Monday, May 14, 2012

Conflict management styles and negotiation skills

         Conflict has different levels present in organizations: intrapersonal, interpersonal, intragroup, an intergroup Hellriegel et al., (2011). For instance companies convinced that employees were doing unnecessary spending are facing the intrapersonal goal conflict. However in order to implement changes to cut costs, those changes can put the company in another conflict the intergroup conflict. The conflict that occurred can involves a series of events which can result in a company being unable to regulate their cost and forces them to face potential losses and even survivability issues. Inner tensions and frustrations experienced while companies struggles the issues of whether to implement a new plans to control the costs and whether to keep talented employees. Most times managers decide not implement changes and keep the talented employees. This decision to solve this intrapersonal goal conflict can be characterized of approach-avoidance conflict which is expected to have both positive and negative outcomes (was positive because it keeps the professionals and negative because it could not cut the costs) (Hellriegel et al., 2011).

The intergroup conflict  refers to disputes, oppositions and disagreements among the group which wants to cut costs i.e.  those who were worried about the quality of the services i.e. all staff led (Hellriegel et al., 2011). The perceived goal incompatibility most times is the source of this conflict, with this incompatibility managers faced opposition from the employees. Companies then became no longer competitive and sometimes losing money, caused by management’s lack of strategy and terrible execution in cost cutting. 

There are five conflict management styles: Collaborating Style, Compromising Style, Forcing Style, Accommodating Style, and Avoiding Style (Hellriegel et al., 2011).  In this case it is evident that an  Accommodating Style occurred when managers tried suggesting new solutions to the employees as to how they could help to cut cost (i.e). Once the idea is rejected, because employees feel that it was impossible, then managers managed the conflict through the suspension of his personal goals in order to maintain good relationship with the physicians.
Another conflict management style which is evident is a Forcing style. The Forcing style  which happened when managers force the staff to work with a new system. Using this approach managers trie to achieve their own goal without concern for others, forcing their decision on the opposing group.
The Avoiding style happened when managers said that they are busy and would not be involved in the problem and definitely stayed away from conflict, ignored disagreements, or remained neutral.
According to Hellriegel et al., (2011) leaders who use a collaborating style tend to be more successful and are found more in high performing organizations. The leader’s use of collaboration seems to result in positive feelings by others as well as favorable evaluations of performance. Some level of cooperative and assertive behavior as a collaborating style can be the opportunity to get a mutual understanding about the topics under discussion.

Using teams to address the conflicts
By forming work related teams as a problem solving units to focus on conflicts, managers can immediately assume the responsibilities an solve the problem in group. The members could be formed internal from specific departments and that would have allowed her to obtain the buy-in, support and expertise of the employees with direct knowledge of day to day activities and knowledge of potential in a conflict activities. 
By explaining the situation  and delegating certain problems and decision making managers can give more responsibilities to the team.  Teams can create a sense of unity and purpose for company's conflict.  .  Using the team method, managers could be able to utilize employees’ expertise, diversity and knowledge of their work focus to identify conflicts strategies in their area.  Also, it is highly likely that since the employees formulated the strategies, if a manager decided to implement them, there would likely be much less opposition to those strategies than another strategy imposed.

            Negotiators  are likely to be more effective if they possess the components of emotional intelligence with some specific skills and abilities that can increase the effectiveness for negotiators. 
            Using self-awareness managers should not impose their one’s own decision instead they should understand the link between their goals and staff goals.  By being flexible and open managers could manage the conflicts by receiving feedback from others on how to continuously improve.
            As a leader managers could give timely coaching advice and offer assignments that challenge a person’s competencies, that refers to social empathy. In this way they could show respect for a staff and understand them before act.
            However, nothing is going to work if managers does not maintain optimism and self-motivation, because it will be facing new challenges all the time. With self-motivation and continuously balancing the advantages of his negotiations against the challenges and stresses in such negotiations.
            Finally beeing friendly and build relationships especially with key employees in order to have future cooperation in negotiations. Managers should use more social skills and should never avoid participating in an important meeting with the staff, instead managers should go and deal with the difficult situations in a straightforward manner.
                “Negotiation is a process in which two or more interdependent individuals or groups who perceive that they have both common and conflicting goals state and discuss proposals and preferences for specific terms of a possible agreement” (Hellriegel et al., 2011). Assess the situation to identify the other party’s reasons. After that define the scope of the issues, like who will be involved, and then negotiate the substantive agreement to implement.
Therefore the best strategy would be to use an Integrative Negotiations Strategy because the problem solving would achieve results that benefit both parties. According to Hellriegel et al., (2011) in this strategy there are some principles to be follow such as:
·         Separate the people from the problem: deal with substantive issues, instead of attacking each other. 
·         Focus on interests not positions, giving attention in human needs and interests which cause then to take those positions.
·         Invent options for mutual gains: attitude of cooperation, reasonableness, openness and friendliness could encourage both sides to actively participate in making decisions and this makes for an effective negotiation.
·         Insist on using objective criteria: it would be interesting to compare the situation in order to discuss the conditions of the negotiation in terms of what is considered standard.
Using the right strategy managers can solve the problems by making people learn and understand each other better and finally grow in their relationships. Negotiation can help to create a healthy balance between “giving” and “getting” where everyone becomes a “winner” through this negotiation. Making a number of strategic decisions regarding tactics and acceptable outcomes any manager can implement efficient agreements.   

