Working from Home: It's in the Details

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4th May 2017 Management Reference this


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a) The concern of new employees working from home: Just like the wise saying ‘An old broom sweeps better than a new broom’ it is difficult for new employees without enough experience and exposure to work at home. For this group of employees to work efficiently, they will require some hands-on experience under supervision at the jobsite. This is a drawback and major limitation to working from home.

b) Disparities in communication techniques between virtual teams and employees: Every employee is unique when it comes to communication approach. These differences are more apparent when virtual techniques are implemented by employees. It is sometimes very difficult to break down this barrier of communication, and if not appropriately managed can lead to underproduction in a company.

c) Reluctance by employees to work from home: Due to fear from being neglected by their companies, some employees are reluctant to work from home. Neglect of employees by employers can negatively affect the employee’s chances of career development, and performance recognition. This reluctance is more common among employees who are dependent on their colleagues physically and socially to function appropriately.

d) Problems with emerging technology: In emergency situations in which employees rely solely on technology such as computers, telephones, and fax machines, a crash in the system can result in an abrupt discontinuation of work. There is also difficulty in constantly adapting to the new ever changing technology.

These problems originate from both the company and the employees; however, I think that most of these problems and concerns come from the company. While the employees have to work very hard to adapt to ever changing technology, and improve on their isolation coping mechanisms, it is the place of the company to put in place appropriate structures and measures to facilitate the adaptation and functioning of the employees.

2. Characteristics of people who adjust more easily to telecommuting:

The pertinent characteristics of people who easily adapt to telecommunication include: excellent communication skills, good work ethics, self-motivation, well organized, technologically inclined, entertaining, ability to complete scheduled tasks and a great sense of humor.

An appropriate time to identify these characteristics is during a job interview or pre-employment training. Another simple way to do this is to carefully look at the applicants resume and curriculum vitae and obtain references. Employers can also assist the employees to develop these characteristics through training, mentorship and continuous assessment.

Chapter 2

Case Study 2.3. The trouble with Business Ethics

1. The importance of encouraging and supporting employees who report possible wrongdoings:

The idea of encouraging and supporting an employee who reports wrongdoing at the work place is very important as it uncovers mistakes and actions that are detrimental to the general well being of the company. The importance is not only to punish the offender, but also to teach him/her the correct action to take when faced with a similar problem. This can also serve as an opportunity to train other employees who may also be doing the wrong thing and to further encourage others to continue doing the right things at the work place. Appropriate encouragement and support of employees who report wrong doing could minimize damages to the status of the company. Furthermore, by protecting this group of employees, companies could retain its efficiency and capacity of good employees. Even though according to the article, 95% of whistle blowers lose their jobs, and some employees will prefer to leave the company instead of reporting ethical wrongdoing, if they are encouraged and adequately supported, this exodus will stop.

One of the principal ways to support whistle blowers in a company is by creating and establishing protocols and policies about reporting illegal or unethical practices in the company. It is also very important for top executives and managers of companies to set an example, by maintaining highest standards of moral conduct and to exhibit maximum support and encouragement to employees who report wrongdoing.

2. Actions taken by companies to improve ethical standards:

In a fight to improve ethical standards companies have taken actions such as dismissal of executives and board of directors who are found guilty of wrongdoings. Some companies such as Blue cross have instituted and enforce strict ethics codes, rules, and guidelines. Other companies such as Wal-Mart have set up ethics departments and units and have employed specialists to manage these departments. How strict this measures are enforced, determines how effective they are in promoting standards in a company and I therefore think these actions are substantive changes and not necessarily symbolic.

Chapter 3

Case Study 3.2 How Failure Breeds Success

Description of the experiential learning process mentioned in the article:

Experiential learning or learning through experience involves active engagement in an identified project or activity, analysis and reflection during the experience, and drawing conclusions. In the process of drawing conclusions hypotheses and theories are formed about the result of the activity. The theories are the validated by performing an experiment. In experiential learning, the company or its employees should have strong learning orientation in which new learning opportunities and ideas are welcome. It is also, important for the organization and its employees to consider mistakes and failures as part of the learning process. An example of the impact of effective experiential learning is illustrated in the article, when Intuit Inc. adventurous marketing campaign to target young tax filers failed, the company was obligated to perform an inquisition or analysis to find out the cause of the failure. By taking this step, the company learned from their past mistakes. Equally important was the timely re-evaluation by Corning Inc. when the DNA microarray chip project failed. The company performed analysis of the failure and made amendments. This gave them the opportunity to come out with novel ideas, projects and market for drug discovery and testing.

