Collaboration is a crucial aspect of social interaction in both personal and professional settings. In the professional environment, employees of an organization have to collaborate with their colleagues or external stakeholders to ensure a smooth operation. A failure in collaboration in an organization can lead to delays or failures in achieving the goals of an organization. For example, a failure in collaboration between a company and its raw materials supplier can lead to delay in production, leading to delays in delivering the products to a customer, and consequently, loss of the customer. This essay is a failed collaboration report on a scenario that I witnessed while working for Company X in the suppliers and purchases department. The report will provide a background of the scenario, causes of the failure, an analysis of the scenario using OB concepts and theories, and offer recommendations that can ensure the failure never occurs again.
In Company X, the supplies and purchases department is charged with ensuring that the company receives all supplies in a timely manner. Like the other departments, the department has a manager who acts as the supervisor and is responsible for delegating duties in the department. In addition, the department has a suppliers’ liaison officer charged mostly with liaising with suppliers and serves as the main communicator and link between the company and all the suppliers.
The collaboration failure that happened involved a clerk in the supplies and purchases and the company’s supplier for day-to-day office supplies such as pens, notebooks, files, folders, printers, and computers. On this particular day, the supplies and purchases manager asked the clerk to order some office supplies that were running out by making a phone call to the supplier. The manager asked the clerk to make the call because on that day and the week, the suppliers’ liaison officer was out of the office on sick leave. While making the phone call, the supplier asked the clerk why she was not using the usual communication channel and why the communication was not from the liaison office. The supplier also noted that for the supplies to be made, the contact had to be made through the official and usual communication channel. The clerk’s tone changed towards the end of the phone call, indicating that the clerk was not happy about the supplier’s response and that she was unhappy that the supplier was questioning her authority.
The clerk reported the outcome of her communication with the supplier to the manager, and the manager responded by writing an email to the supplier asking for the same supplies. However, in what appeared to be a doubt by the supplier on the change of communication channel, the response to the mail was delayed, and the manager had to visit the supplier’s office to make a formal supply request for the supply. Thus, the miscommunication, or rather a failure in collaboration, resulted in a delay as the supplies took two days to be delivered from the day the clerk had made the supply request. Considering the distance that the supplier covers to make the supplies, it is understandable that he had to be sure that the company needed the supplies.
Cause of the Failure
In the above scenario, the cause of the failure is communication. In this case, the supplies and purchases department made some communication mistakes that resulted in delays in office supplies supply. The change of the communication person and the failure to use an official communication channel was the main cause of the failure. The supplier for office supplies was right to question the change in the communication channel and use a personal phone to make a call on behave of the company. It was wrong for the company to change the communication channel and make an order without first explaining to the supplier the reason for the change in the communication channel. The manager should have written to the supplier through his official email, explaining the reason for the difference in communication channels and then requesting the supplier to make the supplies. Hence, the change in communication channels contributed to the collaboration failure.
In addition, the use of a personal number by the clerk is wrong since personal numbers are never considered official communication channels. Instead, she should have used the companies number to make the call or even write an email to the supplier explaining why she was writing and making the orders. The email should have also been copied to the suppliers’ liaison officer. In this era, when there are high levels of fraud, companies need to have clear communication channels to have delays that may result from doubts in communications that it makes to its stakeholders.
OB Concepts and Theories
This failed collaboration scenario can be analyzed using the following Organizations Behavior (OB) concepts and theories; communication, personality, and power and politics. First, communication is essential in any form of collaboration, and breakdown can lead to collaboration failures, as happened in the case scenario above.
In organizational behavior, communication not only means the use of words but also how the words are delivered. According to McShane and Glinow (2017), communication should be done in a way that it does not offend the receiver and ensure that both parties get a common understanding of communications purpose. Therefore, the sender should be mindful of what they wish to communicate and choose the words that will effectively convey their message to the receiver. Sometimes, the words and intentions may be right, but the tone or the communication channel is wrong, leading to a failure in the communication.
Analyzing the scenario from the OB concept of communication, one main factor can be analyzed; the use of different communication channels. Without any doubt, the main cause of the breakdown in communication, in this case, was a deviation from the usual medium of communication between the company and the supplier. Langton et al. (2018) opine that maintaining a constant communication channel creates a sense of trust between the communicator and the receiver. It is one of the ways of overcoming the barriers to effective communication. In this case, it was unwise for the supplies and purchases department to change the communication channel, and more so, to go on and communicate with the supplier through an unofficial communication channel. The right way would have been using the company’s official telephone. The manager should have written an official email to the supplier explaining the change in the communication channel and the reasons for the change to avoid a failure in communication.
