ACT Change

Change is a very difficult subject, something many people aren’t comfortable with and will do anything to avoid. So in a corporation how does upper level management initiate changes so everyone can be successful? A majority of the time companies fail when they introduce change, so there are necessary steps that can be taken to make employees more comfortable with the needed changes. People would rather stick in their comfort zone and continue doing the things they know they can do. As humans we have habits and tend to stick with those habits even when other opportunities arise for them to change their ways. It starts by looking at an individual’s core habits and determining how to change them. Then it is important for management to demonstrate their willingness to change as well, so employees feel like they have support.

The Advanced Change Theory is a complex theory that is based off of several underlying principles, six of which I will address. The first principle is unselfish change. Individuals must be willing to put personal interests aside in order to do what is best for the entire company. This is very difficult to ask of someone, because we tend to look out what is best for ourselves especially when we fear the unknown of our actions. Secondly, we need to get rid of any hypocrisy so everyone views what we are doing as a fair change. If upper level management is going through the same changes as the rest of the company, employees will be more willing to try the change. Third, we have to determine our values and then align our behaviors with those values. If we can adjust our behavior to act according to our values we will be on the right track for success. Fourth, free yourself from external restrictions so you can really improve. Focus only on the changes that need to be made and nothing else around you, that way there are no excuses and all of your efforts and attention can be directed at change. Fifth, it is important to inspire others to be their best. This can be done by making changes yourself so everyone around you sees that you are also trying to change for the overall good. Lastly, and most importantly in my mind, model behavior to your followers. If leaders change themselves and the system they are working in, others will follow the lead on take on the same behaviors as their leaders.

Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 11:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Organizational Silence

Organizational silence is a huge problem, and I feel like most corporations don’t even realize the problem is occurring. They have created a culture when the employees feel intimidated to go to upper level management with their concerns; instead, they keep their troubles bottled up inside until they can no longer take it. They fear that they will be in trouble, or even lose their jobs if they confront management with what is being done wrong. When employees are scared to bring up issues bothering them, it causes even more problems for the company in the long run because they will never be able to address the things that are causing problems. If management sets up an atmosphere that encourages openness and communication everyone will be happier in the workplace and will ultimately make for a more successful corporation.

In class we have learned how to be a “noisy complainer”, and that it isn’t always a bad thing to complain because it allows for improvement. When companies encourage their employees to be noisy complainers they are setting up a corporate culture where everyone feels comfortable to discuss their feelings openly and address any concerns they have. If upper management demonstrates that they want to hear concerns of their employees and will actively listen, it will open doors to communication they never knew of. I know sometimes I feel like I don’t want to voice my concerns because I don’t want other people to be mad or think I am causing problems; I would rather hold it inside and be upset, then make others mad at me. At the company I currently work at my manager had not only told me that she wants to hear my concerns and opinions, but she also demonstrates it, which is so important. It all starts with upper management and then employees need to have enough courage to stand up and let people know what is on their mind.

Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 11:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

Men’s Warehouse Case Study

What stood out the most to me when reading The Men’s Warehouse case study was the way they treat their employees. Management understands that the way they treat their employees will most likely end up being the way the employees treat customers. They convince their employees that their company is great, which allows the employees to demonstrate this same beliefs to the customers. This is a great example of servant leadership, and is one of the main reasons why Men’s Warehouse has such a low turnover rate; employees want to be there and want to work hard because management has displayed these same attitudes to them. This makes for a great corporate culture, even in the tough industry they exist in.

CEO George Zimmerman takes it upon himself to show employees how much he cares; he doesn’t think he is above the line employees and he shows up and helps them in their daily activities. This portrays an amazing picture to the rest of the upper level executives and to the employees themselves because they see they see the commitment he has to the company and they are more likely to act this way towards customers. This plays nicely into their plan that “once a customer comes into the store it is their goal to keep them coming back.” They also do a great job of being a commission-based but reinforcing the importance of teamwork between all of the employees. It’s very hard to convince employees to work together when they are trying to outsell others so they can make more money.

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 8:50 PM  Leave a Comment  

Treadway Tire Company Case Study

Treadway Tire Company’s Lima plant has been experiencing low productivity and extremely low morale from their employees. In the year 2007 they had a turnover rate of nearly 50% with their line foremen. There were many factors causing the dissatisfaction of the foremen, including their lack of authority, unreachable expectations, the small amount of training they received (of which was informal) and the fact they had little opportunity for advancement in the company. Their exit surveys showed their dissatisfaction in multiple areas and it was left up to Ashley Wall, the Director of Human Resources, to analyze the situation and find a solution to the problem. She had a vision of the Lima plant reaching the top of the industry, but they would only be able to accomplish this goal if they take care of the internal problems.

