List of Illustrations
Managing goodwill is an important part of any organization, be that a for-profit or a nonprofit organization. At some point managing goodwill is an important aspect of stakeholder management as the management team involved in taking care of the organization’s reputation in terms of goodwill considers the different possible reactions of the stakeholders, especially the customers and clients, whenever new changes in existing policies and regulations get set. In such situations, any decisions that may negatively affect the stakeholders’ perception about the company including its products and services would most likely be considered for re-deliberation. This is truer for organizations that heavily rely on customer service quality and the perceptions of the clients and companies on the existing model to generate much needed revenues (i.e. to survive). The objective of this report is to study and critique a chosen business organization by focusing on their goodwill efforts and of course, the effectiveness of those efforts. The chosen business organization for this paper is Owens State Community College, a comprehensive community and state college situated in the state of Ohio in the United States.
Some of the most important aspects that will be discussed in this paper would be the type of attitude that the organization uses when it comes to stakeholder communication, whether the organization uses positive emphasis, the politics inside the organization, the different efforts that the organization make and the mechanisms that it uses in order to build goodwill, how the customers respond to those efforts and mechanisms, how the employees, managers, and basically every member of the organization were trained and are being trained to communicate goodwill, the organization’s areas of weaknesses when it comes to goodwill, instances where the organization has been exposed in a bad form of publicity, and lastly, how the employees, in general, respond to each other.
All in all, after conducting a comprehensive analysis of Owens State Community College’s goodwill efforts and mechanisms, it would only be safe to say that it is a business organization as well as an educational institution that has successfully generated a lot of goodwill, thanks to its client-centered program and service offerings, its highly effective communication techniques, and its consistency in providing the highest quality service, something which is rather unusual for a state community college.
In order to understand the different tenets of Owens State Community College’s different goodwill generating efforts and mechanisms, it would be important to have a thorough understanding of the organization’s history, organizational structure, its organizational or business model, and the types of customers that it usually deals with. “Owens is a community college that focuses on your success; in fact, it is our mission. We have resources to get you on the career path you have always wanted and provide you with convenient class times and caring faculty. We like to keep our classes small and our value big” . This was the teaser message that the organization published in their official website. From the eyes of someone who has visited the two Owens State Community College campuses in the state of Ohio, I can say that the organization is true to its statement. The campus facilities are not as prestigious as the other premium top class private colleges and universities. It is partly government-funded and so it is understandable for it to be frugal when it comes to improving the aesthetics of its intra-university infrastructures. Included in this paper is a summary of an interview that the author of this paper conducted with a couple of senior students from Owens State Community College. This will be discussed later in the body of the paper.
Owens State Community College was established in 1965 in Toledo. It was formally chartered in 1967. Today, it has two campuses, both of which are in the state of Ohio. The first and main campus is in Toledo and the second one is in Findlay. The Findlay campus opened in 1983. The organization was named after Michael J. Owens, a rather influential personality, a glass entrepreneur to be exact, who helped a great deal in establishing the organization during the early 20th century. The organization’s motto goes like this “we believe in serving our students and our communities” .
If asked whether this motto makes any sense, the answer would be yes and that is mainly because it goes in line with the organization’s value proposition and the promises it made to its students during the release of its many press releases in the past. It is also important to note that in this report, the Toledo campus will be the sole focus. This was done in order to eliminate confusion when it comes to the data. After all, the objective of this report is to critique and assess and not to compare. The Owens State Community College campus in Toledo is larger compared to the newer campus. It is currently manned by more than 1,300 administrative staff led by the organization’s president Dr. Mike Bower. Being a state community college, it receives an annual endowment from the government; this amounts to $2.1 million, annually. Currently, it caters to over twenty thousand undergraduate.
Goodwill is an intangible asset because it represents the value of a company or an organization’s brand name, good customer relations, solid customer base, good employee relations and any parents or proprietary technology that represent goodwill; and also because it is not a physical asset like infrastructures, tools and equipment . In this case, we may identify goodwill as Owens State Community College’s present value in the areas of brand name, customer relations, and human resources management. These are the areas that were used as the focus in the observations, analysis, and critique in this report.
There are two general types of communication approaches that organizations use whenever they interact with their stakeholders (i.e. clients): audience-centered communication, and You-attitude of communication. You-Attitude of communication pertains to the approach that emphasizes the receiver of the message or the other end of the communication model instead of the one sending the message.
