Category Operations Management

Introduction to Operations Management

May 31, 2007 0 comments

The Transformation Model

picture will be abailable later



  • all of "DIRECT EMPLOYEES" are controlled by OM
  • Most of indirect employees are controlled by OM
  • high proportion of management is controlled by OM, ie., 70 - 80% of all employees


  • most fixed assets - plant, machinery, buildings
  • most current assets - raw materials, B.O.P.'s, W.I.P., finished goods, ie., 70 - 80% of all assets


  • wages, salaries, machinery, plant etc.
  • 70 - 80% of all expenditure



  • Control of the major parts of an organizations' assets and expenditures.


  • Long term development
  • Investment
  • Staffing


  • Day to day production changes
  • Absenteeism
  • Breakdowns
  • "Firefighting"


  • Product technology
  • Process technology


  • Training
  • Appraisal
  • Discipline
  • Counselling


Business Planning

  • What is the strategic plan?

Product Design

  • What service or product is provided?

Resource Planning

  • What labour, materials, plant, equipment, furniture and fittings are required?

Location and Layout

  • Where and how do we operate?

Job Design


  • How do people and technology work together?

Inventory Control

  • What stock levels and purchasing policies are required?

Operations Planning

  • How much output is required and when?

Materials Planning

  • How much input is required and when?

Scheduling and Controlling

  • How are people and equipment?

Quality Control

  • Are the internal and external standards being met?


  • Do output levels allow for adequate servicing?

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management


June 1, 2007 0 comments



  • creating a framework for future decisions


  • getting the right resources together and developing an appropriate structure to divide up tasks


  • achieving tasks either individually or through delegation to others


  • maintaining performance levels by monitoring and evaluation
  • appraisal



Mintzberg, 1971) a manager's day - brevity, variety and fragmentation

1. Interpersonal roles

  • Figurehead
  • Leader
  • Liaison - external world

2. Information roles

  • Monitor
  • Disseminator
  • Spokesperson

3. Decisional roles

  • Entrepreneur - strategy
  • Disturbance handling
  • Resource allocator
  • Negotiator


Rosemary Stewart (1967)

1. Emissaries - (sales staff)

2. Writers - (a/c's and finance)

3. Discussers - (typical middle management)

4. Trouble shooters - (operations mgr.)

5. Committee persons - (local government. - education)


Management terms:

1. End of traditions

2. Size - (small is better than larger)

3. Entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship

4. Firm becoming employee oriented

5. Trade unions - seats on the board

6. Middle management?

Issues :

Environment, EC Social Chapter, computer tech. and M.I.S., Human Resource Management

Quinn, 1990, Becoming A Master Manager

Director Role

  • Taking Initiative
  • Goal Setting
  • Delegating Effectively

Producer Role

  • Personal Productivity And Motivation
  • Motivating Others
  • Time And Stress Management

Coordinator Role

  • Planning
  • Organizing And Designing
  • Controlling

Monitor Role

  • Reducing Information Overload
  • Analysing Info With Critical Thinking
  • Presenting Info; Writing Effectively

Mentor Role

  • Understanding Yourself And Others
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Developing Subordinates

Facilitator Role

  • Team Building
  • Participative Decision Making
  • Conflict Management

Innovator Role

  • Living With Change
  • Creative Thinking
  • Managing Change

Broker Role

  • Building And Maintaining A Power Base
  • Negotiating Agreement And Commitment
  • Presenting Ideas

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Authority, responsibility, accountability, span of control,

June 1, 2007 0 comments

Centralization and de-centralization.


May be defined as a superior's capacity, on the basis of formal position to make decisions affecting subordinates. Authority requires a formal position, power does not. i.e.,

Institutionalized power.

We have been conditioned to accept authority-

Parents, school, any youth organization has a leader, a football or hockey team has a captain,

University - exam requirements.

Other factors of authority-

A. Expert knowledge, personal leadership.

B. The desire to avoid responsibility ie. It is easier to accept directions than give orders and accept the consequences of these orders.

Limits to authority: The law - speed limits; criminal and civil law, organizational rules and regulations

A leader can only take subordinates where they want to go.

Resistance to authority

Go-slows, sabotage, strikes, mutiny

Theory - Milgram studies 1974

Tried to find out the reasons why soldiers, who would normally be rational human beings, carried out acts of atrocity during times of war. Peer group pressure was found to be the main reason for these acts.

Remember that after the Nuremberg war trials of the Nazi leaders in the 1940's, it is not a defence for a soldier to say that he was following orders. It is up to the individual soldier's conscience to refuse to obey an order if he/she thinks that the order contravenes the Geneva Convention or human rights.

Brainwashing can account for some of these actions hence public disquiet about the activities of groups such as the Moonies.

Chain of command

The superior has authority over the subordinates. The subordinates have responsibility to the superior. There should be two-way communication between superior and subordinates. The chain is the official channel. The superior's communication is authoritative.

See picture when service available

If d wishes to communicate with g, the message has to be passed through c, b, a, e and f. In practice, adherence to a chain of command can never be complete as superiors who stick to a chain have no idea how their subordinates are performing. In a modern open-systems firm, people communicate by both horizontal and vertical chains of communication. (dotted lines)

Dangers of short-circuiting the chain.

If a subordinate is given a job to do by his/her supervisor, the subordinate will carry out the task if it is in the normal run of the day's business. However, if the M.D. comes down to the shopfloor and tells the subordinate directly to stop doing the present task and start on something new as it is required urgently, where does that leave the supervisor?

