You are on page 1of 19


Name: Registration No: Learning Center: Learning Center Code: Course: Subject: Semester: Subject Code: Date of submission: Marks awarded: MBA Business Communication 1 MB0039 22.08.2012

Directorate of Distance Education Sikkim Manipal University II Floor, Syndicate House Manipal 576 104

Signature of Coordinator

Signature of Center

Signature of Evaluator

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Important Note to the Students: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The student must submit all the assignments given per course per semester to thelearning Center. Assignment marks will be accounted for your Internal Assessment. Assignments should be submitted within the time given. Please answer all the Assignments on ruled sheets. Write in your own handwriting. Write in your own words. Do not copy. Assignments which are not original /copied shall be awarded zero marks. Write neatly and legibly in the prescribed format.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Comments by the Subject Evaluator: (Subject expert will give comments onoverall content, reliability, correctness and appropriateness of informationprovided) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Suggestions for improvement: (Subject expert will give areas of improvement andpossible ways/ methods to follow to improve) MBA -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Q1. Explain the purpose of keeping minutes of a meeting. What goes into the contents of minutes of a meeting?
Answer: Keeping Minutes of the Meeting Since meetings are called to take important decisions concerning the organization, it is important to maintain a permanent written record of the proceedings, which can be referred to at a later stage, or serve as a guide for action. Such a record is known as minutes of the meeting and may be done in an informal or formal manner, depending on the type of meeting. In the case of routine meetings, minutes are written in an informal manner, in the form of a broad summary of the proceedings. On the other hand, minutes for more formal meetings such as board and shareholder meetings are written in a specific format, recording the names and views of the different participants. The minutes may be recorded by any one of the meeting participants. A sample format for minutes for formal meetings is shown below
Format for Minutes
MEETING DATE _____________ TIME _________ PLACE ______________ PURPOSE _________________________ CHAIR _____________________ PRESENT _____________________________________________________ ABSENT ______________________________________________________ ITEM NO. SUMMARY ACTION BY WHEN WHO 1 2 3 MINUTED BY _________________ COPIED TO _______________________ NEXT MEETING DATE ___________ TIME _______ PLACE _____________

The contents of minutes of a meeting as follows Meeting Date and Location Purpose Chaired by and Author Absentees

Actions Information Decisions Who owns what Next meeting details

Q2. Prepare a brief notice to be put up on official notice boards, informing employees of your organization about a newly introduced, official bus service. Answer: Verizon Business VZB Towers, Bangalore NOTICE Sub: Official Bus Service We are extremely happy to inform all employees of Verizon Business that a new official bus service is now available from Monday August 20th 2012, which is mainly intended to pickup and drop the employees residing in and around Bangalore. Details of the route and timings are already available in the home page of our intranet. Employees wishing to know more or use the bus service may contact the Facilities desk to procure tickets and season passes in advance. FACILITIES DEPARTMENT July 11th , 2012 REF: ADM/N/2299

Q3. Write short notes on (a) Upward communication (b) Downward communication (c) Horizontal communication
Answer: (a) Upward Communication This may be defined as information that flows from subordinates to superiors. Some of the reasons for upward communication include discussing work related problems, giving suggestions for improvement and sharing feelings about the job and co-workers. This type of communication has both benefits and disadvantages. One of the biggest benefits is problem-solving. Once a subordinate has brought a problem to his superiors notice, chances are that the problem will not recur, since the subordinate learns from his superior how to tackle it the next time. Thus, his ability to solve new problems and therefore his managerial ability, improves. Another benefit that could arise from upward communication is that valuable ideas and suggestions may sometimes come from lower level employees. Therefore organizations should encourage this kind of communication. A third benefit is that employees learn to accept the decisions of management and thereby work as a team. The biggest problem associated with this type of communication is that it may lead to handing down of decisions by superiors. When subordinates frequently seek the superiors guidance, the latter may adopt an authoritarian approach and merely give instructions, disregarding the subordinates opinion completely. (b) Downward Communication This may be defined as information that flows from superiors to subordinates. The most common reasons for downward communication are for giving job instructions, explaining company rules, policies and procedures and giving feedback regarding job performance. A number of studies have indicated that regular downward communication in the form of feedback given to employees is the most important factor affecting job

