Delegation Skills


It’s not uncommon for managers to resist delegating the work they once did themselves. However, to be an effective and successful manager, it is essential that you delegate work to others.

To increase your willingness to delegate, first determine the reason for your resistance, then identify ways to overcome it. Common reasons for managers’ reluctance to delegation include:

  • Insufficient time to explain the task or train someone to do it. While this is sometimes an acceptable reason for not delegating short-term projects, more often it is not. The time you spend teaching employees’ tasks will save you time and effort in the long run. The sharing of knowledge is an investment in time that pays of in many ways.
  • Desire for perfection. If you feel that you are the only person who can do certain tasks well enough, be careful; this is a danger sign. It’s often unlikely that you are the only person who can do them. Start by delegating parts of these tasks, and each employees to help them perform to your satisfaction.
  • Personal satisfaction and/or reward from task accomplishment. If you enjoy a task or receive recognition from others when you perform it, you may tend to reserve it for yourself when you could be delegating it. It is difficult to give up work you really like. Learn to achieve satisfaction from other parts of your job.
  • Lack of confidence in employees’ abilities. If you lack confidence in an employee’s abilities, carefully evaluate what the employee can and cannot do. You may want to check your impressions with others, because people sometimes pigeonhole other people based on one or two vivid events. Then delegate work the person can do, and provide coaching as the work proceeds.
  • Fear of failure. Many managers are concerned that if mistakes are made, the consequences will be disastrous. Identify the  possible risk with the employee, if the risks are really large, ask that contingency plans to be made. Ultimately, you need to be  willing to take responsibility for your employees’ mistakes on delegated tasks to help them grow and develop.

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.

Use of Material


In his book, Today and Tomorrow, Henry Ford reveals with regard to the nature of waste in industry. Ford suggests that ‘it is use – not conservation – that interests us. We want to use material to its utmost in order that the time of men may not be lost.’ Therefore if something has labor expended upon it, and it is subsequently wasted (‘we do not put it to its full value’), then the time and energy of men are wasted. Therefore Ford suggests that ‘we will use material more carefully if we think of it as labor’. The fundamental driver behind eliminating  waste is true efficiency, which Ford said is simply a matter of doing work using the best methods known, not the worst.

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.

Code of Ethics


Best companies have a written code of ethics.  Such codes list principles of appropriate behavior. Code of ethics generally addresses such topics as conflicts of interest, confidentiality of corporate information, misappropriation of corporate assets, bribes and kickbacks, and political support.

If code of ethics is to make a real difference, it must be carefully designed and implemented. Employees are more likely to accept a code if managers and others affected by it are involved in its development.

The code of ethics should be revised to reflect changes in the company’s product line or competitive practices. The code must be internally consistent.

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.

Planning a Research Strategy


If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

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.

Identifying Company Weaknesses and Resource Deficiencies


A weakness is something a company lacks or does poorly or a condition that puts it at a disadvantage. A company’s internal weaknesses can relate to a) deficiencies in competitively important skills or expertise, b) a lack of competitively important physical, human, organizational, or intangible assets, or c) missing or weak competitive capabilities in key areas. Internal weaknesses are thus shortcomings in a company’s compliment of resources. A weakness may or may not make a company competitively vulnerable, depending on how much the weakness matters in the market place and whether it can be overcome by the resources and strengths in the company’s possession.

Sizing up a company’s resource capabilities and deficiencies is akin to constructing a strategic balance sheet where resource strengths represent competitive assets and resource weaknesses represent competitive liabilities. Obviously, the ideal condition is for the company’s strengths/competitive assets to outweigh its weaknesses/competitive liabilities by an ample margin—50-50 balance is definitely not the desired condition.

Once managers identify a company’s resource strengths and weaknesses, the two compilations need to be carefully evaluated for their competitive and strategy-making implications. Some strengths are more competitively important than others because they matter more in forming a powerful strategy, in contributing to a strong market position, and in determining profitability. Likewise, some weaknesses can prove fatal if not remedied, while others are inconsequential, easily corrected, or offset by company strengths. A company’s resource weaknesses suggest a need to review its resource base: What existing resource deficiencies need to be remedied? Does the company have important resource gaps that need to be filled? What needs to be done to augment the company’s future resource base?

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.

Thinking about Processes


Many people don’t really think about the process they use, but why process planning is important:

  • You want to make products that satisfy customer demand;
  • The products must, in some way, be better than competitors;
  • The process makes the products;
  • To make better products you need a better process.

