Involving Employees


To be successful when facing multiple tasks, often on multiple projects, more employees at all levels will need to delegate some of their activities and responsibilities to other organizational members. This means that employees are going to have to be give certain amounts of authority to make decisions that directly effect their work. Even though delegation was once perceived as something that managers did with lower levels of management, delegation will be required at all levels of the organization—in essence, peer delegation, or using influence without authority.

In addition to being required to take on more responsibilities, employees will be expected to make decisions without the benefit of the tried-and-true decisions of the past. And because all these employees are part of the process today, there is more of a need for them to contribute to the decision-making process. In most organizations, the days of autocratic management are over. To facilitate customer demands and fulfill corporate expectations, today’s employees need to be more involved. Group decision-making enables these employees to have more input into the processes, and greater access to needed information. Such actions are also consistent with work environments that require increased creativity and innovation.

Another phenomenon of involving employees will be an emphasis on work teams. The bureaucratic structure of yesterday—where clear lines of authority existed and the chain of command was paramount—is not appropriate for many of today’s companies. Workers from different specializations in an organization are increasingly required to work together to successfully complete complex projects. As such traditional work areas have given way to more of a team effort, building and capitalizing on the various skills and backgrounds that each member brings to the team.

Involving employees allows them an opportunity to focus on the job goals. By giving them more freedom, employees are in a better position to develop the means to achieve the desired results.

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

Development and Corporate Objectives


Development activities ought to reflect the situation and circumstances of a company, its business objectives and its key priorities. For example, there is little point in a company building hypothetical team skills without addressing the following:

  • The purpose of the team. For example, a bid team might require specific bidding skills such as defining value in customer terms.
  • Where team members are located. People in virtual teams may be widely scattered and they may need special training.
  • The role of groups and teams in the management of change, the management culture and management style must be supportive.
  • The clarity of the goals given to teams, and the relevance of their priorities to business objectives. People need to understand the broad boundaries within which they operate in terms of goals and priorities.
  • The discretion given to teams, and the extent to which people are given the required freedom to act.
  • The commitment of senior management to team work, and especially cross-functional and inter-organizational team work. They must be dedicated to ensuring that decisions are taken as close to the customer as possible, and people are enabled to do what is necessary to add value for customers.
  • Prevailing attitudes, such as the extent to which people feel part of teams. Empowered team work should be pervasive, rather than the isolated experiment.
  • The management cadre. Managers should counsel and coach, value diversity, and foster and encourage teamwork, collaborative activities, self-development and group learning.
  • How open people are, and the degree of trust and confidence they have. People need to feel they are able to take initiatives without being paralyzed by fear of the consequences.
  • Existing performance within teams, the tools shared within teams, and the approaches and support in terms of technology and process available to them. For example, there should be relatively open access to relevant information.
  • Rewards and performance management. This should be supportive of, and should recognize, team work, the acquisition of team skills and the exhibiting of role-model behavior.

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

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

Tall or Flat Organizations


“Tall” organization structures are characterized by more levels of managers and supervisors than are comparably sized organizations having “flat” structures. The spans of authority are narrower in tall structures than a flat ones. From the organization’s point of view, tall structures provide more control and direction than do flat ones; from the employee’s point of view, they are more restrictive and offer fewer opportuities to make decisions and exert initiative. The organizations make it possible for managers to keep in touch with their area and people more closely, because they have fewer subordinates and a narrower area to supervise. Centralized or decentralized structures also influence the degree of freedom the managers and employees have in various organizational divisions.

 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

Why Salespeople Sell?


The complexity and competitiveness of most industrial sales jobs makes successful performance a daunting challenge for even the most well-managed sales force. This challenges sales managers to recruit and select the best qualified salespeople, train and supervise them well, keep them highly motivated, and focus their efforts with appropriate sales strategies and account management policies. Unfortunately, the challenge of recruiting talented new salespeople is made an even thornier problem for many firms.

 For most industrial salespeople, it is precisely the complexity and challenge of their jobs that motivates them and makes them satisfied with their choice of careers. A number of satisfaction surveys over the years have found high levels of job satisfaction among industrial salespeople across a broad cross section of firms and industries.  While these surveys did find some areas of dissatisfaction, that unhappiness tended to focus on the policies and actions of the sales person’s firm or sales manager, not on the nature of the job itself.

 Why are so many industrial salespeople so satisfied with their jobs? Different analysts have offered a variety of answers to this question. Some attractive aspects of selling careers most commonly mention by these authors—as well as by sales people themselves—include 1) freedom of action and opportunities for personal initiative, 2) a variety of challenging activities, 3) financial rewards, 4) favorable working conditions, and 5) good opportunities for career development and achievement.

 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

Policy Structures


One of the major purposes of organizations is to relate and coordinate individuals and groups separated by task and space. The authority structure helps accomplish this by defining, at least partially, who can tell whom to do what, and who has the authority to make what kinds of decisions and to take what actions. This authority structure is supplemented with a structure of explicit and implicit policies, procedures, methods, and rules, which channel and direct many decisions and actions.

A policy is a statement of intent that is made to guide others in their decision making without being so specific as to specify decisions. Theoratically, the top executives of any company, but especially the larger ones, necessarily determine policies that help guide the behavior of people within the organization. However, in fact, people at lower levels often have an important hand in fashioning policy. This happens in two ways. First, people at lower levels make recommendations to those at upper levels. Second, people in upper levels sometimes formalize policies to fit behavior patterns that have already emerged at lower levels. In the latter case, policy follows practice.

A frequent characteristic of policy statements is that they are vague enough to permit managers to select among specific decesions, depending upon the managers’ view of the specific conditions surrounding the decision.

In addition to policies, certain procedures and methods are usually designed to facilitate work. For example, there may be eight discrete steps in a particular work process, and a sequence established for each step. Step three might involve notifying two departments that the first two steps are completed. Such a suggested process is called a procedure. It tells people when they should do something. How they do it is the method they use. The method is formally prescribed in some cases and is left to the operant’s discretion in others. Anyone who fails to follow the prescribed procedures and methods is usually open to censure if problems result. Yet much of life in organizations involves evading required procedures and methods, or redesigning them, and again the reasons are usually people-problems rather than errors in the logic of the design of the procedures and methods.

Most organizations have rules and regulations to supplement policies, procedures, and methods. Rules and regulations say what one must do or not do and often specify penalties for infractions. “No one is to punch another’s third card” is an example. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It says “no one,” period.

So there is a sliding scale from guides (policies) to suggestions (procedures) to requirements (rules and regulations). Nearly all organizations include the entire svcale, but different companies may vary widely in their relative emphasis upon various parts of the scale. At the less specific end of the scale, there is more freedom but less certainty, and the reverse is true of the more specific end. Knowing where a particular organization stands on the scale is thus important in understanding how it functions.

Furthermore, there is wide variability between organizational units (eg., research division versus accounting department) in the reliance placed upon or the attention paid to the policy structure.

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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