Directions for Observation - BA 151 — Fall 2004...

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Unformatted text preview: BA 151 — Fall 2004 Directions for Conducting Observations and Completing the Observation Report Overview Observations are the best way of understanding how people actually work. Observations are part of a time-honored methodology, called job analysis, designed to capture what tasks and activities an employee actually performs on the job. Job analysis forms the basis for developing many HR systems and tools---from creating job descriptions, task lists, and performance expectations to setting pay rates. What a person does on the job is very important for determining who is qualified to do that work, how to evaluate performance of an employee in the that job, what training is needed for new hires for that job, and what to pay a person in this job, among other things. So, it is useful to know what work people actually do. Observations are particularly helpful for understanding how a job fits in the context of the organization---how does a person fit in with everyone else in the work setting? In other words, by observing what people do, you can learn how the organization functions and how a particular person fits into the total performance picture. This assignment is to help students understand the value of j ob analysis and more important, the value of learning how well an organization functions through the work of individual employees. Students will have the opportunity to study 5 different workers, each in different organizations, in this assignment. You are likely to gain valuable insights into how organizations really work by embracing this assignment and learning as much as you can from your observations. Here’s how it works. The Assignment When To Observe. You will conduct 5 separate observations, one on a different day (because it is exhausting to do more than one if you watch closely). Pick a day when you have at least two hours to spend sitting somewhere doing nothing else but watching how someone performs his/her job (e.g., evenings, weekends). Who To Observe. Pick a person to observe who can easily be tracked for the entire two hours. For example, pick a person in a store (cashier, customer service representative, cleaning crew) or in a restaurant (waitperson, hostess). This person should be in plain View for almost the entire time you are observing (bathroom breaks and rest breaks excepted). You may elect to inform the person you are watching that you are conducting this observation. However, it is best to not let this person know because then you will see the person display the most realistic and typical behavior. (If a person notices you are watching, tell them you are doing this observation as an assignment for class and you are just interested in knowing what he/she does in the job—~and it won’t be reported to anyone. If the person gets nervous and objects, well, leave.) It is also best to pick a place to observe where you will not be noticed-«your observation will be unobtrusive. How To Observe. You should have with you a form for writing down start and stop times and task descriptions (provided in class). You should also have a form for collecting information on other aspects of the job and your observation (provided in class). Pick a place to stand or sit where you have a very clear View of what the person is doing (at least 10 feet away, but no more than 30 feet). Begin your observation by recording your start time on the observation sheet. Then watch what the person does and write a brief description of the activity in the space provided on the observation sheet. Every time the activity changes, record the end time for the activity you have been watching and write down the new activity on the next line. When the activity changes again, record the end time for the activity you have been watching and write down the new activity on the next line. Follow this process throughout the observation period. You will know when an activity changes when the person turns his/her attention to something different from what he/she has been doing. Do not record a different activity if the customer changes or the area in which a person works changes———only if the activity changes. After two hours, record your end time and then complete the information on the organization and position you observed. How to Complete the Observation Report Now that you have completed your observation, I want to know what you thought about it. Write your answers to each of the following questions, using headings for each ’ answer: 1. Organization/Person Characteristics. Identify the organization and position you observed. Identify that time of day and day of the week. Describe the general characteristics of the work setting: how busy the place is, whether the flow of the work varied over the two hours, how many people were working in the same position, and what kind of interaction there was between workers (talked frequently, worked alone). 2. Work Performed. What work did this person do primarily? What tasks did this person spend the most amount of time on? What tasks did this person spend the least amount of time on? Did the tasks vary a lot, or did the person do the same task(s) over and over? 3. Employee Attitude. How did this person seem to experience this work? Was this person excited or animated in his/her job? Or, was this person just going through the motions? What tasks seemed to give this person the most enjoyment as evidenced by smiling, talking excitedly, and working with enthusiasm? 4. Employee Performance. How well do you think this person was performing his/her job? Was he/she doing what he/she was supposed to do, or was this person distracted, slow, or disengaged? How did this person compare with other persons in the same position or in related positions? 5. Performance Improvement. What kinds of HR-related programs or actions might improve the performance of this person? How can this organization help to make this person and persons like him/her more effective in his/her job? . Anticipate writing a 1 1/2 to 2 page report on each observation. Attach your observation sheet to each report. Grading Observation reports will be graded along the following criteria: Detail (5 points) The degree to which the student records observations using detailed descriptions of activities that are easy to visualize and understand, tracks changes in work activities across the time period Completeness (Spoints) The degree to which the student captures the full array of activities performed by the person during the observation period, doesn’t leave off important information in describing the work or in answering the questions. Insight and Understanding (5 points) The extent to which the student describes the context of the work fully, generating a clear picture of what work is done in the context of what other employees are doing, expresses good ideas for how performance can be improved based on what is learned in class and what is observed. Rationale must be provided for recommendations. A = 14-15 points B=11-13 C=8-lO D=5—7 ...
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