2. Perceptual problems managers need to overcome with failure:

The two major perceptual problems managers need to overcome are attribution errors and self-serving bias. The first step to carry out in order to minimize these problems is awareness of the presence of perceptual problems. The next step after awareness is engaging in a clearly structured and planned process of meaningful interaction.

Chapter 4

Case Study 4.2 Dispatches from the War on Stress

1. Stress management strategies applied most and least often:

The act of removing the stressor appears to be the most commonly applied stress management strategy described in the article. On the contrary, the act of changing the perception of stress seems to be the least applied stress management technique. The management strategy of removing the stressor is implemented by some organizations by carrying out educational sessions, providing complementary resources that improve work-life balance and by the provision of personal services at the job site and at home.

2. Stress outcomes mentioned in the case study and stressors noted to be associated with the outcomes:

Exhaustion, burning-out, and suicide ideation are the stress outcomes mentioned in the case study. Humiliating criticisms, low task control, work overload and elevated pressure management tactics are the stressors associated with these stress outcomes mentioned in the case study.

3. Why the risk of failing to achieve performance goals result in serious stress outcomes:

Poor annual performance review and evaluation pressure from managers as a consequence of failure to achieve performance goals results in serious stress outcomes. Dual pressure, from the act of trying to meet the performance goals and from supervisors is preconditions for serious stress outcomes. A low performance in the annual review can drastically reduce the chance of an employee from getting bonuses and a pay raise, their by increasing the stress level and financial frustration. Limitations in the use of resources and unrealistic high expectations of employees by some employers lead to performance failure which in turn leads to serious stress outcomes due to criticisms and unfavorable conditions from employers. There exist a direct relationship between the level of stress and the difficulty of achieving performance goals. The more difficult it is to achieve the goals, the higher the level of stress will be.

Chapter 5

Case Study 5.2 Motivating Staff When the Money is Tight

1. Drives and needs associated with initiatives in the case study:

a. Employee opportunities to develop their own new ideas:

Drives: drive to acquire, learn, and defend

Needs: growth and self-actualization, esteem, and belongingness

b. Extensive training programs, rapid advancement, and opportunities for leadership positions:

Drives: drive to learn, acquire, bond, and defend

Needs: belongingness, esteem, and growth and self-actualization

c. Use of interns and strong campus recruiting:

Drives: drive to learn and to acquire

Needs: self-actualization, esteem, and physiological.

d. Provision and improved mentoring programs:

Drives: drive to acquire, learn, bond, and defend

Needs: belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization

e. Providing ways for employees to give back to society and more time for volunteer work:

Drives: drive to acquire, bond, learn, and defend

Needs: love, esteem, self-actualization, and safety

f. Provision of comp time, increased vacation time, and flexible work schedules:

Drives: drive to bond, and to acquire

Needs: love, and safety

g. Competitive pay:

Drives: drive to acquire and bond

Needs: love, physiological, and self-actualization

The most drives that dominate this article are the drive to acquire, the need for growth and self-actualization.

Extent to which attraction and retention initiatives described in the case study reduce feelings of inequality :

There are various ways to help in the retention of employees. Claire Pignataro incooperated these techniques to its employers well, compared to other companies. To begin with, Claire Pignataro offer retention and attraction initiatives this motivates the employees to continue to work for the company. Some examples of these initiatives include comp-time and work schedule flexibility. Other examples include providing room for career advancement. All these things are motivating factors that help the employees remain employed to that company. Other industries on the other hand might be providing lower pay with fewer incentives which in turn makes the employees have feelings of unfairness.

Chapter 6

Case Study 6.2 How to Make a Microserf Smile

1. Changes Lisa Brummel made to Microsoft’s performance and reward practices and why Microsoft had these practices in place:

Lisa Brummel overhauled the performance review system. She did away with the unfavorable aspects of the forced curve in the performance review evaluation. She changed the ranking system of evaluating employees to eliminate rivalry among employees. Instead Brummel created the grade system which allowed for the employees who performed the best to earn bigger paychecks. Pay raises and bonuses were tied to the grade while allowing managers the flexibility to assign whatever grade they felt necessary. Brummel also initiated the Mobile Medicine program where doctors were sent to employees homes in emergency situations. She allowed various restaurants to operate in the cafeteria at the head office, in order to give the employees a variety of food to choose from. Employees could also have their food delivered to their desks. Free shuttles were provided to transport employees to and from work. Employees have access to free Wi-Fi, as well. Old coffee machines were upgraded to new Starbucks I-cup machines. Brummel discontinued the delivery of groceries to employee’s desks because participation was very low. Microsoft had these performance and reward practices in place and to help retain their employees, as well as to help recruit potential job applicants.