One of the major advantages of this communication approach is that it motivates the receiver of the message to listen to or read the message as it creates a friendly atmosphere which may also be secondary to the establishment of mutual trust . The audience-centered communication approach on the other hand pertains to a model where the speaker or message sender first analyzes the audience’s background in order to determine the content, language, and other expectations that he (i.e. the sender) would use and then later on send. It often starts with the process of knowing the audience by focusing on their attitudes, beliefs, values, and demographics .
Between these two, Owens State Community College uses the You-Attitude of communication when making announcements, either good or bad, to the students. This may also be evident when one looks at the articles and statements they publish in their official website. In the teaser that was quoted earlier from the organization’s website, for example, it is evident that the organization uses you-attitude when communicating. This only makes sense because the organization’s priority when it comes to sending out messages is the client’s reaction.
As much as possible, the organization does not want to feel too bad or down about the announcements they roll out, especially when it comes to the implementation of stricter rules and policies, no matter how negative they may be. This, in a way, positively contributes to the way how Owens State Community College generates goodwill effectively. By choosing to use a more appropriate communication approach, it enables its stakeholders to receive the message positively even the content of some of those messages are negative to begin with.
Positive emphasis pertains to a communication practice where the sender of the message focuses on the positive rather than the negative aspects of a situation often by avoiding negative words and words with negative connotations; stating the information positively; focusing on what the reader can do rather than on what they cannot; justifying the negative information by giving reason linking to the benefits of the negative information to the readers, if any; omitting some unimportant negative truths; and presenting the negative information in the middle and compactly . After having read the organization’s papers numerous times, it would only be safe to say that Owens indeed use positive emphasis in their communication approach to their students and stakeholders.
There were even some instances where they omitted some key negative information in their campus newspaper releases just so the students would not have a negative perception about the college’s new policy-making and decision-making processes. In a way, even though that strategy has been supported by certain theories in communication, that action may still be unethical—mainly because the author of the message basically manipulated the information that he presented on the newspaper entry.
It would also be safe to say that the political environment in the organization is stable. That is, there were no known issues about certain members of the administrative and management departments or even the teachers and professors engaging in political clashes. This is a good thing for the organization’s goodwill management efforts because most students would naturally enjoy an educational environment free of political issues. Of course, the students would want the educational institution’s administrators to give them all the focus and attention. This is indeed the case at Owens. In fact, this may well be the organization’s best assets. Being free of political issues especially in the administrative and management department is a direct sign that everyone is working together in fulfilling the organization’s vision and mission and that the organizational members are mature enough to dismiss any issue that would normally cause political and ideological clashes in other organizations.
I managed to interview some of the present employees at Owens. I asked them about how they often interact with each other, how the organization promotes and values teamwork, and the quality of the communication between employees and the administrators. I was expecting a candid and honest response and that is exactly what I got. According to the employee, whose name will not be disclosed for confidentiality purposes, I interviewed, one of the best things about being a part of Owens’ workforce is the fact that the work environment is good mainly because the employees work together, communicate well with each other, and everyone is dedicated to work together. The interviewee did not dismiss the fact that some teams may face communication issues sometimes but quickly countered that issues like that are completely normal especially for an organization the size of Owens. When it comes to solving those communication issues, however, the interviewee said that they get resolved fairly quickly. All in all, the intra-organizational communication practices at Owens, especially the practices and habits that its employees practice, seem to be more positive than negative. This is indeed a positive thing for it enables the organization to create goodwill from the inside.
Relationship and Communication between the Staff and the College
Based on observation, the college is very close to their staff both in terms of relationship-building and communication. In fact, it may be safe to say that the college’s administration treats its staff as some sort of family. This is a positive thing for Owens’ goodwill efforts because this means that the interests of the staff are in line with the interests of the college—mainly because they have a mutually beneficial relationship. This would also lead to more effective efforts when it comes to student relations management because the college administration would be able to fully entrust the responsibility of managing student relations issues to its staff.
