Workplace Communication Issue

Workplace Communication Issue

Communication in the workplace could be interpreted as a way of conversing between two or more employees. It could also be understood as non-verbal gestures between co-workers. The simple fact is that there are many different types of communication in the workplace. One could be a simple verbal conversation. Another could be an electronic email sent out to the entire company. Either of these can or could bring issues to a conflict as well as a resolution to a problem. Communication in the work place is, properly done, a vital role to success.

Intercultural communication in the work place is, or can be, difficult. Many situations deem a representative from one culture to converse with a member of another culture. Often the communications go smooth with a positive outcome. But, other times there is, or can be, a tension between the two cultures for any of the numerous possible reasons. In the days of political correctness a person can be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings or offend a person from another culture. Although communicating with other cultures can be heard, it is extremely important to succeed in business.

A home improvement goods manufacturing facility has many in house operations. Most of these operations are automated and do not require a large number of employees to operate. When a large number is required the operation is considered to be labor intensive. A product or product line that has been automated means that a large part or all of the process is completed by machines. This is a very cost effective option and the return on investment on the machinery is often less that five years. The problem is that one department is this manufacturing facility is very labor-intensive. The primary fault with being labor intensive is financial. Running a business fast and efficient with as few people as possible is considered running lean. To run a business lean is a vital role in being successful in a particular industry. With any problem there are, or could be, multiple solutions. In this case, the amount of robotic automation it would take to replace this labor intensive department would far out weigh the return on investment. So, another solution has been to turn the production of this high cost and labor intensive department over seas. Labor is more pennies on the dollar compared to the United States labor rates. Sounds like an easy fix? Well maybe not. As with any fob proper training and communication are important when transferring a product to a new department. The main problem there is that China and Tennessee are over 7,000 miles apart. It would not be cost effective to fly American trained workers to China to train them nor would it be cost effective to fly China workers over here to train. The language barrier is also a huge hurdle to cross. Although the early production in China has produced a large quantity of product, the quality is suffering dramatically. You must provide a quality product in business to survive. (Mapquest 2007)

The current process of communication between the two cultures is a bi-lingual manufacturing manager that is based in America but was born and raised in China. The communication issue therein is that he stays in China most of the time. Since the manufacturing manager is in China there is a huge communication gap in the transfer of knowledge and training on some of the products shipped to China to save on direct labor. There are many different
dialects within the Chinese language. The most spoken dialects are Mandarin (spoken by over 70% of the population), Wu (Shanghainese), Yue (Cantonese),Min,Xiang, Gan , and Haaka.

Non-Sinitic languages spoken by minorities include Zhuang (Thai), Mangolian, Tibetan, Uyghur (Turkic), Hmong and Korean. So you can see some of the obstacles of the communication barrier. When an issue arises, the manufacturing company communicates with the manufacturing manager in China by email. When that proves to be unacceptable, then a phone call is made. As you could imagine, it is very difficult to diagnose a problem via email or phone call. Also, when you figure in the amount of labor intensive work involved with some of the products, it proves to be almost impossible to define and rectify an issue over the internet or telephone. This is greatly affecting the quality of the product as well as the impression the manufacturing company makes on their customers. If your customers do not have faith in the quality of the products they buy from you the customer will buy the products elsewhere. A business has to have good customer relations to be successful. (Languages, 2005)

Many of the products are made of injection molded plastics, closely related to things such as Tupperware. Because the molded parts are run at such a high rate of speed many times there are small pieces of slag or extra plastic on the edges. The American manufacturing company is very aware of this problem. The transfer of knowledge to China has not been successful in dealing with the training of what the problem is and how to deal with it. By having slag on the plastic parts many times to left and right or top and bottom pieces do not make up and or make a seal. Not only does this create an issue on the cosmetics of the finished good but it also sometimes can even prevent the product from functioning at all.

As for the outcome of this problem, many parts of the issue still exsist. The manufacturing company has made many efforts to further train the China workers. One effort made was to take a unit that is being built in China and send completed steps over one piece at a time. This is done with extreme care and attention to detail. Along with each piece is a step by step direction sheet along with color pictures of how to assemble that particular step. This is a costly approach since most of the packages are going overnight from the United States to China.

However, when the costs are put to the side it appears that it may be working. Quality on the few products that this has been done to has improved dramatically.Communication in the workplace is a daily hurdle in all businesses. With the large number of American made products being outsourced to places like Mexico, China, and other countries, it is an ever growing issue that is going to have to be dealt with in American businesses more and more as the years go by. There are many variables that can make or break a business. I think that good communication with in the company as well as outside the company is the most important.


unknown, Retrieved July 4, 2007, from mapquest Web site:

unknown, languages 2005. Retrieved July 4, 2007, Web site: Languages. 2005. URL accessed 4 July 2007-07-05