Corporate Ghettos


When the personality of an organization breaks up, individuals develop their own cult following. A reaction common to many organizations is the establishment of corporate ghettos, where individuals gather together in the absence of proper leadership to form informal but fiercely defensive groups.

These separate ghettos become the mainstay of internal communication and loyalty switches from the organization to the ghetto. All socializing and as much working contact as possible is restricted to other members of the ghetto.

Ghettos can have amazing influence on the lives of all concerned and in time come to dominate the entire culture and effectiveness of an organization.

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.

Ego Meetings


What about the manager who purports to believe the only way to get information from subordinates is by meeting? This manager may be seeking ego satisfaction.  Meetings are not for holding court. It may be a pleasant way to get reports, but it is far from efficient. Any career-minded individual caught in such a situation needs to seriously consider his or her position and prospects.

Evaluate your meeting schedule. If a memo will serve, write a memo. If an informal conversation will work, converse. If a meeting is the only, or best, solution, hold a meeting, but make sure it is a good one.

Avoid being caught in the meeting  cycle. Help stamp out meeting mania. Don’t be part of the problem.

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.

Meeting Management: The Thank You Note


The common thank you note is applicable to large and small meetings. It may be handwritten and should be as informal as your organization style will allow.

If you send thank you notes, your message will stand out in memory. You must be sincere and never, repeat, never, attempt to curry favor by using a thank you note.

Thank you notes may be sent by the group leader or any participant. If you are a participant and wish to send one, only do so if you were honestly impressed by any event. Some examples:

  1. Excellent Presentation: A high-ranking executive of your organization makes a presentation on some aspect of a problem you face. If the presentation was exceptional, send a note, thanking the executive for time spent helping your team.
  2. Clarifying Remarks: A specialist visits long enough to clear up a few technical points. If this was a real contribution to your knowledge, send a note.
  3. Outstanding Work: Someone on the team does an exceptional job. Send a note if it is deserved.

These are only a few examples. More will occur to you as you consider this technique.

The thank you note must be written. A telephone call, while nice and possibly appreciated, will not have the same impact.

The thank you note is a reminder to the thanked individual that your group exists. It will make it easier to get him or her to come back for another meeting, and on return, be in a cooperative mood.

With thank you notes, be sincere; falseness shows. Use it as an expression of earnest thanks and appreciation for a job well done

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.

 

Personal Letters


Not direct mailings of large quantities of letters and brochures, but simple, personal letters is one of the most effective, easy, inexpensive, and overlooked methods of marketing. Certainly the large corporations don’t consider using this type of communication, because it doesn’t reach enough people to enrich their coffers. But it’s just the ticket for many an individual businessperson. If you can write clear English, spell properly, and keep your message short enough, you ought to be able to develop enough business through this mode of marketing so that you need employ many other methods. Even if you’re a dismal grammarian, professional typists can usually help put your ideas into acceptable form on the printed page.

The primary value of a personal letter is that it enables you to convey a truly personal feeling and reach a special place in the mind of the reader. You can say specific things in personal letters that are just not practical in any other medium except for certain kinds of telephone marketing.

In a personal letter you can, should, and must include as much personal data as possible. Mention the person’s name, of course. But also  mention things about the person’s life, business, car, home, or—if you ‘re in the gardening business—the person’s garden. By doing so, you will be whispering into someone’s ear rather than shouting through a distant megaphone. Naturally, you can mention personal things unless you know them. So do your homework and learn about your prospective customers: their working and living habits, their hopes and goals, their problems. You can get much of this information from your chamber of commerce. You can get more by conducting your own informal research with the aid of a simple questionnaire, or by personal observation. Include in your letter these feelings, and you will be dazzled at the effect the letter has.

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.

 

The Lacking Commitment


Why do so many senior people appear hesitant and half-hearted? Why are the communications concerning change programs so anemic, especially when coming from those who have little difficulty in putting their points across in other contexts?

We have to get at the roots of ambivalence. The reasons for concern, quiet dissent, and reluctance to commit need to be probed:

  • Apparent support may only mean that those concerned are crawlers, bootlickers and toadies. There is often reluctance to accept the reality that all manner of loathsome and self-serving creatures inhabit the corridors of corporate bureaucracy. Their wiles, and the games they play, which are so transparent to outsiders, and destructive of external relationships built upon mutual trust and respect, go unnoticed or are ignored within.
  • Those who appear difficult may be the individuals with intellectual reservations. These could relate to the application of a program in a particular area, or to an initiative as a whole. The objectors could be the ones who have thought it through and uncovered missing elements. An implementation process needs to incorporate a means of listening to, and learning from, those who have valid objections.
  • Also, not all customers have the same preferences. What is added value for one person may be regarded as an expensive luxury by other.

Bland ‘motherhood’ statements suggest people have not thought through what needs to be done. People judge by what they see rather than on the basis of what is said. The informal messages, the examples and the symbols, can undercut formal communications.

Too often the changes of attitudes that are sought are not reflected in the language used by managers, the anecdotes and war stories that make up the mythology of a company, in symbols such as the allocation of parking spaces or use of exercise facilities, and in how a myriad of day-to-day matters are handled. Changing structures and processes may not be followed by attitudes where managers themselves, and particularly senior managers, refuse to act as role models.

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.

