Friday, 15 February 2013

Making tough decisions

As a Marketing or Sales Manager, or even a CEO of a company, we are involved in decision-making day in and day out, whether we like it or not.  Sometimes decisions made are a cinch but there are times when the decisions made could have a positive or negative impact on the outcome.  A good leader must have the courage to decide what is best for the company.  Below is an example of one issue that involves a life or death situation.  How would you decide?
Insight into Decision Making - Good One:   

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track.

The train is coming, and you are just beside the track interchange.
You can make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids. 

However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed.  Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make........ ........ Pick the track first.

Then Scroll down ....

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. 

You might think the same way, I guess.

Exactly, to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally.

But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.

This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday.
In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society,
the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are. The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined.

And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The great critic Leo Velski Julian who told the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens.

If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe.

If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake!

And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

'Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right.'

Everybody makes mistakes; that's why they put erasers on pencils.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The art of communication

Whether you are in marketing or sales, communication plays an important role in our jobs.  Sales managers communicate with their sales personnel by giving out instructions and sales personnel communicate back by way of their sales reports.  In addition, sales personnel communicate wth their prospects and customers in presenting their company's products or services in the best light and if such communications are not clear, the sale can be jeapordised.  Likewise, in marketing, communication also plays a vital role in the form of advertising to induce potential clients to buy.  As we also know, communication can be both verbal or non-verbal.  So what is COMMUNICATION?

Communication is a very human phenomenon and rather sophisticated reality. Only humans undertake communication of the shape and form we are now discussing.

'Communication’ is a word with a rich history. From the Latin communicare, meaning to impart, share, or make common, it entered the English language in the 14th and 15th centuries. The key root is mun- (not uni-), related to such words as ‘munificent’, ‘community’, ‘meaning’, and Gemeinschaft.

Interestingly, to listen, I believe, is the most important effort in communication. It involves communion or the sharing of some things and non-things in common. It is the foundation for community; a common sharing and caring for one another and each other.

Without listening, there is no communication; and especially between any ‘higher and lower,’ or any ‘bigger and lesser.’ True communication brings both speaker and listener to the same frame of reference, especially in meaning and feelings of caring and sharing. It is never a heady exercise, but always a heart-based one.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Two ways to resolve conflicts

I have been managing staff of all levels for 35 years and there had never been a day that went by without a conflict being posed to me.  When such things happened, there are two ways of tackling the issue.  One, take the bull by the horn, or two, avoid it and hopefully by next day, it would have gone away.  In the early days of my managing people, I always had the fear of being seen to be taking either side once a decision is made, but as one grew with experience and matured on the job, such fear became less and less intimidating.

In today's posting let me share with you two simple ways to resolve conflicts.

Managers spend a considerable amount of their time resolving conflict and other nonproductive behavior, and that’s unlikely to change. But there are two ways to reduce it.
1. Anticipate and plan for conflicts. Anticipating conflict is not looking for a fight. It’s understanding that certain situations are more likely to result in conflict. These might include delivering bad news, competing priorities, deadline stress, previous negative experiences or conflicts, and personality and behavioral style differences.

It might seem that work conflicts are about work, but also consider existing relationships and the perceived importance of the work outcome to help identify and head off potential conflicts (Figure 1).

 Leaders who have assessed the potential for conflict can take steps to minimize it. They must understand their behavioral preferences and those of the other person. What is important to each party? How do they like to use time — move quickly to business issues or socialize? What information is important to them — facts and detailed projections or personal stories and input from others? How do they make decisions — quick decisions leading to quick action or thoughtful consideration before acting?

Behavioral preferences can derail a situation even without any fundamental business issues. Understanding others’ preferences and taking steps to accommodate them increases comfort, reduces tension and increases employees’ willingness to work productively with others.

 2. Handle conflicts as they occur. Sometimes even the best planning can’t prevent a conflict. But advance prep work will help keep discussions professional and focused on the business at hand rather than personal or behavioral issues. Follow these steps when working with others:

 • Pay attention to signs of tension. Everyone shows signs of stress, and identifying these clues can head off and reduce the impact of conflict. Not everyone’s tension shows itself in the same way. Some people will show their discomfort by becoming more animated and taking control; others will become quiet and withdrawn. While the clues may be different, they will be noticeable. Watch and listen for when a person’s behavior changes from his or her norm.

• When a person’s tension is rising, think about his or her preferences, such as using time or making decisions. Refocus the discussion toward his or her preferences to lower tension. Try to get all concerns on the table, and then validate the concerns people have shared.

• Move toward mutual agreement. For some people, making a decision is itself considered an accomplishment. For others, moving too quickly creates more tension. With practice, leaders become adept at understanding when — and with whom — to move things to closure. In some situations, ending the interaction without further damage can be considered a win.