The Critical Incident Appraisal


Critical Incident Appraisal focuses the rater’s attention on those critical or key behaviors that make the difference between doing a job effectively and doing it ineffectively. The appraiser writes down anecdotes describing what the employee did that was especially effective or ineffective. With this approach to appraisal, specific behaviors are cited, not vaguely defined individual traits. A behavior-based appraisal should be more valid than trait-based appraisals because it is clearly more job related. It is one thing to say that an employee is “aggressive,” “imaginative,” or relaxed,” but that does not tell us anything about how well the job is being done. Critical incidents, with their focus on behaviors, judge performance rather than personalities.

The strength of the critical incident method is that it looks at behaviors. Additionally, a list of critical incidents on a given employee provides a rich set of examples from which employees can be shown which of their behaviors are desirable and which ones call for improvement. In drawbacks are basically that: 1) appraisers are required to regularly write these incidents down, and doing this on a daily or weekly basis for all employees is time-consuming and burdensome for supervisors; and 2) critical incidents suffer from the same comparison problem found in essays—mainly, they do not lend themselves easily to quantification. Therefore the comparison and ranking of employees may be difficult.

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.

Low Corporate Libido


Have you seen an organization with its head down and all its bounce gone? It is sad as it gets in organizational terms.

You know what is going on the second you walk into the office. Everybody looks that bit scruffier than they have a right to look. Even the office looks tired. People walk more slowly than they need to and the hourly trip to the toilet is eagerly anticipated. The most active sign of life is always outside the fire exit where furtive smokers gather, regardless of the rain, to predict who will be next to leave.

Customer service descends to an all-time low and the only people recruiting will be the complaints department.

Everything is a problem under these conditions and cost cutting is more important than growth, regardless of the idea, those with initiative are considered to be actually rather annoying.

This is the day-to-day reality for thousands of employees working in organizations suffering low corporate libido.

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.

Response to Failure


What happens when someone makes a mistake that sends you through the roof? What happens when you want to rip a person apart for having made a mistake, even when he or she acted within the established guidelines?

First of all, it is important to recognize that those feelings are not a sign of weakness, they simply mean that you are human. The important thing is what you do with those feelings.

If you act on them immediately, more than likely you will destroy any trust you have established between the person and you. Any progress you have made in convincing people that it is okay to fail can be undone in an instant.

You will be better able to accomplish your objectives if you will abide by this unwritten rule: Never reprimand a person unless you are in full control of your own thoughts and emotions. This way you won’t say or do things that may result in momentary satisfaction in the short term but regret in the long term.

I am not suggesting that you never show emotion to your people that you let them know you are angry or upset. Showing your people how you feel can be quite beneficial at times, provided it is shown in an appropriate way and for the right reasons.

When you respond constructively to people’s failures you are doing the single most important thing you can do to let them know that it is okay to fail.

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.

Equal Employment Opportunity


For the last 5-6 decades, women and ethnic minorities have sought equal employment opportunities. These include the desire for a) equal pay for equal work; b) jobs for women and minorities in high-pay, high-prestige occupations—in approximate proportion to their members in the general population; c) a fair chance for women and minorities to be promoted to better jobs based on merit; and d) recognition of the special problems women and minorities face.

Even though the number of working women has grown many times faster than the number of working men, they are concentrated in clerical and service jobs, where they earn less than men for the same work—even when education and work experience are equal. Women also suffer from untrue stereotypes and absenteeism and emotional instability. And they sometimes have to do much better work than their male colleagues to be promoted.

Business can help create equal employment opportunity by providing women with role models—examples of productive and successful women—and by promoting them when they deserve it. Business can also offer flexible work schedules, day-care facilities, and leaves of absence for child-care when necessary.

Business can help minorities to achieve equal employment opportunities by actively seeking them as employees, by redesigning job requirements so as to rely more on skills and less on traditional backgrounds, by financially supporting minorities who want more education, and by placing minority employees in mainstream jobs where rapid promotion based on ability is customary. Many businesses are also helping minorities by buying some of their supplies from minority-owned small businesses.

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.

