April 6, 2011

Diamonds in the Data Mine and Rewarding Our People

Posted in BADM 720 tagged , , , , , , , at 8:29 pm by Sarah

These two readings describe two great programs used by Harrah’s CEO Gary Loveman to put the company at the top of the industry.  “Daimonds” focuses on the use of collected customer data to create the perfect customer loyalty program, while “Rewarding” is all about the collective bonuses used to reward improving customer service ratings.

The loyalty card program that Harrah’s used to collect information about customers is, of course, brilliant.  The tiered levels of customer rewards appeals to the customers’ sense of achievement, while every use of the card gathers data about customer preferences, all in one sleek technology.  The system is simple and streamlined, and it practically improves itself by telling the marketing department which incentives will be most effective.  I just have to wonder what customers would say if they knew their gambling habits were being recorded for the purpose of the company being better able to relieve them of their cash.

The other reading paints a clear picture of how the company lived up to its desire to be the pinnacle of customer service in their
industry.  While I personally dislike filling out those annoying customer surveys, there really is no better way to find out what customers want than to ask them.  It gives the business an objective, measurable way to examine how their services are being received.

Finally, the collective bonus system had its pros and cons.  Giving the same bonus to the entire department gives the team a common goal and promotes working together to achieve it.  Basing the bonus entirely on customer service scores ensures that employees will be focused entirely on improving that score.  On the other hand, one employee providing bad service can bring down the entire team.  The bonus itself is not that much, but it is a good gesture to show that the company is committed to recognizing employees’ hard work.

March 24, 2011

HCL Technologies

Posted in BADM 720 tagged , , , at 10:54 am by Sarah

This reading about HCL Technologies was focused on the difficulties with instituting change in a big company.  I thought HCL’s new president went about it in a very smart way, particularly when he traveled to the company’s branches around the world and got everyone involved, right down to the entry-level employees.  This was a huge project, but absolutely necessary for any real change.  The company had to be completely saturated with the new ideas, or else there would always be something holding them back.  (It would have been much easier to build the company in this way from the very beginning, like Southwest Airlines.)

Whenever a company says that they put their employees first, it is always interesting to see whether that will actually happen.  I may be a cynic, but it seems to me that in the vast majority of cases, this claim is empty rhetoric designed to make employees think they are being rewarded for their hard work.  The same goes for companies that claim to put customers first.  They only say that in the attempt to get more people in the door, and thus more revenue.  This reading did a poor job of showing how HCL put their employees first, but they must have done something right if their improvement in the market was enough to draw the authors’ attention.

I think the best part about HCL’s strategy is when the upper managers decide to post their 360 reviews for the entire company to see.  This kind of transparency is great, as long as it is accompanied by transparency of everything else going on in the upper levels of the company.  As an employee I would want to see the status of every decision that could affect my job, and I would want to see how the management collaborates with the people who will have to bear the consequences of those decisions.  Most companies simply hand their decrees down from on high, and I don’t think it’s out of line for employees (and consumers, for that matter) to demand better.

February 23, 2011

Specialty Medical Chemicals

Posted in BADM 720 tagged , , , , at 8:41 pm by Sarah

Last week we read about a company that was built from the ground up in a unique way.  This week’s reading is about an executive who was put in charge of an existing company and all its existing management issues.  I hate to keep comparing my own workplace to our many examples of what not to do, but I find once again that I see many of the same issues above me at work.  I look at our middle management and see managers who are in direct competition for attention and resources, not coming together as a cohesive leadership team.  Most of my peers have very little idea of what other teams in the company do, and it is easy to lose sight of the big picture.  Our review system is vague and not constructive.

I think it’s kind of a shame that the managers in the reading seemed to be biased against the new CEO before he even arrived.  I understand that it can be difficult to be open-minded when the departing leader has been doing things a certain way for a long time and you have no idea what a new leader will be like.  But I would think that high level managers in a big company would have learned at some point in their careers how to quickly get on good terms with the person they report to, at least on a professional level, if not a personal level.  To show disapproval like these managers did set them up for failure right from the start.

Bringing in an outside opinion to help with personnel problems is an interesting idea.  On one hand, a manager in a CEO position should ideally already know his own strengths and weaknesses and be able to determine the same in his direct reports.  On the other hand, the professional outsider was able to pin down traits in the CEO that he was not aware of himself, as well as traits in the rest of the leadership team that had not shown through to him because of his position.  No matter how this information is gathered, it is crucial to understand employees’ personalities if you are going to understand how they work together and how you can move them around to influence that working relationship.