Organizational Mandates


The formal and informal mandates placed on an organization consist of the various “musts” that it confronts. Actually, it is surprising how few organizations know precisely what they are (and are not) formally mandated to do. Typically, few members of any organization have ever read, for example, the relevant legislation, ordinances, charters, articles, and contracts that outline the organization’s formal mandates. Many organizational members also do not clearly understand what informal mandates—typically political in the broadest sense—their organization faces. It may not be surprising, then, that most organizations make one or all of the following three fundamental mistakes. First, not knowing what they must do, they are unlikely to do it. Second, they may believe they are more tightly constrained in their actions than they actually are. Third, they may assume that if they are not explicitly told to do something, they are not allowed to do it.

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

Employee Orientation


Employee orientation provides new employees with the basic background information required to perform their jobs satisfactorily, such as information about company rules. Programs may range from brief, informal introductions to lengthy, formal courses.

The HR specialist (or, in smaller firms, the office manager) usually performs the first part of the orientation, by explaining basic matters like working hours and vacations. The person then introduces the new employee to his or her new supervisor. The supervisor continues the orientation by explaining the exact nature of the job, introducing the person to his or her new colleagues, familiarizing the new employee with the workplace, and helping to reduce first day jitters. Orientation typically includes information on employee benefits, personnel policies, the daily routine, company organization and operations, and safety measures and regulation, as well as facilities tour.

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

Adopt Open Communication


To build trust and solid working relationships with employees and others in the organization, it’s important to be seen as someone who is committed to sharing information with others and who goes beyond communicating only what is necessary. Developing a climate in which you and your team are open with information—information exchanges between you and your people, between departments or divisions, and between team members—is critical in order to function effectively.

  • Find out what your employees want to know.
  • Encourage your staff to keep one another informed and share information.
  • Establish a departmental bulletin board to keep people up-to-date on both personal and professional items of interest.
  • Hold periodic staff meetyings to share information about recent developments in the organization.
  • In staff meetings, encourage two-way communication, solicit agenda items from employees, and allow employees time to raise issues.
  • For the purpose of informal communication, hold monthly breakfast meetings that have no agenda.
  • Keep your manager and employees up-to-date by submitting a monthly activity report for your area.
  • Alert your manager to possible implications of events occurring either inside or outside of the organization. Don’t assume that your manager is aware of these implications.
  • Don’t “shoot the messenger” of bad news.
  • Ask your manager which key people you should keep informed.
  • List the key organizational people upon whom your success depends, and make a special effort to keep them informed.
  • Copy your manager on all correspondence to managers in the organization at his or her level or higher level.
  • Ask your manager about any perceived “surprises” in your area and then look for ways to avoid recurrences.
  • Don’t gloss over anything that goes wrong in your area. Report the situation as accurately as possible.
  • Talk with peers or people in other departments about “communication breakdowns.” Devise ways to avoid them.
  • Always double check all written communications before mailing; also ask yourself, “Who else should know about this?”
  • Use the “informal organization” as a way of keeping others informed. Wander around, have coffee with people, ask them questions, and so on.
  • At the end of every day, ask yourself of what occurred that should be reported to other people.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
  • Make a point of updating the appropriate people even when nothing new has developed.
  • Ask your secretary to suggest who should be copied on documents you produce.
  • Appoint a “recorder” for the meetings you conduct and have the minutes distributed to the appropriate people.
  • Promptly respond to notes, letters, and other requests so people know what you are doing about their communications.
  • If they are available, use electronic aide (voice mail, email) to pass along information that doesn’t require face-to-face exchange when you cannot do so in person or in writing.

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

Use and Misuses of Authority


Most managers believe they must have authority to accomplish their jobs. They believe it is their superior’s responsibility to see that they have adequate authority in the areas for which they are held responsible and accountable. But a manager who either misuses or oversas his authority to get his subordinates to carry out their tasks may be inviting trouble. This is why it is important for the manager to understand the various sources of authority and power and the differences among them.

 Most people who have worked in the business world have seen a situation in which subordinates have “fired” their boss. By dragging their feet on assignments by cauing the organizations to do a relatively poor job, and by directing criticisms to appropriate ears, a unified group of subordinates can cause such trouble that their boss’s superiors may question his ability to handle his work group. Under these conditions the subordinates may sometimes be shown the door; but occasionally the boss is fired. That this can and does happen illustrates that managers are dependent, in part, on their work groups, just as their work groups are dependent, in part, on the managers. Although the manager has formal sanctions to back up his authority, the work group has informal sources of power it can utilize. The manager who relies only on his formal authority to direct the efforts of others may, therefore, not achieve the best results. It is desirable that he also be a leader; in short, he should be able to influence his subordinates as well as give them orders.

 Managers are often “caught in the middle”between the values, orders, and expectations of their superiors and the values, needs, and expectations of their subordinates. The manager usually needs to retain the support of both his superior and his subordinates, and the dilemma he feels when there is conflict between the two can create intensely uncomfortable feelings. The pressure is  compounded when the values and expectations of his peers are also involved, as they frequently are. Different managers resolve these internal dissonances in a variety of ways. Some ignore, or pay less attention to, either the subordinates or the superior, usually the former. Others try to find compromises that satisfy both, at least enough to avoid undue problems. But however thay handle them, most managers experience the discomfort of man-in-the-middle problems.

 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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