Hot Chicks, Guns and “Bad Words” Sell Merchandise!

By: Cody J. Giordano

Gary Vaynerchuk is a media expert. Vaynerchuk recently said in a Facebook video that he does not want to make a conventional video. He would rather make something people enjoy watching with cues, such as logos and objects or merchandise within those commercials. All forms of advertising have a place, but newspapers and inkblots, alone, will not cut it in our technology-driven society. Advertising styles have changed dramatically.

Black Rifle Coffee Company does an amazing job at selling products without directly advertising them. The veteran-owned and operated company makes funny and outrageous videos on YouTube and Facebook. The videos depict attractive women (hot chicks), guns, extreme sports, nice cars and everything else guys, like me, can’t get enough of. Below are three videos from BRCC.

John Willis, the owner of Special Operations Equipment (SOE) and James Yeager, the “MFCEO” of Tactical Response, have gotten famous by being unapologetic business owners. SOE makes gear like gun belts, chest rigs, rifle slings, etc. Tactical Response is a firearms-fighting school. Both Yeager and Willis speak their mind. When someone doesn’t agree with them, they will fan the flames. This gets the customer fired up. That customer then runs to forums and social media outlets to complain about either businessman. This draws supporters, like myself, to defend Willis and/or Yeager. Willis says that this model works because it is like a traffic jam. Everyone stops to look at the car with a flat tire. This slows down traffic, and more people see the flat tire (his name). The people then flock to his page by the hundreds to buy products. Yeager uses this model to get new students to sign up for classes at Tactical Response. They call this firing customers. By not wasting time on one bad customer, they can help two or three good ones. Both can be seen on YouTube and Facebook doing this very well.

Times have changes, and so have advertising styles. Rather than try to convince you why their product is better or tell you all about their products/services, they give you entertaining content that has subtle hints towards their business.

Water Cooler Worries

What is a water cooler conversation? Dictionary.com states that a water cooler conversation is an “informal conversation among office staff.” I believe that the word office is not needed in this definition because informal conversations take place in retail and factory work the same way that they would in an office setting.

What drew me to this topic was that this was brought up as an issue in a recent review of my company’s policies. We may have misused the definition of the topic, our problem was hallway conversations. Two employees would see each other in the hallway and they would talk about a current conversation and move on, but everyone else on that project would be left out.

This is not the typical issue with water cooler conversation. Most of the places that I looked, water cooler conversations were viewed positively. Talking to other employees allows people to recharge their batteries, build relationships and if used correctly can raise work place morale.  When the conversations are negative about other employees or if major negative news about the company is delivered with this method, the workplace morale can be drastically brought down.  Overall in general I believe that water cooler conversations are good for companies and can be beneficial for employees.

By Zach Walker, Mechanical Engineering Technology- Purdue College of Technology

Communication Breakdown in the Business World

What is communication breakdown? I have researched the definition of communication breakdown, however, I have not found a source that gives an exact definition of the term. This may be because communication breakdown happens all the time, whether it be in our personal life or in our work life. Think about someone saying, “Hey we need to get this done ASAP!” Most people interpret “ASAP” very differently. One person may think “ASAP” means by the end of the day, while someone else may feel “ASAP” means sometime this month. The smallest detail can cause communication to breakdown, which is the failure to get a point across. Communication breakdown happens all the time in the business world, which is what I will be focusing on, and giving you some examples of how communication can breakdown.

One example of communication breakdown is no communication at all. Lets assume there is bicycle factory that manufactures different types and styles of bikes on the same assembly line. One of the large customers decides they would like to order a different style bike than usual. Management decides the company has been doing well in productivity and will be better off not telling the shop floor employees to ensure the productivity stays up. However, a few days later people realize that they weren’t making near as many of the bikes that customer used to order time and time again. At the same time, not realizing how many more of the different styles were being produced that the customer switched to. This is when rumors begin to arise. Not updating employees on certain changes and important information can begin rumors like layoffs, decrease in pay, decrease in hours, or loss of benefits. Once rumors begin, you can expect employee moral to decrease along with productivity. You can avoid rumors by keeping employees up to date on what is happening with the business and not to keep them in the dark about issues that may arise.

