How Whistleblowing Closed ITT Tech’s Doors

By : Tony Snider

ITT Technical Institution was a for-profit technical institute with 130 campuses nationwide.  This institution has recently closed all of its campuses as of September 6, 2016, and ITT Tech as a whole filed for bankruptcy on September 16, 2016.  The closing of this institution was long overdue, as ITT Tech had racked up many legal issues under their belt.  ITT Tech had been known for charging incredible prices for more than 20 years as it took millions in federal grant money, buried low-income and first-generations students in insurmountable debt, and evaded regulators since the early 1990’s, all while its CEO and other executives personally profited hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fraudulent service.  This institution would have continued to stay in business if it was not for former employee and whistleblower Dan Graves, who brought a lawsuit alleging that the company had systematically violated the law governing compensation of sales representatives over 17 years earlier (A Whistle Was Blown On ITT).

Whistleblowing is commonly defined as “revealing questionable organizational practices to an outside audience that can bring justice or increase awareness in an affected public” (Avtgis, 2012).  Whistleblowing is a common ethical dilemma because of the amounts of repercussions the whistleblower and institution could face, but also because of the obvious need for change that would not happen if it were not for a whistleblower.  Most commonly, whistleblowers will go to the media, law enforcement, or regulating agencies with the problems they see in their organization or institution to make the problem public and to try and resolve the issue.  Whistleblowing is typically only used when the offense by the organization or institution is great, the risk of retaliation on the whistleblower is low, and that the whistleblower themselves has a high perception that the whistleblowing will bring change. There are also two types of whistleblowers, internal and external whistleblowers.  Internal whistleblowers report misconduct to another person within the organization.  External whistleblowers report misconduct to a person outside the organization, such as law enforcement or media (What is a Whistleblower).   Whistleblowers can also be sorted by the type of whistleblowing.  Federal whistleblowers are government employees who reveal misconduct committed by their employers or can also be private-sector employees who inform about the misconduct of their employers that is committed in relation to the federal government.  For these people working for the federal government, the Whistleblower Protection Act, or WPA, was created to protect disclosures of misconduct (Information on Whistleblower Protection Act and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act).  Corporate whistleblowers are employees of corporations or other private businesses that disclose statutory or regulatory violations by the employers.  Corporate whistleblowers are more commonly heard of in your everyday news, as they are those workers in corporate America fighting for fairness and equality in the workplace.  In the case of Dan Graves, the whistleblower from ITT Tech, he would have been a corporate whistleblower, as he was an employee at the institution at the time he brought the lawsuit against ITT Tech.  Whistleblowing will forever be the most difficult ethical decision to make.  As a whistleblower one may risk pariah within the organization, being blackballed from the industry as a whole, or one could face legal punishment if they admit to being aware of the action taking place within the organization previously.  When it comes to whistleblowing one first must understand the importance of being a whistleblower if action is genuinely needed, or whether finding an internal and discrete way of fixing the problem would be more beneficial.  Studies have shown that whistleblowing will most often occur when employees feel that the communication climate of the organization is highly supportive and low in defensiveness, whereas other research has shown that the severity of the offense and relational closeness to the perpetrator are the best indicators.  Although few things statistics and trends have been proven in regards to whistleblowing, it is true that the closer we are to a coworker who does the wrongdoing, the less likely we will be to blow the whistle on them.

Previously stated, ITT Tech was a well-known technological institution before closing its doors in September of 2016.  ITT Tech was owned and operated by ITT Educational Services Inc., a publicly traded company headquartered in Carmel, Indiana.  The main problem with ITT Tech was the incredibly high tuition rates they charged.  ITT Tech had the highest tuition rates in the industry and had the industry’s highest rate of loans go into default in student’s first two years of attending the school.  The institution stayed in business far longer than every should have, but finally closed its doors following a federal crackdown led by the Department of Education, which revealed that the school was earning the vast majority of its revenue from taxpayer dollars.  It was estimated following the investigation that over 70 percent of the school’s money gained in 2015 was from federal financial aid funds.  ITT Tech was also under fire for allegedly purposefully recruiting students who were not qualified to attend the school – including one puzzling incident where a student was accepted that could not write a coherent sentence was enrolled – so that the school could lockdown more federal financial aid money. This led to the Department of Education blocking ITT Tech’s access to any more federal aid.  Following the Department of Education blocking the school’s access to federal aid, the school was essentially forced to stop enrolling students from that point on.  ITT Tech attempted to quietly shut down the operation of some campuses across the nation ahead of Labor Day weekend, but was forced to announce the decision publicly to shut down all operations of all campuses nationwide the following Tuesday.  Less than a week after announcing the ceasing of operations at their campuses, ITT Tech filed for bankruptcy.

