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Chapter 9: Managing Work Teams towards better cohesion.

Humans find different ways to complete daily tasks – work-related or otherwise. Some are completed individually, while others require teamwork. In many situations, we find that working together with one or more person allows us to accomplish our goals far more efficiently.

This is a familiar experience for individuals of numerous professions, especially for the athletes. Not only is it the nature of many sports that implies teams, but as one of the best sport champions Michael Jordan said: Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships”.

The following article presents the importance of group cohesiveness, a topic discussed in Chapter 9, and team index as a measure “which reflects and weighs the ‘cohesion’ of a set of players based on their shared experiences over various time periods”.

The team index is used by Ben Darwin a former Australian rugby player to construct his theory on sport evolution. The former player, who now considers himself an outsider of the sport environment, emphasises expensiveness of the sport teams that are run these days. Part of his argument is that all these years of money leading the sport are over. He also claims that talent is the driving force as well as the importance of a coach. These three key components are considered to direct the teams to achieve better results can be converted to a more holistic way; the cohesion of a team/group.

He pleads towards relationships, human cooperation, understanding and level of trust that should the mantra of any group and teamwork involved. Darwin can quantify the aforementioned elements and developed the Teamwork Index which is used in his sport evolution theory. In his view we cannot separate “how teams work and how people work”.

The theory can be applied in his three year-development of a sport analytics firm called Gain Line Analytics. One of the predictions is based on the Teamwork Index, thus the application of his theory is picking the Super Rugby finalists – the  Lions and the Hurricanes. The Teamwork Index is a measure which reflects and weights the cohesion of a set of players based on their experiences over various time periods. These are three measures included in the final Teamwork Index, the long-term cohesion, which reflects the time players have spent playing together more than two years ago. Medium term cohesion reflects the time spent within two years and the final measure is in-season cohesion, which has the highest weighting.

Vital for the cohesion of the team in the measurements taken in the calculation is “the measurement of the understanding between people and the inputs to that understanding”.

Based on the global experience gained with Gain Line Analytics, Darwin and his team concluded that “money buys skill but not success, talent flourishes best in familiar environments and that greatness is built carefully and methodically”. He pointed as well that "Governance is the greatest driver of success, but boards get seduced by skill and what they see in other clubs".

Darwin sees the cohesion as a key element for success and explains the lack of cohesion that brought the gradual decline of Australian rugby. As mentioned earlier, the commercial side which governed the sport in the last year’s disadvantaged the Wallabies and many other teams. Franchising the team sport lead reduced cohesion in the groups and, as a result, reduced team performance. The Australian, New Zealand and South African teams could suffer a regression in their success compared with the northern hemisphere teams who understood that fewer teams bring a strength advantage.

Through the projects completed by Gain Line Analytics firm on English football, Darwin finds that the commercial focus of the last years meant the owners of clubs’ performance was exclusively based on acquiring skilled and talented staff in order to succeed. However, this approach didn’t last and English football found itself in a declining position. The focus was only on money leading to the best outcome in the disadvantage of coherent teamwork which will lead to sustainable success.

Darwin’s obsession with cohesion and data analytics led him to pursue the Teamwork Index and Sport Evolution Theory. It also helped him to understand that the norms and management can be applied to a sport team, can be used in corporations and other organisations, and be applied to the stock market.

Alongside Darwin’s conclusion that the insights of a successful sport figure can be transferred to the business environment, is a recent appointment of an England rugby union coach Eddie Jones as a Nomura Japanese Bank’s partner. The former rugby union coach will be in charge of leading client-facing team and share his wisdom and experience through the team to European clients of Nomura Bank.

Team cohesion implies trust and loyalty as the driving forces to long-term success. It is important to remember that being part of a team requires long-term commitment and dedication towards inclusion in a caring and strong collaborative group.

As a result of a supporting team and performing teamwork, a young Queensland Firebirds defender Kimberly Jenner, had a positive experience in her first pre-season. She believed she could not sustain a preseason without a well-glued team and that “playing as a team is way better than playing as individuals”.

The importance of responsible work contributed by everyone in the team is highlighted by Canberra cyclist, Gracie Elvin, who has become first Australian woman to podium at the Tour of Flanders after finishing second in Belgium's iconic road race. "I really didn't have to do much before the finish, everyone had a role to play and they did it brilliantly, especially Annemiek right at the end," Elvin said.

The main concepts that worth paying attention to are…

  • Team/Group cohesiveness
  • Teamwork

 

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. Based on Darwin’s theory on sport evolution and cohesion, how cohesive do you think Australian rugby teams are? And how do you think this cohesion (or lack of cohesion) affected their performance? Why?
  2. Is commercial focus in sport affecting team cohesion? How?
  3. Is short time spent together as a team affecting cohesion?
  4. Based on your experience as a group member, how important is the responsible equal contribution of each group member? Why?

 

  

 




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Chapter 8: Generation Y, Millennials, personality and other traits that make them harder to manage. Myth or reality?

Many aspects can be taken into consideration in order to understand the reasons behind the myth or reality of Generation Y, behaviour and attitudes in the workplace.

A recent study on job satisfaction, conducted by researchers from Curtin University in Western Australia, surveyed workers from every age group, state and territory. The findings concluded that older workers are happier with their jobs than younger ones, with Generation Y being rating the lowest job satisfaction.

A different study published in the journal Work, Aging and Retirement, was initiated by Professor of psychology, Nick Haslam, from University of Melbourne. He compared 18-year-olds now with contemporary 48-year-olds when they were 18. The study focuses on three different groups: baby-boomers (18 year olds in 1976 to 1979), Gen-X (1979 to 1999) and Millennials (2000 to 2014), their personality characteristics, attitudes and work behavior.

Many studies try to trace the historical changes of personality in different generations. Some researchers’ findings can be exaggerated, while others consider that the changes are real and consequential. A few very predominant personality traits characteristic for people born more recently include being more assertive, more narcissistic, more extroverted, more anxious and higher in self-esteem. They tend to be less trusting, less empathetic and less confident that important life outcomes are under their control. They are more fragile and entitled, demanding of more pay for less effort, they require constant praised and focus on accelerated promotions. Considering their growing environment perhaps they are more entrepreneurial and socially conscious than their predecessors, shying away from corporate conformity and striving for personal meaning or social contribution.  

To be able to come up with more concrete answers, the researchers used a large survey run annually since 1976 on 100,000 American 18-year-olds. Their findings of the comparison of the three generations on work values concluded that the differences are small, subtle and not readily divisible into three periods. The millennials valued the extrinsic rewards of work, such as money and status, slightly less than Gen-Xers and only slightly more than the Baby Boomers. Also, another similarity between Millennials and earlier generations is the fact that the intrinsic rewards of work, such as opportunities for skill development and creativity, were only marginally less invested between them.

A few differences are larger such as Millennials placing higher value on the leisure rewards of work, including holidays, flexible hours and freedom from supervision than Gen-Xers and especially Boomers. Also, Millennials valued work less for its opportunities to make friends than previous generations. Due to the age of social media, workplaces are less essential sources of social connection than they used to be for past generations.

One of the predominant characteristics of Millennials, as mentioned previously, is the imperative to seek out jobs that are better paid – this tendency leading to an expensive lesson for employers: a higher rate of turnover in current workplace environment. Connecting back with the personality, Millennial employees can be seen as having an unpredictable personality. Their reason to change jobs quicker can result in bigger debts at an earlier age. Job satisfaction (or lack thereof) can be a very important factor for their move.

One thing’s for certain – in order to retain the new generation in the workplace for longer, employers need to be budget ready to invest in the their skills.

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Chapter 7: Innovating organisations a challenging task

Every business manager knows very well that CROWD companies offer new and innovative business models through the process of embracing powerful disrupting technologies. These kinds of companies offer partnerships to the traditional business in order to collaborate for a better survival in an unpredictable and challenging market environment.

However, according to Peter Schwarzenbauer, the chairman of BMW one of the CROWD companies, the corporation’s innovation leaders face many challenges when adopting innovative ideas due to resistance to change and a lack of willingness to understand the benefits of innovation. The internal culture of an organisation might be reluctant to adopt changes with the loss of the current and familiar business model.

