n order to succeed in the work place, employees must have a working knowledge of how businesses are run and structured. They should be aware of the factors, both internal and external that have an impact on the business’s performance. They should also be able to objectively assess their own performance in the work place. I completed an eight week/320 hour placement at the Livingwell Health club, Hilton Southampton.
Karen Abraham is the manager of the Southampton branch and the neighbouring branch in Portsmouth. This meant that she was only able to spend 3 days working at each. Ellie Moore is the permanent health and safety officer whom adopted the manager’s role when Karen was away. She is the most senior member of staff and, out of all the employees, has been working at the health club for the longest period of time. There were also three full time employees with the title of fitness coach. The other three members of staff were fitness coaches, but only work half time. I encountered other members of staff, but they worked for the hotel which is a separate business to the health club.
A manager is a ‘person granted authority to be in charge of an organisational unit and thus responsible for diagnosing and influencing systems and people to achieve appropriate goals’ (Bloisi 2003). The manager had a submissive style of leadership. It seemed that she tried to make as little an amount of decisions as possible. She didn’t seem to have any experience in the sporting or health industry. Karen has an ambivalent leadership style where her decisions are often revoked. She lacks in training and skills. This could cost the organisation as policies have to be reworked. An advantage could be that she can fulfil a holding role and can be more affective after training. (Ellis S ; Dick P(2000), Introduction to Organisational Behaviour, McGraw Hill, Maidenhead.)
The acting manager, Ellie Moore, had a more autocratic style of leadership. She had experience of being at a high level position in a previous job. She is prevalent in all situations and will always help when asked. She was strict which meant everyone did their work to a good standard. Being so strict caused conflict between Ellie and the other employees mainly due to the fact that she wasn’t actually the manager and she didn’t have the right to tell them what to do. The chain of command shows that Ellie is more superior to the other employees, but they did not see this and felt that Ellie was abusing her position.
There is a flat layered structure to the company, which can mean that positions of hierarchy can become cloudy. Five aspects need to be considered, specialisation, hierarchy, grouping integration and control (Child 1984). I think Ellie’s method of leadership is more effective than Karen’s as more work gets done, and the work is of a good standard. But I would recommend Ellie works on her relationships with the other employers and tries to have a more friendly rapport with them, but still keeping that managerial balance.
The political, economic, social, technological, legal and ecological (PESTLE) factors can affect an organisation. (Buchanan D ; Huczynski, H (2003), Organisational Behaviour an Introductory Text , FT Prentice Hall, Harlow.) The political issues at Livingwell are fairly standard in that when you sign your contract you are agreeing to the trade union policies etc. There were no outstanding issues in the work place and everything seemed to run smoothly.
The economic concerns were very important. The business had to compete with other neighbouring health clubs. This meant that lots of promotional offers were distributed. People are becoming more aware of their health which means more interest in the industry. The health club have to keep up with the demands and economic growth patterns. Wage rates are an ecological factor which is very important to the employees. Monthly payment was given at standard rates depending on your hours and job role.
The social aspects include demographic trends, lifestyle preferences and social values. The attitudes to work were very diverse between the employees. The part time employees seemed to only work for the money. The full time employees wanted more of a career in the area, so were studying for other qualifications through the health club. The technological side of the business included many parts of the business. The health club ran on a computer system which held all the members details and visit times. This mainframe allowed the employees to check payment dates and contact information. There were always new materials being introduces, whether it’s a new computer network, or a new product being sold, like a new range of swimming costumes. These new products had different production methods and processes.
The legal aspect involves specific laws which need to be withheld. There needs to be European harmonisation of legislation and taxation. There are human rights concerns and local regulations. For example, at Livingwell one of the employees was South African. His visa had run out and he was not allowed to work there until he got a new one. This proved difficult as he had not lived in the same place for the last year. International laws need to be followed.
The ecological concerns involve the environment by protecting shoreline and countryside. The health club is very aware of pollution and discarding toxic emissions/spills as there are a lot of chemicals involved on the maintenance of a swimming pool. There were many regulations and safety rules in the way the chemicals were handled and the dosage used. There was a lot of hazard prevention inside the club as there were a lot of slippery surfaces which needed the correct signage to keep people safe.
SWOT is the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the job. I feel that the health club had very high standards which meant it attracted a certain high socio economic consumer. This was a very strong point for the club and many compliments were made. But this meant that the employees had to work very hard to keep these standards high. The employees whom were labelled ‘fitness coaches’ also had to do the cleaning, life guarding and administration of the club.
This was not clear in the application for the job which I feel was misleading. I also though a permanent manager should have been stationed at the club as it was hard not having a manager to refer to. Especially being a new employee I found it difficult to complete the jobs given when the manager was not there to aid me in any queries I had. This factor also meant that the manager was very stressed and busy and didn’t seem to enjoy her job. There were many opportunities to take extra courses, for example a fitness coach or first aid qualification. But there were not many opportunities to further your career in as there were not any higher positions available. If the employees wanted to get a managerial job, they would need to transfer or go to another company.
A self assessment and provider assessment was made by myself and the acting manager Ellie Moore. The answers that Ellie gave were mainly very similar to the answers I gave. I seem to have given myself a better performance assessment overall which may mean I need to work harder to reach the work I feel I am already doing. Ellie described my main strength to lie in my ability to form working relationships.
I fitted in very well with the team and got on with the club members. My easy going nature has a calming affect on other people, but I feel this hinders me in some ways as I don’t try as hard as I could. Ellie thought that my ability to perform duties sometimes lacked in competence. I think as a new comer to the job it took me a while to learn all the things I needed to do especially as I was nervous to start off with. But after a while I became more confident which allowed me to ask when I needed help. I take pride in my attendance and punctuality and Ellie recognised this which I am very happy with. I feel my punctuality is one of my best strengths.
Most of the answers Ellie gave were satisfactory. I think that I thought satisfactory was good enough, where as I could actually do better. I know have the talent and skills to do better, I just need to try harder and improve my attitude to work. I need more initiative and am able to work more on my own. Although Hilton policies prevented me from being on my own, I feel I could have been more reliable and complete tasks in an appropriate manner with out being told to.
I thoroughly enjoyed the work I did at Livingwell and felt it was a very valuable experience. I will definitely be able to use the skills I learnt in a future career. I look forward to working in the sport and health industry when I finish my degree.
Buchanan D & Huczynski, H (2003), Organisational Behaviour an Introductory Text , FT Prentice Hall, Harlow.
Ellis S & Dick P(2000), Introduction to Organisational Behaviour, McGraw Hill, Maidenhead.
Mullins L (2005), Management and Organisational Behaviour, FT Prentice Hall, Harlow.