Now lets say, for example, you tell your boss that you need the materials, to complete your job, delivered to your station by Friday. However, you forgot to tell him that you needed those materials by 7:00am. You don’t get the materials for the job until 2:00pm. The ending result was you missed the deadline for your job because you failed to communicate a specific detail. If you say you need something tomorrow, you can bet on getting it tomorrow but you can’t bet on what time it will come unless you specify exactly when you need it. Specifying the smallest details can greatly improve communication and give it less chance of breaking down.

Here is another example of communication breakdown. A manager runs a team of employees that tests the product of the company. The manager got orders from the vice president that she wants each employee on the team to test five products a day versus the four that they have always done. The manager realizes the employees will not like that very much, so instead of explaining the matter, he decides to take action and bark the orders at the employees to push them up to five tested products per day. This in return caused a crisis causing all of the employees to quit the job because they had enough of being pushed to hard. The manager could ask for feedback from the employees to see what improvements need to be made to test one more product per day. Barking the orders and trying to rush the employees caused a loss in important feedback that could help the test department.

Communication breakdown happens everyday, especially in business. There are so many ways for communication breakdown to come about but there is plenty of ways to help prevent it. Here are some tips to prevent communication breakdown between yourself and others in the workplace or in your personal life.

· Be specific on detail. Who, what, when, where, why, how
· Don’t rush the information you are trying to tell someone
· Acknowledge they are on the same page all the way through
· Use proper grammar in emails
· Encourage questions and feedback!

Here are a few tips for a business to improve communication and decrease breakdown.

· Be specific
· Don’t keep employees in the dark about important issues
· Constantly update employees to ensure they are on the same page
· Encourage feedback from employees!

This is just a brief explanation of communication breakdown, but hopefully this will help you realize the simplest of things can cause miscommunication. So the next time you tell someone “ASAP” you may want to go ahead and give them a date and time as well.

By: Joey Wilkerson, IUPUC Student

Work Cited
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/4-ways-to-fix-communication-breakdowns.html
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-organization-communication-breakdown-61551.html
http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/examples-organization-communication-breakdown-22630.htm
http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/communication-can-break-down-7074.html

The Rise and Fall of Paula Deen – the power of words then and now.

Who doesn’t love some good ole down home cookin’? To most of us Paula Deen in not an unfamiliar name. We’ve all heard that sweet southern mama in our TV’s sharing her secrets to her delicious food. Just recently the southern bell fell from her grace. One word a long time ago caused this women who was arguably one of the most well know TV chef to lose her empire she worked so long to build.
Being born and raised in the south during a time with segregation, the “N” word was not such a big deal. The power of words back then did not carry the same weight they do today. The “N” word said today by someone with such high notoriety would be ground shaking, 60 years ago, that was not the case.
Slang changes with time just as fads and fashion. In the early to mid-1900’s the words that were considered to be slang are now considered to be offensive terms used to degrade people of different backgrounds. Words have always had a tremendous power. Context and perception dictate what kind of power a word does or does not have.
When it comes to words that are offensive they have changed dramatically over time. These changes happen as peoples societal positions change. In the mid 1900’s where Paula Deen had been brought up African Americans were not considered equal in the eye of society, especially in the south. Referring to someone as an “N” word would be the same as today saying someone was “black”. It may not be politically correct but it was not necessarily offensive.
Today that is not the case. People have realized that all colors, races, religions are equal and we pride ourselves on being a free and equal opportunity nation. Everyone being equal and having these rights has caused a hypersensitivity to language.
There is such a diverse culture today that it is hard to tell what may or may not offend someone of a specific color, nationality, religion, or background. The nation has evolved and there are some definite words that are known to not be acceptable such as the “n” word, but there are many that are in a grey area.
Paula Deen has apologized and said many times that she thinks everyone is equal. This for many is not enough, in today’s society people find words to be extremely powerful. We as a new generation must realize that words can, and many times will come back and haunt you.
So for you Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram addicts remember you may not have a fortune to loose and Paula Deen did, but people are watching, so choose your words wisely!