Common courtesy, at least, should tell the M.D. to ask the foreman to carry out the urgent task. Apart from anything else, the supervisor would know which is the best subordinate to be put on that task and which would cause the minimum inconvenience.

Span of control

See diagrams when service available


One manager cannot control 1000 employees directly. Conversely, too small a span gives overly close supervision. There have been various studies as to the effectiveness of either a "tall" hierarchy or a "flat" hierarchy. No firm conclusion was reached as in so many cases it depends on the individual organization's culture and structure.

Responsibility and authority

See diagram when service available


Authority should flow down and responsibility is passed up. Problems can arise when authority is not correctly delegated. This misses out on possible staff training and development.


Like division of work, centralization belongs to the natural order of things. The appropriate degree of centralization, however, will vary with a particular concern, so that it is a matter of debate and analysis which will decide on the organizational format.

Can be effective if carried out in an efficient manner


Occurs when delegation is used extensively throughout an organization i.e., each division of a firm becomes a profit centre.


  • managers are highly motivated as they are on a share of the profits.
  • decisions can be made quickly without recourse to H.Q.


  • mistakes can be costly
  • personnel may not be capable of responsibility
  • duplication of some functions


Authority is established by a number of different factors such as the general culture, rewards and penalties, belief in the organization's purpose, expertise, personal leadership and the desire of some to avoid responsibility.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Integration and Co-ordination of Functions

June 1, 2007 0 comments

Achieved by satisfying Organizational and Personal goals.

Represented by:

1. Organizational Factors



Achievement of Organizational purpose

2. Human Factors

Achievement of Self-Maintenance and Growth

Achievement of Social Satisfaction

Internal Organizational structures.




schema will be available later

Content theories offer a perspective on the relative value that people place upon various rewards.


1. Needs are both physiological and psychological in origin

2. Managers have the facility to alter rewards to suit individual preferences - thereby satisfying individual needs (doesn’t work in practice)

This theory could be criticised as being cosy middle class as people will deprive themselves of the most basic needs if they have a powerful enough internal motive to succeed.

McLelland (1961) had a more sensible theory in that individuals had need for:

1. achievement

2. affiliation

3. power

Only one of these tends to motivate at the one time

(See also Maslow, Herzberg and Vroom)


Group relations focus on the interaction within and between groups and the stable arrangements that result from such interactions.


A psychological group is any number of people who

  • interact with one another
  • are psychologically aware of each other, and
  • perceive themselves to be a group


1. A minimum of two people

2. A shared communication network

3. A shared sense of collective identities

4. Shared goals

5. Group structure

Management Ideas

Open System, schema will be available later

Contingency, schema will be available later

Communication - Formal Channels, schema will be available later

Chain of Command, schema will be available later

The superior has authority over the subordinates. The subordinates have responsibility to the superior. There should be two-way communication between the superior and subordinates. The chain is the official channel. The superior’s communication is authoritative

If Manager A wishes to communicate formally with Staff Member B, the Manager should communicate in the first instance with Manager B who is the superior of Staff Member B. In modern open-systems firms, people communicate by both horizontal and vertical chains of command

Dangers of short-circuiting the chain

If a subordinate is given a job to do by her/his supervisor, the subordinate will carry out the task if it is in the normal run of the day’s business. However, if the M.D comes down to the shopfloor and tells the subordinate directly to stop doing the present task and start on something new as it is required urgently, where does that leave the supervisor?

Common courtesy at least should tell the M.D. to ask the supervisor to allocate somebody to carry out the urgent task. Apart from anything else, the supervisor would know which is the best subordinate to put on that task and which would cause the minimum inconvenience.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management


June 1, 2007 0 comments


Power is a relatively new addition to the subject of organizational behaviour within the past 20 years.

An understanding of power is fundamental to the larger understanding of group behavior

Three types of power :





  • Power needs only to be potential, it does not need to be exercised to maintain its results.
  • However, compliance with certain requests should not always be considered as the result of yielding power.

C.I. BARNARD identified this as The Zone of Indifference ie complying with a request to close the door.

There are four sources of interpersonal power:

1. Position or hierarchical, ie a manager

2. Personal - leadership qualities

3. Expert - unique knowledge

4. Opportunity - John Major

The above sources of power can be used in either of two Modes of Influence

HARD modes based on compulsion or reward

  • Problem - as a threat has been made, it has to be policed to be effective - can lead to counter-threat.
  • Advantage - tends to be more effective

SOFT mode based on warning or advice

Uses persuasion - requires credibility to carry it out - based on how persuasive you are.


Hierarchical source of power:

  • This is the power a person holds because of their position or rank in an organization., i.e. manager, chairman, supervisor etc.

Power can depend upon the span of control ie how many people you control.

Other types of situational power:

Dependency - the greater "A"'s power over "B", the greater the dependency "B" has on "A"

Uncertainty - typified by maintenance engineers in a matrix type of organization. Can get conflicting orders from two different bosses.

Group - power in coalitions, trade unions, students, worker groups and professionals.

Power is a continual battle as others are seeking to improve theirs.


Delegation of power

  • This is the official giving away of power and can be the hardest thing for a manager to do

Barriers to delegation:

  • military and civil servants - tight, centralised, formal ranking structure
  • education - de-centralised
  • level and training of employees

Psychological - manger might not be able to delegate, on an ego trip, does nor wish to lose power

Advantages of delegation

  • development of subordinates
  • relief of certain time consuming work


This occurs when the Head Office of a firm decides that branch offices or factories can make their own decisions on purchasing, labour policies, financial budgets, production etc.


