Employee management is all about communication

Managers are responsible for getting results from their subordinates. There have been many methods offered as tool kits for managers. The latest addition for this tool kit is about managing the meaning that the subordinated are carrying in their minds. Before we discuss any further, we need to understand some psychology fundamentals, how people’s meanings are created

Meaning are created as a result of interaction be the world and the self. World give sensations to individuals. Sensations are captured through the sensory organs of humans. When similar sensations are repeated, people make adaptations. Adaptations are, in my book the meanings created within the minds of people. Say that a manager calls a subordinate to the manager’s office and scold all the time, the subordinate associates a meaning of being scolded whenever the manager calls the subordinate to the office of the manager. So, the subordinate has built a meaning system for manager calling him/her to the office.

once those meanings are established in the minds of people, they will pre-select their responses as well. In other words, people anticipate the responses for the stimuli that they receive from the world.  Thus, managers should monitor the meanings that people are building in their minds. Meaning systems should be understood by the managers by interpreting cues in behaviour.

Once a manager identified an unproductive meaning, the manager should take initiative to adjust the meaning of the subordinate. The ideal way to adjust the meaning is to have a face to face interaction with subordinates. This is where the manager’s communication ability comes into play. Often the manager has face to face communication with subordinates, the manager could make sure that productive meanings are created and maintained within subordinates.


Time to look at IT differently

I was an IT Manager, then became a HR Manager and became a simple IT user in business environment. Then a surprise hits me. The IT professionals who do not know about my IT background, were pulling tricks on me. Basically, they were making false excuses. Initially i got worked up, yet gradually I was capable of pulling together myself and worked with them to get the results expected for my operation in the company.

Bottom line is that IT professionals use the (pardon me) ignorance of the users about IT and take advantage for IT professionals to be comfortable. A basic fact in IT that I used to practice when I was in IT was that if IT professional sweat, then we make user’s life comfortable. If IT professional sits comfortably, the user’s life will be a hell. That what those IT professionals are doing, they try to be comfortable. Then you know what happen to the user.

Over the years, I used my experience and created a Body of Knowledge for IT Users (BOK-ITU). This body of knowledge is not the knowledge that IT professionals are learning. If a user can learn what IT professional is learning, it would be Okay. However, then the user is learning the side of the IT professional and not the side of the user. Such will help the users to become IT professional, not to become a user. So, user becomes an IT professional users’ expectation will eventually suffer.

Owing to this, in order for users to gain control over the IT implementation, and importantly to get the expected results, BOK-ITU will increase the ability of the user to effectively negotiate with IT professional. Following are the elements of BOK-ITU;

  • Understanding the level of impact from IT
  • Shifting the paradigm of Information Systems
  • How users should take part in the Systems Development Life Cycle
  • Understanding at components of MIS in the perspective of business
  • Importance of Database for MIS and understanding the relational databases
  • End user computing for quick information retrieval for user
  • Understanding IT acceptance and use through the perspective of  sensemaking
  • Understanding emerging technologies and their impact on transformation intensity

Right-X provide BOK-ITS as a training to organizations.

Traditional consultancy Vs OD

I have seen many consultancy projects that are very expensive. Nature of a traditional consultancy is that the consultant comes and study the firm and gives us a recommendation. Biggest problem in this approach is the management of the firm is not aware of the solution in the recommendation. So naturally the buy-in of the managers is low. Thus, the report never gets implemented and gather dust in some one’s drawer.

In contrast to this methodology, Organization Development (OD) is a unique way of making a change inside a firm. OD consultant makes a special relationship with the firm.

  1. He has to act as an external consultant in the project, yet the people inside should feel that he is a part of the firm
  2. The consultant exercises relative-equity on the knowledge. The consultant never considers oneself is having a superior knowledge. They use the knowledge of the people inside and respect them.
  3. OD uses a skill building approach, where during the consultancy the project team of the firm develop the skills and knowledge required for the change, and thus the project becomes institutionalized within the firm. Basically, the buy-in of managers will be high.

We use the OD method for the solutions deliver by Right-X (Pvt) Ltd.

OD has specific tools required to make a change, we will discuss in another issue of the True North newsletter.

Align people with expected behavior – video intro

This is a unique workshop that we provide you with two tools and relevant concepts and knowledge to get results from people. The first tool is a performance management tool, which has given results on how you can change people behavior. The second tool is developed by  Harward University.  Video intro below gives more details.

You may view/download the eFlyer here


Improving training effectiveness

Major concern of training people is to expect a behaviour change. for instance getting people to do a MBA will be to get them to make the right decision when time demands same. Yet, results are somewhat distant to the expectation.

Popular statement if that “people learn from mistakes“. Best would be to give them a business  to make mistakes and learn. Yet the financial implication on the mistakes them make would be unbearable. Even thought this might be the best training method, but least affordable.

