When the task is of critical nature, one useful assurance is to engage more than one medium. Follow up an email message with a telephone call may take up time, but this is more assuring and effective than requesting a "read" receipt. When recipients and senders nurture a mutual understating and vision, the impact is building a strong relationship between both parties. This impact on the relationship will entail securing their agreement and cooperation, and the effect is more willing to share information and follow up; thus, achieving productivity. This takes time and effort but is effective in the long term.
2. Purpose and Importance
The degree of efficiency and effectiveness of the transmission depends on the sender to determine the purpose of engaging with the receiver. Routine or non-urgent topics that need to distribute directly to specific recipients may benefit most from the push method that addresses the targeted mass audience (PMBOK, 2017: pp.374). Emails, memos and bulletin posts are examples of push method to convey information efficiently for purposes such as disseminating project milestones and updates and issuing reminders about the company policy for using up balanced annual leaves to employees. There is little need to extend the communication to an interactive approach when the intention is to disseminate routine information. Pull method is optimal when the purpose is for recipients to access the content at their discretion, such as self-learning, accessing project knowledge and retrieving project tasks, (PMBOK, 2017: pp.374). Examples of pull method include e-learning, knowledge repositories and scheduling software.
Conversely, in internal or external organizational changes, seeking participation and evaluation from stakeholder buy-in are important matters that necessitate a thorough discussion with an appreciation of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Implementing organizational changes is beyond the dissemination of information; it requires managing and controlling the change process. For this, regular communication with feedback loops and following-up is essential, as this provides the effective opportunity for others to discuss the impact of the changes on their work routines, even though this are not very efficient. Such employees’ input will consequently affect their satisfaction of individual contribution and organizational life. Interactive tools such as discussion forums, communication applications and social intranets software have comprehensive and agile features that allow users’ participation; thus, enabling active stakeholder engagement (PMBOK, 2017: pp.381).
3. Sensitivity Nature
When the purpose of the communication concerns a sensitive matter, it is advisable to seek out a more private form of communication that allows the parties to seek and deliver feedback between them only. Handle sensitive message delicately in a more direct way in person or by telephone in a private conversation. Some examples are appraising employees’ performances, notifying those who missed out on promotion and investigating an employee for a policy violation. Elder colleagues may perceive receiving information through technological devices as disrespectful, particularly when it is of importance and sensitive nature to them.
However, sensitive messages are subjective to individuals as one may have a different perspective on sensitivity nature; hence, take consideration of recipients’ perspectives. While it is difficult to convey bad news, we need to adhere to the business and social protocol of having a private conversation with active listening. This involves clear understanding, clarifying and confirming and acknowledging each other to remove barriers (PMBOK, 2017: pp.386). This allows the two parties to interact in a real-time and richer manner with the usage of body and non-verbal language that carry emotional cues (Kourdi, 2015: pp.128). Failure to address sensitive topics diplomatically will lead to distrust and subsequently harms the working relationship.
4. Organizational Structure and Culture
When the hierarchical level of the organizational structure is high, the communication is likely to go through several levels according to the hierarchical chain. Information may become outdated or distorted as it flows up and down the hierarchy and thus affecting its visibility (Kourdi, 2015: pp.129). Hence, there is a need to check and ensure the information we have on hand is latest and accurate before sending to the next recipients. When the organization has multiple divisions with each having its hierarchy structure, the divisions develop different correspondence chains. Hence, they become distant from one another and cause inflexibility in lateral direction among employees of similar hierarchy level and vertical direction between subordinates and superiors in the same department, as well as diagonal correspondence among cross-functional members.
Engineering function’s priority is to enhance a product’s technical specifications with optimized configurations and materials. Adapting to customer fluctuating demands and satisfying quickly to hit sales targets and increase revenues is the Sales function’s priority. Ensuring the optimal quality and quantities of raw materials received in the plant to manufacture into finished goods and deliver to customers on time is the Logistics function’s priority. Hence, we need to put ourselves into the recipients’ perspectives and think of common organizational goal or vision before shaping our message. Robbins and Judge (2014: pp.261-62) suggested that organizations can develop or change toward a more organic and decentralized structure to encourage people to be more proactive and put in sincerity in communication.
