The Drive for Speed


The ‘time culture’ can impose unrealistic deadlines upon those who are charged with the responsibility for delivering improvements. When a supply chain is improved, the single company may be no more able to achieve a tangible impact upon the external environment than it can deliver all the value that is sought by a final customer. When others are involved, there is likely to be bargaining and negotiation.

Environmental initiatives should not result in the pressure for speed or ‘response’ driving out the long-term thinking that is required. Assuming ‘results’ are required, these might best be achieved as a result of flexibility within the framework of a longer term relationship.

Today’s craze can be tomorrow’s memory. Too many managers assume that trends will continue longer than subsequently turns out to be the case. With many environmental and social policies taking many years to have a significant impact, companies face a dilemma similar to that encountered by those seeking to change attitudes and behavior. By the time the outcomes initially sought have been achieved, the requirement may have changed. Will there be a backlash when people count the costs? Will they become bored?

Attempts to deal with ‘isms’ can open a Pandora’s box of dashed hopes and unfulfilled expectations, especially when initiatives are not thought through. Enough noise may be raised to alarm some, while not enough is done to appease or deliver to others. Companies should beware of cosmetic programs.

Winners assemble a comprehensive, complementary and coordinated set of initiatives, embracing all the parties involved, that are likely to have a significant impact upon an environmental or social issue. They achieve significant changes of attitude or behavior, because all the various change elements that are necessary have been put in place.

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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Ideal-Candidate Profile


You don’t have the time or the resources to evaluate every applicant who strolls in. to guide your work, you should develop a profile of your “ideal” candidate. You may never find your ideal, but you will establish a basic framework that outlines the person you are looking for.

Developing an ideal candidate profile is similar to viewing a lineup of suspects after you’ve witnessed a bank robbery. The individual you pick out may not be the actual bank robber, but chances are the real criminal is strongly similar. Often, a lineup helps police establish the silhouette or basic framework of the person being sought. The police is clear even if the details are not. Likewise, your ideal candidate profile will give you a sharper idea of what you are really looking for, so that you can increase your odds of finding him or her.

Use the following outline to develop of profile of your ideal candidate:

  1. Must have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education
  1. Should have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Education
  1. Would be nice to have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education

Be specific when you draft your outline. If you want someone with strong follow-up skills, say so. If you want an assertive person who can handle high stress, say so. To create a good match between job and candidate, you need to define the person as closely as you define the job.

Keep your company culture in mind, too. If your company is team-oriented and flexible, you want a candidate who is comfortable with teamwork—and not everyone is. If your department is highly structured, you want someone who works well in a structured situation. Describe the qualities that your company values so that you can find compatible candidates.

Just remember that defining the candidate is a lot like shopping for groceries: the more you toss into your shopping cart, the more you’ll pay. The cost of filling a job is influenced by two factors: how long it takes to find the candidate, and the supply of qualified candidates. The greater the number of must have items on your list, the longer it’s going to take to find that person. The greater the experience, skills, or education requirements, the smaller the supply of candidates and the larger the compensation package required to hire the person.

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.

Management by Objectives


To provide a framework within which to evaluate subordinates’ behavior and, in particular, to allow managers to monitor progress toward achieving goals, many organizations implement some version of management by objectives. Management by objectives is a system of evaluating subordinates for their ability to achieve specific organizational goals or performance standards and to meet operating budgets. Most organizations make some use of management by objectives because it is pointless to establish goals and then fail to evaluate whether or not they are being achieved. Management by objectives involves three specific steps:

  1. Specific goals and objectives are established at each level of the organization. Management by objectives starts when top managers establish overall organizational objectives, such as specific financial performance targets. Then objective-setting cascades down throughout the organization as managers at the divisional and functional levels set their objectives to achieve corporate objectives. Finally, first-level managers and workers jointly set objectives that will contribute to achieving functional goals.
  2. Managers and their subordinates together determine the subordinates’ goals. An important characteristic of management by objectives is its participatory nature. Managers at every level sit down with the subordinate managers who report directly to them and together they determine appropriate and feasible goals for the subordinate, and bargain over the budget that the subordinate will need so as to achieve these goals. The participation of subordinates in the objective-setting process is a way of strengthening their commitment to achieving their goals and meeting their budgets. Another reason why it is so important for subordinates (both individuals and teams) to participate in goal setting is so they can tell managers what they think they can realistically achieve.
  3. Managers and their subordinates periodically review the subordinates’ progress toward meeting goals. Once specific objectives have been agreed upon for managers at each level, managers are accountable for meeting those objectives. Periodically, they sit down with their subordinates to evaluate their progress. Normally, salary raises and promotions are linked to the goal-setting process, and managers who achieve their goals receive greater rewards than those who fall short.

