Research Paper: Developing Skills for Business Leadership

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¶ … Skills for Business Leadership

Executive Memorandum dated July 24, 2013

This memorandum describes the significance of the project, the nature of the topic addressed and the importance of the project.

This chapter provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature concerning tools and techniques used to practitioners to understand how systems operate and what can be done to improve performance.

This chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the potential factors that could be contributing to the problems that are being experienced by the two struggling team leaders at Sapphire.

This chapter provides a summary of the research and salient recommendations for the team leaders and management at Sapphire Department Stores.

Sapphire Department Stores

"The leading name in quality for more than a century"

Memorandum

July 24, 2013

Senior Management Team

Manager, Business Unit No.

SUBJECT:

Improving relationships and managerial communications

Nature of the Topic

Major department store retailers such as Walmart and Target have been faced with some significant challenges in an increasingly competitive and globalized operating environment in recent years. At the same time, innovations in transportation and telecommunications have redefined the marketplace itself, and growing numbers of consumers are electing to do most of their department store purchases online. These trends have also been matched by a proliferation of social media networks such as MySpace and Facebook that are also redefining marketing best practices. In this environment, it is not surprising that some organizational leaders have failed to maintain pace with these changes, and this is the certainly the case with Sapphire department store's two troubled team leaders.

Significance of the Project. With more than 200 business units and a workforce of 6,500 from 40 different countries, Sapphire is well positioned to model the way in developing ways to improve employee relationships and managerial communications with a diverse workforce.

Nature of the Project. This study analyses the relationship and communications problems Sapphire has been experiencing in one business unit with 30 full- and part-time employees. Following a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature concerning these issues, the study presents a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Importance of the Project. A growing body of evidence confirms that motivated workers are vitally important and even critical for companies to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage in an increasingly globalized marketplace. As workers are increasingly involved in complex knowledge processing activities, they have developed new skill sets and management practices that defy traditional motivational approaches (Kumar 2011). In this regard, Jamrog (2006, p. 26) emphasizes that, "The combination of job dissatisfaction and demographic trends that predict labor shortages, skill deficits, and fewer workers has all the elements for dramatic changes in the way work is performed, who performs it and where, and the skill sets needed."

Literature Review

Tools and Techniques

Fishbone analysis. Fishbone diagrams (so termed because they resemble the skeleton of a fish -- see Figure 1 below) have been used to good effect wherein decision-makers must take into account a number of hypotheses and perform a number of tests in order to identify the problem (McGraw & Harbison 1999).

Figure 1. Representative Fishbone Diagram

Source: http://www.mycoted.com/mwiki/images/3/3b/Fishbone.gif

According to McGraw and Harbison (1999, p. 292), "When creating these diagrams, analysts should represent the more common hypotheses near the 'head; of the diagram, and uncommon or frequently selected hypotheses near the 'tail.'" to date, "fishbone analyses" have been used for a wide range of applications, including the evaluation of healthcare services and human resources management (Parayitam & Desai 2009).

Root cause. According to Middleton and Walker (2005, p. 37), a root cause analysis "is a systematic method of analysing a specific adverse event to determine what happened, why it happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again." A root cause analysis is an essential tool for evaluating human resource issues and provides a measure of how well participants understand and comprehend their company's policies and procedures (Schafer 2012).

Skinner's behavior reinforcement theory

According to Todd and Morris (1999, p. 4), "Reinforcement theory is sometimes called 'behavior theory,' 'learning theory,' and 'operational behaviorism,' among other things. It has come to deal with a great deal more than a few experiments on dogs in a frame or rats in a box." During his experimentation, Skinner found that both positive and negative reinforcements can affect behavior, sometimes in truly powerful ways (Todd & Morris 1999). Reinforcement theory is especially salient with respect to employee motivation. In this regard, Luthans (2000) reports that, "A primary activity of any type of leader involves motivating and reinforcing others to encourage superior performance. Put in another way, theories of motivation encourage leaders to tie important outcomes to desired behaviors." Therefore, when team leaders apply reinforcement theory, it is with a singular goal in mind: "To sustain motivation, leaders must demonstrate to employees a close link between performance and rewards" (Luthans 2000, p. 31).

