Managing Communications Knowledge Information
Decision making Sources Stakeholder engagement
London School of Business and Management
Table of Contents
Task 1. 3
Gatwick airport, located south of London is a second largest international airport and the second busiest in the United Kingdom. It is a leading airport for point to point flights, with a single runway and is operated by a consortium of investors (Gatwick 2015). With the increasing congestion at U.K.’s main airport – Heathrow, there are discussions going on about expansion of airports or developing new airports with Gatwick airport getting interest from government and other stakeholders as having potential for increasing the facilities in future. The present report considers the management of information, communication and knowledge as a part of the decision-making by the airport managers and provides recommendations to improve the systems relating to information and knowledge.
As a major economic hub, Gatwick airport managers are required to take decisions on a daily basis that are of short-term in nature, which can be considered programmed decisions or repetitive positions affecting the routine operations. These routine or programmed decisions are required in the operational area of the airport where information has to come from a range of sources, both internal and external (Robson 1997). The airport managers have to take daily decisions about planning aircraft movements, service equipment arrivals and departures, alerts, customer moment and so on. At the same time airport managers have to take decisions which are non-programmed or unstructured that require custom-made solutions for non-recurring problems. Some examples are longer-term investments required in airport facilities, identifying the risks and taking precautions, adopting strategies against competition, introducing technological changes and so on.
A range of information and knowledge are required by the management for effective decision-making. Some examples are the overall traffic volumes, strategy of the airlines, the mix and type of traffic at the airport, competition from other airports, regulatory and government policy. This information, which can be qualitative or quantitative, required for strategy, tactical or operational decision-making can come from a range of sources, both internal and external to the airport.
The appendix 1 provides the information required by the industry and specifically for Gatwick airport for effective decision-making and various characteristics of the information into different classifications. Taking examples, information about passenger traffic is required at more operational and tactical levels, which would be real-time, hourly and daily basis, in an aggregated quantitative form. The passenger information is used for planning and controlling and it is internal to the airport. However the same kind of passenger information is required at strategic level, where the information would be historical, aggregated or sampled and used for planning purposes. This would be monthly information collected by the airport about the number of passengers travelling through the airport. Similarly the performance of airlines operating from the airport is required at a strategic level, which would be informal and more qualitative. Gatwick airport has to consider the aircraft noise levels and hence it measures the noise levels on a real-time, hourly and daily basis, aggregated and sample information. However, this information is more useful for strategic and tactical purposes rather than operational.
With the help of available information, decisions are made about passenger handling facilities, improvements in technology required, changes in the number of employees required, increasing the number of suppliers, decision-making on new investments and so on.
An airport has a large number of stakeholders, both internally and externally and all the stakeholders are sources of information. The internal sources of information can be from the employees, suppliers and customers. The external sources of information will include competition data, economic conditions, regulations and so on. Taking an example, the financial reports of the airlines operating from Gatwick airport is a source of information about the performance of these airlines, which can be used for strategic decision-making.
Several recommendations can be given to improve data collection and analysis of information at Gatwick airport. In particular airport can improve the data collection from internal sources and use it for strategic decision-making.
The volume of traffic and mix of traffic at an airport is an important variable which has a lot of risk and uncertainty (Kincaid 2012). The total passengers, type of aircraft in operations and the mixture of passengers catered to by the airlines from the airport have implications on the future development of the facilities and the operations (Adler and Berechman 2001). A reduction in the passenger traffic, especially certain sections such as business class passengers can lead to underutilisation of certain facilities. An increase in the number of passengers flying low cost airlines can lead to lower profit levels (Alamdari and Fagan 2005). Hence the passenger mix is an important available which can be a leading indicator of the future changes to be adopted in the airport such as the type of airlines that may be attracted to the airport and a strategy of these airlines. However there is a risk in merely depending upon the mixture of passenger volumes as they would be due to seasonal effect and variations which has to be included in statistical modelling.
