Employment

All posts tagged Employment

HR Units To The Rescue

Published May 20, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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In today’s business climate, leaders are having to address high employee turnover and the reasons behind the high volume of employee resignation in new hires.  Clues they receive from the remaining employees help give insight.  When an employer receives information that other employees are too busy and engaged in their own job responsibilities to help new hires, managers must find other more effective means to train new recruits. For example, at one banking firm, all branch supervisors hire their own employees, without communicating to the home office or other branches. In addition, employees were trained on equipment but only retained fragmented operational knowledge without understanding how it functioned or even the names of the machines they were working on.  All of these are clear symptoms of an organization in desperate need of services that Human Resource (HR) Management offers. HR management teams play a critical role to help organizations achieve their strategic goals.

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One possible solution the banking firm may apply to help manage their employee problem is to set up an HR unit at their main corporate office. This could prove to be an effective strategy to alleviate their high employee turnover problem. An HR unit can help a company achieve higher levels of success by providing the recruitment, training and development each staff member requires to perform their job more efficiently, with confidence, and punctuality. If employees were satisfied and confident in their positions, and can form a cohesive relationship with their associates and supervisors, they would not be inclined to resign so quickly. An effective HR management team can develop more efficient training programs and implement strategies that can help produce employees with higher skill levels, competencies, and behavior. These are some of the essential components that can help an organization achieve their desired outcomes. An HR management unit in the banking firm’s situation can help produce high performance work systems that will reduce employee turnover. The establishment of effective training programs can provide personnel the confidence to perform their responsibilities at higher levels. In addition, an HR unit can help create a more pleasant and safer environment that would prevent an employee’s loss of time (Dessler, 2011).

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An HR unit in this situation functions to supply intelligence that will help develop effective and strategic plans to achieve the bank’s goals. For example, they could create incentive plans to motivate employees as well as help identify personnel strengths and weaknesses. In addition, they also serve to tackle other problems like: (a) attracting and retaining key employees, (b) training and developing the capabilities of employees for future needs, (c) dealing with expanded organizational use of HR technology to help employees comprehend procedure and functioning purposes for the machines and systems they operate, and (d) comply with revisions in changing labor laws that may affect issues for high employee turnover like discrimination, conduct errors, unions and other issues. All of these serve to keep employees satisfied and committed to an organization’s goals. HR strategies also serve to contribute to an organization’s culture and performance in the way conflicting issues are managed (Jackson & Mathis, 2011). In the bank’s situation, the HR team would train new hires so other workers can focus on their own responsibilities. In addition, an HR Unit set up at the main office, will establish precedent in training procedures that can work effectively for all bank branches. This way the HR managers would serve as staff managers to assist and advise the line managers (or supervisors) in areas like recruitment, hiring, and compensation packages. These are some of the strategies that an effective HR management unit designs and implements  to share the important responsibilities with employers so that they can run the company more efficiently.

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References:

Dessler, G. (2011). A framework for human resource management (Sixth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. Jackson, J., & Mathis, R. (2011). Human Resource Management (13th ed.). Mason, OH, USA: South-Western Cengage Learning.

The Work Experience

Published January 30, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

How we live and earn an income is crucial to our well-being.  For some, more than half our lives are spent working so it is imperative we analyze how we spend this time.  The work we do is in essence, an extension of who we are.  Occupations that we are passionate about can heal, nourish, and transform, as well as bring us peace and happiness.  On the other side of the spectrum, it can also create pain and suffering.  Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (2012) in his book Work, articulates that when we apply more awareness and a conscious mindfulness in every aspect of our lives, cultivating empathy and understanding in our professions as well, it can actually help us achieve an affable way of working and living harmoniously with others (Hanh, 2012).  In other words, our work can become an extraordinary way to express our greatest desires as well as provide an opportunity to create a source of income.

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The Evolution of Working Conditions

In the early settlements of America, the work experience was quite different than it is today.  At that time, it was mostly the men who actually participated in paid employment.  In fact, only one group of women could be called wage-earners:  the domestic servants.  By the nineteenth century however, the wage labor force movement allowed women to transit from family centered positions to paid income roles (Kessler-Harris, 2003).  Marriage however, was still considered the accepted industry for women where they were viewed as strong sturdy wives that managed the household.  The labor movements of the 1960s changed the face of the work force yet again and labor unions were founded to protect workers and worker’s rights which included: (a) fair hourly wages, (b) health care benefits, (c) better working conditions, and (d) other compensations (Dray, 2010).

