The Aim of this Assessment is to meet the following Learning Outcome:
Critically apply theories relating to Teams as presenting during weeks 12 ? 17 on this unit; and
Analyse organisational problems and/or challenges and propose justified solutions.
Task ? Part One
This is an individual assessment, to be presented in a report format, examining the content covered in Weeks 12-17. You are required to apply relevant theories/concepts covered in Weeks 12-17 to the case study provided in Appendix B, draw conclusions and make recommendations for improvement. For example, you might want to explore the implications of:
Group Problem Solving
Team Roles and Team Development
You will need to describe 2-3 relevant theories/concepts, demonstrate your understanding of relevant theories as covered in the unit and your wider reading around the subject area. You will be required to cite all your sources throughout your work and provide references.
Apply the theories/concepts to the case study. Undertake an in-depth analysis of the case study based on the theories described. You will need to provide evidence to support your arguments. This will form the main part of your report.
What conclusions can you draw from your in-depth analysis? What have you learned from applying the theory to the case?
You will need to make clear recommendations for improvement based on the theoretical application and analysis and advise the company on how this might be implemented.
Task ? Part Two
You have to include a self-assessment of your work, as if you were grading it and giving feedback as a tutor. Apply the Assessment Evaluation Criteria in Appendix C (and published on BREO) against your own work. There is no set word limited ? However a guideline would be 250/300 words.
There are Two Parts to this Assessment. Please refer to the Appendices.
Length & Structure
1500 words (+/- 150 words) plus the self-assessment. Content in your appendix or references do not count as part of the wordage. This assessment should be presented in report format, fully referenced throughout the report, with a comprehensive reference list providing full bibliographic details of sources cited using the Harvard style. See Appendix A for further guidance.
Quality Regulation apply (Quality Handbook (Chapter 8 Section 7.5)
7.5 Word lengths and format.
7.5.1 If written assignments exceed the stipulated number of words by a margin of more than 10%, normally the first part of the text up to the assignment limit should only be graded. If work is not submitted in the specified format, the work should be downgraded or the board of examiners may resolve that it should not be graded.
The general assessment criteria for this assessment task can be found in the Assessments section of the Blackboard Unit site. Remember it?s not just about completing the task, so keep in mind the other criteria.
Your work must be submitted electronically via Turnitin.
Members of the course team will be happy to discuss progress on the task during its preparation and any ideas or issues that emerge.
See Student Support in the SiD area on BREO for advice as to how to apply for mitigating circumstances and the outlines for these to be granted.
Return of Grades and Feedback
Your provisional grade and feedback will be available electronically by midnight on Friday 21st March at the latest (15 working days after submission as per university regulations).
Help and Support
Lectures in weeks 11 – 16
Seminars in weeks 12 ? 17
Assessment Guidance Lecture in week 17 & seminar in week 18
Study Hub online guides, drop in sessions and PALs
Guidance on Report Structure
Section / Title Details / Guidance
Title page Include name, student ID number, unit title and code, assessment title, date of submission.
Introduction Short introduction to the report setting out what the aims and objectives of the report are, what the report will cover including the main issues.
Description of Theories Describes and demonstrates an understanding of appropriate theories using published academic sources introduced and with substantial evidence of independent reading.
Case study analysis This is the main body of your report where the problems presented in the case study are analysed. Questions to consider may include: What are the issues and problems you have identified? What are the likely consequences if these problems are not addressed? Your analysis should be supported by theories discussed in the section above. Cite all sources!
Conclusion The conclusion should briefly and clearly synthesise the key points of your analysis.
Recommendations You should propose recommendations based on your analysis. These should include strategies for the organisation to address the problems identified. The recommendations you make should be justified i.e. explain why they would work. Your proposals should be realistic and show consideration for the impact they would have on the businesses if implemented, ie. cost, timescales and priority. An action plan will help you demonstrate how your recommendations will be put into practice. This can be included in the Appendix to support your report.
