Articles Tagged Management

Aug 27, 2012
Would scrapping commissions make your salesforce sell more?

“Some things in life we know are true. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. A body in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by an outside force. And the best way to motivate salespeople is by offering them commissions. But what if we’re wrong, at least about that […]

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Aug 12, 2012
Businesses, please stop these sly, self-serving practices

I don’t get it. I just don’t. It should be blindingly obvious to every owner of every business that it runs primarily on just one thing: the goodwill of its customers. If customers obtain value from you, they keep buying. If they keep buying, you keep making a profit. If you keep making a profit, […]

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Jul 30, 2012
Why do employees switch off? It’s the supervisors…

“What’s the one factor that most affects how satisfied, engaged, and committed you are at work? All of our research over the years points to one answer — and that’s the answer to the question: “Who is your immediate supervisor?” …This study is by no means unusual. We’ve seen the same pattern in the U.S., […]

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Jul 23, 2012
It is time for big banks to do some soul-searching

“Investigations by regulators in several countries, including Canada, America, Japan, the EU, Switzerland and Britain, are looking into allegations that LIBOR and similar rates were rigged by large numbers of banks. Corporations and lawyers, too, are examining whether they can sue Barclays or other banks for harm they have suffered. That could cost the banking […]

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Jun 18, 2012
Here’s how to manage queues

“There are three givens of human nature that queuing psychologists must address: 1) We get bored when we wait in line. 2) We really hate it when we expect a short wait and then get a long one. 3) We really, really hate it when someone shows up after us but gets served before us.” […]

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May 21, 2012
A business filled with family members will not take you far

“The fatal fact about nepotism is that the really good people won’t go to work for you in the first place or will quit or quit trying for your job when they spot your uncle, brother, nephew, wife, mistress or son on the payroll… …If there’s even a bare possibility that you’re prejudiced, the smell […]

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May 13, 2012
We lost a decade in reforming Kenya’s state corporations

Back in 2003, we thought we had put the era of truly horrible state corporations behind us. The new government of the day, swept into power in a massive rejection of the failures and excesses of the 1990s, promised to reform the public sector and revitalize all of Kenya’s dead or dying parastatals. A good […]

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May 06, 2012
The ‘Uta do?’ culture that kills quality standards

Whatever happened to “First-Time Quality?” It seems to have become an irrelevance in Kenya today. The idea is simple enough. If you get something right the first time, you don’t have to incur the cost of inspections, revisits, rework or repeat jobs. If you pay acute attention and maintain a high standard when you do […]

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Mar 19, 2012
The spectacular resignation that shook this famous employer

“TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its […]

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Mar 11, 2012
This corporate “Mugiithi” dance is out of date

If you attend a corporate retreat in Kenya, you just know what you’re going to do during the outdoor dinner, don’t you? After sufficient alcohol has been imbibed and inhibitions have been sufficiently loosened, you will undoubtedly do a “Mugiithi” dance. This is where you form a human train with the leader at the front, […]

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Feb 26, 2012
Are you a relationship manager or just a huckster?

In business, relationship management is all the rage these days. There seem to be no salespersons any more, just relationship managers (RMs). It sounds warm and fuzzy and touchy-feely, as though you, the customer, have someone in the organization specially focused on you. Most of the time, it’s an elaborate hoax. What’s the difference between […]

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Feb 20, 2012
Isn’t there a better way to handle layoffs?

“Soon after Citigroup let go of 100 employees across India last month, many functional heads received an unusual brief. They were asked to scout for jobs for those who had been terminated. Counsellors were also roped in to soften the blow and professional services firms were hired to make the career transition of the terminated […]

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Jan 09, 2012
Do you have any meaningful say in the work that you do?

Since the mid-80s, academics have been carrying out regular skills surveys, asking detailed questions of thousands of employees. In 1986…72% of professionals felt they had a great deal of independence in doing their jobs. By 2006, that had plummeted to just 38%. Which is shocking but also makes sense: if you’re a teacher you now […]

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Large organizations: that long queue demonstrates only your inefficiency

We are becoming a country of queues. Wherever you look, and wherever you go, people are standing in queues. Increasingly long queues. What is a queue? A place where a long-suffering user or customer gets increasingly annoyed with your organization and your brand. Given how widespread this problem is, it always amazes me how little […]

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Dec 12, 2011
The modern problem of corporate fluff

“As a simple example of fluff in strategy work, here is a quote from a major retail bank’s internal strategy memoranda:”Our fundamental strategy is one of customer-centric intermediation.” The Sunday word “intermediation” means that company accepts deposits and then lends them to others. In other words, it is a bank. The buzz phrase “customer-centric” could […]

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Nov 14, 2011
How many employees would like to leave your organization?

