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Mistake 1: Using the Wrong Tone
I was reading mind-tool article and thought to share with my readers.You might be tempted to send emails quickly when you’re in a rush, without thinking carefully about your audience, what you’re saying, or how your message might come across. So, it’s important to consider who you’re “talking” to and what action you want them to take, before you start writing.
For example, an email to a senior manager should be more formal than a quick update to a team member, and a message to a customer will likely be more enthusiastic and polite than an exchange with a close colleague.
Although your email’s subject matter may be clear to you, its recipient might not share your knowledge or understanding. So, avoid using abbreviations, jargon or “text speak,” and consider whether your message is appropriate before you hit the send button. Will your reader understand what you’re saying? And is your information clearly structured and presented?
A good rule to follow is to address people in an email as you would in person. For example, making a quick request or providing instructions without a “hello” or “thank you” will likely come across as rude, regardless of how busy you are. So, make sure that all of your emails are courteous and respectful, and avoid typing in capitals, which implies anger or aggression.
Mistake 2: Hitting “Reply All”
How often have you been copied into an email exchange that’s not relevant to you, and doesn’t require you to take any action? Chances are, it happens regularly, and you know how frustrating it can be.
“Reply all” is a useful tool for keeping multiple team members in the loop, or for documenting group decisions, but many people use it without considering who should actually receive their email.
Receiving numerous irrelevant emails throughout the day can be distracting and time consuming; and becoming known as the person who always hits “reply all” can potentially damage your reputation , as it can appear thoughtless, rushed and unprofessional. It might also suggest that you’re not confident making decisions without input from senior managers.
So, consider whether you should “reply all” or respond only to the email’s sender. And, think about whether using “cc” (carbon copy) or “bcc” (blind carbon copy) to include selected team members is more appropriate.
Mistake 3: Writing Too Much
Brief and succinct emails that contain only the important details are much more effective than long or wordy ones.
If you’re struggling to keep your message short, consider whether the subject matter is too complex. Would another way of communicating it be more effective? Would a face-to-face meeting or telephone call make it clearer? Should you put your information in a procedure document instead?
Mistake 4: Forgetting Something?
How many times have you sent an email without attaching the relevant document? Perhaps you included a link that didn’t work? Or even attached the wrong file?
These mistakes can often be fixed quickly with a follow-up email, but this adds to the large volume of messages that people receive, and it can appear unprofessional or forgetful. Consider attaching files as soon as your start drafting your message, and always check all of your links carefully.
Attaching the wrong document can be much more serious, particularly if it’s sensitive or restricted. Read our article on confidentiality in the workplace to identify what information is confidential in your organization, and to think about how to protect your data.
Mistake 5: Emailing the Wrong Person
Today, email providers increasingly use “auto-fill,” predictive text and “threads” (or “conversation view”), which can all increase the risk of you sending your message to the wrong person.
This can be embarrassing, but it also means that your email might not reach its intended recipient unless someone flags up your mistake. More seriously, you risk distributing sensitive information to the wrong people, and damaging your organization’s reputation. So, always pause to review your email before you send it.
When you reply to or forward an email within a thread, make sure that all the messages contained within it are appropriate for the recipient. Is there any sensitive information? Are there any personal comments or remarks?
Mistake 6: Being Too Emotional
One of the main benefits of email is that you don’t need to respond immediately. It’s particularly important to delay your response when you’re stressed, angry or upset – if you send a message in the heat of the moment, you can’t get it back (although some email clients do have a limited “undo” or “retrieve” option). These emails could damage your working relationships, or even be used as evidence against you.
So, avoid sending any messages when you feel this way. Wait until you’ve calmed down and can think clearly and rationally.
Mistake 7: Not Using “Delay Send”
It can be satisfying to send an email as soon as you finish writing it, so that it’s “off your desk.” However, many email clients now provide a “delay” or “scheduled send” function, which can be particularly useful.
Mistake 8: Using Vague Subject Lines
As we’ve said, email is most effective when your message is concise and to the point (but not abrupt). So, it’s important to start with a clear subject line, so that people know what to expect when they open it.
What is your email about? Is there an important deadline date? Do you want people to take action before a certain time? Is it urgent or non-urgent? Tailor your subject line accordingly, so your recipient can give the email the right level of priority and attention.
Mistake 9: Not Reviewing
Proofing your emails is one of the most important things you can do. It only takes a few minutes, and it helps you to pick up poor grammar, spelling mistakes and punctuation errors, which look unprofessional andsloppy . Our article on Writing Skills has more on how to check your work for mistakes.
It’s also important to ensure that you properly read and understand emails that are sent to you, including all messages in threads or conversations. Here, someone may have already dealt with your question or concern, and raising it again will likely result in duplication, frustration and confusion.
Finally, don’t add the recipient to your email until the last moment. This ensures that you can’t accidentally send your message before you’ve finished writing it, have added your attachment, checked the email, and spotted any errors.
Mistake 10: Sending Unnecessary Emails
Because email is so quick and convenient, it can easily become your default communication method with your team. However, it’s important to remember that email is also impersonal, and you risk losing touch with people if you rely on it too much. It’s certainly not a substitute for face-to-face or even phone communication.
The Oracle Way to Consulting by Kim Miller provides insight into what makes Oracle’s consultants some of the most respected consultants in the industry. Professionalism, managing client behaviors, clear communication, and tackling unexpected challenges are all necessary to be a successful consultant. Miller focuses on how consultants can best plan for their own futures and be the architects of their career paths.