  • develops managerial ability
  • develops profit centres
  • profit centre managers are highly motivated as results are in plain sight
  • can make quick decisions without recourse to HQ


  • Centralisation can encourage economy of operation i.e. de-centralisation might cost the group of companies more.
  • Costly mistakes can be made because of lack of control.
  • Lower level personnel may lack capacity t deal with decisions
  • Care must be taken with security in financial departments.
  • Can lead to duplication of efforts

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Managing change

June 1, 2007 0 comments

"Every organization has to prepare for the abandonment of everything it does"

Peter Drucker

Change must be "top-down" implemented

"Change agent or team" must be appointed

Three factors in managing change:

  • The type of situation
  • The type of change
  • The type of leadership

1. The Type of Situation:

a) anticipating


b) re-active


c) crisis


2. The Type of Change:

a) the WHAT do we change to improve our disturbing situation?

b) the HOW change ( how shall we do it?)

3. The Type of Leadership

Four leadership styles to manage change - one to be decided on

a) Telling - orders and instructs

b) Selling - provides directions and explains

c) Involving - involves everybody in decisions

d) Delegating - asks people to work on the problem



The rules are:

1. Decide, inform -SHOW confidence (you know what you are doing - remember - panic is very infectious)

2. Push for quick results (success will lead to success)

3. Communicate so that everything is as clear as possible. Communication is the key success factor in this situation. The leader must send the right signals in the right way so that people understand how they can help.



  • firm's long and short term plans,
  • improved efficiency,
  • improved cost effectiveness,
  • competition for budgets,
  • expansion,
  • availability of new products,
  • administrative changes


  • economic change in society,
  • compliance with government regulations,
  • public pressure,
  • competition from rivals

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Creative Communications

July 19, 2007 0 comments

I. Introduction

Success at work is based not only on your ability to perform, but also on your personality. In fact, in any situation requiring contact with other people – personality is a key fact.

In this age of competition, the ability to cooperate – to work smoothly with others – is in danger of becoming a lost art. But look at the cooperation as a bank account. It is an investment that may not pay immediate dividends. Yet, if deposits are made, the dividends will eventually come both frequent and of high rate. Like a bank account, too, cooperation may demand the sacrifice of immediate conveniences for later reward.

Cooperation is actually an expression of self-interest and unselfishness. It demands that you adjust your immediate pleasure to the best interests of others. The reward of immediate sacrifices is a reputation that will contribute to your success. The team work is based on cooperation. Your ability to be friendly with everyone is a pillar to fit in and get along with your co-workers. Be slow to confide with the others. Be a listener instead of a confider. Keep the confidence of others, and keep your own confidence to yourself.

II. Opening Channels to Communicating

Imagine, you are trapped in a giant bubble. No one can hear you: you can hear no one. Another bubble comes into your vision. Someone is trapped just like you. Can you talk to that other person? Can you become friends? Do you want to establish a contact or just escape?

Numerous studies have shown that babies who are not communicated die within a year. Communication is, literally, a lifeline.

II. A. Overcome Barriers to Communication

What you say and write must mean the same to your listener as it does to you.

1. Poor Choice of Words

The first barrier can be overcome by choosing your words carefully. Choose words that will not be misunderstood.

Words must have the same feeling tone to the other person as they do to you.

2. Prejudice

Most of us want to skip the unpleasant things in life, especially if they are threat to the way we like to think of ourselves, our beliefs, and our prejudices. Each of us has had an experience of trying to persuade friends to abandon foolish ideas in favor of our sensible ones. As a result, the friends do not hear our arguments. We have the equal access to this devise. We read what we want to read, we hear what we want to hear.

3. Acceptance

On one of my husband’s lectures, a woman asked him a question that what she could do if she could not stand to see her face in the mirror; and then she started talking that other people could not accept her either.

The answer was that first she should learn to accept herself. She could not succeed with others if she cannot accept herself. My husband told her that first, she should accept herself no matter how she looks and then she will see that others will accept her too.

Generally speaking, if we see issues with others, we probably have the same weaknesses ourselves. Otherwise, how on earth should we know that someone is not perfect?

a. Accept yourself.

Do not dwell on your faults. Just accept them. This will no be helpful. As long as you defend yourself, make excuses, blame your troubles on others, you will be unable to change.

We become better only if we develop our strong points, and then our weaknesses will not matter.

Do you know what happens when you accept yourself and the way you are? With acceptance comes ability to change and the willingness to change.

b. Accept others

After you learned to accept yourself looking directly at your own faults, without criticism, you probably will be able look at shortcomings of others without trying to change them.

For instance, someone is angry at you. Relax, you are not a target. This situation can be caused by something else and you most likely have nothing to do with this.

When you stop defending yourself, you simply accept people the way they are. Your attitude will tell others that you are still their friend. When they see your accepting attitude, in spite of what they have said or done, they will be able to release the brake that holding them back. They will be able to change.

Remember, people are very sensitive.

Have you ever found that when you are hesitant or you are very emotional inside, people around you also feel tension? When you are calm inside, no matter what happens, it passes and you gain understanding and support from others.

4. Improve your awareness

a. Awareness When you Work in Groups

Awareness is a quality that is especially important when you work in groups. It means you need to be aware of the feelings and personalities of the people you work with.

