Indicators of Poor Listening


In the customer service environment, you cannot afford the luxury of failing to listen to your customer. Periodically, you should do a self-check on your listening style to see if you need improvement. If any of the following events occur, you may need to refocus.

  • Customers  specifically request to speak to or be served by someone else.
  • You find yourself missing key details of conversations.
  • You regularly have to ask people to repeat information.
  • You walk away from phone calls or personal encounters not completely knowing what action is required of you.
  • Customers often make statements, such as, “Did you hear what I said?” Are you listening to me?” or “You are not listening.”
  • You find yourself daydreaming or distracted as the customer is speaking.
  • You miss accompanying nonverbal cues sent by the customer as the two of you communicate.

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.

Contracts between Employers and Employees


If an employee has contract to be employed for a certain firm for a specified period of time, and the employer breaches the contract by dismissing the employee, damages recoverable would generally be the unpaid salary at the time of dismissal. Some courts allow the employee to collect wages up to the period of time at which a new job is found, as long as the employee “mitigates damages” by actively seeking employment. On the other hand, if the employee walks out without cause, then the employer may recover the cost of replacing the employee. This would include any additional salary that must be paid to the new employee which is greater than the previous employee’s salary.

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.

Constant Challenge


This is clear when you consider how people find jobs in the first place. For many people their whole career history is laced with luck and chance: being in the job market when a certain company was recruiting, seeing a certain advert, knowing someone who knew someone. Many people not in a true vocation have little real idea about the job or company they start working for before they actually start the job.

Some people pick losers and are repeatedly made redundant, or take several jobs before they find something that fits. Other people pick winners in the job lottery, walk into their first position and stay there all their working life.

Nothing wrong with that from a personal point of view, but the last thing these people want to do is rock the best by pushing themselves or indeed anyone else (except those lower down the pecking order) out of their comfort zones.

This inevitably creates stuffy, complacent business. What incentive is there for these people to take risks or leave when they don’t think they will ever find another job half as cushy as the current one?

What is more, when an employee has several years of service under their belt, disgruntled employers will duck this issue, thinking that they will be too costly and difficult to move on.

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.

 

Punishing Employees


Regardless of how well managed they are, virtually all organizations occasionally must resort to discipline or punishment. If workers, for example, are habitually late, break company rules about smoking, punishment may be the only alternative. If this is the case, how should managers proceed?

First, managers should use progressive discipline. This means that each instance of undesirable behavior results in a somewhat stronger disciplinary action than the one before. Thus, the first infraction might be followed by a verbal reprimand, the second by a written reprimand, the third by suspension, and the fourth by dismissal.

Second, many organizations are finding that allowing teams to handle their own discipline works well. Each team is responsible for scheduling to own work, hiring its own members, and so forth. Why, then, should it not also discipline its own members?

Third, managers need to walk a thin line between being equitable and recognizing situational differences. If two employees break the same rule, the discipline they receive should be comparable. At the sane time, a twenty-year veteran employee who comes in 10 minutes late for the first time ever and a new employee who comes in 30 minutes late on the first day almost certainly should be handled in very different ways.

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.

 

Low Corporate Libido


Have you seen an organization with its head down and all its bounce gone? It is sad as it gets in organizational terms.

You know what is going on the second you walk into the office. Everybody looks that bit scruffier than they have a right to look. Even the office looks tired. People walk more slowly than they need to and the hourly trip to the toilet is eagerly anticipated. The most active sign of life is always outside the fire exit where furtive smokers gather, regardless of the rain, to predict who will be next to leave.

Customer service descends to an all-time low and the only people recruiting will be the complaints department.

Everything is a problem under these conditions and cost cutting is more important than growth, regardless of the idea, those with initiative are considered to be actually rather annoying.

This is the day-to-day reality for thousands of employees working in organizations suffering low corporate libido.

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.

Reducing Job Stress


There are a number of ways to alleviate stress. These range from commonsense remedies (such as getting more sleep and eating better) to more exotic remedies like biofeedback and meditation. Finding a more suitable job, getting counseling, and planning and organizing each day’s activities are other sensible responses. In his book, Stress and Manager, Dr Karl Albrecht suggests the following ways to reduce job stress:

  • Build rewarding, pleasant, cooperative relationships with colleagues and employees.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  • Build an especially effective and supportive relationship with your boss.
  • Negotiate with your boss for realistic deadlines on important projects.
  • Learn as much as you can about upcoming events and get as much lead time as you can to prepare for them.
  • Find time every day for detachment and relaxation.
  • Take a walk around the office to keep your body refreshed and alert.
  • Find ways to reduce unnecessary noise.
  • Reduce the amount of trivia in your job; delegate routine work whenever possible.
  • Limit interruptions.
  • Don’t put off dealing with dissatisfied problems.
  • Make a constructive “worry list” that includes solutions for each problem.