A consultant’s role is part teacher, part entertainer, part trusted colleague, and part personal assistant. Successful consultants wear many hats with ease, and have mastered a variety of skills. An effective consultant sets client expectations early and leads by example. Good consultants have mastered the skill of getting others to trust them quickly. To maintain trust, consultants should follow a responsible, ethical code of conduct. The best consultants are those that provide value-added services. These services allow clients to become more self-sufficient and ensure a long-term relationship between consultant and client.
While the soft skills of consulting can be taught, some people are naturally better suited to consulting than others. Without aptitude for the job, and a desire to perform at the highest level, even a competent person may fail in a consulting role. Not all consultants are created equal.
Consultants must understand how they fit into the overall hierarchy of their implementation teams. Consultants regularly interact with project managers, team leads, and subject-matter experts. They may also pull in other team members in clients’ organizations, or interact with other experts who are brought in to provide additional expertise.
A consultant should adhere to the following best practices:
*Always achieve an understanding of one’s role in the project prior to meeting the client.
*Defer to the project manager when appropriate.
*Know the key players and their roles.
*Aim to help the client take ownership of the project as his or her skills and understanding of the project increase.
THE ELEVATOR PITCH
An elevator pitch is a brief summary of personal experience. The perfect consultant elevator pitch should succinctly answer the question, “Tell me about [yourself/product/methodology/technology].” This pitch is brief and to the point. It can be used to generate word-of-mouth buzz or entice potential clients. A consultant should have several of these elevator pitches memorized, with each tailored to a specific query or situation. There are a few rules for crafting a winning pitch:
*Explain one’s position at the company.
*Explain the precise role one plays in that position.
*End the pitch with a question to encourage a dialogue with the listener.
In follow-up discussions, consultants should be prepared to explain what exactly their companies do. A consultant should also be able to clearly explain the benefits of his or her services. Consultants should be wary of over-selling or under-selling their abilities, as neither path ends up being productive in the long term.
GETTING AN ASSIGNMENT
Consultants should always be prepared for questions, especially during the interview and hiring process. The client will have many questions, and the consultant should come prepared with a copy of his or her résumé. Consultants should practice interviewing with peers or managers who are willing to critique their performances.
After a consultant is selected to go on an assignment, the consultant should put together a checklist to prepare for the tasks ahead. Research should be conducted independently and combined with information provided by the project manager. Consultants should make an effort to introduce themselves to their new teammates as soon as possible.
When a new assignment begins, the consultant should let the client’s team know what to expect and what the consultant will need from them. All eyes will be on the consultant, so he or she must lead by example.
CONSULTING AS A SECOND CAREER
Many professionals transition into consulting as a second career. Before making this change, potential consultants should consider their qualifications, both personally and professionally. Without the basic aptitude for the position, a person’s second career as a consultant will not last.
New consultants should be prepared to learn on the job and work their way up. Before making a career change, people should ask themselves the following questions:
*Have I ever successfully taught adults?
*Do I want to spend extended time away from home?
*Do I enjoy working long hours?
*Am I a team player?
*Can I balance a position that requires leadership, delegation, and the ability to follow at the same time?
*Am I able to apply knowledge to different types of situations?
*Am I able to keep calm under pressure?
Positive answers are a good indication that a person has the temperament to be a successful consultant.
BEING EFFECTIVE ON DAY 1 AND DAY 10,000
Those who feel qualified to become consultants should also make sure they are prepared to be effective from the start. Part of being effective is having the right mind-set. Oracle’s consultants are known to excel because they freely share information and work tirelessly toward the success of their clients, rather than having one eye on their own personal advancement.
Before their first day on the job, consultants should schedule meetings and orientations with their managers. New consultants should ask managers why they were hired, and then capitalize on that perceived value. If there are any other lingering questions, consultants should get them answered on the first day. Consultants may look foolish further down the line if they fail to ask the right questions early in the process.
On the second day, new consultants should determine how new hires are integrated into client projects. They should take the initiative to learn as much as they can about their first assignments, and get up to speed about the current implementation processes. They should then focus on building the skills that will make them valuable on their assignments.
BEWARE OF OR EMBRACE INDEPENDENT CONSULTANTS?
Some consultants find it difficult to work with independent consultants, as they are often more focused on billable hours than client outcomes. Independent consultants are often hired by clients because they are cheaper than hiring more staff. If a client brings on an independent consultant, it can also be a red flag, indicating that the other consultant is not adding enough value to justify his or her cost.
Consultants should maintain a courteous and professional demeanor when dealing with independent consultants. Consultants should touch base with their managers to best understand the role of the independent consultant in a particular implementation, and determine how much transparency is required when speaking with that person.
SEE THE WORLD
Consulting can be an exciting career for those who love to travel and meet new people, but the demands of consulting can also take a toll on families. As with any career, striking the correct work/life balance can be difficult. Travel is also not without its perils, so consultants who are not married or living with someone should make sure to have a friend or colleague who follow their movements. In the event of a problem, the consultant will have at least one person who knows where he or she is supposed to be. The rewards of travel can be both professional and personal, and many consultants will have opportunities to visit many different countries. When traveling, the consultant should take the time to learn the accepted business etiquette in different cultures.
