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Practicing managers have long understood the importance of interpersonal skills to managerial effectiveness, but business schools were a bit slower to get the message. It is only until the late 1980s when business school curricula emphasized the technical aspects of management, specifically focusing on economics, accounting, finance and "quantitative techniques" (Skinner 1971).
The course work in human behavior and people skills received minimal attention relative to the technical aspects of management. However, business faculties have now come to realize the importance that an understanding of human behavior plays a very crucial role in determining the manager's effectiveness, and thus required courses on people skills have been widely added to curricula.
The recognition of the importance of developing managers' "interpersonal skills" is closely tied to the need for organizations to get and keep high-performing employees. And as we all know, regardless of the labor market conditions, outstanding employees are always in short supply. And having managers with good interpersonal skills is an advantage as the workplace will be made more pleasant and thus not only turnover will be minimum but also hiring new qualified people will be even easier.
And in addition creating a pleasant workplace doesn't only help in hiring and keeping qualified people but also appears to make good economic sense as said by Bandura (1977). It has come to be understood technical skills are necessary but insufficient for succeeding in management. Today the workplace have become very competitive and demanding in such a way as put by Willing (1968) that manager's success depends not only in their technical skills but good people skills as well.
The main task of managers is to get things done through other people. Making decisions and allocating resources so that goals can be attained is part of the many tasks they perform. Other tasks include directing the activities of other worker and conflict resolution. These managers have to work very hard and in a continuous basis as their failure could mean the failure of the whole organization.
Because organizations exist to achieve goals, someone, who in this case is the management, has to define those goals and the means for achieving them. The planning function involves the definition of the goals and establishment of strategies in order to achieve the previously set goals. Also development of comprehensive plans so as activities can be smoothly coordinated.
Also managers are responsible for designing an organizations structure this is the organizing function which includes determination of tasks to be done and appointment of individuals who will have to perform them. The managers also will have to not only group the tasks but also decide on how the chain of command is structured. As Mintzberg (1973) put it that, people are in every organization and the management job is to direct and coordinate these people, is the leading function. Every time managers motivate employees, direct their activities, select the most effective communication channels or resolve conflict among members they are leading.
Also managers ensure that things are going as they should, management must monitor the organization's performance. Actual performance will be determined by the goals which have been set previously. If there are any significant deviations, its managements job to get the organization back on track. All these activities are what make up the controlling function of the managers.
Because managers' functional approach is the key to the organization success hereafter I will evaluate the strategies used by Virgin Atlantic functional approach to maximize the skills and contributions of people for its success. Sometimes managers will have to perform symbolic acts such as guiding a class of high school students touring the plant; in this case he/she is acting in a "figurehead" role (Castello and Zalkind 1963).
All managers have a leadership role as well, which includes hiring, training, motivating and disciplining employees. Informational roles also are played by managers because to some degree, information have to be gathered from outside the organization. The information is obtained through magazines and also through talking with other people to learn of changes in the public's tastes, or what competitors may be planning and the like. Also they act as conduits to transmit information to organizational members.
Liaison role and spokesperson role is whereby managers have to establish contact so that information can flow inside the organization, represent the organization to outsiders are also crucial roles that managers have to perform in order to keep the operational processes of the organization running smoothly. Other roles are decision roles which include entrepreneurial roles whereby managers initiate and oversee the making of choices.
Also managers initiate new projects and supervise them to make them succeed so that the overall performance of the organization is improved. Also managers take corrective actions so as to offset perceived challenges. Managers are responsible for resources allocation as well. Resources such as the human, physical and monetary resources. Negotiating with other sectors and organization is also a managers' role so as to gain advantage for his/her sectors/organizations (Rigio, Murphy and Porozzolo 2000).
In order to be able to perform the above mentioned functions and roles managers have to have certain skills. These skills are essential in order to run the organization smoothly. They include special knowledge and expertise The.se skills are acquired through thorough and extensive formal education but the special knowledge and practices of their field many have acquired on the job.
Conceptual skills are also a necessity to managers. This is so, so that complex situations can be identified and analyzed by them. Decision making for example requires managers to identify problems, develop alternative solution to correct those problems, also appraise them before choosing the best alternative that will suit the situation.
This demonstrates the importance of managers for the success of the organization. You can see the how the link is established through the above mentioned functions, roles, skills, and activities approaches that managers perform; each recognizes the paramount importance of managing people. Regardless of whether it is called "the leading function", "interpersonal roles," "human skills," or "human resource management, communication, and networking activities," it's clear that people skills are a very important tool for managers in order to be effective and successful (Khoong 1999).
There is one most important challenge that I would like to talk about. This is because they serve such an important part in organizations is adapting to people who are different. As efficient and as effective as managers can be, without this important skill then the organization might find itself in a serious trouble. The term used for describing this challenge is workforce diversity. Workforce diversity denotes the heterogeneous mix of people in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in organizations today.
