Planning Outcomes


The agenda is a product of two intermediate outcomes. The first is the list of the strategic issues faced by the organization. These issues may have their origins in many different places; the list, however, is likely to be a product of the strategic planning team’s deliberations. The second is an arrangement of the issues on the list in some sort of order: priority, logical, or temporal. The listing and arrangement of issues should help people consider the nature, importance, and implications of each issue.

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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Meeting Management: Writing Agenda or Memo


A written memo or agenda is the best means of giving and securing information and if properly put together will focus you as well as the recipients on the objective of the meeting and the means to achieve it. During the meeting it can also be used as a guide and reference, and after the meeting it can serve as a reminder of what was to be accomplished and a means of checking on follow-up actions. Time spent preparing a written agenda will save time during any meeting. Keep it short. Write no agenda or memo longer than one page. Any additional materials, charts, or graphs necessary for the meeting should be included on separate pages, stapled or paper-clipped to your one-page memo or agenda.

The memo or agenda should state the objective of the meeting, the issues to be discussed, the time to meeting will begin and end, the place, the participants involved, and what is expected of them in the way of preparation before the meeting.

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.

 

Goodbye Industrial Economy, Hello Global Knowledge Economy


Goodbye the state running things, hello Global Joe Citizen empowered by the technology-driven changes in the first decade of the 21st Century and with a mobility beyond the wildest dreams of those who brought us into this world. Yes, I do mean us, fellow global citizens.

The 20th Century was all about us having to rely on governments to deal with those issues beyond our personal capacity to influence, regardless of how much concern and anxiety were personally invested. Simply put, this has all changed.

Just as the world landscape is now determined by a new order of collaborative arrangements, so the time has come for us all to seize control of our choices and pursue new personal value-led collaborations.

Together you and I must make it work for all our fellow global citizens, not least the 800 million who will go to bed hungry tonight. If the values, beliefs, ideals, and ethics that we take with us to work each day do not result in our business environment adding rather than detracting from the sum of global cooperation, our long-term personal and corporate business goals are doomed to failure.

But what we do have is a business environment pregnant with possibility and unfettered by past constraints of geography and technology. It is up to us as individuals to nurture an atmosphere where value-led decision making thrives.

Corporate culture looking beyond traditional business horizons is the agenda item of the moment. The public scrutiny and disapprobation flowing from corporate scandals on a global scale request and require a re-evaluation of compliance with ethical, environmental and social imperatives. A new collective, caring culture is no longer just an attitude of mind rather than depth of pocket; it makes good business sense.

Therein is your desirable future: you are the engine that drives new connection between global business and your community. Integrity is the fuel that drives both the engine and the process. Take control of your choices and root them in the eternal triangle of truth, trust and peace. Without truth there can be no trust and without trust there can be no peace. Adopt this landscape for mapping your relationships. Until people trust you, they will not change with you. So many of today’s leaders now fail to fulfill their ambitions for this very reason. Never underestimate the power of good intent. When you change, the world changes with you.

The more your ambitions are aligned to the benefit of humanity as well as your business, the more relevant the product of your labor will be. In turn, the more valuable you become in the market place, the greater your capacity to take control of your choices and your future. A values-led approach and entrepreneurial spirit advancing an enterprise culture are not mutually exclusive.

On the distant future day you finally retire from your business world, your peers, looking back, will judge you on your actions and achievements not just on your beliefs.

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.

 

Adopt Open Communication


To build trust and solid working relationships with employees and others in the organization, it’s important to be seen as someone who is committed to sharing information with others and who goes beyond communicating only what is necessary. Developing a climate in which you and your team are open with information—information exchanges between you and your people, between departments or divisions, and between team members—is critical in order to function effectively.

