Building Ethical Safeguards


Managers and employees need guidance on how to handle day-t-day ethical situations; their own personal ethical compass may be working well, but they need to receive directional signals from the company. Several organizational steps can be taken to provide this kind of ethical awareness and direction.

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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Speaking the Body Language


About 60 to 70 percent of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. More important than speaking the language is what you communicate without words. Many travelers trust that if they don’t speak the language, there are a hundred gestures to get across almost any meaning. But gestures have quite different meanings in different parts of the world; body language is not universal. Subtleties are noticed, like the length of time you hold on while shaking hands. On a very unconscious level we can turn people off even when we are on good behavior. Thumbs up is considered vulgar in Iran and Ghana, equivalent to raising the middle finger in the United States. Touching a person’s head, including children’s, should be avoided in Singapore or Thailand. In Yugoslavia, people shake their heads for yes—appearing to us to be saying no.

In general, avoid gesturing with the hand. Many people take offense at being beckoned this way, or pointed out, even if only conversationally. In parts of Asia, gestures and even slight movements can make people nervous. If you jab your finger in the air or on a table to make a point, you might find that your movements have been so distracting that you have not made your point at all. Unintentionally, Americans come across as aggressive and pushy. Yet, in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America or Italy, gesturing is important for self-expression, and the person who does not move a lot while talking comes across as bland or uninteresting. As always, watch what local people do. Or ask.

Body language is more than gestures. You communicate by the way you stand, sit, tense facial muscles, tap fingers, and so on. Unfortunately, these subtler body messages are hard to read across cultures; mannerisms don’t translate. In many parts of the world, looking someone in the eye is disrespectful.

In Japan a person who looks a subordinate in the eye is felt to be judgmental and punitive, while someone who looks his superior in the eye is assumed to be hostile or slightly insane. The Arabs like eye contact—the eyes are windows to soul—but theirs seem to dart about much more than Americans. We don’t trust “shifty-eyed” people.

Subtle differences in eye contact between the British and North Americans can be confusing. English listening behavior includes immobilization of the eyes at a social focal distance, so that either eye gives the appearance of looking straight at the speaker. On the other hand, an American listener will stare at the speaker’s eye, first one, then the other, relieved by frequent glances over the speaker’s shoulder.

Eye contact during speaking differs too. Americans keep your attention by boring into you with eyes and words, while the British keep your attention by looking away while they talk. When their eyes return to yours, it signals they have finished speaking and it is your turn to talk. These almost imperceptible differences in eye contact interfere with rapport building and trust.

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.

Good Management


Good planning and good management are probably the best protection against most of the other risks. Price fluctuations of any normal retail inventory may be upward or downward. Good management will keep itself informed of price trends. Study of population trends and business activity will warn merchants early if their location is losing its value. Good accounting records and study of operations against a budget will warn of any developing adverse trends.

 To handle the risks of dishonest employees, good management will provide devices such as internal security guards and signal systems for detecting pilferers. A reputation for prosecuting pilferers and training all employees to be alert to the problem will help to reduce pilferage. Tags in merchandise which act of alarms at the entrance unless removed by the sales person are now common. These methods are often expensive but necessary. Personnel policies will provide means of checking employees whose honesty is questioned. Inspection of employees of checkout time is being used by manufacturing firms, some airlines, and other type of firms. It is recommended for wholsalers and retailers when losses in this area are deemed a high risk. Fidelty bonds may be purchased to protect the firm from losses by dishonest employees.

 The risk of financial hardship can best be coped with by proper financial planning and financial management. This common risk has caused the downfall of many firms which otherwise had a most profitable future. Over and above good planning along the lines, watching the key financial ratios in the financial statements, the cash adequacy rule, and investment in receivables, and having a cash flow statement are devices to protect against this risk. Having a good performance record for honesty and fair dealing will help the business secure financial help when it is needed.

