Day 493

The day started with my new elective for the semester, Creative Writing. I confess that this is a bit of a lark for me; however, the other choices on the electives list–courses like “Philosophy Through Film”, “Vegas—Understanding the Odds”, “Abnormal Psychology”, and “Contemporary Global Issues”–either didn’t interest me or sounded like a lot of research and essays. (I should reiterate that although I took several liberal arts credits in university, I can’t use them to replace these courses because the college doesn’t recognize university credits that are more than ten years old. Who knew there was a best-before date on learning?) I won’t say a lot about Creative Writing other than it is a “hybrid” course–we spend two hours a week in class, and one hour a week writing on-line.

Next up was the third hour of Human Resources. (The 3-hour class has been split into two hours on Tuesdays, and the third hour on Fridays.) Today we started with the difference between a line manager and a staff manager. Essentially, a line manager’s actions have a direct effect on production, and therefore on the company’s bottom line. In contrast, a staff manager’s actions do not have a direct bearing on the bottom line. So a brewmaster is a line manager, while the head of a research team is a staff manager.

The line manager’s responsibilities can be broken down into about five areas:

  1. Determine job design. The line manager knows what needs to be accomplished, and what his workers have to do to get the job done. (However, Human Resources can help design a fulfilling job, or for a very mundane repetitive job, at least design some trade-offs to make up for the boredom.)
  2. Make hiring decisions. However, after telling HR what the job is and what basic qualifications would be, the line manager can leave it to HR to advertise the job opening and conduct preliminary interviews to determine basic employability. Once HR has a short list of candidates, the line manager can conduct the final round of interviews and choose the new employee. (HR can also help the line manager develop better interview skills.)
  3. Coach and develop employees. HR can help a line manager to convince an employee who believes he already has enough skills to take further training or develop new skills.
  4. Ensure health and safety
  5. Review employee performance. HR should make sure the line manager is properly documenting performance reviews, since a new manager will need this knowledge if the line manager is promoted or leaves the company.

On the other hand, Human Resources also has a number of responsibilities:

  1. Align HR strategies with business strategies. (If the company produces whatsits, but wants to move to production of widgets, HR has to determine who in the company has the requisite knowledge of widgets, and either hire or train employees to help with widget production.)
  2. Deliver services. In other words, act as a resource for the line manager who is seeking a correct course of action.
  3. Strengthen employee contributions
  4. Manage change

On to our final class of the day, Beer Evaluation and Judging with Daniel McKinnon. Daniel first earned a degree at University of Guelph before studying brewing at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. After a few years of research in the UK, he returned to Ontario, where he has helped set up a number of new breweries.

Daniel is one of several second-year instructors who were brought on board at the last minute. Evidently the college had not filled him in on previous sensory evaluation course material we had already covered, since his first lecture was an almost exact duplicate of Roger Mittag’s first lecture back in first semester. However, we had a chat with Daniel at the end of the class, and now that he knows what we have already learned, he can skip forward to more advanced material.

This is not the first time that we have run across duplication of course material in various classes. There seems to be little or no dialogue between the various Brewmaster instructors, nor coordination of course material by the college. It is something that will have to improve if the Brewmaster course is to reach its full potential.

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