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Appreciation: something you must show more often

Don’t be afraid to show appreciation to your employees; while appreciation carries no cost, it is a source of many and significant benefits to your people, and to your organization as well.

Nowadays when innovation and creativity are survival attributes for many companies, free, unhampered thought is very sought after.

Encourage it by honestly appreciating the unique qualities that each of your employees brings into the game. Encourage it by simply saying thank you for something well done.

In the right environment and appreciative climate, people will shift to a higher level of thinking, more capable to achieve synergistic thought and, why not, sometimes, a kind of unique resonance!

 

About the author: Panikos Sardos is the Managing Director of P&E Sardos Business Solutions Int., a management consulting firm that offers advisory services, coaching and training. Those with further interest in the topic or in other management services are invited to reach him either by email: psardos@sardossolutions.com or phone: +357 99640912, +357 24400884, www.sardossolutions.com

By |January 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Βάλτε τέλος στη γραφειοκρατία: Δεν είναι ευλογία αλλά σοβαρή ασθένεια

Σταματείστε να θεωρείτε τη γραφειοκρατία ως προστασία. Είναι ασθένεια που σιγά και σταθερά σκοτώνει τον οργανισμό σας με τα ασήμαντα που τα κάνει σημαντικά, αλλά και με τη φυλάκιση σε τύπους και κανάλια του ανθρώπινου πνεύματος και των δεξιοτήτων του προσωπικού σας.

Μακρές διαδικασίες με πολλαπλά επίπεδα ελέγχου όπου τα προδιαγραμμένα μετρούν περισσότερο από την ουσία είναι μερικά από τα χαρακτηριστικά της γραφειοκρατίας. Όπως άλλωστε και το όνομά της υποδηλοί, η γαφειοκρατία δίνει περισσότερη βαρύτητα στο προσωπικό του οργανισμού που είναι πίσω από τα γραφεία παρά στον κόσμο που βρίσκεται μπροστά στα γραφεία, τους πελάτες.

Βεβαίως η γραφειοκρατία έχει κάποιο σκοπό: να διασφαλίσει τον οργανισμό από κακώς πραττόμενα από τον κόσμο του ως αποτέλεσμα είτε κάποιας ανεπάρκειάς του είτε γιατί το προσωπικό μπορεί να ακολουθεί κρυμμένες ατζέντες και όχι αυτή του οργανισμού. Στοχεύει, σε τέτοιες περιπτώσεις, να δώσει τη δυνατότητα στον οργανισμό να εντοπίζει ευθύνες μέσω ενός μηχανισμού που όμως δεν είναι χωρίς κόστος σε ανθρώπινους και άλλους πόρους.

Πολλοί οργανισμοί, θέλοντας διακαώς να αποφύγουν οποιεσδήποτε συνέπειες από λάθη, προσκολλώνται χωρίς επιστροφή στη γραφειοκρατία, κοφεύοντας στις φωνές των πελατών και του προσωπικού τους ότι η γραφειοκρατία τους σκοτώνει. Δεν βλέπουν ή δεν θέλουν να κατανοήσουν ότι από μόνα τους τα ίδια τα χαρακτηριστικά της γραφειοκρατίας κάνουν τον οργανισμό και το προσωπικό τους λιγότερο πελατοκεντρικό, λιγότερο αποδοτικό, λιγότερο επινοητικό.

Όταν γεμίσεις το χώρο εργασίας με διαδικασίες και κανόντες, σκοτώνεις σε μεγάλο βαθμό την πρωτοβουλία του προσωπικού σου, και δυσχεραίνεις τη φυσική ροή, το «ρέζονανς», στην ανθρώπινη σκέψη και δράση. Πρόσθετα δυσχεραίνεις τους πελάτες σου αναγκάζοντας τους σε μακρές, χρονοβόρες δοσοληψίες και διαδικασίες επιδεικνύοντας έλλειψη σεβασμού του χρόνου και των δικών τους πόρων. Ούτε και όταν επικαλείσαι το σκοπό της εξάλειψης της απάτης αποτελεί αποδεκτό υποστηρικτικό η «ιεροποίηση» της γραφειοκρατίας.

Το [...]

By |January 6th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Stop Bureaucracy: it is not a blessing, it’s a disease

Stop treating bureaucracy as protection. It is a disease that is softly and steadily killing your company by its tediousness and its imprisoning of the human factor.

Widespread, lengthy procedures with multiple levels of checking where the rule counts more than the substance are some of its distinguishing characteristics. As its name implies, it gives more weight to the company people behind the bureau than to the people in front of the business desks, the customers.

Of course, Bureaucracy has a purpose; to safeguard the company against wrongdoing by its employees as a result of either their deficiencies or them pursuing some hidden agendas other than that of the company. It is meant, through its mechanism, to enable a company for any wrong action to identify where the responsibility lies, though not without cost in human and other resources.

