Reflections, Part 2

Reflections_2
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Iina

In this assignment, we were given the option to write either blogposts or a report on our findings of a company’s communication patterns. The company of choice was QC Immigration and we decided that we want to set up a blog and blog about our findings. I really like this idea since it is different and allows us to explore a new world of blogging. QC Immigration is a really small company, so I think what we found the most difficult was how do we get enough information for good posts; this was one of my thoughts in the beginning at least. However, after having the skype interview with the director and deciding who will focus more on what I think the text started to flow better and we got a chance to share everything we wanted to.

I personally find it amazing how this company manages so well with only a few employees. The director has so much responsibility and it was interesting to find out how she deals with almost everything. It was also interesting for me to see how the communication works there, our assumptions of their communication and the reality of it, what kind of a role social media plays in the company and how well the external communication REALLY works with the government, for example.

Overall it has been a pleasure doing this project and I am really happy that we decided to dive into the world of blogging a bit more with this project.


Nikita

The team certainly have succeeded with the project. The main goals of the analysis were achieved in the given time, what is the most important indicator of success. Here I want to emphasize several points that made our group task easy and enjoyable.

First of all, overall group organization of the project, and especially Eugenia’s contribution to contacting and arranging a meeting with the director, which made the work flow smoothly.

Secondly, each team member’s individual task was done well and on schedule. It has always been a pleasure to work with my colleagues throughout the year and this time was no exception.

Besides, the company was of a real interest to me and, I suppose, to all of the team members owing to its reputation, worldwide clients and location. This provided a greater incentive to get to know the company and proceed with the project.

In that way, we have not only covered the material about business communication and applied the theoretical knowledge to the real company in practice, but also encountered project management issues. Without doubt, the experience working on a project in a team will leave each of us with valuable experience and new knowledge after everything is done.


Svetlana

Our group project task consisted of discovering ways and effectiveness of communication in QC Immigration, a company providing visa and nationality services for individuals and businesses. Working on this project for four months, our team analysed various channels and tools used by the company to interact with its current stakeholders. The project helped me to learn how to communicate with the company representative in an ethical and friendly manner. In my opinion, the information provided by the firm is relevant to our future career. With the help of this project, I have a better understanding of how the communication not only with employees but with other interested parties should be held. The most essential part was the online conference with the director of QC Immigration – Qiyin Chuah through Skype. I have personally noticed her openness and the strong willingness to coordinate with students and new people. Although the company is relatively small, it was still a great practice for us to act as the real possible stakeholders of QC Immigration.

Moreover, I would like thank my team for the fruitful cooperation. We worked in the polite and friendly atmosphere, and divided all the tasks equally and helped each other in case of difficulties.

Furthermore, the assignment helped me to develop my personal communication and writing skills. Our team has chosen to represent all the data and analysis about the company in the form of a blog. It was an interesting and challenging experience for me to act as a blogger and write blogposts in an appropriate style.

The communication group project is a good way to familiarize with channels and ways real companies use to cooperate with employees and other stakeholders. It helps to develop effective team communication skills and get new and useful information for the future career of business students.

 

 

Reflections, Part 1

Reflections_1

Albertina

Writing a blogpost for this company project was firstly a pleasure and secondly a very interesting thing to do.

I have learned so much about QC Immigration since me and my colleagues started to do some research about the company and its communication methods.

I am very impressed how the director of QC Immigration can handle all the paper work by herself and only with the help of one to two employees. It is also interesting to see that even though this is a small company, it is still well-functioned.

After having an enjoyable interview via skype with the director, we had a better idea about this company. In addition, we advanced our understanding of the company as a legal firm and how it communicates with its stakeholders.

Our assumptions were really close to the reality which is interesting to me because at the beginning we weren’t that familiar with this company.

I really enjoyed the interview we had with the director and it kind of changed my point of view when it comes to being an entrepreneur. I always found it interesting being an entrepreneur but I never thought that it could be so phenomenal and even possible.

This task made me think about creating my own blog. I have never even thought about having my own blog but now I find writing blogposts very interesting and fun. I think that changes are actually not bad and we should always give it a try when it comes to once-in-a-life-time opportunities.


Mariia

During the implementation of the project and communication with the director of QC Immigration, we have encountered some challenges when organizing meetings. This happened for several reasons:

  1. The need to combine a tight working schedule of the director and our schedule of classes.
  2. different geographical locations (UK and Finland).

