Study Materials for Information Technology Professionals (EUCIP-Mat)
A6. TEAMWORK AND COMMUNICATION 1. Number of study hours The estimated number of study hours required is 15 hours.
2. Short description of the course The course “Teamwork and Communication” is organized in five units. The first unit is about teams - the principles of establishing a team, and the main motivators for efficient teamwork. The next unit is dedicated to general communication in a group. The relevant methods are described, and work with an audience is included. The third unit is about professional behaviour of IT specialists at work and about communication with business people, as this is a process where language use may become a problem. The issues of use of terminology and jargon are handled. Nowadays, business processes and thus also organisational structures change quickly. The fourth unit describes the general principles of change management in an organisation. The last unit describes some technical tools of communication – the relevant audio-video equipment. 3. Target groups
The employers of IT core level professionals are the target sector here. The first target group consists of IT students (vocational school basic level IT training and the first courses in colleges and universities) in the field of technology, and IT practitioners not having vocational certificates yet.
4. Prerequisites There are no prerequisites for this course.
5. Aim of the course – study outcomes The main objective of the course is to provide general knowledge about the main issues related to communication in a team and in an organisation in general, and related to conveying messages to them. 6. Content of the leaning materials
Part A – „Management”
Using and managing Information systems
A.6 Teamwork and communication Prepared by: Jaan Oruaas
Contents A.6 Teamwork and communication 4 A.6.1 Team 4 Questions:. 8 A.6.2 Terms and definitions in IT – usage in communication 8 Questions: 12 A.6.3 Dialogue between IT specialists and business people 13 Questions: 15 A.6.4 Initiating changes 16 Questions: 22 A.6.5 Audio-video equipment 23 Questions: 25
A.6 Teamwork and communication A.6.1 Team People have a social nature, i.e. they try to be together with others and to act in teamwork. Most of the essential tasks necessary for living can be solved in teamwork. The emergence of trading and especially factories brought about narrower professional specialisation, with the goal of increasing productivity of the work being performed. Production lines invented by H. Ford allowed increasing this to the maximum reasonable level in the production industry. But this functions only in the production industry. Such a work order is not successful in a society based on services and knowledge, with creative thought as its basis. The cause for this is the fact that brain work cannot be specified very precisely. At the same time, the synergy created in sharing thoughts gives significantly better results. In order to achieve common results, teams are established and they should function as a whole. The main basis for this is that the individual members of the team go well together and are able to understand the short-term and long-term tasks of the team. As a rule, such tasks are directly based on the main values of the organisation for which the team is working. Usually these are formulated through vision and mission of the organisation. These wordings give the world outside the organisation a message about why the organisation has been established and what goals it is pursuing. This is important also for internal communication of employees and managers. In everyday work, these main values have to be upheld at all levels of management and activities. As a usual definition, team is a smaller unit solving an operative task. Via a more comprehensive wording of main values and goals of the organisation and via forming instructions on the basis of these, a team spirit can also be achieved in large international corporations. This is especially important in world of today where management fields are often geographically dispersed. As a rule, it is not reasonable or even possible to state goals with a very general nature in smaller teams within a larger organisation. In such an environment it is important that all members of the team understand the goal of the work being performed and the actions leading to it. It must be stressed that everyone has to have the same understanding about the goals. Differences that are bound to be there due to different people interpreting definitions differently must not bring about fundamental disagreements. Besides the members of the team going well together, each member must also be motivated to commit to the goal. Here, emotional and subconscious mechanisms are important, and many works have been dedicated to studying those mechanisms. People base their actions on certain needs, starting with the most obvious ones, i.e. survival and physical well-being, up to complex existentialist searches for the meaning of life. Due to the social nature of people, work together with all its economic, social and self-expression results is one of the most important fields of activities for many people, as it covers many needs at once. Working provides the required results in the aspect of the most elementary needs, i.e. physical survival and status in the society. At the same time, it may not provide well enough for those needs that are placed higher in the Maslow's pyramid - satisfaction and self-expression. Many authors have written about the psychology of needs and motivation , about relations between people and about organisation theory . It is important to know the reasons why people act in a certain way in certain situations and organisation types. These subjects are covered in the parts of the organisation theory about decision-making. People's behaviour in an organisation depends on a combination of many factors, including the momentary context, cultural background, personal traits and many others. An example of this is respect for order and discipline, expressed in following the stated rules, keeping with the stated strategic and operative work plans, and respecting the opinion of team leaders. It is very important that a member goes well with the rest of the team; this depends mainly on personal traits and then on unity of personal interests with common goals. More specifically, this is expressed as unifying the content of the work with the personal interests, as valuing the direct monetary or economic benefits provided by the employer, or as gaining prestige and power via the level of responsibility inherent to the job position. Also, any organisational shortcomings related to the work (lack of control, or vice versa, too difficult tasks being given) create a risk of emerging of complacent behaviour and strive for self-gain. In such case, the task of the management of the organisation is to use motivation mechanisms based on environmental, cultural and also emotional factors affecting a person. Motivation mechanisms are a way of offering employees satisfaction of their need for acknowledgment and material needs. The basis for material motivation