PREDICT THE UNEXPECTED
The most important skill a consultant can master is the art of setting effective expectations. Consultants must develop and execute their plans, and then recap those plans for the benefit of clients and managers. The process for achieving positive results should always be the shortest path possible. A consultant’s word is his or her bond. Therefore, a consultant should say what he or she is going to do, do it, and then tell everyone what he or she did. If there is an unexpected change in scope, a change order should be generated.
AUTHORITY AND OFFICE POLITICS
Consultants should be knowledgeable about products, but they must also build other skills so that their services have added value. One major challenge that consultants must contend with is the fact that they have no authority over their clients. Therefore, consultants must tailor their approaches for each client team, and find a way to work effectively with each team. When issues arise, consultants should try to obtain definitions of the issues in a way that will not alienate clients. This will result in a solution that does not ruffle any feathers.
Leveraging one’s pseudo-authority is an important skill in any consultant’s toolbox. Building strong relationships with clients is an important step in the right direction. Consultants should establish their credibility early in the consulting process, and continually re-establish their expertise. Consultants should also leverage the expertise of those around them in the project ecosystem.
Consultants should stay above the fray when it comes to company politics. They should have respect for politics and find a niche within the political power structure where they can be the most effective. When discussing office politics with the client team, a consultant can be a sympathetic ear, but he or she must never offer any opinions about the issue at hand.
PROFESSIONALISM AND INTEGRITY
There is no substitute for professionalism — no other skill or attribute can put a client at ease as quickly. Professionalism should be a part of every consultant’s attire, speech, written communication, and actions. Professional behavior leaves a lasting impression with clients, which can lead to renewed contracts or referral business. Being professional also means being approachable. Clients may find it difficult to ask for help, so consultants should be humble and courteous. All work and spending should be carefully documented.
TIME MANAGEMENT AND MEETINGS
Consultants must plan every day. They must manage their own time, as well as the client team’s time. Consultants should also have alternative plans in place to handle any unforeseen complications. It is important that an alternative plan also be realistic, and based on the capabilities and skill level of the client team. Planning and time management should be documented in some way. Not only does this help consultants stay organized, but it provides the client team with a living document of the plan.
Consultants tend to spend a lot of time in meetings. The importance of a meeting is an indicator of how much prior preparation is required. Every meeting should have a clearly written agenda, which will help set expectations for all involved. The invitee list for each meeting should be tailored so that only stakeholders and decision makers are involved. Consultants should ensure that attendees stay on topic for the duration of the meeting.
CHILDREN MAKE THE BEST NEGOTIATORS
A child can be the best negotiator. A consultant should try to mimic a child’s innate ability to convince adults to do something, without the adults even realizing what is happening. Consultants should be able to warm clients up to an idea, but allow the client to take the final step. When a client thinks an idea was his or her own, he or she will be more likely to follow through on implementation.
MANAGING CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS
Consultants need to help clients approach new situations and products in a way that counters clients’ assumptions and preconceptions. Novice consultants may struggle with some of their clients’ more challenging behaviors. Many people do not adapt well to changes in the workplace, so consultants must be understanding of clients’ fears. Not all challenging behaviors need to be addressed. If the behaviors do not impact the work, consultants can leave them be.
Consultants must craft all written records and communications with great care. They should use legally defensible facts, and document all results or benefits to clients to add value. Consultants should solicit feedback on their documentation from their own companies and colleagues. Consultants should also be able to clearly state their experiences and expertise in their résumés.
Consultants create a lot of documentation, and it is important for that documentation to be factual and clear. Emotions should be left out entirely. All documentation should have a professional tone. All of the deliverables must be high quality and delivered on or before the deadline. Rookie consultants may underestimate the amount of time it takes to create high-quality documentation, so it is advisable to budget plenty of time for these types of tasks.
Some consultants read their work out loud, or have others read it, in order to ensure that the text is easy to comprehend. Words should be chosen carefully, especially when discussing a part of the implementation that may not be going well. A simple word like “bug” may send some clients into a panic. Words should be chosen in such a way that the reality of situations are made crystal clear, and solutions should be specifically laid out. Last but not least, a consultant should always use spell-check.
LISTEN AND ASK QUESTIONS
Much of the consultant’s job revolves around speaking, but listening is an equally important part of being an effective consultant. Good consultants listen fully before formulating responses. If a consultant does not know exactly how to respond to a query, he or she can start by summarizing the question that was asked. If the consultant does not know the answer to a question, he or she should admit it and immediately promise to find the answer.
Consultants need to ask good questions, and also know how to rephrase questions that are not getting robust answers. A high-quality question will be more likely to result in a high-value answer. Consultants should avoid rhetorical and trick questions, neither of which will advance the progress of the consultant-client relationship.
ACQUIRED COMPANIES: FROM COMPETITOR TO COLLABORATOR
If a company gets acquired after implementation has begun, this can change to flavor of the whole assignment. The consultant should speak with his or her project manager and get guidance on how to fold the new company into the project. The project plan will likely need to be updated in response to the change. Consultants should be empathetic to the stresses associated with this change, but they must remain focused on their tasks.
Successful implementation requires the following steps:
*Getting a handoff from the sales team.
*Defining an implementation strategy.
*Gathering customer requirements.
*Translating those requirements into software functionality.
*Testing the solution.
*Training the end users.
*Transitioning to production.
*Transitioning the consulting team off the project.