The research conducted by the CROWD Companies, called “The Corporate Innovation Imperative”, finds that despite technology adoption, the relationship with startups or seeking to understand new trends, the internal culture was the primary challenge faced by the innovative leaders. Based on the research survey, the following challenges are identified as top stopers of innovative actions: fostering an internal culture of experimentation and innovation (57%), juggling competing internal agendas and goals (56%), overcoming the middle management “permafrost” layer (45%) and moving forward despite deferred commitment and delayed action (33%). The research included interviews with the innovation leaders as well. As a result, two additional challenges were identified: keeping up with startup innovations and delays in progress due to lack of clear business models.

Let’s look at some more details around these challenges. The foundational culture change requires more significant progress in order to produce the innovator’s focus on internal education from external speakers to internal workshops organised from executive level toward senior leadership. Another important challenge is the middle management “permafrost” that doesn’t support innovation. This being a consequence of a short-term-goals perspective approach rather than a long-term change that innovative ideas bring to the table. A very strong challenge to the corporation is led by the startups that innovate quickly, leaving behind the big companies to catch up. In comparison with the startups, business the corporations have the following characteristics: complicated processes, long production cycles, bureaucratic red tape. All of which contribute to a slower moving adoption of new ideas. Last but not at least, the challenge is a lack of clear business goals for innovation programs, being under pressure in proving ROI to executives, as well as lacking the budget to resource the programs that will generate results. The conclusion of this research shows that corporations are having bigger problems in overcoming their internal cultural pitfalls than to combat the challenge of the startups.

On the flip side, we have a positive example.  A known multinational clothing retailer, Zara, fosters an innovative corporate environment where new ideas are encouraged. The retailer promotes a culture that creates space in the business for innovation. Pip Marlow, the former boss of Microsoft Australia uses Zara as a prime example of keeping innovation alive. Zara’s innovation strategy facilitates space in its production. By not running the production at full capacity, the retailer uses spare production for in-demand or improved products based on customer feedback initiated on part of the production line. Pip Marlow advised the entrepreneurs (especially the big banks) of the need to develop partnerships with fintech startups, which bring mutual benefits. The traditional in-house systems that exist in the old financial institutions don’t have the agility to match with the startups’ micro or modular fintech services. These new services could bring real opportunity for financial institutions (both banks and insurance) to rethink their model.

So how can corporations help the fintech and insuretech achieve mutual benefit? The corporations have a trusted relationship with customers and great understanding of the regulatory environment. On the other hand, the startups don’t have the same ability to acquire customers. The cooperation between them will benefit both the business and the customers, delivering a better service to them.

 

Some challenges to be noted from the article with regards to innovation:

  • Internal culture
  • Budgets
  • Middle-management
  • Resistance to change, fear of changing old business models
  • Lack of openness to collaborate with startups

 

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. Based on CROWD Companies’ research findings and the textbook section “How Does an Organisation’s Culture Affect Innovation?” how would you, as a manager, suggest ways of avoiding the pressure of internal culture.
  2. The textbook mentions techniques for overcoming resistance to change (pp. 197-198, and Table 7.1).  Which ones would you have employed in these organisations?
  3. How likely do you think Zara’s example of innovation is to be embraced by corporations in near future?
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Chapter 6: Managing Human Resources: The Recruiting and Retention of employees using digital HR

This week we take a look at plans for the organisation’s workforce: hiring workers, retaining them and use of technology in doing so….

One hot topic to be discussed in the next C-suite meeting is plans for an employee ownership scheme in order to have a stronger company, healthier bottom line and happier employees. This scheme of ownership would lead to higher levels of engagement and retention. A good example is Lindt Australia winning its award for 2017 Innovative HR Teams. Their HR team drove employee engagement and performance, as well as talent acquisition and retention. The following tools were used in the process: mobile phone requisition and approvals; bulk actions for processing high volume of applications and communications; time-saving online tools for reference checks and self-service interview bookings; and online forms for contracts and on-boarding that allowed seamless transfer of data to payroll.

An interesting relationship exists between companies with strong ownership culture and a higher share price premium of 17% over their listed peers. Last month Australia launched the new Employee Ownership Australian (EOA) Index, which tracks the share prices of listed companies with high levels of employee ownership (EO) and compares them to the ASX200. This initiative concluded with the following result: in the past five and a half years, the share price of the EOA Index companies increased by 40%, compared to just 23% for the ASX 200. A robust employee-ownership culture also illustrates a strong link with other aspects such as environment, social and governance standards, according to the research conducted by responsibility analysts CAER. These companies are twice as likely to show clear evidence of equal opportunities systems and to outperform or match the ASX200 in three out of five social sustainability factors.

From an investor perspective, the companies with strong employee-ownership culture are very attractive, considering that they offer more engaged employees, more focused on gender and diversity, training, job security and sustainability. Therefore, investors should look for companies with higher levels of employee ownership, which will lead to broader social sustainability performance.

On a different note for an effective employee recruiting and retaining process, the digital embrace plays a vital role in this day and age. David Brown, Leader of the Deloitte Human Capital Consulting Practice, said Australian Human Resources professionals are focused on the retention of employees. However, 9% of Australian companies understand how to build a future-ready organisation equipped for digital disruption and developments of artificial intelligence and robotics, compared to 11% of companies around the globe which are ready for the future. With the advent of the digital age, the business models are changing and HR must follow the change through incorporation of these digital technologies in delivering its solutions to the organisations. The following technologies lead the way for the new business models: artificial intelligence, mobile platforms, sensors and social collaboration systems that are revolutionising the way workplaces are managed. According to the Deloitte Human Capital Consulting Practice, research (including 10,000 businesses around the world, including 197 in Australia), jobs need to be redesigned, the companies should include in their planning freelancers, “gig economy” workers and crowds. Of all companies participating in the research, a third were using some form of AI technology to deliver HR solutions and 41% were building mobile apps to deliver HR services. Australian companies were slightly ahead of international companies in reporting they had useable data analytics.

Alongside this come the cloud-based platforms used by the HR in the recruiting process. According to CB Insights Research in 2015 there were more than $2 billion in investment capital into cloud-based HR solutions. Advantages exist on both sides for employers and employees in using cloud-based HR platforms. The cloud-based platforms facilitate the employee performance tracking and motivation, which give them real-time understanding of changes in demographics or identification of areas of concern. Cloud-based HR platforms are beneficial to employees by helping them to engage better. Video learning tools allow employees to share content and recommend videos to each other, leading to a more aware and skilled workforce. Other organisations provide gamification elements using cloud-based HR solutions, giving employees access to ‘points’ or rewards based on performance.

Based on these different resources, a few points are to be noted….

 

  • Retention of employees, as a key element for successful companies
  • Recruiting and retaining in this day and age constrain HR to embrace digital technology
  • Advantages for employers and employees in using cloud-based HR platforms

 

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. Do you think the tools used by Lindt Australia were helpful to the company in increasing the retention rate of its employees? Explain how these tools were used.
  2. Suppose you were an investor. Would you invest in a company that supports the employees ownership culture over one that doesn’t? Why?
  3. One strategy for having competitive advantage in the market and being prepared for the future digital disruption is embracing new technologies. How would you, as a business manager, address this?
  4. As a manager, would you adopt cloud-based platforms in your organisation? Would you use social media platforms for recruiting and retaining employees?
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Chapter 5: The power given to organisations to overcome problems

After becoming familiar with the various organisational structures and forms of power presented/discussed in Chapter, let’s have a look at the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) and its power to fix/overcome technology glitches in several government organisations.

The government empowered the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to review several IT projects, which failed to deliver the services promised to highly public organisations. Problems were encountered by the following governmental organisations:  The Australian Bureau of StatisticsAustralian Taxation Office and Centrelink.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics had a massive shut down in 2016 when thousands of Australians accessed the census website in order to fill in their details and the online applications couldn’t sustain the volume. As a result, that census night cost taxpayers about $30m.

The next organisation is the Australian Taxation Office, which experienced recently two outages in December last year and February this year. The online portals used by tax agents were inaccessible making it difficult for accounting professionals to accomplish their tasks.

