Organizational Paralysis


Within 6 months of life some organizations suffer a paralysis:

  1. Point zero minus six months: growing anticipation of the new organization is rife; most senior managers are preoccupied with networking amongst the organization’s rising stars in order to be well positioned for advancement.
  2. Point zero minus three months: the new organization is due shortly, so no one will do anything in case it is seen to be wrong in light of the new structure.
  3. Point zero minus one month: all senior managers desperately plead for a new job so the sin of the last year’s time wasting can be hoofed off onto another poor unsuspecting victim.
  4. Point zero: the planned reorganization is put back two months to accommodate the wishes of an intransigent director who keeps digging in his heels and refuses to listen.
  5. Point zero plus six months: senior mangers look forward to extremely generous takeover conditions and contemplating retirement

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.

 

Leadership: The Uses of Power


Power can be used in many ways. Three outcomes potentially result when a leader tries to exert power—Commitment, Compliance, and Resistance. These outcomes depend on the leader’s base of power, how that base is operationalized, and the subordinate’s individual characteristics.

Commitment probably will result from the attempt to exercise power if the subordinate accepts and identifies with the leader. Such an employee will be highly motivated by requests that seem important to the leader. A committed subordinate will work just as hard as the leader to complete the project, even if that means working overtime.

Compliance means the subordinate is willing to carry out the leader’s wishes as long as doing so will not require extra effort and energy. Thus, the subordinate may work at a reasonable pace but refuse to work overtime, insisting that the job will still be there tomorrow. Many ordinary requests from a boss and the subsequent responses of subordinates fit this description.

Resistance occurs when the subordinate fights the leader’s wishes. A resistant subordinate may even deliberately neglect the project to ensure that it is not done as the leader wants.

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.

Implementing the Sales Program


As with any kind of management, implementing a sales program involves motivating and directing the behavior of other people—the members of the sales force. To be effective, the sales manager must understand why the people in his or her sales force behave the way they do. Then policies and procedures can be designed to direct their behavior toward the desired objectives.

The model of the activities involved in implementing a sales program suggests that five factors influence a sales rep’s job behavior and performance:

  1. Environmental variables: Regardless of how highly motivated or competent salespeople are, their ability to achieve a particular level of job performance is influenced—and sometimes constrained—by environmental factors. The ability to reach a given sales volume, for instance, can be affected by such things as the market demand for the product being sold, the number and aggressiveness of competitors, and the health of the economy. Similarly other elements of a firm’s marketing mix, such as the quality of its products and the effectiveness of its advertising, can affect a salesperson’s ability to reach a high level of sales performance.
  2. Role perceptions: To perform adequately, a salesperson must understand what the job entails and how it is supposed to be performed. The activities and behaviors associated with a particular job are defined largely by the expectations and demands of other people, both inside and outside the organization. Thus, a salesperson’s job (or role) is defined by the expectations and desires of the customers, sales manager, other company executives, and family members. The salesperson’s ability to do the job well is partly determined by how clearly the sales rep understands those role expectations. Also, the salesperson may sometimes face conflicting demands, as when customer wants a lower price but company management refuses to negotiate. The salesperson’s ability to resolve such conflicts helps determine success or failure on the job.
  3. Aptitude: A salesperson’s ability to perform the activities of the job is also influenced by the individual’s personal characteristics, such as personality traits, intelligence, and analytical ability. No matter how hard they try, some people are never successful at selling because they do not have the aptitude for the job. Of course, different kinds of sales jobs involve different tasks and activities, so a person with certain characteristics may be unsuited for one selling job but tremendously successful at another one.
  4. Skill levels: Evan when salespeople have the aptitude to do their jobs and an understanding of what they are expected to do, they must have the skills necessary to carry out the required tasks.
  5. Motivation level: A salesperson cannot achieve a high level of job performance unless motivated to expend the necessary effort. A person’s motivation is determined by the kind of rewards expected for achieving a given level of performance and by the perceived attractiveness of those anticipated rewards.

A sales manager can use several policies and procedures to influence the aptitude, skill levels, role perceptions, and motivation of the sales force. Implementing a sales program involves designing those policies and procedures so that the job behavior and performance of each salesperson are shaped and directed toward the specified objectives and performance levels.

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

Risks: Building Blocks of Success


A person’s confidence is best measured by his or her willingness to take risks. Fear is best reflected by the degree to which a person seeks to avoid risk. The old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” will always be true. Risk, the possibility of loss, is a necessary to success as air is to life.

