Punishing Employees


Regardless of how well managed they are, virtually all organizations occasionally must resort to discipline or punishment. If workers, for example, are habitually late, break company rules about smoking, punishment may be the only alternative. If this is the case, how should managers proceed?

First, managers should use progressive discipline. This means that each instance of undesirable behavior results in a somewhat stronger disciplinary action than the one before. Thus, the first infraction might be followed by a verbal reprimand, the second by a written reprimand, the third by suspension, and the fourth by dismissal.

Second, many organizations are finding that allowing teams to handle their own discipline works well. Each team is responsible for scheduling to own work, hiring its own members, and so forth. Why, then, should it not also discipline its own members?

Third, managers need to walk a thin line between being equitable and recognizing situational differences. If two employees break the same rule, the discipline they receive should be comparable. At the sane time, a twenty-year veteran employee who comes in 10 minutes late for the first time ever and a new employee who comes in 30 minutes late on the first day almost certainly should be handled in very different ways.

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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Just About Money


Strictly defined, money is anything generally accepted in exchange for goods and services. To be used as a medium of exchange, money must be acceptable, divisible, portable, stable in value, durable, and difficult to counterfeit.

Acceptability: To be effective, money must be readily acceptable for the purchase of goods and services and for the settlement of debts. Acceptability is probably the most important characteristic of money: If people do not trust the value of money, businesses will not accept it as a payment for goods and services, and consumers will have to find some other means of paying for their purchases.

Divisibility: Given the widespread use of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies in the United States, it is no surprise that the principle of divisibility is an important one. With barter, the lack of divisibility often makes otherwise preferable trades impossible, as would be an attempt to trade a steer for a loaf of bread. For money to serve effectively as a measure of value, all items must be valued in terms of comparable units—dimes, for a piece of bubble gum, quarters for laundry machines, and dollars (or dollars and coins) for everything else.

Portability: Clearly, for money to function as a medium of exchange, it must be easily moved from one location to the next. Large colored rocks could be used as money, but you couldn’t carry them around in your wallet. Paper currency and metal coins, on the other hand, are capable of transferring vast purchasing power into small, easily carried bundles.

Stability: Money must be stable and maintain its declared face value. The principle of stability allows people who wish to postpone purchases and save their money to do so without fear that it will decline in value. Money declines its value during periods of inflation, when economic conditions cause prices to rise. Thus, the same amount of money buys fewer and fewer goods and services.

Durability: Money must be durable. The crisp new dollar bills you trade at the music store for the hottest new CD will make their way all around town for about 18 months before being replaced. Were the value of an old, faded bill to fall to line with the deterioration of its appearance, the principles of stability and universal acceptability would fail. Although metal coins, due to their much longer useful life, would appear to be an ideal form of money, paper currency is far more portable than metal because of its light weight. Today, coins are used primarily to provide divisibility.

Difficulty to Counterfeit: To remain stable and enjoy universal acceptance, it almost goes without saying that money must be very difficult to counterfeit—that is, to duplicate illegally. Every country takes steps to make counterfeiting difficult. Most use multicolored money, and many use specially watermarked papers that are virtually impossible to duplicate.

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 Role of Diversification


Corporate diversification is everywhere. Virtually all of the Fortune 1,000 (the largest 1,000 corporations in the US) are diversified, many of them to a great extent. Some corporations consist of dozen—even hundreds—of different businesses. Besides such corporate giants, many smaller firms, some with only a handful of employees, also diversify.

What is the strategic role of diversification? Popular answers to this question have changed dramatically over the last several decades. During the 1960s, diversification fueled tremendous corporate growth as corporations bought up dozens of businesses, regardless of the good or service sold. Managers based this diversification on unrelated businesses on the assumption that good managers could manage any business, allowing the formation of huge conglomerates of completely unrelated businesses. In the 1970s, managers began to emphasize diversification based on balancing cash flow between businesses. Corporate managers attempted to diversify so that the resulting portfolio would offer a balance between businesses that produced excess cash flows and those that needed additional cash flows beyond what they could produce themselves. The 1980s brought a broad-based effort to restructure corporations, as managers stripped out unrelated businesses and focused on a narrower range of operations. Restructuring usually also involved downsizing, and the largest corporations shrank in relation to the rest of the economy. In the 1990s, corporations have once again taken an interest in using diversification to grow. But unlike the unrelated diversification that took place in the 1960s, the trend in the 1990s is to diversify into related businesses, or at least into businesses in which the strengths of a popular managerial team fit the needs of the new business being added to the corporation.

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.