Hellriegel, D., & Slocum, J. W., Jr. (2011). Organizational behavior: 2011 custom edition           (13th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Allstate Model of Goal Setting

             Based on the model for goal setting, Allstate’s goal setting process is very effective because their processes have the key variables and general relationship which can lead to high individual performances which are present in the model of goal setting illustrated in figure 1.
            According to Hellriegel & Slocum (2011) there are five conditions that must generally come together for managers to be effective and gain the benefits of a goal setting program. Based on these conditions is possible to affirm that the Allstate’s goal setting process is very effective because it meet with all conditions cited. Especially because they have broken the process into steps where the employee will receive an assessment of their current job skills, a road map for developing the critical skills followed with constant feedback so the employee can compare their performance and assess future development programs. Additionally the employees are committed to achieve the goal because programs like Diversity Index Program and QLMS evaluate their performance to reward people for high performance.
Finally we can concur that by having goal setting process Allstate have probably improved their performance because the goal setting clarifies the level of performance expected and the whole process serves as a motivator for their employees. It creates incentive to achieve high performance because it allows people to develop the abilities required to attain the goal and then compare their present performance with those required to achieve the goal.

                                                                                                            The Diversity Index is a tool which evaluates the relations between the employee’s race, sex, and other diversity factors. With this internal program the employees need to answer some questions that are totally confidential, allowing employees to voice their opinions on various diversity issues. The most important factor of the diversity index is that it provide feedback and measurement of the process. Using the results from the Diversity Index Allstate management is able to identify areas of diversity that need improvement and is able to formulate programs to fix any diversity issues. With the feedback, the employees can compare their performance about how well they are doing and this comparison, in turn, can influence changes in the degree of goal commitment. Because the diversity Index is complex, it encourages the employees to make more effort to obtain high performance.
            As a consequence, the Diversity Index highlights the importance of human capital as a strategic asset and reflects the value of people and their role in obtaining competitive advantage for Allstate adding value also by generating a cultural mix in the human resource base (Delery & Doty, 1996). Increasing cultural diversity in the workforce poses one of the most challenging human resource and organizational issues of our time, especially nowadays when most companies are becoming more global and the workforce has to interact with its increasingly diverse client base. Also heterogeneity in decision-making and problem-solving styles produces better decisions through the operation of a wider range of perspectives and a more thorough critical analysis of issues (Jackson, 1992).
            With the Diversity Index the Allstate’s managers can develop a better knowledge of business strategy and other areas traditionally beyond the human resources domain in order to make cultural diversity deliver. When they meet this challenge, they can take advantage of what cultural diversity and its management offer in their organizations, not only for the sake of corporate social performance, but also in the interests of corporate financial performance.

                I would recommend for them to use the skill-based pay program, in this system the employees are paid according to their value in the labor market. According to Hellriegel & Slocum, (2011) skill based programs are based on the number and level of job-related skills that an employee has learned. Because Allstate’s diversity program has one step that allows the employees to develop their skills by receiving all the support necessary as an education, coaching and training, each employee can control their own development. I believe that skill-based pay program would be the best because using this program, employees with high developed skill and those who develop multiple skills will be particularly valuable assets to the Allstate.
            Because Allstate’s focus is diversity it is important to learn, therefore with this program the individuals will be motivate to learn because in order to be recognized by the program which has an emphasis on learning and growth. Then, employees will be paid according to the number of different skills that they can perform (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011).
            However, this program has some limitations such as inadequate training, inadequate manager commitment, poor program design, conflicts between employees and the tendency to “top out” have to be consider before starting this program. Also they already have the Diversity Index which measures all the processes, but the skill based pay program will require a measurement capable of assessing when an employee has fully learned each skill.