Conflict in the Workplace

When it comes to conflict, I can honestly say, over the past decade of being a manager I have seen and dealt with a lot of it.  I have seen hundreds, possibly thousands, of different scenarios and have assisted people with working through the conflict to reach a resolution. You could say conflict management is a large part of my job as a general manager.  During a normal work week I spend between 20-30% of my time identifying conflict and defusing it before it escalades into an out of control issue that can leave lasting consequences.

Most people believe conflict is bad within a company and it should be prevented. However, conflict is all around us, we all deal with it daily.  People like conflict; we verify this every time we turn on our televisions to the newest reality show. The longest running television series in America, according to Wikipedia, is Guiding Light at 18,262 episodes.  This is a show centered on conflict in a small group of people’s lives. If you are more of a reader than someone who likes television, when was the last time you read a good novel in which the main character did not face some type of conflict?  The truth is conflict is ingrained into our everyday lives. 

Is conflict always bad for a company? We are going to analyze conflict and what kind of outcomes it has within companies.  We will also cover some ways to work through conflict.

Before we dive deep into this topic lets define conflict. Dictionary.com defines conflict as a verb, “to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash.”   It can also be a noun; a fight or battle, quarrel, controversy.  Now with conflict defined, let’s discuss it.

Those who say conflict is bad for a company are partially correct; conflict can cost companies large sums of money, and their reputations, can negatively affect outcomes and can sometime lead to a company failing. When conflict is ignored and problems begin to arise from said conflict, problems will begin to surface. Some problems with conflict are that they involve personal attacks that can lead to hateful behaviors. Conflict doesn’t help organizations solve problems, it creates problems. Large amounts of bad conflict also create negative morale in companies that can lead to decreased production with a team, lowered performance level and poor attendance. 

There are a great deal of factors that can cause conflict such as:

–          age difference

–          preference

–          morals

–          maturity

–          methods of communication

–          misunderstandings

–          passion level or involvement for the job/task

–          interdependence conflict

–          gender

–          methods to obtain goals

Now that we can see some causes and outcomes that unaddressed conflict can have in the workplace let’s look at it in a different context. Conflict doesn’t always have to get out of control to the point that it becomes strictly emotional and starts tearing teams apart. Conflict can generate positive consequences as well as negative.  If conflict is effectively manage red it can result in:

–          A less stressful work environment

–          Increased morale

–          Increased loyalty to the company or cause

–          Lowered heath care cost

–          Team cohesion

–          Personal and professional growth

–          Increase in communication leading to new ideas that benefit the company

The best way to foster an environment with beneficial conflict is to learn to identify conflict between employees before it gets overly emotional for the employees. All conflict should be addressed as soon as it is noticed.  Your employees should always feel free to communicate ideas without reprimand or personal attack. 

If you have begun working in an environment filled with negative conflict personal mediation may be required of you.  As the mediator you have a very important role in conflict resolution. There are many things you will need to know to become a good mediator. 

–          No one is right or wrong. Both sides will have to give some for a successful resolution.

–          Get to the root cause for the conflict. The true reason for the conflict may not always be on the surface.

–          Set guidelines to establish you as the leader and to ensure there will be mutual respect and vulgar language is not used.

–          The most emotionally explosive time will be at the beginning of discussion. Once both sides have made their initial statement you will then be able to mediate the situation better.

–          Ensure only one person speaks at a time.

–          Be sincere, and listen with empathy.

–          Paraphrase what is said to display your involvement in the mediating and to show you have an understanding of what both parties are saying.

–          Focus on separating the persons from the facts.  Make the conversation about the facts, not the parties involved.

