The Aging Crisis


Not a company exists whose management doesn’t say, at least for public consumption, that it wants an organization flexible enough to adjust quickly to changing market conditions, lean enough to beat any competitor’s price, innovative enough to keep its products and services technologically fresh, and dedicated enough to deliver maximum quality and consumer service.

So, if managements want companies that are lean, nimble, flexible, responsive, competitive, innovative, efficient, customer-focused, and profitable, why are so many. Companies are bloated, clumsy, rigid, sluggish, non-competitive, uncreative, inefficient, disdainful of customer needs, and losing money. The answers lie in how these companies do their work and why they do it that way.

Corporations do not perform badly because workers are lazy and managements are inept. Just the same, the record of industrial and technological accomplishment over the past century is proof enough that managements are not inept and workers do work.

Inflexibility, unresponsiveness, the absence of customer focus, an obsession with activity rather than result, bureaucratic paralysis, lack of innovation, high overhead—these are the legacies of industrial leadership. These characteristics are not new; they have not suddenly appeared. They have been present all along. If costs are high they can be passed on to customers. If customers are dissatisfied, they have nowhere else to turn. If new products are slow in coming, customers will wait. The important managerial job is to manage growth, and the rest doesn’t matter. Now that growth has flattened out, the rest matters a great deal.

The business problem is that in 21st century with companies designed during the nineteenth century to work well in the twentieth—we need something different.

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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Measuring Productivity


You are likely to be judged – at least to some extent – by your financial performance. But financial measures such as profitability and return on investment are really indirect measures of the operations, good financial performance comes from good operations. You can measure the operations more directly using measures such as productivity, utilization and efficiency.

Productivity is the most common measure of operations. It shows the amount of output that you create for each unit of resource used. You might, for example, measure the number of units made per employee, sales per square meter, or deliveries per vehicle.

Your competitors are always trying to gain an advantage, and an effective way of doing this is by increasing their productivity. You then have to match their improvement simply to stay in business. So the benefits of higher productivity include:

  • Long-term survival;
  • Lower costs;
  • Less waste of resources;
  • Higher profits, wages, real income, etc;
  • Targets for continually improving operations;
  • Comparisons between operations;
  • Measures of management competence.

These are good reasons for improving productivity. But how can you do it? At the very worst, you simply make people work harder – problem solved. In reality there are four ways of increasing productivity:

  1. Improve effectiveness – with better decisions;
  2. Improve efficiency – with a process that gives more output for the same inputs;
  3. Improve the process – getting higher quality, fewer accidents, or less disruption;
  4. Improve motivation – getting better results from the workforce.

One of the problems with improving productivity is that employees see it as an excuse for sacking them. Productivity is really a measure of improvement performance, and it has very little to do with the old-fashioned idea of getting people to work harder. An enthusiastic person digging a hole with a spade can work very hard, and still be far less productive than a  lazy person with a bulldozer. Typically, 85 percent of productivity is set by the process which is designed by managers and only 15 percent is due to the individual workers.

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.

Productivity and People Management


Productivity—real output per working hour—is not rising quickly as it did previously. This does not necessarily mean that workers are becoming lazier. What it does mean is that in an uncertain economy, businesses are not investing enough in the machinery needed to help workers accomplish more. For example, the steel plants are so obsolete that Japan and Germany are taking over the international steel markets. Too, as the economy become more service-oriented, productivity tends to slow down. The reason is that services—such as family counseling—tend to be able to increase productivity only by reducing their quality.

Managing people and resources on all levels of organizations will continue to be a major managerial challenge. Future managers have to be more sensitive to people’s needs and more flexible in resolving problems. Early retirement and part-time work programs are likely to become common in the near future.

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.

Complacency Breeds Failure


Once they are making a lot of money, many salespeople, for instance, tend to get complacent. They get lazy and sloppy and stop attending to the basics. The same thing happens in many different areas when people or teams are successful. Success, is the goal, the finale, the reward, the finish line. Because it is viewed as the end and not the means, there is a tendency to think we’ve got it made when we achieve our goal. We think we know the basics, have the skills and drills down, and start taking success for granted. The result is, we get killed into complacency and slack off.

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

Writing a Resume Letter


The Resume Letter is not a true cover letter—that is, a letter of transmittal for your employment resume. Instead, it is intended to replace the resume and to convey sufficient information about your background to create employer interest in interviewing you.

In general, it is usually a poor substitute for the resume itself, and thus can frequently do the job seeker a great injustice if not properly designed. Specifically, if it is poorly planned and written, it does not provide sufficient information (when compared to the resume) for the employer to make a reasonable assessment of the applicant’s qualifications and for deciding whether to grant an interview. Additionally, it may frustrate the prospective employer by not providing sufficient detail, suggesting that the applicant is simply too lazy to prepare a proper summary of qualifications. Neither of these reactions will serve your cause very well.

It appears that the most frequent use of the resume letter is by top level corporate executives who wish simply to convey their availability and conduct a very cursory search of the job market. Generally, such letters are directed at the highest level of the target organization and are intended to convey availability and general interest in discussing appropriate opportunities. The typical logic supporting such letters is that the applicant’s current position and employer “speak for themselves,” and thus there is little need for a detailed resume.

Although this can be true, it is not typically the case. Obviously, if the individual is a top corporate or division-level officer of a Fortune 200 company, use of a resume letter may be sufficient. Sufficient is to say, however, that if the applicant is the Chief Financial Officer of a little known company, the resume letter will not have quite the same effect, and its use may seem somewhat presumptuous (if used in a place of a formal resume). In such a case, a full resume and a conventional cover letter is recommended.

The use of the resume letter by lesser known top executives, middle managers, and professionals is not recommended. Since employer’s name and position title convey little information to the reader in such cases, much more needs to be written to convey the same understanding about the author’s background and responsibilities. The damage here, of course, is that the letter will become unwieldy and will therefore not be read by its recipient.

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