Solving the issue of poor performance in a large service organisation

If a Hospital is to optimise/improve the performance of their emergency waiting times, we have two approaches to solving the problem:

Option A – Monitor the patient numbers, bed numbers and availability of resources as well as waiting and treatment times.

Option B – Speak to the hospital staff – Doctors, Ambulence crew, Nurses etc. to gather their views on what are the areas that need improvement.

Buchanan and Huczynski (2010) challenge us to ask “why?” and tell us how difficult it is to have a single correct answer; I’d like to pose the same thinking pattern to this situation and not choose a single correct method for solving this solution.

As discussed by Buchanan and Huczynski (2010) throughout the first chapter, we should not expect an organisation to be bound by the rules of natural sciences; looking at just the numbers as proposed by the first group would give us good measurements and accurate figures on how things should be working – where the problems lie – but, if we are running a hospital inundated by overworked, underpaid emergency room doctors, nurses and orderlies then simply adding more beds and more underpaid employees will not necessarily solve our problem.

I am inclined to think that option B (speaking to the employees) would provide an answer to option A but it is not safe to assume based on the opinions of others only so I do believe that the numbers must also be produced. An article by Ference (2001) on Improving Organizational Performance illustrates a trademarked process used by a Casino in Las Vegas which is survey based to produce what they call a “Service-Culture Map” which focuses on “employee satisfaction, commitment, and customer responsiveness as the keys to a strong return on owner investment”. It might be considered “cold” to compare a hospital to a casino but I think that the same rules could quite well apply which would, in-turn, support option B’s approach.

The case study in the paper by Ference (2001) talks about cross-functional meetings, and I believe that this is something that would also support option B – issues may lie with miscommunication between doctors and nurses, without conducting an equal-opportunity meeting between the two parties the problem may never be solved.

To conclude it may seem like I have strayed more towards group B, while I am more inclined towards that approach, the problem could simply lie in the number of beds available or the efficacy of the booking system. Perhaps an approach of using option B to narrow down areas of concern and option A to back up where necessary the problem could be solved or improved.

References

Buchanan, A. & Huczynski, A. (2010) Organizational Behavior. 7th Edition. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Ference, G (2001). Improving Organizational Performance [Online]. Available from: http://www.hvs.com/emails/newsletters/ference/Cornell-Q.article.pdf (Accessed: 6 February 2011).

How can IT enhance a Managers Function, Role and Skill?

Managers have many functions, roles and skills, below I will illustrate one of each and how IT is able to improve performance in each of these examples.

  • FUNCTION – Manage Time and Resources Efficiently

As described by Management-Hub.com (n.d.), and as we all know well, time is “precious and vital”. A manager needs to manage his/her time well between his/her team and superiors as well as his/her time spent on organisational goals that require his/her personal capacity and skills.

I.T has introduced calendar software, such as Google’s Calendar (www.google.com/calendar) that is able to send SMS (text), E-Mail and Pop-up (if the calendar happens to be open) alerts to users on their cellular phone, laptop, computer or land line (depending on the carriers ability to read and/or receive text messages). Assuming that the manager will have with him at least one network enabled or communication enabled device at all times (which I think is a fairly safe assumption) this allows him/her to be constantly reminded of his appointments.

  • ROLE – Intermediary between employee groups and top management

About-Personal-Growth.com (n.d.) describes a manager as the “middle person in between top management level and the team that reports to him”. As most organisations are hierarchical, as well as the requirement for efficiency, managers are usually the liaison between upper management and regular employees. Due to the sheer size of certain organisations it would be difficult for a manager to keep track of exact discrepancies, complaints, issues, performance reviews and other requests from either party. I.T has brought with it the ability to track accountability and exact details of communications with tools as basic as E-mail. A manager will be able to refer to messages from management/employees directly when addressing issues with either party without missing any details.

  • SKILL – Good Planning

This is, in my opinion, one of the most important skills a manager requires – some may perhaps think more when referring to a project manager but I do think it’s equally important in all areas of management. Without organised planning the manager is unable to assess progress on achieving organisational goals. As About-Personal-Growth.com points out, “having goals and planning out the directions allow for effective time management and saves cost and resources”.

Planning also ties up with adaptability to change, both positive and negative. I think this would tie in with Buchanan and Huczynski‘s (2010, p.52) quotation of Ansoff in which Ansoff states that managers who are unable to develop an entrepreneurial way of thinking “must be replaced”.

References

About-Personal-Growth.com (n.d.) Managers – Roles and Responsibilities [Online]. Available from: http://www.about-personal-growth.com/managers.html (Accessed: 6 February 2011).

Buchanan, A. & Huczynski, A. (2010) Organizational Behavior. 7th Edition. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Management-Hub.com (n.d.) Roles & Responsibilities of a Manager in an Organization [Online]. Available from: http://www.management-hub.com/hr-manager-roles.html (Accessed: 6 February 2011).

 

Which is the worst communication channel for spam?

I believe that junk SMS/MMS messages are the worst kind of electronic communication. While there are many anti-SPAM laws, it is evident that, in South Africa at least, SMS spam is not taken incredibly seriously. Over the past few years with the laws being passed against unsolicited communications, I have seen increased occurrences of “reply NO” or “reply STOP” to opt-out of the SMS spam that I receive.

The issue I have with SMS/MMS spam is that there are poor protective measures against it when compared to the e-mail spam filters of today. Generally, I consider SMS messages on a more personal level than e-mail’s and if someone is sending me an SMS it is usually more personal than receiving an e-mail. I have found an article on IT News Africa (2008) stating that our third mobile operator in South Africa implemented an SMS anti-spam platform, though I am not a user of this network personally, I have not heard of any praise about this anti-spam platform (I had no idea it even existed until today), which does not restore any faith in the progress of the situation due to it only becoming worse over the past few years.

