Unit J/617/1149 Communication Skills for Business

Unit J/617/1149   Communication Skills for Business

Level 4     15 Credits

The Senior Management Team (SMT) of a local medium-sized organization has become aware of communication problems within their organization.  Customers have been complaining of poor service, the Managing Director is appalled to see spelling errors in letters and now suppliers have refused to deliver further goods until they receive a response to their emails and phone calls about their outstanding invoices.

You work with a training consultancy, Training Solutions.  An experienced colleague, Asha Kumari, has established what the problems are in SHDE Holdings and you have been asked to deliver the proposed solutions.

Unit J/617/1149 Communication Skills for Business

You receive the following email and attached report from Asha.


To:              xxxxx

From          Asha Kumari


Subject       SHDE Holdings


I have recently visited SHDE Holdings and attach my report.  Please read this carefully.

I would like you to finish this project.   The business need a workshop on communication with some training materials (eg a manual or hand-outs) plus a report for SMT.  Please carry out the following tasks:

Task 1

Prepare a formal report for the senior staff and line managers at SHDE Holdings. (AC 5.1).  You will need to use charts and graphs to present information as appropriate to convey quantitative data (AC 5.3)

This report should include:

  1. An analysis of the process of communication within organisations (AC 1.1) and the barriers that exists within organisations meaning communication is sometimes not effective (AC1.3), giving examples from SHDE Holdings
  • An assessment of the methods of internal communication that should be used for different purposes (eg letter for formal communication with customers, telephone call for clarification of a complex matter, email for confirmation of detail).  Please support this with an assessment of what other organisations do and examples of that could apply to SHDE (AC 1.2)
  • An assessment of how organisations portray themselves through their communications.   What image does SHDE Holdings currently have?  Give an assessment of other organisations and the images they portray through their communications. (AC 2.3)

For a Merit you must:
provide guidance for SHDE, using examples of best practice from other organisations.  Make sure you:

  • Analyse possible legal and ethical issues in relation to the communication of information within organisations (AC 1M1)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of a range of communications (verbal and non-verbal) in contributing to the success of an organisation (3M1)

Task 2 

Design an oral presentation with supporting notes for the customer facing staff at SHDE Holdings. (AC 4.1).  Please include:

  1. Formal communications systems that should be used to communicate with customers.  Please evaluate different systems. (AC 2.1)
  • An analysis of the effectiveness of social media to communicate with customers.  Please use current examples (AC 2.2)
  • An assessment of the impact of relationships found in organisations on effective communications (AC 3.1)
  • An assessment of the impact of non-verbal communication on oral communications (AC 3.2)

For a Distinction you must:

Adapt your presentation materials to provide a summary to the Senior Management team – members need to know your key messages and the implications for the business. (AC4D1)

Task 3

Using appropriate technology, please deliver your presentation to staff at SHDE Holdings represented (AC 4.2).

For a Distinction you must:

Please deliver your adapted presentation to the Senior Management Team in the form of a paper for their next meeting (AC5D1)

Task 4

Please attend a meeting with me.  Using the written and oral communications from the tasks you have just completed, I will need you to:

  1. Assess the effectiveness of your oral presentation skills (AC 4.3)
  2. Review your own written communication (AC 5.4) including the conventions you have used bringing a paper on these subjects to the meeting (AC 3.4)
  3. Assess the impact of technology on both oral and written communications bringing a paper to the meeting (AC 3.3)
  4. Following our discussions, I wish you to produce notes of the meeting which accurately reflect our conversation(AC 5.2)

Report on SHDE Holdings

Asha Kumari

5 July

  1. Introduction

SHDE is an electrical supplier with a regional repair centres and shops.   The organisation is currently experiencing operational problems that are affecting customer satisfaction.  Many of these are outside the scope of this report.  Training Solutions has been asked to focus on communication issues both within the company and with suppliers and customers. 

  • Summary

SHDE Holding is an electrical company operating locally.  It has been established for 10 years.  However it is only in the past 3 years that their market has grown rapidly.  The turnover and payroll have tripled within the last year.  It is anticipated to grow by a further 100% within 3 years.

The business is currently experiencing high levels of customer complaints and staff turnover.   The communication difficulties exist in all areas and at all levels of the business.

