Determining Training Needs


When a supervisor sees evidence of inadequate job performance, assuming the individual is making a satisfactory effort, attention should be given to raising the worker’s skill level. When a supervisor is confronted with a drop in productivity, it may suggest that skills need to be fine-tuned. Of course it would be related to other factors, too—lack of resources or equipment malfunctions. That’s why it’s imperative to pinpoint the problem precisely.

In addition to the productivity measures, high rejection rate or unusual rate of wastage may indicate a need for employee training. A rise in the number of  accidents reported can also suggest some type of retraining is necessary. Furthermore, the changes that are being imposed on workers as a result of a job redesign or a technological breakthrough demand training.

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.

Sales Forecasts


From a sales manager’s point of view, the importance of timely, accurate sales forecasts cannot be overstated. There is nothing quite as needlessly frustrating as being surprised at the month end sales results because the forecasts from the field were incorrect, untimely, or inadequate.

More than simply keeping sales managers up to date, accurate sales forecasting can have an important impact on other areas of the company as well. Sales forecasts give management the information that is necessary to implement a product plan that ensures that the right product is available for salespeople to sell.

It is true that a sales force automation system cannot compensate for poor forecasting skills of salespeople in the field. What a sales system can do, however, is to move the information from the field management instantly. Perhaps more important is the fact that an automated sales system can deliver the information in a format that allows the forecasts of several salespeople to be automatically rolled up into a consolidated regional report. Since the information is in a more usable format, it is more valuable to management. It is more likely to be useful in preventing end-of-the-month surprises.

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.

Organization Development


Organization development is a planned, managed, and systematic process. Its objective is to change the system, the culture, and the behavior of an organization in order to improve the organization’s effectiveness.

Organization development deals with organizational aspects of the behavioral sciences and links with human resource development and organizational renewal. Many definitions of organization development mention such objectives as helping members of an organization to interact more effectively. It must always be organization-wide, directed towards more participatory management, must provide for integrating the individual’s goals with the organization’s and must be considered an ongoing process.

Much organizational inefficiency can be traced to individuals who are not interested in the organization they belong to. Conversely, a lot of personal unhappiness can be traced to feeling inadequately integrated into the organization one belongs to. The benefit of organization development lies in reconciling the interests of individuals and of the organization and successfully realizing both.

While organization development will not overcome such deficiencies as outdated technology, inadequate financing or hostile external forces, it will enable organizations to cope more effectively with these negative influences.

Organization development is based on the behavior of organizations, but that both can be modified with proper diagnosis and skilful intervention.

Most organization development agents or consultants tend to view their mission as helping client organizations become more participatory and consensus seeking.

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.

 

Product Knowledge


You have to be expert before you even start your business. The old saying, “We learn by our mistakes” will not do your business reputation any good if it applies to your lack of expertise. You have to know your products or service inside out. You may love a business for the product lines, but will your customers love the products too? When problems arise with a product, or when a customer asks technical questions, are you knowledgeable enough to resolve these problems and answer their questions competently and confidently?

One way to increase your product knowledge is to contact the manufacturers or local distributor. They are usually happy to send you product information and answer your questions. Some of the questions you should research about your product lines (or service) are these:

  • How long have these products been on the market?
  • Are they seasonal, and when do most sell?
  • How often are these products upgraded or changed?
  • Could you be caught unexpectedly with obsolete inventory?
  • What do the manufacturers’ warranties cover?
  • Are replacement parts readily available?
  • Are the products competitively priced?
  • Are buying trends increasing or decreasing?
  • Are the products high, medium, or low in quality?
  • How do the products compare to the competition?
  • What are groups do these products appeal to?
  • What is the life expectancy of the products?
  • Could the products become obsolete due to changing technology?

After these questions are answered, you may find that the business is not viable after all. The product pricing may be too high compared to the competition, or you may discover that over the previous five years, overall demand for the products is declining due to technological changes and shifts in consumer buying trends. In another five years, the demand could become substantially less. The products may appear high in quality on sight, but you may discover that they are poorly made and not something that you would feel confident selling. Perhaps the manufacturer’s guarantees are inadequate, or replacement parts are priced exorbitantly and hard to secure.

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.

Problems of Conduct


In Japan’s early history, a serious disregard for manners could be punishable by death, and any samurai could kill any common person who failed to show him proper respect. The Japanese were required to behave in precisely prescribed ways—wearing permitted clothing, walking only a certain way, sleeping with their heads pointing in a certain direction and legs arranged a particular way. Eating, greeting, gesturing with hands, opening doors and many work tasks had to be done in assigned ways without deviation. Conduct became a measure of morality, and virtue in manners was visible for all to see. Even today, the code of conduct plays a significant role in the lives of the Japanese. Many societies, not Japan alone, have a prescribed form and manner for every familiar situation that might arise. Unforeseen situations can cause intense embarrassment or discomfort. Throughout East Asia, actions are judged by the manner in which they are performed. More important than the accomplishment of a task is the question of how someone went about trying to complete the task: Did he act sincerely? More important than winning the race is the grace of the runner. More important than expertise is the way one gets along with others. More important than profits is harmony. In contrast, Westerners and particularly Americans are more concerned with the principles of things, hard “measures” and objective facts. Although rules of ethics are extremely important, we are more goal oriented than method-conscious, we say “a good loser is a loser.”

