Archive for September, 2009

Sierra Medical Chemicals

The case study of Specialty Medical Chemicals is one that is seen all to often in companies.  The introduction of a new CEO can be nerve-racking for not only the existing employees but also for the CEO.  With any management change, there arise fears of job security, loyalty, and motivation.  The key however, is for the CEO to try and build open lines of communication with employees and encourage them to be as active in the company as possible.

This is what Carl Burke tried to do at SMC; creating weekly management meetings, talking directly with sales people, research the business industry, and looking for potential growth.  Which is why he brought in Laura Wells.  He was trying to fix whatever growth issue they were having.  However successful they have been in the future, they were not growing.   In my opinion, the first step would be to kick the VP of product development in the butt and make expanding the market to biotech and generic drug companies as soon as possible.  It is a huge market that is being left untapped because they take too long to develop. 

Furthermore, I think that Laura’s approach to a potential restructuring of the company is a smart one.  Basing her analysis off of a person’s work history, psychological analysis, and behavior Carl can get a better understanding of each person individual strengths and weakness.  If carl and restructure the company so that everyone is aware of the personalities they are working and what strengths and limitations each person has, the more successful the people and the company will be.  Overall, I believe that restructuring is essential and that the company will be successful in the future.

How Good Are You?

This week i read an article about performance reviews.  Basically, it bashed them and all that the mean and do when used by company to rate their employees.  Honestly, I completely agree that performance reviews are negative to corporate performance; limiting the already few pen lines of communications that already exist in the business world. 

Furthermore, those giving the review and those being reviewed take two different positions on their meaning.  How can something that is being interpreted differently be effective?  Furthermore, I believe that performance reviews do not promote growth within and among employees.  If, in the end, most people get good ratings and a slight boost in pay there is really no incentive to work harder or be better than we already are.  From my own personal experience with performance reviews, and being rated on a scale of 1-5, I have fallen victim to the “what can you do better” and “here are the problems I have seen in your performance” comments. 

Although, I am still victim of the performance review, I have made myself aware of how to make changes immediately and address issues when they happen instead of waiting for the dreaded meeting.  I have opened the lines of communication with my coworkers in hopes of creating an environment where everyone is free to make comments and suggestions.

Southwest Airlines: The People’s Company

Southwest Airlines has well been the epitome of a customer service, low fare organization.  From personal experience I can say that i have always had excellent customer service with fares that were drastically lower than any other airline.  The reason for Southwest’s success with its customers is because of its internal success with its employees.

By constantly satisfying its employees it is able to have the work more, for less money, and with more accuracy and precision.  The company has also stream-lined it entire system by flying to mainly underserved  cities, using only one type of plane, not including on-board meals, make fewer shorter flights, and staffing only what is necessary to get the job done. 

This kind of employee and customer satisfaction can only be the reflection of a motivated and empowering management team.  By not only making their management have one “field day” a month, where they go out and work the front lines, they also create “culture committees” with in the company.  management realizes that the flight itself is not the product they are trying to sell; it is a fun, friendly, creative service that is what they market and continue to successfully produce for their customers.

Week 4 Readings

Screaming Managers:

I honestly cannot say that I have ever been yelled at by my manager.  However, I can only image how horrible and degrading it might feel to be yelled at like a small child.  From my previous experience as a teacher, I have learned that yelling at someone is no way to get any results or satisfaction for either party.  This I think would go the same in any managerial or position of authority. 

As your parents say to you when you are a child “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  If you are a manager and have a difficult situation on your plate; one that may bring you to the point of no return when you want to respond with your initial reaction, it may be in your best interest to take a step back and evaluate the situation.  Letting yourself rationally evaluate the situation and immediate reacting with your emotions can eliminate the desire to yell at your employees and become the bully at work. 

Get Healthy-Or Else:

With the recent health craze that has started to span the globe, one would think that the cost of health care insurance that is paid by companies would have decreased.  However, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of obesity, high cholesterol, and smoking related health issues over the past few years.  An article in a February 2007 edition of Business Week, highlights the steps one company has taken to lower insurance costs for both the company and the employees, and improve the overall health and performance of their employees. 

However, the article also points out the major concern of  privacy and unlawful termination.  Without the use of a private health wellness management company to ensure that employee records were strictly reserved to the eyes of the physicians and not directly to the employers, which costs somewhere in the realm of millions, the question becomes how does a small company afford that kind of benefit system?  Furthermore, how do prevent being fired if you are a smoker and the company you work for is being a strictly no smoking facility?  These are major issues that have yet to see a lot of discussion.  If you have some useful information for the inquiring mind I invite you to post it here. 

Jesica’s Story

The tragic story of the death of a 17-year-old is not one that I would have ever considered to be a useful story.  However, the story of Jesica Santillan has not only touched the hearts of many but opened the eyes of many to the destruction that one system flaw can bring.  What good has come from this situation is that the failure has been fixed but at the cost of multiple lives. 