–          Ask open ended questions to encourage involvement.

–          Offer alternatives to the current situation to help correct the problem.

–          Make sure both sides buy into the solution. If one person is talking and the other is silent you need to be able to pick up on the fact that the silent party is not happy with the solution and you need to continue seeking alternatives. Without both sides buying into the action plan you will not have a favorable outcome.

–          Always follow up on the situation to ensure the agreed upon solution is working.

If you are able to perfect these skills it will be very beneficial in maintaining an environment with less negative conflict and more positive interactions. People will be able to see that you care about them and begin caring more for the business. Conflict can be damaging to a company if not properly managed.  When in a work place of motivated people there will always be some level of conflict. I would have to agree with the quote, “Show me a workplace without conflict and I’ll show you a workplace where no one gives a damn.” – Alexander Kjerulf

By Richard Dockins Business/Marketing Major IUPUC

Real World Examples of Groupthink and the Consequences

 

First, what is Groupthink?

Groupthink was discovered as an undesirable by-product of group cohesiveness by a psychologist named Irving Janis. He further defined groupthink as a “mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”

What are the symptoms of Groupthink?

Excessive Optimism                                      Assumptions of Inherent Morality

Suppression of Dissent                                 Desperate Quests for Unanimity

Stereotyping                                                  Rationalizing

  • These symptoms create a decision-making climate where the probability of making a poor decision is very high.

Real World Examples and Their Consequences

Corporate

Swissair’s Collapse: Thought to be so financially stable that people referred to it as the “Flying Bank.” Poor decision-making processes eventually led to its collapse.

Symptoms: The belief that the group is invulnerable and the belief in the morality of the group.

Lack of expertise, similar backgrounds / norms and pressure to conform were also present.

Consequences: Collapse of Swissair

Political

Vietnam: Groupthink is believed to be main reason for the war. Strategic advisors in 3 successive administrations rubber-stamped battle plans laced with false assumptions.

Symptoms: Groupthink prevented contradictory views to the war from being expressed and subsequently evaluated.

Consequences: 58,220 United States servicemen died.

Newly studied areas of groupthink outside of Politics and Business where symptoms were present.

Sports

Major League Umpire Association: In 1999, the Major League Baseball Association staged a mass resignation in a failed attempt to gain a stronger negotiating stance.

Symptoms: The umpires overestimated the power that they had over the baseball league and the strength of their group’s resolve. There was the presence of self-censorship; some umpires who disagreed with the decision to resign failed to voice their dissent.

Consequences: Failed strategy, Major League Baseball accepted their resignations, 22 umpires were out of jobs and eventually replaced.

Groupthink Consequences and Preventing Them

Previous examples show how groupthink can have devastating consequences. In some cases, thousands of lost lives have been associated with it.

How can we prevent groupthink?

According to Irving Janis, there are some things we can do to improve decision quality in cohesive groups but groupthink will always be a threat.

Most Important: Group members must always ask, “Are we allowing ourselves to become victims of groupthink?”

                Fundamental prevention measures:

  1. Avoid the use of groups to rubber-stamp decisions.
  2. Urge each group member to be a critical evaluator.
  3. Bring in outside experts for fresh perspectives.
  4. Assign someone the role of challenging assumptions.
  5. Take time to consider possible consequences of action.

References:

Kreitner, Robert. Management. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2009. Book.

By David Rice, Business (Computer Information Systems) Major-Indiana University Purdue University Columbus

Have a dysfunctional team and don’t know what to do?

“dysfunctional – (of a trait or condition) failing to serve an adjustive purpose

                                                             -http://webster-dictionary.org/definition/dysfunctional

Dysfunctional teams occur everywhere, whether it is at home with a family or in a work force. Not everything runs smoothly or as planned in which makes a team “dysfunctional”. This is not necessarily a bad thing but definitely doesn’t make things easier.  I am going to share my thoughts on how to regroup and get back on track if things fall apart.

