Running Head: EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION Barriers to effective communication Student’s Name Course Institution Instructor Date EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION 1 Barriers to effective communication Some of the mistakes Joanne committed include demonstrating poor speaking skills. She is incoherently expressing herself. There is more than one item being discussed here but in an incoherent way. For instance, there is the issue of workload. The workload or schedule is supposed to vary on factors such as time, days, and assignments given. It is therefore, difficult to understand what she is saying. Another mistake that Joanne commits is using a “One-Size-FitsAll” tactic of communication. This approach assumes that all workers have the same understanding abilities and attributes (Lund, 2020). Besides, Joanne is not assertive in her memo. She does not state her clear objective and doesn’t consider what the other employees need. In this case, she needs to adopt a strategy of developing a coherent structure in her communication. The cohesive design consist of “what” is the issue, “why” the problem is crucial, and the “solutions” to be taken. She should also use different communication approaches that cater to the diverse needs of the employees. For example, a one-size-approach is one of the reasons why misunderstandings occur in communication. In addition, there are many different communication styles and skills that would encompass the needs of the employees. Lastly, Joanne needs to develop assertive communication skills, in which she communicates or expresses herself assertively but considering the needs of the audience or other employees (Reboulet & Jackson, 2021). In this case, her memo does not give a call to action. Critical Thinking Among the various communication channels, WhatsApp is one of the most common communication channels used by many people. Some of the features that make it an exciting and reliable medium of communication are in-built features that can make individuals make voice or EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION 2 video calls. However, I had an experience last year with this app that has made me care about communicating or chatting with colleagues and friends. There is a day that my manager instructed me to draft a memo about a meeting that was to be scheduled on Friday that week and sent it to the company’s WhatsApp group. Because I wanted to impress my manager’s English speaking skills, I copied a speech from online. Although the memo stated that there would be a meeting on Friday, it did not specify the venue. Therefore, on Friday, some employees went to different conference rooms because the company has three conference rooms. The manager found few employees in the conference room one and suspended most of us for not attending. The manager later said that he informed me the meeting was supposed to be in the conference room one and that the memo was supposed to be both sent to the group and printed on the notice board. Based on the analysis, numerous barriers created the misunderstanding. These barriers include poor listening skills from me and poor communication skills from the manager because he did not make sure I understood the message and used a one-size-fits-all approach of sending the memo on What’s app group and forgetting to print it post on the notice board. In addition, some of my colleagues argued that they did not visit their app group over the weekend and did not see a memo on the notice board. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION 3 References Lund, B. (2020). Communication-based approaches to library reference services: anxietyuncertainty management as a model for communication breakdowns. Reference Services Review. Reboulet, A., & Jackson, R. A. (2021). Effective Communication Approaches for Decision Analytics: An Exploration of Strategies. In Effective Strategies for Communicating Insights in Business (pp. 13-31). IGI Global. Taken for a Ride: Fraud at the Ministry of Transport Case Author: Debbie Gee & Todd Nicholas Bridgman Online Pub Date: April 04, 2019 | Original Pub. Date: 2019 Subject: Change Leadership, Leadership & Ethics, Critical Management Studies Level: | Type: Indirect case | Length: 4547 Copyright: © Debbie Gee and Todd Bridgman 2019 Organization: Ministry of Transport, New Zealand | Organization size: Large Region: Australia and New Zealand | State: Industry: Public administration and defence; compulsory social security Originally Published in: Publisher: SAGE Publications: SAGE Business Cases Originals DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526496720 | Online ISBN: 9781526496720 SAGE © Debbie Gee and Todd Bridgman 2019 SAGE Business Cases © Debbie Gee and Todd Bridgman 2019 This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes. 2021 SAGE Publications Ltd. All Rights Reserved. The case studies on SAGE Business Cases are designed and optimized for online learning. Please refer to the online version of this case to fully experience any video, data embeds, spreadsheets, slides, or other resources that may be included. This content may only be distributed for use within Saudi Digital Library. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526496720 Page 2 of 10 Taken for a Ride: Fraud at the Ministry of Transport SAGE © Debbie Gee and Todd Bridgman 2019 SAGE Business Cases Abstract This case covers a high-profile public sector criminal case of prolonged and serious fraud by a former senior manager, Joanne Harrison, at New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport that went unchecked for five years, despite attempts by employees to draw attention to her repeated non-compliance with procurement policies. An independent inquiry later confirmed allegations by four staff who raised concerns that they were subsequently disadvantaged in various ways in their employment at the ministry. Martin Matthews, chief executive of the ministry at the time of Harrison’s offending, was subsequently appointed New Zealand’s Auditor-General, responsible for auditing all public entities in the country. Matthews asked for a parliamentary inquiry into allegations about his handling of these issues but resigned before it was concluded. This case raises questions about the adequacy of whistleblowing legislation and policies and the importance of organisational culture and leadership in creating and maintaining a cultural environment that supports ethical behaviour and protects staff who try to flag what they believe is inappropriate behaviour. Case Learning Outcomes By the end of this case study, students should be able to: • 1. Examine the factors that shape employees’ ability and willingness to identify and report inappropriate workplace behaviour by colleagues. • 2. Examine the ‘formal’ organisational-level factors that permit, encourage, and discourage such reporting, such as policies, codes of conduct, and procedures. • 3. Examine the ‘informal’ organisational-level factors that permit, encourage, and discourage such reporting, such as power and politics, culture, group dynamics, conformity, and leadership. • 4. Examine the wider systemic factors that permit, encourage, and discourage such reporting, such as public sector governance legislation, as well as societal and cultural understandings (such as attitudes towards appropriate responses to authority). • 5. Consider the inter-relationship between these levels to use these insights to develop action plans for creating organisations where staff are morally attuned and empowered to speak up about inappropriate behaviour at work. Introduction It is with great regret that I have tendered my resignation as Controller and Auditor-General. The issues and speculation about how I handled matters in relation to the fraud committed on the Ministry of Transport during my term as CEO have made it untenable for me to continue in this role. …Until April 2016, when I received some concerning information, I regarded the staff member who perpetrated this fraud as an able and high performing member of the leadership team. I believe I acted swiftly and thoroughly to detect the fraud and bring her to justice when I became aware of her potential wrong-doing. I wish that I had detected her criminal activity much earlier. The information I received caused me to re-examine decisions I had made regarding matters previously Page 3 of 10 Taken for a Ride: Fraud at the Ministry of Transport SAGE © Debbie Gee and Todd Bridgman 2019 SAGE Business Cases raised with me in relation to some internal business procedures. I thought I had dealt with those appropriately, with the knowledge and information I had at the time. She gave me explanations that I accepted. It turns out I was wrong. I should have been more suspicious. The subsequent enquiries and investigations I initiated revealed she had committed a major fraud against the ministry and the taxpayer. I deeply regret and am sorry that I did not detect earlier her fraudulent actions. I feel as angry and aggrieved as anyone about her stealing and breaches of trust. We are fortunate in New Zealand that this sort of behaviour is not common place and certainly should not be tolerated. I have resigned as Auditor-General because I understand the expectations associated with this role are high. It is important to me, and to the office, that the public has complete confidence in the person holding the position of Auditor-General. Martin Matthews, 3 August, 2017 This press release was the final act in an extraordinary set of events in New Zealand’s public service. Martin Matthews, the person with overall responsibility for auditing all of the country’s public entities and for improving public trust in the sector, was