The third government organisation to experience glitches is Centrelink. This time the system experienced a faulty data-matching result between Centrelink and Australian Taxation Office that drove to incorrect debt recovery announcements/messages sent to the public.

As a consequence of these incidents, the public lost the confidence in the government’s capacity to deliver digital services to the masses. Consequently, the DTA is taking control of these IT projects (around 100). The agency will overlook the government IT investment facilitated by “investment management office”. These changes will support “greater visibility and centralised management of IT projects”.

Angus Taylor, the assistant minister for digital transformation, announced that the DTA is in the process of helping the Department of Human Services with its debt recovery system. The agency will also intervene in other projects as significant problems arise.

The agency’s original role as an intervention focused and start-up-style service delivery agency shifted to a broader role in government IT projects. This shift occurred last year when the DTA encountered a restructure phase when procurement, shared IT services, expenditure, strategy and policy were embraced. Part of the agency restructure is the change from an “agile delivery body to policy lead and performance whip”, not very popular with the public service sector. The other change came along too – the changing roles of digital gurus, in some cases located across oceans, from building and delivering their own innovative services to be present at departments fixing IT failures.

Taylor pointed out that there is room for improving government IT delivery. However IT projects, either public or private, have a history of experiencing problems at one stage or other in their lifetime. He stated that what is important is dealing with problems as soon as they arise. Taylor considers that in spite of government investments in IT projects, building skills for modern IT in each department is difficult. Another issue is the “serious duplication” between the IT areas across various departments.

Together with the initiative of restructuring, the DTA will focus on delivering value for money outcomes to Australians and government.

Consider the following questions for discussion:

  1. Several organisations are involved in this issue – Government, the Digital Transformation Agency, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Bureau of Statistics and Centrelink. What sort of a structure do you think each organisation would have?  How could have their structure support their operations?
  2. What forms of power and structures can you identify in this story?
  3. What kind of power is used by the government? What kind of power is mostly used by the DTA?
  4. What kind of power does the public have in this case? 
  5. Which form (or forms) of structure and power do you think is most effective in this case?

 

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Chapter 4: Planning for a more secure future

After becoming familiar with the various management tools and processes presented/discussed in Chapter 4, let’s have a look at the energy industry and its future planning for one vital issue that the industry is facing right now.

An energy crisis is fast approaching Australia and both, state and federal government do not agree on fixing solutions. As a major gas supply shortage is predicted from next year, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is warning policy makers and energy markets that Australia could shiver in cold winters and be overheated in hot summers.

Gas is currently used to power the electricity generators. As a consequence of a gas shortage, the industries and the consumers will experience a shortfall in electricity supply as well. Shortages of both gas and electricity will affect New South Wales and South Australia first, then Victoria in 2021 followed by Queensland between 2030 and 2036. According to AEMO, the demand for gas was greater with the use of the coal-fired power stations. Therefore, the Australian Energy Market Operator authority advises that new development of gas-powered electricity generators should be created, due to decrease in gas flowing from existing fields, mostly noticed in Bass Strait coupled with the need of LNG(liquefied natural gas) which supports Queensland’ export projects. New developments would make sense considering that the existing assets of gas development are old and inefficient, according to the energy expert Andrew Stock from the Climate Council.

Another option to overcome the gas shortage was announced by Frank Calabria, the chief executive of Origin Energy, who said that more gas was likely to be sold into the domestic market from the Queensland’ export projects mentioned above. Even if this option can be seen as an alternative solution, it is not a very efficient one considering that the commercial and industrial businesses are facing financial difficulties due to the rise of gas production costs. Also, due to Hazelwood closure the wholesale power prices will go up, therefore our prices will be three, four times higher than our competitors, situation that can force businesses to move their plants overseas.

Another reason for the increased energy prices is the advent of the entry of Australia’s east coast into global gas marketplace. As a consequence, regardless of the domestic supply the prices will no longer return to the previous levels, when Australian gas was isolated from global markets. That can be possible if Commonwealth or state government embrace the suggestion to reserve a percentage of gas for domestic use. However, the gas is known as a polluter, generating great emissions and contributing to climate change. Therefore it is recommended that states should adopt their own renewable targets, as part to a national policy.

Adopting renewable energy is not protecting the environment only, is also now the Australia’s cheapest source of energy, even with the addition of the cost of storage in order to make intermittent power source reliable. Despite of having the renewable energy as a cheaper solution, aggressive Renewable Energy Targets-meaning that a percentage of the state and territories electricity supplies are coming from renewable sources, without an emission trading scheme and a price on carbon, even these prices can rise.

Planning for the best outcome is a big challenge for political, as well as industry, leaders.

Consider the following questions for discussion:

  1. From the post, what types of planning are energy industry decision makers engaging in at this stage?  What type of planning would you recommend for them?
  2. From the post, what goals can you identify? Which are the stated goals and which are the real goals? How can you tell them apart? Based on what?
  3. What elements of strategic planning are evident in the article? What elements are missing? How would you, as strategic manager in Origin Energy or Hazelwood, use these missing elements?

 

 

 

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Chapter 3: Decision making. No, it will not get simpler.

Third time’s a charm! Ready to flex those managerial synapses? Today’s task is a real world-class brain-twister… get ready to take the heat!

Let’s get cracking…

…by reading back over the content on decision making in Chapter 3 of the textbook.  Once you’re done, you should be fully equipped to deal with a simple problem called “penalty rates”.  Easy! Right?...

Summarising very briefly:

Before you start reading this, quickly record your views on penalty rates: are they good for the economy? Are they destructive? Will cutting them be of benefit to Australia as a whole? Keep these records for the end of the reading piece.

On Friday, the 24th of February, the Fair Work Commission ruled that Sunday and public holiday penalty rates be reduced for full-time and part-time workers in the hospitality, retail and fast-food industries.  Although the commission acknowledged that this will create difficulties for some workers, it justified its decision by claiming that the cuts would lead to increased services and trading hours on public holidays and Sundays.

This decision, which is likely to affect many people like you, was received with a heated discussion from businesses, workers, families, and politicians. 

As you can imagine, people who benefit from penalty rates are not usually very high earners as it is.  Typically, workers in the affected industries rely on these penalty rates to make ends meet and to cover their necessary expenses.  The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said nearly half a million people, including some of the country's lowest-paid workers, would lose up to $6,000 a year.  For some people, this could make the difference between earning enough to survive, and going bankrupt.  Union groups are getting ready for a long and persistent battle on social media, targeting not only employees from the affected industries, but other industries as well.  They sense concern in other workers because of the precedent that this decision may set for them.

On the other hand, retailers claim that reducing penalty rates will result in more shifts and more work opportunities for the workers, as well as extended services to customers.  However, a similar cut to penalty rates in Perth back in 2015 did not show convincing evidence that this was successful. 

Although this ruling presents an opportunity for businesses to spend less money on labour, not all businesses intend to take advantage of that.  In smaller communities, like Maitland, there are voices from local businesses rejecting the cut.  Keeping the interests of their workers in mind, and keeping in mind that the workers are often friends and family, these businesses promise to continue to pay their employees as before.

Other business groups continue to fight for this rates but against the unions, claiming that this decision has been underway for two years, and will create more jobs.  But then again, having a job does not protect you from poverty, as shown by multiple economic researchers.

Politicians are also part of this discussion, as they are the ones who are responsible for setting the relevant legislation.  Decisions among this group often include contradictions.  For example, although the unions are fighting this decision, in September 2016 one of the has signed off on an agreement which raised the wages of weekday retail workers, but left weekend workers worse off. 

The Fair Work Commission provide reasons for their decision (see Chapter 6 of the decision), and the factors they considered, including the patterns of employment, the needs of the industries, and the social changes in weekends activities over time.  This list of considerations was compiled over a long period.  The committee heard evidence and submissions over 39 days of hearing in 2015 and 2016.  They received evidence from 143 lay and expert witnesses, and cross-examined 128 of them.  They received more than 5,900 submissions from the principal parties, State and Territory Governments, Church based organisations, political entities and individual employees and employers. This is a lot of information, as you can imagine, to make one complex decision!