mechanisms is the relevance of the salary and bonus system to the general work organisation. Private companies often also use offers of shares in the company as means for providing motivation to the employees, i.e. motivation via ownership. Acknowledgment primarily starts with involving employees in the decision-making mechanism of the company. Coming back to the subject of going well with the team, it has to be stressed that the establishers of the team have a responsibility in selecting team members primarily according to their personal traits. If a possible candidate has the main knowledge of the relevant field of activities, then the specific knowledge necessary for solving the specific task given to the team can be learned additionally. On the other hand, usually the personal traits of a team member cannot be changed in large extent. Incompatible personal traits may give rise to unnecessary rivalry, expressed for example in ignoring the opinion of colleagues, and also the person being ignored can develop a sense of loneliness. Extreme cases of the latter can also lead to destructive behaviour. Management errors in a „horizontal” organisation have a significant role in this. Excessively influential nature of one colleague or a small group can deteriorate the productivity of the team, if it is not taken into account while establishing the team. Also, cultural background (mindset resulting from origin, religious beliefs, etc.) and personal traits (ability to encourage others, to understand and to involve others) of a candidate must be taken into account when forming a team. Wittiness, creativity, tactfulness and sense of humour are always prized. The suitability of the candidate for work tasks required must be assessed, taking into account the administration and management skills and the ability to think analytically and strategically. The role of motivation becomes more and more apparent in the modern „horizontal” organisation. In a hierarchical organisation, orders coming from above have (or rather had) a higher significance. In case of knowledge-based work it is important to consider the contribution of every team member according to the member's skills, knowledge and competencies. Subordination relations are still important, but this importance has decreased in the aspect of work content. This means that relations between people are more balanced and orientated towards involving everybody. This can be illustrated well by an example from sports, where the ratio of teamwork and competition provides good material for analysis. In a team, harsh rivalry is discouraged and a good emotional environment is created for achieving the set goals. Examples shown in Figure 1 depict totally different situations – competing for a team in so-called individual sports and in joint training. In the first case it is imperative to get the best result while using only own resources. In the second case it is important to achieve a good teamwork in training in order to achieve the best results orientated towards overall goals.
Figure 1. Competition situation and joint training of a team, illustrating different behaviours in the team depending on the situation.
Generally, a team is defined as a set of people trying to achieve joint goals, distributing roles and tasks among themselves in such a way that the abilities, skills and experience of every member can be applied and valued in the best possible way. For this, every member of the team has to know own abilities and skills and also make these known to others, and to subject own work to the teamwork interests in order to achieve the best results. Achieving the set goals is important for every organisation. The need for communicating the main values to every employee was mentioned earlier. This cannot be successful if the relations between people are not considered and valued. These are based on individual abilities that have to be developed according to the teamwork skills. Such training gives the team the best result via joint learning. Suitable forms for this are e.g. team training and development interviews. As teams can have a short-term or a long-term nature, so also roles in a project team can be short-term or long-term, but at the same time they have much in common with the roles in a continuously functioning organisation. Even in projects with very quickly changing intermediate goals and roles (so-called „agile” or extreme or express projects, software development) it is useful to assign roles to the participants, as this means assigning definite areas of responsibility and specific contributions into achieving the set goal. The best team is such where all members are active and able to work together, i.e. where there is constant tactical information exchange facilitating the solving of problems, not creating more problems. Otherwise, additional time and efforts need to be spent on explaining the rules of teamwork in order to avoid misunderstandings that could deteriorate the interior climate and hinder the achieving of the required results. Today, it is technically not very important whether people are engaged in teamwork in a mutual geographical location or they are in geographically separate locations. Much more important is that they are performing joint work on the basis of mutually accepted values. Without mutual understanding, team spirit cannot form, and team spirit is very much necessary for successful work. The distance between the members of the team can be as little as being on different floors of the same building or encompass several different time zones. Working in such a „virtual team” must be well co-ordinated, because each member of the team is relatively independent. The main prerequisite for work is readiness for teamwork, clear organisational procedures and definite structure of the team. There are many IT solutions that are technically suitable for team work in case of shorter or longer distances: - E-mail (mailer program, web application, computer, PocketPC, mobile telephone); - Mailing lists (address book list, list server in own company or a free-use list server like www.yahoogroups.com, http://groups.google.com, etc.); - Common-use server space (FTP); - IPVoice (Skype, MSN); - Video conference (dedicated video conference solutions, Skype, MSN); - Fast file exchange (Skype, MSN, e-mail, web applications); - Computer desktop sharing (dedicated solutions, MSN); - Chat rooms (Skype, MSN).
It is sometimes useful to differentiate between forms of teamwork. In the English language, there are actually two words used: „co-operate” and „collaborate”. As a rule, the former means working in different teams (at the level of organisations and structural units) and the latter means working in a common team. In the Estonian language, there is usually only one word used for both cases, hence this text uses mainly the word „teamwork”. In the former case, there are more formal relations based on contracts and, in case of virtual teams, on clear procedure rules. This is co-ordination based teamwork. In the latter case, common work methods and work means are shared, in a way that is much closer to the work content. This is teamwork based on joint working.