In the companies that have decentralized responsibility for the production of goods and services to teams, particularly cross-functional teams, management by objectives works somewhat differently. Managers ask each team to develop a set of goals and performance targets that the team hopes to achieve—goals that are consistent with organizational objectives. Managers then negotiate with each team to establish its final goals and the budget the team will need to achieve them. The reward system is linked to team performance, not to the performance of any one team member.

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

Profit Decay


Management can always shortchange sales, R&D, or market development, or forgo manufacturing improvements for the short term to make the business and profits look better. Doing so can lead the company into a cycle of profit decay that is very difficult to break out of without incurring major costs or write-offs.

A vicious and deteriorating cycle ensues until some combination of price increase or reductions in manufacturing costs and/or an expense occurs that allows the business to adhere more closely to the profit and loss framework. It is extremely important to understand that a company has, quite literally, no chance of generating attractive profits until it somehow breaks out of this cycle.

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

Firm Value and National Wealth


The wealth creation process of a nation cannot be seen separately from that taking place at the industry level. Hence, unless a nation is able to unleash the value creating potential of each organization, its over-all progress in this context will be significantly hampered. Incidentally for each firm to maximize its wealth creation potential, the need for private ownership of capital and well defined property rights in all sectors of an economy cannot be over-emphasized. Private sector business organizations will ensure that their managers are held accountable for the way they use the company assets, and the outcome thereof. When the firm level ownership is diffused (as in the cases of public or joint sector companies) and the majority ownership is predominantly with distant and impersonal state, there is no incentive for intra and inter-organizational cooperation for mutual benefit including wealth creation.

Since the wealth creation process of a nation is synonymous with that of its organizations, macro policies of governments of nation states must facilitate evolution and development of organizations that are focused, market driven, efficiency and change seeking, nimble-footed, and also capable of building and leveraging capabilities, all required to create wealth not only for their shareholders, but also for other stakeholders, including the government. For such value creation to take root within an organization, the external context must be right—market economy, healthy competition, transparent regulations, strong institutional frameworks in all public policy areas, clear intellectual and other property rights, freedom to access information and high ethical standards. If a nation is state is not able to put in place the required public policies in these areas and also no effort is made to simultaneously enhance managerial capabilities to create value, its wealth creation effort will always remain sub-optimal.

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

The Changing World of Business


The poor performance of star companies in the 1980s and 90s, both MNCs and domestic, has amply demonstrated their susceptibility to under-perform in the face of rapid and marked changes in technology, competition and customer expectations. It is not that all these companies lacked resources, capabilities or competent managers to anticipate and assess the impending changes and initiate proactive action; what they lacked was concern on the part of their managers to enhance the shareholder value of their respective firms on a sustained basis. As a result, this value got diverted to the customers, employees, competitors and suppliers of the company. While it is well known that a firm needs to develop distinctive capabilities and also build a strong network with its key stakeholders to enhance its value creating potential and appropriation of value this created, what really happened in case of most of these unsuccessful firms was that one or more of the stakeholders gained at the expense of the shareholders. The proponsity of managers to take operating, investment and financial decisions without any concern as to how such decisions can affect their shareholders led them to pursue strategies and investments that were ill-conceived and poorly executed, thereby systematically destroying the capabilities and equity developed over the years.

We should argue how the outcome of such a tendency can be detrimental to not only the firms but also to the job and career of the managers, particularly in the light of the various new developments—such as economic liberalization and opening up of most economies to domestic and global competition, greater freedom to access and move capital, emergence of the market for corporate control, and rising shareholder, activism—which have brought the issue of enhancing shareholders’ wealth to the forefront.

It is clear that managers will need to take a fresh guard and revisit their strategies, business processes and organization in order to face this complex set of challenges and retain their firm’s ability to enhance wealth of their shareholders. Thanks to the contribution made by the academia and practising executives, managers now have access to various concepts based on experiences when it comes to facing such challenges. However, it must be stressed that the need of the hour is not another set of concepts and framework; rather what is required is a new “philosophy of business” that draws the attention of every employee of an organization, starting with the CEO, to the importance of creating, enhancing and sustaining shareholder value in everything that the company does—be it strategic, tactical or even routine matters. Needless to say, the employees will also need guidelines on how to operationalize this new philosophy and what actions are needed to sustain the same.

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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