Imagine what would happen if everyone decided to try to live 100 percent risk-free:

  • No farmer would plant a crop because there might be too much rain or too little. Or the market price for the grain might collapse.
  • No one would start a business because comptition might cause it to fail.
  • No television programs would be produced because there might be too few viewers to attract advertisers.
  • Investors would not put money into new construction, into oil well exploration, and into new ventures.
  • Artists and authors would stop work because people might reject their activity,

To be completely secure, people would take their money out of banks (the banks may fail), hoard food (there may be an atomic war), refuse to drive cars (I may have an accident), and patients in hospitals would refuse blood transfusions (the blood may be contaminated). A goal of 100 percent security would almost overnight destroy our economy.

To avoid risk completely, no one would apply for a job (you may not get it), submit a poem to a literary journal (it may be rejected), speak up in a meeting (you may be laughed at), or ask for an order (the prospect may say No).

Here is an important point: Success-oriented people take risks and sometimes the risks turn out to be losses. Thirty-seven percent of today’s millionaires went broke after accumulating wealth. But they came back to win. No investor is always “right,” and people who build shopping centers, rersidential neighborhoods, and office buildings sometimes lose money. In the oil drilling business, a majority of wells turn out to be dry holes.

How we react to defeat is the key. You have heard people who have failed in a job or in a business of their own say, “I’ve had it. Never again!”

At times, we all feel like giving up. And if we’re not careful, we will give up. Pressure from peers to surrender can be powerful. They tell you, “Look, you tried. The plan didn’t work. Why beat your head against a wall? Don’t feel bad. Most people who try something new fail.”

These people – your peers and “friends” – are often glad to see you surrender. It’s disappointing but it’s true. They don’t have the courage to do something on their own. If they see you fail, they feel better about themselves; you are one of them – another mediocrity.

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

Deming’s 14 Obligations


Many people helped develop quality management, and some of the early ones are called the ‘quality gurus.’ Perhaps Edwards Deming was one of the best known. He did a lot to publicize TQM. But was concerned that organizations did not get the benefits they expected. To help them on the way, he compiled a list of guidelines called his ’14 obligations.’ They are:

  1. Create constancy of purpose towards product quality.
  2. Adapt the new philosophy of higher quality, refusing to accept customary levels of defects and errors.
  3. Stop depending on mass inspection, build quality into your product.
  4. Don’t award business on the basis of price only – reduce the number of of suppliers and insist on meaningful measures of quality.
  5. Develop programs for continuous improvement of your products and processes.
  6. Train all your employees.
  7. Focus supervision on helping employees to do a better job.
  8. Drive out fear by encouraging two-way communication.
  9. Break down barriers between departments and encourage problem solving through teamwork.
  10. Don’t use posters and slogans that demand improvements without saying how to achieve them.
  11. Eliminate arbitrary quotes and targets that interfere with quality.
  12. Remove barriers that stop people having pride in their work.
  13. Have programs for lifelong education, training and self-improvement.
  14. Put everyone to work on implementing these 14 points.

Deming’s 14 points are not a program that has fixed duration, but the give a new way of thinking in your organization. They are certainly not the only possible view, but they do give some useful guidelines.

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, www.youtube.com/asifjmir, Line of Sight

Mobilizing Support for Change Managers


Despite using the principles of influence, social networks and negotiation, change efforts in an organization can falter for different reasons. There has been a great deal of interest in finding out why people are so unwilling to stop out of their comfort zones and accept change. Some of the major  impediments to change are:

  • People believing that the change effort is yet another fad: Over a period, many employees have come to perceive different change programs as fads because they associate these with previously failed initiatives. As a result, they do not pay attention to the merits of the arguments. Change induces dissonance, and people often reduce the resulting stress by reverting to previously held assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • People who believe that change agents are not credible: Employees tend to view the strength of the change idea by associating it with the person who advocates that position. In other words, if the change manager is credible, the idea is seen as convincing. On the other hand, when the manager is perceived as untrustworthy, people tend to reject the change ideas.
  • People who have difficulty unlearning old ideas and approaches: Most often, people do not know how to stop what they have already been doing. When they are faced with uncertainty and ambiguity, they feel a sense of loss of control and this leads them to persist with their existing methods and approaches.
  • People who have difficulty learning new patterns of behavior: When people face unfamiliar situations, they often fail to comprehend the complexities of the situation. They may also feel apprehensive that if they try out new behaviors and fail, they would attract criticism. Faced with a fear of failure and believing that change would make little difference, they may refuse to invest in learning new methods and approaches.
  • People who feel that change threatens their identity: When faced with crises or threats, people tend to uphold their pride rather than appreciating the learning challenge that it offers. There is great comfort in existing belief structures, as these constitute one’s personal identity. Any attempt to change behavior may be seen as a challenge to that identity. As a result, it generates resistance to change.

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