This is another assignment for the required class that I am taking with my internship. I know I haven’t posted journal assignments #2 and #3 but I thought the voice was too academic for my blog. I was planning on writing about this topic on my blog anyways so I decided to choose it for my “write about whatever you want” prompt.
You never know how useful even the most boring of business classes will be until you step into a real office. Taking Management and Organizational Behavior last semester seemed, at the time, like one of the biggest wastes of my time. Although we were studying different management theories and how to cope with different obstacles that come up in the workplace, I felt like it was all common sense. Nearly two months after my last management class, I honestly cannot say that I can remember the names of those theories or who came up with them, but I can say that I have observed how some of those ideas could have applied to the organization that I am working for this summer.
This past week at GE Healthcare has been quite a learning experience. We had a visitor who works on the Order-To-Remittance team in India. He works on the customer service side as a liaison between GE Healthcare’s customers and our logistics providers up the supply chain. On Monday I sat through a “workout” meeting between this representative from India and the distribution hub team. There appeared to many problems in the process of sending information and requests that are received by customer service to the distribution team. However, most of these problems could be resolved with clearer communication. At one point during the meeting someone said that if customer service would have just included a simple statement on the email that the issue would be resolved. In this case, communication issues seemed to be rooted practicing business across countries. While working in a global company, I have learned that each country has different laws, regulations, and business cultures. What may be the appropriate way to handle a situation in one region may not be appropriate for another. If these differences are not realized, then it creates problems in communication because each side does not know what the other needs. However, what really seemed to work out these problems was discussing them face-to-face. Of course working in a global company makes this difficult, but the benefits that are gained for the organization are worth it.
Communication seemed to be the theme for this week’s happenings. As my project matures, the time has come for me to start collecting input from customer service representatives from all the regions my process will eventually be implemented. I had the honor of presenting my work to the Indian representative in person and after positive feedback and some recommendations, my manager and supervisor assigned me to collect input from at least three other regions: Singapore, Korea, and China. Since we did not have the convenience of having visitors from these countries as well, I had to present my work to Singapore and Korea virtually through a screen share and teleconference. The Singapore meeting was quite a disaster. The implementation of my process would require them to change their work habits slightly. When I briefly overviewed what I would be presenting to them and they saw that they would have to change their procedures, they resisted. Without a proper introduction of what I had been working on, they were expecting me to address a different problem that my team was working on, but that I had no hand in. They started asking me questions that I did not have enough information to answer and in the end we decided to end the conference without even getting to the main topic of discussion. These occurrences really caused me to recall my management class’s topic of organizational change. In class, we learned that the best way to smoothly undergo a change in the workplace is clear communication and transparency. That did not seem to happen in this case. Where the communication failed here seemed to be in addressing the Singapore team on the goal and premise of my project. At times, I feel like I am working on this huge project that is supposed to be standardized across Asia but that the people who will actually be using the process have no idea that I am working on it or even that I exist. I do not want to put blame on my superiors for this but it does not seem like it should be my responsibility to inform the other regions on the project that was assigned to me. At the least, it should have been discussed previously rather than having it thrown at them by an intern. They would not be accepting of that.
Overall, I see communication as the biggest obstacle that faces big companies like GE Healthcare. There is too much specialization that no one knows what is happening in other areas of the business. There are just some things that you can read about in a textbook that will not seem important until you actually experience it. I will definitely take what I have learned this week with me as I move along my career path.
Update: I wrote this Thursday night, but Friday afternoon I had a rescheduled meeting with the Singapore team and they were much more receptive and helpful. We really had two-way communication as they gave me a lot of useful feedback that I would not have known otherwise. Once again, communication is key to uniting an organization behind a process change.