Toyota Motor Corporation Internal Communication Practices

In Toyota Motors Corporation there are several communication methods by which employees share their ideas, information, opinions and feelings. The following are some of the methods: news-letter, face to face, notice board, memo, e-mail, telephone, cell phone, text messages, and instant messaging. The sharing ideas, information, opinions and feelings contribute to the operations of teams and the work of individuals within the corporation.

Thus, communication in this corporation is a two-way activity between two or more people. There are various modes of communication, some of which are used more commonly in this workplace than others. In the Toyota Corporation where I did my research, communication skills are very essential because the employees utilize these skills to help the company compete with other companies like General motors, Kia, Honda, and many others.

Due to their communication effectiveness Toyota Corporation has always done wonderful business of selling cars. In fact, Toyota Corporation has been rated as the best motor vehicle company that produces the best cars and the most cars that are in demand all over the world. It produces passenger cars, buses, sport utility vehicles, trucks, and vans. In addition, Toyota owns companies that manufacture such products as rubber, steel, and textiles.

Therefore, Toyota Motor Corporation has formulated ideas and techniques for both front-line employees and managers. The Toyota Corporation has strategized and defined skills that better their internal communication which make the staff more effective, work easier, faster, and more satisfying. For example, the managers or leaders, use internal memo, letters, face to face, mail, e-mail, telephone, cell phone, news-letter, notice board, text messaging to make the team or department more productive, aids in employee retention, and this makes work easier.

Communication in Toyota Motor Corporation uses both downward and upward communication. The following pattern is followed in downward communication. “Downward Communication flows from supervisor to employee, from policy makers to operating personnel, or from top to bottom on the organization chart. As messages move downward through successive levels of the organization, they seem to get larger. A simple policy statement from the top of the organization may grow into a formal plan for operation at lower levels.” (Lehman & DuFrene, 2005) p. 13

Consequently, in Toyota Motors Corporation staff also uses uses communication that is feedback that goes back up the hierarchy. “Upward communication generally is feedback to downward communication. Although necessary and valuable, upward communication does contain risks. When management requests information from lower organizational levels, the resulting information becomes feedback to that request. Employees talk to supervisors about themselves, their fellow employees, their work and methods of doing it, and their perceptions of the organization. These comments are feedback to the downward flow transmitted in both spoken and written form by group meetings, procedures or operations manuals, company news releases, and the grapevine.” (Lehman & DuFrene, 2005) p. 13-14.

Communication Skills within Toyota Corporation

In Toyota Corporation engagement is achieved greatly through communication process. While many factors collectively influence engagement levels, the following communication-based elements indicate a strong engagement environment:

- Immediate supervisors are rated as good communicators.

- Management is trusted in what it says and does.

- Communication is honest and straightforward, helping maximize organizational and individual performance.

- Employees are communicated to first with vital organization news.

- Employees truly understand organization’s business strategy.

- Employees are able to apply their knowledge of business strategy to their job duties.

- Accomplishments are recognized and rewarded.

- Employees recommend organization to colleagues and friends.

For many years, internal and/or employee communication within Toyota Company has been perceived to be within the realm of human resources. During the research within the Toyota Corporation I found that, when employees are engaged, through internal communication skills they are more likely to produce four tangible behaviors: staying, performing, influencing others to perform well and recommending the employer to others.

Staying is all about how the work environment attracts, develops and retains workers. The time required to fill a position, the quality of hires, the diversity standards, development rates and employee satisfaction are leading indicators. There is nothing more valuable in creating a work environment and determining the long-term culture than the communication system that supports it.

Toyota corporation policy

The Toyota Corporation focuses heavily on financial criteria, process and operational changes; yet regularly fail to have the desired impact. Often this is due to ineffective internal communication leading to a lack of engagement and disappointing results. This challenge is made more difficult by a fundamental misunderstanding among executives and managers of the power, importance and impact of communications the potential to make the difference between frustrating in action and sustainable performance.

Since the corporation believe that communications as a management discipline is the primary success factor in supporting effective change, and they work to ensure it is a fundamental component of business strategy and management.

