Observe Fringe Times


Formal business situations, highly structured meetings, negotiating sessions, and other forms of business interaction are likely to be the least revealing because they are the times when people are most likely to have their “game faces” on.

 So consciously time in to the fringe times, the beginnings and endings, the periods of transition, which are when people are most likely to let their guards down. During a two-hour business meeting, the first several minutes—before you actually get down to the business at hand—and the last several minutes—as everyone is saying goodbye—can tell you more about the people you are dealng with than almost anything else that goes on in between. These are, unfortunately, the times when you are likely to be least observant. Try to sharpen your awareness.

 Also, be aware of people during interruptions, unusual exchanges, or anything that intrudes upon the more formal flow of a business situation. There is a certain amount of role playing in most business encounters, and when someone “breaks ranks” the facades are going to crack a little. Simply noticing who does the breaking and how others respond with words and eyes can tell you a lot.

 There is a scene in The Godfather that perfectly illustrates this: The Godfather has just flatly rejected an offer from the Mafia boss to get involved in the drug business, when Sonny, his hotheaded eldest son, blurts out that the terms that have been proposed are insulting to the family.

 This, of course, leads to the attempt to eliminate the Godfather. The other dons have correctly perceived a break in ranks, for simply by the act of objecting to the terms, Sonny has revealed a greater willingness than his father to consider the deal.

 Though The Godfather is fictional, its psychology is very real.

 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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Attitudes: Essential Components


Regardless of exactly how you might feel, the attitudes you express may be recognized as consisting of three major components: an evaluative component, a cognitive component, and a behavioral component. They represent the basic building blocks of the definition of attitudes.

 Attitudes have a great deal to do with how we feel about something. Indeed, this aspect of attitude, its evaluative component, refers to our liking or disliking of ant particular person, item, or event (what might be called the attitude object, or the focus of our attitude). You may, for example, feel positively or negatively toward your boss, the scuplture in the lobby, or the fact that your company just landed a large contract.

 Attitudes involve more than feelings; they also involve knowledge—that is, what you believe to be the case about an attitude object. For example, you might believe that one of your coworkers is paid much more than you, or that your supervisor doesn’t know too much about the job. These beliefs, whether they are completely accurate or totally false, comprise the cognitive component of attitudes.

 As you might imagine, the things you believe about something (e.g.,”my boss is embezzling company funds”) and the way you feel about it (e.g., “I can’t stand working for him”) may have some effect on the way you are predisposed to behave (e.g., “I’m going to look for a new job”). In other words, attitudes also have a behavioral component—a predisposition to act in a certain way. It is important to note that such a predisposition may not actually be predictive of one’s behavior. For example, although you may be interested in taking a new job, you might not actually take one if a better position isn’t available or if there are other aspects of the job you like enough to compensate for the negative feelings. In other words, your intention to behave a certain way may or may not dictate how you actually will behave.

 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

Erosion Measures


Erosion measures refer to natural remnants of some individual’s or group’s activity that has selectively worn down certain objects. For example, if you are working in a nursing home, you might determine what the most popular activity in that home is by observing where the rugs are most worn. It might be in front of the television set or in front of the windows where people spend time looking out at the street. This could give you a possible measure for evaluating changes in the group’s activities.

 Other erosion measures might include decay and breakage. Active or aggressive physical activity can be inferred from the number of broken items (for example, windows) in a school or ward. The frequency of repair, replacement, or cleaning of certain objects in a setting may be used as an indicator of frequency of usage.

 When using erosion measures be sure that unrelated factors are not the reasons for observed changes. For example, a new junior’s zeal in cleaning may be responsible for changes in the patterns of use as detected by wear and tear on the floor. Similarly, it would help to know the amount of ordinary wear and tear on objects so that any excessive erosion or wear and tear can be related to target behaviors with more assurance.

 The second category of physical traces is accretion measures. These are objects deposited by clients in a given setting or the ordinary debris left by client interaction with or consumption of material. Thus, many of the behavior produces described earlier could be considered as accretion measures. Accretion measures also often focus on analysis of remains or even rubbish.

 Reliability and validity concerns are as important when using physical traces as they are with other measures, and these concerns are especially important when physical traces are being used to make inferences about behaviors.

 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

Mobilizing Support


Mobilizing support for change requires a blend of logic, emotions, and values. The change managers should:

  1. Developing clarity about the target audience: in an effort to achieve acceptance of any change idea, it is very important to clearly understand who the relevant stakeholders are, what are their identities, their aspirations, their values, and their influence in the organization. The target audience is never homogeneous group. These would be people who may be ready to support the change ideas quickly, people who oppose change no matter how sensible the ideas are, and people who are willing to listen but should not be taken for granted. A change manager should identify the real interests of these sub-groups and should tailor the communication and persuasion effort accordingly. In other words, the change manager should be sensitive to the fact that there would be multiple views and perceptions in an organization and it is important to be clear as to what these are.
  2. Getting people involved: When a change manager begins the change campaign by making a strong presentation and supporting it with huge data, there is a danger that employees at the receiving end may become mere spectators and skeptics. At the same time, it is not realistic to expect that people would volunteer themselves to engage in defining a change initiative. What is most useful in such a situation is ‘foot in the door’ approach. This involves asking people to make a small initial commitment, which may be in the nature of asking their views on the present situation and discussing possible courses of action. Over a period of time, these small commitments could be extended to sustain larger change objectives. This approach is particularly useful to attract skeptics to the change program.
  3. Crafting the message: A primary process in the influence effort is not change in attitude towards an object, but change in definition and meaning of the object. Once meaning changes, attitudes change accordingly. A change manager should present the idea in such a manner that it evokes sufficient curiosity among members to explore it further. The message should be simple, but clear enough in its scope. Rather than a conclusive statement, it should invite people for a dialogue. People tend to be more attracted towards stories and symbols than hard numerical data. A change manager should be able to make use of these soft dimensions of relationships to gain attention to the change idea.
  4. Timing the campaign: Many ideas are rejected because they are presented at a wrong time. A change manager should first use informal meetings to generate the need for improving present levels of performance and make people receptive to new suggestions. Change ideas should be presented only when people are willing to engage in a dialogue process. This is very similar to a gardener first preparing the soil before sowing the seeds.
  5. Sustaining the momentum: Mobilizing support for change is never a one-time activity. It takes considerable amount of time to get people involved and committed to the change idea. It should be best for people with high expertise and credibility to lead the change. People listen to those who have expertise while framing their position. Then those people should be identified who favor the change idea and they should be helped to articulate their views in public. People tend to stick to their positions that are made in public

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

Motivating Sales People


A new product is an intrusion. It takes time. It disrupts schedules. It involves change and risk. Salespeople are known for wanting new items to sell, but there are still negatives. Salespeople are not usually given reduced territories when asked to sell a new product. So, it is important a) to investigate in advance any possible reasons why salespeople might object to the new product, b) to give them all the training and materials they need to be effective, and c) to make sure the product is available, in their territories, when they start writing orders for it.

The key is to do your job such that they can do their job. That means to have a product that customers will understand and want to try, and to train the sales force to understand and communicate the story. This training should use the latest technologies.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com

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