“Employee loyalty is dropping around the world, according to new global analysis of Mercer’s What’s Working™ survey. The research, conducted among nearly 30,000 employees in 17 geographic markets between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, shows that the percentage of workers seriously considering leaving their organization has risen since the […]

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Sep 25, 2011
Why the standard CV hides what we really need to know

Microblogger @oshinity3 tweeted an arresting thought recently. To paraphrase, she asked people whether they still stated on their curricula vitae the fact that they were skilled in MS Word/Excel/PowerPoint, etc. Most people do. Why, asked @oshinity3, does this still matter? What she’s pointing out is that people have an ingrained tendency to freeze into one […]

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Sep 04, 2011
Lessons in traffic management from a small island

I was fortunate enough to sit atop the Singapore Flyer recently – the world’s biggest observation wheel. At its apex, the Flyer is as high as a 42-storey building, and offers unparalleled views of the famous Singapore skyline, its busy port – even of neighbouring Indonesia, across the water. Being a Peculiar Kenyan, however, I […]

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Aug 29, 2011
Are all your leaders from one ‘tribe?’ Trouble will soon follow…

“(Research in Motion) is run by a ‘good ole’ boy’ network from Southern Ontario. Though I actually believe there can be advantages in this close-knit, trust-based social ecosystem, it is unacceptable in this day and age that a global brand should have the vast majority of its citizens derived from a section of a small […]

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Aug 28, 2011
Why do corporate executives talk like parrots?

Corporate executives must really hate their work. I only say this because they seem to need a different language to describe what they do, liven up their meetings, dress up their mundane lives in metaphor. How else do you explain the modern disease known as corporate jargon? A recent Forbes magazine article defined jargon as […]

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Jul 24, 2011
How many of your employees take it personally?

Every once in a while, this column looks for ordinary people who exemplify the attitudes that Kenya needs. This week again, it has found one to name. Clement Githinji is a restaurant manager who runs one of Nairobi’s finer eating establishments. My wife and I are often there, and recently had an interesting encounter. After […]

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Jul 04, 2011
Your brand is not your logo – it’s your whole business

“A great brand deserves a great logo and great graphic design and visuals. It can make the difference when the customer is choosing between two great brands. But these alone cannot make your brand great. Ultimately, brand is about caring about your business at every level and in every detail, from the big things like […]

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Jul 03, 2011
Beware the automation trap in customer service

I have been a customer of a large global bank for a couple of decades. Recently, however, I closed all my accounts in despair. Why? Because after years of halfway decent service, this bank fell victim to the modern business malaise of automating all its customer interfaces. I began fearing the worst some years ago […]

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Jun 20, 2011
My 200th BD column: To improve your offsite meetings, switch off the projector!

PowerPoint presentations inevitably end up as monologues. They focus on answers, and everyone faces the screen. But meetings should be conversations. They should focus on questions, not answers, and people should face each other. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve found that even the hum of the projector discourages dialogue. Meetings are exorbitantly expensive […]

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Apr 25, 2011
Would you recruit a jazz musician for a bank?

“Arkadi Kuhlmann, founder and CEO of ING Direct USA, has invented a whole new approach to retail banking. Over the past decade, as he has recruited thousands of employees to his organization, he has made it a point not to look to his competitors as a source of talent. “If you want to renew and re-energize […]

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Mar 13, 2011
Businesses remain stuck in short-sighted “shrewd” practices

If you spend time with businesspeople, you soon pick up that they value something called “shrewdness” over most other things – if you aren’t sharp and quick-witted, with an instinctively predatory commercial instinct, you shouldn’t really be in business. By this they mean that the ability to sniff out and design a great deal is […]

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Mar 07, 2011
What’s more important in a new recruit – skills or attitude?

“I’m asking them about their families, and how they grew up, and who’s important in their life and how did they decide to do this and that. I’m looking for fit, personality, values. Is this the kind of person we want around here? Will they work well? And I don’t really care how many places […]

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Feb 21, 2011
Do you play with your e-mail during every meeting?

“Do you find your mind wandering at times when people address you? Do you frequently switch from one activity to another? Do you have difficulty sustaining attention on a task and are you easily distracted by what’s going on around you? Do you struggle to prioritize and organize activities? Do you dislike having to do […]

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