I feel like I jumped the gun a little in previous journals when I seemed happy and confident with our ideas to win Mikes Bikes. I truly thought we had a chance, we seemed to have a cohesive and hard-working team where each person understood their own department and also (seemed to) understand the linkages between other departments and how this would affect our overall profitability and shareholder value. Now I’m not saying we have lost our work ethic in the few previous weeks, but definitely I feel like we have lost our cohesive flair towards the simulation.
Cohesiveness is a large part of the management process. Without an appropriate management strategy and style, understanding and cohesiveness is likely to lack. The “Three Skill Approach” mentioned within (Katz, 1955) brings into focus the importance of skill at a technical, human and conceptual level. The skill range within our team I feel might be a main source of issue when looking at our recent failures. I understand the term “failure” might be a little harsh as it has only been a couple of weeks of negative results, however those few weeks seem to have dragged on a lifetime. Technical skill looks at “specific kind of activity, particularly one involving methods, processes, procedures and techniques… specialized knowledge, analytical ability…” so simply put, technical skill is the skill towards a ‘thing’ or able to ‘use’ or ‘manipulate’ a thing. Was this the problem in recent weeks? Has there been a fall in the level of technical skill? Looking at technical skill individually I don’t feel like this is a major issue. Understandings of individual roles and departments still seem to be high and full commitment seems to still be in play when looking to develop these technical skills. I may be speaking for myself and my continued effort to grow my skill in the financial area, however I can’t seem to notice any other team members slacking off…
So if it isn’t the technical skill aspect that has changed could it be the human skill? “the ability to work effectively as a group member and to build cooperative effort within the team… aware of own attitudes, assumptions as well as understanding differences of viewpoints, perceptions of others…” (Katz 1995). This seems to be an issue. At the beginning of the simulation I felt we worked well together as a team and listened to each other’s ideas with not only greater enthusiasm but also with more of an open mind. In the last couple of weeks there has been a lot more disagreeing (which is fine because this can be beneficial in creating more accurate data entries) however I also feel there is a lack of empathy and understanding of other viewpoints and trains of thought. Within the group I feel there is a segregation of the end goal – or more how we are going to get to the end goal. The team is divided and a lot of chat this week was had around whether to release a new bike and the cost implications of this or to leave it off the market. Personally being the CFO I see money being a huge issue yet I didn’t feel like my point of money and how we didn’t have enough of it to introduce the new bike was felt across the team. This lead to the bike being released leading to flow on effects of increased costs on advertising, production, wages etc (Katz, 1955) which created an end result of not making a profit. This did come of no surprise to me as being the CFO I did some quick calculations and said we weren’t in a financial position to spend that much however I feel aspects of my technical skill was ignored due to holes in the human skill within the ‘company’.
With technical and human skill set aside, an evaluation of conceptual skill may also be necessary to help identify some managerial issues which have arisen in the last couple of years. Conceptual skill is “the ability to see the enterprise as a while, recognizing various functions and how they are dependent on one another…” yes. Problem solved? Coherency and cohesiveness. As explained above, I do feel there is a lack of understanding of flow on effects for other departments when certain decisions are made. More conceptual skill is about the understanding of the decisions than the listening of the people in departments (seen in human skill). Do we all have the same level of conceptual skill? Or do we have conflicting views in relation to conceptual skill? This comes down to our overall focus and strategy of the business (Katz, 1955). I feel this is also a massive issue. Our strategy and aims in recent weeks haven’t seemed to be clear and therefore figures are being produced in a reactive way to the week before as opposed to a proactive way aligning our decisions with our strategy and objectives.
So if we do have some managerial issues around the skills which have caused the collapse in recent weeks what can I do to help get my team out of the slump? Well firstly I think we need to get back to the first couple of weeks where we viewed each other as being on an equal playing field. No departments were above each other’s. This raises the issues of dominance and submissiveness. Recently I’m beginning to feel like some roles show a streak of dominance towards getting the final say even if they don’t have the technical or conceptual skill in order to make the most informed decision (Katz, 1955). I feel like a whole team discussion needs to be had around understanding and functionality around management issues and spend time on that for around 20 minutes instead of rushing to enter figures to help counteract our bad results. This might even be why the feeling of frustration is been rushing over me within the last couple of weeks. The lack of team spirit that was previously seen has disappeared and reactive responses have been dominant. I feel it’s more than the figures that are being entered. Sure they must be wrong and a little off the mark to produce the results, but the actual management and interactions between us must also be ‘off the mark’ to produce results that are far worse than what was seen at the start of the simulation.
Overall next week I plan on addressing the team about the lack of understanding into others viewpoints and the affects I feel this has caused. I feel this will be a hard task to achieve in a manner that avoids conflict. The last thing I want is some team members thinking I don’t agree with them or feel like they lack team co-operation. If conflict is created it will only further emphasize our management issues and no doubt make our results plummet even further. However as every team member (I hope) has done the readings for this week, I can only anticipate we all recognise similar issues and start the week on a fresh page and build our management skills upwards bringing our profitability with it. Business I am beginning to find is more about the skill and knowledge in a task. Business is also about the team work and how effective you communicate with those working around you. I’m slowly beginning to see why team work like that of Mikes Bikes is so dominant within the Business School – experience as well as knowledge.
Katz, R. L. (1955). Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard Business Review, 33(1), 33--42