Group Decision-Making


The person leading the discussion can have a big effect on whether the group’s decision is useful. If a chairperson monopolizes and continually shoots down others’ ideas while pushing his or her own, it’s likely that other points of view will go unexpressed.

An effective discussion leader has responsibility to do the following:

  1. See that all group members participate. As discussion leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that all group members participate and have an opportunity to express their opinions. Doing so can help ensure that different points of view emerge and that everyone takes ownership of the final decision.
  2. Distinguish between idea getting and idea evaluation. Evaluating and criticizing proposed solutions and ideas actually inhibit the process of getting  or generating new ideas. Yet in most group discussions, one person presents an alternative, and others begin immediately discussing its pros and cons. As a result, group members quickly become apprehensive about suggesting new ideas. Distinguishing between the idea getting and idea evaluation stages—in particular, forbidding criticism of an idea until all ideas have been presented—can be useful here.
  3. Not respond to each participant or dominate the discussion. Remember that the discussion leader’s main responsibility is to elicit ideas from the group, not to supply them. As a discussion leader, you should therefore work hard to facilitate free expression of ideas and avoid dominating the discussion.
  4. See that the effort is directed toward overcoming surmountable obstacles. In other words, focus on solving the problem rather than on discussing historical events that cannot be changed. Some groups make the mistake of becoming embroiled in discussion about who is to blame for the problem or what should have been done to avoid the problem. Such discussions can’t lead to solutions because the past can’t be changed. As a discussion leader, your job is to ensure that the group focuses on obstacles that can be overcome and solutions that can be implemented.

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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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.

Speaking the Body Language


About 60 to 70 percent of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. More important than speaking the language is what you communicate without words. Many travelers trust that if they don’t speak the language, there are a hundred gestures to get across almost any meaning. But gestures have quite different meanings in different parts of the world; body language is not universal. Subtleties are noticed, like the length of time you hold on while shaking hands. On a very unconscious level we can turn people off even when we are on good behavior. Thumbs up is considered vulgar in Iran and Ghana, equivalent to raising the middle finger in the United States. Touching a person’s head, including children’s, should be avoided in Singapore or Thailand. In Yugoslavia, people shake their heads for yes—appearing to us to be saying no.

In general, avoid gesturing with the hand. Many people take offense at being beckoned this way, or pointed out, even if only conversationally. In parts of Asia, gestures and even slight movements can make people nervous. If you jab your finger in the air or on a table to make a point, you might find that your movements have been so distracting that you have not made your point at all. Unintentionally, Americans come across as aggressive and pushy. Yet, in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America or Italy, gesturing is important for self-expression, and the person who does not move a lot while talking comes across as bland or uninteresting. As always, watch what local people do. Or ask.

Body language is more than gestures. You communicate by the way you stand, sit, tense facial muscles, tap fingers, and so on. Unfortunately, these subtler body messages are hard to read across cultures; mannerisms don’t translate. In many parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is disrespectful.

In Japan a person who looks a subordinate in the eye is felt to be judgmental and punitive, while someone who looks his superior in the eye is assumed to be hostile or slightly insane. The Arabs like eye contact—the eyes are windows to soul—but theirs seem to dart about much more than Americans. We don’t trust “shifty-eyed” people.

Subtle differences in eye contact between the British and North Americans can be confusing. English listening behavior includes immobilization of the eyes at a social focal distance, so that either eye gives the appearance of looking straight at the speaker. On the other hand, an American listener will stare at the speaker’s eye, first one, then the other, relieved by frequent glances over the speaker’s shoulder.

Eye contact during speaking differs too. Americans keep your attention by boring into you with eyes and words, while the British keep your attention by looking away while they talk. When their eyes return to yours, it signals they have finished speaking and it is your turn to talk. These almost imperceptible differences in eye contact interfere with rapport building and trust.

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.

Writing the First Draft


When your outline is complete and you are ready to write your first draft, many writers make a common mistake at this point. They try to “get it right” the first time. They may work on a paragraph for hours, fine-tuning the words until they are perfect. Writers thus shut off their creativity by insisting on profession.

Remember, the first draft is a working draft. It should be written quickly without too much thought to elegant expressions or final order and paragraphing. Your object is to get the material on paper to flash out the structure of your outline. Let the words flow. Start wherever you can—in the middle, even near the end. The opening or introduction can be completed later. Any weaknesses in logic or gaps in information, any points that are out of place can be corrected in the final version.

As you write the first draft, keep your audience in mind. Doing so will help you stay focused on the purpose of your work. Keep writing until you have completed the first draft.

