Appendix 7 – Business Communication for Managers

Appendix 7

ROLE PLAYS

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS

Each of the situations described here requires two students to act them out. During the role play, the other students (the audience) should take note of the pros and cons of the communication. Each role play should conclude with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the communication, the utility of the communicated message, and the style and efficacy of message delivery of both the actors. The chapters that the students need to go through before dealing with each situation have been mentioned after every role play.

THE ROLE PLAYS

The following are the various real life situations which the students need to act out.1

The Missing Assistant Manager

You are a senior manager in World Works Ltd, a company producing customized software for leading business clients. One morning, you want one of the assistant managers, Rajeev, to handle an emergency. However, you learn that he has still not reached the office. You are informed that Rajeev was working late the previous day. Even then, you are annoyed at his unpunctuality. You had noticed Rajeev coming late to office on several previous occasions. When Rajeev eventually reaches the office in the second half, you decide to talk to him.

Identify a fellow student to play the role of Rajeev. List the key points that you would like to convey to Rajeev. As the senior-most member of the team, what steps will you take to ensure that such a situation does not arise in the future?

Chapters go through before attempting this: Chapter 2, “Theories of Interpersonal and Organizational Communication”; Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”; Chapter 4, “Analysing Transactions: The Units of Communication”.

The Reluctant Employee

You are the senior manager at the branch office of a prominent white goods firm. There is an upcoming prestigious trade fair in Amsterdam where your company hopes to showcase its latest innovations. You want Mohan, one of the assistant managers, to accompany you to the trade fair. However, Mohan is supposed to be going away on a vacation at that time and he had informed you of the same well in advance. However, this fair means a lot to the company and you cannot afford to let it go. You decide to call Mohan to your office and talk to him about it.

Identify a fellow student to play the role of Mohan. What are the main points you would like to communicate to him? How will you ensure Mohan's participation in the fair without being unfair to him?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 5, “The Language of Persuasion”.

The Inappropriate E-mail

You are one of the management trainees in a fairly conservative organization. You have graduated from a reputed engineering institute and feel that a relaxed, informal atmosphere and a shift to modern methods of communication will actually increase productivity. One day, you send the following e-mail to your supervisor Raghav.

 

Subject: Meeting minutes

Hi Sir,

Please find details of the meeting held last Friday. I have enclosed the decision chart with the mail. Please contact me for any other clarifications, if required.

Lily

p.s. I missed the deadline by ten minutes. I hope that's not an issue with you.

I love miracles. In fact, I rely on them. Occasionally, I create some!

After a while, Raghav calls you to his cabin to talk about the e-mail. He sounds visibly annoyed at the tone and mode of the message.

Choose someone from your class to play the role of Raghav. What are the ways in which you might communicate your point of view to your boss without annoying him even further? How will you convince your boss that your informal tone did not mean any disrespect?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 5, “The Language of Persuasion”; Chapter 10, “Introduction to Business Writing”; Chapter 11, “The Writing Strategy”; Chapter 12, “Business Letters, Memorandums, and E-mails”.

Persuading the Distributor

You have been the territory manager for a reputed consumer goods enterprise for three years now. However, things have started to change in the company. With the brand management team looking to prune a few popular brands from your portfolio, it is the distributor who stands to lose the most in terms of gross margins and revenues. Keeping all this in mind, you decide to fix a meeting with Raju, a distributor you haven't been in touch with recently, hoping to inform him about all the changes happening.

Identify one of your classmates to play the role of Raju. What are the points you need to communicate to him? How are you going to persuade him to stick to your company even though initially he might lose money with the new brands?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 5, “The Language of Persuasion”; Chapter 8, “Business Meetings and Negotiations”.

Reassuring the Agent

You the divisional manager of one of the most trusted insurance firms of India. Due to internal restructuring, the company now has a new aggressive marketing strategy which includes targeting high-end customers in order to obtain more premium from the individual client. However, Abhijeet, an older agent, has been particularly vocal against the new policies of the company, saying that the new marketing strategies will jeopardize his relationship with his clients. He also claims that he doesn't have the sufficient training necessary to deal with high-end customers. You decide to invite him to a private meeting and talk to him about these issues.

Identify one of your batchmates to play the role of Abhijeet. How will you convince him to change his mind and work with you towards a common goal? What methods of communication will you employ?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”; Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”; Chapter 4, “Analysing Transactions: The Units of Communication”; Chapter 5, “The Language of Persuasion”.

Saying No!