Keep control of the situation. Ask appropriative questions when needed; keep silence when a person wants to be along. Be are aware of people’s moods are expectations. Speak with people only what is pleases them and avoid topics that might upset them.

b. Awareness of the Flow of Authority

Awareness has another side, as well.

Be aware of the flow of authority in the firm. You will “go through” channels.”

Take all your questions to your immediate manager. He will carry them to the next level of management, and so on. If you should go over the head of your immediate supervisor, you fail to show respect for this position.

Study the organizational chart that lists the officers of the company, heads of departments and so on. This shows how the whole organization works. You will also have a clear picture of your position. This will show you the pass for directions, information and suggestions.

II. B. Art of Persuasion

1. Develop a friendly attitude

A friendly personality is an asset anywhere. If you were born with liking people, you should do well.

Take every opportunity to say “thank you” with a smile. Follow rules of good etiquette, and you will actually feel friendly.

2. Study psychology

Why do people act like people? The more research has done on this subject, the more questions arrive while the soul of every person stays the mystery. There are some psychological principles that are useful in business:

  • “Yes” works better then “No”
  • Help the Other Person Feel Important
  • Ignore the Negative
  • Reward the Positive

a. “Yes” works better then “No”

If you want to persuade someone to do something, you will succeed if the discussion is positive and pleasant. That is simply because people are more wiling to listen to what you say.

b. Help the Other Person Feel Important

You never succeed if you build yourself up at the expense of others. If you pride yourself on how well you are doing, others may feel doubtful about their own success. The typical example is when people got married and one of the spouses starts dominating the other. This relationship might eventually break because one person will feel miserable while the other might feel that his partner is not as bright as expected.

If you say your listener, “You may not understand this, but …” you probably will make your listener smaller. Another statement that might put your listener down is if you say “I ought to be perfectly clear”.

To make others feel tall and important is to ask their advice, to get their point of view, and especially to make them a part of decision you make. Look for opportunities to give recognition, build others up, and make them feel ten feet tall.

Smart sales people play the second fiddle. Their relaxed manner helps customers to make decisions what to buy.

c. Ignore the Negative

When others complain about your actions or job performance, let them talk. Listen attentively. As you listen, ignore the part of conversation that sounds as if it is directed at you personally. Negative statements are best forgotten this way.

d. Reward the Positive

When someone says something positive about you or your company, respond warmly.. Such a response is rewarding to the other person.

Always practice to say something good to the person who compliments you. Always show how the compliment of the other person made you feel. Accepting compliments warmly takes practice, and this is never to later to begin.

II. C. Listening to Comminute

5.Concentrate on the Speaker

In face-to-face listening you find yourself planning your reply instead of concentrating what speaker is saying. This exact same tendency occurs when you listen to a lecture.

In addition, some people even find their minds wandering to personal matters. To avoid such destructions listen to hints as to speaker’s organizational plan.

6. Take Notes in Outline Form

A better plan is to listen a lot and write a little.

Listening is a receiving part of communication. Understanding is a key. Understand the main points what speaker is saying. If you spend all time writing down the words, you probably will miss some points.

7. Daydreaming

The enemy of daydreaming is activity. When you feel your attention is wandering, begin to write industriously.

Look at the speaker, be focused anticipate what he is saying and think of examples.

8. Destructions

You surroundings may destruct your attention. It can be anything – noises in the corridor or those coming from the street, latecomers or whispering in audience. Try to turn to deaf ear.

In my experience, the best thing is to sit as closer to a lecturer as possible. This way there is less destruction.

II. D. Creative Listening

Listening now becomes a creative process. There are ways to develop creative listening.

  1. Watch the person who is talking. There is so much to be learned from the expressions. Put yourself in a speaker’s shoes and try to feel what a speaker feels.
  2. Organize in your mind what speaker is saying. If you are being told of something what you have to do, write it down. Put the important statements made by a speaker in logical order. (Get back to your notes later if it is impossible during that time)
  3. Show that you are interested in what is being told you. Such responses as “That is a good suggestion” or “I’ll get right at it” will help the speaker and also will help you.
  4. In all aspects of conversation, whether of speaking or listening, success depends on co-operation.

III. Conversation as Communication

Communication is best achieved through simple planning and control.

  • you must make your message understood
  • you must receive/understand the intended message sent to you
  • you should exert some control over the flow of the communication

III. 1. Ambiguity Avoidance

As you (concerned with getting things done) your view of words should be pragmatic rather than philosophical. Thus, words mean not what the dictionary says they do but rather what the speaker intended.

Suppose your manager gives to you an instruction which contains an ambiguity which neither of you notice; and results in you producing entirely the wrong product. Who is at fault? The answer must be: who cares? Your time has been wasted, the needed product is delayed (or dead); attributing blame may be a satisfying (or defensive) exercise but it does not address the problem. In everything you say or hear, you must look out for possible misunderstanding and clarify the ambiguity

A second problem is that some people simply make mistakes. Your job is not simply to spot ambiguities but also to counter inconsistencies. Thus you should seek out (perhaps humorous) books on entomology (creepy crawlies) you would deduce that the word should have been etymology. More usual, however, is that in thinking over several alternatives you may suffer a momentary confusion and say one of them while meaning another. There are good scientific reasons (to do with the associative nature of the brain) why this happens, you have to be aware of the potential problem and counter for it.

Finally, of course, you may simply mishear. The omission of a simple word could be devastating. For instance, how long would you last as an explosives engineer if you failed to hear a simple negative in: "whatever happens next you must [not] cut the blue wi..."?

