Intern Insights: Corporate Communication

July 2, 2012

Prior to joining Murray & MacDonald for the summer, the notion of effective corporate communication was not something I fully understood. It is very easy to sit in a Management or Organizational Behavior course and talk about effective means of communication, but actually putting these to practice is a different story. My expectation was to have someone hand me a project and do it, no questions asked, but my experience has turned out to be vastly different.

This week, I was responsible for posting Electronic Funds Transfers and Journal Entries for an Employee Benefits Account. When you sit down to take an Accounting final, the task at hand is very straightforward. The questions ask, “Record the Adjusting Entry for a PP&E Depreciation Expense of $50,000” or “Prepare the Closing Entries using the Adjusted Trial Balance”. Now I was asked to gather invoices, match invoices to previous transactions, and post the correct entry. I spent a few hours doing so, and to the best of my knowledge I was doing it right. However, when I finally had a question to ask, I was told otherwise.

It turned out that I had been naming the entries wrong, posting them in the wrong spot, and seemingly doing everything else wrong. While it was a disappointment and set me back an hour or so in work, it was an opportunity to realize the benefits of effective communication. It took an hour-long phone call, a good blow to the stomach that was my dignity, and an incredibly sore ear because of my lack of a fancy headset, but I learned how to do the entries properly! When I was asked to do the same type of entry later in the week, I knew exactly what I was doing and completed them without a problem.

Corporate communication advances as technology does. Microsoft, a staple of a vast majority of consumers’ computers, recently acquired Yammer for $1.2B. Yammer is the self-proclaimed “Enterprise Social Network”, specialized for corporate use. Evidently, Microsoft sees the value in the technological advancement of corporate communications. While I like to see myself as a tad old-fashioned, I find it difficult to call or email a co-worker that works mere feet from me when I could simply get up and walk over, there is no doubt that Yammer can streamline and improve corporate communication. Yammer offers companies a secure social platform over which they can share content, store large files, collaborate on projects in real-time, and communicate with customers and vendors, among other things. I would shell out a cool $1.2B to purchase Yammer if I could have. The opportunities of a streamlined means of communication are boundless and can drastically improve a business. Operations become seamless and geographically limitless. While this kind of platform might be extreme for a small insurance company like us, it speaks to the emphasis placed on effective communication. Businesses will go to extreme lengths to ensure that their employees are communicating seamlessly. I certainly would not have had to do those journal entries twice had I been an effective communicator.

It would not be right of me to ignore the recent Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of imposing a penalty on individuals who do not purchase health insurance but qualified it as a tax. The USSC ruled that the government could not mandate that individuals purchase health insurance, but it can penalize those who do not. In a prime example of our country’s system of checks and balance, Chief Justice Roberts stated, “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax…it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.” Yet, the Affordable Care Act has a rocky road ahead. If Obama is voted out of office in November, Romney will almost certainly repeal it and it will continue to see Republican dissent for some time, regardless of the outcome.

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