Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review and Feedback

Before taking this class, I didn’t have taken any classes in a similar discipline so my understanding for Organizations is more from my extra-curricular experiences, and after taking this classes, I am able to use what I learn from class to practice outside of classroom, and whenever I am having insights about organizations, it will pop up when I am studying for this course too. That is the best part I like about this class, which is I can apply it to myself and the knowledge is really useful.

Then about the Excel HW, I think the professor really puts a lot of effort into it. He always writes introduction of topics and variables, and some instructions to help I understand the topic. I also like graphs in the Excel HW because it really visualize and easier for me to understand. I usually read the descriptions and then do the questions. Sometimes, when the HW is a little bit hard, I read twice and then to do the homework. I believe the videos for a couple of homework really helps, so maybe that is something professor could think of continuously doing.

For the blog post, I am not sure if I did a great job on it or not, but that is the best part I like about this class. It is the reflective process that I get to link what I learned from class, from the lecture books and from my extra-curricular experiences together, and professor will give feedbacks each week. I usually write it in later week, because I want to make sure I get better knowledge after our Thursday’s class, where usually the professor will talk about Excel HW. I usually read the questions on Monday and thought about some examples in mind, and when I think of something good, I write it. As the professor mentions in the class, we are beneficial from small classroom teaching because if it is bigger class, we might not get to gain benefits from getting feedback so frequently. Most of the time, I learn a lot from the feedback professor write, but there are a few times, I was hoping to get more feedback from the blog post. There were also time I hope to have a face-to-face conversation about blog post too. Basically, I really wish to keep the conversation going on the blog post sometimes, though I understand the extra time and energy putting there might be huge.

Lastly, I just want to give some personal opinions about this course. Firstly, I really like the way professor teaches and some of stories he told explain a lot for his theory. This is the part where I get to understand better for the theory. But I am thinking maybe if sometimes the professor can make a summary for the topics at the beginning or at the end of the course, it might be more organized and better for us to understand the topic. I believe a lot of times the professor has done it, and I found it pretty helpful, which is why I want to bring it up here. Secondly, I personally think it would be more beneficial if we could do some case studies about real companies some point during the semester, such as their strategies and their different organizations, because by implementing that way, we will understand deeper and better. Lastly, I missed the deadline for signing-up for the research extra credit, but I do believe that is a good way to test how much we learned and get deeper understanding on topics too, as well as to learn how to draft a research. And I would personal prefer to do presentations on that too, but I am not sure if it would fit for the size of class. Or maybe group presentation, because I was hoping to have more interactions from other students in the class, and get to know more about them. Overall, I really like this class, and I think I learned a lot from it. Thank you for giving us a chance to write feedbacks and review. It is like you are being a “broker” person in our class organization.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Power of Reputation

I believe personal reputation is really important, especially in a group setting. In my own committee, I have good reputation because I am really committed, and everyone can see that I am putting a lot of efforts into the group. From the word affirmation from group members, I am really relieved and feel rewarded, and somehow it motivates me more to make further contribution to the committee. From other group members’ standing points, they trust me because of my good reputation, that they are willing to share ideas and opinions with me. I get immediate feedback from group members, and I make them feel ownership that they are more comfortable sharing things with me.

Reputation is earned and it builds over time. Especially for a brand new committee, it takes time to build trust and reputation among group members. What I did all the time is that I tried to maintain great communication with team leaders, and make sure there is direct and indirect communication between leaders and their group members. I talked with executive boards in a regular basis, to make sure they gain something from the leadership role too. At the same time, I also spend some time with regular group members, and make sure their voice and opinions are heard, and even I don’t invent their idea, I will explain in the meeting why it is not applicable, and what case we can implement their plans. At first, it is hard to do it, because it takes a lot of time. But thinking back, I think it is definitely worthy of spending time in communication, and keep track of what is going on in the group. I believe my reputation maintains good because my consistent effort into this type of communication, and the message behind this is that our committee is really open-minded and it is really giving group members to contribute more with more ownership.

