lundi 24 octobre 2011

The balanced scorecard (BSC):

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a strategic performance management tool - a semi-standard structured report originated by Drs. Robert Kaplan (Harvard Business School) and David Norton. It is supported by proven design methods and automation tools, that can be used by managers to keep track of the execution of activities by the staff within their control and to monitor the consequences arising from these actions.

While the phrase balanced scorecard was coined in the early 1990s, the roots of this type of approach are deep, and include the pioneering work of General Electric on performance measurement reporting in the 1950’s and the work of French process engineers (who created the Tableau de Bord – literally, a "dashboard" of performance measures) in the early part of the 20th century.

Design of a Balanced Scorecard ultimately is about the identification of a small number of financial and non-financial measures and attaching targets to them, so that when they are reviewed it is possible to determine whether current performance 'meets expectations'. The idea behind this is that by alerting managers to areas where performance deviates from expectations, they can be encouraged to focus their attention on these areas, and hopefully as a result trigger improved performance within the part of the organization they lead.

Balanced Scorecard

The organization through the four perspectives
  • The Learning & Growth Perspective: This perspective includes employee training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and corporate self-improvement. In a knowledge-worker organization, people -- the only repository of knowledge -- are the main resource. In the current climate of rapid technological change, it is becoming necessary for knowledge workers to be in a continuous learning mode. Metrics can be put into place to guide managers in focusing training funds where they can help the most. In any case, learning and growth constitute the essential foundation for success of any knowledge-worker organization. Kaplan and Norton emphasize that 'learning' is more than 'training'; it also includes things like mentors and tutors within the organization, as well as that ease of communication among workers that allows them to readily get help on a problem when it is needed. It also includes technological tools; what the Baldrige criteria call "high performance work systems."
  • The business process perspective: This perspective refers to internal business processes. Metrics based on this perspective allow the managers to know how well their business is running, and whether its products and services conform to customer requirements (the mission).
  • The customer Perspective: Recent management philosophy has shown an increasing realization of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction in any business. These are leading indicators: if customers are not satisfied, they will eventually find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance from this perspective is thus a leading indicator of future decline, even though the current financial picture may look good. In developing metrics for satisfaction, customers should be analyzed in terms of kinds of customers and the kinds of processes for which we are providing a product or service to those customer groups.
  • The financial Perspective: Kaplan and Norton do not disregard the traditional need for financial data. Timely and accurate funding data will always be a priority, and managers will do whatever necessary to provide it. In fact, often there is more than enough handling and processing of financial data. With the implementation of a corporate database, it is hoped that more of the processing can be centralized and automated. But the point is that the current emphasis on financials leads to the "unbalanced" situation with regard to other perspectives.  There is perhaps a need to include additional financial-related data, such as risk assessment and cost-benefit data, in this category.

Since the Balanced Scorecard was popularized in the early 1990s, a large number of alternatives to the original 'four box' Balanced Scorecard promoted by Kaplan and Norton in their various articles and books have emerged. Most have very limited application, and are typically proposed either by academics as vehicles for promoting other agendas (such as green issues), or consultants as an attempt at differentiation to promote sales of books and / or consultancy.

Examples of the concerns raised by the development of the balanced scorecard. The use of Balanced Scorecard for appraisal/incentive use may:
  • result in the 'forced distribution' of people into performing groups
  •  lead to a 'one size fits all' strategy to performance management
  • encourage organizations to evaluate performance using a bell curve method. This in turn can mean that a set percentage of staff will be categorized as 'under performing'.
  • encourage 'peer ranking' resulting in assessment of performance relative to the performance of other employees, rather than fixed standards

Today, a lot of companies are using the balanced scorecard such as Veolia, BMW financial services, IBM, Philips electronic,... 

To go further:  

- A balanced scorecard website:

- A more complete explanation of the balanced scorecard:

- The example of Veolia:

samedi 15 octobre 2011

Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech from 2005

This Speech is a little bit old. But as Steve Jobs died, I thought it could be a good idea to share with you this speech which is adressed to student like us. It can give you last advises signed Steve Jobs.


mercredi 12 octobre 2011

Smoking causes less productivity

According to a French report, the 2006 decree concerning the interdiction to smoke in public places caused several extra costs for firms and in particular for managers.
Indeed, daily cigarette breaks led to a decrease of productivity. The pulmonologist Bernard Dautzenberg, chairman of the OFT (French Organism for the prevention of the addiction to smoking), explained people can spend 80 minutes a week to smoke during working hours. According to the report, a smoking worker would represent an additional cost of €2500 to €5000 a year!