Despite the difficulties, we were able to find a convenient time and method of communication, which was the meeting via Skype. Another type of communication, through which we have interacted with the company, was the correspondence by email.

I believe that the usage of email is not very convenient in this kind of projects, because the information exchange process is slowed down significantly, while the contact person has to do double work. Emails, nevertheless, are effective for communication between two people or to establish a contact for the first time. I am satisfied with the results of our work. Communicating with the QC Immigration was an interesting experience, which helped me to understand the theoretical foundations of communication and see their practical application. I realized that the choice of the right channel of communication largely contributes to the success of the project. After learning from effective and ineffective communications with QC Immigration, I am convinced that I can make a better choice in terms of communication channels next time.


Eugenia

In my opinion, the objective of this company project is twofold. One concerns the understanding of a company’s communication patterns and methods and the company in our case is QC Immigration. The other concerns how to communicate effectively among team members. Being the contact person between the director and other team members is never easy. It took me some time, for instance, to arrange a convenient time for both the director and other team members to have an interview. However, with the help of communication software (such as Whatsapp and Facebook messenger), I was able to speed up the process whenever I wanted to or had to communicate with my team members.

Besides, I think that the interview with the director went really well. It was partially because we did some background research on QC Immigration as well as consulted communication-related literature before the interview. By doing this, we could come up with the questions leading to the key information we would like to know. Despite the fact that the information we got from the director is not as much as we had expected, I personally am very satisfied with the results.

 

 

Formal and Informal Communication

Difference between formal and informal communication

The difference between formal and informal communications has nothing to do with whether the communication is “grammatical” or “ungrammatical”. It is register that distinguishes formal from informal communications and it includes tone of voice, vocabulary and syntax. In our everyday life, we tend to use different register in different situations. For example, when we write or speak to professors, we would be more careful about what we write and speak and thus tend to use a relatively formal style. When we write or speak to our family members or close friends, we usually write or speak in a casual manner and tend to use a relatively informal style. So, what makes formal communication different from informal ones? There are three general conventions:

1. Conservative language
In formal style, noun-pronoun agreement should be taken into consideration. For instance, we use “everyone has his or her own weakness” instead of “everyone has their own weakness”. However, it should be noticed that “everyone has their weakness” is more or less accepted nowadays due to the requirement of gender-free language.

2. No contractions
The use of contractions should be avoided in formal style. For example, “I cannot attend the meeting” is more formal than “I can’t attend the meeting”.

3. Restrained style
Slangs and colloquial terms should also be avoided in formal communications, as they are more casual and less serious.

Formal communications are usually in a written format, which indicates that the information given is more precise and less likely to be misunderstood. They are however more bureaucratic and require longer time to receive feedback. Informal communications, usually in an oral format, are more personal and allow two-way communication. They are also helpful to create a harmonious and cooperative relationship among workers. However, as informal communications are mostly oral, it is difficult to trace information if required.

The case of QC Immigration

In the previous blogpost, we talked about QC Immigration’s internal communications and they belong to the category of informal communication. Considering that QC Immigration is a small-sized legal company, communications between the director and employees or among employees are usually face-to-face and oral. Such communications allow them to give immediate feedback and are more time efficient.

Gmail

When communicating with its clients, on the contrary, QC Immigration prefers formal style in order to maintain its professional image. In our email communications with the director, she tended to use formal style as well. For example, in one of our email threads, she avoided using contractions (we will instead of we’ll). Moreover, all the emails from the director end with the name of the company, its contact information, as well as confidentiality disclaimer. The function of confidentiality disclaimer is to mitigate the risk a confidential email may be forwarded to a third-party recipient and ask the third-party recipient to delete the message, as he or she is not the authorised recipient. It is also the risk that QC Immigration, as a legal company, wants to avoid.

Company letterhead-QC

With regards to the communication between QC Immigration and governmental institutions, they are also formal. The communication method, however, is rather limited and the communicaitons are usually done by traditional letters. QC Immigration has its own letter format, with its logo in header, as well as company name, contact information and its registration number in footer. According to the director, its communications with its regulator and governmental institutions are basically one-way and not very frequent (a couple of times per year). The director also mentioned that it always takes a lot of time for her to receive response from government officials, no matter whether she sends the message through emails or traditional letters.