A diverse workforce, for instance, includes women, people of color, the physically disabled, senior citizens, and gays and lesbians. Managing this diversity has become a global concern. It's not just an issue in the UK or US but also in all other parts of the world as well. This is because of its important effects on management practice. Managers have to shift their philosophy from treating everyone alike to becoming more cognizant of the differences and reacting to them in ways that ensure employee retention and greater productivity while, at the same time, not discriminating. This is so because when diversity is not managed properly, there is a potential for higher turnover, more-difficult communication and more interpersonal conflicts as argued by Leavit 1964.
This is why in this paper I will critically examine the necessity for alignment between Virgin Atlantic's corporate strategy and objectives, and its human resource strategies, with specific reference to people recruitment strategies, retention strategies, training, learning and development strategies, and performance and reward management strategies which contribute to its success. Definitely the success of Virgin Atlantic is credited to its managers who work effectively and efficiently around the clock to steer the company to the top among its peer. The hard work without forgetting the quality of their technical know how is what made me dedicate this paper to this company which here after I turn to.
People recruitment strategies:
Immaculate service and unrivalled quality are everything at Virgin Atlantic. The high standards and experience of the people hired has helped Virgin Atlantic become one of the world's most highly rated airlines. In the air, on the ground or behind the scenes, Virgin Atlantic is totally focused on delivering everything their customers have come to expect of them.
Because they're such a complex and rapidly evolving business, all their people are adaptable, quick thinking and focused to contribute to the ongoing success every day. And in return, they get to share in the many benefits of working for one of the UK's favorite employers and one of the world's best-loved brands.
At Virgin, they don't just look at the recruitment process as an employee's chance to impress, but also for the company to find out more about the employee and what makes him/her tick. Professionalism, potential and talent, is what is looked at as argued by Fulmer, Gerhart & Scott (2003) , and in return, an opportunity to shine will be provided. When it comes to interview and assessment, the path taken depends largely on the role applied for.
At Virgin safety is paramount and security is essential and thus a rigorous check into work history and referencing check. It's just procedure, but it's an important one. Interviews are always a two-way process which mostly will depend on the applicant's decision. An application will succeed after a demonstration of skills and qualities required (Luthans 1988) and then a further discussion on the application will follow.
What happens next will depend on the role that the employee has applied for. At Virgin a number of different types of assessment are used and each type offers the opportunity to display abilities in the most positive way. As I have afore mentioned, interviews are two way processes so they are also a good source of information about the role that will help the employee/company to decide if this is the job for him/her.
In assessing the strengths and developments needs of candidates an "assessment centre" method is used. Generally it lasts for all or part of a day and is made up of a number of exercises. For positions in Cabin Crew or IT specialists and Contact Centre there will be some kind of assessment centre, which will contain some of the following elements:
Group discussion: - These are useful in assessing candidates who are applying for roles with a strong "element" of teamwork (Champy 2002).
Role Plays: - These measure certain abilities or aptitudes and usually involve some kind of scoring that will indicate the level of ability in the area being tested or the candidates' potential to learn more.
Behavioral/Biographical Interview: - In a behavioral interview candidates are asked to give specific examples of situations that they have dealt with and what the outcomes were. A discussion about candidates' CVs and employment history will be conducted whereby candidates will be required to outline what they have done, what ar3e their achievements and the reasons behind their career choices. As part of the recruitment process, referencing is a very crucial in the application to Virgin Atlantic and the checks carried out will depend on the role being applied for.
Analysis Presentation and Ability tests, such as numerical reasoning will also be part of the assessment.
At Virgin Atlantic all manner of individuals are brought to work together in effective and competitive teams which play crucial roles in the successful running of the complex business operations. But Virgin Atlantic guarantees a working environment that will never make you stop serving the customers wherever in their vast number of offices all over the world.
From flight attendants to IT analysts, at Virgin, everyone plays a role in delivering its brand. This includes applications of initiatives in assuming responsibility for the actions and the readiness to provide support to the employees at all. Also the maintenance of a "conducive" working atmosphere which requires the participation of every employee at virgin that creates a unique working place indeed (Festinger 1957).
Therefore for candidates wishing to work in a place with friendly and unconventional professionalism then Virgin Atlantic is the place to be. Virgin provides the opportunity to make the most of employees' talents where bright ideas are welcomed and made use of. Not only that but employees will have a great time and fun while at work. Just as virgin tries as hard to stay ahead it also does the same in keeping its employees happy and content at the workplace.
The rewards offered at Virgin Atlantic are competitive and will help employees enjoy their lives to the fullest. Just one example, the full-time employee is provided with seven free flights per annum to a range of beautiful places in the globe! Apart from that a competitive package of benefits is offered which includes:
Pension and private medical schemes
Excellent discounts across the Virgin Group and lots of other companies
Long term disability insurance
Spouse's and dependent's benefit
Training, learning and development strategies.
From day one when a candidate is in the assessment stages process are put in place in order to identify their development potentials. This is so because Virgin Atlantic recognizes that it needs to stay focused on the employees' up to date skills and knowledge in order to be competitive.
