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Business Communication with Cengage Learning

 

  • Glassdoor's Best Employer List

    Glassdoor is now in the game of ranking companies to work for, using employee data to determine the top 25. The website asks employees to complete anonymous online surveys about career advancement, compensation, benefits, and work/life balance. Bain tops the list of the " Employees' Choice Awards " as the best company to work for in 2014, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, Eastman Chemical, and Facebook. It's interesting that three of the top 5 are social media sites, and Twitter's ranking can only help the new stock. Facebook, however, dropped from first place last year to fifth. On the rest of the list, we see some old favorites from Fortune's Best Companies to Work For , such as Wegman's and Google, which are both in the Fortune top five. But the companies don't match entirely. Three of Fortune's top five—SAS, CHG Healthcare Services, and The Boston Consulting Group—are missing entirely from Glassdoor's top 50. Discussion Starters: What could explain the difference in Fortune's and Glassdoor's lists? Why do you think Facebook dropped from 1 to 5? What surprises you about the Glassdoor company list? Do you see companies that you wouldn't expect on the list, and which are missing?
  • Cornell Lacrosse Team Suspended

    From right here in cloudy Ithaca, the Cornell Lacrosse Team has made national news . As the team faces hazing allegations—coerced consumption of alcohol by underage freshman—Andrew Noel, Cornell's director of athletics, is front and center. Noel responded in an interview with The Ithaca Journal : "I would say that it’s disappointing and unacceptable behavior that has to stop immediately. And having met with the lacrosse players last Sunday morning, we discussed the situation for quite a while, and I was heartened by their attitude and by the fact that I believe they understood what they put in jeopardy, for themselves as individuals, for the team, and for the (athletic) department and university." Noel also gave this official statement: "On Sept. 13, the Cornell men's lacrosse team was placed on temporary suspension pending appropriate sanctions for a team hazing incident. Following investigation into the incident, Coach (Ben) DeLuca and his team were notified that all fall competitions are canceled." However, Ben DeLuca has been asked for comment from USA Today and other sources, but he has been unavailable. According to The Ithaca Journal , "Noel said he has talked with the fourth-year coach and that they are 'both on the same page' as far as the penalty is concerned.'A lot of discussion was not necessary,' Noel said. 'He understands, like I do, that we can’t have this. He doesn’t want it to happen, and I don’t want it to happen. Neither of us are going to allow it to happen without serious repercussions, which have happened. It was a pretty stern penalty here, which is pretty tough on the athletes and on the coaching staff. We are together in how we feel about it.'" Image source . Discussion Starters: Assess Noel's response. What are his objections, and how well did he meet them? What do you make of DeLuca's absence of comment?
  • McDonald's Apologizes for Ad

    McDonald's says it didn't approve an ad that makes light of a mental health issue . In a Boston subway ad, the company pokes fun at someone with an addiction to a Big Mac. Nicole DiNoia, a spokesperson for McDonald's, issued this statement: "A local print ad displayed on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) was recently brought to our attention. We can confirm this ad was not approved by McDonald’s. And, as soon as we learned about it, we asked that it be taken down immediately. We have an approval process in place, with our marketing and advertising agencies, to ensure that all advertising content is consistent with our brand values. Regrettably, in this incident, that process was not followed. We sincerely apologize for this error." With no one taking responsibility, who's to blame? The response is reminiscent of the Ford ad that the company said it didn't approve. In that case, the ad agency did take responsibility for the offensive ads and terminated those involved. In this case, Arnold agency president Pam Hamlin apologized and blamed the process rather than the design: "Arnold apologizes for its mistake to McDonald's and to anyone who was offended by the ad. McDonald's did not approve the ad, and its release was our unintended error. We've addressed the issue and have improved our approval process to ensure this does not happen in the future." In the Ford situation, it was somewhat believable that the ad agency created the ads just to show its creativity. But this situation is different: the agency is hired by McDonald's but didn't get approval during any stage of ad development: concept development, composition, printing, or distribution? Discussion Starters: What's your reaction to the ad? Do you find it offensive, funny, or something else? How do you respond to the apologies from McDonald's and the ad agency? What, if anything, could they do differently?
  • Google Drive for Team Projects

    Google has introduced an evolution of Google Docs: Drive , a service that stores photos and videos in addition to documents. The new service will likely compete with both Dropbox for cloud storage and Microsoft's similar product, SkyDrive. The advantages of Drive over Dropbox are clear: in Dropbox, users can only store files; they can't edit documents as they can in Google Docs and Drive. The tougher choice is between Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive. PCWorld compared the services in these articles: Four Reasons Google Wins Out Five Reasons Microsoft SkyDrive is Better Than Google Drive For students, the decision may come down to ease of access (Drive doesn't require another login if they're already on Gmail) versus software (SkyDrive uses Microsoft files, which are more standard and feature rich than Google Docs). A minor issue for students is privacy. People have expressed concern over Drive's "terms of service," but the risks may be exaggerated, and I'm not too worried about my students' revealing trade secrets during their team projects. Discussion Starters: What are the advantages of Google Drive over Google Docs? Which service would you prefer: Google Drive or Microsoft SkyDrive? Why?
  • A Peak into Facebook's Corporate Culture