The management has to make in order to solve that problem

Some companies try to put an end to this by proposing cures of weaning (€600 per employee for a cure). Some others, rather than trying to make people stop smoking, fit out sort of smoking spaces next in dirty places to dissuade them.
Besides, many companies are afraid of the negative influence smokers in front of the building can have on its image. As an instance, Sanofi’s workers are not allowed to smoke in front of the head office.
However, it is difficult for firms to manage this addiction because executives and directors smoke, which reduce their credibility. Yet, the implication of top level managers could be very helpful to fix the problem. For example, the director of UNESCO used to smoke a lot; after the decree, she went to consultation and was one of the first to stop.
Prof. Dauntzenberg observed that 64% of smokers did smoke at work when the boss was a smoker too, while 51% of them when the boss didn’t.
Also, workers who do not smoke can feel frustrated for smoking breaks are sometimes an opportunity to meet high level executives or the boss, or the human resource manager, and get elements (e.g: vacancies) that others cannot know. This could be responsible for conflicts in the company, since no-smoking workers feel rejected from informal conversations, or be forced to stay longer at work because others take too many breaks.
This risk has to be considered by managers otherwise it would decrease everyone’s efficiency.
The article talked about Christophe Schmaltz, a consultant specialized in the management of conflicts, who think these conflicts around the cigarette matter can be dangerous for the cohesion of the team and point out a deep malaise.

Comment: According to us, this problem has to be considered as a serious one. Due to the evolution of the law, managers have to face new problems, and try to adapt in order to satisfy everyone’s needs and avoid employees to feel uncomfortable at work. Through this article, we saw the influence high level executives and directors can have on the employees to change their attitude and habits.
Insofar as it can be harmful for the team, managers have to try to find a solution in order to avoid conflicts. One of the appropriate solutions would be to monitor cigarette breaks, by scheduling them and defining a certain duration, which can be taken by non smokers as a simple break.

lundi 10 octobre 2011

Human resources management of seasonal workers

It is the Human relations movement, which for the first time at the beginning of the twentieth century took into account the human factor as a productivity instrument.  Although precursors, these new ideas were not really taken into account during this period, which was dominated by Taylorism. It’s only from the end of the 2nd World War and because of the evolution of the economic, social and demographic context that companies started to reassess the human resources contribution. Indeed, they became aware of the fact that an appropriate human resources management is a significant competitive asset which has a part in the company success.

In the company, ‘staff department’, and the semantic is important, had been switched into ’department of human resources management’. One stares  the human being as an invaluable resource which has to be managed in the best way in order to optimize its performance. The human resources management is meaningful since the company’s profitability comes into play, and the strategy it shows off has to be appropriate to its environment and its activity sector.

We will see through different articles, that HR management has also to be applied to the workers managed. We will explain in this first article how to manage seasonal workers.

In order to do so, we will point out in a first place to what extent seasonal staff is a specific labor.

Where do we find seasonal workers?

These workers are mainly found in touristic companies. This kind of company is a provider of services with a strong added value. That is why, the employees make up the “main work tool”. The product’s quality, so its competitive positioning, is directly relative to the labor quality. We are able to say then, that the labor is into the performance’s center.

What are their work conditions?

They are often really difficult: tourists request submitted all leisure’s day long, from breakfast to dinner. The changeableness of the demand forces them to be pretty flexible because the workload fluctuates according to hours, days or periods of the season. We can also add that the work interest is often low and the tasks are physically testing. Moreover, they face the company pressure since clientele waits for an irreproachable service. In other words, the service quality rests mainly on employees’ shoulders.  At last, jobs of the tourism sector are often under qualified and despite of the employment market’s tension, wages stay below other sector’s one.

The specifities of the seasonal employment lead companies’ managers to involve to particular methods of staff management.  Indeed, it is the whole companies’ organization which has to be fitted to this type of atypical workers. From the recruitment to the end of the seasonal staff’s contract, the HR department tries to set up fitted policies, playing on their assets to recruit and motivate employees, devoting to their well-being to have a positive impact on workers’ performance.

What are the characteristics of this kind of management?

These types of companies do not usually provide competitive wages, rather low, really closed of the minimum wage. They have to find compensations in kind to make themselves attractive in the eyes of the employees.

In order to do so, companies are forced to adopt an appropriate corporate culture. Indeed, most of the workers are young and do this job not only for the professional experience but also for the social one. The work’s atmosphere is in this way, relaxer than within a company hiring only qualified staff. Moreover, hierarchical relations are not formal. For example, the superior has, for sure the job of checking the works of his subalterns, but also of helping them. He carries out most of his time the same tasks than them. This closeness between superior and subaltern introduces a convivial atmosphere, is confidence driving and contributes to the job interest too.