Belbin team roles

During a 7-year period, Belbin and his associates studied more than 120 management teams taking part in competitive business simulations (Biech 2001). An enormous amount of observational data was compiled during these simulations, including a wide range of recorded contributions from various team members (Biech 2001). Based on these observations, Belbin's researchers identified several team-role patterns. According to Biech (2001, p. 87) "It became obvious that each team member had a preferred or natural role, a secondary role (one that he or she was able to assume when necessary), and least-preferred/best-avoided roles." Belbin's original observational studies resulted in eight different team roles, and a ninth role was later identified as well (Biech 2001). All nine roles are regarded as being important to team performance and are described further in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Nine Team Roles Identified by Belbin

Role

Description

Plant

Devises creative solutions to problems.

Coordinator

Interprets objectives, encourages decisions, facilitates appropriate resources.

Resource investigator

Finds useful contacts and resources outside the team.

Monitor evaluator

Discerns opinions, makes insightful judgments.

Implementer

Translates ideas into action and organizes the process.

Team worker

Resolves disagreements; concentrates on diplomacy.

Completer-finisher

Fixes errors; ensures work is complete; meets deadlines.

Specialist

Offers knowledge or skills that others may not have.

Shaper

Challenges others to overcome difficulties.

Source: Adapted from Biech (2001)

The nine team roles described in Table 1 are not necessarily static, and team members may perform different roles at different times. Developing balanced roles within a team serves three valuable purposes:

1. It increases the likelihood of positive contributions from individual members,

2. It decreases the likelihood of destructive conflict among members, and

3. It enhances the team's ability to adapt to changing and unpredictable circumstances (Biech 2001).

Cornell's talent management matrix

The talent management matrix developed by Cornell is set forth in Table 2 below.

Table 2

Cornell's talent management matrix

May be new in job. May be in the wrong job/wrong manager.

Action: Give time for development or needs intervention.

Valued talent, capacity for advancement after further potential has been realized.

Action: Look for opportunities for growth and new experiences.

Capacity for immediate advancement. Potential for senior succession.

Action: Look for opportunities to promote. Give top level assignments. Partner with executives. Reward and recognize.

May be new in job or organization. May have lost pace with the changes in the organization.

Action: Continue orientation. Give time for development. Challenge with clear expectations.

Steady and dependable performers, but capable of more. May not understand changes in the organization.

Action: Challenge, allow opportunities for growth and new experiences.

Capacity for immediate, one level advancement. Consider best track -- Individual contributor, project manager, or general manager.

Action: Look for opportunities to expand role and challenge, reward and recognize. Engage in decision making.

Has reached job potential and is underperforming.

Action: Manage performance, set clear improvement plan, or exit organization.

Steady and dependable and have reached career potential.

Action: Engage, challenge, focus and motivate.

Excellent performer; has reached career potential.

Action: Engage in training others. Challenge, reward and recognize.

Source: Cornell Talent Management Mix (2013) at https://www.hr.cornell.edu/life / career/talent_management_matrix.pdf

Continuing professional development by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has more than 135,000 members and is the world's largest chartered human resource and development professional organization (CIPD 2013). The human resources qualifications offered by CIPD are provided in the United Kingdom, Ireland and internationally by universities, colleges and training providers (CIPD 2013). More than 12,000 professionals complete CIPD programs each year to develop their knowledge of human resources best practices (CIPD 2013). In addition, CIPD offers continuing education courses in Business, Leadership and Management Skills as well as Personal Effectiveness and Behavioral Skills (CIPD 2013).

Participative Management Technique

As the term implies, participative management provides employees with the opportunity to take part in the management process (Tsiganou 1999). Although participative management techniques have been used in the United States, Japan, Sweden and Norway with positive results in the past, Tsiganou (1999, p. 123) emphasize that, "Participation schemes in the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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