To enhance this good reputation among my committee, I also take time to have conversation with them about their own development in career and share my resources with them to help them to move to the next stage. I try to combine their interests with our committee’s mission or task, as well as suggesting them to do something for their own sake. I do it not just for enhancing the relationship with them and reputation for myself, but also just simply enjoy helping other people.

Occasionally, when there is pressure on events or task, I stayed away from it a little bit. There was a time, I pushed an executive board member too hard that she was a little bit overwhelmed, and felt hurt by the way I spoke with her. I took “cash in” because I was more focused on the goal and tight deadline, instead of giving her ownership to do things in her way, and providing her freedom and responsibility to take care of it. Because if she could do the way I wanted her to do, it saved me time and effort of following up and worrying about it. But from her perspective, I behaved like I didn’t trust her at all, and I doubted her ability of doing it, which is not good. In that situation, it was definitely not worthy “cash in” to gain benefit from it. Luckily, because of all the efforts I built over time, she was able to tell me the truth and how she really felt so I tried to avoid doing it again. When it is too stressful, I get a little bit crazy sometimes that I didn’t pay that much attention on people, where might lose my reputation. I learned from that lesson, and tried to be more careful of some details, which can easily erase my good reputation. Good reputation takes time to build, while bad reputation crushes easily.

I would like to share another story in one of my project this semester. We are working on a case that the company is concerned moral situation in workers. There are six people in the same line, doing the same job. Five out of six don’t do the job, and behave like slackly. The only one who is really taking effort in the work got screwed up because he reported five of the other coworkers of their slack work. The manager switched him to another line, but people don’t like him because they all know story about the fact that he will report coworkers to manager. From that employee, he didn’t do anything wrong, that he is considering for company’s efficiency and work force. However, because his reputation is ruined for something he did, which is good, he is isolated among the group. It is sad that the manager didn’t take good care of him, and put him into a position of targeted. A lot of cases like that happened in the company, and there is high possibility that the person will leave the company. My point here is that good behavior might lead to bad reputation too, and you may be screwed up because of good behavior. From the management side, you have to be very careful about it, to protect people’s privacy and make sure they didn’t fall into bad reputation for doing good things.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Standard Principal-Agent Model in Real World

When I was an intern in Radisson Plaza Hotel as a front desk trainee, I got a chance to work with Concierge Department. The main duty of Concierge Department is to make sure the customers in the hotel have a great time during their stay. All the people work in the department are very familiar with customer services in the city and tourist destinations. During the day and night, one of the most popular services is getting taxi for customers. One day when I was working with Concierge Department, I asked the manager of the department Tom that what strategies the department usually use to get taxi more efficiently, especially in traffic rush hours. Tom explained to me that there is a popular app on the market that called “Find a Taxi Driver.” Basically, the app helps hotels and other tourist destination services to find taxi drivers 24 hours a day and match by the preference of location. It is like a “Yelp,” but in the purpose of finding taxi drivers. I asked Tom that how reliable the department could trust an app like that. He said, the process is that Tom just to hit the button of “request” in the app with his phone, and if the taxi driver is able to come here for the service, then the driver will call back to the phone number that put request. There are a lot of taxi drivers who worked for a particular taxi company, but each service they get match with a customer through the company has to pay back to the company. In another word, the benefits of the service will be deducted if they get customers through the company. However, the taxi company provides drivers’ maintenance to the car, licenses and their salaries, so drivers are trapped with the company. Meanwhile, these taxi drivers want to make some extra money without giving back to their company, and that is why they enjoy using the app, since there is no contract restrictions through the app, and they can get services whenever the market needs them. All those reasons prove that why the app is reliable for people who work for the Concierge Department in Hotels. Plus, there is more than one app in the market, which serves the same group of people.

In this case, taxi drivers are equal to the agent in the standard principal-agent model. The customers/clients of taxi drivers are supposed to come from either company customer request, or through some drop-in services on the street. In fact, for the purpose of taxi drivers’ personal benefit, they minimize the clients of these two categories, but they try to maximize their personal benefits through taking more customers from the free market (such as through the app).