So, the problem is this: the word has multiple meanings, it might not be the one intended, and you may have misheard it in the first place - how do you know what the speaker meant?

Rule 1: PLAY BACK for confirmation

Simple, you ask for confirmation. You say "let me see if I have understood correctly, you are saying that ..." and you rephrase what the speaker said. If this "play back" version is acknowledged as being correct by the original speaker, then you have a greater degree of confidence in you own understanding. For any viewpoint/message/decision, there should be a clear, concise and verified statement of what was said; without this someone will get it wrong.

Rule 2: WRITE BACK for confidence

But do not stop there. If your time and effort depend upon it, you should write it down and send it to everyone involved as a double check. This has several advantages:

  • Further clarification - is this what you thought we agreed?
  • Consistency check - the act of writing may highlight defects/omissions
  • board from which to proceed
  • Evidence - hindsight often blurs previous ignorance and people often fail to recall their previous errors

Rule 3: Give Background for context

When speaking yourself, you can often counter for possible problems by adding information, and so providing a broader context in which your words can be understood. Thus, there is less scope for alternative interpretations since fewer are consistent. When others are speaking, you should deliberately ask questions yourself to establish the context in which they are thinking. When others are speaking, you should deliberately ask questions yourself to establish the context in which they are thinking.

III. 2. Practical Points

As with all effective communication, you should decide (in advance) on (1) the purpose of the conversation; and (2) have the plan for achieving it.

There is no alternative to this. Some people are proficient at "thinking on their feet" - but this is generally because they already have clear understanding of the context and their own goals. You have to plan; however, the following are a few techniques to help the conversation along.

a. Assertiveness

The definition of to assert is: "to declare; state clearly". This is your aim. If someone argues against you, even loses their temper, you should be quietly assertive. Much has been written to preach this simple fact and commonly the final message is a three-fold plan of action:

  • acknowledge what is being said by showing an understanding of the position, or by simply replaying it (a polite way of saying "I heard you already")
  • state your own point of view clearly and concisely with perhaps a little supporting evidence
  • state what you want to happen next (move it forward)

Thus we have something like: yes, I see why you need the report by tomorrow; however, I have no time today to prepare the document because I am in a meeting with a customer this afternoon; either I could give you the raw data and you could work on it yourself, or you could make do with the interim report from last week. You will have to make many personal judgment calls when being assertive. There will certainly be times when a bit of quiet force from you will win the day but there will be times when this will get nowhere, particularly with more senior (and unenlightened) management. In the latter case, you must agree to abide by the decision of the manager but you should make your objection (and reasons) clearly known. For yourself, always be aware that subordinates might be right when they disagree with you and if events prove them so, acknowledge that fact gracefully.

b. Confrontations

When you have a difficult encounter, be professional; do not lose your self-control because, simply, it is of no use. Some managers believe that it is useful for "discipline" to keep staff a little nervous. Thus, these managers are slightly volatile and will be willing "to let them have it" when the situation demands. If you do this, you must be consistent and fair so that you staff know where they stand. If you deliberately lose your temper for effect, then that is your decision - however, you must never lose control.

Insults are ineffective. If you call people names, then they are unlikely to actually listen to what you have to say; in the short term you may feel some relief at "getting it off your chest", but in the long run you are merely perpetuating the problem since you are not addressing it. This is common sense. There are two implications. Firstly, even under pressure, you have to remember this. Secondly, what you consider fair comment may be insulting to another - and the same problem emerges. Before you say anything, stop, establish what you want as the outcome, plan how to achieve this, and then speak.

Finally, if you are going to criticize or discipline someone, always assume that you have misunderstood the situation and ask questions first which check the facts. This simple courtesy will save you from much embarrassment.

c. Seeking Information

There are two ways of phrasing any question: one way (the closed question) is likely to lead to a simple sound in reply (yes, no, maybe), the second way (the open question) will hand over the speaking role to someone else and force them to say something a little more informative.

Suppose you conduct a review of a recently finished (?) project with Mr. Fast and it goes something like this:

  • "Have you finished project X?"
  • "Yes"
  • "If everything written up?"
  • "Nearly"
  • "So there is documentation left to do?"
  • "Will it take you long?"
  • "No, not long"

Before your fingers start twitching to place themselves around Mr. Fast’s neck, consider that your questions are not actually helping the flow of information. The same flow of questions in an open format would be: what is left to do of project X, what about the documentation, when will that be completely finished? Try answering Yes or No to those questions.

Open questions are extremely easy to formulate. You establish in your own mind the topic/aim of the question and then you start the sentence with the words:


d. Let others speak

Of course, there is more to a conversation (managed or otherwise) than the flow of information. You may also have to win that information by winning the attention and confidence of the other person. There are many forms of flattery - the most effective is to give people your interest. To get Mr. Fast to give you all his knowledge, you must give her all your attention; talk to her about his view on the subject. Ask questions: what do you think about that idea, have you ever met this problem before, how would you tackle this situation?

Silence is effective - and much under-used. People are nervous of silence and try to fill it. You can use this if you are seeking information. You ask the question, you lean back, the person answers, you nod and smile, you keep quiet, and the person continues with more detail simply to fill your silence.

e. To finish

At the end of a conversation, you have to give people a clear understanding of the outcome. For instance, if there has been a decision, restate it clearly (just to be sure) in terms of what should happen and by when; if you have been asking questions, summarize the significant (for you) aspects of what you have learnt.

