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Posts Tagged ‘modren management’

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‘We have the best working environment around here’ … ‘we changed the whole competition landscape, we are the best now and our competitors have to live with it’ … ‘Our products/services are not comparable to others, we are the best’

Once such kind of mentality starts flying around your organization, then it is in need for a serious therapy; it is going through the ‘illusion of the best’ syndrome! And once you have it, it is the downhill road thereafter.

There is no doubt that the marketplace is a competition arena. However, deciding who is the best should be left to stakeholders and unbiased observers, certainly not to the organization managers only!

And let’s give it some thought; in a business environment, what is the best? the best compared to what? and in which categories? And should we compare our products/services/practices to our competitors only? in our environment only? or should we do that globally? I am sure you can come up with endless series of question like these …

My argument is that the whole concept of being the best should have no place in a business environment. The ‘best in ….’ is a relative term even if based upon ground measurements, because, at the end, those measurements are based on agreements between a number of people.

The illusion of being the best could be damaging on the long run. It generates demotivation and kills innovation; why should we do more, we are the best?!

It happened that I have being sitting once with one of the so-called-managers of one of the biggest companies in the country and he was talking about how they are conducting some of their business. The strange thing is that he was referring to many managerial flaws in his talking, and he was acknowledging those flaws! I asked him ‘it is great that you can put your fingers on the wrong doings that are causing pressure on your staff and your productivity. So why don’t you solve these issues?’ His reply was ‘this is how we do business around here!’ I said ‘but there are many companies around the world that faced similar problems and there are many lessons that you can get advantage of.’ He replied ‘No No No … do not talk about companies around the world. Tell me about local companies. We are the best company in the area and this is how we are running our business’!!!!

I hope you got what I mean now!!

 

p.s. I think the ‘illusion of best’ syndrome fits Jim Collins’s stage number one of declining organizations; the stage he calls ‘Hubris Born of Success.’ Read more about it in his book ‘How the mighty Fall, and Why Some Companies Never Give in’ published in 2009.

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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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Days are passing by and the end of the year is around the corner. For a lot of companies and a lot of managers, these three last months of the year are so critical. It is time to revise plans, goals, budgets, and not to forget, performance appraisals are just around the corner.

In such heated situations, there are two types of leaders that you may encounter, or might be yourself:[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=clowns&iid=76347″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/76347/clown-business-suit-with/clown-business-suit-with.jpg?size=500&imageId=76347″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]

  • True Leaders: Those who already have well crafted planes and smart objectives earlier that year. A lot of their goals have been accomplished or about to be completed. However, they might face some missed targets and deadlines here or there. In such situations, they calmly and logically sit to restudy the situation, and ask themselves and their team members a lot of why’s and how’s. They turn obstacles into opportunities and failures into lessons learned.
  • Clowns: Those who built their plans on vague inputs, poor data, and sometimes pure dreams!! Most of their goals are missed, if not all. But nothing will stop them from raising their voices and pointing their fingers on everybody around them, even their own team members. Whenever around one of those, you will start witnessing a lot of fightings during meetings, a lot of heated emails, and a lot of passing the ball theory practices!

Look around you and check; which type of managers are you pumping into more often?

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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=airlines&iid=292693″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/292693/airplane-over-runway/airplane-over-runway.jpg?size=500&imageId=292693″ width=”234″ height=”350″ /]The Saudi low budget Sama Airlines is suspending its operations in the Kingdom starting today until further notice.

Should this be a surprise? I would say: No, it was expected!

The whole scene of civil aviation industry in Saudi does not look that good. Whether we are talking airports or airliners, It is a mess, to say the least!

Operating an airlines is a tough business, no doubt about it. Lots of head to head competition and very turbulent business environment. And when you are working in a messy market like the one both Sama and Nas had stepped in, the situation becomes even harder.

I am not sure what kind of business plans they had both studied to reach the decision that the Saudi market is an attractive investment opportunity. Maybe by only looking at the status of Saudia and how almost all Saudis agree that it suck! the idea of having a second airlines should’ve looked appealing. The fact of the matter is that Saudia is a company both owned and supported by the government. And what makes it even worse for commercial activities in such market is when the regulator (GACA in this situation) does not provide any guarantees to protect the fairness of competition. Maybe the new comers received some promises, but businesses are not usually built on promises, they are built on facts, at least when it comes to the market environment.