You have been working for a new communication service provider company that has been hailed as the new big thing in the Indian market. To celebrate this success, your CEO Harshit has thrown a gala party where he announces that he is giving you a huge promotion and making you the divisional head. However, in order to take up this position, you need to move to a different city. You live with your ailing mother and as such, it is impossible for you to relocate. You decide to request a private meeting with Harshit the next day and talk to him about this.

Choose one of the students from the class to play the role of Harshit. How will you communicate to your boss your inability to relocate without sounding ungrateful? What are the points that you need to focus on in order to communicate successfully in this case?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”; Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”; Chapter 4, “Analysing Transactions: The Units of Communication”; Chapter 5, “The Language of Persuasion”.

Negotiating for the Right Price

Your company has been supplying packaging material to a well-known giftware manufacturer for four years now, and it is time to renew your contract. Afraid of losing the brand value that this manufacturer brings to your company, you had agreed to a lower price the last time. This time, however, the market rates have increased so much that you have decided to insist on a higher price for your material. Your company had barely made any profit last year because of this and you are determined not to repeat that again this year. You decide to send an e-mail to Shantanu, the purchasing manager of the giftware company, requesting an urgent meeting with him.

Identify one of your classmates to play the part of Shantanu. How will you convince him to increase the price? Which methods of communication should you use in order to get your point across successfully?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 8, “Business Meetings and Negotiations”.

Refusal to work Overtime

You have been working for a construction company for ten years and have trained a lot of young recruits during that time. Rajeev is a new employee straight out of college. He is good at his job but leaves by five every day. He claims that he teaches underprivileged children in the evenings and cannot give more time to office. However, you have a couple of urgent new projects coming in and you want everyone to put in extra hours in the office in order to finish the projects on time. You decide to call Rajeev to your cubicle and have a talk with him.

Choose one of your fellow-students to play the part of Rajeev. How will you convince him to put in extra hours at work? How will you ensure that his extra curricular activities are not permanently hampered due to this?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”; Chapter 4, “Transaction Analysis: The Units of Communication”.

Non-confirmation of Employment

You are in the final semester of your electrical engineering course and have been offered a position by a well-known electrical goods manufacturing company. However, it has been over six months and the company has still not given you your joining letter. Repeated e-mails and calls to the recruiting manager have not yielded any results either. You decide to visit the company's headquarters in Delhi along with a few of your batchmates and demand an explanation. Once there, you are summoned by Ashish, the company's national director of sales, for a private meeting.

Make one of your classmates play the part of Ashish. Which are the methods of communication you will employ to communicate your distress to Ashish? How will you convince him to give you a definite joining date?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”; Chapter 5, “The Language of Persuasion”.

Failure to Inform

You are fresh out of college and are working in a fast-moving finance company. Currently, you are working on a prestigious project on a short deadline. After a particularly gruelling day, you wake up the next morning and realize that you have high fever. You send your boss Ritesh a text, informing him about your inability to come in that day. Then you go back to sleep. When you wake up you see that you have had several missed calls from Ritesh and realize that the text you had sent earlier hasn't been delivered. You decide to give him a call and explain things to him.

Choose one of the students in your group to play the part of Ritesh. What are the communication skills that you will draw upon in order to resolve this amicably? How will you convince him that your disappearance was an honest mistake and that you had a genuine reason for not turning up?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”.

Confusion with Time

You are a new hire for a technology outsourcing company and have been assigned a project that will be lead by Megan from New York, your onsite project manager. On your first day of working with Megan, you get a call from her, asking you to finish an Excel sheet by tonight. Though initially you have difficulty comprehending her accent, you finally manage to understand what it is that you are required to do. You decide to work on the Excel sheet a little later. However, after a while, you get another indignant call from Megan, and it is then that you realize that by ‘tonight’ she didn't mean night in India but night in the United States of America. You decide to write her a mail, explaining why you couldn't finish the work on time.

Get one of your classmates to play the role of Megan. How will you write an e-mail so that she is convinced that there was a genuine communication gap? What steps will you take to ensure that such a thing does not happen in the future?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 6, “Communicating in a Diverse Work Environment”; Chapter 7, “Crisis Communication Strategies”.

One who was Inexperienced

You are fresh out of business school and have joined a leading firm as a regional manager right after graduation. However, the local sales team has a number of members who are considerably more experienced and older than you. Once they learn of your prior inexperience, they stop taking your suggestions of paying any heed to your directions. Akhtar, a sales executive who has been working in this area for ten years, is especially vocal in this regard. As a result, sales figures plummet and you get a warning from your bosses. You decide to talk to Akhtar in a private meeting.