The implementation team is likely to include a mix of several different teams. Some may be offshore team members, while others may be independent consultants or remote workers. The most important team must be the client team. Consultants should be cognizant of any time zone differences that may present a challenge and plan team activities accordingly. Consultants should foster teamwork among disparate groups.
BE PROACTIVE AND MANAGE YOUR MANAGER
Consultants who want to advance their careers need to make a name for themselves, which means taking initiative, making plans, and building relationships with managers. A consultant’s manager can be an advocate and a partner in advancing the consultant’s career. Consultants need to find out how their managers’ performance is measured and then help their managers meet those benchmarks. Consultants should adapt to their managers’ unique styles and quirks, and set aside time to make sure that their managers are thinking about how to advance the consultants’ careers.
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The best way to start any presentation is with an outline. Outlines help leaders prioritize and organize their thoughts. This is especially important in situations in which there is a large amount of information to distil and disseminate. Although creating an outline takes more time to prepare, it saves the audience time. Mind maps have become a popular way of outlining; particularly helpful is a BRIEF map. Each of the letters, in BRIEF, stands for a function of a bubble in the map. The middle bubble contains the main idea of the presentation and is called the brief box. The rest of the map should be organized with bubbles that contain the following:
*Background or beginning.
*Reason or relevance.
*Information for inclusion.
*Ending or conclusion.
*Follow-up questions expected to be asked.
The best way to persuade an audience is to tell a story. Good stories connect and stick with the audience. When considering the elements of a narrative, it is important to think like a journalist and keep in mind the following key elements:
*A strong headline.
*A compelling lead paragraph.
*A clear sense of conflict.
*A consistent narrative thread.
*A logical sequence of events.
*A powerful conclusion.
Stories should be short and simple. Leaders who need to synthesize a large amount of information into an outline should create a narrative map that includes the following:
*Focal point: the headline of the story.
*Setup or challenge: the issue the organization is facing.
*Opportunity: how the organization can resolve the issue.
*Approach: the how, where, or when of the story.
*Payoff: the conclusion.
Being brief is not about eliminating or cutting off conversation — it is about meaningful, controlled conversations. In a controlled conversation, a leader asks thoughtful and intentional questions to determine what is interesting to the other person. By controlling the questions, leaders can choose to ask more questions or end the conversation based on the response. A great method for keeping any conversation brief and powerful is to use TALC Tracks:
*Talk: When someone starts talking, a leader should be prepared with a response that has a clear point.
*Actively listen: A leader must listen carefully to the other person to pick up keywords, names, dates, and other important details. A leader should be ready to ask open-ended questions with a focus on the elements that are interesting.
*Converse: A leader should jump in with a comment or question when there is a natural pause, be careful not to start an irrelevant conversation, and keep responses short.
Being brief requires an understanding of what is important to the audience. By focusing on the audience’s priorities, leaders show respect for them.
Multiple studies have shown that visual communications are much more powerful than those with words alone. In fact, screens and interactive media are causing a shift from a world of words to one of the images. People now expect their communications to be interactive. Incorporating visuals is a great way to be brief, and can be accomplished by:
*Googling images that relate to the presentation.
*Using short, online videos.
*Using a whiteboard to illustrate.
*Bringing in show-and-tell items.
*Creating a presentation through programs like prezi.com.
*Using icons instead of frequently used words.
When using visuals, leaders should assume people may not read the accompanying text. Therefore, the visuals should be able to stand on their own. When incorporating videos, leaders should be mindful of the time and quality — videos that are too long or too amateurish will lose the audience.
These guidelines help to make written communications more visually appealing:
*Communications should have a strong subject line or title.
*Readers should not have to scroll down beyond the opening window.
*Whitespace should balance the text.
*Key ideas should be called out.
*Bullets and numbers should feature a strong starting word.
*Unnecessary words should be trimmed.
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I presented my research work in International Conference, describes the Leadership Style and Organisational Effectiveness in Delhi NCR. Attempt was made to determine if there is a significant relationship between leadership styles in relation to Organisation Effectiveness. A total of 67 randomly selected leaders from the Delhi NCR completed leadership style and Organisational Effectiveness questionnaires. The data indicates that in Delhi NCR: (a) leadership styles included directive, supportive, participated and action oriented leadership. The most common leadership style among is directive leadership style. (b) there is no relationship between directive leadership styles and organisation effectiveness. (c) There is no relationship between action oriented leadership style and organisation effectiveness.
Keywords: Leadership style, Organisation effectiveness
1. Introduction : Success or failure of organisations, is a result of both the leaders and followers’ roles (Avolio & Reichard, 2008). In management and organisational behaviour literature, the focus is largely on the concept of leadership (Shondrick & Lord, 2010). Dixon and Westbrook’s (2003) findings validated Kelley’s idea of the existence of leadership in all organisational levels. It is believed that a focus on leadership will enhance our understanding of the leadership process because the operation of each is dependent on the other (Henry, 2012).Paper focus on 4 style of Leadership
Directive leadership is task-oriented and includes setting performance goals and reviews, facilitation, discipline and rewards.Supportive leadership is people-oriented and describes a friendly and approachable leader who creates a pleasant work environment based on mutual respect, no hierarchy, and employee satisfaction. Participative leadership involves employees in decision making and encourages employee suggestions and involvement. Achievement-oriented leadership involves employee performance reviews, including goals, efficiency, improvement, responsibility and accomplishment. In this model, the relationship between style and effectiveness, relates to employee characteristics and the employees work environment.