    A feature in the next Fortune issue reveals a split corporate culture at Facebook: the "hacker" culture on which the company was built and the more corporate culture that is preparing the company to go public. The "hacker way" includes continuous improvement of products from anyone who can code—education isn't particularly valued as part of this culture. As one example of the hacker way, the Facebook "Like" button went through "dozens" of iterations. The other culture is more corporate, led by COO Sheryl Sandberg. The Fortune article describes her influence: "There's a term spoken quietly around Facebook to describe a cadre of elites who have assumed powerful positions under the leadership of Zuckerberg's chief operating officer: They're FOSS, or friends of Sheryl Sandberg. Many have followed her there after studying with her at the Harvard Business School or working with her at the U.S. Treasury Department or Google ( GOOG ). Several middle and senior executives who have left the company say that Sandberg has put friends in powerful positions, sometimes even when they were less qualified than other Facebook employees, and once there they enjoy special status. 'You can't really cross a FOSS,' says one former senior manager." TechCrunch sums up the culture clash as a "tug of war between innovation and monetization." Facebook employees are concerned about how the IPO may affect the hacker culture; however, Andrew Bosworth, FB Director of Engineering doesn't agree with the article's portrayal of Facebook in some respects: Discussion Starters: How would you describe the corporate culture at places where you worked? Have you experienced a healthy—or perhaps an unhealthy—conflict between different corporate cultures? To what do you attribute the conflict? What is the best way for Facebook to resolve this conflict? TechCrunch has some ideas from a business perspective; what are your ideas using an interpersonal approach?
  • Got Milk? Or Get Fired

    A CEO of a public relations firm has had it with office selfishness . Although Keith Zakheim denies following through on the threat (as yet), he sent an email to all employees: "You will be fired for not replacing the milk." What's worse: the threat or a PR CEO's lack of apostrophes? From: Keith Zakheim Date: September 27, 2011 8:20:21 AM EDT To: Beckerman Staff Subject: I don't know what else to do... I have repeatedly requested until I am blue in the face that the person that finishes the milk must replace the milk. Its not complicated and is a simple sign of respect for fellow employees. So, imagine my chagrin this morning when I stumbled in at 715 after enduring a typically painful Redskins loss and in dire need of a shot of caffeine, only to find that the skim milk in the refrigerator had three drops of milk left. Literally 3 drops, an amount that would maybe fill the tummy of a prematurely born mouse. The person that did this is either incredibly lazy, obnoxiously selfish or woefully devoid of intelligence - 3 traits that are consistent with the profile of FORMER Beckerman employees. As you can tell from the tenor of this email, I am not happy and at my wits end. Allyne, Ilhwa, and I have repeatedly beseeched you to replace the supplies that you consume - whether its pencils, paper, or MILK. This costs you nothing - I pay for it! Yet, it is still repeatedly ignored. So, I am gravely serious when I write this - if I catch someone not replacing the milk, or at least, in the case where the downstairs store has close already, not sending an email to the office so the first person that arrives (usually Christa or me) can pick one up upon arrival - then I am going to fire you. Im not joking. You will be fired for not replacing the milk, and have fun explaining that one to your next employer. This is not a empty threat so PLEASE don't test me. 99% of this office consists of great people that work hard, treat their employes with respect, and understand that they are part of something that is bigger than them. However, there seems to be a small element that doesn't understand this. So its time that they do or else they should start refreshing their resume. For those of you who have worked for me for years, you know this is not my style so PLEASE take this seriously! Thank you for your cooperation. KZ — KEITH ZAKHEIM | CEO BECKERMAN ANTENNA GROUP
  • Slim Budgets for UK Public Sector Internal Communicators

    In an ironic twist, public sector organizations have dwindling budgets for internal communication. According to a survey conducted by UK consultancy Gatehouse and the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC), one third of respondents have no dedicated internal communication budget, and 27% have less than £10,000. At the same time, respondents identified several priorities for communicating with employees: Reengaging employees (40%) Communicating strategy and direction (30%) Communicating cost cutting (20%) Tough times are ahead, so companies clearly need to focus on communicating with employees. On the upside, organizations surveyed do have dedicated internal staff: only 6% have no one, half have between one and five communicators, and 21% have more than 20 people dedicated to internal communication. Image source. Discussion Starters: Other than a lack of commitment to employee communication, what could the slim budgets mean for these UK public companies? How was internal communication handled at the last company where you worked? What examples of employee communication do you remember, and were they successful?