Learning


Learning can be defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior or potential behavior that results from direct or indirect experience. Learning involves change. After we have learned, we are somehow different from what we were before—for better or worse.

The change brought about by learning tends to be long lasting. Thus, a student who memorizes material for an exam and promptly forgets it after the test has not really learned anything. Learning affects behavior or potential behavior. Because we cannot read minds, we must depend on observation to see how much learning has occurred. The changes brought about by learning result from direct or indirect experience.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Vicious Circle


Revenge tends to metastatize inside a company, organization, or family. Stepping on someone else rarely if ever occurs in a vacuum: it’s just one part of a potentially endless cycle. Even indirect retaliation leads to a vicious spiral. Repressed revenge can spread just as far and have even longer-lasting impact.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Strategy Development


One useful approach to strategy development involves a five-step process in which planners answer five questions about each strategic issue. The following questions should be adjusted depending on whether the direct or indirect, goals, or vision of success approach to strategy formulation is used:

  1. What are the practiced alternatives, dreams, or visions we might pursue to address this strategic issue, achieve this goal, or realize this scenario?
  2. What are the barriers to the realization of these alternatives, dreams or visions?
  3. What major proposals might we pursue to achieve these alternatives, dreams, or visions directly or to overcome the barriers to their realization?
  4. What major actions must be taken within the next year (or two) to implement the major proposals?
  5. What specific steps must be taken within the next six months to implement the major proposals, and who is responsible?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Policies that Empower


Policies communicate guidelines to decisions. They are designed to control decisions while defining allowable discretion within which operational personnel can execute business activities. They do this in several ways:

  1. Policies establish indirect control over independent action by clearly stating how things are to be done now. By defining discretion, policies in effect control decisions yet empower employees to conduct activities without direct intervention by top management.
  2. Policies promote uniform handling of similar activities. This facilitates the coordination of work tasks and helps reduce friction arising from favoritism, discrimination, and the disparate handling of common functions—something that often hampers operating personnel.
  3. Policies ensure quicker decisions by standardizing other policies that otherwise would recur and pushed up the management hierarchy again and  again—something that required unnecessary levels of management between senior decision makers and field personnel.
  4. Policies institutionalize basic aspects of organizational behavior. This minimizes conflicting practices and establishes consistent patterns of action in attempts to make the strategy work—again, freeing operating personnel to act.
  5. Policies reduce uncertainty in repetitive and day-to-day decision making, thereby providing a necessary foundation for coordinated, efficient efforts and freeing operating personnel to act.
  6. Policies counteract resistance to or rejection of chosen strategies by organization members. When major strategic change is undertaken, unambiguous operating policies clarify what is expected and facilitate acceptance, particularly when operating managers participate in policy development.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Attitude and Customer Liaison


Attitude is not always easy to understand, train or instill. It is generally defined as a positive, enthusiastic and helpful attitude – somebody that seems more alive and dead, it means somebody who seems to enjoy what they do or enjoys dealing with customers, not just somebody who happens to do this as a job to earn a living. Even though this may be true, a good customer service experience is one where the customer service person pretends if nothing else, that they enjoy their job – they like doing what they do and they are pleased to see the customer. If the customer representative can do this, the customer will pretend to enjoy buying from them and pretend enough that they will probably come back.

One of the most important aspects of attitude is when the customer is dissatisfied. The customer will then seem to view life through a telephoto lens and every detail or every aspect of the interaction will come under scrutiny. Therefore, the attitude must be to look at a glass of water as half full, instead of half empty.

One of the most important and outward expression of attitude is the verbal and non-verbal behavior that people use at critical times. Simple expressions, such as: ‘I can do that’ or ‘There’s nothing I can do’ or ‘That’s our company policy’ or ‘I only work here’ or ‘You’ve come through to wrong extension,’ only frustrate the customer. Some of these factors, of course, may not be because of anything the person can do; however, it is their attitude that will often create more of an annoyance with the customer than the policy itself. A simple solution to this is that whenever somebody has to be told they can’t do something, within the same sentence they have to know what they can do or may do.

The attitude that will work, if you can instill it, is that every single customer is your most important customer. Instead of seeing a customer for the transaction value that they spend at that time or for the nature of their enquiry, see the customer as a million dollar customer, somebody who has access to large revenue, either through their direct spending or indirectly through referrals and repeat business.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Industrial Competitiveness


The European Management Forum defines industrial competitiveness as “the immediate and future ability of, and opportunities for, entrepreneurs to design, produce and market goods within their respective environments whose price and non-price qualities form a more attractive package than those of competitors.”

The major factors affect competitiveness:

  • The dynamism of the economy measured by criteria such as growth rates, monetary strength, industrial production and per capita performance.
  • Industrial efficacy, which involves direct and indirect employee costs, per capita output, employee motivation, turnover and absenteeism.
  • The dynamics of the market, when efforts to improve competitiveness are increased and better directed to more intensive market forces.
  • Financial dynamism that is the strength and importance of the commercial banking sector, stock and bond markets and their ability to provide capital.
  • Human resources that is the dynamism of the population and the labor force, employment, unemployment, executive quality and motivation.
  • The role of the state in fiscal policies and other regulations.
  • Resources and infrastructure (transport and communications facilities), domestic energy and raw material sources.
  • Outward orientation, the will to promote trade actively, buying and selling goods, service-related investments or any other form of international exchange.
  • Innovative forward orientation which emphasis national research and development efforts, corporate and government attitudes to exploiting new ideas, products and production processes.
  • Socio-political consensus and stability, the degree to which strategies and policies reflect a society’s aspirations.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Sources of Innovation


The environment constitutes a very important source of innovations. Since tacit technological and market knowledge is best transferred by personal interaction, local environments that are good sources of innovation can make it easier for local firms to recognize the potential of an innovation. Take the presence of related industries. Being close to the supplier or complementary innovators increase the chances of a firm’s being able to pick up useful ideas from them.