itt-tech

Photo Credit – forbes.com

Dan Graves, the former employee at ITT Tech and eventual whistleblower that ended the school’s fraudulency, still wondered what had taken the government so long.  It had been over 17 years since Graves and another former ITT Tech employee had brought up the suit alleging that the company had been violating numerous compensation laws dealing with sales representatives.  Initially, Graves’ case was taken with great interest by 6 federal prosecutors and regulators.  Graves explained that they expressed great interest initially, as the government was estimated to be able to recover over 400 million dollars in damages from the case. Somehow, by 2004, the lawsuit was all but dead and Grave’s was unable to continue to provide the government with more influential evidence, so his efforts were seemingly for nothing (Nunez, 2016)

Graves was devastated and confused following the closing of the case.  He explained how he thought he brought up a very good case and how ITT Tech was abusing the system and ripping off the government for billions of dollars.  Bringing to light how ITT Tech was pocketing millions of federal financial aid dollars and how they were enrolling students that were obviously not qualified for the institution to do so only brought out more of the bad from the school.  Because of Graves’ whistleblowing on his own employer, the suit also claims that ITT Tech unlawfully employed recruiters that were paid sales commission to provide false information to potential and current students regarding their financial obligations, how transferable ITT Tech credits would be to other schools or programs, and about future employment opportunities as well.  In one student’s case, they were told that upon graduation from ITT Tech  in forensic science that they could be employed to scientist jobs similar to those in CSI shows or other criminal justice shows, but ITT Tech did not give any of the basic training necessary to work as a forensic scientist, so this student was unable to find a job at all with the worthless degree he had obtained (Whistleblower Lawsuit Accuses ITT Tech Of Defrauding Government).

The closing of ITT Tech is obviously beneficial to the society we live in.  The investigation against ITT Tech and its findings expose some of the large problems with for-profit institutions like ITT Tech.  This investigation exposed the true, alarmingly low graduation rates and job placement rates of ITT Tech (Comulada, 2016).  Another reason this was beneficial was because it showed how much money ITT Tech was bringing in yearly of federal aid.  Now, because of ITT Tech being exposed publicly, other for-profit schools will be less likely to be able to get away with pocketing our taxpayer dollars and will be scrutinized much more closely.

Taking ITT Tech’s investigation into hand, work policies and ethical standards were definitely the problems put on the forefront.  For decades ITT Tech had been employing recruiters, that were payed based on commission, to bring in as many students as they could that they knew were obviously not qualified and would hopefully fail out or drop out.  This process was what ITT was able to make so much money off of the government off of, bringing in so much money in federal aid and grants. Ethically that obviously wrong for many reasons; ITT Tech was giving false hope to those who were destined to fail and were already in financial trouble and was employing specific people just to recruit these specific people.

At ITT Tech it was obvious that they were doing all that they could to stay in business and continue their ways following Dan Graves’ whistleblowing almost 20 years ago.  In all of my time growing up, seeing all of the ITT Tech commercials and even knowing handful of people that attended the institution itself, I was still personally unaware of the unethical and illegal operations going on at ITT Tech.

This scenario will hopefully bring to light any similar cases with higher education institutions or even any other similarly ran companies.  ITT obviously was not an honorably ran school, so few similar institutions can learn much of anything from them, other than what not to do.  ITT Tech was run by money-hungry cowards that took advantage of the American system.  Thankfully, because Dan Graves whistleblew on his employer, no more American citizens will be duped by recruiters looking for the poor, ill qualified students that they know how little chance of success just so that they can continue to rake in federal aid money.