             If I was an Allstate employee, I would be very motivated by the Diversity Index and QLMS that is used by the company because of two factors I am a woman and I am from Brazil. As a woman I have faced many situations where to be a woman was a big disadvantage, for example in my last company men have salaries about 10% higher than women, also there were only men in the upper management positions in that company. Those factors do not motivate me to continue in the company and apply for a better position; instead I left the company and start to look for another company that could give me more opportunity to grow in the company. If I was working for Allstate the consequence would be much different because instead of looking for another job I would looking for a way to develop skills to work even better every day and show that women are just as capable as men.
            Additionally, as a Spanish and Portuguese speaking employee, it would be very motivating for me to know that the company sees this attribute, as an advantage which could assist in achieving more success. Finally to know that the company understands our differences and respect the use of this as a competitive advantage creates be very good mechanism to motivate myself to work hard to make the company grow.

Delery, J. E., & Doty, D. H. 1996. Theoretical frameworks in strategic human resource   management; Universalistic, contingency, and configurational perspectives. Academy    of Management Journal, 39: 802-835.

Hellriegel, D., & Slocum, J. W., Jr. (2011). Organizational behavior: 2011 custom edition           (13th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Jackson, S. 1992. Consequences of group composition for the interpersonal dynamics of            strategic issue processing. In P. Shrivastava, A, Huff, & ], Dutton (Eds,), Advances in   strategic management, vol. 8: 345- 382. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press                                                                                                                                                                              
MODERATORS: Employees receive an assessment of their job skills and map for developing the critical skills. Leaders provide feedback.                  In one year they can complete the mandatory diversity course.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Interpreting Macroeconomic Conditions

This writing investigates the sources of the macroeconomics conditions in United States, and use Val-Mart in Mexico and MacDonald’s model to study the relative importance of different types of macroeconomic impact in terms of production and operating costs. The identification of the key indicators is based on the information from the U.S. Federal departments. This finding gives some empirical support to analyze the impact of the low GDP rate and other indicators in the perspective of foreign business (Wal-Mart in Mexico) and in the domestic business (MacDonald). The paper shows the challenge that the companies are facing to maintain their profits in the macroeconomic situations that shift the whole demand curve.

             Organizations today face global competition on unprecedented scale. In this scenario the market are worldwide and are served by multinational corporations as MacDonald’s and Wal-Mart. These firms are now directed pressure by the macroeconomic events that influence the whole market and can impact the demand all over the world.
            The growth and expansion of giant firms in emerging markets, many of them surpassing traditional multinationals from developed economies, shows the globalizations strategies of many corporation to ramp up sales in developing markets as China and South America and gain more profit. This is important, as the structure and competitive conditions of any market are not independent from the organization, ownership and decisions adopted by firms (Salas 2007, 11).
            To study the expected impact on firms of the two industries – Wal-Mart in Mexico and MacDonald fast food - this article has used available national statistics as the main source from which to identify the key indicators from the macroeconomic conditions in an America economy.  The first part of this paper has been elaborated with comparable indicators related to: Real and Nominal GDP, National Income, Wage rate, Inventory Levels, Consumer Price Index (CPI), Price Level, Interest Rates, Currency exchange, unemployment rate and Business Cycle.
            The second part explores the relationship between the Macroeconomic indicators and the impact on firms as Wal-Mart and MacDonald’s fast food. With a foreign perspective we will analyze the impact of the America economy for Wal-Mart in Mexico and show whether satisfy the profit maximization goal of the company. For MacDonald we will analyze as a domestic situation in terms of product sales and operating costs.