Step 1: Take a breath! Things may seem shaky right now but can be fixed with cooperation and determination by everyone on the team.  You need to come up with a common goal. A goal that if not everyone then the majority agrees on. If in a work setting this could be a finished product. If you are unable to agree on a central goal then try again. Compromise may be the key to come up with a single goal that everyone can work towards.

Step2: Once a common goal has been agreed on then as a team you need to come up with a plan or steps that will help you reach the goal. This can be as simple or as detailed as you want it. If you had tried a more detail plan before and it didn’t work then try something more simple that is 1, 2, 3 step process. This may make it easier for everyone to understand what you, as a team, are trying to accomplish.

Step3: Now for the tricky part. As a team decide if you want to do everything together step-by-step or assign parts to the members. This could be difficult if everyone doesn’t pull their share of the work. If this occurs then they may be the reason you got sidetracked in the first place. Make sure everyone is being included in the decision process.  Keep an open mind if other team members are trying to come up with a separate plan. If they do then ask them to share and you may be able to incorporate there plan into the group plan.

Step4: Take another breath. The hard part is over. Now everyone needs to trust in each other that you as a team can achieve your goal. Have group meeting to discuss where you are at in the project. This can help air out any issues that members are struggling with or answer any questions. Hold each other accountable. If one falls behind then everyone can end up behind. Share what you and your team has accomplished so that everyone is included; you never know someone may have a great idea that can take your goal to the next level.

Rabecka Ward

Baby Boomers and Today’s High School Graduates

            With the younger generations and the baby boomer generations mixing in the work force it is important that each generation contributes and learns from one another. The younger generation will be able to know and understand the newer technology and techniques that they have learned from school. The older generation can teach the new comers from their years of experience on how the business world operates with the competing companies and what it takes to be successful. It is important that they both learn from each other so that the company they work for can be successful. For a company to be successful in today’s competitive market requires them to stay up to date with the changes in the world, and at the same time to have employees from each generation work together to combine the best of the new with the proven successes of the past.  A person that is coming out of high school will know and understand the newer versions of how grammar has change. They will also, be able to understand how the newer technology, how it works and how the internet is used as a resource much better than the older generations.  As the baby boomers are coming to retirement ages they can show the new generations of their experience at work. They can also show how to handle certain ethics and situations that have come up in the past in their line of business. In certain careers there will be a certain way of how an employee needs to handle information and distribute that information. Sometimes a work place needs to find out how the world has change the way that the process in APA and MLA has change. Other times you learn that the business likes how the old way was and you learn from the older employees that stay with older styles of MLA and APA. The main reason is that you want to keep up with the way the business and the people in that career field are most comfortable in. If the business wants to keep up with the changes of the world then the baby boomers will learn from them. If the business feels comfortable with the old style then the new and young generation will relearn how the old style was from the baby boomers. Each generation has something to offer, which can make a business a greater success.

By Jared Parsons

Differences Between Group Work and Team Work

The following is an article written by X204 Business Communication Adjunct Lecturer Robin Fritz for Chron.com, the online business portal for the Houston Chronical:

Overview – In the business world, the words “group” and “team” seem interchangeable, but smart managers realize there are subtle – but important – differences.  Recognizing these differences early on will help small business managers to more effectively lead people to achieve their organizational goals.

What is a Group? – A group in the workplace is usually comprised of three or more people who recognize themselves as a distinct unit or department, but who actually work independent of each other to achieve their organizational goals.  For example, a small business may have a client services group, but one person may focus on local clients, one person may focus on regional clients and a third person may assist both of those individuals.  Also, groups tend to be permanent fixtures with ongoing goals or responsibilities.

What is a Team? – A team is comprised of three or more people who may come from different departments within a business, but they collaborate together over time to achieve some set purpose, goal or project.  For instance, before a small business creates a new product, it may organize a team comprised of people from all departments – engineering, finance, legal, marketing, etc. – to consider all aspects of the potential new product in order to avoid costly surprises down the road.  With a team, individuals recognize the expertise and talents of others needed to achieve the team’s goal.  Additionally, teams are often formed for temporary assignments with one specific goal, focus or outcome in mind.