References

M. (2016, October 21). A Whistle Was Blown on ITT; 17 Years Later, It Collapsed. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/23/business/a-whistle-was-blown-on-itt-17-years-later-it-collapsed.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Whistle-Blowers&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0

@. (2016). Whistleblower Lawsuit Accuses ITT Tech Of Defrauding Government, Using Deceptive Recruitment Practices. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from https://consumerist.com/2016/01/21/whistleblower-lawsuit-accuses-itt-tech-of-defrauding-government-using-deceptive-recruitment-practices/

Nunez, M. (2016). How ITT Tech Screwed Students and Made Millions. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://gizmodo.com/how-itt-tech-screwed-students-and-made-millions-1786654315

Comulada, J. (2016). Why ITT Tech closing down is a good thing for all of us. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://www.upworthy.com/why-itt-tech-closing-down-is-a-good-thing-for-all-of-us

(n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-the-whistleblower-act-definition-rights-protection.html

Information on Whistleblower Protection Act and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2016, from https://www.sec.gov/eeoinfo/whistleblowers.htm

ITT Technical Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2016, from http://itt-tech.info/

Avtgis, T. A., & Rancer, A. S. (2012). Organizational communication: Strategies for success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub.

USAA : Redefining Customer Service

By : Tony Snider

INTRODUCTION

No matter the type of business, understanding the needs unique to its customers is crucial.  USAA is an insurance and financial company that serves members of the United States Military and families.  USAA is unique because of how highly they value their customer’s opinions.  This case study will deal with how USAA as a company trains its employees to be able to deal with certain situations and to be able to make their customers the happiest.  Not only does USAA emphasize to its employees the importance of a happy customer, their customer service representatives also make up over 60% of the company’s employees (McGregor, 2005).

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

At USAA they hold themselves to highest of standards when it comes to customer care.  At the company they have what is called the “USAA Standard”.  This standard is used to make sure that all employees are aligned similarly and are working toward the same goals when it comes to customer satisfaction.  At USAA the standard is comprised of keeping their membership and mission first, living through their core values, being authentic and building trust, creating condition for people to succeed, purposefully including diverse perspectives for the best results, and being innovative in building toward the future (USAA, 2015).  All USAA employees, most of whom are former military personnel, undergo much training designed to help them understand the perspective of customer care (Fleurke, 2009).  This training  also integrates their “USAA Standard”, making sure each and every employee is able to give the most productive care to their customers while still following the Standard itself.

usaa_customerservice2

Photo Credit : bizjournals.com

The USAA Standard closely aligns with two of the Perspectives of Ethical Decision Making.  The foundational perspective, which states that the organization has an explicit code of ethics, is the first to come to mind.  The Standard is exactly that, an explicit code of ethics that needs to be followed by all.  Also, the relationship-based perspective seems to fit as well.  This perspective states that ethical behavior is achieved through open and honest communication with the public.  I feel that the relationship-based perspective is present much in part after learning that around 300 USAA employees had been doing push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and much more, after signing up for a taste of military basic training.  This was done because at USAA they stated how “you serve the military best when you understand the military” (Shevory, 2014).  This shows to me how USAA is going public with its relations and with how willing they are to do anything to give the best customer service to its clients, in a part of business that typically gets bashed for its poor customer service.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Although I have never specifically worked for a company ran much like an insurance company such as USAA, I have been a part of teams that have held similar standards and ethics.  In high school, our football team needed to conduct ourselves in an honorable manner, as we were constantly in the spotlight, both on the field and in the community.  We also had a specific person to run our social media pages and ran fundraisers.  This taught me a lot about what standards are important for a team, or even business to be successful and respected.  If I were to design a code of ethics for a business, I would use much of what I learned from my time in high school football.  But, with all of this, our high school football team did not incorporate a structured code of ethics.  If I were to create four ethical standards they would be :

  • Conduct yourself with class and respect, both on and off the field
  • Be selfless in helping around the school and community
  • Support Riverdale in every way possible
  • Build lasting friendships and brotherhoods with those teammates around you