 

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. This will be easy to answer, but you will surprised how often this issue is overlooked in managerial discussion: is the penalty rates cuts question a structured, or an unstructured problem?
  2. Why would bounded rationality play a part in how people normally consider the penalty rates issue?
  3. Most penalty rates issues are discussed in group forum – at least among policy makers.  What kind of problems, biases, and benefits does this group setting bring to this problem?
  4. If you were the manager of a business in hospitality, pharmacy, retail, or fast food, would you cut back your employees’ penalty rates? How would you approach that decision?  What considerations would guide you, and how would they relate to the decision making process in Figure 3.1?
  5. What kind of biases listed in Figure 3.2 do you think affect a decision to cut penalty rates for the Fair Work Commission?  And for businesses?  How would they affect you if you were one of the managers?
  6. It may be tempting to follow the rational decision-making approach to every problem you encounter as a manager, but keep in mind realistic conditions, that are similar to those in managerial workplaces: time pressure, tasks overload, and multiple stakeholders.  How would you recommend to address this problem? 

 

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Chapter 2: The External Management Environment

Welcome back for another round of exciting management case studies!  Today we will get in close touch with a major global problem: climate change.  Management and organisations are not separate from the rest of the world and nothing illustrates the connection of an organisation to the external environment like this particular example.   Let’s check out some organisations that are involve in managing this issue, the components of their external environment and what they mean for managers.

To start with…

…refresh your knowledge of the various factors in the external environment that managers should be aware of as part of their job. Figures 2.1 (p. 30) and 2.2 (p. 32) in your textbook describe these in detail, so you should definitely have a closer look at them before sinking your teeth into this case.  Once you’ve done that, check out this description of the Adani coal mine battle involving a mining company, governments, and environmental groups.

So, to summarise…

Adani Group is a leading infrastructure conglomerate from India operating internationally.  It has operations in Australia, where it operates mines, ports and power plants.  Over the last few years has tried to expand its operations in the Carmichael mine Queensland, into what will become the largest coal mine, with six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines.  The cost of the project is estimated at $22 billion, and will include a 31.5 kilometres of permanent rail line, which will form part of a 389-kilometre heavy haul line from the mine in the Galilee Basin, west of Rockhampton, to the Abbot Point port, south of Townsville.  The life span of the mine is estimated to be between 25 and 60 years, according to the Queensland Government, but the railway will remain in Queensland after that time. 

The coal itself is meant to supply Indian power plants with enough coal to generate electricity for up to 100 million people, after it is processed through the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, off the coast of Bowen in north Queensland.  This way, the coal will provide processing jobs in Queensland, Australia.

The jobs relating to this mine are an important point, and it is a major reason why the Queensland Government, the Australian Govenrment, and many Australian businesses support the expansion of the mine.  The Adani Group predicts the first stage of construction will provide more than 500 positions, mainly for planners and engineers.  Once operational, the Group estimated the mine will provide 2,500 to 3,000 full-time jobs.  The Adani Group has estimated the entire project will create 10,000 jobs through direct and indirect employment.

However, in 2015, Adani Consultant Dr Jerome Fahrer told the Land Court in Brisbane the mine would actually create fewer jobs.  He gave a net figure of 1,464 – about 15% of what the Adani Group has been stating – and the court accepted this estimation.

Why was the court involved in the first place?  At that time (December 2015), Coast and Country, a community conservation group from Queensland, took the project to the land court to try to stop the Queensland government from issuing Adani's mining leases and approvals.  The environmental group was concerned that the expansion of the mine would threaten black throated finch populations, damage ground water from nearby springs, contribute to climate change, and that the economic benefits would be less than those forecast by Adani.

The environmental groups are getting better and better at battling the coal mine project.  By now, it is supported by the activist group GetUp!, has a $1 million budget, nine full-time staff including polling and social media experts, and hundreds of volunteers.  In response to their actions, Adani have tried to get the Australian Prime Minister to introduce a law that would not allow activists from taking legal action against them.  The environmental groups, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, are launching a campaign targeting 13 marginal coalition seats in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.  The campaign uses cutting-edge and traditional tactics, contacting voters by telephone, advertising, and a social media.  In addition, by challenging their socially responsible image with a satirical video, the environmental group SumOfUs targeted Westpac bank, to join a many other financial institutions who refused funding for the $22 billion project.

On the other hand, local politicians, such as the Mayor of Rockhampton, Margaret Strelow, see the mine as a business opportunity that needs to be grabbed.  Adani is holding a roadshow explaining the mine and its effects on the local economy, and 300 local businesses attending are keen to get involved.  This also means jobs for locals, and economic growth, at least for a few decades. 

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • The effects of the environment on organisation
  • The external environment of the organisation
  • Customer responsiveness
  • Managerial responses

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. Figure 2.1 on page 30 describes the organisation through a system view.  How would you describe the elements which are relevant to the Adani Group?  To the Australia Government and Queensland Government? And the environmental groups?
  2. Figure 2.2 on page 32 of your textbook lists the elements of the organisation’s specific environment, and describes them in detail on pages 39-43.  If you were a manager in Adani Group, the Queensland Government, or the environmental groups, which of these elements would you be particularly attuned to these days?  Why?  How would they affect your daily work?
  3. What businesses and organisations would be affected by the expansion of the mine?  Which ones would be affected favourably and which ones would be damaged?  Keep in mind that tourism is an important sector in Queensland, and the expanding mine is said to damage the Great Barrier Reef.
  4. How would you, as a manager of a business that is strongly affected by the condition of the Great Barrier Reef, prepare for the predictions?
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Chapter 1: Managers and management: Changing roles

Welcome to the first-semester’s blog posts for 2017 for Management: The Essentials.  This is where we’ll broaden the understanding of Chapter 1: Managers and Management.  Let’s get started!

To start with…

…refresh your knowledge of managers’ titles on page 6, and managerial roles on pages 8 to 11 of the textbook.  Then check out a recent story of indigenous youth groups engaging with Hip Hop across the country.  Their story exposes us to organisations of various shapes and sizes, so we have an opportunity to take a close look.

Let’s look at all of those.

So, to summarise…

Besides traditional money-making businesses, other organisations also have managers who fulfil important roles.  A good example are indigenous teenagers groups across Australia, such as The B-Town Warriors from Bourke High School in north-western New South Wales, and their productive collaboration with Desert Pea Media.  Various indigenous youth groups across Australia are now using hip hop and social media to bring attention to social issues affecting their communities.

Over the last 15 years, Desert Pea Media, based in the northern New South Wales town of Byron Bay, is a registered charity that has been visiting remote Indigenous communities to help locals tell their stories through performance.  In recent years, the organisation focused on producing hip hop music videos with Indigenous teenagers.  The reason for this focus is that members of remote communities in Australia relate to American hip-hop and gangster rap.  Expressing local stories with this style of music makes an authentic communication of Australian experiences.

One of the biggest challenges Desert Pea Media faced was bringing Indigenous teenagers out of their shells and getting them to participate.  Young indigenous people tend to experience strong shame over their culture, origins, and identity.  Toby Finlayson, the founder of Desert Pea, explains that for several generations, young Indigenous people have received such messages.  This process of proudly telling their story plays an important role in changing this view within the indigenous community.  Getting the youth to do that is a similar challenge to engaging employees in their work, and in inspiring them to express their full potential.

To engage the teenagers in music and video production, Desert Pea Media designed the projects to accommodate for people with no experience, and to provide an experience which results in strong positive feelings.  This is done in a group, which first discusses issues affecting the community and ideal solutions for them.  For example, smoking during pregnancy, bullying, suicide, are mental health are issues of concern.  These issues are discussed among the local teenagers, with Desert Pea Media members facilitating.  Questions like: what is the issue, where does it come from, why does it exist and why does it continue, how would it look in a perfect world, and what can the people in the conversation do as individuals, communities, and as a nation, to solve the problem.

The process helps engage the young performers in several ways.  First, by designing a process that does not require previous experience or skill level, the performers are less intimidated by the tasks involved.  Also, being part of a group and not being ‘on the spot’ helps them gain confidence.  In addition, the young performers get immersed in the content of their creative production, and have a strong ownership over the outcome.  Finally, each member’s contribution to the performance is not only voluntary and self-driven, but also strongly relates to their self-identity and self-value.  This way, they can take pride in the shared outcome.