Why Form Groups? – Managers recognized many years ago that two heads are better than one, thus small businesses have turned to groups or departments for many reasons.  With group work, members have a shared knowledge of the group’s objectives, but specific tasks or responsibilities are assigned to different individuals.  By separating work into groups – such as one devoted to marketing, one devoted to accounting, etc. – individuals within those groups are able to maximize their expertise on a long-term basis.

Why Form Teams? – Businesses form teams usually to tackle a specific – and usually temporary – goal or project with the intent of leveraging the collective expertise of a variety of people.  Because experts from various departments are involved, teams can avoid potential problems early on in a project.  For instance, a team of only engineers may create a new product but may not understand whether it’s affordable until someone with a finance background completes a “return on investment” or ROI analysis on its feasibility.  Having a finance member involved on the team from the beginning will help the engineers to create an affordable product in the first place, saving time and resources.  Teams can be very productive because involving people with different talents provides teams with increased opportunities to work more efficiently.

 http://smallbusiness.chron.com/differences-between-group-work-team-work-11004.html

Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

The following is an article written by X204 Business Communication Adjunct Lecturer Robin Fritz for Chron.com, the online business portal for the Houston Chronical:

Overview – Thanks to technology and faster transportation, the world is growing smaller every day, leaving plenty of opportunities for businesses to expand their products, services and staffs on a global scale.  But with a more global business environment comes a host of new challenges, not the least of which is learning to function in a multicultural workplace comprised of people with widely differing backgrounds.  For businesses with a very diverse workplace, successfully juggling a multicultural staff can make or break the bottom line.

What is Culture? – Culture is an interwoven system of customs, morals, traits, traditions and values shared by a group of people or a society.  It provides people with a common heritage, and it links them through shared experiences and joint learning.  Cultures exist on scales both large and small, ranging from large cultures extending to countries and regions, such as the American culture or Middle Eastern culture, to such small and distinct cultures as that of Amish communities in Pennsylvaniato the Basque culture in southern France.  Moreover, cultures provide people with a sense of self identity and community, and it greatly influences their actions within the workplace.

What is Diversity? – But, not all cultures are the same.  For instance, some cultures operate on a more “low-context” level than others.  People raised in low-context cultures tend to be very literal – focusing on the spoken word – and they’re more often analytical and action oriented.  Low-context employees also tend to use linear logic in the workplace, for example proceeding from point A to point B to point C and so on.  Additionally, business managers raised in low-context cultures strive to be efficient and professional, and they treat time as a very limited commodity.  North America and Western Europe are examples of low-context cultures.

Embracing Cultural Diversity – High-context cultures, on the other hand, tend to be more contemplative and intuitive, and workers raised in such cultures often treat time as an endless resource.  Additionally, in such cultures, spiral logic is more common, with individuals circling indirectly around a topic, considering it from all angles and viewpoints instead of head on.  Whereas Americans may be very literal, high-context workers pay attention to more than just the spoken word, believing that all aspects of communication – body language, facial expressions, etc.  – carry as much meaning as the actual words themselves.  Examples of high-context cultures include Far Eastern, Middle Eastern and Hispanic cultures.

Encouraging Cultural Diversity – In today’s global economy people from both low-context and high-context cultures are interacting in multicultural workplaces like never before and, as people are affected both visibly and invisibly by their cultures, conflict can result from the inevitable misunderstandings.  For example, employees from high-context cultures such as China, Mexico or Japan may prefer to imply no with their body language rather than saying no in actual word form.  Literal Americans and Canadians, however, often overlook these subtle implications and may fail to understand. 

To overcome multicultural misunderstandings, smart business managers will take the time to learn about and understand the differing cultures represented within their workplace, and will train their employees from different cultures on how best to communicate with each other in the workplace.

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/multicultural-effects-workplace-10989.html