  • Find out what your employees want to know.
  • Encourage your staff to keep one another informed and share information.
  • Establish a departmental bulletin board to keep people up-to-date on both personal and professional items of interest.
  • Hold periodic staff meetyings to share information about recent developments in the organization.
  • In staff meetings, encourage two-way communication, solicit agenda items from employees, and allow employees time to raise issues.
  • For the purpose of informal communication, hold monthly breakfast meetings that have no agenda.
  • Keep your manager and employees up-to-date by submitting a monthly activity report for your area.
  • Alert your manager to possible implications of events occurring either inside or outside of the organization. Don’t assume that your manager is aware of these implications.
  • Don’t “shoot the messenger” of bad news.
  • Ask your manager which key people you should keep informed.
  • List the key organizational people upon whom your success depends, and make a special effort to keep them informed.
  • Copy your manager on all correspondence to managers in the organization at his or her level or higher level.
  • Ask your manager about any perceived “surprises” in your area and then look for ways to avoid recurrences.
  • Don’t gloss over anything that goes wrong in your area. Report the situation as accurately as possible.
  • Talk with peers or people in other departments about “communication breakdowns.” Devise ways to avoid them.
  • Always double check all written communications before mailing; also ask yourself, “Who else should know about this?”
  • Use the “informal organization” as a way of keeping others informed. Wander around, have coffee with people, ask them questions, and so on.
  • At the end of every day, ask yourself of what occurred that should be reported to other people.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
  • Make a point of updating the appropriate people even when nothing new has developed.
  • Ask your secretary to suggest who should be copied on documents you produce.
  • Appoint a “recorder” for the meetings you conduct and have the minutes distributed to the appropriate people.
  • Promptly respond to notes, letters, and other requests so people know what you are doing about their communications.
  • If they are available, use electronic aide (voice mail, email) to pass along information that doesn’t require face-to-face exchange when you cannot do so in person or in writing.

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

An Advice to Change Leaders: Persuade Indirectly


In large organizations, it is not feasible to persuade people through one-on-one communication. Particularly, if the organization is multi-locational, persuasion has to be through indirect means such as memos, speeches and newsletters. Change leaders also need to build capabilities in persuading others indirectly. The following guidelines can help managers be effective in indirect persuasion:

  1. Neutralize the power of informal networks: Change leaders need to develop reliable communication channels to communicate their change agenda directly to employees in the organization. Otherwise people will rely on informal grapevine that can distort the change message either unintentionally or deliberately. In either case, employees may develop unfavorable perceptions of the change agenda leading to opposition and resistance. Communication channels such as employee forums, town meetings and special newsletters can counter the grapevine and informal networks. Change leaders must be particularly careful in not withholding bad news because such news gets out very quickly into the grapevine.
  2. Repeat the message: Focus and repetition are critical for effective communication. This means that the change agenda should consist of only a limited number (two or three, at best) of themes. These themes need to be repeated and reinforced through different communication channels.
  3. Match the medium to the message: Speeches and video-conferences are ideal to communicate vision and values; these media are also appropriate to inspire people to embrace change. On the other hand, data, graphs and charts are best conveyed in the written form—such as memos, newsletters and web pages. Change leaders must think very carefully about appropriate media before communicating their change agenda.
  4. Simplify the message: The change agenda needs to be conveyed through a framework that is conceptually simple and easy to grasp. Yet, change leaders must avoid the trap of oversimplification. Oversimplified messages sound trite and faddish and can significantly reduce the credibility of the communicator. Simple frameworks are easy to remember, and are also powerful in framing the change agenda to mobilize support.
  5. Create a new story about change: Stories constitute a powerful medium to mobilize support. People are more likely to remember stories rather than facts and figures. Stories are also more effective in persuading people to alter their perceptions of change. Therefore change leaders need to be able to craft their change agenda in the form of story.
  6. Build personal credibility: Change leaders who are respected, considered trustworthy and competent are more likely to be effective in persuading their employees to embrace change. Personal credibility is built on the foundation of consistency. Change leaders must demonstrate consistency between their thoughts, words and behavior. Inconsistent, self-serving behavior can severely erode the credibility of a leader.

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

Political Aspects of Organizational Change


There is a large number of individuals who are undecided about change—they need to be influenced or persuaded to support the change. How can a manager motivate employees to change? Most of the change management literature overlooks the fact that people are largely motivated by self interest. In the 90s, popular writing in Change Management exhorted managers to develop ‘vision’ statements to appeal to people’s hearts. While there is some merit in this proposal, change managers who ignore people’s minds (and by that I mean self-interests) will find it quite difficult to garner support for their change efforts. Individuals are not solely drive by self-interests but these interests are important. In some instances, change may involve relinquishing one’s self-interest. The first thing people are likely to ask when informed about change is: what is in it for me?

There had to be a number of decisions to be made at every stage of the project involving large financial outlays—quickly and without political or bureaucratic interference. The decision-making process ensure this. Public support is critical for land acquisition and later for smooth execution. A number of contractors would be involved, and their effectiveness had to be ensured for the corporation to be effective. The community would be concerned about possible environmental degradation. Though the project would ultimately benefit the community, no cost could be unilaterally imposed on any stakeholder. The project owes its success to effectively managing such political aspects too.