Besides facilitating the creative process, a charity must also raise funding.  Having a successful creative product, such as a popular video, helps with branding the organisation and with developing its image.  These creative products also serve to elevate the status of the institutions that the young performers are part of, such as their schools and their communities.  These mutually beneficial outcomes are really what management and organisations should be all about: creating value and benefits to all stakeholders involved ultimately benefits society and humanity as a whole.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Three characteristics of an organisation
  • Managerial titles
  • Managerial functions
  • Managerial skills

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. There are two different types of organisations involved in story.  Identify them, and identify how they would vary across the three characteristics of organisations described in Figure 1.1, on p. 5.
  2. Identify the titles of managers who would be involved directly, and indirectly, in the production of the songs and videos described in the article.
  3. Think of the four management functions (p. 8-9).  How would the managers in each type of the organisations you’ve identified in question 1 address each of these functions when they operate to achieve their goals?

Have a look at the managerial skills listed on page 11.  How would these skills be used by the different managers in the different organisations you’ve identified?

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Chapter 12: Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Negotiations

To get started…

Refresh your memory on the various barriers to communication mentioned in your textbook on pages 338-340, to see why it is important to find effective ways of communication, and how managers can overcome barriers to communication.  Check out how managers should communicate when negotiating on pages 347-349.  Then, read about the turbulent negotiations between sugar miller Wilmar and Queensland Sugar Limited (SQL).

So, to summarise…

Although it may seem like the most common and innocent household item, sugar seems to be the newly discovered household nasty.  Nonetheless, there is no denying that as a society we depend on and consume sugar regularly.  Two main parties involved in the sugar production process, the growers and the sugar mill, have been having trouble getting along in Queensland over the last two years, and now, this relationships seems to be breaking down.

The main issue Wilmar has is around joint marketing.  Wilmar has been part of SQL’s marketing group, and would now like to lead it.  If the miller promotes sugar, presumably, and do so successfully, it would be good for everyone: both the miller and the growers.  But the growers are unhappy with this proposed arrangement because they believe that the agreement will come at the expense of their economic interest.

Wilmar on one had claimed that they have consulted the growers, and received positive feedback for their proposal.  The growers, on the other hand, claimed that this is not true.  The growers are now saying that Wilmar’s terms were "commercially unreasonable" and forced unnecessary costs and risk onto growers who chose to access QSL.  They challenged Wilmar to make public its terms in the interests of fairness and transparency.

Wilmar has refused to release its 'on supply' agreement terms, and accused QSL of breaching commercial confidentiality; a claim QSL refutes. 

One major sticking point, excuse the pun, is when the ownership of sugar is transferred.  Wilmar insists that ownership of the sugar would not change hands until it was loaded onto the ship, which they claim is "global industry standard terms", whereas the growers ask for ownership to be changed at the point of delivery to the terminal.  Keep in mind that while you are the owner, you are responsible for the goods, and any damage while it’s under your ownership is also your problem.  Wilmar executive argues that this has already been agreed upon, and is not clear why it is now being rejected.

Wilmar also claim that more and more growers join the agreement with them, as they exist the SQL group.  Just think, if you were a grower singed up with SQL, what effect would hearing that would have on your decision to join or refuse Wilmar. 

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Barriers to communication
  • Ways to overcome barriers to effective communication
  • Negotiations

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. What barriers to communication would disrupt good outcomes in negotiations?  How would you overcome them?  Why?
  2. If you were to represent Wilmar in the negotiations discussed in this case, how would you prepare for it?   How would you prepare if you were to represent Queensland Sugar Limited?
  3. What is your view on the actual communication that took place?  What barriers do you think are present in the negotiations described in this case?  How would you overcome them?
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Chapter 11: Leadership: strong or distributed?

To get started…

…refresh you knowledge on leadership and trust based on Chapter 11 of your textbook.  Take special notice of leadership traits, the behavioural theories of leadership, contemporary issues in leadership, and elements of trust in leadership.  Then read this article about leading teams into autonomy.

So, to summarise…

Even in this day and age, some people call for ‘strong leadership’ or ‘strong leaders’, where the leader is the one who decides on the course of action, who convinces their staff to rally behind it, and guides them on how to do that.  For example, the Governor of theReserve Bank of Australia Glenn Steven, calls for strong political leadership, to enable economic reforms.  Of course, political leadership is only as strong as the mandate they get from their voters.  As history has shown, strong political leadership does not always lead to the best outcomes, even when democratically elected.  This is also evident among leaders in industry: Steve Jobs was a strong leader, and he did get results, but without him, the sustainability of those results is not guaranteed.

Another way to look at leadership is surfacing as the power of the crowd is discovered: distributed leadership.  This is an open, collaborative, and decentralised style which is required to deal with global changes in work and technology.  The education industry, which tends to encourage the nurturing of each individual, has been using this distributed style in schools.

The aim of distributed leadership is to create self-sustaining teams and organisations, because relying on a single person to maintain company success is not a sustainable way to run.  Even if you find one right person, they will not stay there forever.  And in general teams outperform individuals, and that goes for management too – so to develop an autonomous team is a stepping stone to developing an organisation which does not rely on a single leader.

The article describes the journey one manager, Theodora Pankofka, took transforming her team into an autonomous one.  The team she took over had a history of low performance and autocratic centralised management.  First, Pankofka made a determination: to have the whole team (including herself, mind you) changed.  Then, she met with every stakeholder involved with the team, and tried to get their perspective on what the team delivers them, what the team should change, and what the team does well.  She then spent time with the team categorising all the issues and identifying what needs to addressed.  The team identified quality issues as the most prominent issue, and this issue was addressed by Pankofka, as well as by the team.  As they addressed the problems, the team members themselves communicated with the stakeholders, which not only developed trust with them, but also empowered the team to operate on the same level as their manager.

The next step involved removing the Pankofka from the sole leadership position, and giving individuals on the team opportunities to lead – one at a time.  Pankofka held back and gave the team opportunities to resolve issues, even when she knew the solutions herslf, so that they would know that she trusts them, and thus remain empowered to resolve problems in the future. 

Even when the team failed – which was expected – Pankofka used it to further build the team’s confidence in their own ability to solve problems.  Accepting the team’s failure meant that they now knew that they are in a safe environment, they can take risks, and they also have sufficient resources to practice their learning. 

Then, Pankofka diversified their network, by adding individuals with strengths and expertise which added to the team.  This sometimes meant simply hiring people who come from a different geographical area.  Sometimes you’ll need to dig a bit deeper and find other differences, such as skills or technical expertise. 

In the end, one year down the track, the team was a success story – it was a top performer in the organisation.  Not only that – Pankofka could have stepped off the team, and its strengths would have remained.  This is what distributed leadership is all about – it may be clumsier, but it can be more robust and sustainable in the face of change.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Traits associated with leadership
  • Leadership styles: centre, orientation, managerial grid.
  • Path-goal model, transactional and transformational leadership
  • Credibility and trust

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. What kind of traits would expect distributed leadership members to have?  Why?
  2. What leadership style would you say distributed leadership members need, if they genuinely wanted to transform their teams into autonomous? Why?
  3. How do the transactional/transformational leadership styles apply to distributed leadership members, who aim to develop autonomous teams?
  4. How would you assess the leaders’ credibility in general?  How would you assess their credibility on issues like developing autonomous teams?
  5. If you were a CEO who was genuinely committed to developing autonomous teams, how would you develop the trust of your employees?
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Chapter 10: Motivating and rewarding employees

To get started…

… revise the motivation theories that appear in Chapter 10 of your textbook.  Take special notice of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, McClelland’s three-needs theory, McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, Expectancy theory, Goal setting theory, and Equity theory.  Then read this article about the experience of Mike Utsler, Woodside Petroleum’s chief operations officer.

So, to summarise…

Six years ago, before he became the COO for Woodside Petroleum, Utsler was BP’s operations senior vice-president, overseeing the North Slope oil project in Alaska.  Back then, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, where the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 people, and then sank, resulted in an 87-days of oil flowing into the ocean.  Utsler was asked to take charge over BP’s response to the disaster, which he did. 