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Time is a precious commodity. Each person has the same amount of time, 24 hours each day, to use productively or to waste. Many people believe that time management is one of the top reasons that individuals succeed or fail both professionally and in their personal lives. Zeller describes a broad variety of time management techniques and systems that can be used by people in different professional roles, as well as at home to ensure that they are making the most of their time every day.
STARTING WITH SIMPLE TIME MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Before delving into detailed techniques for better time management, it is useful to take a look at the bigger picture, and analyze why time is so valuable. Zeller suggests taking a step back and considering one’s life goals and the value of one’s time in the long run.
The best time managers consider in depth the link between time management and their life goals. When a person understands his or her short, medium, or long-term goals, it helps shape the way time is then used as a result. Clear goals create a sense of urgency which motivates people to accomplish more in less time. Studies have shown that individuals who document their goals are more likely to achieve them in a shorter period of time. Zeller recommends identifying at least 50 goals to accomplish in the next ten years. The next step is to isolate the three most important goals to achieve within one year, three year, five year, and ten year timeframes. This exercise can help to effectively focus energy.
Another useful exercise is to determine what a person feels they are worth on a per hour analysis. When an individual understands the value of time after breaking it down to an hour-by-hour basis, it is easier to make educated decisions about how to organize their tasks. The goal should be to use time in a way that provides the best return on investment. A key question then becomes whether the time to perform a task costs more or less than hiring someone to do the work. Additionally, leisure activities should produce as much value as one’s hourly income rate. For example, a person might choose to pay a landscaping service to mow their lawn in order to spend that time doing something more enjoyable and personally productive.
ESTABLISHING A TIME MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
After identifying one’s time management goals, it is a good idea to prioritize them. This results in a structured plan for attaining them. A basic principle called the 80/20 rule is important to remember. This principle suggests that 20 percent of a person’s tasks will generate 80 percent of their desired results. To maximize one’s productivity, therefore, it is necessary to place a high priority on the important activities that fall into the 20 percent zone. Zeller suggests that people identify their top 12 goals as well as identify the tasks necessary to accomplish them. These tasks should be broken down into a list of daily “to do” items. On a daily task list, the “A items” are those that will lead to a major consequence if not completed, while “B items” have only minor consequences if not completed, and “C items” have no penalty if not completed by the end of the day.
In addition to prioritization, techniques like time blocking, organization, and electronic tools can all support a robust time management system.
*Time blocking. Time blocking is a technique that can be used to schedule tasks during the day. Each day is broken into 15 minute segments. Personal activities should be blocked out first. Next, work related activities are added in. Zeller recommends spending 15 to 30 minutes each day and 90 to 120 minutes at the end of the week on self evaluation and planning. This time is used to review progress toward business and personal goals.
*Reducing clutter. To support a time management system, it is important to have an organized office environment. People with uncluttered workspaces tend to be more productive. They feel less distracted and can easily access the tools they need. To maintain an uncluttered work environment, many people handle papers just once. They make sure to execute one of the following options immediately: dump, delegate, detour, do it, or depot. Zeller insists that dump, delegate, and do it are self-explanatory options. A detour is when a paper is parked for later follow-up, and a depot is another term for filing papers. A similar system can be used for dealing with email – there are three possible options: delete, do it, or defer. Deferred emails should be placed in an electronic folder to review later.
*Electronic tools. Electronic tools can also help keep one’s schedule in check. Examples include portable digital assistants (PDAs) and scheduling tools like Microsoft Outlook. One major benefit of scheduling systems is the ability to set up meetings with colleagues without involving administrative assistants or extraneous people. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are invaluable for storing important information about clients and prospects. Important customer data includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and administrative assistant contact information. An organized computer is just as important as an organized workspace. This requires sorting through files, deleting those that are unnecessary, and backing up files that need to be archived. CDs and other storage media must be labeled and stored in a safe place. One option is to use mirrored servers so that backups always exist.
Time management can be challenging when a job requires a lot of travel. However, advanced planning can make business trips as productive as possible. Zeller recommends identifying the trip objectives before setting foot in a car or on a plane. He also suggests grouping trips together for a weeklong trip, rather than several small trips. Each day should be scheduled as tightly as possible. It is useful to book hotels based on convenience and services like Internet access, room service, and a business center. Try to pack efficiently by color coordinating clothing, using hotel toiletries, and investing in a small laptop and electronic reader.
As super communicators you should observe these six basic guidelines to ensure effective communication:
1. Lead with the Conclusion: The agreed upon standard for communications used to be gradually building to the main point, usually best to state the main idea first and why it is important. After ensuring that all readers have at least understood the critical argument, writers can continue with supporting evidence, information, and a limited number of links for those interested in reading further.
2. Use Big Words Sparingly: Ironically, research shows that while people with stronger vocabularies are more successful in business, those who use too many big words are not effective communicators. When the audience is concentrating on a speaker’s vocabulary, they are missing the overall message. Rather than responding with admiration, people become frustrated or are put off by the speaker’s perceived attempt to brag or impress. Again, the aim is not to insult the audience’s intelligence, but merely ensure that their focus is on the information being conveyed.
3. Combat Jargon Abuse: While jargon feels good to use for insiders, it inherently excludes everyone else. When trying to simplify complicated subjects for a non-specialist audience, it is imperative to minimize and explain any use of jargon. Acronyms are like another form of jargon that increases efficiency for insiders but, again, is a hassle for outsiders. When content looks like “alphabet soup,” acronyms are being overused.
