Enabling Collaboration Through Enterprise Communication To Manage Change

Ankur Seth, Director, Maersk Global ServicesMaersk Global Services is one of the world's largest container shipping companies offering Shipping & Cargo Services, Supply Chain Services, Freight Forwarding, and Digital Solutions.

Every industry is going through fundamental change, some faster than the others. From the past we know almost 70 percent organizations don't survive. So, what distinguishes the survivors from the also ran? The answer is quite simple and something most leaders intuitively know, it's how well the leaders steer their teams through disruption while adapting to the market. It's all about Communication. It's not just external change though, even internally our workforce and their idea of a workplace is changing!

In fact, work is no longer a place but what you do. This change in mind set has been largely brought about by Enterprise Communication and associated technologies. As the composition of our workforce changes with multi-generational, even distributed workforce with differing needs, Enterprise communication provides the backbone for teams to work seamlessly together. We have been using a suite of products in Enterprise Communication to connect and work like VC, Skype, IMs for a while now. Yet have we evaluated if these will serve any organization in an industry going through disruption?

Before we go forward, let me clarify, this article is not intended as a critical think piece evaluating Enterprise communication architecture with desktop terminals, Voice, VoIP, CRM deep-dives. This piece puts the collaboration at the heart of the Enterprise Communications.

So, how should a change leader evaluate their Enterprise Communication apparatus to enable collaboration? There are few key themes to keep in mind beyond just technology and the budget:

1. Collaboration Enabled Through Enterprise Communication Catalyses Customers Experience: Customers keep our business going, yet they are also expecting more from organizations. On demand delivery, faster responsiveness, better resolutions, more choices and less touch points! Sounds a lot but these are key to customer experience management. A mere CRM and call centre doesn't cut it anymore. This requires a relentless focus on cross functional, cross team and
geographies collaboration to deliver a consistent Customer Experience. Not if an organization wants to thrive in a marketplace dominated by technology heavyweights like Amazons, Google and Netflix!

2. More is Not Less During Change: These days the phrase ‘Less is More' is quite famous especially in context of lifestyle/diet/driving large technology driven transformation with lesser human dependence etc. However, this is completely not effective for driving change or fire fighting. To innovate, it's not enough to just come up with big ideas, you also need to work hard to communicate them clearly. It's similarly important to build this feed forward and analytics in the Enterprise Communication apparatus to get a constant authentic pulse of the teams while going through change.

Designing an Enterprise Communication with Listening Architecture is often a game changer in change management

3. Both Formal and Informal are Equally Important: Its simple really, technology and shifting social composition has blurred lines between personal and ‘professional'. Communicating Change thus needs Enterprise Communication to enable not just formal 'Corporate-speak' but also socially! Mobility is a key need even by the workforce. White Collar or Blue Collar, full time resource or part time worker, regardless of who these people are, they all needs omni-channel Enterprise Communication avenues. It's one thing to lead-but yet another to be a strong, effective, and successful leader. Anyone can take charge, but you need the right tools and skills to be the best.

4. Organization Communication Style is Directly Linked with Leader's Inherent Style: Leadership profiles that lean towards being more social/extrovert seldom prefer a more informal/personalized communication. However, it's your own learning & people agility that's needed to strike the right balance between formal & casual communication. Basis my experience, it's a myth that in personal communication is far more effective than the more structured/formal one as overdose of which could dilute the essence of the message. While informal communication is excellent for creating relationships, those same communication flows can also present opportunities for rumors to spread. Because messaging is not pre - determined or controlled, it makes this event even more likely. The more 'Social' inherent style people need to be more careful about the content as things said in a casual way could be easily misunderstood & assumptions could be formed which could end up tarnishing one's own image.

5. Listen Well to Communicating Well: "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, it's also what it takes to sit down and listen," Winston Churchill. Today's fast paced, changing business environment mandates an organization should listen well in order to understand the complexity before responding. How easy is it for the customer to provide feedback, how quickly can our teams generating an insight through VoC platforms? It's not just limited to customers, but staff too. Listening fosters trust, respect, and openness. Allow people to air their gripes and complaints. And pay close, respectful attention to what is said - and what's left unsaid. Many epiphanies and business solutions have been reached thanks to a good listener's ability to pick up on a hidden gem. Designing an Enterprise Communication with Listening Architecture is often a game changer in change management.

While collaboration is not a new phenomenon, working together is the key to our success as a race, its well how do we collaborate that matters. A successful Enterprise Communication allows right people to come together at right time to make the right decision. When the dust settles, this is what really matters!