satisfaction. Therefore organizations today are trying to encourage more of this type of communication. There are both benefits and disadvantages associated with this type of communication. Downward communication that provides regular feedback will be beneficial if the feedback or review of performance is constructive. A constructive review is one where a manager counsels an employee, or advises him on how to improve his performance. On the other hand, a destructive review can destroy employee morale and confidence. Regular downward communication also creates a climate of transparency or openness, where information is passed on through official channels, rather than through rumors. Thirdly, downward communication boosts employee morale, since it indicates that management is involved in their progress. The problems with this type of communication are the danger of doing destructive reviews, as mentioned, and that of message overload. This means that superiors many sometimes burden their subordinates with too many instructions, leading to confusion. (c) Horizontal Communication This type of communication is also known as lateral communication. It may be defined as communication that takes place between co-workers in the same department, or in different departments, with different areas of responsibility. For example, Sales Managers and Advertising Managers in the Marketing department, or Marketing Managers and Finance Managers. The reasons for this type of communication are for coordination of tasks, sharing of information regarding goals of the organization, resolving interpersonal or work related problems and building rapport. The biggest potential benefit of horizontal communication is the sense of teamwork that is created. Regular communication of this type ensures that all co-workers work together towards achieving a common goal in the overall interest of the organization. The biggest potential problem is that conflicts such

as ego clashes are bound to arise, when co-workers at the same level communicate on a regular basis. In spite of these problems, horizontal or lateral communication has become more important in todays business scenario than upward or downward communication. This is because the organizational pyramid indicating the different hierarchies or levels in an organization has flattened. This is illustrated by the diagrams given below.

The first diagram illustrates the previous organizational pyramid which was a multi-layer pyramid. In this type of pyramid, vertical, i.e., upward and downward communication still plays an important role. This is still the case in many traditionally run organizations today. However, this has been replaced by a compressed or flattened pyramid where the hierarchy has diminished, as shown in the second diagram.

Thanks to technology and computers which help in faster decision making, a manager today has a larger span of control. He or she can supervise and control more number of people than before. This in turn has led to greater empowerment, which means that even lower level employees are now being given decision making authority. Therefore, in the absence of several layers, there is greater lateral communication than before.

Q4. Go through business magazines and daily newspapers and select a situation when a company was facing a crisis (e.g., Coke and Pepsi pesticide controversy). How did the company communicate with its shareholders and other stakeholders to overcome the crisis? Was the communication effective?
Answer: Shareholders are important internal stakeholders of an organization, since they are the owners of the company. Since the capital required is huge, there are no proprietors and partners any more. As organization grows, shareholding is widely scattered. Therefore, it is essentials to retain the shareholders, confidence in the companys management, through effective communication with them on a regular basis. There are two situations when shareholder communication is extremely vital 1. If a company is doing well and wants to expand its scope of operations, or

diversify into unrelated areas. In this case, good shareholder relations can help to raise the required capital and minimize borrowing from banks and financial institutions. 2. If a company is going through a crisis or difficult times, more

communication with shareholders is needed. Take the example of Coke and Pepsi during the pesticide controversy. Both these companies are still doing well and the reason for this is effective communication with its stakeholders. Communication Strategy of Coke and Pepsi during Crisis :-

1. In this, the company was very open with its shareholders and explained the problem clearly, including the steps being taken to overcome the crisis. 2. They communicated the truth. Crisis communication is very important, but often overlooked area of shareholder communication. Lack of communication during a crisis encourages the grapevine among shareholders and leads to false rumors. For example. Rumors may spread that the company is going to close down. On the other hand, if you tell the truth, changes are that your shareholders will stand by you. 3. The appropriate media for communication with shareholder was used: including both oral and written periodic mailers should be sent to all shareholders, giving a fair and truthful representation of the companys results and progress on various fronts. 4. Very Interactive Methods were used - In areas where there is an aggregation or concentration of shareholders, shareholder meeting and conferences should be held, making presentations on the companys progress. When the company is going through a crisis, shareholders should be taken on project site and factory visits, to show them the measures that are being taken to solve the problem. 5. The overall guiding factor in communicating with shareholders was that they are the owners of the company.

