In this paper, you will conduct an audit of a company regarding one chosen topic, identify strengths and weaknesses, and provide recommendations based on your analysis. Here are the stages you should follow:
1. Identify an organization to study. I recommend using your personal network when approaching a company. Using a company you are currently working or recently worked for is a great idea. If this is the case, you can use yourselves as one of the interviewees. You will need to conduct a total of three interviews with current or former employees of this organization. Interviewing someone from HR is desirable, but not required. The interviewees need to be knowledgeable about the topic you study. Note that having all interviewees from the HR department is not necessarily a good strategy, as their view of performance management and reward systems is often more positive relative to that in other departments.
2. Choose a topic. Topics are listed below. Your chosen topic should fit the organization you are studying. For example, if you are studying incentives, you should study an organization that actually uses incentives. If your topic is performance reviews, the company in question must have a structured performance review system in place.
List of Topics:
· Performance evaluation (Describe their performance review system in detail, and provide a critique of strengths and limitations of the system, along with your detailed recommendations).
· Incentives (Describe the financial incentive systems in place in the company, provide a critique of strengths and limitations, along with your recommendations). Note that incentives have a specific definition in this course. Incentives are programs that tie pay to individual, group, and/or organizational performance. This is different from benefits, and different from the dictionary definition of incentives.
· Benefits (Describe the discretionary benefits in place in the company as it is experienced by employees, provide a critique of strengths and limitations, along with your recommendations.) Note that in this course we are interested in benefits that are considered to be a person’s overall pay (e.g., 401k plans, health insurance, child care, tuition benefits etc) and not on the general benefits of working in a company (such as advancement opportunities). Your paper should focus on benefits as defined in this course.
3. Master your topic. In the final report, your job is to first describe what the company is doing, then analyze its strengths and limitations, and offer recommendations. In other words, your entire report will consist of a description of the company’s activities (obtained from your three interviews and any other publicly available information about the company) and your recommendations. Before you go to the interviews, you need to master your topic so that you can create smart and meaningful questions. Start by reading the relevant sections from the book. I would also encourage you to read additional articles on the topic from outlets such as Harvard Business Review, SHRM website, Workforce, People Management etc.
4. Develop a list of questions. Your questions should attempt to uncover what the company is doing, as well as strengths and weaknesses of your chosen company in your topic of study. The purpose of these questions is to see whether the company is doing the things identified in your literature review, as well as what this company is doing right, and what can be improved. Avoid asking for sensitive or confidential information.
5. Research the company through interviews and other sources. You need to interview three current or former employees of your chosen company (one of them may be a team member). In addition, you may gather relevant information through the company’s website, news articles, and any other sources.
Make sure that the responses of your interviewees are strictly held confidential. Do not attempt to gather information through surveys or via e-mail. Surveys do not give you the opportunity to expand on the answers and tend to contain brief responses, which leads to a superficial analysis of the organization of interest. Instead, I would like you to talk to the people in question and ask further questions to clarify answers. Zoom meetings are perfect for this.
6. Write up the paper. Most papers are around 12-15 pages, excluding the references and appendix. Use size 12 times new roman, with 1 inch of margins on all sides. (Double spaced). Please do not exceed 15 pages of text.
Your paper should roughly have the following outline:
Title page: Include the title of your paper, and names and e-mail addresses of all your team members.
Introduction: Provide an overview of your paper. This section should summarize the outline you will follow in the paper. (about half a page)
Company Information: Provide an overview of the company, and describe how you collected the information. Here, you should introduce the people you interviewed (their job titles, demographic characteristics: age, gender, position, tenure) while at the same time protecting their identity. (less than 1 page)
Findings: Describe what you learned as a result of the interviews and through other methods. If your topic is incentives at Nike, this section would discuss:
· What types of financial incentives does Nike have that link employee, team, or organizational performance to rewards?