These would be my four ethical standards because of how well they sum up the importance of playing football at Riverdale.   First off, with conducting yourself with class and respect, it is as simple as that.  As an athlete, especially a football player, the spotlight is on your at all times, not just on the field.  This would help players to be more respectful in all aspects of life.  Next, being selfless in helping around the school and community may be the most important in my eyes.  As an athlete in high school I was constantly signing up to volunteer my time to help for events, a trait that I have carried with myself to this day.  Then, supporting the school itself in every way possible is important because of the amount of support that football gets.  Yes, football is the big money-maker at every high school, but supporting other sports teams and clubs and returning the favor is imperative.  Lastly, building lasting friendships and brotherhoods will always stick with me.  To this day most of my closest friends have come from playing football alongside them.  Working out every day for football is not necessarily easy, so having friends, that are more like brothers, around you makes it that much more enjoyable and unforgettable.  These ethical standards typically do not need to necessarily be taught to new members, but they would need to be reminded of them from time to time.  Having these standards posted and displayed would drill them into the players’ minds.  In my experience, playing the game of football indirectly taught me these ethical standards, of being respectful, selfless, supportive of those around me, and creating lifelong brotherhoods.

 

References

The USAA Standard. (2015). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.usaajobs.com/docs/USAA-Standard.pdf

Fleurke, B. X. (n.d.). Menu. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.corporate-ethics.org/walking-a-mile-in-the-shoes-of-your-customer/

Shevory, K. (2014). Boot Camp for Bankers. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/boot-camp-for-bankers/?_r=0

McGregor, J. (2012). Employee Innovator: USAA. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.fastcompany.com/53782/employee-innovator-usaa

Accepting Only the Best – Netflix

By : Tony Snider

Nowadays everybody has seen the trend of going to rent movies from the local video store has essentially died out. This trend has taken place because of the addition of Netflix, a video streaming company that allows you to watch thousands of movies and television shows instantly on your device.  Netflix’s genius idea has seen the company take off in recent years, but the way Netflix as a company recruits workers and runs their organization has been just as big in its success. By taking a very specific strategy toward what workers they hire, Netflix has been able to grow steadily into a respected and revered company worldwide.

netflix

Photo Credit – Huffingtonpost.com

Netflix has seen incredible growth and success since it began because of its “seven aspects of our culture”.  These seven aspects of Netflix’s culture are the company’s priorities and standards that the company is based on.  The first aspect is “values are what we value”.  This describes how Netflix differs from many companies, as they do not post generic statements about their “integrity” or “respect”.  Netflix shows its values by who gets rewarded, promoted, or even let go (Hastings, 2016).  The next aspect of their culture is “high performance”, meaning that the company itself aims to employ only those that everybody can learn something from and that can respect and learn from others as well.  Coupled along with their “high performance” aspect is “freedom and responsibility”. At Netflix only those applicants that are deemed “fully formed adults” are chosen to join the company, being that they need to be self-motivating, self-aware, self-disciplined, self-improving, and act like a leader.  Another of the seven aspects is “context, not control”.  This means that the best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people.  Another aspect dealing with their management style is “highly aligned, loosely coupled”.  This describes how at Netflix their strategy and goals are clear, specific, and broadly understood, yet there are minimal cross-functional meetings except to get aligned on goals and strategy.  Next is that they “pay top of market”, meaning that they feel that one outstanding employee gets more done and costs less than two adequate employees.  The last of the seven aspects of Netflix’s culture is “promotions and development”.  This is easily understood by looking at baseball and the minor leagues.  Those that are talented enough get to move up in the world, but you have to continually perform at your highest level to stay in your highest position without getting demoted.

Going along with Netflix’s seven aspects of culture is the way in which they select their employees; “The Netflix Approach”, or only accepting “fully formed adults” (How Netflix Reinvented HR, 2016).  This groundbreaking human resource policy was derived under direction of Reed Hastings and Patty McCord.  The point of adding the notion of only hiring fully formed adults was implemented for multiple reasons.  First off Netflix did not want to hire those workers that cause you the most typical problems.  Although some firms offer services to help these workers mesh better, Netflix does not deal with that unneeded work and shies away from these workers altogether.  The Netflix Approach has also been very beneficial financially.  Since implementing the idea the company has been 22% more profitable, seen 30% lower turnover, and 37% less absenteeism (Zeldin, 2016).