Q5. Discuss the different types of business reports

Answer: A business report may be defined as an orderly and objective presentation of information that helps in decision making and problem solving. It may be in oral or written form. The key words in the above definition are orderly, objective,

information, decision making and problem solving. Orderly means that a report flows in a logical sequence, for example, from a definition of the problem, to analysis, to recommendation of solutions. Objective means that a report is written avoiding use of the first person, so as to avoid bias. The passive voice is used rather than the active voice, so as to give less importance to the doer of the action. Reports may be classified based on several criteria, including their use (progress reports and financial reports), purpose (informational, analytical and persuasive reports), frequency of preparation (annual, monthly, weekly and hourly reports), length (short and long reports) and whether they are internal to the business, or are used outside the business. The most common types of business reports may be divided into the following categories 1. Periodic reports These are reports that are prepared on a regular basis, for both internal and external audiences. Their purpose is solely to inform. Examples of this type of report are a) Routine management reports These are reports such as equipment reports and sales updates and are prepared for internal audiences. b) Compliance reports These are submitted to external stakeholders, such as the government, stating compliance with regulations such as environmental norms.

c) Progress reports These reports may be prepared for both internal audiences such as top management and shareholders, as well as for external audiences such as customers. A project report stating progress on a long-term project is an example of this type of report. 2. Proposals Unlike periodic reports, the purpose of a proposal is to persuade. Proposals may be prepared for both internal and external audiences. Examples of proposals include research proposals and marketing strategy proposals to top management, proposals to the government to grant funds for building a research facility and proposals to consumers to buy a companys products. 3. Policies and Procedures The purpose of these reports is solely to inform. They are also prepared only for internal audiences. Examples include reports on company policies and procedures, written by top management and sent to all employees. This is part of downward communication. 4. Situational reports These are one-time, exceptional reports that are prepared when a unique event occurs. For example, if sales of the company has shown a significant decline, a study may be carried out to determine the reasons for declining sales and a report prepared on the findings. Similarly, a market feasibility study may be carried out before launch of a new product and a report prepared, based on the study. The purpose of such reports is usually to inform, analyze and persuade.

Q6. List the different steps involved in report preparation

Answer: Since reports are a key to the success of any business, they should be carefully planned, organized, written and presented. A lot of groundwork should precede the actual writing of the report. We shall briefly discuss the five main steps in report preparation 1. Planning the report The first question to be asked before gathering information and writing the report, is regarding the type of report that is required. We classified reports into four main types, based on the purpose, the audience to whom they are addressed and the frequency of the report. Secondly, it must be remembered that most reports are required by management to solve a problem, or to make a decision. Therefore, the basis, or starting point for a report is a problem. Reports are written after a problem is analyzed and a solution to the problem is found. The problem may be of a day-to-day nature, such as determining which brand of overhead projector to recommend for purchase. Or, the problem may be a negative one, such as sales of the company showing a decline. In any case, the problem is the single fundamental issue to be addressed in the report and should be clearly determined, right at the outset. Once the problem has been defined, it must be broken up into sub issues or sub problems, by asking the questions what, why, when, where and who?. Example Suppose the purpose of a study is to survey clerical salaries in public sector banks in Bangalore city, in order to determine whether salaries in your bank are competitive and consistent. The problem may be broken up as follows What? A study of clerical salaries Why? To determine whether salaries in our firm are competitive and consistent When? Current Where? Bangalore city

Who? Clerical employees in public sector banks Asking the above questions determines the exact scope of the study and reduces the problem to a workable size. The next step in planning the report is to do an audience analysis. We have seen that reports may be addressed to internal or external audiences of an organization. Some of the questions to be asked about the audience, or the reader of the report are Is the audience internal or external to the organization? Who is the specific audience or reader? - for example, top management, customers or the government? Reports written for the government and for top management should be more formal than for other audiences. Is the audience known to you? What is the level of knowledge of the audience? Is the topic familiar to the reader? If the report is of a technical nature and the reader is a layperson, the technical terms may need detailed explanation. What is the level of interest of the reader? If the report has been solicited or authorized, the readers level of interest will be high. On the other hand, if the report is voluntary or unsolicited, it may have to sustain reader interest. The tone, length, complexity and degree of formality of the report will depend largely on the readers characteristics. For example, reports addressed to peers would adopt a more conversational tone, while reports on company policies and procedures addressed to subordinates would adopt an emphatic tone. 2. Selecting a Method to Solve the Problem After defining the problem and doing an audience analysis, a method has to be selected to collect the necessary information to solve the problem. Broadly, information may be gathered using secondary research methods, such as books, magazines, newspapers, internet and other available sources, or through primary research methods, such as surveys that provide first hand information.