Reference List You need to support your work with reference to academic sources (e.g. books and journal articles) as well as examples of organisational good practice (e.g. practitioner magazine articles / websites ? chosen carefully)
Use Harvard style (see the Learning Resources website: http://lrweb.beds.ac.uk/guides/referencing).
We are looking for, in addition to the core textbook, at LEAST 12 academic journal articles and books. You can also research other case studies as part of your wider reading.
Case Study: Repairing Jobs That Fail to Satisfy
DrainFlow is a large residential and commercial plumbing maintenance firm that operates around the United States. It has been a major player in residential plumbing for decades, and it?s familiar rhyming motto, ?When Your Drain Won?t Go, Call DrainFlow,? has been plastered on billboards since the 1960s.
Lee Reynaldo has been a regional manager at DrainFlow for about 2 years. She used to work for a newer competing chain, Lightning Plumber, that has been drawing more and more customers from DrainFlow. Although her job at DrainFlow pays more, Lee isn?t happy with the way things are going. She?s noticed the work environment just isn?t as vital or energetic as the environment she saw at Lightning.
Lee thinks the problem is that employees aren?t motivated to provide the type of customer service Lightning Plumber employees offer. She recently sent surveys to customers to collect information about performance, and the data confirmed her fears. Although 60 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their experience and would use DrainFlow again, 40 percent felt their experience was not good, and 30 percent said they would use a competitor the next time they had a plumbing problem.
Lee is wondering whether DrainFlow?s job design might be contributing to its problems in retaining customers. DrainFlow has about 2,000 employees in four basic job categories: plumbers, plumber?s assistants, order processors, and billing representatives. This structure is designed to keep costs as low as possible. Plumbers make very high wages, whereas plumber?s assistants make about one-quarter of what a licensed plumber makes. Using plumber?s assistants is therefore a very cost-effective strategy that has enabled DrainFlow to easily undercut the competition when it comes to price. Order processors make even less than assistants but about the same as billing processors. All work is very specialized, but employees are often dependent on another job category to perform at their most efficient level.
Like most plumbing companies, DrainFlow gets business mostly from the Yellow Pages and the Internet. Customers either call in to describe a plumbing problem or submit an online request for plumbing services, receiving a return call with information within 24 hours. In either case, DrainFlow?s order processors listen to the customer?s description of the problem to determine whether a plumber or a plumber?s assistant should make the service call. The job is then assigned accordingly, and a service provider goes to the location. When the job has been completed, via cell phone a billing representative relays the fee to the service rep, who presents a bill to the customer for payment. Billing representatives can take customers? credit card payments by phone or e-mail an invoice for online payment.
Although specialization does cut costs significantly, Lee is worried about customer dissatisfaction. According to her survey, about 25 percent of customer contacts ended in no service call because customers were confused by the diagnostic questions the order processors asked and because the order processors did not have sufficient knowledge or skill to explain the situation. That means fully one in four people who call DrainFlow to hire a plumber are worse than dissatisfied: they aren?t customers at all! The remaining 75 percent of calls that did end in a customer service encounter resulted in other problems.
The most frequent complaints Lee found in the customer surveys were about response time and cost, especially when the wrong person was sent to a job. A plumber?s assistant cannot complete a more technically complicated job. The appointment has to be rescheduled, and the customer?s time and the staff?s time have been wasted. The resulting delay often caused customers in these situations to decline further contact with DrainFlow?many of them decided to go with Lightning Plumber.
?When I arrive at a job I can?t take care of,? says plumber?s assistant Jim Larson, ?the customer gets ticked off. They thought they were getting a licensed plumber, since they were calling for a plumber. Telling them they have to have someone else come out doesn?t go over well.?