Subjects of the study programme: • Definition of a team; • Roles of team members; • Benefits of teamwork.
A.6.2 Terms and definitions in IT – usage in communication
Usually there are people from different fields of specialisation working together in an organisation. In the previous unit, the principles of establishing a team and teamwork in an organisation were described. The importance of communication for successful teamwork was noted. Communication can be in a spoken or written form, direct or mediated. In any case, there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled as a prerequisite for communication. Communication process is reminiscent of a postage service: • The sender has to deliver a message to the recipient; • The message is delivered in a context understandable for the recipient; • The recipient is able to read (decode) the message; • The message is delivered from the sender to the receiver via a „mediator“ (e.g. a server) that fulfils the role of the postage worker. Information can be delivered in different ways: • As a text; • As audio and video. Communication is considered to be successful if the information is delivered from the sender to the recipient, and the recipient has understood the message and has decoded it correctly. This is true both in the technical sense (e.g. in case of a radio broadcast) and in the psychological sense (in communication between people).
There are various situations in an organisation that define the way of delivering information, depending on the number of participants in the communication and the direction of delivering the message. This results in the following classification of types of communication: • One-to-one unidirectional communication. An order, a message, a letter, etc. is delivered. In telecommunication, the term „simplex communication” is used for that; • One-to-one bidirectional communication. This is a dialogue, a conversation, an examination in a spoken form, etc. In telecommunication, the term „duplex communication” is used for that; • One-to-many unidirectional communication. An order or a plea, a meeting speech, a lecture, an advertisement, a warning signal, etc. is delivered; • One-to-many bidirectional communication. This is a form of lecture or conference with partial bidirectional information exchange; • Many-to-many communication. This is a meeting, a discussion panel of a conference, etc.
The following examples can be stated as illustration for various types of communication: • Lecture or speech given by a person on a higher hierarchical position in the organisation (either temporarily as a lecturer or permanently as a position in the organisational structure) to many listeners; • Presentation given by the presenter and leading the listeners through the subject via predetermined path by using presentation equipment and other supporting means, including the presenter's personal charm and skills; • Round table discussion where the participants are experts in the relevant field. They present their opinions on the matter discussed. As a rule, a short introductory speech and the subsequent discussion is used instead of longer prepared speeches; • Meeting with a predetermined agenda for discussion and, as a rule, also for making decisions, if the participants of the meeting have the necessary competences for that. Opinions are expressed in turns and strictly according to the agenda; • Brainstorm is an informal meeting for creating new ideas for solving a specific problem. One of the inevitable rules of a brainstorm is the rule of no criticism, i.e. the ideas offered are not discussed immediately but the participants try to develop these further; • Dialogue/conversation between one or more people/specialists.
These examples show that bidirectional communication requires simultaneous physical or virtual presence of the parties. Unidirectional communication does not require this and can thus be asynchronous, i.e. offset in time. Communication means are established depending on the goal and selected type of communication. In this, the effects of different approaches must be considered – trusting manner and look into eyes, formal and cold, or hostile and pushy manner of presenting the message, different stressing and tone give a theoretically similar content of a message or information an entirely different meaning. Verbal communication is the most developed form, both between people and technically also between people and machines and between machines. In communication between people, the trustworthiness of the sender of the message is an important factor, and this is also discussed in section A.6.4. In many cases, the rational reception of the message depends on this. Trust is being built from the first moment on and also non-verbal elements or signs are important in verbal communication, provided by the body language, clothing and behaviour of the speaker. In communication environments with a clearly formed traditions (business environment, sports circles, etc.) it is usually important to follow the traditions. The way of expression is very important here. One and the same message can be delivered in different ways. Different newspaper headlines for one and the same event: „Wolves killed five sheep” and „Hunter killed an awful predator” present a largely different message to the reader. The headlines already convey the attitude of the journalist towards victimised sheep or capable hunter. Choice of words is important in verbal communication. The most dependable way is to use a well-formed and widely understood terminology in explaining ideas and viewpoints. In the course of long-term communication, spontaneous teams and friendships can form among people, with a distinctive wording being used within these that, in case of a wider spreading, can supplement the existing jargon. Within such a community, the use of such formed wording is justified and it creates no problems. With other audiences, the use of jargon and inadvertent use of parasite words must be avoided. Use of jargon is justified only if all participants are fully familiar with it and the current information exchange has an informal nature. Regardless of whether a well-formed classical terminology or a jargon of a narrower circle of people is used, it is almost inevitable that some misunderstandings occur in communication. The interpretations of the content and scope of a term are always different for people with different backgrounds. Also, there is a problematic mindset that use of a wording without full sentences and with careless choice of words allows full and self-explanatory delivery of information. This mindset is based on inability to understand the mental world and background of others. The ethics code of an IT specialist (see section A.7.3) obliges everyone to retain a high level of professional dignity and to follow a high standard of professional ethics. Undoubtedly, excellent wording is also a part of this. It certainly does not include the use of acronyms (abbreviations made from first letters of words) and other comfort forms, jargon and slang. Use of such forms certainly requires that they are explained to those not proficient with them. It is unallowable to force teamwork partners and clients to use the jargon of the field. Use of jargon and slang always creates some misunderstandings. This is especially noticeable in those countries where English is not the mother tongue of the majority of people, as most of the information technology terms originate from this language. This results in many abbreviations having no inherent meaning and the message being simply lost for the listeners/readers. Such a situation immediately causes the audience to lose interest for the information offered. In delivering own opinion to a wider audience, there is something else that needs attention besides the use of wording – this is the audience's level of understanding and reception that should allow acquiring the information without boredom and also without encountering incomprehensible and overly difficult parts. In other words, triviality and complexity are relative for every audience. Examples and comparisons used must allow using associative thinking for understanding the information. Acronyms and abbreviations do render the presentation more at times, avoiding long-running sentences, but an overuse of these makes the message hard to follow. This is noticeable when using figurative terms formulated for a specific technology or swamping the listeners/readers with numerical technical data and product names of a certain manufacturer. Every presentation and lecture must have a clearly stated goal that the speaker wants to achieve. The person delivering the information must know what is relevant, interesting and understandable for the relevant auditory or communication partners.
