December 11, 2006

Discipline

Sitting with a bunch of my brothers in Sigma Nu, men dedicated to leading lives of honor, it is funny to think of 'discipline' as a course of corrective action. But, I think we all can recognize that times arise when employees are not holding to the values of their organizations and corrective action is necessary. Discipline serves a few purposes. Not only is it meant to reform a particular employee, it is also serves an example for the other employees and sets a standard for moving forward in the organization. As a result of the multiple facets to corrective actions, approaches to discipline must be cognizant of its wider impact. Presumably, the point to any organizational action and policy is to reach some form of improvement, mainly profit. Regardless that not following a policy is a detriment to the organization’s end, responding with discipline rulings which weaken morale and productivity will not improve the situation. It seems to me the theme of my last set of blogs is the complicating effect of the human aspect in organizations. As it applies to discipline, everyone feels a connection to humanity and with it, the welfare of others. Chief among the concerns is over the implication of injustice. If management is overly harsh, employees will not respond well and the organization will be hurt.

December 07, 2006

HR Simulation Reflection

When my HR Simulation group was trying to make decisions regarding hiring and firing during the sixth quarter, we had to decide if we were going to fire a significant number of Level 1 employees. Firing so many people did not seem to be particularly necessary for accomplishing our objectives. I brought up that firing people would probably cause a decrease in morale. Since we didn't think our company would really benefit from laying off people and because our projected labor needs would require hiring again in the seventh quarter, we decided to make smaller than suggested labor cuts.

Unfortunately our requested layoffs were not correctly entered into the computer. As a result, we were able to experience the correlation between heavy layoffs and morale. This relationship got me thinking: what portion of managerial decisions factor into damage control and what portion factor into progress. Let me explain what I mean:

We know what would happen if we were to layoff a bunch of people: morale would plummet. This is what happened. People would wonder if their jobs were also in danger and would not trust management. However, if we were to not fire those people, despite a need to make cuts, would our morale have stayed the same or increased? If we hired as many people as we fired, instead of firing them, would morale increase as much as it decreased? I have a hard time believing it would. I don’t think people are as enthusiastic about the good as they are unenthusiastic about the negatives. It is kind of like earning someone’s trust. It is very difficult to earn, but it can be lost in a second.

This proves how complex the business environment is, when the best of ideas have only small positive effects but the average or below average have the potential to be catastrophic.

December 06, 2006

Four Phase Model/Learning Plan

I really liked the Four Phase model presented last week by Amy Sindelar. More than simple action steps, it helped me realize the logic behind the learning plan. At first, I thought the learning plan was just a collection of answers to questions. Now, vis-à-vis the development model presented by Amy, I succinctly see the appropriate steps for an undergraduate to take and I am able to correlate sections of the learning plan to these steps.

The discover section is very much the same as the differently personality assessments and inventories we used. This is an inward process. The explore section was similar to the career interviews and other steps mentioned toward determining careers of interest. This is an outward process. Deciding is similar to creating action plans. Acting is left out of the learning plan, I believe, but it essentially means ‘get to it.’ So, we would be completing action plans in this step.

Other than the similarities, Amy’s presentation was great for the last four slides, which gave suggestions for how to proceed with the steps.

Human Elements in Organizational Communication

Consider the prospect of using an instant message program to end a relationship. This is an overwhelmingly frowned upon scenario. Generally, it is assumed the most honorable method of ending a relationship is to do so face-to-face. One reason for this is the vulnerability created for the party ending the relationship. The recipient of the news would be more likely to respect the giver of the news, creating a more amicable break up, when the giver of the news is in a position of respect for the receiving party.

This situation is similar to one between an employer and employee. If an employer were to terminate employees through text messaging, they would not be viewed positively by employees, current or potential. The impersonal approach would be seen as a ‘cold business tactic’ used by people only interested in profits—and not people. In the future, this lack of personal interaction could backfire on the company, resulting in labor problems, including increased turnover and decreased morale.

If we take anything away from this course, I think it would have to be that since organizations are human, they are vulnerable to human weaknesses. Also, this means problems require human solutions. This is exemplified in the need for face-to-face interactions.

December 05, 2006

HR/Firing Decisions

In class today, Professor Piderit mentioned the importance of managers coming to a decision regarding a course of action to take with an employee before meeting with the employee. Thus, if a manager is thinking of firing an employee, the manager should decide before meeting with the employee to relay the decision. This seems to me to be a critically important decision for a manager to make. Managers will open themselves to problems if they are not decisive. The manager may appear lack resolve and other employees may doubt his/her decision making capabilities. Further, the decision to fire probably came after significant consideration of factors involved. To make a split second decision based on pleas from an employee will probably result in a new decision not as well thought out as the initial decision. However, if the meeting with the employee revealed information not previously considered (contradicting stories, etc.), a decision to postpone the firing may be in order.

November 09, 2006

Pay

When the class discussed compensation, I was glad to hear the conversation move toward the limits of performance pay. I think people over value the importance of money as a motivating factor toward employee productivity. If a person is given a raise of $1, from $10 to $11, will this person's productivity increase 10%? I find it hard to believe it would. If the person recently started slacking off 9.1% from a prior productivity level, a 10% increase is possible, since these two percentages cancel each other out and return the worker to normal productivity. Still, was the dollar raise necessary? Probably not. Instead, management probably slipped up. Good management can prevent work place dissatisfaction to some extent and can also increase productivity. Once management improved productivity, a wage increase may be justified as reinforcement for the employee, but it is likely that the raise would not have to be equivalent to the increase in productivity.

Feedback

Today, in class, we spoke about feedback: how to give it, how to receive it, when to give it, when to withhold it, etc. When talking about the appropriateness of timing feedback, I was reminded of an all-to-familiar and frequent occurrence often portrayed in media: when a husband is attempting to assemble some new piece of equipment/furniture/bicycle (sans directions) and his wife is standing on the said trying to throw in her two cents. The last thing the husband, with frustration intensifying, wants to hear is his wife nagging about his performance. Most of us have probably been in a similar situation before and I'm sure we weren't pleased with the advice we were receiving either. This can be adapted to a work setting: someone is in the middle of something, very busily attempting to accomplish his or her job as a deadline approaches. In the middle of the chaos, a boss comes to complain about technique, as if could possibly help with limited time remaining. I have to wonder how much blame I should put on each person, for the workers agitation, in a time like this. Is it the manager's fault for disturbing the worker or is it the worker's fault for blaming the manager who is just doing his/her job? Sure, the boss is approaching the situation in the wrong way, at the wrong time, but does that justify the employee's feelings? This reveals a little about the psychology of a work place.