Friendship and Business


Americans like to think of themselves as friendly. Yet others find us impersonal and rushed. We come on too strong too fast; we are intimidating to some foreigners. We then fail to fulfill the implicitly promised friendship; we seem phony. In most parts of the world, friendships are slow to form, requiring tremendous commitment and attention over the long term. Anything less than the gradual and deliberate approach may be seen as insincerity, and insincerity compared to the seriousness with which friendships are taken elsewhere. Once formed, many foreign friendships are virtually permanent. And with the friendship come obligations, not only to help in emergencies, but to help in a number of ways the average American would consider entirely unreasonable.

The importance of relationships strongly affects the conduct of business. The foreigner needs to assess any business associate and most likely will make a deal not purely on the basis of the best price or product but rather on personal estimation. From Italy to China, extra personal involvement is important; many foreigners feel that if both parties can be friends, then business between them will flow naturally and smoothly.

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

Flatten your Organization


Flattening the organization means that each manager becomes responsible for more people. There is a limit to the number of people that one person can supervise, but this span of authority varies widely between jobs. Most people imagine that a manager can only handle a few subordinates. In reality, proper delegation allows you a surprisingly wide span, allowing a much flatter and leaner organization.

Your organization should have the best structure for achieving its goals. This structure shows the internal divisions of the organization; and the relationships between them. The structure is not fixed, but evolves to meet changing conditions. Unfortunately, this generally means a drift towards more complex structures, with more divisions, extra layers of management, longer chains of command, less delegation and more centralization. Endless levels of management can be used for minor rewards and recognition.

The proliferation of management layers is hopelessly inefficient. It forms an army of people whose only job is to force information to travel through a long and convoluted route before it is used, and makes sure that decision makers become hopelessly remote from the operations.

Delegation has clear advantages and empowerment allows you to reduce the layers of management. So the best type of organization is as flat as possible, with only a few layers of management. The organization must be flat, so that the top is connected to the people who actually make the money.

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

Delighting the Customer


Companies need to delight customers to gain a competitive edge. The delight is referred to as a profoundly positive emotional state that results from having  one’s expectations exceeded to a surprising degree. The type of service that results in delight is “positively outrageous service”—that which is unexpected, random, extraordinary, and disproportionately positive.

A way that managers can conceive of delight I to consider product and service features in terms of concentric rings. The innermost bull’s eye refers to attributes that are central to the basic function of the product or service, called musts. Their provision isn’t particularly noticeable, but their absence would be. Around the musts is a ring called satisfiers: features that have the potential to further satisfaction beyond the basic function of the product. At the next and final outer level are delights, product features that are unexpected and surprisingly enjoyable. These are things that consumers would not expect to find and are therefore highly surprised and sometimes excited when they receive them. For example, in your classes the musts consist of professors, rooms, syllabus, and class meetings. Satisfiers might include professors who are entertaining and friendly, interesting lectures, and good audio-visual aids. A delight might include a free textbook for students signing up for the course.

Delighting customers may seem like a good idea, but this level of service provision comes with extra effort and cost to the firm. Therefore the benefits of providing delight must be weighed. Among the considerations are the staying power and competitive implications of delight.

Staying power involves the question of how long a company can expect an experience of delight to maintain the customer’s attention. If it is fleeting and the customer forgets it immediately, it may not be worth the cost. Alternatively, if the customer remembers the delight and adjusts her level of expectation upward accordingly, it will cost the company more just to satisfy, effectively raising the bar for the future. Delighting customers does in fact raise expectations and make it more difficult for a company to satisfy customers in the future.

The competitive implication of delight relates to its impact on expectations of other firms in the same industry.if a competitor in the same industry is unable to copy the delight strategy, it will be disadvantaged by the consumer’s increased expectations. If you were offered that free textbook in one of your classes, you might then expect to receive one in each of your classes. Those classes not offering the free textbook might not have high enrollment levels compared to the delighting class. If a competitor can easily copy the delight strategy, however, neither firm benefits (although the consumer does), and all firm may be hurt because their cost increase and profit erode. The implication is that if companies choose to delight, they should do so in areas that cannot be copied by other firms.

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

Carrying out Sales Contests


Sales contests are short-term incentive programs designed to motivate sales personnel to accomplish specific sales objectives. Although contests should not be considered part of the firm’s ongoing compensation plan, they offer sales people the opportunity to gain financial, as well as nonfinancial, rewards. Contest winners often receive prizes in cash or merchandise or travel. Winners also receive nonfinancial rewards in the form of recognition and a sense of accomplishment.

Successful contests require the following:

  • Clearly defined, specific objectives.
  • An exciting theme.
  • Reasonable probability of rewards for all salespeople.
  • Attractive rewards.
  • Promotion and follow-through.

Because contests supplement the firm’s compensation program and are designed to motivate extra effort toward some short-term goal, their objectives should be very specific and clearly defined.

