Ethical Conduct and Leadership: The Recalcitrant Employee (Part 1 of 2)

by Mark Leonard

O’Rourke outlines basic principles of communication ethics in chapter 3 of Management Communication: A Case Analysis Approach.  In this chapter, O’Rourke explains that Ethical Conduct and Ethical Leadership require setting an example of morality for employees, applying ethical standards, and assisting employees in developing and applying their moral code.

Bo G. arrived at H5 Sykes, a military base in Northern Iraq near the Iraq-Syria border, in April 2011.  KBR had the operations, maintenance, and logistics contract for H5 Sykes and was responsible for 150 KBR employees along with 300 subcontract workers on the camp.  An Operations Cell of six personnel handled administrative functions for the base, I was charged with supervising this cell.  Bo came in as an operations specialist, an entry-level position.

Bo made a great first impression on the management team, he was 36 years old, bright, seemed highly motivated, and had a winning smile.  We immediately put him through the training process to get him up to speed on our reports, operating procedures, and workload.  After about a week Bo was still unable to complete simple tasks and I had to ask other personnel to simultaneously complete tasks to ensure that if Bo couldn’t get the job done, we did not fail to meet mission requirements.

As time went on, Bo began to test the limits of both his work requirements and company conduct policies.  He spent excessive time surfing the internet, did not comply with dress code, attempted to manipulate time keeping policies, and had episodes of insubordination.  Most importantly, even though I assigned each member of the team to try to train Bo over the course of a month, he was still unable to complete basic tasks, and would not even attempt to learn more complex tasks.  It became apparent that he was content to surf the internet for 12 hours a day and collect a paycheck.

This situation presented a challenge with regard to Ethical Conduct and Leadership, and had the potential to completely derail a department that was firing on all cylinders prior to Bo’s arrival.  Everyone had a niche and contributed their fair share of the work except Bo.  In part two of this blog post, I will detail the implications of Bo G.’s actions and tell you how the story ended.

By mandybowling

Rehearsal Is Key

Justin Bigger

 

In Chapter four of Management Communication, James O’Rourke focuses on speaking and over the course of the chapter develops a comprehensive framework for giving a successful management speech. He begins by stressing the importance of things like developing strategies and knowing your audience; and concludes with rehearsing the speech and ultimately delivering it. While all of these steps are important and can make or break a good speech, I believe that rehearsing is often the most overlooked and underutilized step in speech preparation.

 

Over the course of my life I’ve had to make several speeches. Some of them were successful while others were colossal failures. If I reminisce solely on the bad speeches, a common theme begins to develop. I didn’t adequately prepare the delivery of the speech. I didn’t rehearse it. Rehearsal is so important, because the only way to practice a speech is to deliver it. If I really think back to those speeches, they were great on paper. The quality of the writing was some of my best, and I didn’t think that rehearsing was necessary. I thought the speech would deliver itself. One of my worst experiences with speaking came when I had to give a speech on game theory for a class. I had my slides prepared, and I knew what I wanted to say; but when I went up to deliver the speech, I froze. My mind went blank and fear took over. I couldn’t recover because I didn’t adequately prepare for the situation.

 

Ever since that bad experience I have always rehearsed every speech I give. It’s one thing to have complete confidence in what you have written, but having confidence that you can communicate what you have written effectively through speaking is an entirely different concept. The only way to develop the confidence to deliver your speech effectively is to practice speaking it over and over and over again. It must become second nature. And by the time you have to step up and deliver the speech, you can be confident that you are prepared to deal with any type of situation that might develop.

By mandybowling
Link

Speech Preparation

Posted by Mandy Bowling

I like this link because it goes along with what chapter four says and can help someone who is preparing a speech. Hope it helps!

By mandybowling

Think before you speak

By: Mandy Bowling

Chapter Four, of Management Communication, James O’Rourke focuses on how to give a proper and successful management speech. There are many ways to deliver a speech, but it is important to focus on the factors that make a speech a good one. According to O’Rourke, the best way to do so is to develop a strategy to give the speech. You can start the strategy by making sure you know who your audience is, figure out what the purpose of the speech, know that the people want to hear and organize your thoughts and ideas so it doesn’t seem like you are just rambling on. Begin with an introduction, get the structure of the speech figured out, find a way to properly present the speech and then conclude the speech. Being organized is important because if we practice speaking, and we find ourselves having to give a last minute speech, we know what we are in for and know how to prepare.  

Getting nervous can be a big flaw of giving a speech. That is another reason why it is important to have an outline and to have practiced your speech. Sometimes when we get nervous, we stutter and loose our food for thought. It can come across very clustered and unorganized. In my opinion, being organized and having a thought out structure is importnat for cases like becoming nervous, which causes people to loose their train of thought. 