Toyota Leadership

When the Toyota Corporation realizes the short falls in the financial returns, the top management inquires the reason of the short fall from the entire company’s management. In most cases the failure is attributed to ineffective internal communication within the Toyota Corporation.

Nevertheless, when the top management realizes the communication breakdown within the corporation, they therefore organizes conference to resolve the issue. The conferences are widely advertised through the news letters, notice boards, and e-mails. While researching I gathered that those conferences have become very useful for they help to curb the immediate corporation’s crisis.

When I interviewed, (Guy, Sales Representative, March 21, 2008, 10.30 a.m.) I learned that “Most Toyota employees have reached their current positions due to distinguished achievement in specific areas of expertise such as: general manager, sales manager, financial manager, operations manager, sales consultant and others due to effective internal communications within the corporation. This is so because once in a leadership role it is presumed that their ability to perform as well in all other areas, including as effective communicators, is equal to title and responsibility. It has been a policy that after one is employed is thoroughly trained on how to be an effective communicator, for it is often necessary to provide leaders with customized professional development in understanding the power of communications.”

The corporations management help leaders understand how to use communications as a central component of their decision making process and to consider the consequences of these decisions from the employee and customer perspective – a proven driver of engagement. Engagement and Motivation of production worker is influenced more by direct supervisors than other factors.

The strength of Toyota Motors Corporation is very much based on effective communication between the employers and the employees. They work as a team which inform, persuade, entertain, and consult each other during the times of good or poor sale. The following communication skills are tools mostly used to communicate deductive and inductive news to the staff.

Newsletter

Employee Newsletter is one internal communication skills that the corporation uses to recruit employees. The Newsletter within the Toyota Corporation is, one of the best vehicles for employee communication, it normally offers many riches in the corporation.

The newsletter is therefore a strong tool for the corporation’s information, stimulation, and entertainment. In my recent interview (Jack, sales manager, April 3, 2008, 11.15 a.m.) I learned that, “Toyota Motors Corporation, like many other organizations distribute internal newsletters to foster a sense of community among their employees. Toyota internal newsletters is for passing information, trends, and entertaining bits as external company newsletters, but with a greater sense of intimacy, and perhaps less formality. The employees get engaged in some friendly competition by touting top performers in the company newsletter. It acknowledges staff’s birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and achievements in the pages of a crisp internal publication. It also sharpens team’s industry knowledge via useful factoids, up-to-date articles, and analytical editorials. Toyota corporation use newsletters to keep staff and customers informed of current events and happenings within the company.”

Also, I gathered that the company gets opportunities to gain new clients when the newsletter is passed around, and is often seen by more than one person during its life cycle. It makes sense and is a smart move to outsource corporate communications instead of keeping it in-house.

Even though, Toyota motors corporation uses newsletter as one of its tool for internal communication, I think it is not a good way of communication for it takes time to come out, for they have it like quarterly. Additionally, most of the staff of Toyota Corporation have not time to read it for they are busy doing their usual duties. I would propose that the corporation should replace it with a tool which is faster like e-mail.

Face-to-Face Communication

Despite the rise of emails and intranets, Toyota Corporation also values face-to-face sessions mostly when it comes to keeping staff up-to-date. (Wayne, Public Relations Manager, April 4, 2008, 10.45 a.m.) indicated that “the study by specialist journal IRS Employment Review found that, while organizations do now use an extensive range of communication methods, including online systems, handbooks, newsletters and memos, team briefings, executive briefing sessions and road shows tended to work best, face to face engagement is the critical measure by which organizations are able to inspire and mobilize their people to accelerate reaching company objectives. Engaged employees are motivated to succeed, take pride in their company, are committed to the success of the corporation and are extraordinarily persuasive brand advocates. The programs are developed in the context of empirical discovery reflected in an Employee Engagement Index.”

He further informed that this index establishes a baseline for what employees currently perceive, highlights key engagement drivers and identifies obstacles to success, eliminating speculation as to what will drive effective change. Ensuring employees are committed to their organizations and in alignment with company strategy is the key ingredient in ensuring execution of programs that lead to sustainable high performance within the Toyota Corporation.