2. I think the changes to the performance and reward initiatives were beneficial but they could create long term problems. Without having a structured, clear cut assignment of grades it could cause favoritism, and discrimination between managers and employees. Also it could lead to a loss of trust if managers are not honest or fair when assigning grades.

3. The encouragement of communication and feedback from employees improved morale. Holding town hall style meetings and an internal blog let employees express themselves while giving feedback to the company. These initiatives provided opportunity for employees to contribute to the success of the company, allowing them to feel connected and part of the team.

Chapter 7

Case study 7.1 Employee Involvement Cases

1. Extent of Employee involvement in the case studies:

In both cases, moderate participation when the problem is presented to a few participants to seek for any relevant information and recommendations are appropriate.

2. I chose this level of employee involvement because in case 1, the head of research and development was lacking technical training on the new sugar-substitute project which calls for employee involvement in the decision making. None or very little involvement meant making the decision himself or asking the inputs of few employees for information related to the project. Since the head of the department had no technical expertise, this level of involvement will not bring forth the right solution to the problem. This is because the head of department will be unable to efficiently come up with and choose the right alternative solution to the problem. On the other hand, involving too many people is not appropriate because not everyone in the research and development lab has the experience or is familiar with the new project thus involving extra people in the decision making process will not help. It might instead create a barrier for moving forward and impede the process of generating ideas and solution to the problem. Medium level of involvement is an excellent choice because since only a small number of researchers are familiar and have the expertise in that field, involving just this number of researchers in the decision making process will yield the most effective solution to the problem. Hence, quality ideas and alternative solutions could be generated allowing the leader to make a well informed decision.

In case # 2, the captain believes in an autocratic leadership. He believes that whatever decision he will make will generate division among the crew members. In this situation, no or low involvement will not help with the problem because the captain still needs to make the final decision without presenting the issue at hand to his crew members. At the same time, high level of involvement will useless because of the possibility of conflict and division among the crew members that maybe generated. Medium level of involvement is still the appropriate choice because it will only require the participation of a couple of crew members from both sides of the division and eventually generating new ideas and other alternatives, a better conclusion and solution could be achieved without any conflict and divisions among the crew members. The captain could serve as a mediator between the two groups.

3. In both cases, no or low level of employee involvement will definitely not generate the appropriate solution to the problem. This is because in case 1, the head of research and development lack expertise in the field of the new project, and since no or low level of involvement only ask for information from employees without knowing about the problem, the possibility that the head of department would be unable to appropriately and effectively put the pieces together to come up with appropriate solution to the problem is very high. In case 2, because of the possibility of creating division among the crew members irrespective of whatever decision the captain will make, this level of involvement will not help. With regards to problems with more involvement, in case 1, only some of the researchers are familiar with the field of the new project so involving those without this experience or training in this field will be of no use. Involving those without the expertise will slow down research and projects they might be working on. Involving those without the expertise might impede the decision making process because they might make irrelevant recommendations for consideration, hence leading to failure. In case 2, more involvement might deepen the division among the crew members because the decision will come solely from the crew members without the captain.

Chapter 8

Case Study 8.1 The Shipping Industry Accounting Team

1. Team formed in the case study:

A team was formed, more like a virtual team in this situation. This was a necessity because the new company, Goldberg, had huge number of offices and branches all over the nation. The reason for the virtual team was so it could bring employees of the same expertise (shipping accountants) together. These employees could then work together to achieve a common goal. Relocation and the hassle and stress were also a major reason why the virtual team was formed.

2. Strengths and weakness of the team’s environment, design, and processes:


Team Design: Team members possess the same expertise, training and background to complete the assigned tasks in achieving the company’s objectives. The number of members per team was manageable. There were 4 members for each team and the task characteristics (accounting practice) were related to the team member’s background and experience.


Team Environment: some team members were lacking on communication skills which posed a communication barrier amongst the team members. Differences of the location of the team members and the time were a major factor. Thus, affected the team’s effectiveness. Some team members took more time than others to share information with other members. This meant sacrificing personal time for some team members. The timing difference affected some employees’ work-life balance.

