Friday, October 30, 2015

Conflict in The Workplace

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. With the workplace being where many people spend large percentages of time, it is not immune to experiencing conflict. With many different people and varying ranks in a work environment dealing with problems at work can get a little messy. A well-displayed example of this comes from my favorite TV show - The Office.

In one particular episode, the business realizes they have surplus, and it must be spent by the end of or else that amount of money will deducted from the next quarter's budget. Once news of this spreads around the office, a debate forms over whether the surplus should be spent on a new copier or new chairs. The employees then have a series of arguments as people start to get heated over where this extra money will be spent.

The source of the problem can be seen in two ways. Either this problem was a result of good budgeting, a change of prices or something that has to do with the accounting and financial operations of the company, or it was caused by the two employees who suggested the copier and the chairs. One side believes that the company needs a new copier due to the fact that there's is outdated and they have to send out various documents that the copier produces and the quality of the copies could reflect on how they do business. On the other hand, those who support the chairs believe that an employee's comfort has a large impact on how they perform, and that a poor quality chair over an extended period of time could lead to back problems or other health issues. The initial reaction of the employees was to immediately take sides. Then, once teams had formed there were many debates on the issue. Consequently, each side started finding ways to "kiss up" to the boss in order to sway him to their side. Although in the show they were very over the top about it to add to its comedic value, I believe there some truth to it.

The conflict ended up being settled by the boss forcing them to choose. He made the employees aware that he could simply turn in the surplus and receive a 15% of the surplus as a bonus for saving the company money. Once the employees realized the situation they were able to finally decide and settle on the chairs. I feel that this way a good technique for getting the employees to come to a decision, even though he was disappointed he was not able to receive his bonus. I feel most likely this conflict was completely unavoidable. The surplus is something that naturally occurred and the office desperately needed two things. If the employees acted a little more maturely in the beginning, the conflict may have been less extreme. However, all in all at the end of the day they were able to make a decision and the conflict was resolved.

Friday, October 2, 2015


The concept of distributing a certain amount of Illinibucks to each student would have an immense affect on how several things operate on campus. Mostly everything on campus operates on a first come first serve basis, but by allowing students to spend their Illinibucks to jump to the front of the line would change everything.  It could perhaps provide more efficiency on campus as students would use their Illinibucks on the resources they use most. Students would just have to decide what they valued most to spend their Illinibucks on.

Illinibucks could be used for meetings with advisors and deans, speaking with a professor during office hours, buying food or coffee at the various cafeterias or snack shops, or meeting with someone at the career center. You could also use them for moving up in position to rent out rooms at libraries, the Ikenberry Commons, or classrooms. Additionally, although there is already a system in place for registering for classes, you could add to it by giving the option to pay in Illinibucks to move your spot up by a certain amount of days or hours depending on how much you spend. Finally, there are always extremely long lines every semester to meet with the various companies at the career fair. Perhaps the university could reach an agreement with these companies and allow students to use their Illinibucks to move up in line or hold their place in line.

It is absolutely essential though that the university sets the correct price for these various places students would spend their Illinibucks or problems will arise. If the price is too low, the university will find this project to be ineffective as everyone will use their Illinibucks for almost everything and in the end everyone will still have to wait in line. Also, with too low of prices there will be a leftover amount of Illinibucks that may be given out to friends or family giving certain students an unfair advantage of the system. On the contrary, if prices are too high students may not even use the Illinibucks as they can only be used for one or two things before their budget runs out. Plus, with excessive prices the Illinibucks may gain a monetary value, resulting in students selling theirs for money. This could result in a similar situation if certain students gain an unfair amount of the Illinibucks compared to others, and it could lead to problems for the university with students all over campus exchanging Illinibucks for money. All in all, it could be a very effective plan as long as it is done efficiently and prices are set correctly.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Successful Team

Working in a group is something we will experience throughout our entire lives. Whether it is group projects in elementary school, or working late to meet a deadline set by your boss, teamwork is a skill that is essential to most people in order to have a successful life. As you get older and teams become more complex, it is more important than ever to understand the structure of the team and what actions need to take place for the group to accomplish its goal.