Social Media: Communiting with the World

As briefly mentioned in the previous post about the assumptions versus reality, we touched upon the social media sites that QC immigration uses. They have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and their own website, which we are going to take a better look at in this post. Social media is a great platform for companies to promote themselves and get involved with their clients or audience. It would be surprising to find a company without any social media sites. So often we see big companies using media for marketing purposes and being good at it, but smaller companies tend to pay less attention to social media and may even consider it unnecessary for their business. Time might be the reason, as smaller companies usually have only few employees and do not have additional personnel responsible for social media. This is also the case with QC immigration, as they have only one regular employee and occasionally they may have more if they take interns. But even then, the number of employees is still not enough for social media additional to day-to-day tasks. The director, Ms. Qiyin Chuah, is instead responsible for updating their social media sites. The information given on these sites is mainly about updates on the law or discussions or tips on what is good and what is bad. They also include information about the European law and possible consequences.

Website

QC Website

This is a picture from QC Immigration’s website (http://qc-immigration.com/). Here they have all the basic information about the company, such as where it is located, how it was founded, what kind of services they provide, testimonials, latest news, as well as how to contact them. The design of the website is outsourced to related professionals and the website is not updated very often due to a lack of labor force. Sometimes the director does change something in the text but not the layout. On the website they have quotes from their clients to give an idea of what to perhaps expect, and there is also a chance to contact QC immigration by leaving a message.

QC Website_2

The news section provides a lot of important information about new regulations or some aspects you might have to take into account when seeking for their help. By giving this information to the audience, the clients can already identify the assistance they need from QC Immigration, which in turn saves the director time because she doesn’t have to answer the same questions that are already provided on the website.

 

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Facebook and Twitter are used for passing on information and they are not very actively used. The posts by QC Immigration on both Facebook and Twitter are usually identical, as not all of the audience is going to be using only one, so posting the same information on both sites is more likely to guarantee that the followers will see what is posted. Most of the posts include links, so even on twitter with 140-character limit, the audience won’t miss any important information. Here’s an example of the same post on both social media platforms. As I mentioned before, the posts are mostly articles relating to either law, immigration issues and news or something that the company is doing, for example the director gave a speech at an event.

Qiyin Chuah, the director of the company also uses LinkedIn, and she mentioned in the interview that LinkedIn is the platform in which she is more actively engaged. This is more of an individual page and is not related to the company as such.

QC LinkedIn

As for the use of social media, there could definitely be improvements, but at the moment they simply don’t have enough employees and time to actively manage social media for marketing purposes. Perhaps in the future this could be a more relevant issue and some changes could be made, but for now it works perfectly fine as it is.

 

Internal Communication and Areas of Improvement

InternalIn the today’s world, firms tend to target efficient external communication with their customers, partners, investors and so on. Nevertheless, many people may take internal communication for granted, yet it is internal communication that drives day-to-day businesses and make firms productive. Fast flow of information among employee’s structure (for example, from upper management to the project team), different modes of communication, coordinated team work – all of them help firms function effectively. In this article, we are going to explain ways of internal communication and areas of future improvement by using QC Immigration as the example.

Employee Communication is the basic and a facilitating strategy for firms to achieve business goals and improve their overall performance. A good atmosphere within a firm also helps to build a reputation and a strong brand name. QC Immigration is a small-sized legal firm with only three workers (including the director herself) working in the office. As the primary objective of QC Immigration is to help and serve its clients, there are various communication methods that QC Immigration can use between workers.

Of course, the most common type of the communication in QC Immigration is Face-to-Face (F2F) connections. This way of communication allows workers discuss issues without wasting time waiting and receive the feedback straightaway. As QC Immigration is relatively a small firm, F2F communication is the easiest, fastest and the most effective way for the employees of the company to interact with each other.

Moreover, nowadays it is difficult to imagine the communication without the usage of emails, social media sources and calls. Calls through phone or Skype is the second main type of the communication used in QC Immigration. It helps to reach people even if he or she is not in the office or ill, or when it is necessary.

Besides, email is a highly effective tool for the internal communication in the company. Of course, it cannot replace face-to-face communication but still, emails are really convenient and not restricted to time and location. In QC Immigration, emails are used to share basic information among workers. For example, overall notifications concerning changes are sent by emails. Generally speaking, emails to QC Immigration are convenient, easy and cost-effective.