unwittingly caught up in a major NZD 725,000 fraud at the ministry he headed prior to becoming Auditor-General. Matthews’ resignation, just nine months after his appointment, came ahead of the highly anticipated release of a parliamentary report into his and the ministry’s handling of events surrounding the fraud and whether it was appropriate for him to stay as Auditor-General. At the time of his appointment as Auditor-General, Matthews’ handling of the fraud while Secretary of Transport was described as ‘exemplary’ by politicians on the appointment panel. After he took up the role, allegations emerged that whistleblowers had warned of repeated non-compliance, that these warnings were ignored, and that the staff concerned were subsequently made redundant. It was important that the person holding the position of Auditor-General demonstrated sound judgement and had a reputation beyond question. Matthews, concerned about this, and believing his actions had been sound, asked for a review of these matters and offered to stand aside while the report was completed, without pay (Small, 2017). Even more intriguing, was that the fraudster, Joanne Harrison, was regarded by Matthews and many others in the New Zealand public service as a star performer. She had led a programme of transformational change at the ministry that had, during her term, recorded the highest level of staff engagement of any public sector agency. Media reports also surfaced alleging a number of ministry staff had raised concerns about Harrison’s non-compliant behaviour with Matthews and claimed he had failed to take proper action. It was further alleged that several of those staff had been deliberately disadvantaged in their employment at the ministry for attempting to blow the whistle regarding Harrison’s actions. There is no suggestion Matthews was aware of these actions at the time. Was Harrison a proverbial ‘bad apple’ who stole from the public purse? How and why did the Ministry of Transport ignore the warning signs about her, enabling her fraud to continue? Why were those employees who raised concerns not protected? The findings of the parliamentary report were expected to shed light on these questions. Harrison, the Inspirational Leader of the Ministry of Transport’s Change Journey The Ministry of Transport is the New Zealand government’s principal transport advisor, providing policy advice and support for Ministers to improve the performance of the country’s transport system. The government invests about NZD 4 billion in the transport network each year; about 1.5% of New Zealand’s gross domestic product. The ministry’s head office is located in the capital city Wellington (Ministry of Transport, 2017). Joanne Harrison was employed by the ministry in 2011 as Manager of Change, People and Development. Matthews was one of three people who interviewed her for the role. During the investigations that uncovered her fraud, the ministry discovered it was her second attempt at joining the ministry, after an unsuccessful Page 4 of 10 Taken for a Ride: Fraud at the Ministry of Transport SAGE © Debbie Gee and Todd Bridgman 2019 SAGE Business Cases application in 2008. Her curriculum vitae did not mention her 2007 conviction for defrauding a previous employer, a fact the ministry did not become aware of until April 2016. Prior to her appointment, the ministry did not run a check for a criminal record, despite this being an established practice in the public sector. Even had the ministry taken this precaution, it is unlikely this charge would have come to light due to a court-ordered name suppression order and Harrison’s conviction under the name Joanne Sharp (Moir, 2017). In 2013, Matthews promoted Harrison onto his senior leadership team, reporting directly to him. Her fixed term role as General Manager of Organisational Development was to spearhead the ‘Shaping our Future programme’, the ministry’s change program. It was anticipated that Harrison would ‘lead a “step change” in the performance and capability of the ministry in delivering on its purpose’ (Ministry of Transport, n.d., a). Two years later, in May 2015, the role became permanent, and Matthews had no hesitation in offering it to Harrison. Harrison received positive reviews during her time at the ministry, with two performance letters characterising her as a high performer delivering organisational change. In 2012, a letter to Harrison from Matthews personally thanked her for her ‘impressive efforts in designing and developing [the ministry’s] applied Policy Advisor Development (a-PAD) programme’, which created a ‘minimum level qualification for those who practise policy in the public sector’ (Ministry of Transport, n.d., b). In September 2014, Harrison received a letter of thanks from Matthews for the ‘…significant contribution you have made to our success’ (Ministry of Transport, n.d., b). Matthews was