Various notices are negative examples of this. The example shown here is an invitation sent via e-mail (the text has been created with cut-paste operations) which certainly does not achieve its goal because it is too hard to understand for the reader:
There will be a seminary/product presentation on May 14!
We invite you to participate in a seminary for a few hours, where we will introduce and show the functioning of ZXTM – 5.0 new version with new and exciting features and ZXTM Global Load Balancer (ZXTM GLB).
We will talk about a new version of ZXTM with several new and exciting, even great features that further facilitate the distribution and administration of network and web support applications and their data communication traffic load between one and many data centres.
Read more about ZXTM: http://www.zeus.com
The seminary is FREE TO ATTEND
Subjects of the study programme:
• Definition of jargon and terminology.
A.6.3 Dialogue between IT specialists and business people
Nowadays there are few companies not using information technology means for organising work, either directly or indirectly. In many organisations, use of IT solutions is mission-critical, i.e. without these solutions the main processes of the organisation cannot function. Definite examples of this are today's banks and governmental institutions in Estonia. Regardless of whether the organisation has own IT specialists or the relevant service is purchased from outside, those responsible for the main activities of the organisation and those offering the IT services and solutions must find a common language in order to achieve goals. In the previous unit, communication and use of wording were discussed. Now, the different forms of communication need to be reviewed. Experience in communication clearly shows that in order to achieve a practical and productive discussion, attention must be paid to the key persons in case of a smaller communication range or to the entire audience in case of a larger communication range, in relation with the ability to deliver information, to listen, to understand and to identify with the audience (empathy). In case of a face-to-face meeting, i.e. on seminaries, meetings, presentations, etc. it is important that every person leading the event or presenting own opinions and thoughts keeps in mind the following : • Explaining causes and goals helps to achieve success in a meeting. An exception to this may be periodic formal meetings. Single points of the agenda of a meeting are not included in this exception; • The participants of the meeting should understand the goals in the same way and, if possible, then this should be achieved with active involving, not silent agreement; • Expectations of the results of the meeting should be worded precisely; • Limitations to the duration of speeches and discussions and also to the competency of the speakers should be stated right away (also, the code of professional ethics states requirements for competence); • Opinions should be presented with full clarity. Discussion is easy to follow technically, if examples are given in the course of it. Quotations and jokes make a presentation livelier and the emerging associations help remember the message being delivered. The speaker must be orientated towards the audience both physically and mentally, regardless of the type of audience. Eye contact also helps, as it creates a pleasant atmosphere while allowing for involving all listeners into the discussion and avoiding the feeling of being left aside. Meetings and presentations should be ended with a short summary of the opinions presented, and there must be enough time in the end for any questions and answers. This often helps to bring out the real content of the presentation. It is important to understand the relations of „technology people” and „business people” in an organisation. Regardless of using expressions characteristic for the professional field in own professional environment, they have to be able to explain their opinions and justify their actions to each other. One of the most important factors here is correct and logical, i.e. universally understandable use of wording. Information technology specialists must be able to explain their actions and plans to their clients, who may also be their colleagues from different professional fields within the same organisation, even if the clients lack profound knowledge of information technology or skills to use it. In teamwork of different specialists, all parties involved must always consider the overall general and specific goals of the organisation, for achieving of which the new technologies and information technology means are being implemented. IT specialists have a dual role here. First, they have to ensure the functioning of the main processes of the company and certainly make suggestions for changing these if the implementation of new technologies will help make work more productive. In most cases, this also involves reorganising activities in the organisation. There is a trap here, namely of overuse of technology. This means forgetting about the economic reasonability of implementing technologies. The obligation of IT specialists is to show the role of information technology as an enabler in the development of the organisation. Examples of these are the innumerable „e-services” and „m-services“ that have been established, from web stores to mobile phone payment of parking fees. For example, the overall goal of meat production industry is to offer varied food to other citizens via their products. This goal is formulated in the mission of a company like this: We offer the best taste experience via healthy meat products. This shows that the main goal is producing foodstuffs and a proper information system can supplement this only by ensuring the support processes. The information system would allow the management of the company to make faster and more precise management decisions, if they are presented with relevant information. Also, an information system should ensure precise following of recipes in the production process by giving exact instructions to the relevant machines for adding components and for performing other technological operations. The business of a company is evaluated via the results of such activities. Thus, the results of implementing information technology