As being part of a professional organization working for my father over the last five years, I have seen many similarities between the way Netflix is ran compared to Miami Industrial Trucks.  At Miami Industrial Trucks I work directly underneath my father who is also the hiring manager for the parts division of the company.  That being said, my father and I have been involved in every hire for the company over the last few years in that part of the company.  Of Netflix’s seven aspects of culture, I feel my father and Miami Industrial Trucks are closely related in three of the seven areas.  First off Miami Industrial Trucks is also run with the thought process of “values are what we value”.  With this they do not necessarily always take the most qualified applicant, but take the one that is qualified, yet shows true passion and integrity in their character.  Miami Industrial Trucks also runs along with the aspect of “high performance”, meaning that managers want every new hire to be able to teach current employees something new, and vice versa.  Lastly I feel Miami Industrial Trucks is also ran along the premise of “promotion and development”, meaning that there are many opportunities for growth within the company, but even if you are able to earn those positions you must perform at your very best to be able to hold that spot or you will be demoted for the good of the company.

I feel that I would excel at Netflix, working in accordance with their seven aspects of culture.  I feel that I am the type of person that thrives under pressure and am able to rise to the occasion in certain situations. Working for Netflix would push me to be the most productive and honest employee I could be, understanding the consequences that would result otherwise.  I love the way Netflix operates, only accepting the best and not hesitating to drop an employee immediately if need be.

References

(2016). How Netflix Reinvented HR. Retrieved October 07, 2016, from    https://hbr.org/2014/01/how-netflix-reinvented-hr

Reed Hastings, Working   Keynote Author Follow. (2009). We Seek Excellence Our culture.   Retrieved October 07, 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture- 1798664/2-We_Seek_ExcellenceOur_culture_focuses

Zeldin, I. (n.d.). Hire only fully formed adults: How soft skills improve your bottom line. Retrieved October 07, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ilya-zeldin/hire-only-    fully-formed-ad_b_10361688.html

 

Coming Up With the Perfect Team: Google’s Project Aristotle

by Tony Snider

To accomplish large tasks or brainstorm new brilliant ideas companies often turn to working in teams.  Working together in teams or groups has many benefits; given you have a productive group that works well together.  At Google, they conducted a study titled “Project Aristotle” that looked at over 100 teams of workers within Google itself trying to understand what exactly makes an efficient team.   The majority of the work done at Google is done in teams, so the importance of finding out what worked best in terms of teamwork for them was imperative.

Project Aristotle

Google launched Project Aristotle in 2012, shortly after completing a similar study in “Project Oxygen”. Project Oxygen looked to see what makes a great manager.  After the success of Project Oxygen, Google applied many of the same methods to discover the secrets of making the most effective teams at Google (Understanding Team Effectiveness, 2016).  The atmosphere at Google is very relaxed, even a bit revolutionary.  With this relaxed atmosphere and emphasis on worker satisfaction, a main aspect of the study was to determine if this atmosphere was beneficial or hurtful to work production and the generation of new and revolutionary ideas.  This project studied many different types of employees as well; such as engineers, psychologists, and sociologists.  Project Aristotle’s researchers began by reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked.  They brought up questions like whether group participants worked best when they had similar hobbies and backgrounds and whether it was best if they were all outgoing or all shy.google

Photo Credit – dailymail.co.uk

  No matter how the researchers arranged their data, at first it was almost impossible to find any patterns or evidence that the composition of the team made any difference in their work production.   This led Google to start looking in different directions, specifically toward norms.  Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound.  This means that some employees may behave in certain ways as individuals, but when they gather with others they may act differently.  This often spurs groupthink, which is when employees will not express their own ideas to the group because it may go against what everyone thinks and they just want to make the work go smoothly (Duhigg, 2016).  So Project Aristotle’s researchers began searching through their data looking for norms.   The project’s results showed that an effective team was not necessarily scouting to see who should be on the team, but figuring out how well specific people meshed and worked together.  Psychological safety was the main factor discovered in Project Aristotle.  This showed how employees wanted to feel safe enough around their co-workers before exposing themselves and giving out their ideas.  This meant that for a team to truly be successful it was up to the employees to get comfortable enough around one another to be vulnerable with each other with expressing their ideas (Schlossberg, 2016).  Following psychological safety, Project Aristotle’s main factors to a successful group was dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact.