The time in which the contest’s objectives are to be achieved should be relatively short. This ensures the salespeople will maintain their enthusiasm and effort throughout the contest. But the contest should be long enough to allow all members of the sales force to cover their territories at least once and to have a reasonable chance of generating the performance necessary to win. Therefore, the median duration of sales contests is three months.

A sales contest should have an exciting theme to help build enthusiasm among the participants and promote the event. The theme should also be designed to stress the contest’s objectives and appeal to all participants.

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

Smart People Add, Foolish People Take Away


The most important way we learn is by thoughtful observation. Lessons that teach us success fundamentals are available in every encounter with other people.

Consider this example. You visit a candy store and order a pound of unboxed candy. The person behind the counter puts a big scoop of candy on the scales, maybe 20 ounces, and then begins to take away your candy, piece by piece, until the weight is exactly 16 ounces.

How do you feel? Cheated. Subconsciously, you perceived the big 20-ounce pile of candy as your candy. Now, as the person behind the counter takes some of it away, you feel your candy is being stolen.

Intelligent people behind the counter use the add-to approach. They put a relatively small amount of candy on the scales, maybe 10 or 12 ounces. Then, they add a few pieces until the scale shows 16 ounces. Subconsciously, this makes you feel good because you perceive you are getting extra candy.

Sixteen ounces are still 16 ounces. But the way a pound is counted makes a mighty big difference. To be sure, computer personnel must be careful in weighing merchandise. The point is that never make the customer feel cheated.

Successful business search for creative ways to use the generous add-on tactic to increase sales. The magazine subscription that includes a free pocket calculator, a remote-control device that comes free with the purchase of a television set, and the two-for-the-price-of-one sale by a drug chain are examples. People like you and buy from you when you give more than they expect in exchange for their money.

Evidence that generosity, the add-on approach, works wonders is overwhelming. Nevertheless there are still many businesses that believe success is spelled CHEAT. Store that advertise non-existent appliances at a ridiculously low price and then try to browbeat and intimidate the customer into buying a much higher priced product are common examples. Observe such scoundrels only to learn how to succeed.

You can use the “add-to” principle in every facet of life:

  • Give unexpected, extra service to your employer and you become a candidate for more pay, for more fringe benefits, and for promotion.
  • Put something extra into your assignment at school and get a better grade.
  • Give more time to your kids and get more love and cooperation in return.
  • Show respect to the parking lot attendent and your car gets better treatment.

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

Employing Too Many People


This seems obvious; employing too many people to do the work is clearly a waste on money. Unfortunately, there is a natural tendency for organiations to expand – largely because it is easy to employ an extra person, but difficult to sack one.  This growth is particularly obvious at the top.

Most organizations are overstaffed. When someone is overworked they can resign, share the work with a colleague, or demand another two assistants.

When there is not enough work to keep everyone occupied, there is plenty of time to worry, gossip and play politics. This by itself can be disruptive, but there are more problems when you try to trim the costs. Your best people will read the signs and start looking around for another job; the less good will keep their heads down and avoid any controversy, risks or mistakes. No one performs at their best when they spend their time applying for other jobs or trying to look invisible.

Remember that those who are in danger of losing their jobs deserve the longest warning that you can give. It isn’t their fault that the organization is having problems, and they have to plan for a difficult and uncertain future. Many managers delay these decisions, giving different reasons why they shouldn’t say anything until the last possible moment. This leaves everyone worried. It is far better to sort things out early, so that those remaining can concentrate on their work, and those leaving can help for the future.

Overstaffing has more widespread effects than simply wasting money, and you should avoid it by controlling recruitment and promotions.

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

Golden Chain


Today’s new customers must be seen as golden chains of future revenue not just a one-off, hit and run sale. Customers are just too expensive to attract and too valuable to loose after one or two transactions.

 

Even if your customer buying cycle is infrequent, the customer can still benefit from support, and opportunities for extra sales can be identified.

 

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Advice to Entrepreneurs


Whether it is the best of economic times or the worst, being an outrageous consumer debt is fundamentally a foolish way to live. If you have that problem start making amends. Go on a money diet. Study your spending habits to see where you waste money. Is it eating out? Ordering in? Impulsive buying? Talking on the telephone? Too many ritual splurges? Take the money you would otherwise fritter away and apply it to your credit cards—one outstanding balance at a time. Of course, you don’t want to penny-pinch yourself into a state of low-grade misery, but you do want to get into the habit of living lean. Consider it a preset for the lifestyle you may need to adopt in the early stages of your business.

Reducing your debt serves several purposes: 1) starting a business is anxiety-producing and debt-incurring enough without beginning it with a lot of extra-business bills; 2) the closer to zero your charge card balances are, the more available credit you’ll have for business purchases and cash advances; 3) should you need a bank loan to capitalize your venture your prospects will be all the better.