4. Shorter Sentences, Paragraphs, and Chapters: Just as with the overuse of big words, long sentences, paragraphs, and chapters are “roadblocks” for readers. Internet culture has promoted brevity in the same way it has encouraged easy readability. Overdoing it can make a document boring, however, so this is not a hard and fast rule but something to be mindful of.
5. Sync Content with the Audience’s Culture:
When making cultural references or analogies, communicators must be sure the entire audience will understand them. It is safest to stick with shared human experiences (e.g., food, family, sports) to avoid confusion. also need to consider the tone their messages are delivered in.
6. Make it Error Free: Errors ruin credibility no matter how intelligent the person presenting is. Communicators should always work with others to ensure work is free of errors, particularly those a computer may not pick up.
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*Six Sigma is a technical method for fine-tuning products and processes, used by many engineers, service guys and statisticians.
*This process-improvement strategy is customer focused. Leaders implementing Six Sigma practices keep customers’ needs foremost in an organization’s plans.
*Some of the tools and concepts employed by Six Sigma practitioners include Enterprise Resource Planning, lean manufacturing, strategic business partnerships, globalization, and just-in-time inventorying.
*One of the core goals of Six Sigma is to reduce variation or deviation in a product or service. As a result, the product or service becomes more consistent and reliable.
*Process improvement is about eliminating the root causes of business performance problems. The goal is to resolve a problem without disrupting the basic structure of the work process.
AN EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW OF SIX SIGMA
A Powerful Strategy for Sustained Success
Peter S. Pande, Robert P. Neuman has written well in there book The Six Sigma way-Business leaders and managers need to be sure they are focusing on sustained success. In today’s business climate, many companies come and go, enjoying only brief periods of success before fading away. Six Sigma is a flexible system aimed at helping twenty-first-century businesses achieve this sustainable success. Some of the companies
that have successfully implemented its methods include General Electric, Motorola, and Honeywell. Six Sigma benefits organizations by helping them set performance goals for everyone, enhance value for customers, accelerate improvement, promote learning, and execute strategic change.
The system’s crucial elements are not unique to Six Sigma, but they are brought together in a unique way. They are organized into six themes.
1. Focus on the customer: Many improvement strategies include a plan to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers, but Six Sigma places a unique emphasis on taking steps to better understand customers.
2. Data-and-fact-driven management: Six Sigma determines the exact measures that are most important for gauging business performance. It then applies data and analysis in order to achieve optimum results.
3. Process focus, management, and improvement: Process is recognized as the main driver of success. A mastery of process is finally being recognized by business leaders as a powerful way to establish competitive advantage.
4. Proactive management: This is another way of describing the development of good habits. Proactivity enables creativity and establishes control.
5. Change management: A business must break down old-fashioned barriers in order to open up communication and collaboration across the entire organization.
6. Drive for perfection; tolerance for failure: This may seem like a contradictory mindset. However, implementing new ideas and processes carries with it a necessary level of risk, and many organizations do not achieve their potential because they avoid risking failure.
Business leaders need to look over these six themes and honestly determine where their companies stand.
Key Concepts of the Six Sigma System
Six Sigma comprises several major components for improving business performance. One such component is creating a closed-loop system. In this system, a business uses internal and external data to determine how to stay on course, which promotes stability. Algebraic-type equations can be used to locate and define variables, and determine which have the greatest influence. For example, in Y=f(X), Y could represent something like a strategic goal or customer satisfaction, and X could mean actions, quality, efficiency, or influences. The Greek letter sigma is used to represent standard deviation or variation in a group. Variation is the enemy for businesses, so it needs to be tracked at all times. The objective is to reduce variation, or sigma, as much as possible.
Once effective measures are in place, the next step is to apply them to three key management strategies, which are all focused on process:
- The goal of process improvement is to fix a problem without changing the basic structure of the actual work process.
2. Process design/redesign, on the other hand, seeks to replace part or all of a process.
3. Process management involves making a long-term change of focus from functions to processes. This is an evolutionary approach that is slow to develop.
Applying Six Sigma to Service and Manufacturing
The authors broadly define service as a business that does not design or produce goods, and manufacturing as a business that does. Many manufacturing businesses pay significant attention to quality, so they do not believe they could benefit further by adopting Six Sigma. However, these companies must acknowledge that there is no longer such a thing as a pure manufacturing company. Rather, manufacturers must also stay on top of technology, understand their customers’ changing needs, manage supplier networks, and so on. Studies have shown that the U.S. economy has been veering away from manufacturing and toward service since about 1990. Service metrics are far more difficult to manage and quantify, so many companies tend to minimize them. The first step in improving a service-based business is to investigate its processes. This tends to shine a light on many problems that otherwise might not be noticed. Then, once time has been taken to better define a problem, understand it, and select an improvement project, any remaining ambiguity should be translated into clear measures and performance factors. It is important to remember that Six Sigma guidelines are flexible and are meant to be adapted to the individual needs of businesses, not the other way around.
The Six Sigma Roadmap
The ideal roadmap for establishing a Six Sigma system consists of five steps. Followed in order, they create a foundation that sustains further improvement.
1. Identify core processes and key customers. As businesses grow and develop in complexity, they can lose track of the big picture. This can be avoided by keeping critical business activities in mind while navigating the rest of the roadmap.