Taking charge of that response meant great challenges on many fronts: on the practical front, Utsler’s work week was far from comfortable: three years of seven days a week, every day starting at 4:15am, ending around 12:30am the next morning. 

On another front, was the managerial challenge.  Utsler was trained and experienced responder to man-made and nature-made disasters in the gas and oil industry, and he knew he needed a lot more people than he initially had.  His team grew from 435 people to 12,000 in two weeks, and in less than four months, to 48,000.  Recruitment is one challenge.  Then there’s management of this giant crew.

Then, there was the motivational challenge.  Motivating people to do something important, something greater than themselves, is one thing.  Who would not want to be part of an operation to control one of the largest marine disaster?  But motivating 48,000 people to do something that everyone else worldwide was saying they could not do by themselves, is a whole different story.

How did Utsler do it?  He says he made the missions clear first: No one was to be hurt in the efforts to respond, no oil would hit the beaches across the Gulf of Mexico.  He connected with people every day for 15 minutes to tell them what the team did on the day before, the successes and the failures, what they were doing on the day.  Then, when a hurricane came through and pushed oil onto the beaches, the mission changed into becoming the best in the world at picking the oil up, cleaning it up, and removing its impact.  The company needed show the effectiveness of their own actions to its own people.

Then, after three years of that work, Utsler left BP, and he now joins Woodside, which wants to become a leading international oil and gas company, but struggles with its own high levels of bureaucracy.  To address that, Utsler started an idea program, asking staff for ideas to improve the company.  In 2014, 330 workers contributed 900 ideas, and in 2015, 5900 ideas came from workers, and from contractors.  The ideas were assessed by volunteers within the workforce, and eventually by Utsler himself.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • The hierarchy of needs
  • McClelland’s three-needs theory
  • McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
  • Herzberg’s two-factor theory
  • Equity theory
  • Expectancy theory
  • Goal setting theory

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. How would you say the hierarchy of needs model explains Utsler’s way to motivate his team?  How does it fit with Utsler’s motivation to take and continue on the job?  This priority of needs in this case really challenges the “pyramid” structure of the hierarchy of needs model.  How would that fit into criticisms of it?
  2. How would Woodside’s employees seem to fit into McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y model?  Why? 
  3. How would Utselr’s experience in BP fit into Herzberg’s two-factor theory?    What would be his hygiene factors and what would be his motivators?  What does that teach you about this theory?
  4. How could the extra work put into improving Woodside be reconcile with equity theory, in the case of Woodside’s employees?  What about Woodside’s contractors? 
  5. How could you use expectancy theory and goal-setting to explain Utsler’s success in BP?  What about his current work in Woodside??

 

 

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Chapter 9: Understanding Groups and Managing Work Teams

To get started…

…revise the chapter’s input on teams and teamwork on pages 246-261.  Particularly, take notice of Figure 9.3 on page 251 addressing cohesion and productivity, and Figure 9.5 on page 254, which tells you of the factors relevant for effective teams.  Then check out the story of Geelong council in Victoria getting dismissed

When councils misbehave

City councils are really the most evident form of government that people experience: they are responsible for all of the day-to-day things we live with, like street signs, safety, traffic, waste management, and other basic services which everyone uses.  They are a form of Australian local government, and they usually get elected. 

Maybe because they do not star the national news, local government can suffer from big problems, and not even get noticed.  For example, many councils experienced corruption with regards to planning and construction, or other forms of dysfunction.  Today we will look at Geelong Council which was dismissed by the Victorian government after its dysfunction was deemed beyond repair.

Bullying and harassment were apparently prevalent in the council.  It sounds like female members often suffered from abusive language, and there were allegations that the senior officers deliberately blocked business people who wanted to grow their businesses. 

When the former mayor of Geelong, Keith Fagg, appointed Dr Russell Walker as the executive director of Enterprise Geelong, this brought into the council a person who wanted to address these problems.  Together with Geelong psychologist Gary McMullen he tried to bring these problems to light.  In response to his attempts to address these problems, Dr Walker was rejected by council members. 

Finally, after Dr Walker ‘blew the whistle’ and reported these problems, and an investigation was led by former sex discrimination commissioner Susan Halliday in October 2015.  Major problems were found with the way staff were treated, including bullying.  It has been over 12 months since the report, and the issues were not addressed, so the Victorian government has now dismissed the council. 

But dismissing the council does not end the complications: who will take their place?  Elections are not scheduled for another four years.  In the meantime, Victoria’s government decided to appoint an administrator until 2020. 

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Definitions of groups and teams
  • Types of teams
  • Teams effectiveness model
  • Team roles

 

Consider the following questions for discussion… 

  1. Is this article describing a group or a team?  Why?
  2. What type of group or team would this be?  Note, the characteristics of more than one type would apply here.  What are they?
  3. How cohesive do you think the council was?  And how do you think this cohesion affected its productivity?  Why?
  4. If you look at the team effectiveness model, what elements would you say Geelong’s council got right?  And what is it missing?  How could it be better addressed?
  5. What roles can you identify in in the council, and who is fulfilling those roles?

 

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Chapter 8: Foundations of Individual Behaviour: personality and emotional intelligence

Some theory first…

…revise pages 217-222 and pages 223-226 of Chapter 8 briefly. 

Some businesses will favour personality over education, skills, and experience.  Personality can be the root cause behind the paralysis of entire national systems, like the Australian taxation office.  When two top-level executives have a personality clash, you get wasted effort of one entity and ineffective action in another entity.  So one thing is identifying personality traits, and another thing is matching those traits to the job, the tasks, and the people around you.  Let’s have a look at all these aspects.

So, to summarise…

Working with other people means you will be exposed to lots of different personality types.  By now, you have probably worked out some ways of identifying these types: noticing their communication style, their decisions, and their relationships.  There are personality traits that end up earning more money than others (rightfully or not), and some research claims that another personality trait is the single most important trait for all kinds of success. 

Research shows us that matching our behaviour to our personality can increase our happiness.  For example, spending money on things that match your personality can increase your happiness levels, whereas sending it on things that do not match does not.  For example, extroverts who spend money on a book gain less happiness than spending money at a bar, as opposed to introverts, who gain more happiness by spending money on a book than at a bar.  So identifying your personality traits is important for your happiness, and your happiness is important for your success and productivity, so it is important to your workplace too.

How do personality traits get identified? Usually through personality tests.  But personality is usually far more complex than just a snapshot in time of a person’s behaviour.  One of the most common ways to measure personality, the Myers-Brigs Type Indicator (MBTI®), categorises people into 16 groups – with a 4x4 matrix, as the textbook shows.  This has spawned A LOT of research, and some scientists argue that a personality determined basic things, like movement patterns or reaction to eye contact.  But in addition to research confirming personality influences, you also have a lot of views that personality tests are, well, rubbish.  For example, how can you test the personality of a teenager, who hasn’t even finished developing his brain?  Research shows the brain doesn’t finish developing until well into people’s 20’s, and people keep on growing and changing throughout their lives.  So what good is a personality test?  Also, people can fake their answers, shape them to what the employer may like, score inconsistently over time – and so on. 

But how bad are they, really?  This is a chance for you to find out (if you haven’t already tried before).  There are two tests you can take today.  One scores your personality according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), and the other one scores according to the Big Five model.  They take a little time to do, particularly if you are doing them insincerely…

Once you have completed the tests and the scores and descriptions are available to you, have a read through them to see to what extent you feel like they have captured your personality.

You can also explore Jung Career IndicatorTM and see what types of career they suggest you choose based on your personality type.  How do you feel about them?