The appendix 2 provides the various stakeholders, along with the description their role and activity, knowledge, commitment levels and resources in terms of decision-making with regards to expansion plans at Gatwick airport. According to Chaffey and Gareth (2011) the stakeholders will vary depend upon the type of decision making. The stakeholder analysis matrix is formulated considering the decision-making process connected with the expansion of Gatwick airport. Further to the analysis of the stakeholders, a power and interest matrix with the level of interest and power on two axes is developed categorising the different stakeholders in the following figure.
With respect to the decision about the expansion plans or approval for the expansion plans of Gatwick airport, the key players are the airlines, central government which involves the regulatory authorities, the members of Parliament and the councilors. These are the players that have to be given highest consideration as they have veto power over the proposals. The category C stakeholders although passive exert the power over the category D stakeholders and hence the business groups and the media have to be satisfied through a stakeholder engagement plan and strategy. The category B stakeholders are community groups and local communities, which has the potential to move as category C stakeholder as a collective and exert power and hence have to be proactively addressed while they have low power.
|Category A Minimal effort||Category B Keep Informed|
|Category C Keep Satisfied||Category D Key Player|
|Members of Parliament, district and county councilors|
Table 1 – Power and interest matrix
Source – adapted from various sources
A detailed engagement plan has been developed by Gatwick airport in terms of its own expansion plans. As a result several strategies have been developed, formal and informal to develop the business relationship with the stakeholders involving them in various areas of decision-making. These key engagement strategies are outlined below.
Airlines are the most important stakeholders for the airport and under the stewardship of Gatwick Area Transport Forum, a collaborative approach has been maintained with the airlines, local authorities, regional and national government.
The airport management can host a workshop which includes the B and C stakeholders and provide the vision and mission of the airport which would be a public relations campaign. The objective of the mission workshop would be to sensitivise the category C and D stakeholders about the importance of the expansion of Gatwick airport.
The expansion of Gatwick airport will have an effect on the environment, especially noise levels, quality, biodiversity, water management, quality of life, housing and economy. All these are the factors which are under active consideration by a range of stakeholders and hence Gatwick airport needs to address concerns individually and collectively with the stakeholders.
The airport can regularly publish an action plan on noise control and the way it manages the aircraft noise which can be provided to the stakeholders. Public events can be conducted from where feedback can be taken from the general public, which includes category D stakeholders who has to be kept informed about the action plan of Gatwick airport concerning noise levels, air quality, water management and housing.
While air quality, noise, water management are some negative factors connected with the current activities and the proposed expansion at Gatwick airport, with respect to economy, there are positive aspects, which can be proactively propagated to the main stakeholders, particularly the category C and D stakeholders. The representatives from business organisations and media can be involved in the engagement plan where the aspects can be discussed and decided.
Gatwick airport provides large employment opportunities and it can partner with the educational institutions in the surrounding areas to improve the relationships with the individual and community level stakeholders, especially in the nearby areas
Figure 1 – Stakeholder engagement at Gatwick
Source – Gatwick (2015)
The selected organisation is a manufacturer of aerospace components for major aerospace companies around the world, hence having customers in different parts of the world, especially Europe and the United States. As a part of the communication process, the marketing department has to utilise long-range conferencing facilities through videoconferencing, teleconference and the written communications through email. Large parts of the communications at the company are through email and telephonic conversations. Apart from the communications to the customers, there are internal communications with weekly meetings conducted mainly by the top managerial staff of the company.
Although majority of the communications are in English, the differences in accent often causes problems including videoconferencing and teleconferencing. Further the cultural differences affect the email communications of the company, along with the time difference. One of the reasons for the difficulty in verbal communications between the marketing team and the customers would be the assumptions of understanding by the receiver on the part of the sender and the difference in the decoding of message and its interpretation of meaning by the receiver (Curtis and Cobham 2008). According to Bocij et al., (2008) communication is a systematic sharing of information with the focus on interpersonal relations between the people and since marketing department have do ensure that their messages are getting across to the customers, the adopt mostly electronic systems.
The drawbacks in the existing process of communication are the lack of personalisation in the direction of communication and the medium used in the communication. The employees in the marketing department has to be provided training to understand the cultural values of their senders to ensure that there is clarity of message and less jargon in the messages they are sending as emails. The language used in the emails should be concise and precise and there should be a follow up of the email with an oral message to convey the exact message to ensure that there is no contrast between the sender and the receiver.