1. Indicators of the macroeconomic conditions:
a) GDP
            According to U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of Economic Analysis – the Real gross domestic product the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States increased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the second quarter of 2011, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.4 percent.  However the market value of the nation's output of goods and services - Current-dollar GDP – increased 3.5 percent, or $129.0 billion, in the second quarter to a level of $14,996.8 billion.  In the first quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 3.1 percent, or $112.8 billion. 
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of Economic Analysis

b) National Income
            According to Federal Reserve Statistical the Distribution of U.S. National Income has been increase from 13002.2 (billions) in the last quarter in 2010 to 13144.5(billions) in the first quarter of 2011.
c) Wage Rate
            Personal income increased $42.4 billion, or 0.3 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $32.5 billion, or 0.3 percent, in July, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $88.4 billion, or 0.8 percent.  In June, personal income increased $27.7 billion, or 0.2 percent, DPI increased $22.6 billion, or 0.2 percent, and PCE decreased $14.3 billion, or 0.1 percent, based on revised estimates. The report on National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States (BLS, 2010), calculate the wage rate based in estimates data from a scientifically selected sample of workers and establishment characteristics. According this survey the mean annual earnings estimates in all work levels is about $45,676. However wage rate that has been growing all over the years on the past few years start to decrease in 2011.(Source: Social Security Online)
d) Inventory Levels
            The change in real private inventories subtracted 0.23 percentage point from the second-quarter change in real GDP, after adding 0.32 percentage point to the first-quarter change.  Private businesses increased inventories $40.6 billion in the second quarter, following increases of $49.1 billion in the first quarter and of $38.3 billion in the fourth (U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2011). As follow:
Table 1.1: Real Gross Domestic Product and Components

Share of current-dollar GDP (percent)
Contribution to percent change in real GDP (percentage points)


Change in private inventories
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of Economic Analysis

e) Consumer Price Index
               The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.5 percent in July on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported at August 18, 2011. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.6 percent before seasonal adjustment. The 12 month change in the all items index remained at 3.6 percent for the third month in a row. The change in the index for all items less food and energy continued its upward trend, rising to 1.8 percent in July, with the shelter and apparel indexes contributing notably to the acceleration. The energy index has risen 19.0 percent over the past year.

f) Price Level
               In August 18, 2011 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 3.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 225.922 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.1 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.

G) Interest rates Real, Nominal
               According to the Federal Reserve in the text “ FRB: H15 Rate paid by fixed-rate payer on an interest rate swap”  with    maturity of one year the interest rates in U.S. is the lowest rate over the past few years, as showed in the table 2:
TABLE 2: Interest Rate
Interest Rate:

h) Currency Exchange rate, Currency devaluation
               The table below was retrieved from the Federal Reserve in the last release about foreign exchange rates and shows the average rates of exchange in 2010 together with comparable figures for other years. In the table is possible to see the depreciation of the dollar against the major of currencies in the world, and the trade weight currencies between 2007 and 2010 the dollars has became more cheap in terms of BROAD. 
TABLE 3: Foreign exchange rates

(Rates in currency units per U.S. dollar except as noted)
h) Unemployment rates
            The Regional and state unemployment rates were generally little changed in July comparing to the last few months. The unemployment rate reach the highest point in October 2009 with 10.1% and since then has been decreasing to 8.8 in March of 2011 and now 9.1% as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in August 19, 2011. According to the same report twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia registered unemployment rate increases, nine states recorded rate decreases, and thirteen states had no rate change. However the 9.1% unemployment rate reported is very high and represents almost two times more than the percentage in 2006 that was about 4.7%.

j) Business Cycle
                Cyclically the US economy is expanding but the growth rate is significantly slower than in previous post-World War II business cycles (Ross, 2011). Despite the cyclical upturn the long term slowing of the US economy because the average growth rate of the US economy is insufficient to reverse the long term slowdown. The underlying reason for this deceleration remains the decline in US fixed investment.