You can make most products by a number of different processes. If you make tables, you can use craftspeople to build them carefully by hand; you can buy parts and use semi-skilled people to assemble them; you can use automatic equipment on an assembly line; or you can mould complete tables from plastic. Each process gives a product with different characteristics. Process planning designs the best process for delivering any particular product.

It’s especially important to design the process for services, as you can’t really draw a line between the product and the process used to make it. How, for example, can you separate the service given by a bank, theatre or taxi from process used to deliver it?

There’s a huge variety of processes. It is easy to design a process for baking a cake; but if you want to bake 100 cakes for a garden party you will use a different process; and if you want to bake a million cakes every week, the best process is different again. Unfortunately, many managers don’t take their processes seriously, and can hardly describe them in coherent terms.

You can start thinking seriously about your processes by recognizing them and describing the details of each. Make everyone in the organization aware of the processes and their importance. Then you can see how well the processes are working and look for improvements. Your processes are at the heart of your organization, and you really should give them the attention they deserve. Emphasize your processes, which consist of all the operations needed to make your products.

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

Project Management


A project is any group of activities with a common goal, for which we try to control costs, resource usage, completion time, and quality of the output. However, large (one-time or multiple) projects in the range of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars are more common and undoubtedly have a larger total economic impact. Examples include new plants, schools, office buildings, research programs, some types of electronic research and development, bridges, and highways. Projects in the thousands to one million dollar range are even more numerous and include building houses, remodeling offices, modernizing wiring and plumbing, establishing a small PC cluster, and so on. Small and very small projects are too numerous to try to catalog. For example, getting to work in the morning can be considered a project, with such activities as shower, brush teeth, put on shoes, dry hair, and so on.

 Project management is a broad multi-level activity which involves strategic planning, middle- and short-term planning, scheduling, and control. We will first give a broad introduction to project management at all levels from strategic planning to control. Next we present the foundation of project scheduling without considering resource constraints. Then we consider the case of project scheduling with resource constraints from several points of view. Finally we discuss broader issues surrounding scheduling such as project design and strategic project control.

 Most of the formal work in project management has focused on large one-time projects. Project management tends to be a very involved process, requiring the careful coordination of experts in a number of areas. It is important that the individual parts of the process be carefully organized. It requires developing and manipulating a great deal of data and reports. The scheduling and control portion of project management have benefited greatly from the PC revolution.

 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

Relationship-based Management


The four steps to moving your organization closer to a relationship based management program are:

  1. Segmentation
  2. Analyzing current behavior
  3. Developing strategy to achieve target behaviors
  4. Behavior maintenance.

By behavior I mean the buying or other behaviors of a customer, in relationship to the organization and its products and services.

In beginning the process it is probably worth taking time to do an audit of all the systems, information, research, marketing knowledge, attractiveness, historical results from promotions and any other additional sources of data that may exist in your organization.

Customer relationship management requires a holistic approach so that the infortmation that is held about customers across the organization is drawn together in one central source or at least cross-accessed so that it can be compiled and collated. For example: information is probably held at an accounting level about customer transactions and appended to that may be a payment record. A different computer system may hold results of marketing activity for different customers or different customer groups. Another database may actually hold information on customer service queries or enquiries – times they may have phoned or contacted you for some question or other. This information needs to be carefully scoped and drawn together.

This analysis is the first part of segmentation by behavior and value. The second stage is to begin an initial segmentation of a customer base. You should include the value, potential value and historical behavior of your customer. This should then be compared with the existing buying patterns and behavior and then contrasted, thirdly, with the future, or target behavior, of an ideal or loyal customer.

Every customer is in some way unique. However, many customers are unique in similar ways. There are practical steps that can be taken to segment customers by value, pattern, and buying criteria.

The next stage is to develop a strategy – a plan or a series of plans to attribute the target behavior to each segment or individual – and then to begin to allocate a budget for each of those behaviors. For example, if you had a mail order business marketing collectible antique replicas, you would identify the different customer segments in terms of their buying behaviors and in terms of how much they had spent in the past; the frequency, the types of products that they had been interested in and the mechanisms that they had responded to – whether that’s direct mail or off the page advertising, the internet etc. if you were then trying to increase the frequency of spend or the transaction value of the spend, this would become a target behavior that you would focus on.

The next stage is to look at the actual technology or systems that will allow you to achieve better relationship management with your customers. This may require some redesign or re-implementation of hardware and software to allow access to the information at a single point.

The final stage is management in the evolution of the process. There is always a matter of trial and error and trial and success. Before implementing a wide scale program it is essential that it is carefully tested on a small part of each segment of the customer base before being rolled out. Indeed by using customer relationship management methods in segmenting customers and customer groups more accurately, test marketing and test promotions can actually be far more accurately guaged and measured.

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