III. 3. Meeting Management - Preparation

In any organization, "meetings" are a vital part of the organization of work and the flow of information. They act as a mechanism for gathering together resources from many sources and pooling then towards a common objective. They are disliked and mocked because they are usually futile, boring, time-wasting, dull, and inconvenient with nothing for most people to do except doodle while some opinionated has-been extols the virtues of his/her last great (misunderstood) idea.

Your challenge is to break this mould and to make your meetings effective. Meetings should be planned beforehand, monitored during for effectiveness, and reviewed afterwards for improving their administration.

A meeting is the ultimate form of managed conversation; you can organize the information and structure of the meeting to support the effective communication of the participants. Some of the ideas below may seem a little too precise for an easy going, relaxed, semi-informal team atmosphere - but if you administer to gain a reputation for holding decisive, effective meetings, then people will value this efficiency and to prepare professionally so that their contribution will be heard.

a. Should you cancel?

As with all conversations, you must first ask: is it worth your time? If the meeting involves the interchange of views and the communication of the current status of related projects, then you should be generous with your time. But you should always consider canceling a meeting which has little tangible value.

b. Who should attend?

You must be strict. A meeting loses its effectiveness if too many people are involved: so if someone has no useful function, explain this and suggest that they do not come. Notice, they may disagree with your assessment, in which case they should attend (since they may know something you do not); however, most people are only too happy to be released from yet another meeting.

c. How long?

It may seem difficult to predict the length of a discussion - but you must. Discussions tend to fill the available time which means that if the meeting is open-ended, it will drift on forever. You should stipulate a time for the end of the meeting so that everyone knows, and everyone can plan the rest of their day with confidence.

It is wise to make this expectation known to everyone involved well in advance and to remind them at the beginning of the meeting. There is often a tendency to view meetings as a little relaxation since no one person has to be active throughout. You can redress this view by stressing the time-scale and thus forcing the pace of the discussion: "this is what we have to achieve, this is how long we have to get it done".

If some unexpected point arises during the meeting then realize that since it is unexpected:

  1. you might not have the right people present,
  2. those there may not have the necessary information, and
  3. a little thought might save a lot of discussion.

If the new discussion looks likely to be more than a few moments, stop it and deal with the agreed agenda.

The new topic should then be dealt with at another "planned" meeting.

d. Agenda

The purpose of an agenda is to inform participants of the subject of the meeting in advance, and to structure the discussion at the meeting itself. To inform people beforehand, and to solicit ideas, you should circulate a draft agenda and ask for notice of any other business. Still before the meeting, you should then send the revised agenda with enough time for people to prepare their contributions. If you know in advance that a particular participant will either need information or be providing information, then make this explicitly clear so that there is no confusion.

The agenda states the purpose of each section of the meeting. There will be an outcome from each section. If that outcome is so complex that it can not be summarized in a few points, then it was probably too complex to be assimilated by the participants. The understanding of the meeting should be sufficiently precise that it can be summarized in short form - so display that summary for all other interested parties to see. This form of display will emphasize to all that meetings are about achieving defined goals - this will help you to continue running efficient meetings in the future.

III. 4. Meeting Management - Concluding

Whether you actually sit as the Chair or simply lead from the side-lines, as the manager you must provide the necessary support to coordinate the contributions of the participants. The degree of control which you exercise over the meeting will vary throughout; if you get the structure right at the beginning, a meeting can effectively run itself especially if the participants know each other well. In a team, your role may be partially undertaken by others; but if not, you must manage.

a. Maintaining Communication

Your most important tools are:

  • Clarification - always clarify: the purpose of the meeting, the time allowed the rules to be observed (if agreed) by everyone.
  • Summary - at each stage of the proceedings, you should summarize the current position and progress: this is what we have achieved/agreed, this is where we have reached.
  • Focus on stated goals - at each divergence or pause, re-focus the proceedings on the original goals.

b. Code of conduct

In any meeting, it is possible to begin the proceedings by establishing a code of conduct, often by merely stating it and asking for any objections (which will only be accepted if a demonstrably better system is proposed). Thus if the group contains opinionated wind-bags, you might all agree at the onset that all contributions should be limited to two minutes (which focuses the mind admirably). You can then impose this with the full backing of the whole group.

c. Matching method to purpose

The (stated) purpose of a meeting may suggest to you a specific way of conducting the event, and each section might be conducted differently. For instance, if the purpose is:

  • to convey information, the meeting might begin with a formal presentation followed by questions
  • to seek information, the meeting would start with a short (clear) statement of the topic/problem and then an open discussion supported by notes on a display, or a formal brainstorming session
  • to make a decision, the meeting might review the background and options, establish the criteria to be applied, agree who should make the decision and how, and then do it
  • to ratify/explain decisions, etc

As always, once you have paused to ask yourself the questions: what is the purpose of the meeting and how can it be most effectively achieved; your common sense will then suggest a working method to expedite the proceedings. You just have to deliberately pause. Manage the process of the meeting and the meeting will work.

d. Support

The success of a meeting will often depend upon the confidence with which the individuals will participate. Thus all ideas should be welcome. No one should be laughed at or dismissed ("laughed with" is good, "laughed at" is destructive). This means that even bad ideas should be treated seriously - and at least merit a specific reason for not being pursued further. Not only is this supportive to the speaker, it could also be that a good idea has been misunderstood and would be lost if merely rejected. But basically people should be able to make naive contributions without being made to feel stupid, otherwise you may never hear the best ideas of all.