Relationship and Communication between the staff and the students
Because of the positive and mutually beneficial relationship that exists between the college administration and its staff, the staff would most likely reflect the intentions of the college. That is, what the staff members say would most likely be considered as a direct reflection of the college’s intentions and beliefs; and if the staff members seem to treat the students nicely and handle student relations issues seriously and nicely, then that would also meant that the college’s perceptions when it comes to similar issues are the same. This is the case on Owens State Community College. The relationship between the staff and the students are just as positive as the relationship between the college and the staff. All in all, the relationship between the staff, the college administration, and the students, are all mutually beneficial. This is one of Owens’ greatest strengths when it comes to their goodwill efforts. This can be seen with the way how the college and the staff frequently organizes programs and meetings with the student bodies to ensure that all their concerns and questions be it academically or non-academically-related are addressed.
Programs and Services Offered at Owens State Community College
The strongest evidence of Owens State Community College’s commitment to goodwill creation would be the quality, appropriateness, and value of the programs and services it offers to its students. The educational programs offered by Owens State Community College can be divided into four: business, information, and public service; liberal arts; nursing and health professions; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Under these general program classifications are specific courses that students may choose from. Owens State Community College also offers web courses and online courses for students who are doubling as company employees during the day or at any part of the day.
Tutoring, Clubs, and Organizations
One of the most recent developments in Owens State Community College’s program list is the First-Year Experience Program. This program is sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government. It basically granted the college 1.64 million USD to create the program. Under the program, all freshman students will be mentored and tutored by carefully selected college personnel and at some point, senior students. The goal of the program is to guide the freshman students so that they may later on be successful in their educational pursuits.
The college also hosts a lot of clubs and organizations. These clubs and organizations may be generally classified as Sports Clubs (e.g. Basketball, Volleyball, Ski, Sailing Clubs, etc.), Advocacy Organizations (e.g. Habitat for Humanity, Surgical Technology Club, Gay Straight Alliance, etc.), and Honor Societies (e.g. Alpha Mu Gamma, Chi Alpha Epsilon, etc.). The college holds regular meetings with these student clubs and organizations so that all their concerns are addressed which only shows how committed the organization is to goodwill creation.
Scholarships and Financial Aids
The Owens State Community College also provides scholarship grants and other forms of financial aids to their students. Students who graduated from their secondary schools as class salutatorian or valedictorian are automatically given 50% to 100% on tuition fees. These students may be able to retain their entrance scholarship until they finish their respective programs as long as they comply to the grade and documentary requirements. There is also the College Foundation Scholarship which allows individuals who are in need of financial aid for their matriculation to be sponsored by businesses and individuals in the community and from the private sector. Other types of scholarship available at Owens State Community College are the Academic Excellence Scholarship, Athletic Scholarships, Student Leader Scholarship Program, and Success Tuition Assistance Programs.
The Owens State Community College has its own computer lab, library, writing centers, and even a state of the art auditorium as illustrated in the list of illustrations. The quality and the effective utilization and up to date maintenance of these key educational facilities are hard evidences of the college’s commitment to goodwill as well as in fulfilling its mission of providing the highest value education for its students. The computer labs, writing centers, and libraries are fitted with top of the line computer models all equipped with an internet connection. This enables the students to perform all types of academic duties such as reading academic journals and doing their term papers. They are also fully air-conditioned so that the students would be comfortable whenever they are completing their tasks. And lastly, the staffs manning these facilities are good and effective communicators. They never fail to address all of the students’ concerns, especially that of the freshmen.
Owens State Community College performs community programs often in partnership with the student clubs and organizations. It basically seeks the help of the students in initiating programs that would benefit the community. The Habitat for Humanity student organization, for example, has recently partnered with the college in initiating community programs that support their advocacy. The same is, in fact true for other student club and organizations.
Conclusions and Recommendations
With a proactive and motivated workforce, Owens State Community College managed to create the highest value educational programs and services for its students. This appears to be the key behind the high level and appropriately priced educational programs and services that the organization offers. This also appears to be its greatest goodwill generation asset. By keeping its employees proactive and motivated to do their job in fulfilling the organization’s mission, they get to fulfill all their customers’ demands and expectations successfully. In return, the customers respond positively because after all their educational demands and expectations get appropriately satisfied by the Owens State Community College.
And to think that it is a publicly funded organization, one would really be able to easily say that the level of goodwill that Owens State Community College has is high. The recommendation for Owens State Community College therefore, is to continue whatever it has done so far because it is yielding positive results in the area of goodwill management. However, it must not remain stagnant. It must continue to strive to improve and more importantly, to adapt to the changes in the trend in the educational industry.
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