One major problem I see with the structure of the company is the twelve hour shifts the employees are expected to work. They are already stressed with the other working conditions they are being faced with, and being scheduled long hours with little break time doesn’t seem to be helping. The hourly employees know they will be stuck in their position since there isn’t much room for anyone in the company to grow. This is also something I would address with the employees. If an internal candidate is qualified for a higher position it would be best to move them up because it shows them company loyalty and gives them more job satisfaction.

I feel Management at the Lima plant must address a few issues before they can look forward and work towards reaching the top. Bellingham, the plant manager, mentioned that he felt communication was a major problem and I couldn’t agree more. Whether it be communicating expectations, explaining how to do the job correctly, or ways to move up in the company, management needs to take it upon themselves to make sure each of the foremen understands all aspects of their job so they can be as successful as possible. Especially since the foremen are telling management how important this communication is to them; they want to have a relationship with management and their workers and the only way this can develop is if they have good lines of communication.

Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 6:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Layoff

It seems like laying people off is one of the hardest things for business people to do, so why aren’t we taught how to do it correctly. It’s important to assess the situation and determine which layoff procedure will be best for your company and your employees. It is hard to choose who will be the ones to go, but when this is your only option to cut costs and keep your business afloat, you need to understand what method will be best.

You can go with a first in-first out method, where you get rid of those who have been with the company the longest and are close to being done, because you can offer them early retirement. You can look at performance and use the rank-and-yank method, where the people with the worst performance scores on the last appraisal are the ones to leave. There is the last in-first out method, which gets rid of those who have the lease seniority with the company. Or you can look at areas of business that aren’t productive and cut that unit to refocus on the core of your business. Each of these methods has advantages as well as downsides, which is why it is important to evaluate your situation to determine what you think is best.

It is also very important to keep morale up during times of questionable work stability, because if all of your employees are overanxious about losing their job then no one will be productive and your company will have larger problems. Although there are all these possibilities to look at when you are conducting a layoff, I think it is important to have a system in place so you don’t set yourself up with lawsuits. If you do the layoffs on a person to person basis you are more likely to get charges of discrimination than if you had a plan drawn out that you could just put into play.

Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 4:50 PM  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 11 Extra Readings

For Lt. Withers, Act of Mercy Has Unexpected Sequel
During World War II, Army Lt. John Withers took in two Jewish survivors who had been freed from Dachau; he went against what everyone else thought he should do and housed the two young men for more than a year. This was dangerous for Withers and the rest of his unit, and could have had a negative impact of his future. Withers claimed, “I think I identified with them very strongly and instantaneously.” The two Jewish boys became known around the unit as Peewee and Salomon, and frequently asked about the United States and the jobs they could possibly find there.

Soon after, Withers got his honorable discharge and went to work on his Ph. D. in Chicago, and he and Peewee lost contact with each other. In 2001 Withers’ son went to work trying to locate Peewee and reunite him and his father. He eventually tracked Peewee down; he had married in Germany in 1948 and later moved to the United States hoping to make his fortune. He worked at a machinery company and helped his wife in the residential-care home they had purchased. When he and Withers met up again they acted as if they had never separated; they were inseparable all weekend and reminisced on their past. Peewee’s family was so surprised, they had never heard him talk about his past, but was so grateful Withers had brought this side out of him.

This story was so touching to me; Withers went against everything he was supposed to by keeping Peewee and Salomon with his unit. He and his unit could have been in so much trouble if someone had found out what they were doing, but he knew what was right and couldn’t bear to send the boys away. It amazes me that Withers was willing to put himself in this danger just to save the boys. What’s best about Withers’ action was that he had no idea the impact it would have on Peewee and Salomon; he knew how they felt and wasn’t willing to go along with the norm. Both Withers and Peewee had lasting effects on each other’s lives, and were able to build a bond that no one else will ever be able to comprehend. By doing what he knew was the right thing to do, Withers changed Peewee and Salomon’s lives, and they too changed Withers’.

How a Marine Lost His Command In Race to Baghdad
Marine Col. Dowdy took on one of his largest missions when he attacked an elite band of Iraqi troops and then shepherded 6,000 men on an 18-hour, high speed race to Baghdad. Upon completion of his mission, he was stripped of his command, which ended his career of 24 years. No one was really sure why he was relieved of duty, but the explanation he received was that it was a decision based on operating tempo.

Dowdy was known for his equal treatment of all of his men, and for his distinction between men and mission, where he always chose his men. They were the most important thing to him, and he was never willing to sacrifice a man just to complete a mission. In his final mission he and his unit received mixed messages and weren’t sure whether to push towards Baghdad or slowly approach the on-going battle. Because he didn’t get a clear cut answer of what to do, Dowdy chose not to go through to the city, it wasn’t worth the risk.