The OB concept and theory of personality, emotions, and personalities play an important role in organizational behavior, which is evident in this collaboration failure scenario. The people involved in the scenario have different personalities, expressed their emotions differentially, and have different attitudes. Therefore, their different personalities may have played a role in the failure in communication, and subsequently, the failure in collaboration. According to Langton et al. (2018), professionalism is often affected by personalities, and professionals must always tackle their personalities first. In that, they should be able to control the way they react and interact with others. For example, the supplier was unwilling to listen to any other individual other than the company’s suppliers’ liaison officers from the scenario. At the same time, the clerk and the manager were unable to control their emotion, judging from the tone during their communication with the supplier.
Power and Politics Concept
The concept of power and politics in organizational behavior is an attribute that is associated with professional self-monitoring ability and understanding of factors of a person’s interactions and how to convey messages effectively. McShane and Glinow (2017) defined power as the person’s capacity to influence a person and have them act according to the person’s wishes. In this case, both the clerk and the manager failed in applying power and politics as they were unable to influence the supplier to act according to their wishes. Effective use of power and politics in this scenario would have resulted in the manager or the clerk convincing the supplier to make the supplies without visiting the supplier’s premises. This would have avoided the collaboration failure as there would have been no delay in the supply.
The analysis shows that the main cause of the failure was a failure in communication. It is important that the company, the suppliers, and the purchases department of company X realize the importance of effective communication between the department and all its suppliers. In this case, a failure in communication resulted in delays in the supply of office items, which impacted the company’s operations even if the impacts were not very significant. Supposing the department does not rectify the situation, a similar collaboration failure may occur involving the supply of necessary items such as raw material, leading to magnitude losses for the company. The company can adopt these measures to avoid the reoccurrence of the scenario.
Foremost, the company must set a clear expectation for suppliers and a clear communication system. Although the supply and purchases department has a clear way of communicating to its suppliers, it must ensure that communication is consistent. In this case, an assistant supplier’s liaison officer should be taking over communication with the suppliers if the officer is out of the office. The department should also maintain one channel, say email, as the means of communicating to suppliers. Further, the department should establish a schedule for the supply of regular items such as office supplies and raw material, which will make the suppliers aware of when to supply and quantity of the things they have to supply. Clear communication and planning of supply will ensure that there are no shortages, timely delivery of supplies, less rush shipping costs, and fewer frustrations to the Department (Prahinski & Benton, 2004). If the company had a schedule for the supply of office use items, then the department would not need to call the supplier to make the supplies.
In addition, the company must train its employees on the importance and ways of ensuring effective communication. Communication is two ways, and both parties must be able to control their emotions while communicating. The choice of words and tone should also be controlled to ensure that both parties understand each other (Prahinski & Benton, 2004). In this case, the collaboration failure might not have had occurred if the manager and the clerk understood the ways of effective communication. In a way, the manager should have been able to make the supplier understand the reason for the change in the communication channel and the need to make the supply. This would have been made possible by using the correct tone and convincing wording in the email to the supplier.
Finally, the company should discourage the mixing of work and personal communication. The mixing of work and personal communication can occur when personal phone numbers are used to make communication on behave of the company, or the use of office email address to make private communication (Prahinski & Benton, 2004). When dealing with suppliers, the use of personal email or numbers to make orders can be misjudged and led to delay in supply, as it happened in this case scenario. Therefore, in the future, Company X must insist that all communication be made through the official communication channels.
Collaboration is essential in the organization, and a failure in collaboration between an organization and can be catastrophic to an organization. This essay has described a failed collaboration between Company X’s department of supplies and purchases that led to the two-day delay of office supplies. In an analysis of the failed collaboration, the collaboration report has highlighted that the main cause of the collaboration failure was a communication breakdown. In the absence of the supplier’s liaison office, the department’s manager and the clerk could not convince the supplier to make timely deliveries. The report has associated the collaboration failure cause to the Organization Behavior (OB) concepts and theories of communication, personality, power, and politics. The failure of the involved parties to communicate effectively, control their personality, and inability to utilize their power resulted in the communication breakdown. In the future, the essay recommends that Company X should establish a clear communication system and expectations for the suppliers, be consistent in the usage of commination channels while communicating to its stakeholders, train its employees on effective communication, and discourage the mixing of the personal and work matters to avoid a reoccur age of a similar scenario.
Langton, N., Robbins, S. P., & Judge T. A., (2018). Organizational behavior: concepts, controversies, applications (8th ed.) Pearson. ISBN-13: 9780134861166.
McShane, S., & Glinow, M. A. V. (2017). Organizational behavior. McGraw-Hill Education.
Prahinski, C., & Benton, W. C. (2004). Supplier evaluations: communication strategies to improve supplier performance. Journal of operations management, 22(1), 39-62.