Being close to universities or other research institutions helps in two ways. First, these institutions train personnel that can go on to work for firms or found their own companies. The knowledge that they acquire gives them the absorptive capacity to be able to assimilate new ideas from competitors and related industries. Second, scientific publications from the basic research often act as catalyst for investment by firms in applied research.

Finally, governments play a critical role in the ability of firms to recognize the potential of innovations. Their role can be direct or indirect. The direct role may be in the sponsoring of research. The indirect role is in regulation and taxation: lower capital gains taxes or other regulations that allow firms to keep more of what they make can allow them to spend more on innovation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Traditional Manager Vs. Customer-focused Manager


A traditional manager focuses on current goals. Their time and their energy is preoccupied with a series of probably corporate internally focused objectives – whether this is making a sales target, budget, profitability or some other goal, such as market share. On the other hand a customer-focused manager is led and empowered by a vision. A vision based on quality as well as quantity and results. A vision that inherently has a customer satisfaction measure and a vision that creates a feeling of pride and satisfaction in working in that way.

A traditional manager is largely reactive – making decisions, implementing plans based on the input of those above them, around them or in the external environment. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ would be a common maxim. Today’s manager is largely proactive – ‘If it’s not broken, break it,’ because it’s going to be broken very soon. Today’s manager doesn’t wait for things to need a reason for change; they change things for the sake of it. Whether this is just simply the office layout, the times people take their lunch, company policies, prices, brochures, and markets – everything else has to be a proactive activity today. If you wait for the market to change you will probably always be one step behind. One step behind what the customers need and want and what your competitors are doing.

A traditional manager will often seek, either directly or indirectly, to limit other people’s participation. Typically, meetings between managers are excluded from input from other people, or they don’t involve other people perhaps as much as they should do – this is never seen as necessary. But today it is essential. Today’s manager has to promote involvement; they need opinions, thoughts, ideas, and feedback from all levels within the organization. The best way of achieving this is by one of two methods. The first is one we could loosely name ‘random communication,’ where just by simply creating the environment where people can mix and mingle, communicate, participate and share, ideas can be distributed. The other way is by doing something slightly more formal, by putting in place a series of waterfalls or communication falls where information and participation flows around the organization.

Traditional managers will probably reward people based on their qualifications or long service. A more customer-focused manager will reward and recognize people based on their ability to enhance customers and deliver excellence. For example, it is not uncommon for managers to regularly single out for some form of payment, or just simple recognition, those people in a customer service team who have gone beyond the normal levels and delivered something extraordinary during their job. Whether it was staying late sorting out a customer problem, coming up with an idea which helped the business move forward, making big improvements in their own work – these are the things that managers reward.

Another thing that has to change if you are going to move forward and lead successfully in a customer-focused organization is that you have to let go of solving problem yourself. One very successful manager who ran a very effective customer service team had a big sign on their wall. You can come in here with any problem at all, so long as you have one idea for a solution.

A traditional manager also sees their role as controlling information. They will keep their staff and other people on a ‘need to know’ basis. This is not how it works. Information should be shared, but not broadcast. A good manager will communicate actively and pro-actively to all concerned. He or she will keep them informed of the information they need to deliver the best possible service to the customer. This means the information is timely, relevant and understood.

Managing in today’s environment, with the pressures of working with ever demanding customers, will invariably result in matters of conflict and disagreement. Rather that patching these over, ignoring them, or letting them sort themselves out, as is perhaps more traditionally done by managers, these should now be sought out and moderated to a successful outcome.

A customer-focused manager ‘walks the talk’. He or she must act congruently and with the same values and honesty that they want their staff to deliver to their customers. That means they keep commitments, it means they under promise and over deliver, and they make everyone of their employees feel special and a valuable member of the team. Nobody just does a job and goes home, there is a purpose, a value and a mission.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Measuring Productivity


You are likely to be judged – at least to some extent – by your financial performance. But financial measures such as profitability and return on investment are really indirect measures of the operations, good financial performance comes from good operations. You can measure the operations more directly using measures such as productivity, utilization and efficiency.

Productivity is the most common measure of operations. It shows the amount of output that you create for each unit of resource used. You might, for example, measure the number of units made per employee, sales per square meter, or deliveries per vehicle.

Your competitors are always trying to gain an advantage, and an effective way of doing this is by increasing their productivity. You then have to match their improvement simply to stay in business. So the benefits of higher productivity include:

  • Long-term survival;
  • Lower costs;
  • Less waste of resources;
  • Higher profits, wages, real income, etc;
  • Targets for continually improving operations;
  • Comparisons between operations;
  • Measures of management competence.

These are good reasons for improving productivity. But how can you do it? At the very worst, you simply make people work harder – problem solved. In reality there are four ways of increasing productivity:

  1. Improve effectiveness – with better decisions;
  2. Improve efficiency – with a process that gives more output for the same inputs;
  3. Improve the process – getting higher quality, fewer accidents, or less disruption;
  4. Improve motivation – getting better results from the workforce.

One of the problems with improving productivity is that employees see it as an excuse for sacking them. Productivity is really a measure of improvement performance, and it has very little to do with the old-fashioned idea of getting people to work harder. An enthusiastic person digging a hole with a spade can work very hard, and still be far less productive than a  lazy person with a bulldozer. Typically, 85 percent of productivity is set by the process which is designed by managers and only 15 percent is due to the individual workers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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