Avoid direct criticism of any person. For instance, if someone has not come prepared then that fault is obvious to all. If you leave the criticism as being simply that implicit in the peer pressure, then it is diffuse and general; if you explicitly rebuke that person, then it is personal and from you (which may raise unnecessary conflict). You should merely seek an undertaking for the missing preparation to be done: we need to know this before we can proceed, could you circulate it to us by tomorrow lunch?

e. Responding to problems

The rest of this section is devoted to ideas of how you might deal with the various problems associated with the volatile world of meetings. Some are best undertaken by the designated Chair; but if he/she is ineffective, or if no one has been appointed, you should feel free to help any meeting to progress. After all, why should you allow your time to be wasted.

If a participant strays from the agenda item, call him/her back: "we should deal with that separately, but what do you feel about the issue X?"

If there is confusion, you might ask: "do I understand correctly that ...?"

If the speaker begins to ramble, wait until an inhalation of breath and jump in: "yes I understand that such and such, does any one disagree?"

If a point is too woolly or too vague ask for greater clarity: "what exactly do you have in mind?"

If someone interrupts (someone other than a rambler), you should suggest that: "we hear your contribution after Gretchen has finished."

If people chat, you might either simply state your difficulty in hearing/concentrating on the real speaker. or ask them a direct question: "what do you think about that point."

If someone gestures disagreement with the speaker (e.g. by a grimace), then make sure they are brought into the discussion next: "what do you think Gretchen?"

If you do not understand, say so: "I do not understand that, would you explain it a little more; or do you mean X or Y?"

If there is an error, look for a good point first: "I see how that would work if X Y Z, but what would happen if A B C?"

If you disagree, be very specific: "I disagree because ..."

IV. Conclusion

The tower of Babel collapsed because people could no longer communicate; their speech became so different that no one could understand another. We need to communicate to coordinate our own work and that of others. The key is to treat a conversation as well as any other activity: by establishing an aim, planning what to do, and checking afterwards that the aim has been achieved. Only in this way can we work effectively with others in building through common effort.

V. Practical Application

The aim of this workshop is to provide the listeners a fundamental understanding of what constitutes creative communications.

Listeners will

  1. develop awareness of professional approaches in relation to their attitudes, actions and communication skills;
  2. learn more about professional approaches to oral and written forms of communication;
  3. work with others as effective members of a team, demonstrating understanding of the importance of co-operative behavior;
  4. prepare and deliver effective meetings getting your message across loud and clear.

VI. Suggested Readings:

Curran, J.C., Verbal and non-verbal communication (cpd Ltd, 1988)

Hague, P. & Roberts, K., Presentations and Report Writing, (Kogan Page, 1994 Subjects: Business presentations Business report writing Marketing research

Hargie, O.D.W., "A handbook of communication skills, 2nd ed., (London: Routledge, 1997) <,M1>"_

Klepper, M.M. & Gunther, R.E., I'd rather die than give a speech, (Irwin, 1994) Written in an engaging and readable style, this practical guide is a must for both beginners and seasoned professionals

Rawlins, K., Presentation and communication skills: a handbook for practitioners, (MacMillan, 1993)

Russon, A. & Wallace H., Personal Development for Work (South-Western Publishing Co., 1981)

Siddons, S., Presentation skills, (Institute of Personnel and Development, 1998)

Turk, C., Effective Speaking: communicating in speech, (Spon, 1985)


Smith, D., Powerful presentation skills: how to get a group's attention, Vol.1, 2 and 3, (Careertrack, 1997)

Posted by lisa
Categories: Operations Management Thoughts and Arguments Managers, Employers, Leaders - Creative Approach Building Your Personal Development Portfolio

Strategic Management of Change

July 19, 2007 0 comments


  • To give an overview of the many, frequently disagreeing, schools of thought in strategic management and to develop the ability to critically reflect on theories as well as to combine them flexibly for practical analysis.
  • To enable readers to develop a deep understanding of the concepts, techniques and practices associated with the development of strategic change in organizations.


Readers will be able to:

  1. recognize the diversity of approaches to issues in strategic management
  2. develop effective organizational and environmental analyzes
  3. advise on approaches to the crafting of creative strategies at the business and corporate level
  4. evaluate the assumptions underlying different approaches to the management of strategic change
  5. analyze the problems of bringing about significant strategic and organizational change.


Approaches to Strategic Management:

Introduction to the different approaches to strategic management: ontological and epistemological assumptions. Deliberate or emergent, profit maximization and pluralistic approaches, prescriptive or classical, evolutionary or environmental, processional and systemic or cultural.

Organizational Environment:

Organizational purpose, stakeholder expectations and organizational culture. Auditing resources and capabilities, comparative analysis, value chain and core competence analysis, financial and portfolio analyzes. Understanding the nature of the external environment: simple static conditions, dynamic or complex. The role of planning and control at the strategic level: cybernetics, the law of requisite variety, systems dynamics, chaos theory and complexity science. Macro -environmental analysis. Industry and competitor analysis. Scenario planning.

Choice at the Business and Corporate level:

Strategic Choice: Generic Strategies: Cost advantage: sources of cost advantage. Differentiation: drivers of differentiation. Focus strategies. Resource based strategies and core competence. Industry context; industry evolution versus industry creation. The growth of the multi-business organization; strategic choice at the corporate level: portfolio management versus competence and related perspectives. Growth strategies: acquisition and diversification. Networks, alliances, partnerships and joint ventures.