What it entails is that better communications between employees and the employer brings the success to the corporation. In actual fact, the most effective ways to overcome common communications challenges within the Toyota Corporation has been discovered that the role of senior executives play in ensuring the success of internal communications campaigns is to find out why it could be to advantage to hoard information, learn how the professionals select content to communicate, vehicles to use, and reconsider the benefits of frequent face-to-face meetings.

During the interview (Perry, Managing director, April 4, 2008, 2 .30 p.m.) indicated that, “Toyota Corporation like many other top-performing corporations treat communication as a key business driver, communication is used to educate managers and engage employees in the business by providing line-of-sight to customers’ needs and business goals. Furthermore, by gaining insight into what top-performing companies are doing, employers can reorient their communication programs, brand our employee experience and make a difference in our business results.”

He further said that effective communication programs could make a real difference to employer/employee relationships. For this is not just a ‘feel-good’ exercise. Companies that communicate effectively with employees have an engagement of workforce and superior financial results. Our organization has four internal audiences, which makes it extremely challenging to communicate. Plus, one of our biggest goals is to increase cross-selling between departments. So our job is to encourage all our internal groups to share information. Until recently, there’s been almost no sharing of information. This is partly because our various stakeholders have disparate goals.

During the research, I found that only a minority (one third) of the employers surveyed had a formal written communications policy. While two-thirds tried to evaluate the success of their internal communications, fewer than a quarter of those who did used any formal evaluation methods. Despite such limited formal planning and evaluation, more than half the organizations polled believed their communications strategy was working. Other key findings include from the study included that, while internal communications often had several aims, employers believed the most important goal was to keep staff informed about organizational changes.

This was followed by improving employee engagement and staff performance and enabling workers to do their job better. While interacting with several employees, I realized that communications approaches are more effective in keeping employees informed than in improving engagement and performance. The most popular methods of encouraging employee involvement were team meetings, attitude surveys and focus groups. More than three-quarters had a staff feedback mechanism in place.

The success of Toyota Corporation has been attributed to the management frequent meetings with the employees. That is they have face to face meetings twice or thrice every month. What it entails is that there is face to face communication. Face to face meetings continue to be the most used meeting format in Toyota Motors Corporation. In face to face communication one can be able to express him/herself facial expression, and have eye contacts. “Facial expression typically display emotions, but sometimes because of their complexity they can be difficult to interpret. As we communicate, we trade visual information by making facial expressions and interpreting those made by others. Eye behavior is a subcategory of facial expressions that includes any movement or behavior of the eyes and is also referred to as Oculesics.”(Seiler & Beall, 1999) p. 114. Therefore, face to face has been one of the most effective tool of internal communication of Toyota Motors Corporation.

Notice board

Notice board is one of the communication tools that is normally used by the Toyota Motors Corporation. Even though, notice board is perceived as an old method of passing messages, it is still usable, for it has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Nevertheless, “notice board is obvious but frequently misused medium for communications. The biggest danger is allowing board to be cluttered up with uninteresting or out of date material. But Toyota staff controls what goes on the board. The management has appointed responsible staff member to service it by removing out of date materials or unauthorized notices. A more impressive show can be made of notices and other materials if an information center is set up in the or some other suitable place where the information can be displayed in a more attractive and compelling manner than on a typical notice board.” (Miller, 2003) p. 13.

Toyota Motors Corporation use notice board to help staff find information that facilitates their own professional activities such as:

-Searching a house in another location of the job proximity to rent.

-Needing someone to play long tennis with after work.

-Searching for a soccer and basket ball coaches.

-Wanting information about living conditions in a region where one is going to do field work.

-Needing information for visiting scholarly library in a nearby university.

-Giving information on company’s sales performance weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly.

-To point out the outcome of the previous meetings.

-Announcements of the company’s awards giving day.

Notice board is essential to disseminate the information revealed at committees around the offices and works, but it is impossible to rely on committee members to do this. Minutes can be posted on notice boards, but they are seldom read, usually because they contain too a much redundant material.

Even though the corporation uses notice board as one of their tool in internal communication, some of the staff do not remember to check the information put on it, plus they are very busy and they have no time to go where it is put to check the information. So, I think it is not an effective way of communication in this corporation. They need to use either bulletin or memo.