3. Gathering and Organizing Data Once the method of gathering information has been selected, the actual process of gathering the information begins. Since this is time consuming and expensive, only information that is relevant to the report and the study must be gathered. The raw data should be evaluated for its usefulness and organized in a form that is meaningful to understand. Tables, charts, graphs and summaries should be used to do this. 4. Arriving at a Conclusion Once the information has been checked for its validity and reliability, it must be interpreted and conclusions drawn. Correct interpretation of the data is needed for the success of the report. Sound conclusions cannot be made if the interpretation of the data is faulty. A common mistake made in the interpretation of data is the tendency of the researcher to use subjective judgments, instead of objective reasoning based on facts. 5. Writing the Report The actual process of writing the report should begin only after a satisfactory solution to the problem has been found. As pointed out earlier, a well written report that contains a bad answer is worse than a badly written report that contains a good answer. Once you are ready to begin writing, certain procedures for writing should be followed 1. Set a date for completion of the report and get started early Begin by first preparing an outline and writing an initial draft, which can be refined later. 2. Starting late is bound to affect the quality of the report. 3. Start with an easy section It is best to start writing those sections of the report which you feel are easier than others. This will help you to get into the rhythm of writing, which will be carried over to the more difficult sections. 4. Write quickly, with the intention of rewriting It is better to put down your thoughts on paper in the form of a rough draft and to get this done quickly. Once this difficult part is over, it becomes easier to improve.

5. Set aside uninterrupted writing time A long block of uninterrupted writing time, such as three to four hours a day, should be set aside for writing the report. Interruptions can make you lose your train of thought. 6. Review and rewrite where necessary Ideally, the report should be reviewed a couple of times, to see if any improvement is needed. The first review should be to see if any improvement in content is needed, while the second review should check for any errors in writing style, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Reports should also be written in a convincing manner, so that the reader accepts them as valid and reliable. Some suggested techniques of conviction include the following State facts in an objective manner Avoid using superlatives and emotional terms that introduce bias in the research, or that suggest that you are passing judgment. For example, avoid saying There was an incredible increase in sales, compared to the last year. Instead, simply state the amount or percentage of increase. This will be more acceptable to the reader. Provide expert opinions Although facts are more convincing than the opinions of others, they may not always be available. In this case, the opinions of a specialist in the field may be presented, highlighting the background and experience of the expert. This can enhance the credibility of the report. Example This is the opinion of an eminent lawyer, who has over three decades of experience in dealing with similar cases. Use documentation Footnotes are citations that are placed numerically at the bottom of the page in the body of the report, along with the direct references. This is one way of mentioning the sources of information presented in the report. A bibliography, or list of references, explained

earlier, is another way of providing documentation. This helps to convince the reader that the information is based on reliable sources. Business reports should be carefully worded, adopting certain techniques of writing style Use concrete nouns Business reports should use concrete nouns, rather than abstract nouns as the subject of sentences, since they are easier to visualize. Example Mr. Johnson authorized the study. Here, Mr. Johnson is a concrete noun and is easy to visualize. Compare this with the sentence Authorization for the study was received by Mr. Johnson. Here an abstract noun, authorization, is the subject of the sentence and is harder to visualize. Avoid pronouns referring to the writer or reader The first person pronoun I and the second person pronoun you should be avoided in business reports, as far as possible. The use of I risks placing more emphasis on the writer of the report, rather than on the ideas. Example I conducted face-to-face interviews with fifty respondents. This draws more attention to the report writer and should be avoided. It is better to emphasize the idea that Face-to-face interviews were conducted among fifty respondents. Use tenses correctly If you are writing a research report and reporting or summarizing some of the findings, the past tense is preferable. Example Almost 80% of the respondents were not aware of the new product. Of the remaining 20%, five respondents were satisfied with the products features. However, once the findings have been presented and you are drawing conclusions, the present tense should be used.

Example The above figures clearly indicate the need for more advertising to create awareness. Use transition sentences - The report should be written so as to flow in a logical sequence. A transition sentence summarizes one section of the report and leads the reader smoothly into the next section. Example While the costs of this new initiative are more than what were anticipated, the benefits outweigh the costs, as listed below. This sentence leads the reader from a discussion on costs to a section on benefits, as a result of a cost-benefit analysis. * Define key terms carefully Important terms and words should be defined properly, explaining what the word means, rather than what the word is about. Example A dictionary is a book containing an alphabetical list of all words in a particular language is a more complete definition than A dictionary has to do with words in a language.