December 12, 2006

MGMT250

After reflecting on Management 250, I see that the class provided many rewarding experiences. The Learning Plan allowed me to see the importance of goal setting, while the HR simulation provided experience of what a career in management might be like. In addition, this blog was a good way to expand on topics we discussed in class.
However, there were some parts of the class that could have been done better. I found the case studies to be of little help. We seemed to rush through analysis and did not get very far in some of the discussions, particularly the Harrah's case. Some class discussion was not productive. While much of the discussion was on controversial issues which generated good discussion, some topics could have simply been read from the book. For example, the presentations on training methods did nothing to expand on the readings.
Despite these shortcomins, I am really looking forward to Management 251. While looking at business from an HR perspective was useful, I think I will enjoy studying a larger perspective in the spring. I think the material will be interesting and I look forward to finding out what projects we will complete.

MGMT250

After completing the HR Simulation, two themes really stood out from our results.
First, wage increases did not directly correspond to increases in productivity and quality. While wage increases certainly had some effect on employees, implementing programs and increasing fringe benefits played a large part. Before the simulation began, I felt that money was the most important thing to motivate employees. I now realize that wages aren't everything for most workers.
Second, our results illustrated how difficult maintaining employee performance is to maintain over the course of a few years. While employee morale rose and absenteeism and accident rates fell for our first year, our improvements leveled off and eventually declined in year two. For someone working in HR, maintaining employee performance has to be the one of the most challenging tasks.

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For about three weeks during the month of November, I was at home trying to recover from mononucleosis. While I was at home, I watched The Score, an old Robert De Niro movie about a diamond heist. In the film, Robert De Niro's character describes the way he approached life while giving advice to his protégé. "Make a list of everything you want in life. Then, start acquiring it, piece by piece.” I like the emphasis on the gradual accumulation of what you want in life. Keeping this mindset is helpful in goal setting, as most worthy goals will take a great deal of time and hardship to complete.
I kept this quote in mind as I completed the Catch Your Dreams exercise and the second part of the Learning Plan. While writing my Learning Plan, I really struggled with selecting a personal goal. While I have used goal setting in school and athletics, I never really considered setting a goal and using small steps to achieve it when it comes to personal matters.
After completing the Catch Your Dreams exercise, I saw that almost all of my dreams were not related to my career or financial situation. While I think this will change somewhat in the next few years, I don't see myself ever being extremely career oriented. Because of this, I think it is important to use goal setting in my personal life.
Using goal setting will allow me to accomplish what I want in life. Over the break, I am going to look at what I want to accomplish in the near future and use goal setting to help me.

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When we discussed job ethics in class, Professor Johnson talked about how a strong ethical background in all parts of life translates to strong business ethics. She brought up the example of Jeff Skilling, former CEO of Enron. Skilling's former classmates stated that the former CEO was willing to push the limit of ethics in his personal life. The example was meant to show that a loose moral background translates to violating ethics in business.
Personally, I don't believe that a strong moral background is enough to prevent a person from making some questionable decisions at work, especially when that person is in a position of power. In the book Market Wizards, one successful businessman talked at length about the pressures of being involved in business. He stated that people in business can get so involved in a project or company that they cannot think in a rational way. When an employee in a powerful position is put under pressure, the person may feel forced to make a poor ethical decision to save the company, no matter how ethical that person may have been in the past.
The situations in business that test a person's ethics are so different from ethical dilemmas in other parts of life. We are taught repeatedly that stealing or cheating is wrong. However, we spend only a day or two in accounting or management classes on ethics. The fact that we have never cheated on a final exam doesn't necessarily mean that we won't manipulate depreciation expense once to make the company look more attractive.

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Throughout the course, we have discussed punishment for executives who commit white-collar crime. Following the sentencing of Jeff Skilling, former CEO of Enron, The Wall Street Journal printed an article on trends in the sentences for white collar crime. While Skilling was sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison, former CFO Andrew Fastow was sentenced to only six years after helping authorities convict Skilling and Ken Lay, who passed away before sentencing.
The Wall Street Journal stated that the Enron sentences will lead to a large increase in guilty pleas, with executives rushing to help the government take down their co-workers. As CFO, Fastow was highly involved in the accounting scandal at Enron, and may have been the mastermind behind the fraud that occurred. Despite this high involvement, a guilty plea and an agreement to help authorities resulted in an extremely lenient sentence. Skilling on the other hand maintained his innocence throughout the trial and paid the price. His sentence was the second longest in history for a white-collar crime.
With such a disparity between sentences, a precedent that highly encourages a guilty plea has been set. This will be an interesting trend to follow in the future.

October 13, 2006

MGMT250

In a class discussion about benefits, Professor Johnson gave us some insight into how some firms choose the benefit plans they offer. She provided the example of Arthur Anderson. Before the firm closed, they did not offer accountants very competitive health coverage plans. They did this because the employees were generally young and not in need of a great health care plan.
This example shows how the fringe benefits companies choose to offer can attract employees. For example, a company offering tuition reimbursement and a sparse health care plan would likely be more attractive to a recent graduate than a great health care plan and no tuition reimbursement. Fringe benefits can play a large part in attracting quality employees.

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One of the assigned readings for the compensation lecture discussed the benefits and disadvantages of a pay structure that rewards performance. If designed correctly, I feel that a paying employees based on performance is advantageous for companies.
The increased performance would be beneficial for companies as well. In addition, a pay scale rewarding performance will attract good employees, as a top performer will want to be compensated. On the other hand, an unmotivated employee will be discouraged by such a pay scale, as they will be forced to work for their wages.
In a market as competitive as the market of today, I believe that a trend towards a pay scale rewarding performance will take place. The change will allow for increased productivity and more efficient employees.