Showing posts with label assignment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assignment. Show all posts

Saturday, October 8, 2016


It has been a major struggle for me to post discussions or write the assignments for my management class.  As I've already mentioned, I lack the passion, and yet I feel there is strength in what I'm learning if I but apply. I've noticed that I've made some huge grammatical errors to past posts . . . I'm not even going to try to correct them - at least not right now.  My apologies to those of you who have struggled through.  Hey, but thanks for being interested enough to continue.

We (students in any class of an online university) don't have verbal discussions in our classes as we don't all live in the same state or time zone . . . we have written discussion.  All my other credited classes required at least 150 words for our initial post and 50-75 words in comments made to other students.  This class requires more than 150 words - and references - and they have to be cited.  I actually lost points that first week because I hadn't cited. 

          My first discussion topic was on the span of control.  

Span of Control means the number of employees that can be managed efficiently and effectively by a manager. There are two types of span of control:
  1. Narrow span of control: In a narrow span of control, a single manager or supervisor oversees only a few employees. This normally results in a tall organization – and organization with many levels of authority.
  2. Wide span of control: In a wide span of control, a single manager oversees a large number of employees. This normally results in a flat organizational structure – one with very few levels of authority.

We had to answer three questions. 

  1. You are a manager who works directly with employees that are new to the company. Do you want to have a narrow span of control or a wide span of control? Why?
  2. You are an experienced employee who has worked for a company for many years. Do you want to report to a manager who has a wide span of control or a narrow span of control? Why?
  3. You manage a team of employees. The owner of your company has asked you to report how many sales were generated by social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. You have no time to do the report - one of your employees must do it. Tell us how you would use the delegation steps to decide which employee should create the report for your owner

 This was my first post:

I would hope that all of my employees would be able to work well together and follow instructions to get the job done well and on time. I would want to have a narrow span of control.  I know that there are some people who catch on quickly, while others may not.  I would like to show to my employees how to do something and be able to trust them to discipline themselves and get the work done.  I am happy to help when they haven't quite grasped something and would hope they would come to me if they do not understand something.  I don't wish to watch over them constantly.  I have obligations as well.  I personally would rather manage just a few employees than many.

Being an employee isn't any different than being a manager although I would prefer that the manager could walk away and let me do my thing without standing over me every single minute.  So I guess I would want the span to be wide. I am a good worker. If my boss has given me a specific assignment and deadline, I can get the job done and will ask if I need assistance.  Just as I would not want an employee to fear me, I do not fear my boss.

There are many people who have facebook accounts, however, not all users are wise.  I would choose someone on my team who has used the social media wisely and who is most resourceful and tell him/her  that I have a deadline to meet and I need him/her to get the word out and will see that he/she gets full credit for the work which has been done.  We all have talents and can utilize each talent for the benefit of the company. We must pull our resources together and work as a team just as the elements, string and tail each plays a vital role in kite flying.

My assignment for that week was on Organizational Structure.  The subject was on a company I had never heard of before: One Smooth Stone, which is a theater business and sounds like a good company to work for.  They are performers who entertain at sells conventions and motivational meetings and so forth.  My attitude toward the subject of attending said convention or seminar is briefly mentioned here.

I received full credit for my assignment.  I did not do so well at the assessment.  That first  week had convinced me that I'd be doomed in the class as I expected that each week would be harder for me with this less than wonderful attitude I have.  But I'm happy to say that I showed improvement by the second week.

The second week my post needed to be on the functions of management.  I posted the following:

The four functions of management are planning, organizing, leading and controlling.  I'm happy to see in this video (Hartzell, 2013) points out that management is needed in more than just sales.  Management is needed when conducting classes or raising funds for charity (SW project, 2015) This helps me focus better to understand management is not just about job and income - it involves so many aspects of our lives.

 I believe my weakest function is with controlling - following up to see if everyone else has followed through.  I think that because I have done my part, everyone else has, which is not always the case.  I don't know that I've had great examples to follow within the workplace.  But I do have a great example of management at home - only it's my husband who does the follow-up to find that our sons have not cleaned their rooms, or finished with their duties in the kitchen or what have you.  I need to become more observant.  I think I'm pretty good at planning, however.

 I really can't think of any outstanding managers that I have worked under.  Two of my  "managers"  were let go, probably because they lacked in management skills.  One quit because of confrontations which I don't understand.  I remember telling one of my "replacement" managers that I thought it was really important for us to have a meeting in order for us to communicate and all be on the same page.  She did have her meeting, but I wasn't invited.  I didn't see that her management skills were any better than the one she replaced.  Morale had actually gone done, as I recall.

 This video (Hartzell, 2013) also points out that we don't see half of the functions that our managers do.  Planning and Organizing take place behind closed doors - or in small groups.     I used management skills in church groups and in the community functions. For example,  I will be involved in a meeting on Thursday night in which ideas will be discussed and reviews will be made for saving the libraries in this area from closing.

Our assignment was on the difference between management and leadership.  Our topic was on the CEO of Southwest airlines, Gary Kelly, which I briefly mentioned here.