particularly impressed that Harrison ‘brought a different level of creativity, innovation and drive to how we think about change’. In 2013, Matthews launched a two year plan called Back to MoT’s Future, which looked at what the ministry would be like in 2015. This change responded to challenges laid down for Matthews after a Performance Improvement Review of the Ministry in 2013. Harrison suggested to Matthews that he adopt the alter-ego of time-travelling Marty McFly from the well-known 1989 film Back to the Future 2, which also involved travelling forward to 2015. This would involve Matthews dressing as McFly, the creation of cardboard cut-outs of him in character, as well as posters and animated videos. Matthews believed ‘it was quite an inspirational idea’ and ‘a major departure from usual change plans in the public sector’, although he also acknowledged ‘some people thought I had lost my marbles’ (Hunt, 2017a). Matthews’ and others’ high opinion of Harrison’s performance was also due to her success in motivating staff and getting them to identify more strongly with the organisation. One of her initiatives to lift engagement was the ‘caravan of love’ poster, featuring the iconic Kiwi vacation vehicle; it toured the ministry’s offices around the country, adorned with notes from staff about why they loved working at the ministry. Accompanying the caravan poster was a table and chairs and a beer fridge (Hunt, 2017b). Staff engagement survey results showed steady improvements under Matthews, and in 2015, the ministry achieved the highest staff engagement scores in the public sector (Hunt, 2017b). The most outstanding results were obtained by the 19 staff in Harrison’s group. In September 2015, she received another letter of thanks and a pay increase (Ministry of Transport, n.d. b). Harrison, the Fraudster Despite her glowing status in the eyes of her chief executive, other senior leaders, and staff close to her, there was growing disquiet about Harrison’s cavalier attitude towards the ministry’s finance rules and procedures. Questions first arose in October 2013, relating to a company Harrison had supposedly engaged to work on the ‘Shaping our Future’ change programme. Between November 2012 and July 2014, the ministry paid NZD 227,000 to Sharp Design. All invoices had been approved by Harrison, yet there was no contract between the ministry and the firm (a public sector requirement) and some questioning of the services being provided (Deloitte, 2016). When asked by the ministry’s Principal Solicitor for an explanation, Harrison replied: …I did not know we had to do this [set up a contract] when we sent work out to be done, I thought that we Page 5 of 10 Taken for a Ride: Fraud at the Ministry of Transport SAGE © Debbie Gee and Todd Bridgman 2019 SAGE Business Cases only arranged this when folks were contracted to work inside here with us, so my apologies if anything has been missed in the past. (Ministry of Transport, n.d., c) The ministry’s Chief Legal Advisor informed Matthews of the issue in an email, including a copy of Harrison’s response, and stated: How can a senior person in any organisation credibly claim to be unaware of the need for a contract when getting external providers to do work? I find it astounding… If general managers pay no regard to proper process, what kind of an example does that set for the rest of the organisation? Matthews asked him and the Finance Manager to remind the leadership team about the need to follow correct processes. In July 2014, some employees at the ministry became aware Victorian State fraud investigators were seeking information about Harrison. Matthews was informed, and he raised the issue with Harrison and asked her to contact them. She subsequently claimed she had and explained the inquiry related to her former executive assistant who had misused her credit cards (Ministry of Transport, n.d., c), and Matthews was satisfied with the explanation (Beatie, 2017). Meanwhile, the annual compliance report prepared by the Principal Solicitor in August 2014 and presented to the leadership team noted ongoing non-compliance in Harrison’s organisational development team around contracting and the payment of invoices. Around this time, an employee (referred to as ‘Employee A’ in the subsequent inquiry into the whistleblowing) made a ‘protected disclosure’ of their concerns about Harrison. Under New Zealand’s Protected Disclosures Act 2000, employees or former employees can make protected disclosures (sometimes called ‘whistleblowing’) about allegations of wrong-doing in the workplace that they reasonably believe are true or likely to be true. The legislation is designed to protect them against disciplinary action from their employer. The concerns raised about Harrison prompted Mathews to email her. In reply, Harrison blamed work pressures, �…
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