2. Define customer requirements. Too many companies have a poor understanding of their own customers. Companies must determine what their customers really want by putting systems in place that gather actual customer input.
3. Measure current performance. How well is the company providing customers with what they want? Companies need to measure how effectively they are delivering on the information gathered in step two.
4. Prioritize, analyze, and implement improvements. Any improvements will be based on the statistics and measurements from steps two and three. The key is to carefully prioritize improvements.
5. Expand and integrate the Six Sigma system. A long-term commitment to the Six Sigma methods and theories is required for genuine performance improvement.
PART TWO: GEARING UP AND ADAPTING SIX SIGMA TO YOUR ORGANIZATION
Is Six Sigma Right for the Organization Now?
Adopting Six Sigma means being willing to undergo fundamental systematic change across the entire company. The first step, therefore, is to be ready for change. Additionally, those considering Six Sigma should review their organizations in terms of their short- and long-term goals. They should be using hard data to assess where they currently stand and how well they are doing, and from there examining where opportunities for improvement lie. Companies must also consider any and all existing improvement plans in place. Where are they meeting expectations? Where might they be falling short? Decision makers should keep in mind that sometimes Six Sigma is not right for an organization, or there may be times when a limited implementation is all that is needed. The costs of implementing Six Sigma, which include direct and indirect payroll, training and consulting, and installation of new process designs, may require some organizations to wait.
How and Where Should Efforts Begin?
Once the decision has been made to implement Six Sigma, a number of other questions need to be examined early on. The way a company should approach Six Sigma depends on three main factors:
- A clear objective is a crucial first step, but too many executives fail to specify exactly what they wish to accomplish. It can be anything from simple problem solving to strategic improvement to transformation of an entire business.
- Assessing scope means determining which parts of the organization should be brought in on Six Sigma. This depends on resources for, acceptance of, and attention to the coming changes, and every company will differ in this regard.
3. Time frame is dependent on how long leaders of a business are willing to wait to see results.
The answers to questions that arise from examining these three elements will determine where and how a company can begin to implement Six Sigma.
Preparing Leaders to Launch and Guide the Effort
The success of Six Sigma requires the support of company leadership. Top managers must be prepared to take on the following:
*Describe for themselves and for others why the business is adopting Six Sigma. This rationale must be specific to the organization.
*Play an active role in planning and implementing Six Sigma goals. This will in turn affect the overall theme of the project, as well as its promotion.
*Create a marketing strategy to minimize employee worry or cynicism. The plan should be challenging but realistic.
*Become advocates for the system. To do so, leaders must learn and understand it fully. However, advocates do not necessarily need to be top management; a ground-up approach can also be effective.
*Set clear objectives. Specific objectives, tailored to the specific organization, should be understood by all and be attainable.
*Hold themselves and others accountable. Accountability can be achieved by aligning the Six Sigma effort or results to compensation.
*Get solid measurements of results. A balance of hard and soft results may work best, rather than an overreliance on currency saved or anecdotal information.
Leaders are the ones who will set the tone and direction for any change within a company. Without their support, a Six Sigma initiative cannot properly succeed.
Preparing Black Belts and Other Key Roles
An important task of Six Sigma lies is defining key roles for the organization. The authors suggest many roles a company should consider, if they do not already exist.
*The leadership council serves as a forum where planning and discussion among managers takes place. They establish the infrastructure of the Six Sigma program and help quantify its impact.
*The sponsor, or champion, is a senior manager who oversees a particular improvement project. This individual sets broad goals and keeps them aligned with larger business priorities. He or she is responsible for securing resources for projects and providing coaching where needed.
*The implementation leader manages and supports the day-to-day progress of the project, and prepares training and documentation.
*The coach is a technical expert who provides advice and help to improvement teams.
*A team leader or project leader takes primary responsibility for the work of the Six Sigma project, as well as its results.
*Team members provide additional support and help to spread the word about the project.
*The process owner has a cross-functional responsibility of working with the improvement teams and owning the newly designed processes. This person may also be the sponsor.
Six Sigma has adopted the martial arts terminology of Master Black Belts, Black Belts, Green Belts, and Yellow Belts to signify a level of training and mastery. Black Belts should be selected carefully, as they have a significant impact on the success or failure of a project.
Training the Organization for Six Sigma
A Six Sigma organization is always picking up on new information from its customers and elsewhere. These organizations use this knowledge to develop new and improved products and services. There are several essentials to effectively training an organization in the Six Sigma System, such as emphasizing “hands-on” learning; providing relevant, “real-world” examples; building knowledge; and making training an ongoing process that caters to different learning styles. The Six Sigma curriculum can be tailored to the styles and skills of each individual, but there are some skills that can be developed with a broader plan. Some examples of training elements are “Leading and Sponsoring Six Sigma Efforts,” which teaches project selection and role requirements, and “Advanced Six Sigma Tools,” which teaches quality function deployment and advanced statistical analysis.
Selecting the Right Six Sigma Projects
Project selection is considered to be the most commonly mishandled aspect of a Six Sigma program. Four essential steps for ensuring effective project selection are:
1. Provide guidance to leaders. A working meeting in which a team of leaders can discuss possible issues is important.
2. Launch a reasonable number of projects. Many companies take on too many small projects at once rather than focusing on the most important ones first.