Contemporary tool that help in this situation is business simulation. When you use business simulations as a training methodology, you will be giving your participants to run a business as if they run a real business. They will get 12 financial years to make decisions and study the impact of their decisions with final accounts.

Participants will be given a “market outlook” to make industry specific decisions. Once the decisions are made they will be able to see the balance sheet and profit and loss account and share holder value changes resulted by their decisions. This way, they can learn by making mistakes.

Learn more about business simulations ;


Business simulations

How a paperless system should be

Even the business community has considered going paperless for many years, no business leader had taken the bold decision to go paperless. We thought of discussing how a paperless system should look like for the awareness of community.

Role of paper

We first looked at the purpose of using paper. First use of paper was for communication. Even though the default medium for communication was verbal, people used paper to carry a message from one person to another. In such instance the message on paper tend to go a distance that a voice message could not go. On the other hand, paper is used for evidences of events. Used as a proof for establishing that a agreement was arrived at, when they put the terms on paper and put the signatures of parties involved and witnesses. When a customer makes a payment, give a durable evidence to the customer in form of an evidence on paper. Some times people will sign or may print on letterheads and provide to the customer. In essence there are only two ways we use paper in businesses, as a means for communication and as durable evidence for a business event.

How paper is used

In either way, be it used for communication or evidence of events, paper is used to prove that either the communication or the event happened to a third party or to the parties involved. If one party takes up the position that firm did not issues instructions, management could take the evidence of communication and show to the employee to establish that the communication actually happened. If one party denies that an agreement was not made between two parties the other party may take the paper that contain the agreement with signatures of two parties and witnesses and establish that the agreement was made. If a customer has paid and the firm denies the payment, then the customer may produce the paper evidence and establish the fact that customer made he payment.

Such proving may go beyond the social settings and go in front of arbitrators or courts as well. Usually in such situations two parties in dispute may be represented by lawyers. What lawyers do is to provide paper-based evidence and attempt to prove that either the communication or the event had actually happened. Opposing lawyers sometimes required the authenticity of the evidence provided and may say “subject to proof”. So, the lawyer who lead evidence may have to go beyond the paper-based evidence and establish that the paper is authentic and is a credible evidence to establish the event represents the said event.

More often these paper evidences have to be produced in front of auditors. In such situations, what they do is to check to their satisfaction that accounting entries that firm has recorded has actually occurred, by examining paper-based evidences. Procedure here will no be serious as in front of a court. As long as an authorized officer has accepted the evidence as credible, they will take it as valid evidence for business events. A vital fact is that if the internal management system accepts the paper-based evidence auditors will not object.

Apart from the above two uses of paper, how paper traverse within a form and between firms as well becomes vital for understanding how paper is used. There are places of origin, where usually they place their signature and certify that paper was generated. Copies of the original document once same becomes a record of an event, copies of evidence as well may be circulated among parties who should hold evidence. Such evidence may traverse from one party to another, one department to another, and one firm to another as appropriate. When paper-based evidence traverses the organization, people tend to sign on those paper-based evidence as they have “seen”, “approved” or any other appropriate comment, including a long text.

A paperless system that a business establishes should cater for this basic operation and behaviour of people. In our next article we shall discuss the next step in going paperless.


How to make an environment for innovation

I have been cracking my brain about invention and innovation for some time. Looked at design thinking for innovation as companies like IDEOS are using. Recently, I came across the concept of innovation hokey stick of America. America looks at another counties in terms of their DGP growth curve and say, this country is in year 1976 (just as an example) compared to America GBP curve. They explain that innovation has contributed to the hokey stick of national prosperity. This concept is explained in the video here.

For the ease of reference, we could call this phenomenon as Innovation Hokey stick as well. As per the video we are still in the handle of the hokey stick. To me there are many factors contributing to this phenomenon. Technology readiness level of our country is low, thus inventions do not go to market.

Are you curious of how to manage creativity in your firm


At the same time, systems and sub systems of industries are under developed. What industry in Sri Lanka has a good depth of supply chain. I cannot recall any. So we are left with only one industry, where you do not need much of supply chain to do innovation, I.e. software industry. At least we need to capitalize on this industry.

I was fascinated to understand another phenomenon. Let us look at the seeds for invention. Arther C Clerk, in one of his novels introduced the mobile phone, after some times it became a reality. In the spider man comic/movie the Green Goblin used a flying pod, today it is a reality and there are many other uses the people are using similar pods for. Iron man suit is becoming a reality. I was amazed of how the environment give them the seeds of innovation.

Let’s look at what happened in Sri Lanka. I feel our movies and novels are dragging us to the past. They do not give us inspirations for innovations. From where else could we get inspirations for creativity and innovation. I trust, if we do not get inspirations from the environment, we will have to live in the handle of the Hokey stick for ever.

How we could make an environment for creativity… this is open for discussion.