December 11, 2005

Wage gap

During the Tom Mandela discussion, the topic of expectations for low level workers made me think about the topic of the income gap between the rich and the poor in the United States. This gap, which has been continually increasing, is seldom addressed in the public sphere, yet it may be affecting us all. Although, those of us who attend management 250 will likely never have to find ourselves on the shrinking side of the gap, it is important to realize that it exists, and could be a threat to our way of life. For instance, if such a problem goes unaddressed for long enough, we may create a class of citizens who no longer believe they can live the American dream: to rise to success out of poverty by working hard. I'm interested in the causes of the widening of the gap, and if the growth is accelerating or decelerating. I hope that those of us who will be influencing the policies that govern this topic will consider that those on the other side of the gap are no different then ourselves. Just like Tom Mendela, they get bored doing tedious work their entire lives, and some day they might realizes that although they make up the majority of Americans, their interests are not being represented. We shouldn't loose this opportunity to reflect on this problem, and its possible repercussions.

End of Simulation

As this is the official end of the simulation, i thought I'd try discussing what i learned from it. First of all, more than anything, this simulation was about working with other people. We got to learn what each member was like, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. I think it would be interesting if in the next semester, we were able to interview and hire team members from the pool of the whole class. For instance, each classmate might go up in front of everyone and say something about themselves and field a few questions. That process might have made this whole experience a lot different. It would have changed the team dynamics as we would have been able to pick people who we thought we could work with, and also affect how we review our teammates, knowing that we had a hand in selecting them. Nevertheless, although this project has been very people intense, it still felt like our relationship had less to do with doing well in the simulation, and more to do with getting everyone to do a fair share of the work. Perhaps that should have been mentioned in class, or perhaps the simulation should be adjusted so that it relies more on having a strong team.

Last Day of Class

For the last day of class, we went around the room discussing our positive experiences over the year and thanking each other. As discussed at the beginning of the year. this is one of the important steps that a team goes through: closure. It is a change to recognize the emotional effect that the team had on our lives and end it appropriately. I found that the process helped everyone feel better about the day, and was a very positive experience. One added, real life benefit of this process is very good at generating positive feelings about the project which can lead to more business in the future between team members.

December 06, 2005

Crime and Punishment

In class we discussed the various ways to reprimand employees. The process of punishment went in orders of increasing severity in a clear manor that provided transparency as well as the ability to be defended in court. One topic we didn't cover, however, was how to determine if mitigating circumstances could take affect. It is an important question, whether you should treat two employees who committed the same infraction the same way, even if they committed the infraction for two different reasons. Our justice system works in a manner which balances the act with the reasons for committing the act. It would seem unjust to apply different standards in the workplace. Unfortunately, for legal reasons, it is important to show fair and equal treatment of all employees, and it may appear unfair to treat employees differently in any way. For that reason, the best alternative may be to have a strictly enforced code of behavior and an appeals board who can fairly review cases which may have been too strictly enforced. This way, you can afford leniency based on situation without risking personal bias or prejudice from managers.

Tom Mendela Case

In class we discussed whether it would be appropriate to fire an employee if he consistently was shown to get bored with his job. As is the case in most situations, the answer lies in the detail. For instance, is it unreasonable that Tom became bored after performing a simple, repetitive task day after day for a month? Possibly yes, if other employees go through a similar process of growing bored with their work. If, however, the other employees have no problem staying interested with their work, then there is definitely a problem with Tom, and he may need to be fired. The important point, is to not lose an opportunity to improve productivity by considering the fact that your workers are human and thus vulnerable to human problems such as boredom. It is possible that you might find a productivity increase by relieving boredom.

November 06, 2005

Harrah's Case

Gain sharing is a creative way to offer the motivational benefits of paying for performance for employees whose jobs aren't directly linked to profit. Some positions, such as salesman easily lend themselves to a pay for performance scheme such as commission, and other positions, such as upper level executive lend themselves to a profit sharing scheme. Unfortunately, many organizations have numerous employees who can't be compensated for their efforts through such straightforward methods. Gains sharing offers a creative solution to this problem by being able to reward the efforts of employees along lines that don't directly effect profits. The downside, of course, is that if you aren't careful with which objectives you choose to reward, you may encourage employees to behave in ways that don't help the company. A carefully chosen objective, however, can bring the same benefits of commissions or profit sharing to less dollar-oriented departments, such as customer service and technical support.

Training

Training is important to organizations which value their employees and want to see increased performance. Not only does training improve the skills of an employee, it shows employees how valuable they are and decreases the likelihood that they will quit. The article titled "Creating a Learning Organization" discusses the importance of creating a learning plan that is effective. It's suggestions seem pretty logical, such as focus on learning strategies that are interesting and engaging, and have a focus on hands on experience. The conclusion I draw from this is that a company's training strategy should mimic the teaching strategy used by effective teachers.