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Effective management can be termed as having essential skills that revolve around having commercial insight, people skills and task execution. Task execution involves the ability to manage projects that may or may not have a level or degree in complexity. It also involves a sense of urgency and also the ability to work under pressure. A people skill is generally the integrity of fostering trust and emotional support to different kinds of people. It also involves motivating, coaching and developing people. The commercial insight basically involves skills that emphasize profitability and efficiency. It also means having an inner understanding of financial aspect of running and allocation of resources within the organization. Southwest airlines do not look for managers rather it looks for leaders. These are people who show an inborn ability of leadership and thus their recruitment and selection process aims at identifying people with such abilities.
Southwest Airlines (SWA)
Southwest Airlines is among the safest airline among 85 world major airlines with the best customer service, lowest costs, less complaints and less or no bag losses as measured by on-time performance. It mainly revolves in a culture of a people-oriented relationship where it emphasizes on caring for its customers and employees. It has a history of having grown from having four planes into an airline that has over thirty thousand employees. Southwest have their focus on making profits even if it means foregoing their revenue producing chances that may increase their ultimate costs.
The culture within this airline can be characterized as that of freedom and responsibility. Due to the high commitment to industrial regulations, the employees are able to focus on serving the customers better. This culture is therefore sustained through the employment of the desired employee job description. Exactly what do they look for? The process involves a lot of people and reflects on sustaining the culture and also retaining the individual. It is an employee-oriented approach as it defines their employees to be the most important persons rather than the customers as found in other organizations that have a customer-oriented approach. Employees working in a service-oriented organization whereby they are geared towards customer satisfaction tend to
What Southwest Airline is looking for
Southwest airlines aim at getting people at their best in both talent and working capacity. The employees should be innovative on their own and major team players towards the goals and objectives of the company. They should also have a fun-loving attitude towards their work and customers. It looks for people who have a sense of community and ownership. They are flexible enough to work in a highly dynamic environment. They also look for people with a high degree of commitment to customer service.
KSAO is a recruitment process that involves the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics of the employee. Southwest airlines have put a lot of effort in finding the right employees. The recruitment and selection process can take over a month whereas in other companies, this selection can practically take a day or two. The reasoning behind such effort portrayed by Southwest airlines is that they would rather do overtime than hire a single bad employee (O’Reilly & Pfeffer, 2000). They do their recruitment through steps such as:
A personality test aims at determining personality, values, interests and skills. At Southwest airlines, they undergo a personality test on different traits such as decision making, self confidence, communication and optimism. Prospective employeesundergo a critical and thorough screening to ensure that their personal values and attitudes are consistent with the values of the company.
b) Interview test
They also undergo an interview. What they look for in the prospective employees are people who are team players. These are people who can work together with others in order to achieve their objective and goals, which according to Southwest airlines are ensuring customer quality both on the ground and also in the air. Team work as described by human resources is based on evaluating people who have handled various past situations within their capacity and how they can handle the current issues.
There are other ways which Southwest airline uses for their selection process:
a) Public speaking
At most times after a recruitment the prospective candidates might undergo a public speaking session whereby they are made to speak before an audience. In such a case, not only is the applicant being evaluated but the others in the crowd too. The training and recruitment process goes beyond just having the skills. They purpose not only to train the employee to do his or her job but they also aim in training them to be all rounded. This means that they can use their initiative to fill gaps that might exist within departments, functions and operations so that they can serve the customer better.
b) Internal promotions and transfers
Southwest airline has a practice of internal promotions and transfers as part of their selection process. It targets on capturing the abilities of its employees into venturing new areas of work even though it might be beyond their experience. This works as a motivator as the employees are motivated to work better in order to have a chance at these promotions. They are selected based on their personal styles and acquired skills. It is through this internal recruitment that the company retains its culture of high performance.
Employees from outside undergo their selection process through the company’s university for people where they expected to progress within the organization as they acquire skills and become part of the existing culture. Despite the increased use of technology in recruitment of new employees, the human resource within Southwest airline has maintained the tradition of having this process face-to-face interaction.
c) Group interviews
The recruitment and selection process within Southwest airlines includes a group interviews whereby communication skills of the potential candidates are evaluated and noted. Communication is a key aspect within any given organization and how this information is disseminated within the company is also very crucial. It also includes a one-on-one face interview whereby the candidate’s attitude towards serving others is also evaluated (Noe, Hollenbeck & Wright, 2007).
How the recruitment and selection capture the KSAO
With an overview of what it is that the southwest airline looks for, how then does it capture the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics? The main KSAOs they look for include the right attitude towards the job, given skills in the job that is being applied for and even the know how of how to go about doing the job.
The selection process is able to capture these KSAOs through practicall situations, amplitude tests, and even interviews.
a) Right attitude
As earlier noticed, Southwest airlines do not have a Human Resource Department but instead it has People and Leadership Development Department. They aim at capturing the prospective employee’s attitude. It is easier to work with someone who attitude towards his work is positive other than having someone whose attitude is inherent and cannot be changed. Attitude involves a blend of humor, energy, team work and self confidence. This is also captured from the beginning as early as when the applicant calls for an application.
b) Intellectual skills and abilities
The aptitude test aims at getting the person intellectual functioning and also in performing a particular task. In this way the people and leadership development department is able to capture a particular skill from the prospective job applicant.
c) Knowledge and know how
This is captured through the interview where one is asked on various ways to handle different situations. Through the people and leadership development department, the decisions involve all levels of employees from that department, thus the placement of the right individual in the right position.
d) Other characteristics they might look for
These characteristics may be captured through various ways. When applicants are to be flown out for an interview, they are given special tickets. This informs the Southwest employees that he or she is a recruit and is kept under close surveillance. Any kind of trait such as constant complaining or friendliness is noted and passed to the human resource.
Having thus looked into Southwest airlines it is clear to see how quality selection and recruitment leads to its success, we greatly see how much SWA values their employees. Upon a successful employment for the job applicant, the company takes it upon itself to train and improve the skills of its new employees. This training is also taught to the new employees by the existing employees thus installing in them a sense of urgency. Majority of companies do not detail or put much emphasis on the kind of employees that they have within their organization. Employees are a major asset to any organization and their satisfaction should be looked into. In order to retain their employees and reduce the turn over rate, Southwest airlines have a very lucrative method. The benefits package includes insurances such as long-term disability insurance, dental insurance, health insurance, vision coverage and life insurance (Jackson & Mathis, 2007).
There are also discounts offered to the employees who can fly together with their families at discounted fares. Southwest airlines come to the aid of their employees even if it is financial-wise. Other than this there are numerous parties but the most prized benefit is job security. As a proof of this there has never been a layoff in the company and thus the employees understand the value of security within their jobs. They also have paid time off and stock purchase plans. The stock purchase plans help the employees to buy shares at a discount. Southwest also uses recognition as a reward to its employees. There are several awards that are issued in regard to recognition which include Heroes of the Heart, President’s award and Winning Spirit Award. All these factors work together into keeping the company valued to both the customers and its employees, thus retaining their culture, goals and objectives.