Two solutions are proposed: a training session and a report to inform and influence SMT and line managers

  • Research method

During week commencing 15 June, a consultant from Training Solutions spent 3 days at SHDE Holdings.  The following research activities were carried out

  • Desk review of customer complaints
  • Desk review of policies and procedures
  • Interviews with 10 staff including the Managing Director, Operations Manager, 2 shop floor staff, 2 delivery staff, the HR Manager, one payroll assistant, the receptionist and the Premises Manager
  • Findings

SHDE Holdings has expanded rapidly in the past 3 years.  There has been a huge increase in complaints from both customers and suppliers.  Staff morale is low and staff turnover high. 

It is clear that this company value their customers and had a record of excellent internal and external customer relations.  The SMT are shocked to find that complaints have increased by 50% and staff turnover has increased to levels which are damaging to the business.  Members of SMT acknowledge that there is a communications issue within the company

The causes for complaints vary.  Only 3 % concern the product itself.   Over 55% of complaints concern delivery.  (Over 75% of these are about late delivery.  The remainder are about delivery to an incorrect address).   The delivery staff acknowledge these problems.  They are sent notes in the internal post about changes to delivery details – and by the time they receive them the package has often been dispatched.   Sometimes they are told about changes (verbally) and fail to write the information down.  There appears to be no formal system for communicating changes to orders.

25% of complaints concern poor face to face communication during the delivery of customer service on the shop floor.  Some complaints referred to rudeness.  One complaint made it clear that there was clearly conflict between staff on the shop floor.  Other issues include misunderstandings, the fact that the store only sends texts to advise of delivery times and many of the older customers do not use texting.  There are also poor English in written communications, appearance of staff and the tone of some of the communications received are inappropriate.

There are no formal communication policies and procedures.  As a result:

  • there is no protocol for answering the phone
  • complaints are often not acknowledged (and it may take some weeks for a formal response)
  • there is no standard protocol for internal communication – some use internal post, others use email or word of mouth
  • the company Facebook page was recently used to inform customers of product changes
  • suppliers are not dealt with consistently
  • there is no monitoring processes for external communications
  • communication between line managers and their staff is random.  There appear to be no regular meetings to disseminate and gather information.
  • The SMT do not meet regularly
  • Conclusions

The communication problems at SHDE Holdings affect all areas of the business.  All levels of staff are hindered by poor communications within the company and the customers are not served to the appropriate standards.  There is huge potential for the growth of this company but for this to materialise these issues must be addressed.

  • Recommendations
  • A series of training workshops is required for customer facing staff.  These workshops to be delivered to all staff and cover both internal and external communication
    • In order to improve performance SMT need to be advised of best practice in terms of organisational communication. A formal report for the senior staff and line managers at SHDE Holdings should be provided

Guidelines for assessors

The assignments submitted by learners must achieve the learning outcomes and meet the standards specified by the assessment criteria for the unit. To achieve a merit or distinction grade, the learners must demonstrate that they have achieved all the criteria set for these grades. Where work for the pass standard is marginal, assessors can take account of any extension work completed by the learners. The suggested evidence listed below is how learners can demonstrate that they have met the required standards. 

Task numberAssessment criteriaSuggested evidence
1.1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.3, 1M1, 3M1The learner must provide a structured report with graphs/charts which is appropriate for the intended audience. The report must deliver the requirements of the range of command verbs which are stated in the identified AC . To achieve a Merit and meet the specified standards the learner must provide an analysis of both legal and ethical issues in a range of organisations. The learner must specify the organisation used in the evaluation for 3M1 and produce a reasoned account which leads to balanced judgements.
2.2.1, 2.2 3.1, 3.2 4.1, 4D1The learner must produce an oral Presentation and presentation notes, which address the command verbs listed in the criteria.  There is no prescribed format for the presentation but it must be appropriate for the group of staff specified. The summary required to meet the standards for the Distinction grade does not have a prescribed format but must be appropriate for the stated audience.  Assessors must assess the oral presentation using an appropriate assessment template.
34.2 5D1This task requires the learner to deliver a clear oral presentation which must cover a range of  complex information. For the Distinction criterion the learner must adapt the information for the specific purpose stated. The assessment of the oral work should be completed on the appropriate assessment template.
43.3, 3.4 4.4, 4.3 5.2, 5.4The assessor will need to set up a meeting with individual learners.  The learner’s assessment and review must be thorough, accurate and systematic and be directly related to their individual performance. Learners should be able to understand and articulate successes and areas for development so this can facilitate improvements.   The notes of the meeting need to be structured and be an accurate account of what has taken place.