Now both of the companies are waiting for the promises to be fulfilled especially for fueling prices. It could be a tactic played by Sama to get the attention of higher authorities although it is a hugely damaging move to the company name (especially that Nas did not play along, if it was a tactic!!)

It is another sad story added to the book of sad stories of Saudi airlines business!!

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I was talking with a couple of colleagues today and the topic of reading just popped up. One of them said “you know, we should really read some more, we developed the habit of no reading. It is a common problem.”

So he confidently knows that we have a problem, and admits that it is a common problem (he is saying ‘we,’ right?!), and I am sure he had said this same statement before. But he is just saying it and doing nothing about it!!

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=lazy&iid=255339″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/255339/middle-aged-heavy-man-with/middle-aged-heavy-man-with.jpg?size=500&imageId=255339″ width=”234″ height=”331″ /]I have repeated this so many times, and I might’ve said it on this very blog, nothing in my professional life get on my nerves like when discussing some business matters with someone and he starts saying “I know you are right, all what you are saying is true, but we cannot do it!!!” especially when everything we need to get on the right track, that we both agree upon, is within our reach!!!

Submitting to the usual, doing things in certain ways just because they are in our comfort zone, lacking the willingness to learn new things and try new paths are all devastating whether we are talking individuals or organizations.

The conclusion of this post is simple; when you know there is something right and you want to do it, go ahead and do it!!

  • Want to read; stop at the nearest bookstore and grab a book or two.
  • Want to change a process because you know it will reduce costs and boost productivity, connivence your team and nurture the change challenges.
  • Want to develop your leadership style, go learn by reading, by consulting, by joining trainings and so forth.

*******

An Arabic poet once said (trying my best to translate it):

– I have never seen a shortcoming in a human being, like the shortcoming of those who can be perfect, and never try!

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Do you remember the first day of your new job? or first day at school? you must’ve been through what is known as ‘the orientation phase.’ It is the phase when you are guided around to be familiar with your new environment, and along the way, the seeds of the new place culture are implanted in your head!

So, we have all been there, right? But have you ever been through the ‘disorientation phase’? Whether you realized that or not … the answer is … YES!

I am using this phrase, disorientation, influenced by this interesting article I just read in New York Time about the American University in Cairo. However, although the phrase itself might not be widely recognized or used in the management circles, it has some origins in organizational culture studies. Look at this definition of organization culture by Edgar Schein:

“A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.”

For that, companies with strong culture usually use the concept of disorientation to realign the new staff to their internal values, beliefs, and practices. Yes they recruit based on competitive advantages, experiences, skills, etc, but still, a bigger part of their decision to choose someone is based on the ability of the candidate to fit in the organization culture. They have clear understanding of their identity, of what they need from an employee, so the selection process is clear and consistent. Examples of such companies are 3M, Google, Apple, P&G and Starbucks.

On the other hand, companies with weak cultures are only trying to imitate the companies with strong ones; the only problem is that they do not know how!! It could be argued that cultures cannot be imitated, they can be created and enhanced with distinctive efforts and exceptional leaders, but not imitated. Look around and you would see a lot of companies claiming day and night, mostly for PR purposes, that they have unique values and super practices. And for a new staff in there, he/she will be disoriented alright! but in a way that he/she will be loosing, or at least suppressing anything good he/she brought with him/her just to fit in this poor culture!!

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What is really interesting about management, and social sciences in general, is that they do not believe in one and unique answer. For each and every topic, there is a number of theories and point of views that sometimes come to be as contradicting to each other as it can gets. There is no equations that should be balanced, but there are interests that should be maintained and situations that should be studied. And if you come to think of it, unless you are talking about mathematics or physics, this is life in general, there is rarely a one answer.

For that, if you are a manager and you, somehow, think that you possesses the answer to every problem. And if you, for some reason, think you can force everybody to follow your brilliant ideas, then you better leave your managerial chair because you do not deserve it.

And if you, by any chance, hold one of those master or PhD degrees (MBA included!!), and you do not know how to engage in a scientific debate and you do not believe in others’s right to have their own opinions about a certain subject, no matter how strongly you believe in your own point of view, you better burn that piece of paper you hang on the wall because it does not mean a thing.

Now, the above concept of being open to different ideas and point of views is a vital corner of answering this important question; why we do not have a number of great leaders? In a matter of fact, it is one of the major problems we have as a whole society.

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