Also because change is an "integral" part in the employees' attitudes, motivation, work teams, communication, leadership, organizational structures, human resource practices and organizational cultures as argued by Rokaech (1973) and thus the need for training and development for managers and other employees is paramount. If environments were not as dynamic, if employees skills and abilities were always up to date and incapable of deterioration and if tomorrow were always exactly the same as today, organizational change would have little or no relevance to managers consistently delivering the best service isn't easy.
As Gatewood and Field (1987) said that, it takes real dedication to deliver an "ongoing, genuine commitment" to development because Virgin Atlantic recognizes the vitality in the investment in its employees' future as the growth of the workforce is also the growth of the company. And to prove this Virgin has constructed a new state-of-the-art training centre, where employees can "look forward" to all the training they need to achieve full potential and contribute fully to the company.
Right from day one successful candidates can be sure of the company's real concentration on their training and development. The potential employees will be recruited and the company will get them to continuous training which will develop them through an induction and the best operational and management training. Only the sky is the limits at Virgin Atlantic where the environment will guide you to the best you.
Performance and reward management strategies.
Virgin Atlantic considers itself an equal opportunities employer and of course it's very proud of it. The company is committed to employees' productivity and thus strives to provide a reward that will induce the employees to perform better and better.
A fair and supportive environment for employees, regardless of age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, race, color, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion, or affiliation to any political party or trade union where value is placed in the performance and contribution every employee make personally or as a team.
The company's policy applies to recruitment & selection, terms and conditions of employment including pay, promotion, training, transfer, references and every other aspect of employment. Because this is a fast moving business where rapid changes are a constant process the company's objective is very much focused in performance (Kolarik 2000).
Every employee at Virgin Atlantic has to have the intellect because they will be required to act quickly and make prompt decision while on their feet and respond to demands and new developments and challenges thrown their way. And considering today's aviation business environment, this is almost on a daily basis. But this, of course, comes with a superb package and a deserved recognition and appreciation.
In fact, the company prides itself on being as honest and unpretentious as it can be to inspire its workers and its management. Everyone has a chance to voice their opinions and no one's too proud to ask questions, which only serves to increase the inclusive nature of our culture and inspire better performance. Not only employees of Virgin will get a chance to prove their worthy but also customers also have a chance and are listened as well.
In this case, talented, self-motivated, enthusiastic individuals will have a share in the company's passion for providing only the very best. All of this is because the company recognizes the importance of putting people of such quality together will create a winning performance which vests itself on inspirational leadership, positive attitudes and commercial flair. Of course this comes with the hard work in order to deliver the unique brand of service for which Virgin Atlantic is renowned.
According to Murphy (1996), the ability to directly influence employees' performance is a skill that is vested with the management of any organization. The ability to work with people harmoniously and in a positive way such that you only get the best out of them proves the possession of the human skills. Many people lack this interpersonal competency although most of them might be technically proficient. This is the reason why managers have to have good human skills to as to be able to communicate, motivate, and delegate.
The managers at Virgin Atlantic understand this and thus make it their business to oversee how the objectives are aligned with the resource management strategies. The recruitment is thoroughly done with one of the best (state of the art) training center. Employees are the considered to be the company's best asset and thus the remuneration package is as competitive as it can be
Employees (full- time) are offered seven trips to some of the most glamorous places all at the company's expense. That should be enough to satisfy anyone's' wanderlust. From the beginning a prospective employee is introduced to a variety of procedure in order to identify the development potentials within them so that they can be improved and developed to the maximum.
Not only that, but also the management encourages "self confidence" and "competitive" working environment where able and knowledgeable individual have a chance to share their ideas and opinions for the betterment of not only the company but also themselves (Landrum 1993).
Employees' contribution is as valuable as it can be at Virgin Atlantic, and the appreciation to their performance is shown as a potential employee will only stop him/herself from climbing the corporate ladder. The management treats its employees in such a manner that they are systematically guided and reinforced at each successive step that moves them closer not only to the desired performance but to who they themselves desire to become.
At Virgin not only individual excellence is promoted but also teamwork. As I have afore mentioned at Virgin from the first day at work procedures are carried out to identify the candidates potential. The shift from working alone to working on teams requires employees to cooperate with others, share information, confront differences, and sublimate personal interests for the greater good of the team.
Effective teams have been found to have common characteristics. They have adequate resources, effective leadership, a climate of trust, and a performance evaluation and reward system that reflects team contributions. At Virgin the teams have individuals with technical expertise, as well as problem-solving, decision-making, and interpersonal skills; and high scores on the personality characteristics of extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.
Because individualistic organizations and societies attract and reward individual accomplishment s, it is more difficult to create team players in these environments. To make the conversion, management at Virgin selects individuals with the interpersonal skills to be effective team players, provide training to develop teamwork skills, and reward individuals for cooperative efforts.