3. Scope projects properly. A company may assign a monumental task to a team, failing to account for its massive scope and thereby setting the team up for frustration or failure.
4. Focus on efficiency and customer benefits. Financial gains are just one part of the overall result; just as important are improved market strength and a better competitive position.
When selecting projects, certain criteria to keep in mind include the impact on customers or business strategy, the available resources or support, and the likelihood of success. In the end, a selected project should be described in terms of the issue, its value, and the expectations of the team assigned to it.
PART THREE: IMPLEMENTING SIX SIGMA: THE ROADMAP AND TOOLS
Step 1: Identifying Core Processes and Key Customers
There are three main activities associated with the first step in the Six Sigma Roadmap. The first is to identify the business’ core processes. A core process is defined here as “a chain of tasks — usually involving various departments or functions — that deliver value.” Examples include customer acquisition, order fulfillment, and new product development. The second step is to define the major outputs of these processes, as well as the key customers. Managers should be careful to only define the most crucial outputs. The final step is to create core process maps that identify the main steps in each core process. When defining the activities that make up these processes, the authors use the SIPOC process model (supplier, input, process, output, and customer). This helps to display cross-functional activities in a single diagram and to maintain focus on the big picture.
Step 2: Defining Customer Requirements
Understanding and anticipating the wants and expectations of customers should be considered the most important core competency of any modern business. The second step on the roadmap focuses on finding a system that tracks and updates customer requirements, measures performance standards as defined by customers, maintains measurable service standards, and analyzes all of the above based on their importance to customers. Listening to and understanding the “voice of the customer” must be an ongoing priority. Managers should remember to pay equal attention to service requirements (how the customer is treated) versus output requirements (what is delivered to the customer in the end), and to keep an open mind toward new information about what the customer wants. These requirements must then be analyzed and prioritized in order to be properly linked to the company’s strategy.
Step 3: Measuring Current Performance
Gathering data can be extremely simple or difficult, depending on what is being measured. Either way, measuring data is necessary to both plan and track Six Sigma. A resulting benefit is the ability to monitor change and respond quickly and effectively. Some of the major deliverables of this process include collecting and measuring data from the company’s current performance against the customer’s requirements and identifying relative strengths and weaknesses in company processes. This information gives business leaders what they need to determine priorities for improvement. In addition, this data lays the foundation for ongoing measurement systems and results in a more responsive organization.
Step 4A: Six Sigma Process Improvement
When working through the Six Sigma process improvement steps, an organization’s goal should be to match or exceed its initial gains. Step 4A of the process focuses on the phases of DMAIC:
In this instance, define means to clarify the problem, the goal, the customer being served, and the process being investigated. Measure refers to determining the focus and extent of the problem, and narrowing it down to its major factors and root causes. The analyze phase tends to vary the most, depending on the problems presented. It is best defined as a cycle. Hypotheses are generated and analyzed to determine the root cause. If they are incorrect, a new hypothesis is created, and so on. Improve is the payoff. This phase requires creativity and careful consideration of new ideas, and should always keep the original objective in mind. Control marks the beginning of the sustained improvement of the Six Sigma system and is addressed in a later chapter.
Whenever a DMAIC tool is used, the team should have a clear understanding of why they are using it and have made a careful consideration of all possibilities. In these situations, simple is best. The team should always be able to recognize when a given tool is not working, and stop appropriately. Leaders should also recognize that process improvement is not linear; it is often cyclical. Revelations made along the way can inform and inspire revision of any step in the process, including its very foundation.
Step 4B: Six Sigma Process Design/Redesign
Asking a few key questions as they apply to a particular organization can help uncover the DMAIC process. What is the scope of the activities involved? What are the critical outputs and their requirements? How will the organization test and refine this new process? This type of design/redesign is needed because it places emphasis on the needs of the customer. There is no formula for how to launch a redesign effort, so companies must go about it based on their circumstances, such as existing needs or opportunities. The redesign conversion is a risk for any company, but it can be a calculated risk with proper planning. A process charter is used to set direction and define parameters. It also brings a sense of purpose to the process improvement team and the organization as a whole.
Step 5: Expanding and Integrating the Six Sigma System
Once a process improvement strategy has achieved its goal, it can become difficult to sustain the results. Sustained improvement can be achieved, however, by taking a few key actions:
*Implement ongoing measures. It helps to build support for the solution among others. Leaders should be inviting documentation on all changes made, and keeping that documentation brief, clear, and available. They should select meaningful, ongoing measures and display them in charts. They should also have response plans in place, in case something goes wrong.
*Define responsibility for process ownership. Leaders should be positioning their organizations to adopt a process management approach. They will get results efficiently so they can more effectively serve their customers and get buy-in from their employees. Process owners should be identified who can maintain and supervise any new system put into place.
*Execute “closed-loop” management. This means revisiting the very first steps of the process improvement roadmap: identifying core processes and key customers, defining customer requirements, and measuring performance.
Advanced Six Sigma Tools
There are more sophisticated Six Sigma tools and techniques that can bring about even greater change and development. These “power tools” have more specific applications and should be used with great care. Such tools include tests of statistical significance (in which patterns are found hidden in statistics that can confirm or validate change) and mistake-proofing (in which detection and correction of mistakes is emphasized). These types of solutions should be carried out by specially trained Black Belts.
The elements of the Six Sigma system can be applied to any business or organization to achieve sustained improvement and success. The system can be adapted to fit the unique goals of individual organizations.