Team Processes: There is very little cohesion in the team because some members disagree on strategic and important issues. There is little understanding of each other and key issues. Hence, he lack of trust in team members. There is also lack of corporation among the team members.

3. Recommended ways to improve the team’s effectiveness:

Ways to improve team effectiveness include team building in which activities are focused at improving the development and effective functioning of the team. Activities to include in the team building program should include improving communication skills; clarification of team’s performance goals; putting more effort on improving problem-solving skills; improvement of relations among team members; and activities to help team members to learn more about each other, tolerate each other, trust each other, and find ways to manage conflict within the team. Another way to improve team effectiveness is to validate and reinforce team members’ roles in the team. The team should also establish criteria or rules and regulations to regulate team members’ behavior. Most importantly, team members should work on cohesiveness, which comes with understanding, tolerance, and respect for each other.

Chapter 9

Case Study 9.2 The Face-to-Face Strategy

1. Reasons why executives meet employees and clients face-to-face:

In reference to the article, executives meet employees and clients face-to-face rather than through other communication channels due to a good number of reasons such as: expanding into new market areas; negotiating key business deals; to make sure urgent concerns and problems of the employees and clients are acknowledged and taken care of; to relate important information to employees and clients; to give assurance about the organization’s commitments to the clients; to clarify any doubts of the organizations that the clients may have if any; and to recruit potential candidates to fill vital positions in the organization. I believe all of these are logical because meeting with clients and employees face-to-face makes the meeting more important and legitimate than meeting through other channels. It also gives room for persuasion, especially when negotiating new deals and soliciting important clients. Face-to-face meeting also increases the credibility of the executives and the message or the information they send across. And most importantly it is very professional.

2 What are the Skills and knowledge required to make face-to-face communication work effectively:

The skills and knowledge that world-traveling executives require to make face-to-face communication work effectively require excellent communication skills and cultural diversity and appreciation. Good communication skills encompasses active listening, acknowledging language barriers due to language differences and different accents, being open minded, being aware of the information coming and going out, being concise and clear, making assessments of emotional reactions and being able to handle it professionally. Good communication skills means sending a message to another person or group of people in the most concise, clear and appropriate manner. It also involves receiving information with or without any destructive input. Executives must make sure that the message or the information they are sending out is understandable to the person or group of people receiving the information. By so doing, the executive will be able to get his message out without misinterpretation. Translators should be available when needed.

Cultural diversity, awareness and appreciation means being sensitive to the culture, religion, beliefs, values of others and having the potential to build rapport with people of different cultural backgrounds than yours. What might be wrong and unacceptable in one culture might be acceptable in another culture. Executives must be aware and sensitive and understanding to these differences in other to communicate effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds and values. For example, in Muslim communities, shoes are not to be worn in certain places or the women should have every part of their body covered from head to toe. Therefore executives must be able to show an understanding and appreciation of that culture in order to be accepted by the community for his or her message to be delivered effectively.

Chapter 10

Case Study 10.1 The Rise and fall of WorldCom

1. Power bases:

Bernie Ebbers and Scott Sullivan depended on the legitimate power, coercive power, expert power, and referent power to get away with the accounting fraud they committed.

2. Influence tactics:

Bernie Ebbers and Scott Sullivan used silent authority, deceit, assertiveness, controlled information, persuasion, and ingratiation and impression management to control employees and the company’s board of directors.

3. Engagement in organizational politics:

Bernie Ebbers and Scott Sullivan engaged in organizational politics because they participated in and showed self-serving behaviors at the expense of other employees and against the interest of the entire organization. In order words, they were selfish and their practices were selfish for their own self gains. They used their power and influence to participate in fraudulent practices by preventing the flow and sharing of the organization’s genuine financial information. They used their power and influence to manipulate others and made false financial statements and information for the organization.

Chapter 11

Case Study 11.1 Tamarack Industries

1. Signs of conflict in the case study

Struggle and tension between the experienced workers and the Greek team

Revenge and sabotage

Anger of the experienced workers

Production of the Greek team slows down because of the experienced workers

Disagreement between the Greek team and experienced workers

2. Structural Causes and increased conflict in the case study:

A) Differentiating goals, discrimination, and lack of communication are the structural cause of conflict in the case study.

B) The conflict between the two teams is heightened by derogatory remarks made by members of the Greek team. This in turn, causes the experienced workers to acknowledge the heightened existence of conflict. The experienced workers then seek out revenge against the Greek team by sabotaging their production. They retaliate by hiding production tools, denting materials and installing components improperly in hopes to slow down production rates of the Greek team. This inspires the Greek team to rethink their production plans and make smarter decisions in order to outsmart the experienced workers plan of sabotage. The actions of both teams escalate the conflict between them.