Another issue that I have is that to opt out of these messages you need to send an SMS, while it is an small cost per SMS, you should not have to pay to remove yourself from SPAM.

AMEinfo.com (2006) has an article on the United Arab Emirates mobile network Etisalat who launched a service where any subscriber can SMS a single number, free of charge, with the content providers name or short code to unsubscribe from the service. All SMS’s are routed via the same system which handles the unsubscriptions and bars any SMS’s to unsubscribed users.

I have not received any junk faxes before, but I would be far more accepting of these over cold calling due to faxes not requiring as much attention, and due to telephone calls requiring myself to stop what I am doing and speak to someone.

Regarding the web advertising, I am not bothered by on-screen advertising as I do understand the economics behind it and that websites do need revenue to run. Before the advent of pop-up blockers I did think that pop-up/under ads were incredibly annoying but these have been almost completely eradicated from my browsing experience due to the browsers built in popup blockers. The most annoying web-ad currently, in my opinion, are the full page ads that are shown prior to the webpage you are requesting, along with the in-text ads that tend to catch your mouse-click even without the intention of clicking on them due to their triggering on mouse hover.

A company called Tatango has produced an interesting infographic based on statistics of SMS Spam in the US

Text Message Marketing by Tatango.

References

AMEinfo.com (2006) Etisalat introduces SMS anti-spam service [Online]. Available from: http://www.ameinfo.com/78757.html (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

IT News Africa (2008) South Africa’s Cell C gets SMS Anti-Spam Platform [Online]. Available from: http://www.itnewsafrica.com/?p=1763 (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Electronic Bullying or Freedom of Speech?

Raskauskas (2007) mentions that with the advent of the Internet and the increasing availability thereof, has come a new form of bullying involving text messages, web sites, emails and instant messaging. Raskauskas’s study is researching two sides of the electronic bullying demographic which I think are both quite feasible. The first being that the likelihood of a real life bully becoming an electronic bully is quite high, but secondly that the victims of bullying could turn to electronics to become bullies themselves due to the anonymity. I think this is entirely likely, anyone who has spent time on the internet during their youth, in chat rooms more than likely, have come across the typical cyber bully, using their authority (access level/user rights) to persecute other users.

As far as responsibilities go, it is my personal belief that (in the case of students) it is both the school and the parents who should be intervening and trying to control the situation. Stavros and Androniki (2010) mention that schools should involve the entire faculty along with the students in producing a policy against cyber bullying, that cell phone use should be prohibited in school and punishments should be clearly defined and explained to all parties. They also mention that all students and parents should sign and accept the policy on cyber-bullying in schools, I believe this will increase accountability and make the seriousness of the situation more accepted instead of it being looked at as a trivial or perhaps humorous act.

Greg (2009) has written a blog post on a student who made a YouTube defamatory video about another student. The student was suspended from school for two days. A judge ruled that the school had no right to suspend the child from school as it did not cause any disruption of the school’s activities. The judge wrote that “The court cannot uphold school discipline of student speech simply because young persons are unpredictable or immature”. In Greg’s article he describes the freedom of speech as a rule to protect bullies, while this is probably not the case, there does rein some truth.

Masnick (2010) has a similar article on cyber bullying regarding comments made against a student on his website. In this story the California court said that the online bullying was not protected free speech. This shows that there are still some issues to be revisited when it comes to free speech laws, clearly, is has been a difficult task due to differing opinions of hate speech and arguments against freedom of speech.

I don’t believe that electronic bullying in the workplace falls far from school bullying. Morrall and Urquhart (2004) write that harassment, whether in or out of the workplace is punishable by law. Under the UK Public Order Act of 1986 “a criminal offence is committed where a person intentionally harasses another by using threatening or abusive language, whether orally or in writing, which causes another person harassment, alarm or distress”.

 

References

Greg (2009) Freedom of Speech vs. Bullying [Online]. Available from: http://gdtk.blogspot.com/2009/12/freedom-of-speech-vs-bullying.html (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Masnick, M (2010) California Court Says Online Bullying Is Not Protected Free Speech [Online]. Available from: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100319/0503118631.shtml (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Morrall, S & Urquhart, C (2004) ‘Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace’ Legal Information Management; Autumn 2004, 4 (3), pp.164-167, EBSCO [Online]. Available from: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=251335 (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Raskauskas, J (2007) ‘Involvement in traditional and electronic bullying among adolescents’ Developmental Psychology, 43 (3), pp.564-575, EBSCO [Online]. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pdh&AN=dev-43-3-564&site=eds-live&scope=site (Accessed: 26 December 2010).

Stavros, K & Androniki K (2010) ‘Cyberbullying: A Review of the Literature on Harrassment Through the Internet and Other Electronic Means’ Family & Community Health, 33 (2), OvidSP [Online]. Available from: http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.2.4a/ovidweb.cgi?&S=NPFHFPALDODDIOFNNCCLBAOBLIGAAA00&WebLinkReturn=Full+Text%3dL%7cS.sh.15.17%7c0%7c00003727-201004000-00003&PDFLink=FPDDNCOBBAFNDO00%7c%2ffs047%2fovft%2flive%2fgv024%2f00003727%2f00003727-201004000-00003&PDFTitle=Cyberbullying%3a+A+Review+of+the+Literature+on+Harassment+Through+the+Internet+and+Other+Electronic+Means.& (Accessed: 26 December 2010).