Management 306

Week 05

Welcome back to Management 306. This is the lecture for the writing workshop assignment. So, the lecture itself will address how you should approach the assignment. And again, I remind you as I said in the previous lecture, there are samples on the website for you to look at. You're free to imitate the samples, but you cannot copy them, you cannot use the exact words from previous classmates who have done a good job on this assignment, but you certainly can look at them and see what they've done and use them as a model for putting into your own words your answer to this assignment. So, the writing workshop reads very simply, "After an embarrassing sign incident at the restaurant you own, you decide to offer employees a six week fundamental writing skills workshop. A local business communication instructor who has experience teaching writing skills at Tulane Community College will facilitate the sessions. To encourage employees to attend these optional sessions write a memo that explains why you're offering the workshop and why employees should participate." Now, that's the assignment instructions. Notice a couple things aren't there. For one thing there is no name for the restaurant you own, so you should come up with a name for the restaurant. There is no name for the business communication instructor and you're going to put in your memo this person, so you want to come up with a name and possibly some background. And also, what is there is that these are optional sessions and that is very important, that these are not required, these are optional. I'm going to address that in a little bit. Now, once again I have four aspects of this assignment that I want to point out to you to consider. Audience purpose, structure and style. And as I said in the previous lecture, you know, English teachers love to talk about audience purpose, audience purpose, because you really need to have a clear understanding of your audience and your purpose to effectively communicate. For under audience I say that remember your employees have other responsibilities, they may be students with classes and homework assignments or they may have a spouse and children or they may work another job. As you write your memo consider that your employees may not feel the workshop is personally worthwhile, but even if it is it may be difficult to attend. They consider that now the way to do this assignment effectively is to sort of imagine the situation. So consider that you are running a restaurant, this is the business situation and you have employees working there. You have your own personal goals, your personal desires, your personal, you know, life plans, if your employees have their individual goals and life plans and desires and so on, you — what you think is best for others may not always be what they think is best for themselves. So, keep that in mind. That your personal desire for your employees to become better writers may not always match up with their particular direction they want to go in life where they are. And that's the underlying assumption that you need to make sure that you understand that what you feel is value may not always be what other people is valuable. In addition to that, you have the very real problem of logistics. If you're going to schedule this writing workshop, how are you going to do it? You have employees who work shifts and after they leave their job with you, their restaurant job, they go somewhere else. What do they go do? Well, lots of things. People are generally tend to be pretty busy. They're not just, you know, hanging around. So, you have to consider how are you going to juggle the different shifts, the different times and places so that you can get everybody in the same place at the same time. Or are you? Well, perhaps you offer several different times during the week so that different shifts can make it. or, you know, because if you think about it, suppose you say, "Well, you know, we're closed on Sunday mornings, we don't have a Sunday morning brunch, that's not the kind of restaurant we are, so I'll just schedule everybody to come in on Sunday morning." Well, maybe they can't make it, maybe they have other responsibilities, maybe they have another job or they have family they need to be with, maybe somebody's caring for an aging, you know, young child or and can't get day care, or an aging parent and can't leave them. In other words — or they have classes and they can't just skip their classes. So, there's a lot — so you have to think about the sheer logistics of it. So you really have to keep in mind your audience and where he or she among your employees where they're coming from and if they're coming from a different place and they're going to a different place and they just happen to be working at your restaurant at this moment. So, think about that as you're constructing your answer. Now, for purpose you want to convince your employees to sign up for the workshop, the workshop is optional. If you make the workshop mandatory you are no longer persuading your employees, you're giving them an order. A challenge of the assignment is to find a way to persuade your employees to willingly participate. Anyone can give an order. An order doesn't take any particular skill. And in the business world you'll see plenty of people give plenty of orders. How affective are you as a manager if the only way you ever get your employees to do anything is to threaten them with firing if they don't do what you tell them. This is your job, do it or you're fired. That's an extremely ineffective way to accomplish anything. Yes, you can get people to do things under the fear of losing their paycheck, but it doesn't work very well and it certainly doesn't work for very long. And if you want employees to participate in this writing workshop and actually come there with an open mind, engaged and interested in learning something, that's absolutely not going to work. But what I want you to take away from this assignment is that it's easy to give somebody an order, it takes more skill, it takes more ability on your part to persuade them, to voluntarily participate and want to. Or at least feel that there is some benefit to doing this