One aspect of form is the concept of “face.” Much has been written about “face-saving” in Japan and China, but face-saving is important absolutely everywhere. The difference is only a matter of degree and nuance. Where an American might feel a little guilty or inadequate, an Asian, Arab or South American may feel deep shame and humiliation. What an American might see as a little honest and constructive criticism, the foreigner may take as a devastating blow to pride and dignity. A foreigner is likely to be sensitive to feelings of others in transactions that an American would consider strictly impersonal, such as returning a defective product or switching hairdressers. The traveler simply must be more conscious of saying things or behaving in ways that cannot be taken as disrespect, criticism or humiliation. In some countries it seems just about anything can be taken personally, even such indirect affronts as not taking your shoes off in a mosque or complaining about the heat.

Harmony with the environment can be as important as sensitivity to people in some cultures. In Japan a woman wears a soft pastel dress to a flower show so as not to take away from the beauty of the flowers. In countries where people believe in reincarnation they are careful about all forms of life. In India, for example, people are careful not to swallow gnats or step on ants—one might be a relative.

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.

Curing Stress


Chances are you know people who complain of stress, and some of them define their problem more sharply as “burn out,” a new psychiatric term that is growing in popularity. Make no mistake, stress seems very real. People spend billions every year on pills, diets, exercise gimmicks, and medical visits to cure their problems. But drugs, jogging, lifting weights, and talking with medical people don’t cure stress.

The real cure is so simple it goes undetected. Very simply – to cure stress, you must attack its cause. And the cause of stress is performing work you do not find enjoyable, challenging, and beneficial to yourself and others. people who complain of work related stress are misfits. Briefly, they don’t like their work. They feel incompetent, bored, out of place, inadequate, mistreated, threatened, or unappreciated.

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

Doing Foreign Business for Wrong Reasons


The wrong reasons for entering a market include; large population, cheap labor, and “Everyone else is going there.” Population does not necessarily mean consumers or a skilled work force, and even a large consumer base does not mean there is an established market. A terrific investment in education and the establishment of an infrastructure for the conduct of business, whether manufacturing or marketing, may be necessary.

Some markets may be too small to support the cost of doing business. It is critical to enter only these markets where you can serve customers to their satisfaction. An inadequate understanding of products due to degree of technical sophistication and language barriers may require special attention to adapt documentation, training and support to the market and customer. Many apparently small markets can be surprisingly active.

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

Everything is Tentative


It’s easy to imagine that building a new product is like building a house—first the foundation, then the frame, then the first floor, and so on. Unfortunately, product aspects are rarely locked in that way. Occasionally they are, as when a technical process dominates development, or when a semifinished product is acquired from someone else, or when legal or industry requirements exist.

We usually assume everything is tentative, even up through marketing. Form can usually be changed, and so can costs, packaging, positioning, and service contracts. So can the marketing date and the reactions of government regulators. So can customer attitudes, as companies with long development times have discovered.

This means two long-held beliefs in new product work are actually untrue. One is that everything should be keyed to a single Go/No Go decision. Granted, one decision can be

Decisive—at times, for example, when a firm must invest millions of dollars in one large facility or when a firm acquires a license that commits it to major financial outlays. But many firms are finding ways to avoid such commitments, for example, by having another supplier produce the product for a while before making a facilities commitment, or by negotiating a tentative license, or by asking probable customers to join a consortium to ensure the volume needed to build the facility.

The other untrue truism is that financial analysis should be done as early as possible to avoid wasting money on poor projects. This philosophy leads firms to make complex financial analyses shortly after early concept testing, although the numbers are inadequate.

Still another tentative matter is the marketing date. Marketing actually begins very early in the development process—for example, when purchasing agents are asked in a concept test whether they think their firm would be interested in a new item. Rollouts are now so common it is hard to tell when all-out marketing begins.

Often no one pulls a switch and marketing instantly begins. We more often sneak up on it, which clearly affects the evaluation system.

What results in some cases is a sort of a rolling evaluation. The project is being assessed continuously, figures are penciled in, premature closure is avoided, and participants avoid mind-sets of good and bad.

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

Just about Cash Flow


Cash flow is different from profit. Profit is the difference between revenues and expenses. Cash flow is the difference between receipts and disbursements of cash. Profit may flow whether or not anybody has paid for anything. Cash flows only when somebody pays for something. Time after time, businesses with good sales and good profits go broke. It is surprisingly commonplace. The problem is the the cash doesn’t flow when the profit flows.

The explanations for the large number of new business failures, undercapitalization, inadequate management, and poor marketing, may be valid, but the overwhelming reason is that the managers did not understand cash flow. They behaved as if profit were cash, which is not. They acted as if all that is needed to win the business game is to make a profit, which is not true. Cash is different from profit. You need both to win the business game.

A business can survive and thrive only if it has both positive profit (not losses) and positive cash flow (more flowing into the bank than out of it). To win you must produce more than you consume, and you must do it in such a way that you can meet critical payments as they come due.

Profit may be the most common measure of whether a business is winning or losing, but cash flow is the most critical measure. Businesses can survive a surprisingly long time without profit. They die on the first payday there is no cash.

Your company’s bank is like a jar is a reservoir, so it is the gas tank. And what is in the reservoir is easy to measure. The amount in the reservoir is what was put in minus what was taken out. A convenient way to measure whether the supply is increasing or decreasing is to measure whether more was entering or leaving during the most recent period of time. Cash flow into the bank account is such a measure. How much is in the reservoir is of intetrest, of course, but it is changed by changing the cash flow.

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