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.

From Financial Capital to Human Capital


The new corporation differs from the old in both goals and basic assumptions. In the industrial era, when the strategic resource was capital, the goal of the corporation could only have been profits. In the information era, however, the strategic resource is information, knowledge, creativity. There is only one way a corporation can gain access to these valuable commodities—that is, through the people in whom these resources reside.

So the basic assumption of a re-invented company is that people—human capital—are its most important resource. What used to be one of the radicals’ favorite slogans, “People before Profits,” is finding its way into the boardroom and being transformed into a more businesslike but equally humanistic “People and Profits.”

In an information age society, human resources are any organization’s competitive edge.

One expression of the importance of human capital is the new corporate preoccupation with health and fitness. Corporations are treating their human assets with new concern, encouraging their people to stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and learn to manage stress. What might have been considered an intrusion into one’s personal life in the past is fair game when people are a company’s strategic resource.

The new re-invernted corporations stress inordinate regard for the two most important types of people in an enterprise: employees and customers.

They have discovered that by being both pro-people and pro-profits, a company can earn more than it it had targeted profits as its only goal.

It is not a question of being nice to people. It is simply a recognition that human beings will make or break a company.

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

Communication Skills


Effective communication skills from the foundation for successful management. They are so fundamental that we sometimes forget their significance or assume we are skillful. Communication skills enable you to lead others. you cannot lead without being able to communicate your ideas well. People will not go with you unless you have established with them your ability to lead. That requires trust which is a by-product of effective two-way communication.

 Effective communication includes both speaking and listening, informing others, and fostering open communication. When you master these skills, you harness a great deal of power—the power to get things done through others.

 Effective communication involves:

  • Knowledge who needs what information and communicating that information in a consise, timely way
  • Choosing and effectively using the most appropriate communication medium – oral or written – for who will receive the information and how it will be used
  • Knowing how to listen effectively
  • Helping others communicate effectively, to ensure that communication occurs among all organizational levels and with all needed people

There are five communication skill areas:

  1. Speak effectively: Speaks clearly and expresses self well in groups and in one-to-one conversations.
  2. Foster open communication: Creates an atmosphere in which timely and high quality information flows smoothly between self and others; encourages the open expression of ideas and opinions.
  3. Listen to others: Actively attends to and conveys understanding of the comments and questions of others, listens well in a group.
  4. Deliver presentations: Prepares and delivers clear, smooth presentations; carries self well in front of a group.
  5. Prepare written communication: Conveys informaion clearly and effectively through both formal and informal documents; reviews and edits written work constructively.

 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

Defeating Fear with Preparation


Preparation helps defeat fear. Winning prizefighters prepare for a bout by selecting a sparring partner who has a boxing style similar to their opponent.

A football coach helps defeat fear and builds team confidence through exhaustive preparation. Films of the other opposing team in action are reviewed, “special” plays are practiced over and over again, and restrictions are placed on players’ activities all because, in an even contest, confidence is the deciding factor and confidence comes from preparation.

People are afraid of selling more than any other occupation. And again, preparation is a key to overcoming the near paralysis people have in making a sales presentation. People fear looking stupid, hearing the prospect say “No,” being embarrassed, forgetting what they want to say about the product, asking for the order, and not making the sale.

The only way to gain the high level confidence needed to sell successfully is preparation. And preparation is knowledge—knowledge of what you sell, knowledge of how your product will help the prospect or client, and knowledge of the person you’re selling.

Know your product or service. Know exactly what it can do for the prospect. Be so well prepared you can answer any question that comes up. Know construction, desirability and guarantees. Know the limitations, when not to use the product.

Know how your product or service will help your prospect. Your customer is the law of self-interest in action. As a salesman makes a presentation, the customer is asking, “How does this relate to my problem? How would it benefit me?”

The third confidence builder is knowledge of the prospect. You don’t sell to machines, you sell only to people. Just as you feel confident and have no fear when you’re around people you know well, you’ll have confidence around prospects when you know more about their personal interests, personality, personal responsibilities, or responsibilities, and family.

To act confidently in a sales situation, prepare yourself with knowledge of what you sell, how it will benefit he prospect, and who the prospect is. But more than knowledge, practice is required to gain confidence needed in selling. Practice your presentation with people who act the role of a customer. Practice before a mirror, or better yet, film yourself on a video camera. Watch your mannerisms, list to your voice, and observe your expressions.

You’ll destroy fear and build confidence in selling through preparation. In any activity, confidence comes in direct proportion to preparation.

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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