Friendship and Business


Americans like to think of themselves as friendly. Yet others find us impersonal and rushed. We come on too strong too fast; we are intimidating to some foreigners. We then fail to fulfill the implicitly promised friendship; we seem phony. In most parts of the world, friendships are slow to form, requiring tremendous commitment and attention over the long term. Anything less than the gradual and deliberate approach may be seen as insincerity, and insincerity compared to the seriousness with which friendships are taken elsewhere. Once formed, many foreign friendships are virtually permanent. And with the friendship come obligations, not only to help in emergencies, but to help in a number of ways the average American would consider entirely unreasonable.

The importance of relationships strongly affects the conduct of business. The foreigner needs to assess any business associate and most likely will make a deal not purely on the basis of the best price or product but rather on personal estimation. From Italy to China, extra personal involvement is important; many foreigners feel that if both parties can be friends, then business between them will flow naturally and smoothly.

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

Intranets


Not all Websites are available to anyone cruising the Net. Some are reserved for the private use of a single company’s employees and stakeholders. An intranet uses the same technologies as the Internet and the World Wide Web, but the information provided and the access allowed are restricted to the boundaries of a company-wide LAN or WAN. In some cases, suppliers, distribution partners, and key customers may also have access, but intranets are protected from unauthorized access through the Internet by a firewall, a special type of gateway that controls access to the local network. People on an intranet can get out to the Internet, but unauthorized people on the Internet cannot get in.

Possibly the biggest advantage of an intranet is that it eliminates the problem of employees’ using different types of computers within a company. On an Intranet, all information is available in a format compatible with Macintosh, PC, UNIX-based computers. The need to publish internal documents on paper is virtually eliminated because everyone can access the information electronically.

Besides saving paper, an intranet can save a company money in the form of employee hours. Employees can find information much faster and more easily by using a well-designed database on an intranet than by digging through a filing cabinet or card catalog. Some of the communication uses companies have for intranets include updating policy manuals, posting job openings and submitting job applications, accessing martketing and sales presentations from anywhere in the world, updating and managing employee benefits, accessing company records and databases, collaborating from anywhere in the  world to develop new products, scheduling meetings, setting up company phone directories, and publishing company newsletters. In fact, just about any information that can help employees communicate is a good candidate for an intranet. As video and audio technologies progress, you can expect to see more multimedia applications on intranets as well.

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

Simple Language, Smart Thinking


If you know the difference between skills, knowledge, and talents, you can use these terms to throw light on all the other words used to describe human behavior—words like “competencies,” “habits,” “attitude,” and “drive.” At present many of us assume that they all mean virtually the same thing. We use phrases like “inter-personal skills,” “skill set,” “work habits,” or “core competencies” so naturally that we rarely question their true meaning.

This isn’t just careless language. It’s careless thinking, it leads managers astray. It leads them to waste precious time, effort, and  money trying, with the best of intentions, to train characteristics that are fundamentally untrainable.

So let’s look more closely at competencies, habits, attitude, and drive. Which of these are skills, or knowledge, and therefore can be changed in a person? And which are talents and therefore cannot?

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

Guerrilla Marketing


Guerrilla mrketing is the type of all-out marketing necessary for entrepreneurial success. It is virtually unknown to the large corporations. And thank heavens it is. After all, the large corporations have the benefit of big bucks. You don’t. so you’ve got to rely on guerrilla marketing.

 Your size is an ally when it comes to marketing. If you are a small company, a new venture, or a single individual, you can utilize the tactics of guerrilla marketing to their fullest. You’ve got the ability to be fast on your feet, to employ a vast array of marketing tools, to gain access to the biggest marketing brains and get them at bargain-basement prices. Now you may not need to use every weapon in your potential marketing arsenal, but you’re sure going to need some of them. So you’d best know how to use tham all.

 It may be that you will require no advertising at all. But you will require marketing. It may be that word of mouth is so favorable, and spreads so rapidly, that your venture can reap a fortune just because of it. If so, you can be sure that the word of mouth was motivated by effective marketing in the first place.

 In fact, a strong word of mouth campaign is part of marketing, and so are business cards, stationery, matchbooks, the clothes you wear. And certainly your location is important in marketing. Every component that helps you sell what you are selling is part of the marketing process. No detail is insignificant to be included. The more you realize that the better your marketing will be. Its not about sales, its about profits—the dear old bottom line.

 That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: One of these days, you’re going to be an entrepreneur no longer. If you successfully put into practice the principles of guerrila marketing, you’ll become fat and rich and famous and will no longer have the lean, hungry mentality of the entrepreneur.

 Once you’re reached that stage, you wll have to resort to the textbook forms of marketing, for you’ll be too encumbered with employees, traditions, paperwork, management levels, and necessary bureaucracy to be flexible enough for gurella marketing.

 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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