Personal Experience

Each individual has a unique view and experience of what work means to them.  For example, to our father, a Greek immigrant with limited education, who entered this country as a displaced citizen due to the political turmoil in his homeland at the time, work in America, meant the opportunity to a better life.  Our mother, on the other hand, was raised in the US, achieved a high school diploma and was awarded a scholarship to pursue a higher education.  In spite of those achievements, she was discouraged by her mother to consider a career, as working women were perceived unfavorably.  Employed women were highly frowned upon during that period in our family history.  It was a culture that endorsed the woman’s locus of control to her domicile.  She, like many other women, was conditioned to believe that her priority was to remain in the residence with her children in the role of domestic engineer.  In doing so, she released her dreams to pursue a singing career and supported instead, our father’s career.  Work outside the home eventually became a necessity for her as well once a bigger budget was required to sustain our growing family.  As a solution our family literally served bread as a way of earning our bread so to speak, when we invested in a family restaurant business that our parents operated to provide a source of income.  In the meantime, our paternal grandmother was enlisted for child care services.  She was essentially railroaded to spearhead full time nanny duties with just room and board as her remittance.  (It is a customary in many Greek families for the elders to reside in the same household as part of a family unit).  This tradition however, left her a very bitter and angry woman.  Instead of enjoying her retirement years, in her view, she was saddled with raising four unruly children.

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Due to the established working conditions and the dysfunctional nature of our parent’s relationship, none of the children were motivated or inspired to assist or participate in the continuation of the family business.  In addition, our grandmother’s limitations that included (a) a lack of formal education, (b) the ability to converse only in the Greek language, and (c) an inability to drive leaving her confined in the home, was unable to establish any real lasting friendships or create a sense of personal freedom.  After fourteen years of what felt like slavery and isolation, she returned to her home country feeling unappreciated, unloved, beaten and worn down.  For her, work was an unpleasant experience because her limitations did not afford her many (if any) opportunities to spread her wings.  She was not an empowered woman and unable to communicate her needs, which added to the life-related stressors she experienced.  As a formerly independent woman, once the head of her own household, these new conditions created a life of confinement, with no compensation for her efforts, or a love interest to nourish her needs. From her perspective, everyone was pulling on her apron strings for the cooking, cleaning and other domestic services that were required of a full time service provider.

Our mother was similarly unsatisfied with her work conditions.  She was trained and skilled as a consummate singer and possessed the voice of an angel.  Rather than pursuing her talents and dreams, she was expected like all other proper women from that generation, to marry and play the role of a good supportive wife.  In marrying our father, she gave up her dreams, independence, and desires to pursue her own passions.  Those choices had a profound effect on her self-esteem and self-efficacy.

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Our father on the other hand, was cast in the dominant role.  He was conditioned and nurtured as the head of the family; the king of his castle.  He ran our household like that of a dictatorship based on his perceptions, experience, limited education and ethnocentric views.  He was the supreme ruler in our family whose methodologies were not to be questioned.  He was very affectionate and had a great sense of humor, but quite a strict disciplinarian.  When we made inquiries or asked for explanations, we received answers like, “Because I said so!”  Intelligent individuals require a more reasonable response and explanation.  Those kinds of responses fostered frustration and confusion to say the least.

Our parents were also part of the expanding fast food industry culture when they took over a local A&W Root beer establishment.  Their various ventures in the restaurant business were a means to make ends meet as we did not get a sense that our parents were passionate about their work.  This was indicative in their demeanor at the end of each work day when they returned weary, stressed, complained about the conditions, the work load, the employees, their limitations within the franchise, and were customarily too exhausted to plug in to their children’s needs.  At times it felt like we were only summoned as a quick after thought.  They were often too run down to engage in active listening or to participate in routine activities with us.  Observing these situations and conditions motivated all the children to follow their own passions to pursue occupations that inspire us.

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Conclusion

By engaging conscious and mindful practices in every aspect of our lives, from how we breathe, sit, eat, walk, think and behave towards ourselves and others, we can create a positive stress free environment in both the home and the work place.  The manner in how we engage in actions for example, like getting ready for work, preparing our meals, and managing our homes, has an affect on everyone around us as well as on the quality of our own lives.  When one member of a family or organization is suffering and in anguish for reasons that include but are not limited to: (a) not having needs met, (b) not receiving attention, (c) not getting support, or (d) have feelings that no one is listening, they are unable to function or perform effectively.  If it is not addressed, it can result in unhealthy behavior.  Giving attention to individuals in distress, acknowledging their issues and nurturing them can help a person resolve their problems and heal, which is ultimately beneficial to the entire organization and family unit.  In conclusion, while some work situations may not be ideal, mindful actions and compassionate choices can help transform and bring us happiness.  In short, how we conduct every aspect of our lives is an important component to our health and well-being both personally and professionally.