This was made clear in my personal experience when I started working for the Parks & Recreation Department in my hometown. There was a list of tasks we had to do everyday by 6 PM, and if we were not finished by that time we were subject to consequences. So, it was vital we met this deadline. A key part to keeping our work efficient and at a top quality, was understanding the structure of our team. As stated by Bolman and Deal, there are various types of structures when working with a team. Our group utilized the Simple Hierarchy structure, which is where you have a bottom level of employees, a middle level for a manager type position and then the top level where an executive or owner would rank. In my case, I was a part of the bottom level workers, we had a project manager who would come out to work with us, and then there was a Head of Village Maintenance whom our manager reported to.

With this type of structure it was fairly easy to implement a system that would help our team be successful. The Head of Village Maintenance would provide the list of tasks that needed to be done that day. The project manager would then decide how, when and who would do each job in the way he thought was most productive, including if he thought it would be best for him to do some manual labor. Finally, us bottom level laborers would do the tasks as instructed to us by our project manager. At the end of the day, the project manager would submit a formal report to the Head of Village Maintenance describing the day's work and ensuring that we had met our deadline.

With this job, we could not go home until everyone was back at the village office and had completed their work for the day, and if anyone finished late or did not finish their work, we could all be subject to consequence. This brings up a rather important aspect of a high performance team as explained by Katzenbach and Smith. One of their characteristics of a successful team is mutual accountability. We could have guys working on various tasks at multiple locations in a day. It was crucial that we were all dedicated and hardworking because if anyone decided to slack off that day, we would all pay the price. I know our team had a high level of mutual accountability because we would never want a fellow employee to suffer a consequence due to our lack of effort. Everyday we would go out there with positive attitudes and we always completely our daily tasks. With a sensible, effective team structure and a strong level of mutual accountability we were able to perform as high functioning team everyday, and it was truly something I am proud of.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Experience With Organizations

Throughout my life experiences, particularly now in my collegiate years, I have been involved in many different clubs and societies. These groups run very much in the way are organization does. You have to manage budgets, meet deadlines, find new members and even sometimes make some tough decisions. If I had to choose an experience that was the most similar to an organization, and one of the most intense to operate, would be the time I spent on the executive board of my fraternity. We had to work together to keep the fraternity's operation running smoothly, meet the requirements set by our corporate board and ensure that the needs of our members would be met. 

While doing all these tasks was not easy, a serious change in our daily operations made things much more difficult. We ended our relationship with our house management company and gave the responsibilities to our house manager. This was a big change for us, but we decided as a board that it would be best for the house. However, it did not come without a price.

Like with any true organization, there are transaction costs that come with making a change. We had to pay a fee for terminating our contract with the old organization. Also, we lost some money of our deposit that we had placed. We knew this would be a loss, but decided it was not a large enough deficit to hold us back. Furthermore, we had to increase the salary of our house manager, so that is another cost we had to pay. This increase in salary required many negotiations between the house manager and us, so we could find a fair price that made both sides happy. This is another cost, even though it did not necessarily cost us money. This is entire process was a massive time cost. With having to end our old contract with the previous company and then, spend time having several meetings to negotiate the increase in salary our house manager was going to receive.

Theses transaction costs were definitely a loss and took away from a few of our other budgets in the end. But, like any good organization, we had to decide whether these costs were worth the change we wanted to make. In our case, we found that it was. There are of course other times where a group may find the transaction costs too overwhelming to make a change like this. It is always vital to consider these factors when making this type of decision in order to make sure you are making the right choice for your organization. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ronald Coase

Ronald Coase

Ronald Coase was born in a suburb of London in 1910. His parents worked together at the post office and he had a humble background. He had physical disabilities that required him to attend a special school as a young child, but none of this held him back. He ended up attending the University of London and the London School of Economics, all which led to his ultimate achievement - The Noble Prize.

I had never heard of Ronald Coase before I was assigned his name as an alias, but quickly into my researched I learned how important his work was. His two main works, "The Nature of the Firm" and "The Problem of Social Cost", made a lot of contributions to ideas of transaction costs among other economics concepts. He spent many decades of his life teaching economics and every year the University of Chicago honors him by hosting the Coase Lecture.

Ronald Coase's ideas affected how many people viewed ideas in economics and many people consider him one of the great economists. In 1991 he received The Noble Prize, the most prestigious award an economist could receive. He passed away in September of 2013, but he will not be forgotten anytime soon as he lives on in the books and ideas of economics.