If you don’t have a lot of credit card debt but are presently paying off a small loan (personal, educational, home equity) that is open-ended, go on the same diet and get rid of it. That is, beef up your payments against the principal of the loan in order to pay it off ahead of schedule and save yourself some interest payments in bargain.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Compelling Business Principles


The development of the business principles is a first stage for developing and raising the standards of practice in countering bribery. The fair business principles provide a practical tool to which companies can look for a comprehensive reference to good practice to counter bribery. Business principles are becoming an essential tool in the future for businesses and the companies of today should encourage using them as a starting point for developing their own anti-bribery systems or as a benchmark.

I had heard and even observed how corrupt practices are carried out in businesses that add the extras to win export orders. For toting up luster to the evenings of the visiting business partners particularly from Gulf States, they fix up their visits to discotheques and nightspots. They also maintain luxury flats outfitted with floozy beauties for making the stay of the business guests a unique affair.

Unfortunately, such unethical practices have sneaked into the system via some (not all) businesses in different countries. That’s what I personally experienced when once as member of a foreign business team visiting an Asian country and staying at a luxury hotel, a businessman tried unethical tricks to win business contracts. He called from the lobby and told about the undeserved and undesired gift he brought for me.

Years ago in a domestic flight to the capital in a country in Asia a passenger seated next to me told that he was visiting the capital about a government tender. He was confident that he would win the contract. When I asked about the source of his confidence he pointed to two girls seated in the rear and said, “Those butterflies (exquisite women) will make it happen.”

Most of companies contribute to election campaigns of this candidate or that. Interestingly sometimes some companies sponsor candidates of two opposing political parties. The idea is to get unjustifiable favors after the horse wins.

There can be endless list of such companies, which are ready to do anything to get business favors.

It is no mystery that a lapse in business ethics or even the appearance of one can significantly harm the reputation and business of a company. Once a company is suspected, accused, or found guilty of corporate wrongdoing, it often becomes subject to the scrutiny of governmental agencies, the corporate community and the general public.

Private sector organizations must now take account of increasingly stringent domestic and international regulatory frameworks. There is growing corporate awareness of the risks posed by bribery, particularly in the light of scandals, and the public is expecting greater accountability and probity from the corporate sector.

Emphasis needs to be laid on business principles for enterprises to prohibit bribery in any form whether direct or indirect. They should also commit to implementation of programs for countering bribery. These principles are based on a commitment to fundamental values of integrity, transparency and accountability. Firms should aim to create and maintain a trust-based and inclusive internal culture in which bribery is not tolerated.

Thus an enterprise’s anti-bribery efforts including values, policies, processes, training and guidance will become tools of future corporate governance and risk management strategies for countering bribery and unethical practices.

As part of civil society, at macro level, Federation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry should work out a framework reflecting size of the companies, business sectors, potential risks and locations of operations. This should, clearly and in reasonable detail, articulate values, policies and procedures for preventing bribery from occurring in all activities under their effective control.

Such programs should be consistent with all laws relevant to countering bribery in all the jurisdictions in which an enterprise operates, particularly laws that are directly relevant to specific business practices.

At micro level each enterprise should develop programs in consultation with its employees, trade unions or other employee representative bodies. It should ensure that it is informed of all matters material to the effective development of the program by communicating with relevant interested parties.

While developing its program for countering bribery, the companies should analyze which specific areas pose the greatest risks from bribery. The programs should address the most prevalent forms of bribery relevant to each firm but at a minimum should cover areas such as bribes, political contributions, facilitation payments, gifts, hospitality and expenses.

A company should prohibit the offer, gift, or acceptance of a bribe in any form, including kickbacks, on any portion of a contract payment, or the use of other routes or channels to provide improper benefits to customers, agents, contractors, suppliers or employees of any such party or government officials.

It should also prohibit an employee from arranging or accepting a bribe or kickback from customers, agents, contractors, suppliers, or employees of any such party or from government officials, for the employee’s benefit or that of the employee’s family, friends, associates or acquaintances.

The enterprise, its employees or agents should not make direct or indirect contributions to political parties, organizations or individuals engaged in politics, as a way of obtaining advantage in business transactions.

Each company should publicly disclose all its political contributions, charitable contributions and sponsorships. It should ensure that charitable contributions and sponsorships are not being used as a subterfuge for bribery.

The enterprise should prohibit the offer or receipt of gifts, hospitality or expenses whenever such arrangements could affect the outcome of business transactions and are not reasonable and bona fide expenditures.

The board of directors, CEOs and senior management should demonstrate visible and active commitment to the implementation of the business principles.

The business organizations should assert elimination of bribery; demonstrate their commitment to countering bribery; and make a positive contribution to improving business standards of integrity, transparency and accountability wherever they operate. Business principles are going to evolve reflection of changes in anti-bribery practice as well as the lessons learned from their use and application by 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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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