Posts Tagged ‘communication’

One of the most bizarre techniques that is sometimes adopted by weak managers of culturally weak organizations is the use of threatening language in the communication channels across the organization levels!

The repeated use of expressions like (or else … those who are not with us are against us … I will remember that in the annual appraisal … if you do not want to stay on the ship) in meetings, emails, circulations, or even in the company written policy, cause nothing on the long run but the loss of trust, disappearance of loyalty, and performance tardiness.

What provoked this post is a memo by one of the international brands working in Saudi Arabia. It is hanged beside one of its warehouses in front of everyone to see. It is written in Arabic; but here is its translation:

Attention!!!!!!!!!!!! For all staff, please do not set anywhere outside the store unless it is a permitted area. If these instructions are not followed, the store management will have to take any necessary action.

Regardless of the main topic of the memo, which is the staff seating arrangements, the memo was going somehow OK till the threatening language begun. As someone who knows nothing about the internal processes or culture of this company, reading these few lines I can tell that it is based on fear and intimidation. I can picture how demotivated their staff are and how the internal communication channels are filled with tension.

I am not saying that companies policies should not contain rules against misbehavior and so forth, but I am saying use them wisely, trust your staff, and do not threaten them. If you cannot build your company, department, or team culture based on trust, rest assured that you are going … nowhere!


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If you are ‘that-kind-of-manager,’ then you will must enjoy the following tips on how to burn your staff. And you do not have to worry about what other people would say or think about that, they just do not understand your style and how you think you are driving your staff to be big performers. And hey, you are ‘The-Manager,’ people have no right to question your ways of conducting business … and from there we start:

  • Keep reminding your staff, and everyone around, that you are The Manager. If they are working as your subordinates, then they should better understand it very well because there are consequences (read the next tips). You can remind them of your superiority in various ways: in meetings (e.g. start the meeting with something like ‘as the manager, I have decided’), in phone calls (e.g. you can say something like ‘tell them to do it because the manager said so’), and in emails of course (e.g. send emails saying stuff like ‘I have noticed, as The Manager, that …’).
  • Try to integrate some military practices into your style. Your requests should be treated as orders; do-first-ask-later kind of why (on the long run, they should be trained not to ask at all!).
  • Do not share your strategy, your plans, or the company strategy with them. They do not have the mental capacity to deal with it.
  • Take away these words from your dictionary and pretend that you do not understand them: overloading, logical arguments, and work/life balance!!
  • Do not allow them to discuss or circulate modern management articles; this is a place of work, not a university. And they have to understand that your abilities and experience exceed all that academic mumbo-jumbo.
  • Do not care much about processes nor scope of work. Let there be processes, but they should know that you have the power to overrule them whenever you like.
  • From time to time, ask them to do illogical or irregular stuff. Lists of things nobody cares about, check ups that do not make sense and alike. By doing so you are training them on obedience. You do not have to explain yourself, remember the tip about military practices.
  • Always, and I mean, all the time, give them a very tight time limits to deliver your requirements. If a certain study normally takes 3 days to accomplish, come at the last minuet and ask them to finish it before the end of the day.
  • Keep the sense of urgency and every-thing-is-a-priority way of work. They should know that you do not care about them because there are always bigger picture that they do not, and cannot, see!

So … do you have any more tips to share with us?

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Sometimes a phone call can serve the purpose of a series of emails and get the job done faster … and sometimes it does not!

I believe that each and every staff should develop his/her own style of communication and should know when to use emails, phone calls, or call for a meeting. Such styles, or skills, are built with training and experience. Eventually, a staff should have a sense of how to get the job done and in the most efficient way.

For that, I cannot really understand managers who shout things like ‘Why did not you call him? do not send more emails … call him!!’ or ‘send an email and after 10 minutes, follow up with a phone call.’!!

Help your staff build their skills instead of telling them what to do!!

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I am not able to understand the strange desire of some organizations to have press coverages or to have press releases when they do not have anything new to say, or when what they have to say is sooooooooo obvious, to say the least!

You want an example; here is one. Freshly coming from GACA (General Authority of Civil Aviation). In this weird press coverage, I failed to come up with any significant new information or any details of useful rules that will make my life easier as a customer of this governmental organization.

Let’s have some highlights:

  • ‘We aim to ensure passenger safety through the implementation of several safety procedures.’
    • Daaah!! Should we become impressed or something? This is one of your main goals, isn’t?
  • He added that passengers often become angry due to flight delays and cancellations during the summer, but this is because they fail to understand that flight activity increases during the summer and that there can be issues with the climate.
    • And this is the worst of them all. We, the customers, fail to understand that flights usually increase during the summer!!! So it is not that travelers via Saudi airports usually suffer from poor services and lack of organization, we are the one who fail to understand!!!
  • “We are cooperating with aviation companies to arrange a limited number of scheduled flights. We will schedule the number of daily flights in each airport. We define the number of flights according to an airport’s lounges, paths and runaways … Our domestic and international airports are equipped with the latest equipment that allows planes to land from very high altitudes and when the vision is poor,” he added.
    • Yeah … Ok … What are you trying to say??? I did not get it?
  • In order to deal with any potential challenges caused by changes in the weather, GACA has signed an agreement with the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment that would see the two bodies collaborating with each other.
    • Please tell me that this is not a NEW agreement!! Haven’t you been dealing with PME before? and you’re just starting now!