The employer and its HR specialists and supervisors can also play a role in identifying and reducing job stress. Supportive supervisors and fair treatment are two obvious steps. Other steps include:

  • Reduce personal conflicts on the job.
  • Have open communication between management and employees.
  • Support employees’ efforts, for instance, by regularly asking how they are doing.
  • Ensure effective job-person fit, since a mistake can trigger stress.
  • Give employees more control over their jobs.
  • Provide employee assistance programs including professional counseling.

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.

Problems of Conduct


In Japan’s early history, a serious disregard for manners could be punishable by death, and any samurai could kill any common person who failed to show him proper respect. The Japanese were required to behave in precisely prescribed ways—wearing permitted clothing, walking only a certain way, sleeping with their heads pointing in a certain direction and legs arranged a particular way. Eating, greeting, gesturing with hands, opening doors and many work tasks had to be done in assigned ways without deviation. Conduct became a measure of morality, and virtue in manners was visible for all to see. Even today, the code of conduct plays a significant role in the lives of the Japanese. Many societies, not Japan alone, have a prescribed form and manner for every familiar situation that might arise. Unforeseen situations can cause intense embarrassment or discomfort. Throughout East Asia, actions are judged by the manner in which they are performed. More important than the accomplishment of a task is the question of how someone went about trying to complete the task: Did he act sincerely? More important than winning the race is the grace of the runner. More important than expertise is the way one gets along with others. More important than profits is harmony. In contrast, Westerners and particularly Americans are more concerned with the principles of things, hard “measures” and objective facts. Although rules of ethics are extremely important, we are more goal oriented than method-conscious, we say “a good loser is a loser.”

One aspect of form is the concept of “face.” Much has been written about “face-saving” in Japan and China, but face-saving is important absolutely everywhere. The difference is only a matter of degree and nuance. Where an American might feel a little guilty or inadequate, an Asian, Arab or South American may feel deep shame and humiliation. What an American might see as a little honest and constructive criticism, the foreigner may take as a devastating blow to pride and dignity. A foreigner is likely to be sensitive to feelings of others in transactions that an American would consider strictly impersonal, such as returning a defective product or switching hairdressers. The traveler simply must be more conscious of saying things or behaving in ways that cannot be taken as disrespect, criticism or humiliation. In some countries it seems just about anything can be taken personally, even such indirect affronts as not taking your shoes off in a mosque or complaining about the heat.

Harmony with the environment can be as important as sensitivity to people in some cultures. In Japan a woman wears a soft pastel dress to a flower show so as not to take away from the beauty of the flowers. In countries where people believe in reincarnation they are careful about all forms of life. In India, for example, people are careful not to swallow gnats or step on ants—one might be a relative.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight.

Coming in and Going out


A newly arrived executive is anxious to do something, to make his mark, and he is usually given enough rope. An executive who is about to leave—and knows he won’t be around for the headaches—doesn’t care.

We conclude deals because someone is trying up loose ends before he walks out the door and because he wants to do business with us in his new job.

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, Lectures, Line of Sight

Learn from Operations of other Organizations


There is nothing wrong with learning from other organizations. You should search each reasonable source for ideas that you can adapt—don’t be afraid or too proud to borrow ideas from anyone. Remember that to copy from one person is plagiarism, to copy from lots of people is research. If you offer a service, you might start by looking at the operations of a highly successful service provider. You can learn a lot by walking around companies and thus see how they have tackled their decisions about location, layout, capacity, product design, process design, performance measures, logistics, stock control, technology used, staffing, pricing, amount of vertical integration, maintenance and replacement, and financing.  When you look for improvements, see how other organizations have solved similar problems, and don’t be afraid to borrow good ideas.

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, Line of Sight

Walking and Talking Customer Value


To survive in this value era firms concentrate on improving four key business processes: designing, making, marketing, and supporting. Customer value is maximized when product, order, and experience—which are outcomes of the first three processes—are correct, timely, appropriate, and economical.

We are moving into the value era and firms will no longer survive if they simply focus on price and product features. Several non-price factors are thought to have great influence on customers perceptions of value received: 1) the length of customer lead times; 2) variation from promised delivery dates; 3) condition of product on arrival; 4) sales call and order initiation procedures; 5) credit, billing, and collection procedures; 6) effectiveness of after-sales support; 7) product documentation; 8) product performance; 9) product downtime frequency and duration; and 10) maintenance cost and difficulty.

There are four key business processes responsible for creating better customer value: 1) design—integrating the “voice of the customer” when building the product; 2) making –getting key inputs from suppliers and transforming them into other components or finished products leading to filled customer orders; 3) marketing—transforming sales leads into sales calls, sales orders, service calls, and sales support which lead to completed service transactions; and 4) support—those activities and tasks that serve internal customers.

In addition, the four key business processes must be reengineered and firms should strive for: 1) simplicity—provide the required variety of outputs at low cost and with minimum capital intensity; 2) focus—customer and supplier processes should be treated at the same process; 3) energy—employees should be empowered and also have problemsolving skills; 4) continuity—processes must have extensive improvement and refinement; 5) linearity—subprocesses within each process must be linked together and be customer driven; and 6) dependability—strong customer-supplier relationships assure the success of each process.

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, Line of Sight

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