can only be evaluated via the same criteria. Any individual highly clever and complex technical tricks within the information system are irrelevant if they do not give good or very good end results, i.e. an improvement of the significant features of the functioning of the organisation. In many organisations, the obligations of the information technology manager are united with the obligations of another field in order to achieve the overall goals, depending on the goals of the entire functioning of the organisation and on the logic of the business processes. This way, the organisation avoids concentrating on a single narrow field, as this can cause the wider goals to become vague. It must be avoided in such organisations where IT has a mission-critical importance, i.e. where the main processes of the organisation cannot function without IT solutions. A prerequisite for a good functioning of information systems and for good results of these systems is good planning and implementing the plans via good project management. This is also a prerequisite for information systems to become a part of the value chain of the company. This is impossible without communication allowing involved parties to understand each other. In our case here, both parties of an organisation – „business people” and IT specialists – must be able to express themselves correctly and in a way that is understandable for the other party (and not only to them). Technical values cannot become goals per se on either side; they have to conform to the main goals – client satisfaction, quality, productivity, etc.
Subjects of the study programme: • Determining the role of information technology in achieving the goals of the company; • Describing information technology as a set of possibilities in the organisation; • Describing information technology as a part of the organisation.
A.6.4 Initiating changes Authors: Madis Sassiad, Runar Mar Sverrison
Changes can be expected or unexpected, but they cannot be avoided in today's world. By its nature, change management must include mental development, planning, careful implementation, monitoring and consultations, all this supplemented by involving people into influencing of processes. A change must be realistic, achievable, and measurable in some way. There must be some indicators in the process of the change, for measuring the success of each stage, even before the start. This makes it possible to see the development of each stage and makes the progress visible.
Change management is a part of changes happening in an organisation and, on the other hand, also a part of individual changes. There is no definite and unambiguously measurable approach to change management. Every organisation must assess its unique culture and susceptibility to change and to develop its management strategy according to this profile. Making a change requires an ability and readiness to largely abandon the previous ways of thinking and doing things. During the stage of implementing changes, the employees can be uncertain. The ability to take risks and the readiness to re-learn processes is an important factor in management. Here we mainly look at the perspective of management, but the perspective of employees is also important.
People cannot be ushered into changes and they cannot be hastened in this aspect. The responsibility for change management lies with the managers; it cannot be delegated to the employees. The responsibility of the employees lies in performing their work in the best possible way during the process of implementing changes. Management has a strong impact on the organisational culture, and this impact can be either positive or negative. The way that the employees handle changes is individual for every person and depends on many factors: age, gender, personality, motivation, past experience about changes. Different people, different changes and different stages of changes need different management methods. These individual differences should be respected, supported and used.
The most important task of change management is showing people that they are a part of the process of changes. People want to feel themselves a part of something bigger and more important than themselves. If they understand the direction of the changes and their part in achieving the required results, then they can make efficient teamwork. It is the responsibility of the management staff to facilitate changes and to make them easier on people, to help employees understand the reasons and goals and the entire strategic framework together with the mission, the vision and the values. It is important to reply positively (not in an evaluating way) to the change and to the reactions of the employees. Management has to help the employees see the change as an opportunity and demonstrate it in their own reaction to the change. It is also important to see the balance between the change and the permanent value.
Figure 1. Process of change management
Resistance of people to changes is one of the main challenges that companies face when initiating changes. Usually there are two reasons why people are against using new technologies or working in a new way: first, they lack sufficient skills for using the technology or profiting from it, and second, they don't understand how they will change the way of making business and how the processes will work. If there is no readiness for changes or there are doubts and fear in the organisation, then, figuratively speaking, the change is competing with the present status and it is very hard to say in advance which one will win.
A strong resistance to changes is often caused by a sense of security that has been established in relation with the previous circumstances. Helping people in such a situation requires patience and tolerance, in order to make them see things differently. This has to be done gradually. It has to be remembered that reasonable and logical thinking is necessary for changes; otherwise the employees will not see why they should be a part of the change process. Managers have to find answers to the following questions: • Has the management thought through and explored all other options? • Why does the organisation need this specific change; why cannot the organisation keep functioning the way it has done until now? • What do we want to achieve with this change?