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References

Dray, P. (2010). There is power in a union. New York, NY: Anchor Books Publishing.

Hanh, T. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Kessler-Harris, A. (2003). Out to work. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Understanding and Coping With Change

Published December 28, 2012 by Mayrbear's Lair

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We live in exhilarating times.  Western civilization is witnessing the greatest changes everywhere since the Industrial Revolution.  If we want a deeper understanding of the prospect of change, we are forced to pay heed to our own powerful inclinations to avoid change.  Most people have a low tolerance for change because we are individuals of habit that follow mindless daily routines.  In nature, growth involves periodic accelerations and transformations.  Initially, things appear to progress slowly.  Nothing seems to occur when suddenly, an egg shell cracks, a blossom blooms, or a butterfly emerges.  In fact, when it comes to forces of nature, the most widely addressed and studied topic is what physicists call entropy – the process by which dynamic systems that include (a) people, (b) organizations, (c) automobiles, and (d) solar systems, gradually fall apart.  It is hard to make significant changes in any human group without changing an individual’s behavior and the underlying meaning that gives rise to their behavior (Kegan & Lahey, 2001).  Once change does occur, it is inevitably disruptive.  The fact is Americans in general have always been in some state of transition with Old World families that can be traced back to the home of their ancestors.  New destinations and new career opportunities keep people moving driven by faith and a belief of better things to come.  Even though it opens the doors to new opportunities, most people are hesitant to embrace change.

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Resistance is Futile

An extensive transformation is taking place in organizational management between employers and employees.  The lessons learned about how job security, training, and internal development that improve employee assurance and performance, have given way to a new set of teachings regarding how companies can reduce fixed costs, increase flexibility and improve functionality by eliminating the intricate employment systems that traditionally prepared employees for extended careers in their organizations.  The old procedures protected employees from external market forces.  The new arrangements drag the market by downsizing, incorporating provisional workforces, outsourcing jobs, and compensation plans that are contingent upon organizational performance.  Morale is down and stress is up, driving employee performance up largely due to fear of the shortage of good jobs (Cappelli, et al., 1997).  As a result, individuals experience changes in their jobs in ways they cannot control from both internal and external factors.

At some time we all experience change in the workplace and are inclined to devise short term solutions as mechanisms to cope.  When a person feels a lack of control, or is entering a new domain, it can increase levels of stress and potentially affect a person’s ability to perform competently.  According to John Kotter’s management theory, employees who are prone to resistance share common motives that include: (a) self-interest, (b) a lack of understanding to the nature of the change, (c) a lack of trust in management, (d) differing assessments of the need for change, and (e) a low tolerance for change (Baack, 2012).  To help reduce the internal factor that manifests as stress, one must learn coping techniques and strategies to help with change in a manner that allows more self-control, as well as the ability to continue performing effectively.

One type of external factor that contributes to an individual’s resistance to change can occur in the form of a job promotion.  For example, through hard work and dedication the individual is rewarded a higher position for their effectiveness within the institution.  The internal component that emerges is customarily one of excitement and a renewed motivation to perform at higher levels.  An element of resistance may surface however, from the additional level of commitment expected that involves lengthier hours and extensive travel.  For the most part, the employee embraces change for reasons of self-interest since it increases their level of power, money, prestige, and job security, as well as the personal conveniences that accompany the new appointment.

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Pattern Interrupt

In an organization, a person’s attitude plays a key role to how a transition pans out.  The pace of change can make an individual feel disoriented and with an uncertain helpless sensation.  People begin to lose faith when routine patterns of daily life are interrupted.  Transitions appear meaningless without a sense of accomplishment.

The process of change involves three stages (a) an ending, (b) a period of distress and confusion, and (c) a new beginning for those capable enough to embrace it (Bridges, 2004).  The fact is that every transition begins with an ending.  That key component in my view is the first step to accepting change.  In the meantime, Kotter developed the following eight step plan as a model to help individuals embrace change more effectively:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency and a compelling reason to make the change.
  2. Form a power coalition to lead the change.
  3. Create a new vision with supporting strategies.
  4. Communicate the vision to all involved.
  5. Empower others to act on the vision which includes the encouragement of risk taking and creativity.
  6. Plan for and reward short-term “victories” that move toward the new vision.
  7. Consolidate improvements, reassess the changes and make the necessary adjustments.
  8. Reinforce change by showing the relationship to organization success (Baack, 2012).