Bulletins

Bulletins are essentially used as a mode of communication within the Toyota Motors Corporation. It serves the purpose of self service way of getting information, that is bulletins are stocked in the front desk of the corporation so that the staff members can pick them to get the latest company’s information.

Similarly, Toyota Motors Corporation has also enclosed bulletin board is ideal for passing end of year’s information. “Bulletins can be used to give immediate information to employees that cannot wait for the next issue of a newsletter, or they be a substitute for a formal publication if the company doesn’t feel that the expense is justified. Bulletins are useful only if they are distributed quickly and are seen by all interested employees. They can simply be posted on notice boards or, more effectively, given to individual employees and used as a starting point for a briefing session if they contain information or sufficient interest to merit a face to face discussion.” (Amstrong, 2003) p. 821.

Therefore, bulletins are essential and effective way of internal communication in Toyota Motors Corporation.

Memo

Memo is used in Toyota Motor Corporation as one of the channels of internal communication. It is used to deliver important daily messages indicating how the company is fairing in its operations. It is also used to pass messages of quick meetings that are called from time to time.

Memo acts as an informative channel within the Toyota Corporation for it informs staff of the profits or losses that occurs within the company in a specific given week. It is a strong too that points the strength or weaknesses of the corporation. Memo is a brief written record or communication used in an whether business, government, education institution or legal office. The plural form is either memoranda or memorandums.

A memo does not have a specific format but may be specific to a single office, level of government, or other institution. Very specific memorandum in legal settings are memorandum understanding, memorandum agreement, memorandum association, private placement memorandum, confidential memorandum, and confidential memorandum. “Short reports are often written in memorandum, e-mail, or letter format. The memorandum report is directed to an organizational insider, as are most e-mail reports. A memo includes the following: headings to serve the formal report function of transmittal and title page, a horizontal line to add interest and separate the transmittal from the body of the memo, uses deductive approach to present a report.” (Lehman & DuFrene, 2005) p. 445.

Memo also acts as an informative tool to inform or the profits or losses that occurs within the corporation in a specific given time. Therefore, memo is a strong and effective tool of Toyota’s staff internal communication.

E-mail

E-mail is one of the modern tools of communication. It follows a protocol that is included in the transport control protocol/internet. E-mail has proven to be a very efficient mode of communication within the Toyota Motors Corporation. During the interviews, communication department officer informed me that e-mail is very much used to communicate internally in various departments bringing very positive results in the company’s operation.

However, e-mail is very effective in Toyota Motor Corporation for it helps the company to communicate to the staff faster and cheap than most of other electronic communication. E-mail has quickly become the most used communication tool in many organizations. “It provides a fast, convenient way to communicate by reducing telephone tag and telephone interruptions, facilitating the transmission of a single message to multiple recipients, reducing telephone bills, eliminating time barriers, and fostering open communication among users in various locations. While general writing principles apply, acceptable e-mail formats are less formal than business letter formats.” (Lehman & DuFrene, 2005) p. 181.

E-mail is used frequently and it is more popular in Toyota Motor Corporation because :

- It has an advantage of a mailing list which has a clear ability to distribute information to staff at a relatively low cost when compared to other media investments such as direct mail or printed newsletters, it is less expensive.

- It is instant, as opposed to a mailed advertisement; an email arrives in a few seconds or minutes.

- General Manager of the Corporation can reach staff members through email whereby he receives email communications feedback.

- Over half of Toyota Motors Corporation staff users check or send email as a way of easy internal communication.

- Specific types of interaction with management can trigger other messages to be automatically delivered.

- Sending e-mails with the purpose of enhancing the relationship between the employees and the employers.

- Sending e-mails with the purpose of informing new employees of how the company is performing after they joined it.

Cell Phone

During the interview with the top management of the Marietta Toyota Corporation, I found that they use a cell phone as a means of internal communication. I was certainly made aware that cell phone has become so efficient because it is carried by individuals where ever they are making it easy to pass the message regardless the location.

