December 09, 2006

On MGMT 250, a Final Note...

At the end of it all, I have to say that I enjoyed my experience in MGMT 250. Considering the simulation, which I talked about in an earlier entry, aside, I found the class to be quite engaging and interesting. That is key for a class that meets at 9:00 am on a Monday. The case files were my favorite section of the class. To be able to see an actual problem that faced other management personnel is an excellent way to learn. It allows a significant amount of discussion between classmates, something which in turn tends to produce much better ideas.

My only real negative comment about the class has to do with the actual readings. While most classes would be fine, occasionally a large amount of text would be assigned for class and then not be discussed at all. I am not complaining about the amount of reading, but if some of the assigned reading is more for self-improvement and can be read at leisure, it would be nice to see it denoted as such. I can think of a few times when time constraints restricted the amount of time to read material. It literally came down to a guessing game to see which text needed to really be read and which could be read later. Needless to say, there were a few times during lecture I realized that I had made the wrong choice.

On the Final Learning Plan...

I found the second part of the learning plan much more enjoyable to write than the first part. Whereas part one had a static quality to the writing, part two had an optimistic and future feeling. Also, it was a great personal benefit for myself to have actual goals defined and a series for sub-goals for achieving it. For example, on of my short-term goals is to write a children's story. I have honestly had that goal since early freshmen year of high school, but, as is quite apparent by the nature of this sentence, I have yet to do it. It just always was put off because of school, work, or some other activity I was pursuing at the time.

There are many other goals that fell through due to a lack of focus and time. Although my learning plan was only able to accommodate three goals, I believe I will use the SMART system parts of the START NOW frameworks in the future for some other personal goals.

December 08, 2006

On the HR Simulation...

Overall, I found the HR Simulation a rewarding experience. The part I found the most interesting were the individual incidents. Since they were quite different than simple calculations and allocations of funds, they allowed a much more creative and dynamic form of thought. Also, group members tended to have very strong opinions of why or why not to select a certain action as opposed to mild suggestions about whether or not it was worth putting an extra $100 in the quality budget.

There were, however, some negatives to the simulation. The strategic challenge seemed to taper off as the simulation progressed, however, since each month fell into a routine. By the final quarters, it just seemed that all the budgets (safety, quality, etc.) were increased only to keep up with the other companies since money was plentiful. Aside from that, the only other problem I saw was hidden within the actual programming of the simulation; sometimes the program would alter numbers or charge unnecessary expenses, problems that both altered budgets and changed statistics.

To reiterate, the simulation was an excellent experience, but there is always room for improvement.

On Layoffs...

If there is only one major concept that I learned in the HR simulation, it is that layoffs really hurt a company. Faced with diminishing production, my group found itself in an odd predicament; we had extremely high productivity and low employee turnover. With employees wanting to stay with our company, we soon found our company over staffed. In an attempt to save our productivity, we decided to layoff roughly 5% of our entry-level employees.

The next quarter, we were quite stunned to see that almost everything positive had dropped and most negative factors had increased. Absenteeism and accidents rose while employee morale and even productivity took major hits. We expected some negative consequences, but this seemed ridiculous. It really put into context what really happens to a company, such as a major airline, when massive layoffs are instituted. To need to use such action, with all its negative side effects, really shows the desperation of that company.

On Tom Mendola...

For class on 12/4, we discussed the case of Tom Mendola. Mendola, a young worker in a factory, was going to be released due to his inadequate performance. Mendola pleaded with his employers to give him another chance since his family relied heavily on his income.

Although I believe that the company should take into account Mendola's situation, they cannot afford to let him stay on. My group suggested that Mendola should be given one additional month of employment at the factory. At the end of this month, Mendola will be let go. The month of additional employment would be contingent on him performing up to his ability and not being tardy. This way, the company can feel good about not abandoning Mendola in his scenario without taking the productivity blow brought about by Mendola's poor performance.

Another point that arose was what to do for recommendations to other employers about Mendola. The group agreed that providing the minimum information regarding Mendola would be best. If the potential employer asked additional questions, Mendola's current employer should be truthful while attempting to give Mendola the most positive image possible.

November 09, 2006

Evaluating only on Financial Results...

Although this is a topic on the blog guideline sheet, the reason I thought about it was due to the class discussion on feedback. I do not believe that a person or department’s evaluation should be based solely on financial information. There are many times when a good decision may not garner the greatest monetary result. Implementing important ideas that improve programs and make them more efficient will take money up front, but in the end, there will be a significant payoff. Not everything can be simply measured in dollars. If it could, then everyone would still be talking about how great Enron is.

Although I have very little experience in evaluating people in a professional atmosphere, I have done it several times in the academic realm. First, I look to see if all the necessary objectives were completed. Next, I look at how each objective was approached. Finally, I look at the end result. Good ideas do not always show up on the bottom line, but they are still quite relevant. Money is not everything; just ask Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling that question.

Incident Reports...

In my opinion, the most enjoyable part of the HR simulation is dealing with the incident reports. Unlike the constant number crunching and budgeting of the input sheet, the incident reports allow an excellent group discussion to occur. Also, it allows insights into other aspects of the simulation. For one incident, I can remember my group reading a report and finding a strong connection with another section of the input sheet. We decided to change around some budgeting, and it really paid off by boosting some of our average statistics.

Also, the incident report is so valuable as a management experience. Making a major error in this simulation may gain someone negative feedback from the instructor, but at least he or she will not lose his or her job. The constant weighing of circumstances, ethics, and budgets is the clearly the most enjoyable part of the simulation. That is, of course, aside from having $1,600,000 to play with.