They employees should also be trained to reduce the number of emails they send out. One of the current problems observed at the company is the number of emails sent out by the employees especially through email. It is a good practice to always respond or reply to emails rather than starting a new thread of email message to ensure that there is continuity of communication. The senders and the receivers, both can scroll down their emails and read and find out what has been discussed or communicated previously. Starting a new email thread would be like a new conversation starting up, which would make it difficult for both the senders and the receivers to process the communication.
A personal audit of the skills related to communication was conducted following which a development plan was instituted. The various key communication skills are interpersonal skills, listening skills, feedback skills and presentation skills (Johnson et al., 2011). The author has good interpersonal communication skills and has been able to communicate really well, essentially in problem-solving situations in both private and professional lives. However, it was found that listening skills has been taken for granted, which will come under interpersonal skills as listening is not the same as hearing (Lynch 2004) and should be considered as a particular skill. Although author’s interpersonal skills are good, it was felt that the listening skills are less developed and has to be improved. On discussions with colleagues and peers, the author feels that the feedback skills, especially developing and keeping the relationship. Finally it was felt that the presentation skills have to be improved especially in front of a formal group setting.
|Communication Skills Audit|
|Interpersonal skills||Interpersonal skills are also social skill, people skill and soft skills. Good interpersonal skills can improve the relationship with the supervisors and the subordinates are clear, positive and assertive in communicating with others to improve effectiveness.|
|Listening skills||Listening skills are important for interpersonal communication. Listening skills improve the ability to think during communication, paying attention to the wider aspects of what is communicated. This is important when dealing with customers and employees in the organisation.|
|Feedback skills||In every organisation, when dealing with employees, feedback has to be provided to them to improve their effectiveness and performance. This has to be done by the manager at every point to ensure better performance of the overall organisation and the team. Specific and timely feedback is necessary for improving performance, which improves the team cohesion.|
|Presentation skills||Presentation is communication adapted to various speaking situations (Adler et al., 2001). Preparation, organisation, using visual aids, managing and dealing with the questions are all essential elements of presentation. Presentation skills are required for managers to deal with customers.|
Table 2 – Communication Skills Audit
|Strengths in communication|
|Interpersonal skills||Interpersonal skills are required for managers when dealing with employees and customers of the organisation. Good interpersonal skills can strengthen the performance and management of people. Interpersonal skills improve the awareness of one and others during conversation which can be effectively put the use at work.|
|Verbal communication||Verbal communication is necessary, especially in the modern world where a majority of the work has to be conducted in organisations under multicultural settings and with people speaking different languages. Effective verbal communication improves the clarity of messages. In a role as a manager, effective verbal communication is required to ensure that the messages are getting through to the employees and hence to ensure their improved performance.|
|Non-verbal communication||Non-verbal communication is most noticed, by the receiver and body language is constantly speaking. Facial expressions and expression of feelings contribute to better attitude and reinforce the verbal messages. Since the manager always have to deal with their employees, non-verbal communication is important to ensure that the messages sent out is confident, full with emotion and with attitude.|
|Weaknesses in communication skills|
|Poor listening skills||The weakness in poor listening can be minimised by trying to concentrate when others are speaking, keeping an open mind, be attentive and not interjecting the speaker. It is essential to give the speaker regular feedback, which can improve the listening skills in a timely manner. Further to improve the listening skills it is planned to take up an online course, over the Internet through video completed over a period of two months.|
|Poor presentation skills||Poor presentation skills can reduce the effectiveness of communicating in groups. Presentation skills can be improved by accessing better technical methods like PowerPoint. Due to do better non-verbal and written skills, whatever needs to be presented can be incorporated into a PowerPoint, which then can be read out to the group. The presentation can be rehearsed in front of others before actual presentation to improve the skill.|
Table 3 – Strengths and weaknesses in communication skills
In conclusion the strong areas are interpersonal skills with strong written communication skills, feedback skills, non-verbal communication and will direct one-to-one communication. The weak areas of the author with related to communication are poor listening skills and poor presentation skills in front of a group. The following objectives had been planned as a part of improving the communication skills.