Despite the size of the company, improving the way of internal communication has always had a significant impact on the overall performance. An effective communication in the company helps to increase employee engagement and cooperation, as well as save time and money. After analysing the current communication status of QC Immigration, we came up with some ideas, hoping to help QC Immigration improve its internal communication.

Setting Regular Processes to Save Time
The creation of the rule, such as communicating every morning for 5 minutes, can save time of sharing the information and keep workers informed.

Online Meetings
Boring, time-wasting meetings are one of the characteristics of almost every company. Nowadays online meetings can significantly save time and help to engage workers. Taking into account that some workers in QC Immigration are temporary or part-time trainees/interns, as well as that the director may not be in her office all the time or even outside UK, online meetings are very helpful to reach everyone and make sure that all the tasks are in progress.

Employee Survey
It is a great way to get to know all the difficulties employees face during the communication process. Also, they easily can point out the areas of improvement or obstacles in sharing the information.

In today’s society, being competitive does not mean having the latest or up-to-date technologies, but getting people engaged. Based on the interview with the director, we know that QC Immigration is a small-sized company having few employees working in a friendly environment. Face-to-face communication and emails are widely practiced in this company. Nevertheless, new rules and an active involvement of technologies into internal communication processes might help the further development of the company.

Source: http://www.madhavighare.com/communication/internal-communication-bridging-the-internal-gaps

QC Immigration and Its Stakeholders

Basic Information of QC Immigration

QC Immigration is a legal firm based in central London’s Westminster area near the Home Office and Houses of Parliament. The director, Ms. Qiyin Chuah, has a decade of legal experience. She is a Law and International Business graduate and leads a team of dedicated experts. The client following ranging goes from high net worth investors to vulnerable families. The client base is quite diverse and worldwide, which means that QC Immigration has not only clients from Asia, but also from Europe, Africa, USA, Australia and the Middle East. In addition, the firm provides mentoring and training regularly, as well as provides supervision to other lawyers and firms in assisting their pursuit of similar successes.

Stakeholders of QC Immigration

In our very first post, we have already explained why we were interested in QC Immigration for our company case in the first place, as well as our assumptions about, for example, its potential stakeholders, communication medium and communication patterns. After having an enjoyable interview with the director of QC Immigration, we have advanced our understanding of QC Immigration as a legal firm and how it communicates with its stakeholders. Therefore, we are going to reveal what we have learnt from the interview and this particular post mainly focuses on the stakeholders of QC Immigration.

Internal vs External

  1. Internal Stakeholders

Employees and/or shareholders

Before the interview, we assumed that QC Immigration may have to deal with employees and possibly other shareholders. Yet in reality, the director is the sole shareholder of QC immigration. Considering the internal stakeholders of QC Immigration, the director has one regular employee working for her in the office and may have more than one if she has interns. Based on the number of employees, we can see that QC Immigration is a small-sized firm.

  1. External Stakeholders

Clients

Before the interview, we assumed that QC Immigration primarily deals with clients from China or Asian countries. However, in reality, the nationality of QC Immigration’s clients is rather diverse—ranging from, in addition to Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South Americas, to the Middle East. Its clients can be immigrants who extend their stay in the UK or foreigners who are looking to migrate to the UK.

Governmental Institutions

Due to our unfamiliarity of the governmental structure in the UK, we only assumed that QC Immigration, since it helps its clients apply for UK citizenship, must communicate and take governmental institutions into consideration without specifying which government institution QC Immigration has to deal with. We were told by the director that QC Immigration’s external stakeholders with regard to governmental institutions include Offices of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) and Home Office. OISC is the office that regulates immigration advisers to ensure that all immigration advisers are fit and competent, and act in the best interest of their clients. In other words, OISC is the regulator of QC Immigration. The Home Office refers to those governmental department of UK responsible for immigration and border controls.

Business Associates
As indicated above, QC Immigration is a small legal firm and it sometimes needs assistance from professionals in other fields. They could be accountancy experts or lawyers specialized in other areas of law.

General Public

In today’s business world, communication with the public is considered as an important skill. If the firm is able to properly manage its communication with the general public, it may attract more customers or clients on the one hand and maintain a friendly image on the other. QC Immigration, without exception, is also dedicated to respond to the general public and potential clients. The media for this purpose include QC Immigration website, Twitter, Facebook page, as well as the director’s personally LinkedIn account.