The firm in this model is of course the company of those taxi drivers. The firm would like to get more clients through providing more efficient services to customers, and through the money they gain from each service of each driver. There are a lot of costs included here. The company has to pay for the maintenance of each car, the insurance of both cars and taxi drivers; however, the firm is going to spend more it is supposed to be, because the time those taxi drivers devote into the company is much less than what their time of shift, so the company should not pay for the costs which enables taxi drivers to get more personal benefits.

On the other hand, the firm is not able to expand their service because even they use better strategies to expand on their business, the customers can’t be matched very efficiently with taxi drivers, since so many of them are focused on their own business. The firm will lose some old customers if the situation is worse.

From the perspective of the firm, taxi drivers act as taking advantage of opportunism and they serve clients instead of serve the firm itself, which is the taxi company. From the perspective of Concierge Department in hotel, they are serving both clients, which is customers in hotel, and their firm, which is the hotel. It is surprising to find out later that the reason the hotel will rely on using apps to serve for customers have another reason. Each hotel hires some drivers and maintains partnership with some contractor. The drivers hired by the hotel can serve both clients, which is customers of the hotel, and the firm, which is anyone in the hotel. Most of the drivers are more willing to serve more to the firm, instead of customers, because they will have personal benefits, such as financial benefits, like tips, and non-financial benefits, such as potential opportunities of promotion. Those drivers who have contracts with the company satisfy the triangle situation too.   

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Conflict Resolution

Personally, I think it is by so far the most interesting and useful topic we have been given through the class. I will first share my personal story with conflict, and then I will break down and talk about how I understand the impact of conflict resolution, interpersonal skills on leadership and management.

       The first time I actually thought about conflict is when I was having an interview for a campus leader position. The interviewer asked me, “could you tell us a time that you faced with a conflict, and what was the outcome?” I didn’t expect that question when I am preparing the interview. I thought a while, and I gave an example when I was a Teaching Assistant for a transfer student seminar class in Stony Brook University. Professor ABC assigned me a project to do a presentation for the class. She didn’t get me any instruction besides asking me to do a presentation. I have never done any presentation in a formal way. So I e-mailed her and hopefully to gain more information for me to prepare for the presentation. After I e-mailed her a couple of time, she finally responded as: “I am not sure what you are talking about. Let’s talk about it in person sometime.” Then we sat together and talked about the miscommunication there. After the one-on-one discussion, we found out that she thought all the TAs had given decent training before we got this position, and I was expected that she could provide more information. It was not something I particularly did wrong, and she also didn’t think it coming that we didn’t get the training program that year. Finally, everything cleared out and we then she utilized my strength of being a good tour guide, so we ended up changing the format of presentation, and students really enjoyed the lecture that day.

       From this experience, there was not necessarily a conflict, but there is some miscommunication. The source of the problem occurs with different volume of information and context. Professor ABC took an initiative to move the virtual communication to face-to-face interaction. Although she acted like she was really angry and annoyed by the fact, but she broke the bridge by emerging the space between us. The resolution of this conflict went well when the main reason of the conflict was discovered by both of the parties. When comparing our type of personality in the workplace, Professor ABC is more a little bit assertive, but open-minded person. I am more accommodating type. It is important to understand that in the workplace, people’s behavior differentiate, and sometimes it is not anyone’s problem, because a lot of our personalities also come from the environment where we grow up, our family, and our friends and people around us. These factors all will impact on our personalities. In a word, people bring different patterns of behavior to the workplace that has roots in early life.

       For people who are going to work for an internship or full time job sometime in the future, it is vital to have “interpersonal competence,” which means we understand some basic difference of personalities in different people, and we learn to observe and how to deal with people differently.