Speaking is a part of everyday life. In the work place, depending on where you work, giving a speech of any kind, can be pretty common. Working in athletics, there are many times we have staff meetings for different events. For example, this coming weekend is HUGE for SFA athletics, we have every fall sport competing Thursday-Sunday. We had a meeting yesterday that was last minute and the event manager, you could tell knew what he needed to say, but didn’t really have his thoughts organized. Different departments were brought in to discuss this weekends events, and the more the meeting went on and he talked about the events, he became a little flustered and began asking a lot of questions, instead of telling everyone the purpose of the meeting and what the plans for the weekend was. 

It’s important to grab people’s attention and keep them focused on the purpose of the meeting. Asking questions is a good idea, when it’s the right time, but sometimes its important to have an outline, with times and contact information, etc., and then open up the floor for questions after you deliver what is planned on being said.

Giving a speech is important, and I believe that if the event manager was a bit prepared, the speech would have been more effective and presented more clearly. 

By mandybowling

A Class about Delivery Methods

By Jazzmine Davis

In chapter four of Management Communication a Case Analysis Approach, James O’Rourke explains that speaking in front of an audience is the number one answer of “worst human fears.” He furthers the chapter giving readers the detailed guide on how to prepare a successful management speech, including a section that describes the different approaches to speech delivery. There are four types, including memorized, manuscript, extemporaneous, and impromptu delivery methods.

This is not the first time I have encountered these delivery methods. A required college course usually taken your freshman or sophomore year, “Speech 101” at Stephen F. Austin State University, has a curriculum centered on public speaking and the types of speeches a speaker can deliver. The plan for the class is to first learn about each speech, and gradually deliver that type of speech to our class audience as time elapses.

We were first taught the characteristics of memorized and manuscript types of speeches, which entails word-for-word verbatim delivery of the speech. The book explains that memorized speeches should give the impression that the speaker has the whole speech embedded in their brain, but our professor let us read off the paper! It was easy and everyone begin the class with an A average.

As the semester passes, things began to get a little rough, and now we could decipher between the people who have a fear of public speaking from the students that will breeze through the course with no problems. We were taught lessons over impromptu and extemporaneous speeches and were assigned the task of delivering speeches with these two different approaches. Extemporaneous speeches require the speaker to have prepared extensive research and deliver the message without note cards or visual aids to prompt the speaker’s memory. Also, Impromptu speeches are not rehearsed, and the speaker must go off-the-top about a topic matter. The day came when presentations were delivered, and some of my classmates were nervous, jittery, and not prepared for their speeches. The nervous speakers were called to the podium, and you could tell who got points deducted because my professor was not good at concealing her facial expressions!

This just goes to show that it is a great opportunity to be taught the way to give a speech, how to be successful, and actually be able to practice speeches before being put into a career/position where this skill is required and professionally used. I am so glad that our curriculum adds this essential skill to our degree plans to ensure that students will be able to know where they stand on delivering speeches and how improve over time. Public speaking is not an easy task, and should be practiced to improve the delivery of what the speaker is trying to discuss to an audience.

By mandybowling

Organize It!

by Nathan Beavers

In Chapter Four, O’Rourke focuses on how best to give a successful management speech. The best way to do so, he says, is to develop a strategy to give the speech. This ranges from getting to know your audience, determining the reason for giving the speech, knowing what people would listen, supporting you ideas with credible evidence and rehearsing the speech. Perhaps the most important, I believe, is organizing your ideas. O’Rourke gives great detail on how to organize a speech. Starting with the introduction, the structure of the speech, advice on how to give the speech, and how the speech should conclude. Organizing not only helps with ideas for speeches, but also in many other facets of life.

 

            One of my hobbies is writing. I enjoy trying to come up with characters who seem more life real people than just caricatures of real people, putting together a plot that makes sense with those characters and coming to an organic conclusion that the plot and characters can support without feeling forced or wrong for them. I’ve found the best way to do all of this, is to sit down and figure out who the characters are and what their motivations are before I begin to write and let everything flow through there. However, for everything to work, you have to know the details of the major points. Why is this person doing this? What is the central conflict and how did it come about? Who will be the main character and what will their journey be about? The absolute best way to do this, in my opinion, is to sit down and organize everything you know about the major points of the story beforehand.