Dowdy’s dismissal causes much controversy because his men had enormous amounts of respect for him and didn’t think he had done anything wrong. One of his men said, “If Col. Dowdy said, ‘Get your gear, you’re coming with me,’ I would’ve gone, even if it meant the end of my career.” This just goes to show how much Dowdy meant to his men, and how much they respected him as a leader. Dowdy is the type of leader I would love to work with; he cared about his followers and wasn’t willing to hurt them just to help his career or his image. He was genuine in his actions and was never worried about anything but the safety of his unit. Dowdy was a true leader.

New Wine, Old Bottles
There’s the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” well this applies to leaders and new theories as well. It is hard to encourage executives who have been in leadership positions for years now to change their style and take on these new leadership approaches that have been recently developed. Although it will be hard to convince these senior executives to change their ways, it is very necessary to at least make them aware of the changes and the type of leadership their subordinates will benefit most from.

We are now training leaders to be coaches and sources of help for their followers, rather than being judges and policemen. These new approaches to leadership will help the followers be more independent and successful, without feeling micromanaged. With this new training, the leader needs to commit to the new leadership style because they can’t try to mix the old theories and practices with the new; it will only cause confusion. This will also allow the leader to believe he is acting as a coach while he still practices in his old ways.

The new leadership theories having to do with servant leadership are very successful in my eyes. When a leader connects with his followers and they share a common purpose they will most likely be successful. It makes for a relationship that is built on trust and allows both sides to understand the expectations set up for them. It also helps build the confidence of the follower because they are empowered to accomplish the task at hand and have the leader there as a resource in case they need additional help.

Good Leadership Requires Executives To Put Themselves Last
When we were little we were taught to treat other people like we would want them to treat us, and that it’s not ok to hurt others in our quest for success. So when executives are willing to sacrifice others to promote their self interests, they are going against everything they have learned. This attitude is not something we can simply vote on and make our leaders act this way, it has to be something they believe in and are willing to do.

These executives who act with integrity and are willing to put others before themselves are the ones who will most likely be successful in the long run, even if it puts them at a temporary disadvantage. Michael Leven, chairman and CEO of US Franchise Systems Atlanta, which owns and operates three hotel brands, wasn’t willing lie to the public or hide the fact that they weren’t going to meet year-end earnings forecast. Against the advice of his lawyers, Leven went public and revealed everything, which eventually caused stocks to decline. Leven knew that this was the right thing to do and followed his gut feeling.
Leaders who are transparent with their actions and with company information are seen as trustworthy and are appreciated more than those who hide everything and deceive people into believing everything is perfect. People would rather know ahead of time if something isn’t going as planned, rather than being surprised when it finally blows up and nothing can be done about it. By disclosing this information as soon as the leader knows about it, they give people the opportunity to provide input that might be able to help the situation. I know I would much rather work with a leader who keeps me informed of what is going on, even if the information they have is bad news.

Level 5 leadership
Level 5 leadership is without a doubt the best type of leadership, but there are characteristics from each level that if combined together, could produce a phenomenal leader. From level 1 you can take the ability to contribute, whether it be skills no one else has, different views and ideas, or a positive attitude that will rub off on others. From level 2 you can take the ability to work with others, an attribute that most people don’t understand the importance of. From level 3 you can take the ability to organize those you’re working with, so everyone understands expectations and is working towards a common goal. From level 4 you can take the ability to stimulate high performance of others in the groups and project a clear vision. In level 5 leadership the leader “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will.”

If someone was able to possess all of these qualities, which would be very hard, they would be a very successful leader, with followers who are independent and ready to take on any obstacle in their path to success. The followers would be more engaged and would be able to hold themselves accountable for anything that happens.

Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 4:47 PM  Leave a Comment  

Diamonds in the Data Mine

Phil Satre, CEO and company chairman for Harrah’s Entertainment Las Vegas, feels that knowing their customers is much more important than the glitz and glamour found all along The Strip. Harrah’s uses a database to get information about their customers and “develop compelling customer incentives.” They prefer to impress their customers more with great service than with lights and sounds everywhere.

Harrah’s uses their “Total Gold” program to track the spending and activities of all of their customers so they can determine what each individual values most, and how they compensate them to increase customer loyalty. They use their database to gather as much information about their customers as possible, analyze the data to develop marketing strategies, identify core customers and their potential worth, determine customer preferences and appeal to their wants, and reward the employees for making customer service a priority. By putting these five approaches into practice Harrah’s makes their customers feel valued and keeps them coming back to play at their properties.

Their database allows them to pull information about what the customers want from their experience at Harrah’s. It allows the property to include the customers in decisions regarding slot machine preferences, food desires, and other aspects that will satisfy the wants and needs of the most important people, the guests. Members of the Total Gold program receive special treatment such as discounts, gaming chips, and access to shorter lines. All of these incentives can be noticed by other guests, who then become attracted to joining the program themselves.