 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

The Transformation Jigsaw Puzzle


The efforts of many companies to achieve transformational change have been counter-productive. Some of those who ‘believed’ or who ‘tried,’ now feel betrayed. There is insecurity, widespread disbelief and cynicism in many companies.

 One of the reasons why so many people question either the commitment of senior management to change, or the feasibility of transformation, is that they perceive that all the change elements that the necessary for successful transformation are not in place.

As well as critical success factors, some obvious areas are being over-looked. The document, whether physical or electronic, is the currency of a business, the signals that pass through the nerves of the organic network and trigger intelligent reactions. It is the means by which most activities happen. Yet many organizations are unaware of how much time and resource are devoted to this unrecognized area of business, the production and distribution of documents.

 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

Responses to change


Responses to a major impetus for change vary. Although some persons think that resistance to change is “natural,” everyone seeks some change. The key is whether or not the change is perceived as being helpful, neutral, or hurtful. This is an important point, because it indicates that resistance to change is only a sympton. It only tells us that the individual or social systyem resisting the change perceives it as being on balance, harmful rather than helpful. Thus, resistance can be viewed as a signal that further diagnosis is required rather than something automatically to be overcome. The conclusion is not shared regarding the need for a major change and all of the risks this entails.

 

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, Line of Sight

Cognition in managerial context


The word ‘cognition’ means the ‘act or faculty of knowing.’ Cognition also signifies awareness, comprehension, discernment, insight, intelligence, perception, reasoning and understanding. In change management, cognition implies knowing when to launch change in an organization. This act of knowing is based on the collection and interpretation of data from outside. In other words, the way in which a manager collects and interprets information about the world outside the organization shapes his/her knowledge about change.

 

Specially, managerial cognition in the context of change is the recognition and interpretation of signals from an organization’s environment that denote impending shifts in the environment. If a manager recognizes and interprets the signals accurately, he/she is unlikely to commit this or that errors. On the other hand, both type of errors are more likely when recognition and interpretation are flawed. Then the key question is: what leads to flawed recognition and interpretation of environmental signals? If cognition is the recognition and interpretation of the world outside, what leads to faulty cognition on the part of managers?

 

Although this seems like a simple question, the answer is quite complicated. There are a number of factors that can cause flawed cognition, which can be broadly classified in two categories: (i) organizational factors that can lead to defective cognition and (ii) personal or human factors thaty can cause errors in cognition.

 

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, Line of Sight

Company Performance Appraisal


Company performance appraisal studies the trends of specific profitability and productivity ratios derived from financial statements for at least past three  periods (year, quarter, month). Its main purpose is to diagnose problem areas through establishing productivity indicators for continuous monitoring and control of the whole enterprise, in order to set up an appropriate productivity improvement programs.

 

In conducting company performance appraisal, two basic comparisons have to be made:

a.       Between current performance and a historical base performance;

b.       Between actual performance and the target.

 

The former indicates whether performance is improving or declining and at what rate. The latter requires that performance or productivity targets be set and matched against actual performance.

 

Using profitability along as the basis for evaluating the overall performance of an organization makes it difficult to identify the cause of profitability changes. Are they due to productivity or price-cost movement? The following demonstrates this relationship:

 

            Output value     =          Quantity sold     X          Unit price

 

 

             Profitability       =          Productivity       X          Price recovery

 

 

             Input value        =          Quantity used    X          Unit cost

 

Considering the relationships over time, profitability is defined as charge in output value compared with change in input value; productivity as the change between quantity of output and/or quantity in unit price, and change in unit cost.

 

In effect, what is computed are performance ratios classified into:

  • Change in profitability;
  • Change in productivity;
  • Change in price recovery.

 These performance ratios are then evaluated in relation to their effect on profits. In general, a drop in profitability, in productivity or in price recovery reduces profits. Lower productivity signals a need for further analysis and for correction action. However, increased productivity does not necessarily lead to profitability on a short-term basis. The effect of increased productivity will be realized only in terms of long-term profitability.

 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, Line of Sight