Our third week (this week) was on managerial decision making process:

I have checked into more videos and research by typing in "the six steps of decision making" although the steps are not always introduced in the same manner, I think it's the same principle, but the emphasis seems to be made more about one step or break into more steps or combine into fewer steps;  I've also noticed a different order.

Brian Perryman (2014) for example, gives eight steps with evaluation at number 6.  Carrie Olson (2015) gives us six steps.  Her evaluation  also appears as number six, while easy presentation 1 (2012) also includes eight steps places evaluation at number 4.

Regardless of what order or how many steps, decision making needs to be thought out.  Identify the problem or situation at hand, gather information and establish criteria (Olson 2015).  A good manager will analyze and choose options.  Unfortunately, it is not a step I see too often.  I don't think "ultimatums" are good choice options.

I have had managers that haven't even been able to identify the problem.  I often wondered how they had been put in the position of manager, to begin with.
There will be some instances when a manager will have to make what appears to be an "instant decision" but just as the "four functions of management" that we discussed last week, we don't always see what goes on behind closed doors.  A good manager has already observed and analyzed situations and environment of  employees are working.  Thus what may appear instantaneous to the employees involved had already gone through a procedure of steps by the manager.

Allow me to give an example from my own work situation.  There was an employee who wasn't pulling his share of the work.  He was a bit crude with his language and did not show respect to his co-workers but the customers loved him.  He evidently had some kind of charisma that only they could see.  He wasn't the top seller, but always in the top two or three.  Management had taken that all into consideration.  It had been weighing on her mind for a couple of months.  She had actually taken the employee aside - I don't know what words were said, but I know he was let go after a while.  Though it appeared to some that her decision had been abrupt,  it really wasn't.
Active listening requires listening from both management and employee  (Denton, 1992). This employee just wasn't willing to listen.

And here is a comment made in response to a class member's post about:

I agree with you that managers don't always follow the six step process.  I have had a few managers who did not even identify or evaluate the problem -  unfortunately not every manager gets to have the training that we will be learning in various classes.

I've also been in situations where the manager (I'll call her Ruth) had interviewed for a position opening at a retail store.  She had called to tell me that I had been chosen, only to call me one hour later to rag on the owner (I'll call him Mac) of the store.  Mac had given Ruth explicit instructions to interview candidates and then decided to hire someone that hadn't even gone through the same procedures as those that had been interviewed.  Ruth was actually more upset about the events that took place than I was. 

I wouldn't have had a problem working for or with Ruth.  I did have a problem with Mac and his interference.   Ruth had used the steps of management assigned.  I don't think Mac took any steps and was oblivious to the problem.  I don't know what became of Ruth, as I did not get the job nor was in a position in which I could just pop in and ask.  I think it's important that an employee has respect for his or her manager.  Equally, I think it's just as important, maybe even more for a manager (or owner) to respect employees.  I think that taking the time to take the proper steps in decision making makes a huge difference in showing respect.

 To avoid an even longer (and possibly boring) post, I will finish up on Monday.  My final thought shouldn't be posted to this blog before I post it to my discussion wall.  Both say roughly the same thing, though what I have saved for my blog gives a bit more detail than what I will post to my discussion.  And at last . . . including a topic that I'm actually passionate about.  Yeah!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Maybe it's me . . . Missing the Boat

To "miss the boat" is to miss the point of or fail to understand: 

               Several years ago I was working for an employment agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The agency had sent me on a temporary assignment to state's Department of Family and Child Services (DCFS) -  a department seemingly to be more dysfunctional than many of its clients.  I was told the assignment would be for only a couple of months - but I was there for almost two years and off and on for almost the next five.

                As I recall, I made a suggestion of sending out letters to newly adoptive parents or potential adoptive parents - I can't remember the reason - but in my mind it seemed like it would be a start for whatever it was the department was trying to accomplish.  I was asked to write the letter and send it to the chair of the department who actually worked in a different building (I think there were three locations for the DCFS workers who were supposed to function as one, but that didn't happen) to meet his approval.

                I printed the letter on the stationary with the departments letter head - the same stationary I had used in the one-two years I was assigned.  I explained to the chair why I was sending the letter and what I was trying to accomplish.  And did it meet his approval?  His feedback was less than productive.  His response was to the letterhead itself. (As if I really had control over that - I wasn't even a state employee!) The letterhead on stationary bore the name of Governor Norman Bangerter who had served as governor from 1985 to 1993.  I don't recall what year it was.  1994? 1995?  Mike Leavitt was the governor from 1993 to 2003. 

                It's true that I hadn't bothered reading the letterhead at anytime  I had ever sent anything out.  I had no reason to.  The stationary had always been handed to me along with a list of instructions on what was to be done with it. It didn't even occur to me that I might be using old stationary.  Apparently, it was never updated.  Again, that was not my fault.  I had no control over the stupid letterhead.