Concentrated Marketing


Rather than trying to market its products separately to several segments, a firm may opt for a concentrated marketing strategy. With concentrated marketing (also known as niche marketing), a firm focuses its efforts on profitably satisfying only one market segment. This approach can appeal to a small firm that lacks the financial resources of its competitors and to a company that offers highly specialized goods and services.

Along with its benefits, concentrated marketing has its dangers. Since the strategy ties a firm’s growth to a specific segment, sales can suffer if new competitors appeal successfully to the same segment. Furthermore, errors in forecasting market potential or customer buying habits lead to severe 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

Managers are not just Leaders in Waiting


Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” Conventional wisdom is proud of maxims like this. It uses them to encourage managers to label themselves “leaders.” It casts the manager as the dependable plodder, while the leader is the sophisticated executive, scanning the horizon, strategizing. Since most people would rather be a sophisticated exective than a dependable plodder, this advice seems positive and developmental. It isn’t: it demeans the manager role but doesn’t succeed in doing much else. The difference between a manager and a leader is much more profound than most people think. The company that overlooks this difference will suffer for it.

 The most important difference between a great manager and a great leader is one of focus. Great managers look inward. They look inside the company, into each individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs, and motivation of each person. These differences are small, subtle, but great managers need to pay attention to them. These subtle differences guide them toward the right way to release each person’s unique talents into performance.

 Great leaders, by contrast, look outward. They look out at the competition, out at the future, out at alternative routes forward. They focus on broad patterns, finding connections, cracks, and then press home their advantage where the resistance is weakest. They must be visionaries, strategic thinkers, and activators. When played well, this is, without doubt, a critical role. But it doesn’t have much to do with the challenge of turning one individual’s talents into performance.

 Great managers are not mini-executives waiting for leadership to be thurst upon them. Great leaders are not simply managers who have developed sophistication. The core activities of a manager and a leader are simply different. It is entirely possible for a person to be a brilliant manager and a terrible leader. But it is just as possible for a person to excel as a leader and fail as manager. And, of course, a few exceptionally ralented individuals excel at both.

 If companies confuse the two roles by expecting every manager to be a leader, or if they define “leader” as simply a more advanced form of “manager,” then the all-important “catalyst” role will soon be undervalued, poorly understood, and poorly played. Gradually the company will fall apart.

 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

Study Your Best


If you want to be sure that you have started with the right three talents, study your best in the role. This may sound obvious, but beware: conventional wisdom would advise the opposite.

Conventional wisdom asserts that good is the opposite of bad, that if you want to understand excellence, you should investigate failure and then invert it. In society at large, we define good health as the absence of disease. In the working world, the fascination with pathology is just as pervasive. Managers are far more articulate about service failure than they are about service success, and many still define excellence as “zero defects.”

When it comes to understanding talent, this focus on pathology has caused many managers to completely misdiagnose what it takes to excel in a particular role. For example, many managers think that because bad salespeople suffer from call reluctance, great salespeople must not; or that because bad waiters are too opinionated, great waiters must keep their opinions in check.

Reject this focus on pathology. You cannot infer excellence from studying failure and then inverting it. Why? Because excellence and failure are often surprisingly similar. Average is the anomaly.

For example, by studying the best salespeople, great managers have learned that the best, just like the worst, suffer call reluctance. Apparantly the best salesperson, as with the worst, feels as if invested in the sale that causes him to be so persuasive. But it also causes him to take rejection personally—every time he makes a sales call he feels the shiver of fear that someone will say no to him, to him.

The difference between greatness and failure in sales is that the great salesperson is not paralyzed by this fear. He is blessed with another talent, the relating talent of confrontation, that enables him to derive immense satisfaction from sparring with the prospect and overcoming resistance. Everyday he feels call reluctance, but this talent for confrontation pulls him through it. His love of sparring outweighs his fear of personal rejection.

Lacking this talent for confrontation, the bad salesperson simply feels the fear.

The average salesperson feels nothing. He woodenly follows the six-step approach he has been taught and hopes for the best.

By studying their best, great managers are able to overturn many similarly long-standing misconceptions. For example, they know that the best waiters, just like the worst, form strong opinions. The difference between the best and the worst is that the best waiters use their quickly formed opinions to tailor their style to each particular table of customers, whereas the worst are just rude—average waiters form no opinions and so give every table the same dronning spiel.

And the best . . . .

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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