If the organization’s change agenda matches self-interests of employees and other stakeholders, it has little problem in gathering support. On the other hand, if the change agenda requires employees to give up at least some of their interests, then mobilizing support is a more difficult task. More importantly, even if the change agenda is aligned with employees’ self-interests, they have to be convinced that participating in change will advance their self interests. Therefore, mobilising support is largely about influencing people to change despite—or because of—their self-interests. This aspect of influencing people’s self-interest is what makes change management ‘political’; it requires close attention to the science and art of persuasion. In other words, we need to understand the psychology of persuasion before we can devise effective ways of influencing people.

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

Is this Meeting Genuinely Necessary?


A “maybe” response indicates only limited need for the meeting and shows that further thought is required. Only a “yes” is a positive justification for calling a meeting.

 

The same question needs to be asked before attending a meeting. If the meeting is not necessary and you can avoid it, do so. If you have to attend, try to use the time to shorten your workload to compensate for the lost hours.

 

Many managers find it hard to judge if a meeting is needed or superfluous. There are some guidelines:

1.    Is the meeting being called to exchange information or viewpoints?

a.       If the meeting is to discuss viewpoints, it is probably a necessary conference. If the meeting is strictly to distribute information, the meeting is probably unnecessary. Meetings are most effective when used to find solutions or resolutions to conflicts. A meeting held for the sole purpose of imparting information had better have some pretty spectacular revelations. This in all likelihood should be classed as an inspirational conference, because important news is seldom passed along without editorializing or explanations. Inspirational meetings are difficult to conduct, because they are based on emotion, but there are times when the troops need boosting or, conversely, deflating.

b.      Training meetings appear to be an exception to the don’t-meet-to-exchange-information concept. They are not. Distributing information in advance allows the meeting to be used for developing concepts and testing individual understanding. This is a better use of everyone’s time. This is not to downplay the importance of instructional sessions. It is just to set this category of communications apart from other meetings.

c.       Information, facts, figures, sales data, market intelligence, production numbers, personnel reviews, and more, can be disseminated more effectively by memo than meeting. Chances are, the memo is going to be written anyway passed out at the meeting. Distributing a memo is okay if there is other business on hand, but calling a meeting solely as a means of handing paper to other managers is inappropriate.

d.      Meetings are at their best when used to generate expressions of viewpoints or concepts, or to develop a policy.

e.       Meetings are at their worst when used to check individual progress on various projects. There are few more mind-dulling experiences than to sit at a conference table and hear about the status of tasks that are not even remotely connected with yours. These sections often turn into excuse contests with rambling dissertations on the reasons behind delays or problems.

f.        Meetings are generally not an efficient way to dispense information. If this is the primary reason for the gathering, then rethink the need for convening.

2.    Can one-on-one conversations or even one-on-two conversations accomplish what needs to be done? Or is a larger group necessary?

a.       There’s a difference between a meeting and a conversation between two or three people. A conversation is relaxed, informal, and rarely has the time constraints posed by a meeting. Those present sense the difference.

b.      Decisions are rarely made in conversations. In fact, some managers and executives become agitated when two or three members of a committee converse and come to a consensus without the others present. This nervousness is not assuaged by a follow-up memo which details the conversation or even by the fact that the decision may be nothing more than a unified front, in no way binding upon the group.

c.       If conversation will suffice to avoid another meeting, then have the talk. Inform the other committee members or interested parties. Those smart enough to advance in management will welcome one less meeting on their schedule.

3.    Is this meeting being called because someone or some group doesn’t have enough to do? It happens all the time. Workloads in an organization can be unbalanced. This week, Production has more than it can handle, while Sales is costing. One way to fill the day for Sales is to call a meeting. This is more common than anyone dares admit.

4.    Is the agenda for the called-meeting vague? Or worse, is there no agenda at all?

a.       As a basic rule of meeting skill, do not go to a meeting where there is no agenda. If you have to attend, go prepared for the worst.

b.      If a manager cannot express on paper what the meeting is about, there probably shouldn’t be a meeting at all.

c.       If you are asked to a meeting and no agenda is given to you in advance, find the person who called the meeting and ask for one. If it is verbal, take notes.

d.      Many times, the person discovers he or she has vague ideas about why the meeting is needed. This experience can benefit both of you.

5.    Is there any reason to meet other than the fact that your group has a set, regular, once-a-week mandatory meeting? Top management often wants certain employees to get together each and every week, to discuss items of importance, or to match timing, balance workloads, and do ongoing, necessary house-keeping.

a.       After a few sessions, these meetings fall into a routine and small talk dominates.

b.      The day before, the manager should do a little checking. Is there actually a need to convene? Could a more limited gathering accomplish the same thing? Would a memo suffice? Could matters be handled by a phone call? If the answer is yes, skip the meeting.

 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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