 

Critical Analysis

Google itself started in a small garage in California almost 20 years ago.  It was started by two college buddies that had a vision, and that weren’t afraid to express their ideas to one another (Inside Google, 2016).  Understanding how the whole company started only solidifies my agreement towards those findings of Project Aristotle.  Because the two originators of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) were comfortable around one another and were able to openly express their thoughts to each other, Google was able to flourish from just a small company operating out of a garage to one of the most profitable companies in the world today.

Had Larry Page and Sergey Brin been chosen by a board or selection committee to come up with a revolutionary idea based on who they were or how similar they are, Google probably would have never began.  But since these two were genuinely close with one another and had psychological safety, Google was able to be born from their minds.  I feel that Project Aristotle was very successful at being able to point out the main outlier for what makes a successful group.  Although the project did not come away with any specific algorithm or addition of types of workers that create the best groups, they did find solid evidence at what makes groups work together the best, even if it was ironically evident in the beginning of the company itself with the relationship between Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

References

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=0
Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/introduction/
National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/55885729
Schlossberg, M. (2016). Google experiment reveals the single most important quality for teamwork. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/google-reveals-how-to-have-the-perfect-team-2016-2

Understanding Holacracy and the Impact it had on Zappos

by Tony Snider

When thinking about the organizational aspect of company management, typically the same original system pops into most everybody’s heads.  There are managers that oversee the work of those below them and the managers evaluate the work done.  The overseeing managers ultimately make most, if not all, decisions when it comes to the work done and how exactly it should be done.  Now there is a new type of organizational management, one that takes a new look at how work should be done.  Digging a little deeper into this new management should be able to point out some of the strengths and weaknesses of it in use in large corporations, as well as its effect that it has had on a major business already.

Well known online realtor “Zappos” has taken on the interesting organizational method known as “Holacracy”.  Holacracy’s goal is to create a dynamic workplace where everyone has a voice and bureaucracy does not stifle innovation (Gelles, 2015).  Basically what CEO Tony Hsieh wanted was a workplace of no managers or need for a typical hierarchical system, hoping that he could boost innovation and creative thinking within the company.  This type of self-management has been considered by most as radical, to say least; but Hsieh saw the possible benefits for his company and dove in head first.

Obviously there are many major differences between a traditional organizational structure and the structure of a Holocratic company.  In a traditional company each person would have their one job and stick to it, but with Holacracy roles can be defined around the work, not the people, and they are updated frequently so that multiple people can fill different roles in the company.  Another large difference between traditional organizational structure and Holacracy is how decisions are made in regards to authority.  In a traditional setting managers delegate authority and ultimately their decision trumps all others, but with Holacracy authority is distributed through teams and roles so that decisions are made locally (Bernstein, 2016).  As was explained in the “Holacracy – How it Works” article, one of the principles in Holacracy is to make the implicit explicit.  It is about creating clarity – who’s in charge of what, who’s making what kinds of decisions (Bernstein, 2016).

zappos-holacracy

Example of the desks featured at Zappos. Photo Credit: http://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/img/editorial/2015/06/05/

The main strength associated with this type of organization are that workers have the innate feeling that they are not necessarily any less important than those sitting next to them.   This was intended to allow each person the ability to be a sensor for change (Bunch, 2016). The main weakness associated with Holacracy is that work production may halt if it is not taken seriously and the employees are not maintaining normal production.  This can happen because the employees do not have someone that always oversees their work and they might get comfortable with completing a lighter work load (Denning, 2015).