With Harrah’s directing their attention towards customer service and overall satisfaction, they are not only creating loyalty from their customers, but are also attracting new customers. Since they don’t overdo it on the advertising side of business, their best advertisement becomes word of mouth. I think this is the best avenue a company like Harrah’s (one who cannot function with customers); they need to reach out to their customers and make them really feel like they are valued and are irreplaceable.

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 8:27 PM  Leave a Comment  

Dean’s Disease

“Dean’s Disease” is a common problem that affects many people found in a management or leadership position. This problem occurs for many different reasons, but typically appears when someone in a power role begins to abuse their power and use it in areas they shouldn’t be. They start to convince themselves that the only view of a subject that should be considered is their own, and they refrain from listening to anything other people have to say. They soon begin to act like a dictator and people doing confront them or challenge them because they are afraid of their power.

Leaders overcome by the dean’s disease begin to use their power to threaten their subordinates, which causes their followers to give into the pressure and do whatever the leader says. The leaders become so wrapped up in themselves and lose sight of their ultimate goals and responsibilities, causing them to act in unethical ways. Once the leader starts to exercise this ultimate power, it becomes very hard to ever get re-focused and grounded with the way they should be leading. They begin to justify their decisions and truly convince themselves that they are doing the right thing and that they deserve to be in control of their surroundings.

I think it is very important for companies to take a close look at a candidate before they place them in a management position, to help ensure they won’t be regretting their decision when the manager is overcome with the “disease”. They should evaluate their past behavior to make sure it isn’t an attitude they have displayed in their previous positions, and ask behavioral questions to see how they would conduct themselves once they are granted the power to manage. Another thing a company can do is build a culture with their existing managers to show them the correct way to manage, by exhibiting this behavior in their upper level managers. If the company can do a good job of weeding out managers who might potentially succumb to the pressures of being a manager, and display they way they expect their managers to act, they have a better chance to get their desired results.

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 8:26 PM  Leave a Comment  

Gary Loveman-Harrah’s

Gary Loveman came to Harrah’s with a fresh, new perspective, something Harrah’s desperately needed, and was lucky to find in Loveman. He wasn’t the typical candidate Harrah’s was expecting, but he came in and made extreme, necessary changes, that can be accredited with much of Harrah’s success and turn-around. He immediately made employee changes; whether it meant bringing in entirely different workers, or assigning them different job on property, which allowed everyone to start fresh and build on their strengths.

Loveman not only made important changes with the employees, he also looked closely at their computer analysis system and made changes to better track their customers and re-evaluate their marketing theories. They differentiated themselves from their competition by playing to the needs and desires of their guests, and were able to build off this system to increase their guest flow. He held his employees accountable and instilled in them a commitment to customer service and the confidence to be a winner. Much of Loveman’s and Harrah’s success can be attributed to the cultural changes he made as he came into a power position in the company. He made employees believe, made customers happy, and formed an atmosphere that everyone was attracted to.

Although he started off strong and seems to have turned things around for Harrah’s, his work is nowhere near complete. There will still be many issues he will need to overcome to keep Harrah’s competitive and to keep attracting guests, but it he continues to push his employees and convince them that his way will work, I truly believe he will be able to take Harrah’s to the next level. I think he needs to continue to have his main focus be his guests, and should work to figure out what incentives they want and then do what he can to provide them. The casino industry has definitely taken a hit in these economic times, but people want to feel appreciated. If they are going to spend money on a fun night out gambling, then they need to have the best experience possible; this is the only way they will continue to play at a particular property.

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 8:24 PM  Leave a Comment  

In Depth: Iraq

It’s amazing to me how ‘groupthink’ can affect a group and push them towards decisions that might not be the most well thought-out, most productive decision. In this article it was apparent that members of the CIA made assumptions and conclusions about the data they received, and never once thought about questioning the data or analyzing it from a different point of view. They trusted the information that was given to them, when in reality, in a situation with this level of importance they should definitely have analyzed the data for themselves to make sure it was accurate. Not only should they have reviewed to make sure it was accurate information, but also so they would be able to verify that it was relevant to the situation. Groups suffering from ‘groupthink’ tend to make up their minds without doing their own research and all members become unanimous on a single position, rather than looking at several different options. Members can begin to feel peer pressure, which is one of the reasons why they fail to question ideas and thoughts that arise during discussions.

There were systems in place to prevent ‘groupthink’ from happening, but because these systems weren’t followed, problems associated with ‘groupthink’ still contributed to the problem at hand. In my opinion a different system needs to be implemented to help prevent ‘groupthink’, one that will encourage members to question data and never assume information is credible unless they research it themselves.

Published in: on October 20, 2009 at 8:19 PM  Leave a Comment