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  • Keep Your Communications Simple

    Communication establishes relationships and makes the management function of organizing possible. Every message has a purpose or objective. The manager as sender intends -- whether consciously or unconsciously -- to accomplish something by communicating. In organizational contexts, messages typically have a definite objective: such as to motivate, to inform, to teach, to persuade, to entertain, or to inspire. This definite purpose is, in fact, one of the principal differences between casual conversation and managerial communication. Effective communication in the organization centers on well-defined objectives that support the organization's mission and goals. Managers strive to achieve understanding among the parties to their communications. In the video above, we are reminded to "Know your audience" and "Get to the point." Where have you seen the communication process break down—at work? At school? At home? What could the sender have done to improve understanding?
  • The Science of Productivity

    All managers want to organize their work teams to be more productive. The above video was made in collaboration by AsapSCIENCE with Sparring Mind, the behavioral psychology blog. Some of the major points made in the video include: Get started now. Practice more deliberately. Give yourself a deadline. Stop multitasking! What can science tell us about the human brain and productive work? How do we become more efficient at working, and spend less time working overall? Read the full productivity post:
  • Tips to Save Time with Microsoft Office

    We all want to be more organized and productive at work. In this video, Melissa Esquibel, a Microsoft certified trainer and contributing editor for Business Management Daily's Office Technology Today newsletter, shares five tips to save time when using Microsoft Office. Save an often used document style as a template. Use quick parts to save clicks. Create PowerPoint slides quickly by typing your bullet points in the outline tab. Use Excel Table Styles for lists. Use Outlook Rules to folder emails you don't need to read right now, but need to keep. Ms. Esquibel says these 5 tips can save you 24 hours. Which of these tips have you used? Which one will you start to use? Share a Microsoft Office tip that has saved you time.
  • Work smarter, not harder

    We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but some people accomplish a lot more than others. Successful managers control their time by using the skill of delegation. They define objectives by answering, "What results does the company want?" Then, they get out of the way and let employees achieve those objectives. They trust employees to do the job. But, some employees know how to delegate. They manage the boss by using upward delegation . " Who's Got the Monkey" by William Oncken, Jr. and Donald L. Wass is a classic management article using the metaphor of a "monkey on the back" to illustrate upward delegation. Read the attached article. How can managers avoid taking responsibility for a monkey that belongs on the employee's back?
  • Kodak Restructures

    Recently, I was at a dinner party and we asked the waiter to take our picture. We all reached for our phones. No one had a camera! When we shared family pictures, we didn't take pictures from our wallets or albums; we all used our phones. How times have changed! For more than 100 years, many Americans captured their memories ( Kodak moments ) with Instamatic cameras and large photography prints. So, we were saddened to hear Eastman Kodak Company's announcement January 19, 2012 that it had filed for Chapter 11 business reorganization. On its Web site, Kodak posted , "The business reorganization will enable Kodak to bolster liquidity in the U.S. and abroad, monetize non-strategic intellectual property, fairly resolve legacy liabilities, and enable the Company to focus on its most valuable business lines." George Eastman founded Eastman Kodak in 1880. Kodak firsts included flexible roll film in 1888 and the $1 Brownie camera in 1900. Kodak never had a union. Eastman helped pioneer profit-sharing and wage dividends for employees beginning in 1912. But, corporate fortunes change. Some blame Kodak's problems on the shift to digital technology. Kodak invented the digital camera, but couldn't move quickly enough to capitalize on it. Others blame competition from the Japanese film companies in the 1980s. Chairman and CEO Antonio Perez discussed the restructuring on Kodak's Web site. He said Kodak will emerge as a more competitive company. Kodak will transform from a film business to a new digital business by leveraging brand strength and unique knowledge of digital imaging and material science. A company's success can be directly linked to how rapidly and effectively it absorbs and adjusts its operations and outputs to the latest technologies. Kodak managed to stay in business for over 100 years. The managers made business mistakes. Which of today's largest technology companies, like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, will be around in the 22 nd century?
  • Bankrupt but Business as Usual