Robbins and Judge (2014: pp.297) wrote that organizational culture is the set of shared values and employee behaviors that direct organizational members’ interactions with internal functions and external parties. The structure, policy, and people of the organization shape and control its culture. Complicated bureaucracy and network with people from different countries of different time zones strongly influence the working culture with diverse motivational factors and coordination issues. Hence, developing a cohesive environment and mutual synergy working towards the bigger picture is vital to cross-collaboration and communication.
5. Understand Your Audience
i) Personal Characteristics
It is common to interact with people via communication mediums with which both or all parties are most comfortable. If we prefer interpersonal communication when interacting with others, we will incline towards face-to-face conversations with a personal touch (PMBOK, 2017: pp.374). Conversely, if the sender and receiver(s) preferred the convenience of using a smartphone, the sender will be likely to pick up the device to reach out to the receiver(s). Before doing so, it is important to consider the intended recipients of the message. Is the visit usually pre-scheduled or impromptu; does he/she typically sends messages to you by email, phone call, or approach you directly? As these behaviors indicate the communication preferences that others are more comfortable, following their lead can facilitate a smoother communication flow. It will be easier to accept difficult messages and maintain mutual trust when conveying messages in a manner that is comfortable for the recipients.
ii) Age Diversity
The age diversity of today’s workforce presents an opportunity for employees to explore digital competency and extend their communication repertoire. Millennials, or Generation Y, are employees of age mid-twenties to late-thirties, who are generally more accustomed and agile to a digital mindset than other age groups; hence, they are more likely to embrace the latest communication technology such as social intranet software with interactive multimedia creation and file-sharing capability and Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots with machine learning capability. Even though millennials may be less skilled and less comfortable with direct and in-person conversation, they do seek coaching and mentoring on topics and skills they desired.
Generation X, employees of age forties to mid-fifties are comfortable with using standard organizational methods as the routine form of communication with the emphasis on results. As they have experience of working with younger and elder colleagues and gone through technology developments, tailoring traditional and modern communication means has the potential for a positive effect on an individual, team and organizational productivity.
Baby boomers, those employees in their mid-fifties to mid-seventies, possess the mindset of hard-work and paying one's dues. Employees in this seasoned cohort value the professional courtesy of face-to-face conversations and receiving news in a way that enables two-way traffic with non-verbal communication from body language.
iii) Cultural Diversity
Equally necessary, consider the cultural diversity among the project team’s members, as communication styles have different interpretations depending on the national cultures (Steers, Nardon and Sánchez-Runde, 2013: pp.191). The use of eye contact projects confidence, respect and attentiveness in Western cultures, but it may portray as disrespectful in Asian cultures, especially when communicating with someone of higher work position. People of Western cultures are more likely to be comfortable with direct communication with verbal cues, which differs from people of Asian cultures, who prefer to use indirect communication with non-verbal cues or body language rather than direct statements Steers, Nardon and Sánchez-Runde, 2013: pp.202). Hence, cultural differences will influence communication preference, which in turn affects the relationship among colleagues and between superiors and subordinates. One thing to take note – we should view the age groups and different cultures as a reference instead of stereotyping, as individuals’ characteristics vary.
I learn that as organizations’ structures and cultures vary, we need to shape our message to meet the common organizational goal and develop a positive working environment with the mutual synergy that entails communication to be engaging. Important, sensitive and complex messages require richer forms of interaction that encompass exchanging information and processing emotional cues, along with two-way or multiple-way feedback. Speaking with the recipients before or upon sending the message may be a hassle and inefficient in the short-term, but this builds a strong commitment and ensures clear understanding and exchanges from both parties in the long-term. As each of us is different in demographics and characteristics, we need to observe astutely and listen actively of those we interact; thus, tailor communication to be fluid and fluent.
Factors of communication intertwine with each other and influence our choice of communication approaches and tools, which subsequently bring the impacts of working relationship and satisfaction to individuals and teams. These ultimately have significant effects on understanding the message, willingness to follow up and work productivity. Therefore, it is important to utilize the appropriate communication method for each situation. Seeking deeper, we should examine further on underlying concerns of senders’ and receivers’ such as their emotional states, writing skills, speaking ability, listening astuteness, knowledge of the message topics, etc, for sustaining agile communication.
Kourdi, J. (2015). The Economist Series: Business Strategy: A Guide To Effective Decision-Making. 3rd Ed. New York: PublicAffairs Publishing.