|Communication skills Development objective||Specific action for each objective||Possible barriers and how they will be addressed||Resources or
|improve the listening skills||Online course for English-language speakers and is between a tutor and the student directly communicating through the medium of Internet (through video)||Lack of time, which can be addressed by the flexibility of the course over internet||Internet, computer, time||2 months|
|presentation skills||Enroll in a communication skills programme (classroom delivery). present ideas to a large group of individuals in a classroom, with a trained person leading and moderating the presentation along with providing insights about improvement||Lack of time, conflict with working hours. Addressed by the weekend programme.||Time, course fees||1 Month|
Table 4 – Communication skills Development
To improve the listening skills, the author plans to take up online course, which has already been identified and which runs for a period of two months. The online course is particularly suited for English-language speakers and is between a tutor and the student directly communicating through the medium of Internet (through video). Once the course is completed in the next two months, the author will conduct another skills audit and gain feedback from the peers and colleagues to find out more improvement areas.
To improve the presentation skills, especially in front of a group, the author plans to enroll in a communication skills programme which is conducted over a one-month period over the weekends. This is a classroom programme where the students are led to present themselves and their ideas to a large group of individuals in a classroom setting, with a trained person leading and moderating the presentation along with providing insights about improvement.
The organisation under study gains information from external and internal sources. The external sources provide raw facts or data which is converted to processed information. Examples of such data are customer feedback about product and services, which are usually collected by the representatives (sales executives) of the organisation, qualitatively as well as quantitatively. The qualitative information is handed over to the managers for further dissemination in a condensed format through written reports after customer visits. The quantitative information is collected in the form of a survey from the customers, which is then processed and usually stored in the centralised database of the organisation for dissemination to relevant managers especially at the higher levels in the organisation. The data collected by each department is stored in their own filing systems and most of the current practice of information storage is through physical paper files rather than coded digital data. The organisation also has monthly review meetings where the data from various departments are put together, which is processed by each department to be disseminated to the right people for effective decision-making.
In the current system, there is no organised way of data collection, its processing and conversion to knowledge. The data from the operational level is converted for decision-making at managerial levels, which is then converted for decision making and strategic levels. The operational level systems include transaction processing systems such as production data and sales data. This transaction systems data is converted to management information system for monthly meetings and dissemination to various other departments. However there is no decision support system or executive support systems in the organisation.
New products are entering the market and the company is considering accessing new customers by developing new products. In alignment with this the organisation requires effective decision support system to conduct the pricing of products, which is required at the management level. To determine the price of products and services offered to the customers, it is recommended that the present transaction process system, especially the production data which will include the various costs and prices of the production is developed into an analytical model to ensure that new products can be priced immediately and effectively in a short period enabling the marketing department to quote immediately to new enquiries. Currently the organisation has an extensive process where data is collected from different departments about the cost involved in the production and sales of a new product which is collected from the design department, sourcing department and the production department whenever each new enquiry arises. In order to improve the present processes the recommendation is to periodically collect the costs and price of the various raw materials and the production methods which can be incorporated either into an Excel sheet or a customised software, to which new production or product data can be entered which will then provide automatic pricing details.
The proposed strategy requires the initial collection of huge data from the sourcing department, production department and the design department about the cost involved in the production of products currently produced by the company. To improve the ability of the company to quote immediately without any delay, the recommendation is to either design software which automatically gives the pricing once the relevant and very necessary data is entered. To implement the system the following strategy is proposed.
- An initial meeting with the heads of the design, sourcing, finance and production department.
- The meeting to set up a matrix-based team where individuals are selected from each department to identify the various important aspects of costing in the production of products.
- The individual selected from the different departments to find out the relevant methods, processes, raw materials and other inputs going into the production process.
- The matrix team from the different departments to meet and finalise on the most relevant factors to be considered in the pricing of new products and new quotes.
- The team to decide on either outsourcing or conducting the software development in-house.
- The software developed has to be tested based on the current products and for new quotes or about new product enquiries.