Effective Business Communication

Effective Communication

What is communication? What is effective communication? What is business communication and related challenges confronting a firm? How can effective business communication impact a firm? For the questions above, our group is going to study QC Immigration, a legal firm based in London to find out the answers. But before we dive into the specific communication patterns of QC Immigration, we need to have a glance on the theoretical part of business communication and its implications.

Foundations of Communication

Communication is basically the exchange of meanings between a sender and a receiver. In order for the sender to transmit his/her meaning, he/she should encode it in any sort of language and then transfer the message via a medium.

The media might be either rich or lean. “Richness is a medium’s ability to (1) convey a message through more than one informational cue (visual, verbal, vocal), (2) facilitate feedback, and (3) establish personal focus”, whereas leanness would be the opposite. In that way, media ranges from face-to-face communication and conferences to letters, reports and databases (Bovée and Thill, 2014).

Effective Communication

So what would be effective communication in terms of everything described above? —when the receiver gets the message quickly, decodes it easily, and interprets it as it was intended by the sender. Everything that would interfere in the said process is considered as noise. This may include wrong channel chosen, poor language in general, or just the sender’s lack of understanding of his or her own idea. Besides, one of the most fundamental sources of noise may lie in the differences of the sender and the receiver in their personal, professional and cultural background. Eventually, noise interference may draw meaning misinterpretation, distortion or even loss, inducing communication ineffectiveness. Nevertheless, there is a possibility and actually a definite need for noise identification and elimination, or at least noise contraction. For the most part, this is done by the sender employing the audience-centered approach when coming up with a meaning, encoding and transmitting (Bovée and Thill, 2014).

Business communication

Business communication specifically might be broken into several other terms. Firstly, business communication is either internal or external. Internal communication would include any inter-employee communication – vertical (e.g., from a manager to his/her subordinates) or horizontal (e.g., from manager to manager in other department), formal or informal. External communication is the firm’s communication with the stakeholders other than its employees—owners, government, competitors, customers, suppliers, and so on. The list might never end, but it is anyone who might have a stake in a firm’s doings (Bovée and Thill, 2014).

Challenges Unique to Business Communication

Apart from the fundamental noise interference described earlier there are several other communicational challenges specific to the world of business.

First of all, it is the globalization of the world and business and the increase in the workforce diversity, which leads to higher productivity, but requires a more conscientious approach to communication to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

The increasing value of business information is another challenge confronting companies today. “No matter what the specific type of information, the better you are able to understand it, use it, and communicate it to others, the more competitive you and your company will be” (Bovée and Thill, 2014). In addition, the Big Data phenomenon requires the businesses to work with higher velocity, variety and volume of information facing the problems of data veracity at the same time (IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub, n.d.).

The pervasiveness of technology, which vastly enhances efficiency, requires the basic skills and knowledge in modern systems and tools. Staying up-to-date or allocating funds on technology is another challenge a business may face in this field.

The specific organizational structure and leadership style in a firm would provide specific communicational challenges to a firm. Be that a tall or a flat structure, a matrix structure or a virtual organization, all of them have communicational weaknesses both internally and externally.

Besides, all businesses, no matter they are traditional or innovative, cannot avoid teamwork, which can lead to another set of challenges due to the complex nature of group communication (Bovée and Thill, 2014).

Why Bother?

Now let’s consider just some of the benefits a business gets when working on its communication effectiveness. According to Bovée and Thill (2014), it provides

  • closer ties with important communities in the marketplace;
  • opportunities to influence conversations, perceptions, and trends;
  • increased productivity and faster problem solving;
  • better financial results and higher return for investors;
  • earlier warning of potential problems, from rising business costs to critical safety issues;
  • stronger decision making based on timely, reliable information;
  • clearer and more persuasive marketing messages; and
  • greater employee engagement with their work, leading to higher employee satisfaction and lower employee turnover;

Certainly, some companies have already had an effective communication system, while some need to spend some time tailoring its communication patterns. In today’s business world, a strong weakness in business communication can eventually prevent firms from competing in the market. It is therefore necessary to continuously check if there is any noise interference, channels’ outdatedness, or any other problems concerning communication.

References

Bovée, C. L. and Thill, J.V., 2014. Business Communication Today. Harlow: Pearson.

IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub, n.d. The Four V’s of Big Data. [online] Available at: <http://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/infographic/four-vs-big-data> [Accessed 14 April 2016].