Choose one of your classmates to play the part of Akhtar. How will you acknowledge his long years in the field as well as making him see that even though you have little hands-on experience, your opinions and suggestions are not to be ignored?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”; Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”.

Faulty Assumptions

While you were serving notice period in your company, you were given a new, research-oriented project to work on. You are informed that Paul from the London office will work along with you on the project. You write a detailed e-mail to Paul, proposing how you two might divide the work. However, Paul seems strangely reluctant and says that he would prefer to review your work instead of actually writing something. You think Paul is shirking his duties and decide to do everything yourself, preferring to ignore his suggestions. It is only after you submit your project that you realize that Paul is in a managerial post and has been annoyed by your lack of cooperation. You decide to call Paul in order to explain the situation.

Ask someone from your group to play the part of Paul. How will you let him know that you did what you did because of a communication gap? Which methods will you employ in order to make sure that this doesn't happen again?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”.

The Faulty Presentation

You have been working for a multinational company as their chief database engineer. While on a visit to their New York office, you are asked to give a presentation on database infrastructure. You start off the presentation with a quip about the inefficiency of IT workers in general. During the break, however, your manager Jenna brings this up and asks you to “tone it down a bit”. You also realize that your audience, which consists mostly of IT professionals, are not too pleased with you. You are surprised at the unusually harsh reactions because you had done the exact same presentation in India, with favourable results. You decide to talk to Jenna about it.

Choose one of your batchmates to play the part of Jenna. List the key points you would like to convey to her. How will you convince her that this was unintentional and that something like this won't happen in the future?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 6, “Communicating in a Diverse Work Environment”; Chapter 9, “Preparing and Delivering Presentations”.

The Arrogant Retort

You are work for a famous IT company in Mysore. As your hometown is Kozhikode, which is hardly an hour away, you spend most of your weekends at home. You are on good terms with your manager, Naveen. You come back after a long Easter weekend and see that your team has decided to work next Saturday. You are distressed at the fact that one of your weekends is going to be spoilt and lose no time in filing a leave application for Saturday. After a while, Naveen walks in and informs you pleasantly that as you had just had a long weekend, he cannot grant you another leave. For some reason, you take his words to heart and respond rather rudely, telling him that you are entitled to the leave and see no reason why it won't be granted. It is when Naveen walks away with a visibly disapproving expression that you realize that you had probably crossed a line. You decide to talk to Naveen and mend things.

Ask one of your classmates to play the role of Naveen. What are the tools of communication that you will employ to ensure that you are back on pleasant terms with him again? List the key points that you would like to communicate to him.

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”; Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”.

The Faulty Official Interaction

You work in an engineering company and are part of a team that is involved in the detailed structural analysis of a switchyard at one of the company's projects. You are given the responsibility of getting the required data from the electro-mechanical department. You have a formal interaction session with them and come to an oral agreement about the information they would provide. As they are part of the same company, you do not think it is required for you to get a formal written agreement. Three weeks into the project, you are informed of a change in requirements by the electro-mechanical department, thus rendering your previous work completely useless. Your team leader Ankush is furious with you when he realizes that you haven't kept any written record of your discussions. You decide to talk to him, explaining what happened.

Ask someone from your group to play the part of Ankush. What are the main points you would like to convey to him and how will you do it? How will you ensure that this doesn't happen again?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 1, “Introduction to Business Communication”; Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”; Chapter 10, “Introduction to Business Writing”.

The Dilemma over E-mails

You work for a reputed financial firm and are good at your job. However, there is one problem that you face regularly. You can never be sure whether to use “I” or “we” while writing official e-mails. You prefer to write “we” but are aware that your teammates always use “I” even when there are other people working on that project with them. However, over a period of time, you realize that your manager, Farooq, has developed an opinion that you are not contributing as much as the other members of the team are. During your appraisal, he gives you the feedback that you are not stepping up to take enough responsibilities. You think this opinion stems from the fact that you use “we” in your mails. You decide to talk to Farooq and clear his misconception.

Choose one of your batchmates to play the part of Farooq. How will you convince him that you take enough responsibilities? As a hard working employee, how will you ensure that something like this is not repeated?

Chapters to go through before attempting this: Chapter 3, “Interpersonal Communication”; Chapter 10, “Introduction to Business Writing”; Chapter 12, “Business Letters, Memorandums, and E-mails”.