that you have persuaded, that you have convinced them this would be something that is worth their time. So, you have to make it so that they can get there. And then you also want to convince them why they should go. So, that is the challenge of this assignment occasionally somebody in the class, a student will decide to just change it to mandatory, because that's easy. Yeah, but that also takes away the whole challenge of the assignment and it also is not a very effective way to manage for very long at all. I had actually been, I have a corporate life background, you know, before I started teaching. I spent, you know, quite a few years. Not forever, I'm no t— I'm old, I'm not like a 1000 years old, but I spent quite a few years, you know, in corporate jobs and I saw all kind of different skill levels among management. Some managers were quite good and were able to effectively persuade, you know, people to accomplish things and generally had pretty good results from it. Other people were not. They lacked the interpersonal skills necessary and it definitely showed and definitely a lot more problems came out of that. So, you want to be on the side that's effective at persuading. Structure. Your memo will include both information and persuasion. The information should answer key questions such as, start and end dates, how long the sessions run, etc. Because those are the first questions that occur to your employees they should be answered first. Your persuasion should then follow. When deciding what to include in your persuasion consider incentives that your employees find valuable. Now, from my point of view as a reader, if I was simply going to read this, your memo, for the first time, the first thing that would go through my mind is, "When is it?" Because, you know, can I even, you know, whether — the decision of whether I want to go is actually secondary to can I even go. So you should address that in your memo. Don't launch into a long, you know, block of persuasive writing where you're trying to sell them on this idea, first just tell them when it is. So that way they can know if it's a problem or not or they'll be able to schedule. And if you've done your job in figuring out schedules and coordinating things, then it's very possible that everyone that reads it will be able to be there and then you address the second part, which is why they should go. But I would say structure this to provide that basic information, that key information first so that they just know when the sessions are, what days and times, how often and how long. And then get into selling it, then get into the persuasive part. Finally under style I say, "When writing to employees choose a style that matches your managerial style." Some managers communicate with employees very formally, others communicate informally, the key is to be an effective communicator. And that really goes to how you handle your employees. How do you talk to them? There's no right or wrong necessarily to style, there are simply different styles. Some styles are going to be more effective than others and some styles they can be a better match for the situation than others. That's really the essence of it. so, if you're — if you have a personally of someone who's just very sort of specific and formal and you like, you know, like certain ways of expressing to others to be very formalized and that's your approach, then by all means you don't need to change that style. Your goal — you can persuade somebody and still do it in a very formal style. If you have a very different style, if you're more informal, if you're more friendly or if — and I don't really mean to say formal cannot friendly, but if you're more say loose or relaxed, then by all means go with that style. The style itself simply needs to be a match of your managerial approach, but it shouldn't be out of sync for what you would normally do. So try to imagine, this is a business situation, so try to imagine you're the manager, you have hired these employees, you manage these employees, you know, day in and day out, it's your restaurant and try to imagine how do you communicate with them normally, you don't want to do something different in this particular memo, you want to do it the same way. But your goal is still to persuade. So whatever style works best for you and people are used to and respond to, stick with that, but your goal is to effectively convince or persuade them to sign up for this workshop. Now, I want to add one more thing. It falls really more into structure than it does in the style, because I've seen, you know, this assignment handled a number of times. What I've noticed is that different people come up with different incentives. Some seem more realistic, some seem less realistic, sort of hard to tell. Especially if you've never been a manager, it's hard to tell what might work. One sort of tip I can give you if you've lasted this long into my lecture, and you actually are still listening to me, I want to give you a tip for something that I have seen that has been particularly useful, which is an incentive of time. Time seems to be a pretty good incentive. So, you don't have to offer people, you know, a week off or whatever for coming to this workshop. What you can do is something simple, you can say, "For those who attend the workshop I will allow you to set your own schedule, you know, for the next month. Or you can pick the days. As long as we make sure there's full coverage, you will have some flexibility in creating your work schedule." You'd be surprised what an incentive that is. Having control over your time, having control over your life is highly valuable to many many people, including, you know, people who are coming to work at a restaurant and then if they leave their shift they go do other things. So, that is one suggestion for an incentive you can use. It doesn't cost the restaurant any money, it doesn't give the employees any money, but what it does do is give the employees probably something a little more valuable than the little bit of cash in their pocket, it gives them the ability to more effectively, you know, juggle the different things they're doing in their life. Okay? Thank you, enjoy the assignment.