    Braniff Airplane and Flight Attendants Last Tuesday, I received an email from American Airlines announcing that even though it had filed for bankruptcy, "it will be business as usual at American throughout our reorganization process." (See a copy of the email attached.) I live near the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport. American Airlines is based here and is one of the largest employers in the area. So far, employees have kept their jobs and passengers have been served. It does seem like business as usual. Also, I lived here in 1982 when Braniff declared bankruptcy. Braniff used the slogan " When you've got it, flaunt it " in one advertising campaign. Many thought that saying rang true for Braniff. Management was known as innovative. The company was the first to have colorful airplanes and Pucci and Halston designed flight attendant uniforms. Immediately upon declaring bankruptcy, Braniff ceased operations, leaving about 10,000 employees out of work. Customers were stranded with worthless tickets and had to buy tickets on other airlines. Most employees could not find comparable work for many years, if ever. It was a painful time for employees, as well as the DFW area. Today, bankruptcy no longer means a company will cease to exist. Other airlines that have declared bankruptcy include America West, Continental, United, US Airways, Delta, and Northwest. Subsequently, US Airways merged with America West; Delta merged with Northwest; and United merged with Continental. Now, all are profitable. Bankruptcy should help American Airlines achieve competitive costs. But, the customer must be satisfied in order for American to become successful. As a customer, what kind of air travel experience do you want? What would you recommend to improve the customer's experience to American's management?
  • Bankrupt American Airlines

    Tom Horton, the new American Airlines (AA) chairman and CEO, announced yesterday (November 29, 2011) that AMR Corporation, the parent company of AA, was bankrupt. He succeeds Gerard Arpey, former chairman and chief executive, who opposed bankruptcy and retired Monday when the members of the board unanimously voted to file for bankruptcy with intent to restructure. Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code allows a business to reorganize to try to become profitable again. Typically, management is allowed to keep running the day-to-day operations, but a bankruptcy judge must approve major business decisions. American Airlines was once the world's largest airlines. Now, AA has significant debt, which includes labor and fuel costs. Other airlines transformed themselves into profitable companies after declaring bankruptcy and cutting costs. AA tried to control labor costs, but labor talks stalled. It failed to negotiate a new contract with the pilots' union (Allied Pilots Association). Other unions at AA are the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Transport Workers Union. Transport jobs include mechanics, dispatchers, baggage handlers, and airplane cleaners. Employees unionize in order to gain an opportunity to exercise some degree of control over employer decisions affecting their employment conditions and general welfare. When they are unionized, human resources policies can no longer be determined unilaterally by the employer. Instead these policies and practices are subject to the terms of the labor agreement, which has been negotiated by the union. A major responsibility of the local union officers is to insure that these terms are observed and that the rights of members provided by the agreement are protected. In a November 30, 2011 Dallas Morning News story on page 5D, "An Air of Resolve," Terry Maxon reported that American's pre-bankruptcy negotiations to unions included the offers listed below. An end to company-paid retiree medical benefits Revised scheduling to make pilots and flight attendants work more hours each month and, for flight attendants who fly part time, more hours per month to qualify for benefits such as health coverage Outsourcing of jobs, including daytime cabin cleaning, fuelers and driers at a number of stations An end to defined-benefit pensions for new employees at the least Restructuring is frightening for employees. No one knows what will happen. Cutting costs usually means cutting labor costs. The workforce may be reduced. Some jobs may be eliminated, and employees will lose their jobs. Other employee's wages and benefits may be reduced. Employees may lose their retirement benefits. Pensions may be in jeopardy. Why do you think negotiations between American Airlines' management and the unions broke down?
  • Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

    On my first job out of college, my manager taught me a lot. He taught me about the type of manager I wanted to be, the type of manager I didn’t want to be, and he taught me what he felt was one of the most important things a successful manager needs to learn how to do...delegate, delegate, delegate! Lots of managers are perfectionists and get nervous about handing over the reins to let others do tasks for which they are ultimately responsible. After all, whatever happens in the office, whether it is good or bad, is a direct reflection of the manager. I don’t remember what happened that made my manager sit down and talk to me, but something happened early during the year that made him talk to me about delegation. Employees will make a certain number of human errors. Just be sure that they learn from them! What I learned from this conversation is that you should take the time to train your employees. Let them know your expectations and standards. Encourage them to ask questions. If you do this, your employees will complete tasks, meeting and exceeding your expectations Delegation of authority is a person-to-person relationship requiring trust, commitment, and contracting between the supervisor and the employee. How is delegation between the employee and the manager like a contract?