Possessed by the fear of wrongdoing and wishing to avoid at all costs any consequences, many organizations hold to bureaucracy steadfastly turning a deaf ear to voices from both their customers and their people that bureaucracy very negatively affects them. They do not see that the bureaucratic traits by themselves make their people and organizations less customer-centric, less efficient, less innovative.

When you fill the workplace with rules and procedures, it stifles to a great extent your people’s initiative and stops the natural flow, the resonance, in the human thought and action. It also harms your customers, as they experience long waits at the expense of their valuable time. It works against the easiness of doing business and shows little regard or respect for the customer’s time and money. And it makes a poor business argument to try to sanctify it even in the name of fraud prevention.

The antidote [...]

By |January 3rd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Building a business culture: Why it matters

Culture is not soft talk. It is a strategic tool. Beyond good climate and relationships, it should be made to promote the business and its goals.

Culture directs in some unobtrusive and continuous way the company’s people as to how they should think, behave, and act.

Because of that, it is of major importance to any company. It follows then that a company should not leave, by lack of proper action, its culture to develop randomly and multiply at the hands of the informal power groups in it. In building a culture, a company should find it more practical to think of it as having two distinct natures:

a)      The relationship nature – This helps to hold the company people together in the best possible harmony and it has as building elements universal principles like honesty, humanity, ethics, good manners etc.. When successful, it promotes trust, understanding, and cooperation and becomes the foundation stone on which to build the next level, the business nature of culture, that follows.

b)      The business nature – This promotes the company’s strategic intent and serves to direct the business emphasis on particular business issues like on efficiency or on customer relations or on innovation and new products. When successful, it directs and aligns people towards the company’s goals.

Each of the two parts by itself cannot give a whole meaning to business culture. To have (a) alone, it would be like operating a societal club which requires its members to respect some principles that hold the members together. Without implying that such bonding is of secondary importance, it alone doesn’t sufficiently serve the purpose for which business exists.

Equally important for the company, it is that its people share the same direction in the [...]

By |December 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Ten tips on how to listen to customers

Listening to the customer is a critical part in making a company’s strategic marketing. Companies exist because of their customers whom they must keep satisfied by translating their wants and needs into designs of products and services.

But, knowing the customer wants is not an easy matter. Customer likes and wishes are always changing by what they see and hear in their immediate environment, or from what they see and hear in other industries, or even in markets in other countries. Their expectations are constantly being set higher and higher, and what pleased them before, is perceived of less value today.

Furthermore, the inertia factor comes in for some companies that seem uwilling to make the necessary effort; they hear the customer concerns once when they start the business, and not enough later. Their emphasis is on production, costs, and efficiency ignoring the customer changing wants. But the customers, when their turn comes, will ignore them too.

To get closer to customers, to know and understand their needs and expectations, companies have to listen to them and do so attentively in a structured way. Here below, we offer 10 tips with a brief explanatory note for each.

1.      Salespeople

Should be trained to understand the business and act as the company’s eyes and ears so as to sense the market field and bring back in the company useful feedback

2.      Frontline staff (Points of sales) or complaints handling staff

Should similarly be trained to observe customer behavior during transactions remaining open to receive customer feedback, and serve as collectors of ideas of what the company should be redoing better, and more effectively and innovatively

3.      Management field visits

Managers themselves should, when necessary, go out for firsthand feedback and new ideas, visit key [...]

By |December 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

A utility-based approach to behavior

People’s behavior can be categorized according to the utility factor that represents them.

The utility factor is the extent to which their behavior is governed by what they give or take and varies between two extremes:

The external utility focus which is the value they seek to obtain from other people and
The internal utility focus which is the reverse and is the value they themselves are eager and willing to give to others

These two poles create between them a continuum of behaviors, the interexternal utility focus space where people seek to find for themselves an optimum combination between what they seek to take from others and what at the same time they are willing to give to others; the varying combination of the two puts people on different points on the continuum line closer to one pole or the other.

Some examples to make the points clearer:

a)      External utility focus people: They tend to approach, communicate, and associate only with people that have a meaning for them and that can serve and enhance their purpose, while they show a tendency to ignore the rest.

People in this group act very selfishly and may, in the end, find themselves being characterised as egoists.

b)      Internal utility focus people: They tend to make themselves available to be approached by other people that may need them and are open to offering freely their knowledge and advice to help others become better.

These people are altruistic idealists mostly endowed with great knowledge like gurus that have reached a climax in their field and who are kindly disposed to helping others.

c)      Interexternal utility focus people: This group covers the space in between the two poles. The people here are spread along the continuum line [...]

By |December 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

No decision is no escape

A company should catch free riders early and make them accountable if it doesn’t want to find itself in the doldrums.

Some CEOs and top executives hide behind inaction and refrain from making decisions that might increase for themselves the odds of personal mistakes and the unpleasant consequences thereafter.

An attitude, I believe, that is developed mainly because of those CEOs’ certain insecurities or inadequacies to serve purposefully their designated position.

They will skip responsibility for anything that goes wrong on the pretext of their having nothing to do with what originated the situation and to clear themselves they will not hesitate to implicate others. It seems that the longer they stay in office the more adept they become at distancing themselves from the wrongs, the troubles and the fires.

