Cerner Corporation Case Analysis
When did the first signs of communication problems surface at Cerner Corporation? What caused them? A. It is suggested that communication problems existed at the company prior to the March 13, 2000 memo sent by Cerner’s CEO 1. Patterson was concerned about employee work ethic at the company a. Patterson takes one employee’s opinion as confirmation of his own concern about employee work ethics being low b. Downward communication from CEO should be consistent and truthful; scare tactics are inappropriate; won’t improve work ethics or morale 2.
Patterson expected that his employees would understand the exaggerated tone of his mem...
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...o indicating he might have used such tactics before a. Meetings instead of memos, so information is not in writing b. Downward communication should not be insulting or threatening B. The harsh memo Patterson sent on March 13, 2000 was a knee-jerk reaction that wasn’t thought through with Strategic Communication in mind 1. Patterson did not consider the possibility of the memo being leaked, and certainly did not prepare for any negative backlash from his sending of it 2.
It seemed that Patterson based his judgments on employee performance (and in turn, the performance of their managers) on very little Upwards Communication from his employees and managers, but rather his own personal observation. a. Perhaps the employees carpooled or did additional work from home; Patterson should have asked more questions of his employees before setting an ultimatum 3. Not only did some of Patterson’s own employees not respond well to the belligerent communication used in his memo, but it was also ill received amongst the unintended audience on the internet and Wall Street
II. Describe Neil Patterson’s communication style. A. Patterson’s main style of communication is analytical 1. Despite what outsiders may think of his methods, Patterson does tend to get results 2. He asks “how” and seeks more data and information 3. He dislikes making errors and feels the need to save face B. Patterson seems to temper his analytical communication with passive-aggressive communication 1. Communications appear honest, but are actually confusing 2. He tends towards indirect communication while only seeming to be direct 3.
People do not have consistent views of his character and are not always sure what to expect from communication with him C. One reason for Patterson’s communication problems and management style could be his bringing his farm-raised mindset into the corporate world 1. He was alone with his thoughts a lot 2. No employees to deal with 3. He was used to acting on what was in his head; not as useful in corporate context III. Describe how Mr. Patterson “should” style-flex to interact positively with his employees and constituents. A. Patterson should assess his own communication style B.
He should plan his communications with managers, employees, and investors separately and according to their particular needs and cultures C. He should adapt his style to suit the audience with which he is communicating D. He should evaluate each communication in terms of its individual style and determine how effective the communication was IV. What are the ramifications of Mr. Patterson’s memo to the “organization and feedback” boxes of the Strategic Communication Model? A. Patterson’s memo had a negative effect on the organization box 1. Employees were unnerved by the tone of the memo 2.
Managers worried about losing their jobs and the other threats Patterson made in the memo, despite the fact he did not go through with his threats 3. The company as a whole was most likely more unstable when the stock began falling on Wall Street due to the internet leak of the memo B. The memo produced many unexpected ramifications on the feedback box, particularly due to its leak to the internet 1. Patterson got 300 emails expressing feedback from employees post memo leak 2. Patterson could see what the investors and analysts thought due to the leak 3. Wall Street showed feedback in the form of a drop in stock value
III. Describe how Mr. Patterson “should” style-flex to interact positively with his employees and constituents. A. Patterson should assess what communication style he uses personally 1. How Patterson sees his own communication style 2. How others see Patterson’s communication style a. Feedback from co-workers and employees b. Combination of the two interpretations of Patterson’s style with more weight given to outside opinion B. He should plan his communications with managers, employees, and investors separately and according to their particular needs and cultures 1.
Patterson should determine the best channel to use for each person with whom he must interact 2. He should choose language appropriate to each person, so he takes into account their cultures and all ethical considerations 3. He should avoid any threatening or insulting communication, as this is rarely (if ever) a good method of communication in any business 4. He should realize the differences required to be effective in his Downward Communication and Horizontal Communication, and also in communication with people outside the company (investors, analysts, media, etc.
) 5. He should account for time of day, location (if communicating in person), and other external factors that can have an effect on the interaction C. He should adapt his style to suit the communication styles of the audience with which he is communicating 1. Patterson should evaluate the communication styles of the people with whom he is interacting 2. He should be aware of his communication while it is taking place, as he may need to adapt according to trial and error during the actual interaction 3.
He should be able to change his communication style to complement that of the person with whom he is interacting to be able to achieve the best effect D. He should evaluate each instance of communication in terms of its individual style and determine how effective the communication was 1. Was Patterson able to flex his style effectively to adapt to the style of each person with whom he interacted? 2. Did each person show understanding of Patterson’s communication and respond in a favorable fashion? 3. Is Patterson achieving his goals with communication through style-flex?