 

            Like I’ve said, I believe that the most key piece of developing a strategy would be to develop and organize your thoughts. You know what you are going to say, but to effectively say something, you must put it together in a way that saying what you want to will most come across exactly as you planned and keep your audience’s attention at the same time. An organized and well thought-out speech, or anything else in life, has a better shot at being successful than something that is disorganized and poorly planned

By mandybowling

Talk That Talk

By Jazzmine Davis

James O’Rourke, the author of Management Communication: A Case-Analysis Approach, vindicates how important communicating to employees can be to allow growth into superior management. According to Chapter one, 75 percent of the time management spends at work includes verbal interaction with personnel and others—inside and outside of the organization. Communication to others by managers includes individual, small group, and large audience conversations. I have worked for many retail stores, including Payless, Marshalls, DSW, and New York & Company. It’s a typical observation that every store has sales goals, changes in store promotions, and information from district managers that are important and call for discussions during daily floor meetings.  A floor meeting is done typically on the sales floor before opening, and is a quick way to let all associates know what is happening–that particular day or week. Presentations to a small group can be effective for explaining organizational goals, communicating information passed down from executives, and any store policy revisions that may need to be explained.

Many of my managers at these retailers have been awful at making these meetings enjoyable. Most of them are not very motivating in getting the employees excited about working towards a goal and employees become stressed if they know that the goal may not be attainable. My previous supervisors had a way of micro-managing everyone and never giving us any space to learn from our mistakes. In spite of all the horrible management I have seen over the years, my manager from New York & Company was awesome. She possessed a great management style, giving every employee opportunity and wanting to see us excel at our position. She had the perfect way of dealing with boring floor meetings that inspired her employees want to work hard at the goals assigned. She usually started off the meeting with a quote or funny joke, loosening the mood of dreaded early morning shifts. She voiced the goals and opened the floor for feedback. We usually expressed our ideas to go above and beyond the required goal. She always ended with “Do you guys have any questions for me?” This small dose of enthusiasm from her gave everyone a little push to work harder as a team, not just workers coming in to slave for minimum wage.

I found an article, How To Speak In Public To a Group, written by F. John Reh, which gives points to help you do better at presenting information and improve conversation amongst others. A few pointers include smiling to make your audience respond more positively, use appropriate humor at the beginning of your speech, and share your enthusiasm about the topics presented.

This is a great example of management’s ability to present to small group, as stated in the text. Our book has discussed that a manager must effectively be able pass information to an audiences big or small. My manager was able to depict the perfect style to present information to a small group, and others could use her knowledge to better themselves.

By mandybowling

Is it a Crisis or Just a Problem? By Mandy Bowling

After reading chapter 3 of Management Communication: A Case-Analysis Approach, the section, Crisis Communication really caught my attention. I love studying and working with crisis communications because of the amount of things you learn and can take from it. After O’Rourke gives examples and events that represent a crisis, he continues into the next part of the section drawing a line between business problems and a genuine problem. On page 32, according to author Lawrence Barton defined “problems” being a commonplace in business…. a crisis is a major, unpredictable event that has potentially negative results.” The entire section on defining a crisis is very interesting. What makes an “event” a problem or a crisis? I believe that any type of crisis, can be one thing to one person and one thing to another. That is what is so fascinating about crisis communication because of all the definitions we see and read about, a crisis is different to everyone, the we we handle and communicate during the crisis, or “problem”, is what is important to focus on.

I work for SFA athletics and have for a few years. I see things every day get changed last minute putting employees in a bind and sometimes “problems”. Just recently, I was dealing with putting the football media guide together. Part of my job is getting the advertisements from companies around the east Texas area to be sponsors for the football team this year. This was my first year doing it, so I was a little freaked out and it was quite a bit of pressure, because the design and the advertisements that year rested on my shoulder. Ads were sent it along with the money and it was my job to send them to the right people and get it all done the correct way.

Sounds pretty simple right? The last day of submitting the ads to the printer didn’t come soon enough. I thought everything was great! I got the correct ads in the correct places and once it was all submitted, there was an extreme stress load off my back. That was until about a week ago when I got a call from a local business telling me their ad was last years ad, not the one they submitted for this year. To everyone else in the office, this was a commonplace problem. To me, being it was my first time doing this and it was printed wrong, it was a little bit of a crisis. It was my only mistake I made with that program, and working as hard as I did on it, it was a crisis for me to see it messed up. Why was it a crisis? Aside from the hard work put into it, I had to, and still am, scramming around looking for ways to fix it because it is on a non-printable page. I have been looking at places stickers on top of it, seeing how much it would take to re-do the whole program. This may sound like a stupid thing to most people, but we have a reputation to keep up with our sponsors and a mess up can cause it to be affected. One of my bosses told me that everything was going to be okay, and I could see to them that this was just a “problem”. The most important thing that came out of this though, is that it forced me to confront and communicate with the sponsor about the mess up, talk with my bosses and learn how to prevent this next time; double checking MULTIPLE times.