“In addition to the standard voice function of a telephone current mobile phones may support many additional services, and accessories, such as SMS for text messanging, e-mail, packet switching for access to the internet, and MMS for sending and receiving photos and video. Most current mobile phones connect to a cellular network of base stations (cell sites), which is in turn interconnected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) (the exception is satellite phones).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile phone

The reason why Toyota Corporation uses cell phones is because it provides an incredible array of functions, and new ones are being added at a breakneck pace. Depending on the cell-phone model, one can:

  • Store contact information
  • Make task or to-do lists
  • Keep track of appointments and set reminders
  • Send or receive e-mail
  • Send text messages

Cell phone has become so efficient in Toyota Motors Corporation because it is portable and easy to pass the message regardless of the location. So, it is an effective tool of communication within Toyota Motors Corporation.

Text Messages

Apart from using cell phone as a tool of communication, the management was in praise of the one part that the company has used effectively. The Text message is a communication tool that the corporation uses in a wide way to communicate instant messages when they need to call for emergency meetings or action to be taken within the company.

“Text messaging is what the wireless companies call SMS, for short message service. It has become almost as popular as cell phone voice communications, with as many as 20 billion text messages being sent each month in the United States alone. Most text messages are deleted within 72 hour.” (http://infogovernance.blogspot.com/2008/02/text-messaging-and-importance-of.html)

Text Messages allows one to send text messages to cell phones from one location of the corporation facility to another. The Toyota Motors Corporation Management reported that the corporation most of times it uses text messages without fail because of its efficiency.

What I concluded from the corporations report was that the text messages have played a very positive communication role in this company. It has been widely utilized and it will be more and more used within this corporation, so it is an effective way of communication.

Telephone

The sales manager of Toyota Corporation informed me that they use telephone so much in communicating messages to each other within their corporation. They said that this is one mode of communication that they have used since the company was formed 30 years ago and it has helped them achieve so much within its management. To satisfy my curiosity I therefore wanted to know what telephone is and what was its functions.

“The telephone or phone is a telecommunications device which is used to transmit and receive sound (most commonly voice and speech) across distance. Most telephones operate through transmission of electric signals over a complex telephone network which allows almost any phone user to communicate with almost any other” (http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070302005955AAMLHBS)

Workers Service Excellence

The importance of the telephone in Toyota Motors Corporation is to positive image among the employees and the employers. Telephone has helped to pass quick messages from one part of the facility to another. It has helped to convene a meeting very quickly. It has been used to inform about the emergency within the corporation premises. It has helped to call when an employee is facing a problem within the facility.

Therefore, I found that telephone has also been an effective tool of communication in this corporation, for it has been part and parcel of communication in this corporation and it will continue being used because the company has a lot of trust in the business that telephone does to them.

Instant Messaging

Toyota Motor Corporation uses Instant Messaging (IM) known as chat for communication between staff to staff plus employers. Instant messaging/chat are technologies that facilitate near real-time text based communication between two Toyota corporation staff or more participants over a network. It is important to understand that what separates chat and instant messaging from technologies such as e-mail is the perceived synchronicity of the communication by the user – Chat happens in real-time before your eyes.

For this reason, some people consider communication via instant messaging to be less intrusive than communication via phone. However, some systems allow the sending of messages to people not currently logged on (offline messages), thus removing much of the difference between instant messaging and e-mail. Instant Messaging allows instantaneous communication between a number of parties simultaneously, by transmitting information quickly.

Some instant messaging systems allow users to use web cams and microphone which made them more popular than others. Due to this feature users can have a real-time conversation. In addition, instant messaging has additional features such as: the immediate receipt of acknowledgment or reply, group chatting, conference services including voice and video, conversation logging and file transfer.

In Toyota Motor Corporation, instant messaging allows effective and efficient communication, featuring immediate receipt of acknowledgment or reply. In certain cases instant messaging involves additional features, which make it even more popular, i.e. to see the other party, e.g. by using web-cams or to talk directly for free over the internet.