This is only a classical example of a PR activity that does not add any value to the organization, actually, it might hurt it. Stating the obvious is not a goal of PR, and insulting customer is certainly not a PR acceptable technique!!!

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President Obama and his administration have been under pressure to take a firmer stand against the the tragedy of the oil spill taking place at the Gulf of Mexico. As days were passing by without any hope of a working solution, people frustration was getting stronger and they were expecting their President to do the same. So on one of his TV interviews, Mr. President responded to a question about how the crisis meetings were going on by stating that one of these meetings’ goals was ‘to determine whose ass to kick.’

So ‘Should Leaders Ever Swear?’ was the question asked by Dan McGinn recently on HBR Blog. Should leaders really give up formality in certain situations to attain certain goals? Or such tongues slips could cost the leaders and their organizations later on?

Strangely, the post refers to a study that has been published in 2007 where the researchers emphasized the importance of using unconventional or uncivilized language in the workplace. Not only that, but they also grouped workplace profanity into two categories:

  • Social Swearing: where swearing just pops up in the middle of causal conversations.
  • Annoyance Swearing: which is used in stressed situations to release pressure or used as ‘relief mechanism’ as they put it.

However, both types of swearing mentioned above should not be so much treasured when talking about PR activities, branding initiatives, dealing with staff, or in front of customers. Using improper language could cost the organization a lot of its image and authenticity in the eyes and hearts of its customers. And could definitely makes it a repulsive place to be working in.

Not only organizations, even when we are talking about personal branding of leaders (business or not) and celebrities of any kind, having a bad mouth is a trait that sticks to the person and cannot be easily forgotten.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Rooney&iid=9151450″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9151450/football-england-algeria/football-england-algeria.jpg?size=500&imageId=9151450″ width=”234″ height=”167″ /]Jack Welch, the infamous CEO of GE between 1981 and 2001 was known, beside his managerial abilities, to have a tough tongue that likes to throw the f-bomb now and then. And for those following up the World Cup nowadays, we’ve just seen the poor kid named Rooney throws some of highly tuned trash at the camera after England’s last match with Algeria (read about it here)!!

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So you are leading a team at the moment, or even part of one; Do you know when you should be really worried about your team performance?

It is when there is no conflict!

Conflict is a part of any healthy team work environment. It is not only natural to have different views and rising disputes whenever group of people are interacting with each other, some management experts go further to emphasis that conflicts must be there. Without conflicts over ideas, concepts, process, etc … group thinking prevails, adhering to the status quo cripples creativity, and lack of job excitement controls the work environment.

That does not mean conflicts should get out of hands, and team meetings turn to wars and power struggles. There are so many techniques that could be used to contain this conflict and employ it to work for the sake of the team, not against it. There is only one prerequisite. The team members should have a common objectives, an identity they believe in, and shared values.

So it goes like this:

  • Have a team with no common believes and unified goals, and the organization will turn into a circus!
  • Have a team that shares a strong identity and give them the chance to do miracles.

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Few days ago I published a post about the heat wave that hit Jeddah in the past week. I’ve commented on the poor PR performance of both the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) and the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and how they’ve engaged in a pointless debate about whether the temperature was 49 °C or it only was 46 °C!!

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=dubai+skyscraper&iid=7156353″ src=”4/e/0/a/Dubai_Debt_Crisis_91b3.jpg?adImageId=12980718&imageId=7156353″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]The exemplary reaction, came from our neighbors in Dubai. According to this piece of news (Arabic), the UAE Ministry of labor has decided to stop any labor outdoor activities between 12:30 to 15:00 for a period of time extended from the mid of June up to the mid of September. The surprising thing, to me at least, is that this decision is in place since 2005! And in this year, the restricted months have been increased to three instead of only two in the pervious years. And those found noncompliant with the ruling will be fined by the government and their working permits would be suspended.

The point is that they were not debating whether the temperature would be this or that, they just tackled the main point of the whole subject and they acted accordingly. Again, for SEC and PME, please focus on your own missions and make sure you are providing your services in exemplary means.


It seems that the Saudi ministry of labor followed course and decided to ban working under the sun from 12 PM to 3 PM starting July through the end of August but it is not effective immediately, it is to start on 2011! (the news here). This is good news , but why 2011 and not now; Allah only knows!!

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