The reason Zappos and Tony Hsieh turned to Holacracy was because that from the time it was founded in 1999 it was a Fortune top 100 place to work, up until recently.  Hsieh turned to this “horizontal” organizational style because he believed that it would boost employee morale not having managers of any kind (Reingold, 2016).  In one year’s time of Zappos introducing their Holocratic management style they have lost 29% of their workers.  Having 29% turnover in one year it showed him two things, who did not want to be a part of his new system while simultaneously showing him who was buying into the idea and wanted to be a part of it.  Now it seems Hsieh is ultimately moving onto another management system called “teal”, basically admitting the downfalls of Holacracy in the workplace.

I for one feel that Holacracy has no chance of working in corporate America.  While it may work in group projects in grade school, I have the understanding that people need motivators and elders to get the best work out of them.  Although many people are self-motivated and could thrive in this Holocratic workplace, the whole scheme can be compromised by those that take advantage of the situation and are no longer helpful.  In my opinion the best thing for Hsieh would be to move back to a traditional organizational structure and think purely about productivity and improving company numbers and not try and take too much into consideration the pampering of his workers.

 

References

Bernstein, E. How It Works. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.holacracy.org/how-it-works/

Gelles, D. (2015). At Zappos, Pushing Shoes and a Vision. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/business/at-zappos-selling-shoes-and-a-vision.html?_r=1

Reingold, J. (n.d.). How a Radical Shift Left Zappos Reeling. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://fortune.com/zappos-tony-hsieh-holacracy/

Bunch, J. (n.d.). Exclusive: Getting to grips with “Holacracy” at Zappos | hrmasia. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.hrmasia.com/content/exclusive-getting-grips-“holacracy”-zappos

 

Tony Snider – Strengthsfinder Analysis

by Tony Snider

Taking Strengthsfinder 2.0 for myself was incredibly enjoyable.  Although lengthy, as I strengthsfinderworked along on the questions I became more and more conscious about what my test results might be, and I eventually started to write down and guess what the test might say my strengths were.  After getting my results I was pleased to see the test conclude my top five strengths were being a relator, having competitive nature, being consistent, being adaptable to multiple situations, and also being restorative by nature.

1.)Relator – I was pleased to see that my top strength listed was a relator.  As I thought more about it I looked back into my life and realized how much I do enjoy being open to those that are close to me and being able to listen well and understand that person’s situation.  The Strengthsfinder 2.0 had a relator relator talents described as a person’s attitude toward their relationships and how we are specifically drawn to close to those that we already know well.  Although relators do not necessarily shy away from new people, we feel more comfortable being around those that we know a lot about and are able to connect with on a more sentimental level.

I feel that this trait does describe me pretty well because of how much I enjoy getting to learn about people and connecting with them on a more serious level.  Both back home and here at Ashland University I am known to be friends with most everybody, although I do have that close knit group of inseparable friends both at home and here at Ashland as well.  The relator trait in me helps me grow more important and worthwhile relationships with these closer groups of people in my life.  In the workplace this trait will help me because I will be more able to create strong connections with coworkers and management that will help me advance my career in the long run.

2.)Competition – Seeing that competition was listed as one of my strengths was no surprise to me.  Someone who has a strong competitive nature holds their talents and achievements compared to others at a very high level.  This trait in me helps me strive to be the best at basically everything I go out to do.  Those with this trait hold the “if it is worth doing, it is worth doing right” type of mindset.

My whole life has been centered around athletics, which is where this competitive trait has grown in me.  I was a three-sport athlete all throughout high school, which fueled my competitive nature.  Football was my love, although I was always one of the smallest athletes. In football there is a very distinct “no excuses” type of attitude that comes along with it, one that I understood from a young age.  I loved the game and loved to prove people wrong on the field.  This trait can come in very handy in my future career.  No matter what work someone is doing, if they do not have an attitude that pushes them to do their best work, they will never succeed as much as someone that does poses that attitude.  Being as competitive as I am, I know it will only help me to climb the ladder position wise throughout my career.