Such shortcomings, though critical, are not often made apparent early and remain for long unnoticed. So, for not making decisions or for not foreseeing things or for missing to take the necessary initiatives, they escape the consequences for a considerable time.

Even when those CEOs get revealed, their arranged dismissal with a velvet divorce and a golden handshake is far from conveying the true reason for the severance. Furthermore, the long time that passed for their dismissal effaces any connection with the real reason that was their decision-avoidance attitude, obliterating from the corrective action its didactic element or its called-for-justice power that the rest of the company should see and feel.

It is time that companies catch such free riders sooner and make them accountable before their behaviours and attitudes derail the company prospects further.

What I suggest is that for a company it is critical

to spot such top executives’ decision-avoidance early and
that its board or owners should regularly assess its [...]

By |November 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Leadership in shambles – An interview with the company’s CEO

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to offer advice to a company that was doing poorly in its revenues and profits.

We sat with the owner CEO to discuss the company’s state of affairs with me asking and him giving answers.

Q: What about the processes in the company, how satisfying are they? A: They are OK I think.

Do you have some evidence for that, do you have some data to prove your assessment? No, we don’t do any measurements, they will add to our costs.

How about your product line; are there any new products or product improvements that you delivered to your customers say over the last three years? No, our product line is unchanged, we know how to do it well and we stick to it or as you management people say “we stick to the knitting”.

And your staff, your people, how do you look after them? They are all grown-ups, they look after themselves and don’t need anything from me or from anybody else.

When was the last time they were in some training? I don’t have the luxury to take them out of their jobs for them to hear some fancy new ideas that don’t have any meaning for our works here.

I suppose you have some kind of a strategy to aim at something better for your company, don’ t you? Our strategy is simple “work hard every day” something I have taken from my father who established and first run this factory.

Do you have partners with whom you work with like suppliers or your bigger customers? No, these people always want to get the maximum out of you without any regard for you or your business; I never trust them [...]

By |November 24th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Why you should employ a consultant

What is occasionally said about consultants may be telling of how others perceive their work and usefulness:

(1)    A consultant is somebody who asks to borrow your watch in order to tell you the time

(2)    A consultant is that somebody who for fixing a machine problem charges 100 euros and a 20 center; 20 cents for knocking and 100 euros for knowing where to knock.

Such and similar sayings imply or suggest that a consultant must be adept at critical thinking, must know how to ask for information to gain useful company knowledge and must possess an array of techniques and tools together with capabilities of using them effectively.

From employing a consultant, a company would expect to have some potent cures to its problems and some worthwhile results. So that this is exemplified, some of the primary reasons for the commonest calls for consultancy services are cited below:

(a)    To identify and solve specific problems facing a business:
Here he is called to use his business acumen, to use well-established methodologies, and to utilize his analytical tools and techniques to uncover the root problems and provide appropriate solutions that best fit the particular client company.

(b)   To provide independent assessment and recommendations:
In some companies, internal politics and group interests would immobilize any improvement initiatives especially when leadership does not want to be seen as harming the interests of anybody. Here the consultant will assume responsibility for new proposals taking the weight on his own shoulders and will act as a vehicle and a catalyst for change.

(c)    To add time and expertize:
Sometimes, everyday pressures along with routine operations overwhelm management and deprive it of the time to deal with the long-term strategic issues. Other times the management [...]

By |August 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Stop workplace bullying

Bullying can have many actors. Here we focus on the business supervisor bully.

Many traits combined, give rise to a supervisor bully. Some of the most salient ones are listed in the table below.

No.
The characteristics of the nature of bullies
Evaluation

1

Increased self-confidence

2

Blunt, direct, harsh without considering the effect on others of their sayings or deeds –they order instead of asking

3

Carrot and the Stick mentality only they lean toward the stick and the threats

4

Ego: They believe to be all the “Sun and the Stars”

5

Some may derive a kind of secret enjoyment from the acceptance of their misbehaviors

6

Superior technical/functional abilities: the reason they survive

7

Trust in themselves

8

Poor in Emotional Intelligence

9

Low trust in others

10

Want to do things their own way

11

Equate their harsh manners with their personal efficiency

12

They carry on like this because they perceive it as their personal style that has been accepted and has not been effectively challenged historically

It is true that the nature of the characteristics of a bully, often makes him productive and overtime can sometimes turn him into an indispensable employee.

It is also true that that comes with a cost. Bullying hurts colleagues and often damages the company’s long investment in culture.

We should, of course, be careful as to whom we identify as a bully. The measure should be our guide.

Nor should we allow the problem to reach a state of dilemma, it is either him the bully or the group and its culture, by leaving the problem unattended.

Leaders must make a continual effort to spot any bullying tendencies early and take a series of actions, such as presented in the table below, to correct behaviors and preserve the culture.

No.
A series of Actions by the leader
 Evaluation

1

When Hiring:

Make evident the desired culture of your [...]

By |August 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|