It is important to stress for the employees that resistance is an entirely natural phenomenon and that nobody expects a magical change or transformation from them. They just need to open their mind and thoughts to the future and then change. It must be remembered that big changes are implemented as series of small steps. If you need to eat a whole elephant, you can only do it by small mouthfuls. The same is also true for the change process. One change at a time is being focussed on.
Every employee is different and has a different background and also different questions that cause stress. The following factors are usually those that cause stress:
• The feeling of the situation not being under control; • The feeling of moving without a clear target; • The feeling of guilt over postponements or inability to fulfil obligations; • More obligations than time for fulfilling them; • Changes, especially those that are not initiated by the person; • Uncertainty; • High hopes (primarily about the person's self); • Change deteriorates a person's sense of control (things are felt to be out of control).
Managers have to find different methods for decreasing the uncertainty of employees upon implementing changes and new work procedures. It has to be remembered that if the employees do not get a direct gain from the change, then they can become bitter. A human being is not a machine. Open communication about the beneficial effects of the change can persuade and calm the employees. People give their best if they are motivated to do so. Managers have to verify actions and take on the responsibility. They have to know how and when to help. Management and understanding are subjects where the human factor is considered.
Managers have to find answers to the following questions: • Do I have work in the new organisation after the changes? • What will happen if I make mistakes?
Managers have to be patient with employees. In case of changes on a larger scale, the employees should accept the fact that they cannot understand everything at once and cannot be correct in every action and situation. Things take time, but a positive attitude towards innovation helps people during the change process. Employees should not be afraid to tell managers about things that they are confused or stressed about.
It is necessary to make sure that the employees understand the importance of their role in the organisational network; they have to be introduced to the main values and functions of the organisation and the way it all works together. People need to be told about what the change means and how it affects their work. Also, employees need to be told about what is expected of them, and to be encouraged to offer solutions of their own. People need to be given opportunities for making decisions in those aspects that are related to or affect their work.
More attention should be given to training of people and managers, to explanatory communication, in order to understand the beneficial effects of the new work methods for the company upon implementing the changes. Such training must be conducted in the new business environment.
Managers have to find answers to the following questions: • How does this project improve the business environment, both for the organisation and for the people working in it? • How can this project affect the employees, both in positive and in negative way? • How will the nature of the work change?
Employees have to be told that they have the right to demand relevant training if necessary, and that they should demand it if they need it.
One of the hardest sales jobs is selling new ideas and new opportunities for own company. Management has to establish a positive atmosphere in the company and to “sell” all benefits that the planned change offers. Implementation of the change must look like improvement of the competitiveness and reputation of the company. Employees need to be acknowledged according to that, so that they feel the value of their contribution.
So-called “super teams” in joint action with the management staff and management activities can be used for supporting the motivation and positive feelings of employees. Members of the super team are better at bonding employees. It is considerably easier to implement the change process if there is a right person with right skills and emotional contribution working in a right place. Members of the super team are active (see group D in figure 2 below). They have a positive attitude towards changes, they understand the meaning of changes and how changes affect the daily life of people.
Usually, employees can be categorised into four groups during the change management process:
• Group A includes people who are openly against changes – “opponents”. Keywords: different opinion, position, active, critical, suffering. • Group B includes people with negative attitude towards changes – “protectors of traditions”. Keywords: conviction, safety, fearfulness, reclusive, acknowledging the unchanging. • Group C includes people with a positive attitude towards changes – “bystanders”. Keywords: gradual advance, teamwork, approving, positive. • Group D includes people who are actively supporting changes – “makers of changes”. Keywords: self management, visionary, motivated, communicative.
Figure 2. 4 types of people in change management
The people of Group B need to be identified in a team and then most of the effort needs to be directed towards motivating and supporting these people. After the people in Group B become motivated, most of the employees will come along with the changes. It is very important to provide positive feedback to all employees.
Employees want to feel that everyone's contribution is very important during the change process. Positive thoughts and questions also help directing things to the better. Discussions with colleagues about the positive sides of the change and the future plans encourage even those who up to then have not been quite sure about the whole matter. It has to be remembered that even difficult and complex changes can yield positive results. It is a waste of time to deal with things that you don't like about the change; instead, turn your attention to potential benefits and opportunities that the change can bring about.
Employees are afraid of changes, of their effects on their work processes and the specific situation. New ideas and work procedures have to be introduced to employees, describing in detail the aspects related to their work. Managers need to stress the benefits that the implementation of the change will bring to the employees.
Motivation can be categorised as internal and external. External motivation usually comes from outside the organisation (strong competition, development of the relevant field, etc). Internal motivation comes from inside the company (passion for work, challenges, interests, etc). More support should be given to internal motivation, because this type of motivation usually lasts longer and helps to commit to work.
People need to be helped in understanding all processes, like understanding their role in the change, etc. A new work environment has to be created, with new work routines and work methods. This improves trustworthiness. All achievements are important, thus employees need to be motivated while gradually moving on. The current stage must be finished before the next stage is started. Granting bonuses for employees and offering new opportunities improves their attitude towards new work policy and procedures. Positive feedback about their work has a significant effect.