· How do these rewards work? What are their strengths and limitations in motivating workers? What are the problems in their implementation?
Be sure to structure your findings in a meaningful way, using headings and subheadings. Please do not summarize your findings by interviewee. Remember that the project is not meant to read like a transcript of your interviews. Your goal is to provide a description of the system in place, along with its upsides and downsides, rather than summarizing what each person said during the interviews.
What matters in this section is to provide a complete coverage of what the company is doing, whether it is working, its strengths, and weaknesses. Everything you discuss in this section should relate to the company you are analyzing. Also, remember that perceptions define reality. Just because you think Nike does a good job with incentive management is not enough. What do the employees think? Do not assume that just because a company is successful, they must have an excellent system in place. Even successful companies have incentives, benefits, and performance review systems that fall much short of best practices, and there is always room for improvement.
Recommendations: Provide your recommendations based on your findings. What are they doing right and should keep doing? What are the problems you have observed or areas for improvement? Your recommendations should:
· Be logical and reflect an understanding of the best practices.
· Be feasible given the company.
· Be based on problems in the company you have actually observed, and identified in the findings section.
· Be related to your chosen topic. In other words, if your topic is reward systems, your recommendations should target the reward system. Do not suggest changes in the job design in a paper dealing with reward systems.
Conclusion: It should be about a paragraph long.
Reference List: Provide a list of all the sources you used, if any. Note that you are not required to cite external sources, but if you do, please cite them and include full information in the references list.
Grading Criteria for the Project
· Timeliness of the project. If the project is submitted up to 24 hours late, it will be graded out of a B. If submitted 24-48 hours late, it will be graded out of a C. Beyond 48 hours, late submissions will not be accepted.
· Does the paper look clean and professional?
· Is the paper mostly free from typos and grammar mistakes?
I will take out up to 10 points for problems in these areas:
· Plagiarism: If I detect that you used sentences from other sources without citing them, all members of the team get a zero. Further, copying and pasting information from other sources is not an acceptable way of writing your paper even if you give credit to the original source. In other words, the paper should completely be in your own words, with sources properly cited. I will use plagiarism detection software so please be careful not to plagiarize.
· Findings: (50 points)
· Logical organization. Do you present the information in a clear, easy to follow manner?
· How rich is your coverage of the topic? Does it look like you have asked the right questions? For example, if your topic is reward systems at NIKE, at the end of reading this section, I should feel that I understand how Nike is using reward systems to motivate individuals. Is your coverage of the issue complete, or does it raise more questions?
· Are your findings balanced? Do you provide strengths and weaknesses? Or do you only praise the company without mentioning areas that could be improved?
· Recommendations: (50 points)
· Are your recommendations based on problems you have identified, or do they come out of the blue? Your recommendations should deal with specific problems you have identified in the company, and not be generic. For example, you cannot just recommend that “the company should use profit sharing.” You need to provide the reasons, and discuss the problems that create a need for a reward system such as profit sharing, and provide a solid rationale for why these previously mentioned problems could be resolved using profit sharing.
· Are your recommendations related to the topic at hand? Or do you identify problems in one area (such as reward systems) and then provide recommendations in a different area (such as job design).
· Are your recommendations consistent with HR research and best practices? Your recommendations should be aligned with the material covered in this course.
· Do you provide a sufficient number of recommendations? I expect this section to contain several recommendations, addressing all the problems and strengths identified earlier.
Your evaluations by other team members will determine your actual individual grade from the team project. Therefore, you should make every effort to contribute fully to this project, and also be perceived as a highly contributing member . You will evaluate each other during the finals week and you can find the link to the survey under the finals week module.
Firing a Team Member
If no matter what you did, you have unreachable and irresponsible members in your team, you can fire a nonfunctioning team member after giving this member a written notice. Please copy me in the written notice. Members who were fired will have to complete the project all by themselves. You can fire a member up until two weeks before the project deadline. After this point, you will have to work with the existing members.