       Another experience I would like to share is a conflict happened recently in my RSO. I am the Vice President and there is one girl, who is one of the four department chairs, and when I am discussing with her about business on phone, I also gave some suggestions for her personal leadership improvement. She responded directly “I really don’t like the way you address to me, because it makes me feel uncomfortable and hurt. For the business, you could just handle to me, and then when I am done, you could give me advice for improvement. And about everything you said about my personality, I would really appreciate that if you address this problem to me as friends instead of a boss.” I was a little bit shock and had no idea of how to respond to her for a moment. I apologized to her immediately after I took some seconds to observe, and told her I will pay more attention on my tones and the way to address to her problems, especially the difference between pure business and pure personal suggestion. Something I realize in a leadership role is that it is super important to improve my interpersonal competence because managers’ effectiveness is often impaired because they over control, ignore feelings, and are blind to their impact on others. In my situation, it is obvious that her personality is more direct, and mine is more observing. But there is more than just the type of personality. I think what I can improve in the situation is that I should give her more space to do things in her way. I was a little bit rush to tell her everything and keep her updated because my boss just updated with me about things we need to do. I am trying to be efficient but actually it hurts her feeling. Another thing I could improve is that for pure personal suggestion, I was about to schedule a coffee chat with her, and then discussed in a nicer way. Due to the tight schedule of the time, as well as my urgent wish to hope her to change a little bit about her management style, since I heard a couple of complaints and concerns about her from others, I rushed again. Not everything in the name of efficiency comes with great results. In this situation, I over control a little bit, and ignore her feeling. Another interesting insight I found out later is that my position from a “broker” to a “VP” has influenced the way other committee members treated me. When I was a broker, I seem to be more open and easy to approach. When I took more responsibility as a VP, and also the task is to make sure everyone get through deadline, and detail oriented, my influence, as a broker was weaker. Sometimes being very open-minded could be also risky, uncomfortable or frightened, but after a while now, I am definitely more comfortable of doing it, compared to when I started. 

        My effort recently is to work on how to motivate people in the committee, how to make them feel this is a more comfortable environment that you are free to share any resources and ideas. I can definitely see the improvement, such as someone directly e-mail to me to give great ideas, the discussion during the meeting is less awkward, and etc. And I am also try to get my “broker” personality back to me too. I hope you enjoy reading my post and feel free to give me any suggestions or comments.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lower Your Future Risk

We are all in some stage of college education, and we have a variety of different experiences coming from college as well as outside, including paid and non-paid job, volunteering, campus involvement and etc. To keep an eye toward the future and reducing income risk, you could either continue doing what you are doing and making wise choices yourself, or you could also get some assistance from people you have network with, such as your older sibling or friends, or relatives, so on so forth.

Personally, I am doing both. I am making effort to continue making my own campus experience to help me in the future career, and at the moment, I also consider doing something else to make me more competitive in the job market when I graduate, as well as to avoid some income risk. I have a campus paid-job and there are some committees I am involved with that have great workshops or trainings to enrich my knowledge for future. They usually invite some guest speakers to campus, to talk about their experiences right after college, or people who are in the industry for a while. A lot of time, they will share their own experiences of how they deal with some of the struggles, and what are some tips they can give to us, as college students. What some of other students do is to pick up a major that can lead them to better placement or income in the future. This might works but the trend is always changing so there is some risk if you decide to do it. My cousin studied Biology Engineering in University of Michigan when he was an undergraduate, when a lot of anticipation of how this area is going to be more popular and can make a lot of money. After he graduate, the economy is not doing well, and the field was not longer popular and he can't find a job because of the big context in the job market. I suggest people to pick up something they like, or at least not hate, and continue doing it. It might be a wiser choice to just follow the trend because trend is something unpredictable. 

From there, I also kind of make some network and connections with people from LinkedIn, from career fair, and as many resource I can utilize as possible. To share a little story that once I have asked a recruiter from Bank of America that if she could go through my resume and give me some suggestions. One of the feedbacks she gave me was that it is good to get suggestions from people who are more experienced than you, but always keep in mind that different people have different pathway, that sometimes what is beneficial to some people won’t necessarily have benefit to you.

So my point is that there are a lot of ways we can develop to reduce risks for future through pushing yourself to do more stuff and also taking suggestions from other people, but do make sure keep in mind that first, you may not get benefits from other people’s experience; and second that those people who you ask suggestions from, they haven’t been through everything either, and they are trying to learn to lower their risk for their future too. Lastly, when we are talking about lower future risk in anything, a lot of times we are talking about in short term, but not long term. Some of the things might help with lower risks in short term, but not your whole life. You will have to keep your eye opened and always learning.