Managers have to find answers to the following questions: • What do I gain from this change?
If the management notices a lack of motivation among employees, then the following questions should be asked:
• Is there sufficient information and communication available about the change process? • Are all benefits laid out in a specific and understandable form? • Have the employees had an opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes in aspects related to their work methods? • Have the employees received enough praise, thanks and acknowledgment?
The employees need to be stressed that their motivation is important and is taken seriously, and that they should express their opinions. What are the new opportunities that this specific change will bring me?
Communication has an important role in introducing and managing changes. Usually, a change causes fear of differences. Here, communication must be extremely open, honest and encouraging. Communication must function between all parties. There are always certain subjects that need to be touched in change management, like why this specific change was chosen, what are the stages of the change, what are the central goals of the change, etc. Communication must be interactive and, most importantly, it must cover all stages of the change process, from planning to monitoring. Face-to-face communication is very important here: everyone needs to feel that they are valued.
Trustful and honest communication encourages employees. It is very important to involve all employees in communication, and to do this during the entire change process. Communication is facilitated by preparing a communication plan (what needs to be communicated to whom, with whom, etc.). All known information has to be shared as quickly as possible. It has to be remembered that real communication is in the form of conversation, a bidirectional serious discussion. Communication must not be just a unidirectional presentation by the management of the company.
Listening skills need to be utilised, questions need to be asked in order to reach clarity and the information and the presenter of the message needs to be trusted.
Readiness for changes comes from trust and understanding. Management needs to “be there” for the employees, in order to help them embrace the changes. Management needs to actively deal with the process, to encourage and inspire, to disperse doubts and fears, to state central goals, and also to acknowledge and thank the employees for success achieved. Eliminating hindrances, ensuring constructive feedback and offering support from leaders, and also giving thanks and granting bonuses for success achieved – these are the main topics that establish trust between the management and the employees. Mistakes must not be punished; instead, employees need to be continuously and more intensely encouraged so that they get to know the new system, processes, etc.
It is important to be honest. Employees have the right to know what awaits them. All functions, tasks, responsibilities, work descriptions, etc. must be introduced and explained very comprehensively. An overview has to be provided about what will remain as it is and what will change, what is needed additionally and what needs to be replaced. At the same time, all possibilities, know-how, talents, interests, physical resources and time resources, and training needs, along with personal support have to be determined for each employee. This must be done very carefully and at the same time very honestly, so that every employee will know what is expected of him/her in reality. People have to be treated as adults, with honesty, integrity and continuity.
Managers have to find answers to the following questions: • How does the management process involve and support the change process?
Employees need to know that they can discuss various subjects with the management and ask questions. Trust and mutual understanding must be absolute.
Both the management and the employees have to understand what the implementation of new processes and systems means. Things do not change overnight, and detailed planning helps conduct the whole process better technically. Needs have to be carefully mapped and assessed. The decision-making process must involve new needs that people apply with their skills and motivation. Also, future users have to be involved in the implementation process early on. An opportunity to participate increases motivation and success in conducting the processes.
In the change implementation process, the following has to be paid careful attention to: • Needs: detailed planning and supply plans; • The future: what is sufficient today, may not be sufficient in the future; • Training: both technical and human resources, must be organised for all employees; • Communication, motivation, support form the management; • Image of the future: work procedures, systems, etc.; • Implementation stage; • Additional testing, quality control; • Ongoing process.
Managers have to find answers to the following questions: • Why this specific system? • Is it safe? • Is this system sufficient for us?
Employees have to be told that they can help in implementing the technical changes by asking questions and assessing new opportunities. Usually, the users themselves have the best knowledge about what subjects are under control and what should be enhanced, improved. It has to be remembered that after the implementation stage, the process goes on with (software) additions, updates and training, etc. Thus, patience is needed; there will always be surprises, but these can be taken care of.
Subjects of the study programme: • Description of the need for efficient communication in the functioning of a company; • List of motivation factors needed for acceptance of new technology; • List of factors creating resistance to changes. X
A.6.5 Audio-video equipment
Audio-video (AV) equipment is common in running everyday work and meetings. It helps better deliver the ideas and necessary data. As a rule, the traditional presentation technology is meant with this term, like a computer with a digital projector (also a data projector or a video projector). Of course, today the variety of available equipment and possibilities for these purposes is immensely wider. IT specialists encounter many of these in providing solutions and services to clients. The means provided by AV equipment can be used for all types of communication and examples stated above in section A.6.2.
