Tag Archive: work


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If people’s long-held biases cannot be so easily weeded out what can be changed is what they do about them. But everything we know about the roots of prejudice and how to fight it effectively suggests that precisely this attitude, turning a blind eye to acts of bias allows discrimination to thrive. To do nothing, in the context, is an act of consequence in itself, letting the virus of prejudice spread unopposed.

More to the point than diversity training courses or perhaps essential to their having much effect, is that the norms of a group be decisively changed by taking an active stance against any acts of discrimination, from the top echelons of management on down. Biases may not budge, but acts of prejudice can be quashed, if the climate is changed.

As an IBM executive put it,

We don’t tolerate slights or insults in any way; respect for the individual is central to IBM’s culture.”

If research on prejudice has any lesson for making a corporate culture more tolerant , it is to encourage people to a peak out against even low-key acts of discrimination or harassment offensive jokes, say, or the posting of girlie calendars demeaning to women coworkers.
To stop at battling prejudice in the workplace is to miss a greater opportunity; taking advantage of the creative and entrepreneurial possibilities that a diverse workforce can offer.

As we shall see, a working group of varied strengths and perspectives, if it can operate in harmony, is likely to come to better, more creative and more effective solutions than those same people working in isolation.


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Business Strategy Practise

News & Contemporary Developments

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The weapons used in maintaining the best practise partnership, work hand in hand with a common vision, to invest in 100 % engagement participation in understanding the business executive roles and what could destroy your business.

Get two entrepreneurs in a room and chances are one, if not both, have been the victim of accounting fraud.“

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners annual report, nearly half of all small businesses experience fraud at some point in their business lifecycle. It will cost these organizations an average of $114,000 per occurrence. Worse, such fraud is usually committed by a “loyal” employee. Four common types of fraud for business owners and ways they can be avoided:

1. Payroll fraud

Last year, on a local construction firm as a new client, their payroll account had never been reconciled to their time-keeping system, so we made that one of our top priorities. According to company records, two workers and their manager were working massive hours and getting paid a ton of overtime that amounted to more than $80,000 in additional annual pay. Their timesheets revealed they were working on construction projects that were more than 50 miles away from one another simultaneously. It took about three seconds to figure that out and fire the employees, but the money was gone. While it is easy for you and me to say that this could never happen to us, the additional salaries given to these three guys amounted to an increase of only four percent of the total payroll cost -a figure that when unchecked could easily slip through the cracks.
Most companies don’t keep clean enough records to notice such an amount, especially when they fund a six-figure weekly payroll.The best way to prevent payroll fraud is to reconcile all balance sheet accounts and payroll records monthly or, at the very least, quarterly. Look for any discrepancies and investigate them until you have a clear answer.

2. “Double check” fraud

I know of a restaurant whose former bookkeeper stole $550,000 over five years. She did this by writing two checks each time she paid a bill, one to the vendor and one to herself. For example, if she had to pay $500 to ACME Insurance Company, she would simultaneously write another check to herself for $100 that she coded in the accounting system as “ACME.”

It is very hard for business owners to catch this type of activity. Even if they are looking at the financial statements frequently and the bills look a little high, they can generally seem reasonable. But this can add up quickly. In this case, more than half a million dollars was stolen by writing 20 to 30 “double checks” per month for nominal amounts spread across multiple expense accounts.
This fraud was only detected when the bookkeeper fell ill and another bookkeeper took her place. Very quickly, the new person noticed that the bank account had not been properly reconciled in months. After doing so, it was clear that there were multiple payments in the same month to the same vendor.
As a business owner, it is difficult to find good accounting help, but it is important to have more than just one person signing checks and reconciling the bank account. Also, it is important to have an outsider come and look at the books and reconciliations at least annually, and at random times.

3. Over-ordering fraud

Another one of our clients had a 12-year part-time office manager who would routinely order and receive all the office supplies. She was paid $10 per hour and given just enough work to get her up to the point (but not over) where she still remained ineligible to receive health benefits. She was a single mother, had a child at home, and became disgruntled.

For at least the last three years of her employment, she began over-ordering office supplies. She would return supplies the company did not need in exchange for a gift card, which she then used to buy something small and take the remainder in cash. It is unclear how much was stolen, but our estimates were that in one year it was over $19,000.
The easiest way for this business to have avoided this type of fraud is to do the right thing from the start. Good employees pay for themselves on average tenfold, and bad employees can ruin companies. In this case, the manager was short-sided in wanting to save $250 per month in health insurance premiums. The result was an unhealthy work environment and a scenario where this lady felt that it was “fair” for her to steal.

