Class ‘wrap’

I was pleasantly surprised by this class because my previous experiences with management courses have been with organizational behaviour, which I personally believe is a pseudo-science at best and a ‘re-branding’ of common sense practices at worst. However, in this class we learnt about management theories and styles and it mixed well with practical guest lectures so I could see how they worked in the real world. I enjoyed it as I enjoyed a class during my Library and Information Technology Diploma called Library Philosophy and Functions, which meshed the history of libraries and books with trends and issues in libraries. In that class we also had a charismatic teacher who taught using personal experiences as examples.

I’ve already used something that we learnt our first class. When you start a new job, always be suspicious of the person who’s overly friendly and welcoming, because they’re the person everyone learns to avoid. When I moved into my current residence I was welcomed enthusiastically by the room mate who turned out to be quite emotionally unstable, but I knew right away. It’s possible I knew this through previous experience, but that small nugget of information that we’d learned in class that week was swimming around my brain.

Of course we’ve learned more academic things, like flat versus hierarchical management and what makes the culture of an organisation, but one thing I thought we’d have an entire module on, rather than just two weeks, was finances and budgeting. My observations while working in libraries have led me to believe that librarians spend much of their time balancing budgets and working with funding, but a lot of what we’ve learned in our first semester has been research-based, not only in this class, but in our other modules as well. However, that’s feedback for the entire program, and not one single course.

I believe that my thinking has changed and I’ve become a lot more analytical about my relationships with other people when I work with them on a project or event, which may or may not be a good thing. People don’t like to be catered to or catered for, even in the name of diplomacy, but if you’re open about it, especially for a class assignment or project at work, then it can be appreciated.

Marketing

Last year Capilano University Library, in North Vancouver, began major renovations, participated in the LibQual survey, and held a feedback session with students. There were many changes made based upon the results of the survey and the session, but the most immediate and most noticeable was the creation of a Communications Librarian role. A recent MLIS graduate who had been working part-time on contract was given the position; he’s a personable, kind, and helpful person whose instantly recognizable to students for his infectious smile as much as his towering height. The lesson? I think that we can learn communication skills in the classroom, or at work, but nothing beats natural aptitude.

From this week’s readings, the study on perception of communication skills amongst instructors and students (Alshare, Lane, & Miller, 2011) made me think about my own assessment, so far, of this program. My impression of my classmates is that we’re all good communicators, and this is being tested by juggling, in my case, four group projects. It’s not the group dynamics, that’s the problem, it’s coordinating when we can all meet that’s turning into the true challenge. I find it the perfect combination of time management skills and communication, and I much prefer it to some of the examples in the article. For example, I flinched when they mentioned writing cover letters; I’m in my 8th year of post-secondary education, if I have to complete another resume and cover letter assignment I’ll go mental.

As much as I enjoyed the relevancy of the article, I have issues with their methodology. That the survey ‘was available’ for about half a year, explains why they only got 59 and 83 participants. I’m also surprised that socio-economic backgrounds weren’t taken as an external influencing factor because I feel that this can severely hamper communication in the same way as cross-cultural communication issues. I may be wrong however, the list of external variables in the Results section ends with, “and other variables” (Alshare, Lane, & Miller, 2011, p. 189), but if they did take this attribute into account, then it would have been interesting to learn it’s effect.

References

Alshare, K.A., Lane, P.L., and Miller, D. (2011). Business communication skills in information systems (IS) curricula: perspectives of IS educators and students. Journal of Education for Business, 86, 186-194. DOI: 10.1080/08832323.2010.497819.

Individual Focus Study Topic

My topic will be uninvolved or absentee management in software development companies and my case study with be Valve, a game developer from Seattle with a flat management structure.

References

Traveling without direction. (1992). Supervisory Management, 37(7), 8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214227305?accountid=14507.

– Luckily I saved this offline because suddenly ProQuest won’t let me log in. 

Brazen, V. (2009, April 28). Tips For Dealing With An Absentee Manager. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.brazencareerist.com/2009/04/28/tips-for-dealing-with-an-absentee-manager/. Accessed September 29, 2013.

– Blog posts are turning out to be my major source because academic journals appear to avoid the topic. It’s almost as if journal articles are mostly written by Management.

Daley, D. M. (1991). Management practices and the uninvolved manager: The effect of supervisory attitudes on.. Public Personnel Management, 20(1), 101.

– The journal article that’ll be my main source. I’d love to have this in hard copy, because I don’t have any paper resources, but UCD Library says they have it when they don’t.

Two Valve References

Kelion, L. (2013, September 23). Valve: How going boss-free empowered the games-maker. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24205497. Accessed September 30, 2013.

Varoufakis, Y. (2012, August 3). Why Valve? Or, what do we need corporations for and how does Valve’s management structure fit into today’s corporate world? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/economics/why-valve-or-what-do-we-need-corporations-for-and-how-does-valves-management-structure-fit-into-todays-corporate-world/. Accessed September 30, 2013.