As a rule, presentation equipment is used in lectures, lessons and meetings for illustrating the information being delivered, with the goal of delivering the message to the listeners and colleagues in multiple ways. Technical equipment is also a good way of constant recording of the results of various discussions and brainstorms. The risk here is of falling into the „presentation equipment trap”, i.e. the lecturer becomes an accessory of the technical equipment, instead of using the equipment. A lecturer trapped this way only reads the displayed text, lacking the effect of a live presentation. A somewhat less acute version of this is a presentation overloaded with all kinds of effects or information, making the actual content of the presentation difficult to follow. Thus, it has to be remembered that the presentation equipment should have the role of an accessory and the lecturer must deliver the message him/herself. The task of technical equipment is displaying a picture, sound and/or video, on a screen or a wall screen with the size according to the size of the audience. As a rule, these are: - A digital projector with a computer, an LCD screen or a touch screen and relevant software; - TV-sets, video cameras and suitable DVD, CD, video and audio players; - Overhead projector; - LCD projector. Due to the wide spreading of digital projectors, the last two on this list have become clearly a minority, but a document projector projecting the picture from a foil or a paper is suitable for an improvising lecturer. There are still LCD projectors left in some places, being fundamentally a backlit screen. The evolved versions of traditional school blackboard – flipchart and whiteboard – are usable on own account. Also, the method of putting up/sticking note papers with ideas and suggestions to a board or a wall is usable in discussions and brainstorms; the goal of this method is to make the offers visible to everybody. This is also called wall technique. It is always the obligation of those conducting the event or those responsible for the meeting or conference rooms to verify the functioning of the presentation equipment, from compatibility of computers and projectors to availability of writing aids for flipcharts and boards. Due to the wide spreading of laptop computers, it is also important to ensure the availability of a sufficient number of power outlets and an Internet connection with the necessary bandwidth in the meeting room. The functioning of audio equipment needs to be verified in case of more prominent and larger-scale events. Speech is made audible to everybody by using personal microphones or microphones handed from one speaker to another. If using synchronous interpretation, then audio equipment is unavoidable regardless of the size of the meeting room.
Conducting meetings, seminaries and training sessions doesn’t always have to involve bringing all participants into one room. Teleconferences are a good way of saving time by avoiding long travels. The format of video conference is used a lot, this being essentially an amalgamation of audio-video technology, information technology and telecommunication technology and allowing people or groups located in separate places to see and speak to each other in real time. Participants can also exchange text, data, picture and audio files. Video conference allows sharing software applications, too.
Also, commonplace applications for delivering text only, text and audio or text with audio and video are usable in solving operative tasks of smaller groups. These means include Skype and MSN, and also video-capable telephones and desktop conference systems.
The latter have already gained a definite place among conference systems of larger groups, because computer networks with packet connection can provide a continuous video and audio stream with good quality. Conference systems for group work deliver video that can be presented on a large TV-set or a projector screen without compromising its quality. Video and audio created by good cameras and microphones controlled from several places are synchronised by integrated solutions composed of relevant video conference equipment. Such integrated solutions do not need a separate computer for running a conference.
As described above, IP connections are usually used as communication channels, but there is also equipment with ISDN connection ensuring a certain bandwidth of the channel. All newer video conference solutions also allow for delivering data alongside video and audio, in order to show relevant presentations and other necessary information across the network. Using file sharing or desktop sharing application at the same time allows for very productive creation of documents in a teamwork, e.g. for preparing a contract or for writing a science-fiction novel.
Video conference format is widely used in training sessions, where it facilitates the use of foreign lecturers.
Subjects of the study programme: • List of commonly used audio-video equipment; • Description of uses of audio-video equipment; • Description of benefits of using audio-video equipment; • List of technical requirements for using audio-video equipment.
7. Questions 7.1.What is the trend in the management structure of organisations in recent years: Organisations are becoming more centralised; Size of the management of organisations is increasing rapidly; Management of organisations is becoming more and more „horizontal”, i.e. organisations are becoming more flexible. X
7.2. List three teams with members in different locations, and three group work applications facilitating teamwork.
7.3. There is a sign on the door of a server room, saying „Unauthorised access forbidden!” Which of the following types of communication is such a message delivery representing? One-to-one information delivery; One-to-many information delivery; X Many-to-many information delivery.
7.4. When is it useful to organise a brainstorm? In order to get entirely new approaches in solving a problem; X In order to deliver irregular operative information; In order to introduce the production goals of the department.
7.5. Which of the following leads to the best results in development of an organisation where IT has a highly significant role? IT specialists are giving their best for achieving their personal goals; The business people and the IT managers have a definite understanding between them about the ways of achieving the overall goals of the organisation; X The business managers are taking into account the opportunities and limitations related to people in developing the organisation.
7.6. Which of the following facilitates best the implementation of changes: Employees are informed about the changes made in the previous month; Employees have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes that are related to their work methods; X All possible changes for the next few years are explained to the employee upon signing the employment contract.
7.7. Which of the following behaviour patterns are generally facilitating acceptance of changes by employees in a modern company: Clear and unidirectional following of the chain of command from management to employees; Considering only change proposals coming from employees; Discussions with the management on various subjects, asking questions.
7.8. List the set of hardware needed for delivering a presentation with a touch screen.
7.9. Which of the following are the main benefits of the teleconference format: It is nice to see the conversation partners simultaneously across the table and on a screen; Only people in two separate places can communicate with each other; People or groups located in separate places can see and speak to each other in real time and also record the entire process. X