4. “Friendship” fraud

A brilliant engineer friend of mine once hired his best friend’s daughter to be his bookkeeper. He had known her as a kid. She was smart, hard-working and, because she was a single mother, she needed a sound income. As it turns out, she also felt mistreated by her father, felt her previous boss was out to get her, had problems at home, and needed this job to get out of debt. My friend is a great guy and a very trusting person. Within a year, the bookkeeper was the only one writing, signing and authorizing checks. She was running payroll and the only contact for the IRS.

In late 2011, he was astonished to learn that all of his bank accounts were frozen and levied by the IRS. Though he had paid and filed all of his personal income taxes on time, his bookkeeper was stealing the money that was supposed to go to payroll taxes. As the only IRS point-of-contact for the business, she strung this out over a three-year period and stole $439,000. Three days later, the company was forced to shut down, 15 employees lost their jobs, and the shareholders (including her father) lost all of their money.
The moral of the story is to never hire anyone solely based upon friendship, family, obligation, or feelings of sympathy. Build a culture of accountability, measure results, and make sure everyone knows that you are looking at their performance. Then, hire based on talent, and pay for that talent to perform at a high level of accountability and integrity.


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Latest News & Developments in Business Strategy Practice

Rules of Success


As Mark Siebert sugested consider the following:

In many countries, U.S. concepts carry a certain cachet simply because they’re from the U.S. The retail and service environments in many countries are simply not as competitive as they are in the U.S. It’s the heart of capitalism and entrepreneurship.”

And in the Darwinian world of business, that type of environment produces the strongest survivors.

Many franchisors initiate their global franchise efforts through serendipity. Perhaps a foreign investor looking for a franchise came across their listing at

Entrepreneur’s FranchiseZone, and that chance encounter leads to an international franchise opportunity.


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Leadership Capabilities


Organisational challenges, tasks and decisions are distinguishing the long term direction for:

  1. The companies activity & scope
  2. Advantages
  3. A strategic fit with the business environment
  4. The organisations resource and competence
  5. The values and expectations

As an adapted article from “The Economist Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus, by Tim Hindle in The Economist Magazine suggested that:

Scientific management was the first big management idea to reach a mass audience. It swept through corporate America in the early years of the 20th century, and much management thinking since has been either a reaction to it or a development of it.

The idea was first propounded by Frederick Winslow Taylor, partly in response to a motivational problem, which at the time was called

soldiering

—the attempt among workers to do the least amount of work in the longest amount of time.

To counter this, Taylor proposed that managers should scientifically measure productivity and set high targets for workers to achieve. This was in contrast to the alternative method, known as initiative and incentive, in which workers were rewarded with higher wages or promotion. Taylor described this method as poisonous.
Scientific management required managers to walk around with stop watches and note pads carrying out time-and-motion studies on workers in different departments. It led to the piece-rate system in which workers were paid for their output, not for their time. Taylor’s first publication, which came out in 1895, was called “A Piece-Rate System”.
He believed that,

The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity of each employee.

The interests of management, workers and owners were, he maintained, intertwined. He wanted to remove “all possible brain work” from the shop floor, handing all action, as far as possible, over to machines.

In the past, the man has been first; in the future the machine must be first,

he was fond of saying.

He ignited a debate about man versus machine that continued far into the 20th century. The famous book in which he enunciated his theories, The Principles of Scientific Management, had a strong impact on subsequent management thinking.

It influenced such people as Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, American time-and-motion experts; it influenced industrial psychologists, many of whom saw it as an insult to the human spirit and set out to show that allowing free rein to human initiative produced superior results; and it influenced industrialists like the Michelin brothers (of tyre fame).
At the core of scientific management lie four principles:

1. Replace rule-of-thumb methods of doing work with ones based on scientific study of the tasks to be carried out.

2. Select and train individuals for specific tasks.

3. Give individuals clear instructions on what they have to do, then supervise them while they do it.

4. Divide work between managers and workers, so that the managers plan “scientifically” what is to be done, and the workers then do it.
Peter Drucker once wrote that Taylor was,

The first man in history who did not take work for granted, but looked at it and studied it. His approach to work is still the basic foundation.

The trade union movement, however, always hated it. A union officer once said:

No tyrant or slave driver in the ecstasy of his most delirious dream ever sought to place upon abject slaves a condition more repugnant.

There is little space for Taylor’s ideas in today’s world of freewheeling teamwork. But the writings of people such as Michael Porter and Michael Hammer, with their emphasis on breaking business down into measurable (and controllable) activities, hold more than a faint echo of Taylor’s ideas.

It led to the piece-rate system in which workers were paid for their output, not for their time. Taylor’s first publication, which came out in 1895, was called A Piece-Rate System“.


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