PMBOK Guide (2017). A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge. 3rd Ed. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute, Inc.
Robbins, S. and Judge, T. (2014). Organizational Behavior, 12th Ed. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
Steers, R., Nardon, L. and Sánchez-Runde, C. (2013). Management Across Cultures: Developing Global Competencies. 2nd Ed. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
The ability to motivate and guide members in the organizational environment is the key to successful leadership; and leadership is beyond directing a functional team or project team members with operating procedures, project templates, charts, and performance statistics. Project Management Institute (2017, p. 60) indicated in the PMBOK Guide that the common denominator in all organizations and projects is people, as humans are countable; however, we are not merely numbers. As a leader’s role involves dealing with people, he/she need to be an astute motivator to study team members’ motivations, drive individuals’ behavior, and guide their performance, and consequently direct the team to reach greater heights. In order to perform that, the leader needs to keep striving to improve leadership competencies. There are various competencies of becoming a good leader; this short post narrates succinctly on visionary to inspire team members and influence stakeholders, interpersonal skills to foster harmony, analytical skills and critical thinking, and strong mental and emotional resilience.
Elberse, A. (2018): HBR's 10 Must Reads on Leadership Lessons from Sports, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Project Management Institute (2017): A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute (PMI), Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA.
With the hectic lifestyles that tie us down, it is ordinarily a challenge to find time to volunteer for a cause. Volunteering contributes positively to the community and improves one’s mental well-being. Helping other people or an organization keep us mentally stimulated with a sense of purpose in life. Some large projects may need a long-term volunteering commitment while smaller scaled projects require a shorter commitment. Conversely, both types of commitment can help those in need and improve our mental health.
Volunteering as a Library Service Steward at neighborhood libraries brings me closer to the thing that I love most – books! Surrounded by the realm of bookshelves triggers the senses. Sorting books according to the classification of book genres train the mind and eyesight to be sharp and coordinated. Woody smell from older books and fresh paper smell from newer books invigorate the mind, akin to how coffee and chocolate energize our senses. Carrying of books and being surrounded by them bring back the good old memories of schooling days. The stimulation connects to my emotions, makes me focus my mind to strive to achieve personal development of being mentally resilience with calmness. Besides shelf-reading, interacting with librarians and library patrons is a valuable experience. As an introvert, this is stressful initially. However, I build up confidence by learning from librarians of the classification of book genres, the various functions of online and offline library services, and understanding from patrons of their concerns. Being able to assist patrons of all ages with knowledge of books provides a sense of fulfillment.
Contributing to the project of Library@Harbourfront’s successful launch on 12 January 2019 was a great experience. I am able to connect with senior and younger librarians and learn of their unsung efforts in daily library duties to ensure smooth operations, as well as project tasks to ensure the successful opening launch of Library@Harbourfront. It is located at the southern district of Singapore and set against the splendid backdrop of Sentosa Island. The spacious interiors with ample seats, fixture lighting, and natural lighting are optimal for reading and hosting programs that support digital readiness and lifelong learning. Hence, the scenic view and ergonomic interiors are a great combination for conducive reading and learning.
Image Source: National Library Board, Library@Harbourfront, Reading Lounge 2 (https://www.nlb.gov.sg/Portals/0/library/gallery/harbourfront/Programme%20Lounge%202.JPG)
The NAS is the official keeper of records of national or historical significance. Volunteering as an audio transcriber with NAS brings me closer to our nation's history. Understand from the perspectives of great pioneers provide a captivating history and enriching learning experience. The Citizen Archivist Project is a long-term project that allows citizens to contribute to describing photographs, transcribing and translating documents and records labels, and transcribing oral history recordings. It is an honor to contribute modestly in transcribing the oral history interviews.
The life skills I learn consequently from volunteering with NLB and NAS are building communication, interpersonal relationships, task organization, and teamwork. This is an opportunity to develop and practice social skills from interaction with fellow volunteers and patrons with the common interests of reading and writing. Dedicating to volunteering – regardless of the size of the tasks – allows one to connect to the organizations and communities and improve the communities’ conditions and one’s well-being as well. With the ideal connection and contribution, we can discover our strengths and weakness; thus, improve life skills that help our personal and professional development.
Keen to learn volunteering experience from the Project Management community.