In any case…

Your workplace offers opportunities to interact with, how shall we put this, interesting personality types.  For example, you may find yourself with a narcissistic boss.  Narcissists seem charming, charismatic, and confident at first, so they can make their way into managerial and leading positions.  Later, you discover that they have an exaggerated sense of entitlement, that they require constant admiration, that they are quick to claim credit for others’ achievements, and to blame colleagues for their own failures.  They also care only about their own success, and they are willing to take advantage of others to get what they need.  All this makes them very difficult to work for.  If this happens to you, there are several strategies you can use to improve yourself while you work with them:

  • Learn from their successful behaviours
  • Be careful when you challenge them – their ego is fragile and hurting it will hurt you
  • Avoid gossip, particularly in an email
  • Regularly examine if staying is useful to you

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Participants’ experience during personality testing
  • Participants’ concurrence with the results of personality tests
  • Participants’ concurrence with suggested careers
  • Difference and similarities between the different personality testing tools
  • Employees’ personality aspects versus a holistic view of them
  • The effects of personality types on work outcomes

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. How did you feel during personality testing?  How would you feel if had to take one of these tests as part of a job recruitment process?  Would you keep your answers genuine?
  2. How did you feel about the results of the tests?  Did you agree with them?  Why or why not?
  3. Could you have achieved a different result if your answers were slightly different?  What do you think of the accuracy of these tests?
  4. How do you feel about the careers suggested to you?  Can you relate to any of these suggestions?
  5. How the two test results compare?  Which one would you prefer to use if you needed to recruit people to work with you?  Why?
  6. How close are your traits to those of the narcissistic manager?  How do you think working for a narcissistic manager would be?  
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Chapter 7: Innovating higher education in Australia and world-wide

To get cracking…

…revise pages 186-206 of Chapter 7 and really get your head around the theory in the text. Then, read this news article reporting on a government plan to use massive online open courses – or MOOCs – so that Australia can capture 10 percent of the world market in online education by 2025.  Let’s see how MOOCs ignited changes in the higher education industry.

So, to summarise…

International education is already an important part of the Australian economy.  In fact, it is the third largest industry in Australia, with a $19 billion revenue in 2015.  A recent estimate by Deloitte Access Economics suggests that by 2025, 1 billion students world-wide will be seeking online education.  Australia’s universities have a strong global reputation and relevant capabilities, so this opportunity was recognised by then International Education Minister Richard Colbeck, and former Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who put together a strategy to grow the Australian online education industry by… 21,900 percent.  No, this is not a typo.

One way to capture international students is with a MOOC.  It’s a bit like a free sample you get of a product, which then gets you to continue to buy it:  you do a free short course, see if you like it, and if you do, you can enrol in a full subject, get credit, or even get a whole degree with the education provider.

MOOCs have their own shortcomings. Their completion rates have been tiny (around 5% at many subjects) and there are stories of plagiarism, which reduce confidence in the accreditation they provide.  Also, it seemed like a lot of MOOCs were not very innovative, and therefore not very attractive: they were just online versions of traditional content delivery, which not very inspiring or engaging.  Actually, some of the non-elite universities did a better job than the famous ones.  Those universities have had to attract students not with their reputation but with their practices, and because of that they developed great online delivery practices over the last two decades.

Even with these problems, and even after the initial enthusiasm had passed, MOOCs continue to grow.  In Australia, many top universities now offer them:  Australian National University , Monash University and the University of Queensland are only a few examples.  MOOCs cover all sorts of topics, not only academic ones: for example, a MOOC on death and dying (which is something relevant to all of us, really) is now on offer.  Because there are now so many MOOCs offered, on so many different platforms, a new service allows you to find a MOOC on your topic of interest in the pool of MOOCs worldwide.

The MOOC industry is inspiring change in the higher education industry.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world’s top universities, now allows you to take half of its masters degree practically for free.  Coursera is connecting universities directly to industry, by providing MOOCs on topics of interest to companies, such as corporate financial analysis.  More changes are expected, as students become more sophisticated in their ways of cheating in MOOC assessments.

No doubt, if you have not heard of MOOCs before, you will be hearing a lot more of them now!

 

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Categories of organisational change
  • Overcoming barriers to change
  • Stress
  • Innovation variables
  • Idea champions
  • Change agents

 

Consider the following questions for discussion…

Two main types of organisations mentioned in this post: universities and MOOC providers.  Which categories of change affecting each of them can you identify in this post?  Have a look at Figure 7.1

  1. Your textbook mentions a few causes of resistance to change 196-197.  Which ones do you expect to operate in each of the organisations mentioned? 
  2. The textbook also mentions techniques for overcoming resistance to change (pp. 197-198, and Table 7.1).  Which ones would you have employed in each organisation?
  3. How likely do you think the change in the organisation to result in employee stress?   Which of the techniques to reduce stress among staff suggested on pp. 200-201 would you think are the most appropriate?
  4. Which of the innovation variables presented in Figure 7.3 do you think are prominent in the organisations mentioned?  How would their presence (or absence) affect the change introduced by the rise of MOOCs?
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Chapter 6: Managing Human Resources: addressing harmful turnover

To start with…

…refresh your knowledge of human resource management, primarily on Figure 6.1 on p. 152, summarising the HRM process, pages 155 - 161 on selecting competent employees and pages 162 - 166 on strategies for retaining them.  Then, read a recent article describing the damaging effect of childcare workers’ turnover on children, and the reasons for it.

So, to summarise…

Children are our future!  After all, everyone used to be one.  In our society, it is very common to have both parents working, and there is not always extended family support, so the childcare industry has been rising in terms of costs and revenue.  This massive industry involves billions of dollars, and millions of families. 

Typically, the mission of childcare organisations is to provide children with a safe, age-appropriate environment, which allows children to learn, interact, and explore as they grow.   Usually, childcare centres pride themselves on the positive contribution they make to the development of children in their care. 

However, recent research shows that turnover in this sector is quite high:  about 205, which is 1 in 5 childcare workers, plan to leave.  The separation from a beloved childcare worker, who is practically a surrogate parent for a young child, can be very difficult for little children, and can also have a negative affect their development.  This is in clear contradistinction to the mission and goals of childcare organisations.  Managers of childcare centres now face a problem in their human resources, and that problem directly affects the quality of the service they provide.

What can HRM do in this case?  Actually, they can do a lot.  Let’s break it down to six broad categories: identify reasons, deal with new staff, deal with existing staff, address the problem at the job and organisational level, use retention strategies, and prepare for the future.

First, HR can find the reasons for turnover.  Many workplaces use exit interviews as a standard procedure to identify what made the employee resign, and do not require external researchers to give the answer.  In this case, an external researcher found that the main three reasons for turnover among childcare workers was pay, paperwork, and working conditions.

Then, once the reasons for leaving are identified, HRM can start addressing them before new workers join in.  In the stages of recruitment, selection, induction, HRM professionals can look for employees who can not only perform the core activities of childcare, but also handle the hardships that were too much for the workers who left.  One technique is a providing a realistic job preview, where new recruits get an understanding of what work would be like.

Besides getting new staff on board, the existing staff needs to be addressed: they were deemed suitable for the organisation, so the organisation can now help them stay.  Paperwork is a problem in many organisations.  Maybe further training and development need to be provided, so that working conditions can improve, and so that paperwork can be managed better?  Maybe there are opportunities for professional development which will address some of the problems?

HRM professionals can also address the problems at the organisational levels.  If pay is an issue, HRM can recommend to top management to revise it.  If the organisation’s competitive advantage is to have low staff turnover, it could afford to charge higher rates, or, in most cases, it will lose less money: recruiting, selecting, and inducting employees costs money too.  HRM professionals also have the tools to address the problems through job design, organisational structure, appraisal system, and knowledge sharing.  Perhaps paperwork can be separated from direct childcare, or time can be allocated to it?  Maybe the appraisal system can take paperwork into account, and motivate employees that way?  Maybe some workers have found strategies to incorporate paperwork into their work day, and those strategies can be shared?  

HRM professionals also have various strategies to encourage retention.  Incentives, mainly if they are tenure-related, can encourage workers to stay.  Other strategies include promotion and status (“senior carer”, “floor manager” and formal titles like these), and security.  Some jobs do not offer the best conditions or pay, but the security they offer is attractive to workers.  These are all ways HRM can help with retention.

Finally, HRM can help face this challenge, but other challenges will come.  HRM professionals need to find ways to identify those challenges before they become a problem, and address them.  HRM professionals can find ways for employees to voice their views, and to identify where the decision making can be made, at the top or closer to the workers. 

