Equality, Inequality


Some people don’t think of you as an equal. Before they can accord you with the honor of being treated as an equal, they feel you need to prove yourself. You’ve run into these people before – you can probably spot them right away. And, try as you might, you probably have a difficult time respecting them, because you know that, deep down, they don’t respect you.

By nature, we are organizers, and sometimes we fall into the trap of organizing people. One of the most persistent downfalls of human society has been the urge to rank people according to worth. Even today, many cultures that now enjoy political freedom are still tarnished with the vestiges of a class system – a declaration that people are inherently unequal.

On a social level, this tendency is nothing more than a reflection of how we often behave in our personal lives. For whatever reason, we conclude that some type of people is better than others, and we make decisions based on this conclusion. If you think about it, all complaints of discrimination are essentially protests against decisions based on the notion of inherent inequality.

Another brand of inequality that has plagued history is the inequality of opportunity. Some people have a head start over others. Some people have more opportunities open to them than others do. It’s easy to say that ‘achievers create their own opportunities,’ but the fact is, life isn’t fair. Some people do have an advantage when it comes to opportunity. in life, there are few level playing fields, and there is very little any of us can do to change this.

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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A Bad Boss


Bad bosses are people too, with their own fears, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Sometimes the pompous ones are basically shy and insecure. The ones who yell at people and unduly assert their aggression may be having significant family problems. Bosses with personal health problems may take these out on the staff. Still other bosses may be nice people who are simply in over their heads, and have absolutely no aptitude for the jobs.

By realizing that human frailties often underlie even the most objectionable qualities of bad bosses, employees can be in a better position to deal with them, and to judge whether the situation is temporary or hopeless. They may help them decide whether to stick it out or quit the job.

Even though a bad boss counts on the inertia of the human spirit, you can break free of the intangible bonds that bind. Also beware of some of the tangible bonds. Whatever you do, don’t lock yourself into an enormous mortgage, or you will not have the option of cooling off in another job at a reduced salary. There is a shortage of skilled labor, and a tremendous shortage of versatile labor (people who will accept a total change in career direction when circumstances dictate). Even if you end up with a different bad boss, at least the change will be refreshing. Remember that the average worker will have between four and six complete job changes in the course of working lifetime, so you don’t need to be caught in the “one company, for better or for work” trap for your whole career.

People need a mission in life. If this is denied by a bad boss at work, there are other ways to fulfill this need—ways that will still allow an overall sense of accomplishment. It is obviously bad business for any company to have such a reversal of energies affecting its operation. However, concentrating most of their energies on pursuits outside of work is a common defense against the bad boss when employees elect to stay with their jobs rather than resigning.

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.

An Advice to Change Leaders: Persuade Indirectly


In large organizations, it is not feasible to persuade people through one-on-one communication. Particularly, if the organization is multi-locational, persuasion has to be through indirect means such as memos, speeches and newsletters. Change leaders also need to build capabilities in persuading others indirectly. The following guidelines can help managers be effective in indirect persuasion:

  1. Neutralize the power of informal networks: Change leaders need to develop reliable communication channels to communicate their change agenda directly to employees in the organization. Otherwise people will rely on informal grapevine that can distort the change message either unintentionally or deliberately. In either case, employees may develop unfavorable perceptions of the change agenda leading to opposition and resistance. Communication channels such as employee forums, town meetings and special newsletters can counter the grapevine and informal networks. Change leaders must be particularly careful in not withholding bad news because such news gets out very quickly into the grapevine.
  2. Repeat the message: Focus and repetition are critical for effective communication. This means that the change agenda should consist of only a limited number (two or three, at best) of themes. These themes need to be repeated and reinforced through different communication channels.
  3. Match the medium to the message: Speeches and video-conferences are ideal to communicate vision and values; these media are also appropriate to inspire people to embrace change. On the other hand, data, graphs and charts are best conveyed in the written form—such as memos, newsletters and web pages. Change leaders must think very carefully about appropriate media before communicating their change agenda.
  4. Simplify the message: The change agenda needs to be conveyed through a framework that is conceptually simple and easy to grasp. Yet, change leaders must avoid the trap of oversimplification. Oversimplified messages sound trite and faddish and can significantly reduce the credibility of the communicator. Simple frameworks are easy to remember, and are also powerful in framing the change agenda to mobilize support.
  5. Create a new story about change: Stories constitute a powerful medium to mobilize support. People are more likely to remember stories rather than facts and figures. Stories are also more effective in persuading people to alter their perceptions of change. Therefore change leaders need to be able to craft their change agenda in the form of story.
  6. Build personal credibility: Change leaders who are respected, considered trustworthy and competent are more likely to be effective in persuading their employees to embrace change. Personal credibility is built on the foundation of consistency. Change leaders must demonstrate consistency between their thoughts, words and behavior. Inconsistent, self-serving behavior can severely erode the credibility of a leader.

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

Barriers to Team Progress


  • Insufficient training. Teams cannot be expected to perform unless they are trained in problem-solving techniques, group dynamics, and communication skills.
  • Incompatible rewards and compensation. In general, organizations make little effort to reward team performance. Because of a strong focus on individual rewards it is difficult for individuals to buy into the team concept. Similarly, performance appraisals do not accept input from peers or team members.
  • First-line supervisor resistance. Supervisors are reluctant to give up power, confident that they can do the work better and faster, are concerned about job security, and are ultimately held responsible.
  • Lack of planning. A lack of common direction or alignment on the use of collaborative efforts, internal competition, redundancy, and fragmented work processes all prevent team progress.
  • Lack of management support. Management must provide the resources and “buy into” the quality council/sponsor system.
  • Access to information systems. Teams need access to organizational information such as business performance, competitive performance, financial data, and so forth.
  • Lack of union support. Organizations need union support for the team to be successful.
  • Project scope too large. The team and organization are not clear on what is reasonable, or management is abdicating its responsibility to guide the team.
  • Project objectives are not significant. Management has not defined what role the team will play in the organization.
  • No clear measures of success. The team is not clear about its charter and goals.
  • No time to do improvement work. Values and beliefs of the organization are not compatible with the team’s work. Individual departmental politics interfere with the team’s progress. Management has not given the team proper resources.
  • Team is too large. The organization lacks methods for involving people in ways other than team membership.
  • Trapped in groupthink. Team members all have a mind-set that no actions are taken until everyone agrees with every decision.

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

Nontalent vs. Weakness


As you might expect, great managers take a welcomingly pragmatic view of our innate imperfection. They begin with an important distinction between weaknesses and nontalents. A nontalent is a mental wasteland. It is a behavior that always seems to be a struggle. It is a thrill that is never felt. It is an insight recurrently missed. In isolation, nontalents are harmless. You might have a nontalent for remembering names, being empathetic, or thinking strategically. Who cares? You have many more nontalents than you do talents, but most of them are irrelevant. You should ignore them.

 However, a nontalent can mutate into a weakness. A nontalent becomes a weakness when you find yourself in a role where success depends on your excelling in an area that is a nontalent. If you are a  server in a restaurant, your nontalent for remembering names becomes a weakness because regulars want you to recognize them. If you are a salesperson, your nontalent for empathey becomes a weakness because your prospects need to feel understood. If you are an executive, your nontalent for strategic thinking becomes a weakness because your company needs to know what traps or opportunities lie hidden over the horizon. You would be wise not to ignore your weaknesses.

 Great managers don’t. as soon as they realize that a weakness is causing the poor performance, they switch their approach. They know that there are only three possible routes to helping the person succeed. Devise a support system. Find a complementary partner. Or find an alternative role.  Great managers quickly bear down, weigh these options, and choose the best route.

 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