How quick a simple checking procedure can drastically effect the success of the system.  The underlying topic is that it is not the people who are the problem, it is the system.  Insufficient training, lack of procedures, or a variety of other breaks in the system can lead to the undesirable outcomes.  It is how we respond to those failures when they arise that can create the difference.  Recognizing the problem and making the proper adjustments quickly and efficiently can make all the difference in the future.  Jesica’s story, can be a lesson to all companies that no matter how small system flaw might be, there is still a flaw that needs to be addressed.

Customer and Employee Engagement

Today I read two articles about both customer and employee satisfaction.  The first article was about a United Airways pilot who takes his job to all new heights.  All too many times I have been on a flight that was delayed, cancelled, or have had poor customer service.  Customer service is claimed to be most companies number one priority.  However, this is rarely the case.  Yet, some how, Capt. Denny Flanagan has actually managed to keep to that priority by providing services such as 10% coupons, free bottles of wine, free food on delayed flights, and phone calls to parents whose children are flying alone.  Just simple acts of customer satisfaction can go along way.  However, my question is, even after all the hype of this extraordinary customer service, why arent more companies following the trend of simple acts of kindness and why are the majority of people still receiving sub-par customer service? 

This leads to the next article about employee engagement.  The article states that when a company actually engages its employees in both the “hearts and minds” that they actually improved their productivity and “delivered improved customer service”.  From my own experience in the workplace I have seen how much personal lives effect a persons business  and professional life.  A company’s willingness to be open and responsive to their employees needs are what will increase productivity and profit.  Basically, to answer my questions previously stated, all a company needs to do is engage their own employees and a domino effect will ensue.  Both these articles present valid arguments to improve both employee and customer satisfaction, yet as I said before, there still lies a disconnect between the two in the majority of companies.  I pose this question to all who read this, “how do we get the word out”?

Week 2 Readings

Flirtatious Women In the Work Force:

Who would have thought that women would use their “God -given assets” to get ahead in the business world? Me for one.  I am not saying that I have done or even considered using flirtation as a way of moving up in the corporate world, but it definitely did not surprise that many have.  However, what did surprise was that those who had used some kind of sexual behavior actually did not receive as many promotions or earn as much money as those who have moved up the corporate ladder based solely on merit and hard work. 

Furthermore, the concept that “chivalry is ‘benevolent sexism’ that advances the stereotype that women are vulnerable and weak” I think is complete nonsense.  Since when is being a gentleman a threat to women’s role as leaders? If you ask me, it nice to actually see that there are a few people out that believe chivalry is not dead, and that it can be performed in the workplace.  Who can say for certain what is considered sexual behavior and just playful banter between co-workers?  For me the line is not clearly drawn in the sand and nor do I think it ever will be.

Women Feel Free to Be Women:

This article had a similar tone to the prior article.  One new stance I have formulated from this article is that I agree that some kind of femininity should be brought into the workplace.  The well-tailored pant-suit is a thing of the past, with more conservative yet feminine skirts and business attire on the rise, why are people still so hesitant to embrace what is happening so naturally?

A generation gap is a natural response to both women and mens’ unpleasant reaction to feminine workplace fashion.  There is also the idea that it is a “betrayal of the feminist movement”.  Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that it is a non-stopable force and there are pros and cons.  In the article, a corporate lawyer says “People who are wealthy use their wealth.  People who are smart use their intelligence.  Why shouldn’t women use thier good looks or femininity?”  This brings into light a double standard that occurs everyday, but gets talked about very little.  As stated in the article men use their good looks and golf skills to move ahead, yet women using their femininity is a questionable act.  This is one topic is a discussion that could go on; I just wanted to state my opinion that everybody has some kind of advantage over another, whether it be good looks, experience, networking, or even golf skills, it is how you leverage what we have that gets us the thing we want in life. 

“Work Matters” by Bob Sutton

From a teachers perspective, the idea of being smart or dumb is something that i am extremely familiar with.  For years we are told by our peers “I’m smarter than you” or “You’re dumb”.  However, I have always been told and dealt with this situation as one in which we cannot really change the person but that we have to change what and how we teach them.  This concept that we can actually teach people that they can be “smarter” is something of a really? moment. 

changeable cognitive ability, although something I know little about, I feel is possible after reading this article.  Just the simple idea that convincing someone who “smarts come from what people do, not what they are born with” can improve not only someone perceptions of themselves but also their performance in academic and the professional world is a concept that should be taught to all children at a young age not just to stubborn professionals.  Overall, the article made me want to be more open to the idea that I can still learn more and be “smarter”.

Can Personality Be Changed?

I am not really sure what to think about this article.  I agree that personality is “flexible and dynamic” and that it is not solely “encoded in our genes and impossible to change”.  The examples of the sets of twins that shockingly had so much in common after being separated for years, I think is an unrealistic way to show proof of impossibility of personality changes.  I agree that it has to do a lot with our beliefs that help determine our personalities, and beliefs change over time. 

This idea I believes follows closely with the previous topic of constantly “being smarter”.  I agree that we do have the ability to start making new connections and changing our personalities through different experiences.  I know that I have changed personalities from when I was child, to being in middle and high, to even doing my undergraduate work.  This is because of the experiences I have had, and a willingness to be open minded and adapt my beliefs.  This is truly a fascinating topic, and one that I will probably continue to think about as I go through my graduate studies.