So there are many ways in which HRM professionals can contribute not only to the organisation they work in, but also to the customers, communities, and society as a whole.  On that optimistic note, let’s move onto the questions.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Recruitment strategies
  • Retention strategies

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. How does turnover affect childcare organisations? Who are the likely affected parties, and how does it impact on the organisations?
  2. One strategy for reducing employee turnover is providing security in terms of continuous employment.  What are the risks of offering people permanent employment?  How would you, as a business manager, address them?
  3. Suppose you were told, as a manager of a childcare centre, that you need to retain as many of the current carers as possible.  How would you, as a manager, decide on which retention strategies to use?
  4. In your view, how would career development assist with the retention of childcare staff?  What career development opportunities could you offer them?
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Chapter 5: Forms of power in organisations

The Australian Federal elections have recently concluded with a bare majority for the Coalition.  This brings to light many political power exercises.  Although political parties are not exactly business firms, they are, based on our definition, organisations.  They are, after all, people who deliberately come together to accomplish some specific purpose. Let’s stretch our views of organisations with this example, and check out how power works.

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australian-election-result-voters-put-political-establishment-on-notice-2016-7

power: between parties large parties and small parties

people have power to elect

 

Let’s get cracking…

…refamiliarise yourself with the content of Chapter 5 to arm yourself for this scenario.  Particularly, have a look at pages 123-125, which described different forms of power and authority, and pages 129 – 135 which describe common organisational structures. Then, make yourself familiar with the structure of the Liberal party, and on p. 6 of this document you can find a description of the structure of the Australian Labour Party.   As you read it, keep in mind the role of organisational structures, and forms of power used within and outside organisations.

Summarising very briefly:

The Australian political system is complex.  First, the Australian Constitution is the underlying description of the government’s rules and responsibilities.  Then, the Governor General, which is a representative of the Queen (but does not in fact subject to the direction, supervision or veto of the Queen or the British Government) has the power to summon and dissolve the parliament, set up Departments of State and appoint judges.  Then, we have the national government, which has two parts: the House of Representatives (also called the Lower House) and the Senate (also called the Upper House).  These ‘houses’ are responsible for setting the laws in Australia, and both of the houses have to approve laws before they become active.

Most of the time, The House of Representatives (the Lower House) suggests laws.  It has 148 elected members, each representing around 80,000 voters in an area called ‘an electorate’. The political party or parties with the most seats in the House of Representatives forms the Government.

The Senate (the Upper House) is known as the 'house of review' because it reviews the laws suggested by the House of Representatives.  It generally goes through proposed laws clause-by-clause and often refer them to committees. One of the Senate's original roles was to ensure that laws were fair to all states. For this reason, each state is represented by 12 elected Senators from each State and two Senators from each of Australia's two Territories.  If you are looking for something with a bit of a light-hearted approach, The ABC developed a comedy describing the realities of this structure called ‘The Hollowmen’. 

In federal elections, voters select representatives for both houses – Lower and Upper.  In the last elections, in July 2016, the outcome was quite interesting in terms of power distribution.    If one party had a majority of votes in both houses, things would have been fairly simple: that party would carry out its promises to the voters (as much as possible, considering reality) by proposing laws in the lower house, and approving them in the upper house.  But this is not the case this time.  No single party secured enough votes to do that, either in the lower or the upper house.  Instead, both large parties have to team up with smaller parties to get things.

The smaller, independent parties have hit a record high votes.  There is a view that this record is a sign that Australia has joined a global trend of disillusion of the established political order.  Other views focus on local issues, like Queensland’s disillusion from its political figures and high unemployment rates in South Australia.  Either way, looks like the newly elected Coalition will struggle to pass laws despite their majority in the lower house, because they lack a majority in the upper house. For this reason, the Coalition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, said he will be seeking consensus with the opposite big party, Labour, on legislative issues.  What this means, is that the Coalition is not confident that they can pass laws without the agreement of their counterparts.

Governments cannot afford to sit back and not pass any laws:  the federal budget, for example, is something that has to be organised and agreed upon every year.  To get the budget through, both houses have to approve it.  To get houses to approve it, parties often negotiate with other parties.  The leading party could, for example, give an independent party something they want, in return for their vote for the budget.  And example would be giving a party the “the cyclist party” a budget item to pave more bicycle paths, in return for passing a budget that cuts back on funds for education.  Other ways to convince parties to pass laws is to describe to the media what they are doing.  For example, the Coalition could tell the media that a party like “One Nation” is refusing to support a budget which will secure the future of the Australian economy, because it includes funding for refugee rehabilitation.  This could create pressure on the independent party to pass the budget, because its voters may favour the Australian economy in general.

In traditional democracy, parties negotiate and strike deals based on their own interests, and the public votes for them with the expectation that those interests will be consistent with their pre-election promises.  However, with the rise of social media and the internet in general, a different concept has been growing worldwide.  Voteflux registered as a party in the last elections, and it offers basically to hold an ‘election’ every time there is a decision to be made.  Voters say online how they would like to vote for every single decision, and that way, it is no longer up to politicians to make deals, but up to the voters to find out, vote, and take responsibility for every decision.  Who knows, maybe this is the new step in democracy?

Consider the following questions for discussion:

  1. Several entities are involved in this story – large political parties, small political parties, the Australian voters etc.  What sort of a structure do you think each entity would have?  How could have their structure supported their operations?
  2. What forms of power can you identify in this story?
  3. What kind of power are used by for political actions? What kind of power do you think is the most effective, and why?
  4. What kind of power do individual citizens have in this case?  What is the effect that VoteFlux has on this answer?
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Chapter 4: Planning – in this day and age?

Let’s get cracking…

…by reading back over the content on planning in Chapter 4 of the textbook.  Once you’re done, you should have a pretty good understanding of the various tools and processes available to you for planning.  Now let’s see how well it works when others plan.

Summarising very briefly:

With rising awareness of global wealth inequality, with the richest 20% in Australia earning five times as much as the poorest 20%, and with the US experiencing an even worse gap, this inequality is now a recognised problem.  Evidence suggests that wealth and income inequality are dangerous for economic stability and prosperity, and if you get a chance to view this entertaining and informative documentary, you will get a good idea of how the two are linked. 

Recently, the OECD published a report exampling how reducing wealth inequality benefits everyone.  In the same spirit, the International Monetary Fund published a game-changing report about two years ago, saying that increasing the income share of the poor and the middle class actually increases economic growth, and that increasing the income share of the top 20% results in lower growth.  While economic growth may not be the best thing anyway, wealth inequality is worth tackling because of its many other negative effects

One way to reduce inequality is resorting to sharing economies.  You would have been part of some form of sharing economy, where you became aware of available resources which you could use: sharing money to fund projects you believe in through crowdfunding websites, booking accommodation through AirBnB, and maybe sharing transportation with Lyft or Uber.

Trip-sharing sounds like a win-win-win:  the driver gets someone to chip in for the trip, the passenger gets a ride that is cheaper than a taxi and the planet gets less carbon emissions.  But of course, things are more complex than they seem. There have been many criticisms of Uber’s model, including the conditions of the drivers compared to traditional taxi drivers and the uncertainty around passengers’ safety.  Still, Uber is growing in popularity and even has competition, so the company must be onto a good thing.

Uber has recently expanded its model from transportation of passengers into food deliver, with UberEats, and now plan to expand to the UK.  Despite existing competition of companies like Deliveroo, Uber is recruiting bicycle and moped drivers, partners with restaurants, and gets ready to move in. 

Deliveroo could get nervous about the upcoming competitions, but instead, their CEO explains that they focus on restaurants and motorcycle and have no problem with other companies looking at other niches. 

One thing is certain: competition is a certainty in any business, and uncertainty is a constant.  Planning in these conditions is very challenging and may require a Chrystal ball...

 

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. From the post, what types of planning is Uber engaging in at this stage?  What about Deliveroo?  What type of planning would you recommend for them?
  2. From the post, what goals can you identify? Which are the stated goals and which are the real goals? Based on what can you tell them apart?
  3. What elements of strategic planning are evident in the article? What elements are missing? How would you, as strategic manager in Uber or Deliveroo, use these missing elements?
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