Analyzing Strategic Change:

Models of organizational change: planned versus contextual accounts; top down versus bottom up approaches. Metaphorical analysis and its limitations. Understanding organizational culture. Flux and transformation in organizations.

Producing and Managing Change in Organizations:

Measuring Organizational Performance. Organizational configurations and structures, strength & weaknesses of structural changes. Producing organizational culture change. Benchmarking, Total Quality Management, Business Process Engineering, Strategic Leadership; ordinary and extraordinary management. The role of power and politics in strategy formulation. Organizational learning and learning organizations.

Supportive reading

de Wit, B & Meyer, R, (1998), Strategy Process, Content & Context. 2nd Ed, West.

Mintzberg H, Ahlstrand, B. & Lampei, J., (1998) Strategy Safari: "A guided tour through the wilds of strategic management". Prentice Hall.

Stacey, R, (2000), Strategic Management & Organizational Dynamics, Pitman, London.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

The Best Way To Terminate An Employee

February 18, 2008 0 comments


There must be a dialogue with the employee right from start. Outline your expectations and the company's rules. If the employee is performing poorly, you need to inform them of specific performance issues, in a timely manner. That is called "due process." You shouldn't fire an employee for poor performance if the employee has no idea that his performance is poor.

A detailed summary of the most recent event that has resulted in the employee being considered for termination. All pertinent facts should be included and all facts must be backed up with copies, or if possible the original documents that pertain to the termination decision. Be sure to include all the documentation, not just items which strongly support your case and neglect to include documentation which is somewhat gray or contradictory. The facts reflect the truth of what occurred, and all the facts need to be documented and considered before the final decision is made.

Fire Contractors

Most employment contracts have a clause with regards to the termination of the contract if the employee consistently fails perform to an acceptable standard.

How to Terminate Staff While Keeping Business Relationships

Today's managing partners are increasingly faced with the task of terminating managers, lawyers, partners and associates alike. The reasons for termination can take many forms: poor performance; poor personality fit; lackluster economic viability of the individual; and a host of other reasons. Whatever the cause, the repercussions of termination must be managed.

Clearly, the repercussions of termination are not wholly avoidable. Individuals who are terminated often are traumatized. Often others in the firm, those not let go, are equally fearful. Clients, too, are often at a loss to understand the decision.


The saying "Praise in public, discipline in private" is never more important than when an employee is terminated. All the hard work you put into making sure your documentation is in order can be lost if this step isn't done just right. Using the five W's - Who, What, When, Where and Why is a good checklist to ensure all important issues have been considered.

Who - determine in advance who should be present at the final termination meeting. At a minimum there needs to be yourself, the employee being terminated, and another management witness. Be sure to include the Human Resource professional in such planning.

Personnel Committee

Organize a personnel committee. A personnel committee should include all key "players" so that any decisions to terminate are viewed as firm decisions, not individual decisions of disgruntled partners. It is great to have a lawyer on the committee.

Pertinent Questions

After forming a personnel committee, the committee should develop a detailed plan for the termination.

What - Maintain control of the meeting. Keep it short, to the point and professional. Don't allow the meeting to turn into a debate. By this stage you should have already met with the employee at least once as part of your fact gathering process.

If the employee wants to discuss why the termination is inappropriate allow him/her to finish their statement without interruption and then calmly tell the employee all the facts have already been considered and the decision of yourself and management is to proceed with the termination. Don't try to make the employee feel good during the start or close of the meeting.

Telling an employee everything will be all right, that they had one of the best quality records in your area but their absenteeism was below par, sends mixed messages. Stay focused on the purpose of the meeting.

When - The termination needs to be timely in respect to the most recent infraction which resulted in the associates termination. A sure loser is terminating an employee several weeks after the date of the infraction.

The termination should occur within one-two weeks of the rule violation to be considered timely. Avoid terminating employees on a Friday, as that can result in an employee leaving in a highly emotional state with no where to turn to for help on the weekend. You should plan for your Employee Assistance Department or Human Resource department, if applicable, to assist the employee in dealing with the emotional impact of the termination.

Terminating on a workday other than Friday also allows the employee to quickly begin the process of applying for unemployment insurance, and enables the employee to begin the process of finding another job

Where - Pick a location that maximizes (1) the employee's privacy, minimizes (2)the exposure to other employees and minimizes (3) the distance you will have to walk them to the door. If there is concern the terminated employee may become hostile, you may also need to consider having an off-duty police officer on site. There is a minimal cost associated with such service and the sight of an off-duty police officer in the vicinity is most often all that is needed to ensure an employee leaves quietly and quickly without disruption.


Typically, the manager is not completely surprised by the news. If his work has been dwindling or performance has been questionable, it's often a matter of time before the subject of termination comes up. However, it is always a shock to be told a person that he is losing his position. The firm has a responsibility to handle this step with sensitivity and respect.

So that the employee is entitled to be told why they are being terminated. They should be given a copy of the disciplinary letter outlining the reasons for the termination.

The employee is not entitled to a copy of all the documentation you have assembled. The best method to avoid being asked for information you are not willing to provide is simply not to bring in any more information than needed for the termination meeting.


Walk them to the exit, offer your hand as they leave and wish them well.


The time invested in making sure it's done just right goes a long way to ensuring justice has been done toward the departing employee, and greatly lessens your chances of ending up in court.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Operations Management Thoughts and Arguments Int HR Management