                I remember feeling annoyed by his response - totally missing the boat on the content of the letter. The words that needed to be sent out - regardless of the stationary! I took this matter to the secretary who laughed at the error that had been made for well over a year and a half.  In this post I said it had been two mayors.  Perhaps the mayor's name had appeared on the letterhead as well. I don't remember.  All I remember was feeling frustration as the issue at hand was not addressed.  And okay, I was a little bit amused by the error of the department.

                Recently there has been a similar situation which triggered this situation.  But first let me back up a bit to set the stage.   As I mentioned in this post, online schooling  hasn't appealed to me. I would like to get a part time job just so we have a bit of extra income. However, jobs seem hard to come by in this particular area where I live.  I've applied to be a cashier at several places, but the idea of being on my feet all day does not appeal to me.  I'd rather have a desk job.  So I have decided to go back to school (online) to get my degree in accounting.

                Roland signed me up to start classes on June 27 - even though I said I wanted to wait until after school started for Jenna.  Nevertheless,  I was told that my classes would start June 27 - which they did - without me.  A glitch in the system put me two days behind. 

                The courses run for only for weeks.  Each week the student is expected to participate in discussion, turn in an assignment and fulfill an assessment (which is usually a quiz or sometimes another assignment) Thus there is much reading material and/or video required.  I am a visual person.  I like someone to show me what keys to punch and explain why.  It takes me a lot longer to process words from a manual than just one week.  So the classes do move quickly.   Thus far I seem to be doing well, but still frustrated with the reading part.

                So I'm taking this required Philosophy class because knowledge in one's major is not enough (in my case knowing how to do bookkeeping or spreadsheets) is not enough.  A student (potential employee) needs soft skills to be part of a team (employer, co-workers) and so we have to learn all of that - which is a good thing and probably should be addressed at every college.  Employees need to learn how to work with one another and maintain professionalism in the workplace.

                There is no video.  There is this article given as a reading assignment. I think it reads almost like Dr. Seuss (except without the humor) I have not even made it to stage 4 and my brain hurts.  What the heck are Richard Paul and Linda Elder even talking about? There have been many times during my adult life that I have asked my brother, Corey, to read something for me and then explain it to me in English.  I emailed him the website and pleaded that if he had the time, would he please read and explain.  He did.  Corey has helped me out of binds a countless number of times.  I feel like I owe him more than just gratitude.

                The instructor does a live lecture each week and then makes the video available to whatever students couldn't/didn't attend and also a refresher for those of us who did go live but still need to stop and rewind.  As I had a ton of questions, I tuned in for the live lecture and asked and answered some of the questions.  The session was very helpful.  Corey called right after the session and gave me even more insight - which I really so appreciate so much.

                Corey found the article dry and hard to get through, but he was able to explain it to me. We were both able to give examples of TV or movie characters or real live examples that we know. That's how I wanted to do my assignment - by giving the examples that helped me to better understand what the each stage represents.  I was hoping to find just one movie or program to base my characters on, but ended up using examples from many sources. I picked examples of what I thought each stage represents for stages 1 to 3 but somehow felt stuck finding an example for number 4. 

                There were tears in my eyes over the frustration I felt in not being able to convey what I wanted in a formal assignment.  I know that my posts are often too wordy and I fly off the handle and move on to non-related subjects, but my writing on this blog is informal.  I still didn't know if my understanding was accurate.

                Roland, who tends to have a great understanding of many things, asked if he could assist.  I told him that his explanations are often more confusing than what I am trying to understand - which I think is why I was so excited about his comparing underwear to primer (which I mentioned in my last post)  as it seemed such a simple explanation.  I told him what it is that I was trying to accomplish and he made suggestions on how I could better format the paper or correct the grammar (he likes to change as he goes; I wait until the entire document is finished to do a spell check) and not to put the assignment in first person (which normally I don't, but was asked to include my belief about which stage I think I'm in and why - meaning it would be in first person) and giving me critique that yes, was necessary - but I had planned on correcting all of that after my thoughts came out. I was looking for critique with the content and not the format itself.  That is what made me think of the first story that I shared.   I have felt like a failure at communication for so much of my life.

                I ended up going a different direction altogether.  I still don't know about the accuracy of my understanding, but I did the best I could with my own comprehension.  I am waiting for my assignment to be graded.  Perhaps I will share the results.

                Meanwhile, I have finished submitting everything that needs to be graded on for this week.   Instead of waiting until Monday (which starts my second week of class) I decided to pry into week 2 to see if there was anything I could try and process in my mind to perhaps make myself more prepared than with this week (in case it was/is as confusing as the "Critical Thinking" article) One of the suggested examples given for the discussion was to assess this test or one like it.   

                I didn't realize the detail involved.  341 questions! Glad I got that early start! The great thing about having taken the suggested emotional test was seeing the growth and change that have taken place in my own personal life.  The website did not give me the end results, nor do I plan on joining the site or pay for the results.  Just knowing what my answers would have been less than two years ago  as opposed to what they are now is a revelation to me.  I have grown more than I had thought and have become a better and happier person and continue to strive upon improving myself.   I'm certainly a lot more relaxed. I like who I am.