Learning review of subject “management skills”

By | April 20, 2014

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1. Ethics & management

1.1 Prior knowledge

The term “moral” has different meanings. As suggested by Rachels (1993, p. 13) that Morality is the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason, that is to do what there are best reasons for doing-while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual who will be affected by one’s conduct. There are various ethical issues which could be found in the business practices. And ethics in my option is about the determination of what is right and what is wrong.

1.2 Learning outcome

1.2.1 Business purposes & CSR

The business purpose has been defined as promoting the public interest with the motivation to increase the shareholder value rather than solely profit making (Kontes 2010, p.33), in another word, the business purposes should take into consideration of the stakeholders’ interest in a sustainable way (in the long term) which is in line with the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

1.2.2 Ethical approaches & decision making

Three major kinds of approaches in deciding what are the right business behaviors. Consequentialist approaches (also known as teleological approaches) hold that an action can be considered to be morally right or obligatory if it will produce the greatest possible balance of good over evil (Holden 1979); Duty-based ethical theories stress that each of us has certain duties – actions that we ought or ought not to perform and that acting morally amounts to doing out duty irrespective of the consequences (Warburton 1999, p.40); Virtue ethics describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior (Darwall 2003) which means that it is the people’s character and intentions that matter.

1.3 Tutorial Question

By playing a number of roles such as employee of a company and member of the society, we will have various of duties and responsibilities to be fulfilled by us; at the same time it would be necessary for us to identify an appropriate ethical approach and adhere to it to decide what should be the right behaviors.

2. Groups & teams

2.1 Prior knowledge

A work group is a group that interacts primarily to share information and to make decision to help each member perform within his or her area of responsibility. A work group does not necessarily require a collective work that needs joint effort while a work team generates positive synergy by coordinated effort (Jain 2005, p.241).

2.2 Learning outcome

2.2.1 Importance and difficulties of establishing effective teams

There are two major benefits of establishing effective teams: firstly, decision making by effective teams could facilitate a large pool of information to deal with complex tasks; secondly, effective teams tend to generate synergies and could outperform the ineffective teams.

But due to the fact that there is a number of factors that could both enhance or reduce the team effectiveness such as leadership style, training offered, stage of team development and individual maturity level, it is difficult to establish effective teams.

2.2.2 Roles of individuals within groups and teams & Team effect

Table 1. Belbin’s Team Roles
Source: mindtools.com 2011

The Belbin Team Roles method is one of the frequently used and best-known methods for assessing teams (McMahon & Leimon 2008). In our team, we try to assign the jobs of the team roles to best fit the individuals’ characters and capabilities with respect to their own preference. By constantly focusing on balancing the roles and following the clear objectives, we enjoy team effects such as enhanced team cohesiveness and better team performance.

2.3 Tutorial Question

It is difficult to develop the teams towards a higher stage in the team development in an actual case, still we need to push forward the team development to a more effective and matured status.

3. Effective communications

3.1 Prior knowledge

Communication is the transmission of information and meaning from one individual or group to another (Guffey & Almonte 2010, p.6). It is well known to us that communication is one of the major and important jobs that we will have to do in the business environments.

3.2 Learning outcome

3.2.1 Importance of communication

Due to the important role of the communication, it is necessary for us to communicate effectively to obtain the needed information. And if we fail to manage the communication activities effectively, there will be three bad consequences: we would not make decisions effectively; problems may become more difficult for us to handle; and changes could be resisted and implementation of the changes could be differed with reduced effectiveness.

3.2.2 Communication channels and systems

Figure 1. Block diagram of a simple communications system
Source: Ryan & Frater 2002, p.1

A simple communication system consist of several elements such as transmitter, communication channels (influenced by interference and noise) and receiver as the figure shows. In term of selection between one way communication and two way communication, while feedback and dual interaction is needed, two way communication is more effective and recommended. And in term of selection between two communication channels which are oral communication and written communication, the oral communication would be more advisable if the information to be communicated is rather ambiguous which could be be written with engough of clarity.

3.2.3 Tutorial Question

It is important for us to notice that true communication is more than just transmitting information; it is about the transference of understanding. We have to have good and positive attitude as well as a sense understanding with the right selection of language and communication channels in order to have successful communication.

4. Influencing & persuasion

4.1 Prior knowledge

Influencing refers to the art of getting people to do what we desire. We can give out some interests in order to influence people.

4.2 Learning outcome

4.2.1 Elements of successful influences

Three key elements describe a successful influencer. Firstly, in term of the attitude of the influencer, the influencer should hold a positive and assertive attitude to make sure that the influencer’s words would not disturbed the target person. Secondly, influencer has to make clear about the goal of the influencing process and should always make his or her effort contribute to the achievement of this goal, at the same time a flexible method could be used to avoid direct conflicts with the target person. Thirdly, the influencer should focus on the construction of good interpersonal relationship with those to be influenced.

4.2.2 Elements of successful persuasion

Three closely related elements have been identified as important to ensure the persuasion effort is successful. The first element is starting position which measures the distance that the target person’s point of view to our view, this helps to set the starting positions. The second factor is “what we say” in which we need to get prepared about what subject matter would be involved to help achieve the desired outcome; the third factor is regarding “how we behave” in term of the way of expression and the body languages to better persuade the target person.

4.3 Tutorial Question

We could not account on coercion to make people do what we desire, but rather persuasion and influencing play a better role in achieving our goal.

5. Time management & delegation

5.1 Prior knowledge

Personal time management refers to “the knowing of self (Marquis & Huston 2009, p.199)”. It is good for us to manage out time more effectively to avoid waste of time.

5.2 Learning outcome

The activities that I am doing include studying, working part-time and social activities. I spend most of my time in studying in term of reading, writing assignments and preparing for my coming exams, and working part-time would be second activity that I spend my time on which help increase my working experience. And social activities are also important in daily life. Because sometimes I need to focus on assignment writing but I also have to work, then I would find it difficult to finish the study tasks in term of meeting the assignment deadlines. After studying the knowledge and theories about time management and delegation, I have learnt that two changes are needed in my situation: firstly, I should clarify the target for my future development; secondly, I should cut off or delegate some of my daily activities that are quite non-relative to my goals but still taking up a lot of my time.

5.3 Tutorial Question

We need not only work hard but also work in the right direction by focusing on the targets that are clearly set.

Reference

Darwall, S. L. (2003). Virtue ethics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Guffey, M. E. & Almonte, R. (2010), Essentials of Business Communication. Toronto: Nelson Education, Ltd. p.6

Jain, N. K. (2005), Organisational BehaviourVo. 1, Volume 1. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p.241

Kontes, P. (2011) The CEO, Strategy, and Shareholder Value: Making the Choices That Maximize Company Performance. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p.33

Marquis, B. L. & Huston, C. J. (2009), Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: theory and application. 6th edition, Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven Publishiners. p.199

McMahon, G. & Leimon, A. (2008) Performance Coaching for Dummies. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Mindtools.com (2011). Belbin’s Team Roles: Understanding Team Roles to Improve Performance. [online] http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_83.htm

Rachels, J. (1993). The elements of moral philosophy. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Ryan, M. J. & Frater, M. (2002), Communications and information systems. Australia: Argos Press. p.1

Warburton, N. (1999), Philosophy: the basics. New York: Routledge. p.40

White, T. I. (1988). Right and wrong: A brief guide to understanding ethics, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Publishing