In addition, supervisors can respond to an employee’s resistance to change through strategies that include tactics in communication, education, involvement, facilitation, support, participation, cooperation, manipulation and coercion.

When people are unable to change in the workplace, it can come with a great price to the organization as a whole.  For instance, it can impact health, productivity, well-being, and also affect motivation and individual performance levels.  Another strategy leaders encompass is the development of a plan that includes an analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).  The SWOT strategy encourages ideas that minimize areas of weakness and limit threats; keeping focused on maximizing strengths and opportunities (Stockdale & Steeper, 2012).  No matter what approach is used leaders need to understand that change is often unsettling and to expect that employees will be uncomfortable for a while.

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Personal Experience

Within a few years of my employment at Capitol Records, my supervisor received a promotion and was elevated from his title of Director to Vice President of Business Affairs.  We were located at the historic Capitol Records Tower at the corner of Hollywood and Vine streets.  The new VP position was at our sister label EMI-America located a few blocks away.  At first, I was nervous, apprehensive, and unsure of my role in this new situation.  Would my boss request that I accompany him or would I remain at my current place of occupation under the supervision of his replacement?

Initially I was resistant to the change for two reasons (a) I was concerned about the dynamics of working for a new individual and (b) I was not enthusiastic about relocating from the legendary tower.  The questions I now faced were: (a) which aspects of this new position required a change in me, (b) what was stopping me from embracing this change, (c) what was likely to change for me, (d) how urgent was the change, (e) who besides my boss was involved in the change, (f) what was causing my resistance, (g) what would success look like for me, (h) how did I expect to make the changes needed, and (i) how would I measure the pace and progress of this change for me, my supervisor, and the organization (Stockdale & Steeper, 2012).  My supervisor made his decision and invited me to join him at the new facility.  Although I would miss my friends at the tower, that decision came as a relief.  I continued working for the same compatible boss; I was guaranteed job security; and as a bonus I received an increase in salary.

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A transformation took place between employer and employee with respect to how job security, training and internal development improved our commitment and performance as a team, giving way to a new set of lessons, while we continued to work together towards a long career at our company (Cappelli, et al., 1997).  Equipped with more information, I was able to address my questions, manage my concerns from a more balanced perspective, and became enthusiastic about the new work paradigm.  I released the language of fear and doubt and accepted the language of commitment.

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Conclusion

Most of the power in the world is external.  It is generally fabricated from the ego and plays an important role in the external factors of change.  It influences the military, police and security; politics, financial institutions, social situations, and both the private and corporate arenas.  The internal factors of change on the other hand, are contingent upon the development of one’s inner power and personal freedom.  Information, knowledge and perception are three key components to increasing personal strength and balance.  Integrating spirituality and psychology is beneficial in developing inner power and personal freedom.  An individual that possesses inner power displays personal fortitude, strength of character, discipline, psychological integration and a spiritual serenity (Wilde, 1995).  A person that displays an obsessive personality in contrast, can become emotionally overwhelmed making it more difficult to embrace change.

In conclusion, the future is uncertain, whether it’s a manager, a job, an employment status, a working style, or an industry that’s changing.  Fostering a solid strategic plan is the key to making changes we encounter, a smooth transition.  In these times of economic turbulence, it seems ironic that the only constant is in fact – change.

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References

Baack, D. (2012). Organizational behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Bridges, W. (2004). Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Cappelli, P., Bassi, L., Katz, H., Knoke, D., Osterman, P., & Useem, M. (1997). Change at work. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA.

Kegan, R., & Lahey, L. L. (2001). How the way we talk can change the way we work. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Stockdale, S., & Steeper, C. (2012). Cope with change at work. Reading, Berkshire UK: Teach Yourself.

Wilde, S. (1995). Whispering winds of change. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.

The Importance of Good Communication Skills

Published December 22, 2012 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Communication skills are important to organizational success because it influences what we understand about the organization as well as how we respond to it and support it. Knowing how to communicate effectively, without criticizing or offending others, is an important key in organizational management. A successful leader inspires people to do and be better. The most effective leaders lead by example, delegating responsibilities and duties in a way that motivates their staff.

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Recruiters target their search for effective leaders with good communication skills because they know they are the potential ring masters that will get their team enthusiastic and excited. They are looking for recruits with the potential to help staff members feel confident about themselves; allow them to embrace who they are; focus on their strengths and talents, while praising them for the hard work and effort they bring to the arena. Recruiters want a strong leader that will acknowledge weaknesses in others and help them work through it with dignity while recognizing their strengths.

The full article can be viewed on amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G05W5QQ

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