3. Recommendations of action for the foreman, Dan Jensen:

If I were Dan Jensen, first and foremost I would try to identify the major underlying sources of conflict, and then come up with a solution to eliminate the cause of conflict between the two teams. As noted in the case study the conflict was caused by differentiating goals, discrimination, and lack of communication. Reducing the incompatible goals did not result in resolving the situation because even though Dan Jensen created similar production runs for both teams this did not equalize production because the Greek team still met their production goals early. I would reduce the amount of discrimination between the two teams by integrating the workers into two completely different teams. Interlacing strong and weak members frame each of the original teams will cause both the experienced workers and members of the Greek team to create a new common ground and in turn neutralizing the conflict of discrimination between the original two teams. With mixed teams it will in turn open up new tunnels of communication and understanding in order to reach their common goals of production.

Chapter 12

Case Study 12.2 Mack Attack

1. Competencies that seem strongest in John Mack:

a) Personality- Mack possesses an extremely extroverted personality. He enjoys socializing with the employees and their families at different company events. He was comfortable introducing himself to people that he was meeting for the first time. His employees regarded him as approachable and knew they could suggest new and fresh ideas to him without risking rejection. His open personality made it easy for him to lure people from other companies to his own.

b) Self-concept and Drive- Mack had confidence in his skills as a leader and his ability to achieve the objectives he set for himself. His self confidence gave him the business edge to pursue his goals and objectives of turning his company into a top-notch financial institution. He did not let criticisms from both the insiders and the outsiders discourage him. He made risky investments and decisions despite the criticism of others which paid off in the end. Out of nowhere the company became a top financial institution after Mack became the CEO. He kept his objectives for the company in mind when he pursued people to join his company, and only went after those individuals who would help him reach those goals.

c) Integrity- Mack stayed true and consistent with his actions and decisions. To Mack it did not matter where or from whom the ideas or suggestions came from, the decision was still made with the same speed and confidence. Mack was known for his open minded attitude.

d) Knowledge of the Business- since Mack had worked for the company he was very knowledgeable about the operations of the business. He could make accurate decisions because he knew the behind-the-scene workings of the company, which led him to make the company successful.

e) Cognitive Intelligence- Mack had the ability to process and analyzes information quickly in order to make the right decisions for the company. Mack tempered his decisions with his experience in the financial sector to solve problems and better his decisions.

2. Transformational Leadership Behaviors:

Mack created a strategic vision in order to fulfill his dream to transform the soft and timid culture of the company in order to complete with the other companies. Mack made significant changes in the company’s ranks in order to accomplish his strategic vision, dreams, and goals for the company. He found recruits that would share and support his goals in order to transform the company. Mack created a special team based on the common goal of looking for more investment opportunity and innovative ideas. Mack immediately communicated his objectives and goals to his employees and stock holders. His business plan promised to elevate the company to the number one spot in the financial industry, and to double the company’s pretax earnings. Mack exemplified his vision by personally meeting with clients across the globe. He put his client’s needs before his own; one time he even cut his vacation short in order to help a client. In order to improve performance he motivated his employees and division heads. By consistently looking for more investment opportunities and innovative ideas he attracted more investors who knew they could depend on Mack’s commitment to his vision. While other companies were cutting costs and managing profits, Mack was expanding divisions that were bringing in more revenue.

In the end Mack’s vision and drams for his business came true. He transformed the company that was once going nowhere quickly to being one of the top investment banks in the industry. When investors saw the transformation of the company, they came back to the company that they once wanted no business with.

Chapter 13

Case Study 13.1 Macy’s Gets Personal

1. Changes to the four elements of organizational structure:

a) Spreading out merchandise and marketing to local district managers to enable them to connect their customers with Macy’s outlets in their area.

b) Decrease span of control with district managers now being responsible for a smaller number of stores and employees. They will now be in charge of 10 stores instead of the previous 16 to 18. Now district managers can work closer with district employees, allowing them to be more involved with the decision making within each store.

c) Organic Structure without wide span of control. District managers have more freedom to personalize merchandise and marketing to the needs and wants of the local customers.

2. Contingencies suggesting the need for organizational change:

a) External environment

Dynamic environment-Macy’s is responding to the needs of the customers by localizing the merchandise and marketing to fit the customer’s needs b

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