We can also point out that most of these firms favored a functional structure of the company. Organizing by function means first, parsing horizontally a flow integrated in operational, specialized, coherent units as regards the knowledge set up. The functional organization permits that the hierarchic is ‘technically’ skillful in the function he manages; contrary to a divisional organization where the hierarchic is responsible for several trades. It is almost impossible for him to be skilled in each of them. This functional structure seems to be the most effective to a company employing seasonal staff: superiors supervising employees -who are low trained and low experienced-have to be able to bring their help concerning the knowledge. This organization is ‘centralist’ and gives a strong power to the most high-ranking manager of the hierarchy. This limits the seasonal positions leeway, which only execute orders. The absence of decision-making in the tasks they carry out permits to the company to make his recruitment easier because it field of research is broader. Indeed, it does not need anymore to recruit seasonal staff who have management capacities. Moreover, this decreases considerably the training period when the employee arrives in the company. It is in reality almost nil, seasonal staff only having to take execution tasks in. This kind of organization is certainly the easiest organization to set up and the most economical one.  On the contrary, if these firms had used a matrix organization it would have had to plan more supervision. It would have needed a training staff to help seasonal workers to learn their job, and a supervisory staff to manage their activity.

To conclude, the biggest stake for the HR department is to succeed in giving birth to the affiliation feeling for these staff. And according to E.Mayo, it is the job of the hierarchy to favor the appearance of this feeling and to stimulate the initiative taken by the subordinates in the tasks relatives to standard management. This step permits to make the strove toward objectives become integrated objectives everywhere. We can also add that a good work environment encourage the employee fulfillment and permits him to integrate himself in a better way within the company. The seasonal staff has to feel concerned about the company’s matter even if they stay in for a limited period. The HR managers have to be able to find out eccentric methods of management to create rapidly and efficiently this feeling.

dimanche 9 octobre 2011

Google's model of management

Google’s registered office is often called the “Googleplex”, owing to the various fittings and services placed at the employees’ disposal. For instance they have access to gyms, tennis courts, billiard tables, free restaurants… and they can also use bicycles or scooters so as to move faster between 2 meetings.

Moreover 20 percent of each employees’ wage is dedicated to the pursuit of projects that interest them. That spare time not only offers Google’s employees autonomy but also shows how much the company trusts them. Thereby they can feel free to express their creativity during that spare time without suffering any pressure from their boss.

Such a sytem can easily be linked to the human relations movement, which is embodied by Elton Mayo. In his opinion caring about employees is a great way to improve their productivity. E.Mayo emphasizes on the fact that paying attention to people’s preoccupations and motivation enable to better interest them in their work, and thereby to increase their performance.  

Thus the Google’s way of managing its employees seems to be close to the human relations idea of caring about people. All the installations in Google’s company clearly represent incentives for employees. Given the various activities offered within the “Googleplex”, employees probably feel proud of their job. Indeed, most people are willing to work for such a flourishing company, which is notably famous for its specific way of managing its employees. This system also enables the company to foster its employees’ loyalty and to make sure that they will remain focused and concentrated on their work.

What is also important in the “Googleplex” is that there are many communal spaces at the expense of personal offices, so as to favor communication between people and then creating a convivial atmosphere. Everything is made to make them happy to work, which was the main goal of the human relations’ movement.
Eventually, Google’s innovations as regards management seem to update Mayo’s principles, while proving that it represents an effective way to increase the company’s output.

mercredi 5 octobre 2011

What would Google do?

“No company, no leader, no institution seems to really understand how to survive and prosper at the age of internet.
Except Google”

 That’s the starting point of the book of Jeff Jarvis “What Would Google Do” written in 2009.
For now, only one society escapes from the crises and knows the more spectacular growth at this day since its creation: Google. This development is based on a radically new approach, a unique method.

The American journalist decrypts in the first part of the book the strange “Google laws” to extract principles of management and totally new behavior more adapted to the age of internet. The first chapter, for instance, approaches the relation with the client and the need to maintain strong relations with him. One principle is: “our best friend is our partner”. A client, who likes your products, can tell you what he wants before you invest in a product thanks to blogs, forum… where you’re in constant relation with him. With luck, he will appropriate himself the products he helped you to create. He won’t be a client anymore but defender of your product.  

Jeff Jarvis thinks that the majority of the sectors of activity could inspire itself from the search engine and transport its principles of management to their activities. He gives, in the second part, the examples of Google Air, Google Energy, Google University, Google Bank,… However, some exception remains out of the Google effect: the agencies of public relations, the lawyers and societies such as Apple. 

Ask yourself what Google do if it were you!