So, Toyota Motors Corporation uses this tool of communication to saves a conversation for later reference. Instant Messages are typically logged in a local message history which closes the gap to the persistent nature of e-mails and facilitates quick exchange of information like URLs or document snippets which can be unwieldy when communicated via telephone. So, it is effective tool for this corporation’s internal communication. “Instant messaging, or chat, represents a blending of e-mail with conversation. This real-time e-mail technology allows you maintain a list of people with whom you want to interact. You can send messages to any or all of the people on your list as long as the people are online. Sending a message opens up a window in which you and your contact can type messages that you both can see immediately.” (Lehman & DuFrene, 2005) p. 167.

Conclusion

Toyota Motors Corporation uses writing to effectively communicate on all levels of business. Newsletter writing and corporate communications are essential elements that have kept the staff informed and given the company the corporate image, and publicly perceived notion of credibility and reliability that is extremely important to its bottom line.

Equally, the corporation use notice board to disseminate the information from the corporation. What I gathered from the research is that, it is impossible to rely on it because people don’t read news from it as frequently as required. So, it is not very effective.

Bulletins are widely used because they are readily available to the readers due to being in strategic places. That is bulletins are placed in front offices or counters which are open to each and every member of the staff. So, it is an effective tool of Toyota Motors Corporation internal communication for it does communicate so effectively.

Memo just like bulletin is a vital means of communication, for it has proven to be very efficient in passing messages to staff when needed. Memo is seldom used and it has shown great effect in reaching the staff when it is urgently needed.

Toyota Corporation uses cell phones as a means of internal communication because it provides an incredible array of functions, and every staff is encourage to have new sets that does not fail in reception because the corporation as found cell phone to be very effective in passing urgent messages..

Nevertheless, I found that both cell phone and telephone has been part and parcel of communication in this corporation and they will continue being used because the company has a lot of trust in the business that cell phone and telephone does to them.

Again, instant messaging allows effective and efficient communication, featuring immediate receipt of acknowledgment or reply. In certain cases instant messaging involves additional features, which make it even more popular, that is to see the other party, for example by using web-sams, or to talk directly for free over the internet . This method of communication is very much used within the Toyota Corporation premises. It has proven to be effective because one can see whom he/she is interacting with.

E-mail is also used frequently and it is more popular in Toyota Motor Corporation because:

It has an advantage of a mailing list which has a clear ability to distribute information to staff at a relatively low cost when compared to other media investments such as direct mail or printed newsletters.

Also the report I got from the corporations was that the text messages are widely used for they have played a very positive communication role in this company. It has been widely utilized and it will be more and more used within this corporation.

Equally, Face to face has been used as a vital tool of communication. So, face to face meetings provide a rich nonverbal context and direct human contact, they also have certain limitations. In addition to the obvious logistical issues of schedules and distance, face to face meetings may be dominated by overly vocal, quick-to-speak, and high status members. An additional potential obstacle to communication results from the differences in communication styles that men and women typically exhibit. What I may say here is that this is a very effective method of communication, because it has sensitive matters such as who is not performing, who is of questionable character and many other in house issues are communicated. It acts as a place of the in house cleaning. It is in such meeting that the development matters are also reported and those who have performed excellently are given awards.

Therefore, in all methods of communication used by Toyota Corporation most of them play a very essential role in passing the vital messages that help build the corporation. The effectiveness of the communication methods that I have talked about have contributed so positively to the success of the corporation that has operated for over thirty years in the business of selling cars. Due to the corporation’s effective communication, the corporation has made a lot of profit that has helped them acquire another branch.

Bibliography

Amstron, Michael. (2003). Human Resource Management Practice. (9th Edition). United States of America:   New Jersey, Upper Saddle River.

Lehman, M., Carol, & DuFrene, D., Debbie. (2005). Business Communication. (14th Edition). United State of America: South-Western, Thomson.

Miller, S., James. (2003). Communication as Interaction. (8th Edition). United States of America: Lippincott-Raven, PhiladelphiaNew York.

Seiler, J., William, & Beall, L., Melissa. (1999). Communication: Making Connections. (4th Edition). United States of America: Allyn & Bacon, Viacom Company.

Telephone. (2007). http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070302005955AAMLHBS

Text Messaging and the Importance of a Record Retention Policy. (2008). http://infogovernance.blogspot.com/2008/02/text-messaging-and-importance-of.html

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