December 11, 2006

MGMT250 - Final Post

This marks the end of the semester and my final post in the Management 250 blog.
I must admit, I was quite skeptical of the premise of the course at least a month into the semester; however, I have warmed up to the purpose of it. If I had to say I've only taken away one thing from the class, it would be the bragging rights that come with being involved in a very unique program that comes closer to simulating the workplace than anything I've ever seen before. Interviewers love that.
However, I'd like to say that I did learn more from the class. While my opinions on many issues have not changed about business issues, it is important to know the reasoning behind these "new-age" management techniques, such as compensation issues and performance reviews, in order to make an informed decision at the workplace. For this, I appreciate the content of the course.

MGMT250 - The Performance Review

The performance review is undoubtedly an important part of the employer-employee relationship. But which kind of performance review is the best to use?
In the HR simulation, we were given an incident where we were charged to determine exactly which performance review is the best.
There are two main formats to use: a multiple-choice type questionnaire or more free-form essay format. There are advantages and disadvantages to both formats. While an essay format may seem to be the better format since it allows for the most qualitative input, it may be impossible to compare different employees with such a format. A multiple-choice questionnaire allows for scoring each candidate objectively, but may miss certain qualities of an employee that are not covered by the questions.
In light of the options, we decided to opt for an essay-based format. While the comparison advantages of multiple-choice formats are great, we felt that the scenario did not necessarily call for the comparison between employees; rather, it is more important to evaluate the employee's performance in relation to his or her own goals.

MGMT 250 - Tom Mendola

In MGMT250 we reviewed "The Tom Mendola Case," a scenario where a young worker is not being motivated in a machine shop. He comes from a family of hardship where he must work to support them. However, while in the first few weeks he is eager to learn and works hard, after he learns the job, his productivity drops. Twice he has requested to be transferred to a different task, twice this has been granted, and twice his job productivity has dipped. When the supervisor confronts Tom, he complains about his family's situation and states that he needs the job. What should the company do?
This is a hard predicament to answer; however, in this situation I think it is important for the company to be as objective as possible in evaluating the worker and nothing else. Nowhere in the decision on whether to keep him or fire him should the fact that he needs the job come into play. With that in mind, I think that Tom needs to be taught a lesson that he needs to work harder next time, and perhaps the pain of losing his job will send a clear message.

MGMT 250 - HR Simulation Debrief

Last week in class, Professor Poonamallee came in to speak with us about the results of the HR simulation. Our company, Penguin Beverage, overall finished at least in the top 50% of all companies in our industry, and received an award for highest safety and quality metrics.
It is interesting to compare the strategies of the first year and the second, as well as their results. We had very restrained spending habits in the first year, leading to poor results. Conversely, we pulled out all the stops and spent the most we possibly could on all possible programs, and our results flourished.
Does this reflect reality? We never can be sure, but it's probably best to err on the side of caution and say that in this simulation, financial restraint was more or less punished while teams who squandered their money were rewarded. This bodes poorly for the course, since good business sense means every bit as much financial restraint as it does paying attention to employee morale.

MGMT250 - Incentive Process

Conventional wisdom states that if one pays the worker more, the worker will be more productive. Conversely, the Management 250 course teaches us that this wisdom is not necessarily true and that there are more angles to the issue. This seems to hold true when different office environments are compared; i.e., the worker in the friendly environment may produce more than the worker in the hostile environment.
On the other hand, there are some industries where the incentive process is only carried out through direct compensation. Take for example law firms. These are very fast-paced, high-stress environments where lawyers are paid well for working long, hard hours. While the attorney may not have very high morale, productivity does not necessarily suffer as a result: they are kept in check through. In other professions such as accounting, this model may not be executable because the worker with less education perhaps has more places to go than the average lawyer who gets a chance to work in a big law firm.

November 08, 2006

MGMT250: Success!

That battery of interviews I had with two of the Big Four accounting firms in September have finally paid off. I interviewed with Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers at the Career Center after attending the Meet the Accountants breakfast. Spots for these interviews were extremely competitive as there were only around eight spots per company.
I first interviewed with the tax department of one of the Big Four, with a man who was a senior partner. He held a law degree, which intrigued me, because I was originally planning on attending law school after graduation. He had much advice to give me as a lawyer with an accounting degree, telling me about the doors that this combination could open. When I walked out of that interview, I felt very confident that I would receive a callback.
The day immediately following, I had to get up early for my interview with another Big Four firm. I threw on my suit, neglected to shave, and overall felt very emotionally unprepared for the interview. Thankfully, this company did not ask any nonsensical behavioral interview questions, to my great relief. The interview was restricted exclusively to things that mattered, such as my qualifications, experience and the details about the job at stake. When I left that interview room, I was not confident at all and essentially wrote off employment at that company.
Almost a month had passed when I received an email from the second company, inviting me to come downtown for an office visit. Yes, this was the fabled "second interview," and I was extremely excited and astonished. I had not received any word from the first company, the one who surely would give me an offer. Determined not to repeat my first mistakes of unpreparedness at an interview, I decided to obsess over the details of the interview, arrive excessively early, and brush up on those accursed behavior interview questions.
When I arrived, I interviewed with one of the managing partners, who was very familiar with one of my co-workers at my current job who had previously been employed at this firm. We talked about everything from tax law to golf, and had a good time. We had an enjoyable enough time that we did not realize it when the time deadline came and passed.
I also interviewed with a director of tax who was very impressed at my description of the MGMT250 concept and program. Essentially, I did nothing but detail the inner workings of the HR simulation related it to real-life work situations. I believe I impressed the man here as well.
After the interviews were complete, the interview candidates and accounting staff enjoyed some fine dining at a fancy restaurant across the street. I could not believe that they would spend such money on internship candidates; but then again, these companies believe that employees are their greatest asset.
I was informed of the deadline for their internship decisions, and called the office on that day. They offered me a summer internship position! I am excited and looking forward to working for one of the greatest accounting firms in the world over the summer.

MGMT250 - The Interview and MGMT250

When trying to battle the bane of my existence that is the behavioral interview, I often find myself using examples directly from Management class. When an interviewer hears about the unique nature of the MGMT250/251 sequence, he or she usually becomes intrigued enough to inquire further about the class, thus distracting attention away to the list of awful, awful questions in front of the interviewer.
The HR simulation is a particular favorite answer to the nonsensical behavioral questions that involve "leadership skills." The idea of a class where four students are grouped together and given an objective with no prior experience is an unprecedented one in the business school setting. While I truly despised the fact that I was not given enough background on the simulation to simply jump right in, I now realize that this kind of practice is quite an accurate simulation of the way the real-world work environment works - many times, you will be assigned to a team with an objective but with no road map to get there. That's the job of the team - to find out how to achieve the goal. Using the resources at our disposal: i.e., the textbook and the "CEO," we were able to discover on our own what we were to do to complete our assignments. Interviewers love that.