2.  The expected short impact on firms of the two industries:
a) Wal-Mart in Mexico
            According to the indicators above the U.S. economy is growing slow the employment rate is high that make the demand for Wal-Mart in America shift to the left, from D1 to D2. In this scenario where the U.S. wage rate is going down and the consumer price Index (CPI) is going up the Wal-Mart’s inventory levels will increase because the inventories will not be sold. If this inventory cycle follows the pattern of those in the past, there is a good chance for Wal-Mart to shift the demand curve back otherwise Wal-Mart must squeeze their profit and keep the price low to increase the demand.
            However the situation for Wal-Mart in Mexico is much more favorable where over the last few years under former President Vincente Fox and now under President Felipe Calderon, Mexico has developed a dynamic foreign policy and become a more active partner in multilateral affairs, climate change, human rights and regional issues (Datamonitor, 2010). Furthermore, Mexico maintains excellent relations with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, which create a very good situation for an increase of the Wal-Mart’s investments in this country.
            Even knowing that Mexico is facing an unprecedented increase in drug-related violence, according to Datamonitor (2010) the economy growth rate is expected to be around 3% in 2010 and reach over 4.5% by 2013 much better than in U.S. where the economy growth rate has been growing less than 1% (U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2011).             
            According to the Datamonitor report (2010) foreign investment policies in Mexico have been simplified in the country by amending relevant regulations and reducing legal and administrative bureaucracy. Also with the currency exchange rate in a process of devaluation where the dollar can be exchanged for fewer units of another currency, and the Mexican’s pesos can be exchange for more units of dollar. Wal-Mart can take advantage of these policies and currency situation to use their knowledge to transfer goods from U.S. to Mexico with a very competitive price. Then will be possible to reduce their operating costs and decrease the price of the goods in Mexico increasing the demand and maximizing the profit.
b) MacDonald’s fast food
                The Bureau of Economic Analysis now pegs last quarter's growth in real gross domestic product at only increased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the second quarter of 2011, well below the 3.5% advance originally reported. Business inventories, which had grown by $49.1 billion in the first quarter, after adjusting for inflation, subtracted 0.23 percentage point to $40.6 billion in the second quarter. That slowdown caused a subtraction from GDP growth of 1.4 percentage points, instead of only 0.7, as the BEA first estimated. Then with the personal income increasing only 0.3 percent, and the consumer price index increasing at 0.5% the American consumers are losing the power of consumption. Therefore not even the interest rate as the lowest from the past ten years is sufficient to improve the demand.  To get worse the U.S. business cycle is growing slowest as possible and the inventory levels are increasing with all the goods that companies can’t sale.
            In this scenario we would expect a difficult situation for MacDonald with a decrease in sales and struggling for profits. However MacDonald’s fast-food has been considering as a cheap alternative to sit-down meals. The success is given because McDonald's president and chief operating officer. Mr. Alvarez, 53 years old, has helped the Golden Arches extend a six-year success streak with his focus on improving restaurant operations, adjusting prices and keeping down costs (Adamy, 2009). The right strategy reflect straight in their net income that in has been growing constantly over the past few years.
Source: YCharts (
            Therefore cutting costs is not a sustainable model, especially when the economy is expanding in slow rates. At the same time the currency situation with decline in dollar will probably prompt MacDonald business to shift towards emergent markets. The domestic demand is decreasing and not even MacDonald’s happy meals will be enough to keep the demand at the same level.
            The immediate impact for MacDonald is losses in profit to maintain the same quantity demand especially because their focus is to adjusting prices they don’t want to lose demand they are more apt to decrease the price and squeeze the profit margins.
3. Conclusion
            The latest figures on economic growth released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) are bad. Yes, GDP growth has surged to low rates, but the contributions of investment, government expenditures, and net exports are almost nigh. Personal consumption expenditures have added some percentage points to growth, down from 2 percentage points in the third quarter. (See Figure1.1) One of the largest contributions comes from the change in private inventories, i.e. the variation in the stockpiles of goods that businesses store. An increase in inventories adds to GDP, because those are goods that are produced but not sold, and therefore not included in expenditures; a decrease in inventories, on the other hand, must be subtracted from growth, because those goods were already counted in GDP at the time they were produced. We can concur that only a reversal of the underlying decline in US fixed investment would be sufficient to halt this slowing of the US economy.
            However as Denis Hennequin, president of McDonald's Europe said:"It's a feeling that self confidence is our worst enemy" (Adamy, 2009). Denis Hennequin is right because one of the most important actions to revert the economy now is increase fixed investment although the companies are afraid to do it. Therefore U.S. government is providing the best situation for these by decreasing the interest rates as low as possible since 2007 the companies still not confident to invest and create jobs in America. This happened in part because the situation abroad is not so bad, actually most emergent countries is facing an spectacular growing rates and they now play an important role in the global business strategies. Where each company can entry easily then before and take their advantages to create a new demand and increase their profit globally. In this scenario companies as Wal-Mart and MacDonald’s have an amazing power because they can invest and create a lot of jobs and enable the economy to grow, wherever is profitable for them.

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