- Once the software is validated it can be test run for a period of two months and given to the marketing department for immediately raising pricing data for new enquiries.
With the above implementation strategy, with a new pricing system, which provides the pricing of new products immediately rather than after a lag, the organisation can target new customers as the new enquiries can be quoted immediately without any time delay.
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Gatwick Airport (2015) Engagement Strategy, available online at http://www.gatwickairport.com/globalassets/publicationfiles/business_and_community/all_public_publications/second_runway/airports_commission/gatwick_appendix_a23_engagement_strategy.pdf
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|Type Of Aircraft||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Global, Regional And Local Economic Conditions||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Performance Of Airlines||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Competition From Other Airports||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Regulatory Environment Policy||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Social And Cultural Factors||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Aircraft Noise Levels||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Airlines||Airlines are primarily dependent upon Gatwick airport, is supportive of improving the facilities at the airport.||Airlines operating from Gatwick will get improved facilities once the expansion is undertaken.||Airlines operating from Gatwick are thoroughly knowledgeable about the debate connected with airport expansion plans and the various factors associated with the expansion at the different airports.||Airlines operating at Gatwick are supportive of the expansion plans, to the extent that they gain benefits from Gatwick airport through reduced cost of operations. Improving facilities and expansion of runway will improve their access to the airport passengers.||Airlines have adequate resources and act in tandem with Gatwick airport to enable expansion.|
|Local communities||The local community includes the individuals, families, businesses, commercial and private establishments near the airport at Gatwick and south of London.||A part of the local community is supportive to the expansion plans, whereas another part opposes it due to noise increase, traffic and congestion.||Level of knowledge of the local communities is limited to the extent of publicly available information.||Commitment levels are on both sides, both supporters and opposition and there are groups within the community that is supportive and opposing the expansion.||The resources available for the local community are limited.|
|Members of Parliament, district and county councilors||As representatives of the communities, individuals and families and of the wider stakeholders, external to the airport, there is support and opposition and hence affiliation to the expansion plans.||The role of the political officers in the issue is high as they are involved in decision-making about the approvals or disapproval of the expansion plans at the airport.||The level of knowledge of the issue varies based on the interest of the individuals.||Commitment and support or opposition to the issue is based on their involvement.||The level of resources available is also dependent upon the position held by them.|
|Central government||The central government has a direct role in the expansion plans of Gatwick airport.||The central government is the primary decision-making authority in issuing approval or disapproval of expansion plan.||The level of knowledge is the highest and at par with the most important stakeholders such as airlines, airport and business leaders.||There is difference of opinion in the government about the expansion plan for Gatwick, mainly based on the decision-making required as a collective of members of Parliament and ministers in the government. There is support for expansion at Heathrow and at the same time for Gatwick, widely being on the considerations towards environment, commerce and business.||Huge resources, with the most influence on decision-making.|
|Business groups||A large portion of the business groups are widely supportive of expansion of airports in general and not just at Gatwick. However support given by business groups depends upon their involvement, interest and the benefits they directly or indirectly gain from the expansion of either of the expansion plans.||The role of business groups in the issue is dependent on their interest levels and the benefits they can gain from expansion.||The level of knowledge on the issue varies.||The level of commitment and support or opposition to the issue also varies based on the benefits they gain from expansion or the lack of it.||Have good resources, information and influence on the major stakeholders.|
|Media||The media in the United Kingdom is largely remaining neutral, providing information and disseminating the harmful as well as advantageous effects of airport expansion.||The role of the media is in sensitivising the larger public and other stakeholders towards the various aspects of expansion of the airports.||The level of knowledge and issue is one of the most highest among the stakeholders.||There is no particular support or opposition to the issue and the media remains largely neutral.||The media has huge resources and information about the harmful as well as the advantageous affects.|
|Community groups||Community groups are the interest groups which are seen as opposing or supporting expansion at Gatwick.||Their role is high as they are either directly affected or have a huge interest in the expansion.||The knowledge of the issue is also high.||The level of commitment in terms of support or opposition varies based on the direct and indirect benefits they gain from the expansion plans.||Limited resources, but better information available with the community groups.|