Thursday, July 12, 2012

Critical Thinking and Decision Making

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Critical Thinking and Forces of Influence

American Express, through global expansion developed into a powerful conglomerate in its 150-plus year existence. Processing the payments for the American Express cards is a intricate and time critical process. Cashiers remittance division is responsible for the documentation of payments to American Express card member’s accounts. This process was relocated from Chicago, Illinois to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In order to coordinate the activities of employees, functions and division and increase efficiency, an organizational framework was designed. It provided for a means of accomplishing the objectives of the enterprise, reporting relationship, chain of command and flow of information.

To determine the status of productivity and to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement in the cashiers department, a productivity audit was conducted. Examination, analysis and evaluation of 8 dimensions, policy, leadership, objectives, inputs, performance, technology, work procedures, and staff, of the cashiers department in an organization will disclose how effectively resources are being used to fulfill objectives. The purpose of this audit is to present the facts in an organized manner and provide the results of a Productivity audit of the cashers department of American Express. This audit enabled a detailed study and dissects the information in order to determine the positive or negative impact of the production associates in the department’s actions is having on organizational success. From the results of the audit management wil decide a course of action

The audit establishes if policy, business standards and rules, are being followed. These influence each step of the operation of business including labor, capital, supplies, production, technology, staff functions and strategy. The policies can impact workplace issues positively or negatively. Results of the audit revealed employees at all levels are not involved in decision-making about their own and related jobs. Management feels the associates need to feel they are evolved to make them feel valued, more committed and motivate them to greater productivity, and employees have special talents, skills, and creativity, which will benefit the organization if the employees are allowed to express them.

Leadership is a series of actions cultivating a distinctive desirable result. In an enterprise, it is the imagination, inspiration and the ability to assemble and motivate a group of individuals, each engaged with different responsibilities, to develop and evaluate strategies to achieve common goals and produce useful changes. It provides organizational structure, standards of behavior, builds commitment and support from subordinates through interactive, open communication with leaders.

Leadership at the first level of management has to do with an organization’s purposes. Positive action taken through leadership in the cashiers department is a contributing factor to organizational success good management, working effectively with people of many ethnicities and creating the future. Negative action taken through leadership creates obstacles to organizational success. Leaders do not approach productivity improvements with an emphasis on teamwork. Results showed leaders foster competition among personalities and age groups rather than productivity ideas. Need to foster competition around productivity ideas, leaders will gain a broader perspective of productivity improvements and promote concerted effort from all employees.

Objectives are goals or end of actions involving total effort to achieve them. The department is demanding greater productivity from associates to achieve objectives. Associates must agree to follow guidelines until the objectives have been reached. The department emphasizes the importance of speed while organizational goals and purposed foster excellence in customer service to their card holders. Productivity objectives are not in line with organizational goals and purposes. Productivity objectives do not conceder varied religious holidays  review and adjust the departments’ productivity goals so that they are aligned with the organizational goals and purposes and in line with available staff during the year.

The inputs part of the audit such as, labor, capital and supply the organization use to produce output. Positive results identified all budgets components needed for production. Job specifications are clearly and precisely defined so that associates know exactly what is expected of them. Negative results showed employee’s time input does not reflect a 100% contribution to organizational input. Time is occupied performing non-production functions. All resources are not always available. The quality of cases received from cross functional areas is not consistent with the quality of work expected in cashiers. When all resources are not available schedules can not be adhered to. A remedy is to create a buddy system, wherein associates have the responsibility to cover the buddy‘s work load when they are absent. Management will not change so called non productive duties. Based on data obtained from associates computer time the nonproductive time is already factored into productivity. Schedule department meeting to make associates aware if this fact and remove the perception they have.

Performance in the audit is how well an employee does his or her job. It is a measure of the effectiveness of individuals or teams. Regarding performance, the associates do not have the authority or ability to control all resources, such as the computer, and telephone if they are not functioning performance is affected. Results showed employees are not completely trained in job tasks that they are expected to perform. Retraining of staff at all levels and continued training as new tasks are developed for consistence of performance. The term, technology is used to describe three different concepts. One is computer and communication devices fit into this category. Secondly, to perform functions, individuals are involved in activities such as procedures, skills and methods. Thirdly, arrangements, such as, organizations and teams are formed to reach productive objectives. The audit revealed desk top computers were antiquated in addition to peripheral equipment. The budgetary constraints did not allow for capital improvements. If funds are not provided to enhance technology, all 8 dimensions of the audit will continue to be affected.

Regarding technology, computers and communication devices, cashiers, is not utilizing its resources in a few areas, in an efficient manner to accomplish objectives. Long-team considerations do not override short-range objectives. Management shortsighted-thinking of immediate benefits over-looking long-term results. Computers in the department are antiquated for cashers needs. Technology that could maximize productivity is not being utilized at all times by all employees. Several employees are not fully computer literate for the cashers department. Management needs to purchase state-of-the-art computers. Expenditure for new technology is cost justified by proposed productivity improvement. Training of all associates to insure consistency in the work process as soon as possible, all associates will need to meet a minimum standard, regardless of their educational background or if English is not their first language.

Work procedures are a series of steps or instructions that are followed in a specific order or routine to accomplish an assignment, productive end or purpose. The audit pointed out that when assignments are delegated to employees, it is important to inform them of the larger implication of their actions. What processing is preformed before their work is received and what will happen to their work after their process is completed. Associate is not aware of their impact to the origination goals. When new assignments are delegated to the department, a meeting would be scheduled explaining how that procedure is part of the overall process.

With regard to staff, the department’s actions have made a negative impact on organization success. People who are hired do not have productivity awareness and skills. Presently, employees that are hired do not have same work ethics as long-term employees and do not have the awareness or skills to increase their productivity level to department standard. All levels of employees are not committed to nor do their actions reflect concern for productivity improvement. Some employees, at all levels, do not have the full understanding that their actions or lack of actions have an adverse effect on the department. All employees do not strive to be update in knowledge and skills. There are some employees who have an attitude that they will get by, with doing the bare minimum, not strive for excellence nor keep abreast with knowledge and skills. Productivity awareness and skills are lacking in new staff members. Recommendation for more stringent testing, potential staff should be informed of expected job performance and productivity.

Analysis and evaluation of the 8 components of the audit demonstrate the need for critical thinking. To evaluate the perception of peoples interaction with one another and reality of information gathered.

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