WorldCom, communication barriers and its downfall.
Throughout reading this article, I must confess I had a difficult time. I thought it was disgusting that CEOs of companies, who make a lot of money as it is, are greedy and will do anything to make more money. With that being said, the Worldcom scandal is a perfect example of communication barriers. Besides unethical behaviors, unjust decisions were what caused the downfall of the company. A perfect example was proven when accountants knew that checks were being written for personal use, and not for business. This unethical behavior should have been reported right away. If Worldcom had the proper policies and procedures as well as effective communication in place, this bug would have been squashed immediately! Also, all of this chaos could have been prevented if Ebbers were to hire auditors, or other people come in to insure all employees were following those policies and procedures. Have an outsider come into the workplace to see if they can grasp a better understanding of what is really going on. Doing this, will help the organization bypass ‘groupthink’ or follow the ideas set in motion by the group.
The first barrier I found throughout reading CNN’s article was selective perception.
Selective Perception is defined by our book as “…the personal filtering of what we see and hear to suit our own needs” (Carpenter, Bauer, Erdogan, and Short, 2013). In my opinion, Ebber was fully aware of what Sullivan was doing but felt if he wasn’t doing it, he couldn’t be criminally responsible for it. He only say what he wanted to see and turned his back on everything else.
Ebbers taking the stand in his own defense actually contradicted himself when he insisted that he “…know nothing of WorldCom’s shady accounting and that he left much of the minutiae of running the company to underlings” (Crawford, 2005). This clearly follows the selective perception because Ebbers is admitting that he did not care, nor pay attention to what was really going on throughout the company. I think he was a believer in a famous motto, “Don’t ask; Don’t tell”. The less he asked, the less he knew, therefore in his mind, he could not be held criminally responsible for something he did not know!
The second barrier
The second barrier I found was filtering. Filtering can be defined as “…distortion or withholding of information to manage a person’s reaction and it can prevent members of an organization from greeting a complete picture of reality (Carpenter, Bauer, Erdogan, and Short, 2013). Ebbers displayed filtering because he stated that he had no idea there was any fraud going on. Regardless of Sullivan hiding information from Ebbers, it was Ebbers’s responsibility to ensure that effective communication techniques were properly followed throughout the footprint of the company. Ebbers decided to not share information with his coworkers. As I mentioned prior regarding the accountants withholding information, Ebbers was also withholding information because he was well aware he was spending money that isn’t actually his to be spent.
I instantly thought of a question once I read this. How did they manage to make all of this money ‘disappear’ without drawing suspicion? Despite what actually happened Ebbers was found “…criminally responsible for false regulatory filings” (Crawford, 2005). Worldcom’s failures were due to many things, but the lack of communication and teamwork was the final push that caused them to go over the edge.
Carpenter, M., Bauer, T., Erdogan, B. & Short, J. (2013). Principles of management (Version 2.0). Washington, DC: Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
Crawford, Krysten. (2005). Ex-WorldCom CEO Ebbers Guilty Faces long prison sentence after being convicted on all nine counts of accounting fraud. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/15/news/newsmakers/ebbers/
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Communication and group dynamics are important elements within the leading facet of the P-O-L-C framework. Read the following article from CNN describing Bernie Ebbers’ downfall as CEO of WorldCom: Ex-WorldCom CEO Ebbers guilty.
Based on what you read in the article, in your initial post, identify which two barriers to effective communication were most prominent within WorldCom and explain how these barriers led to the downfall of the company. Be specific and identify the communication barriers based on the information in Chapter 11 of your text.
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