On the other hand, when a plumber responds to a job easily handled by a plumber?s assistant, the customer is still charged at the plumber?s higher pay rate. Licensed plumber Luis Berger also does not like being in the position of giving customers bad news. ?If I get called out to do something like snake a drain, the customer isn?t expecting a hefty bill. I?m caught between a rock and a hard place?I don?t set the rates or make the appointments, but I?m the one who gets it from the customer.? Plumbers also resent being sent to do such simple work.
Susie McCarty is one of DrainFlow?s order processors. She?s frustrated too when the wrong person is sent to a job but feels she and the other order processors are doing the best they can. ?We have a survey we?re supposed to follow with the calls to find out what the problem is and who needs to take the job,? she explains. ?The customers don?t know that we have a standard form, so they think we can answer all their questions. Most of us don?t know any more about plumbing than the caller. If they don?t use the terms on the survey, we don?t understand what they?re talking about. A plumber would, but we?re not plumbers; we just take the calls.?
Customer service issues also involve the billing representatives. They are the ones who have to keep contacting customers about payment. ?It?s not my fault the wrong guy was sent,? says Elizabeth Monty. ?If two guys went out, that?s two trips. If a plumber did the work, you pay plumber rates. Some of these customers don?t get that I didn?t take their first call, and so I get yelled at.? The billing representatives also complain that they see only the tail end of the process, so they don?t know what the original call entailed. The job is fairly impersonal, and much of the work is recording customer complaints. Remember?40 percent of customers aren?t satisfied, and it?s the billing representatives who take the brunt of their negative reactions on the phone.
As you can probably tell, all employees have to engage in emotional labour, as described in your textbook, and many lack the skills or personality traits to complete the customer interaction component of their jobs. They aren?t trained to provide customer service, and they see their work mostly in technical, or mechanical, terms. Quite a few are actually anxious about speaking directly with customers. The office staff (order processors and billing representatives) realize customer service is part of their job, but they also find dealing with negative feedback from customers and co-workers taxing.
A couple of years ago a management consulting company was hired to survey DrainFlow worker attitudes. The results showed they were less satisfied than workers in other comparable jobs. The following table provides a breakdown of respondent satisfaction levels across a number of categories:
DrainFlow Plumbers DrainFlow Plumber Assistants DrainFlow Office Workers Average Plumber Average Office Worker
I am satisfied with the work I am asked to do. 3.7 2.5 2.5 4.3 3.5
I am satisfied with my working conditions. 3.8 2.4 3.7 4.1 4.2
I am satisfied with my interactions with coworkers. 3.5 3.2 2.7 3.8 3.9
I am satisfied with my interactions with my supervisor 2.5 2.3 2.2 3.5 3.4
The information about average plumbers and average office workers is taken from the management consulting company?s records of other companies. They aren?t exactly surprising, given some of the complaints DrainFlow employees have made. Top management is worried about these results, but they haven?t been able to formulate a solution. The traditional DrainFlow culture has been focused on cost containment, and the ?soft stuff? like employee satisfaction hasn?t been a major issue.
The Proposed Solution
The company is in trouble, and as revenues shrink and the cost savings that were supposed to be achieved by dividing up work fail to materialize, a change seems to be in order.
Lee is proposing using cash rewards to improve performance among employees. She thinks if employees were paid based on work outcomes, they?d work harder to satisfy customers. Because it?s not easy to measure how satisfied people are with the initial call-in, Lee would like to give the order processors a small reward for every 20 calls successfully completed. For the hands-on work, she?d like to have each billing representative collect information about customer satisfaction for each completed call. If no complaints are made and the job is handled promptly, a moderate cash reward would be given to the plumber or plumber?s assistant. If the customer indicates real satisfaction with the service, a larger cash reward would be provided.
Lee also wants to find people who are a better fit with the company?s new goals. Current hiring procedure relies on unstructured interviews with each location?s general manager, and little consistency is found in the way these managers choose employees. Most lack training in customer service and organizational behaviour. Lee thinks it would be better if hiring methods were standardized across all branches in her region to help managers identify recruits who can actually succeed in the job.