3.)Consistency – Interestingly enough, following “relator” and “competition” came consistency for me.  Although I enjoy getting to know people on a deeper level and hold such a competitive nature, I am still adamant about treating people equally and fairly, and am able to make fair judgements.  The consistency strength is given to those that are able to create a consistent and livable environment around them.  I feel that this trait does fit me well, as I do not have a specific “clique” or type of person that I am to become close with.

In my time thus far I feel that I have been able to connect with many different types of people and hold a steady work ethic as well.  Those with this consistency strength find a way to hold their values and guidelines at a high standard, always.  This strength will help me in the workplace as I will better be able to create relationships with many groups of people and still be able to hold a steady, consistent schedule as well.

4.)Adaptability –  Seeing the adaptability strength in my top five was another strength that I was proud to see in myself.  This strength is given to those that do not necessarily see the future as a fixed destination and take pride in developing and learning new material along the way.  I feel this strength does apply to me because of how understanding I am of certain situation.  I like to be challenged at times because I feel that conquering new tasks and learning new skills can only better as a person.

This adaptability trait in me has derived much from an internship that I worked the summer of 2015.  I worked for a company called Automated Data Processing, or “ADP”.  At ADP I conducted phone interviews to those applying to lower level positions in large companies such as Pepsi Co and Hallmark.  I had never done any work along these lines, but realized how great of an opportunity it was for me to work for a prestigious company and learn useful information for my future.  Now I am at the point of understanding where I enjoy tackling new jobs because of the benefits I can receive from broadening my knowledge.

5.)Restorative – Seeing the restorative strength in my top strengths confused me a bit.  I
was thrown off by this trait until I dug deeper into exactly what this strength meant.  The Strengthsfinder 2.0 described this as someone that loves to problem solve.  Those with this trait enjoy overcoming obstacles and do not get down when something does not go their way.  I realized after a minute how closely this strength relates back to the adaptability trait.  Both are centered about being able to overcome challenges and not getting put down by something that may get in their way.

I feel that this restorative trait is another one that stems from my time as an athlete.  In the world of sport one never knows what hurdles they may have to climb next. Whether it be sickness, injury, or lack of performance, there are always reasons an athlete may not be able to be on the field for game day, but that was the burning thought in the back of my head that drove me to be my best every single day.  At any given second the things you love in life may be stripped from you without any notice, and you have to be prepared to be able to face these challenges head on and net let them determine your quality of life.  Having this restorative trait I am able to understand the challenges that may lay ahead of me.  In the work place if I am able to be better equipped for different types of challenges I may face, it will give me an initial head start over those competing for the same spot that may not be able to overcome these challenges as well.

Anthony J. Snider

 

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Anthony Snider is currently a Junior at Ashland University.  At Ashland, he is a double major in Sport Communication as well as Public Relations and Strategic Communications.

With his degree from Ashland University Anthony hopes to work for a professional sports organization, either writing recap stories for the organization or working in the Public Relations sector of the organization.

Currently Anthony has two years of class finished toward his Bachelor’s Degree, along with an internship during the 2016 summer.  In that summer internship he worked for the Lake Erie Monarchs, a summer league baseball team that plays in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.   With the Monarchs he held many responsibilities.  During games he worked the public address system and held games for the Mini-Monarch fans in attendance in-between innings.  Along with working the public address, he was able to color commentate roughly ten of the Monarchs’ games.  After the games were finished Anthony would write the team’s post-game recap as well.  Anthony also wrote feature stories and special interest articles for the league’s website as well.

In the summer of 2017 Anthony hopes his prior knowledge and experience can help him obtain an internship with either the NFL in New York City or an MLS team.  He is planning on continuing writing recaps and feature stories.

Prior to his time at Ashland University Anthony went to Riverdale High School near Findlay, Ohio.  He grew in a small town of roughly 300 residents and only had 60 other students in his graduating class.  Anthony’s life was molded by the sports he played (football, basketball, and soccer) and wants a career in sport that he can enjoy.

Anthony is an outgoing man that likes to get to know a lot of people.  He enjoys making others laugh and holding a light-hearted approach to life.  Anthony is driven in life by the quest for a simpler and easier life for his family than that of which he grew up in.