This example of crisis communication because it focused on how Barton defined a crisis and how my example was a good one on seeing something as a crisis from my view, while someone else saw it just as a commonplace problem, but at the end of the day we all handled it the same way.

Crisis happen everyday and aren’t planned; just like a problem. We run into them everyday in different times. It could be work, family, relationship, with a random person on the street, etc. The most important that we learn from this chapter and this class, is the way we deal and communicate with it. How we can prepare for a crisis or a problem and how to handle them when they happen.

By mandybowling

Computer Networks and Efficient Communication

The Importance of Computer Networks In Efficient Communication

 

by Justin Bigger

 

 

In Chapter 2 of Management Communication: A Case-Analysis Approach, O’Rourke speaks on the informational roles that managers play and comments that many managers are now being asked to decide whether others within the organization, as well as others who are outside of the organization should have direct access to pertinent information twenty-four hours a day. While the full nature of this question is beyond the scope of this blog entry, it’s important to note how the lack of access to information can impede the flow of work within the organization and lead to redundancies and wasted time.

 

A friend of mine was recently hired by a land and forest management firm to implement a GIS network to aid in the dissemination of geographical and spatial information to its employees and clients. The first thing he noticed while interviewing for the job was the lack of 21st century standards in telecommunications and information technology. He described the owner of the company to me as very “old school” in his approach to business, preferring hand shakes over contracts, and preferring centralized access to information that is disseminated on a need-to-know basis. Nothing about this business could be characterized as modern. There are only a few computers in the entire building, and these computers are not networked to one another for easy sharing of data and information. My friend called me after he was hired and immediately started asking me questions about setting up a basic network, as he knows I have some experience with computer networking. To say the least he was overwhelmed by the daunting task that was in front of him.

 

Before doing the job he was being paid to do, he first had to somewhat modernize the operations of this business. The information that employees needed to do their jobs was all located in a series of filing cabinets in the manager’s office. While pulling through these files to organize them, my friend noticed some files that were over a decade old mixed in with updated information. An employee looking to find information about a particular client could reasonably be presented with outdated information, simply because the old files were never discarded, a problem that wouldn’t occur if the information was stored digitally. The biggest shock came when an employee came in while my friend was sorting through all these files, and remarked that it occasionally took her over half an hour to find the right piece of information she needed when dealing with a client. If the business had a reasonable network, this could be accomplished with a few mouse clicks.

 

Regardless of how you feel about informational transparency, it’s impossible to ignore the wasted time and redundancy of information that occurs without a functioning computer network. Everyone that needs to have access to information should all have access to the same information, and they should be confident that the information is current and up-to-date. Any business that does not utilize the most basic of computer networks is operating under a serious disadvantage in the 21st century.

 

By mandybowling

A Notice: How Not to Communicate Ethically

Ethics in Communication

by Nathan Beavers

Chapter 3 of Management Communications: A Case Analysis Approach deals with Communication Ethics. It is analyzed by the various levels of people communication could affect, the views on how to make a decision from communication, the nature of moral judgment and many other topics dealing with how ethics an important part of managerial communication, rather it be from employers to employees, employees to employers, or peers to peers in an organization.

While working for Kroger, a grocery store, I have been subjected to a lack of ethics in communication, or just a lack of ethics overall, for some time. The most telling incident happened a few years ago. There is a policy that allows an employee to clock in and out seven minutes before or after your shift ends or begins. This allowed for workers to arrive “late” and leave “early” according to management, which they deemed time theft. During the holidays they would particularly try to drive this point home, requiring us to review our hours and signing for our paychecks to acknowledge we understood we had unaccounted for time. However, these did not dissuade anyone. This finally stopped for a few weeks. Eventually, they called up the most egregious offenders of their policy. Management explained to them that because of their time theft under the new policy, they would have disciplinary action brought against them and be on probation for the next six months. No one had heard of the new policy and pointed this out. Management said they had posted it in the break room on the bulletin board. Everyone accepted the punishment reluctantly. It was then that most found out that a notice had been put on the bulletin board, behind three other older notices.

Admittedly, the time theft should not have continued, but if there is a loophole in the system that benefits someone, odds are good that they will take advantage of the loophole. That does not make it right or wrong. The real issue here was management. I believe they were not even close to being ethical when they put a notice on change in policy behind several other notices. They failed to make a moral decision. Moral leadership would not have “trapped” employees when not making a policy change, and in doing so proved that they could not act ethically or make ethical decisions.

By mandybowling