ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Increase Productivity - Save Money

Saving Money while Increasing Productivity

When I look over the shoulders (metaphorically speaking) of the employees of my clients, I often see them doing unnecessary work and making things harder for themselves.  In part it is because no one taught them the simplest most effective system to do their tasks – instead in the mis-use of the concept of empowerment they were told to figure it out themselves.  In my opinion that is management abrogating responsibility.

Another reason is because people invent these elaborate systems to prevent embezzlement or fraud – often the solution is far more costly than the real risk involved.  Yes, we need checks and balances – but sometimes we go way too far. It’s a challenge for me to help these people realize that some of what they are doing isn’t worthwhile.

Sometimes getting outside expertise to work WITH your team enables everyone to look at things differently and to find more effective and less-costly solutions to solving problems.

We don’t all know all the answers. 

I don’t do my own taxes – because to do so would require extensive new learning annually for just me.  It doesn’t pay.  On the other hand, my accountant learns all the new laws because he or she is applying them to hundreds of cases.

I don’t service my own car.  I don’t know how.  I don’t want to know how.  I use people I trust who are reliable and ethical.  They do a far better job than I ever could, even if I learned how.

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Although styles differ, there are basically only a few primary goals in negotiation:  Win/win, win/lose or lose/lose. 

Of course the best of them is to create a win/win situation.  If both parties are satisfied with the results of their negotiation they will work positively to meet the agreed to terms.  They will also be able to have continued relationships with each other.  This of course requires an attitude of goodwill and cooperation.  The parties to the negotiation must be willing to really listen to and respect the needs and concerns of the other parties.  They must play fair.

In win/lose negotiation, one of the parties uses their position of power to intimidate and bully the other party.  There is no courtesy – indeed they are often condescending, accusing and intimidating.  They gloat over their positions of power.

In a lose/lose situation neither party gets what they want and need because one or both sides are intransigent.  They stick to their guns no matter what the other group is trying to say.  It is more important to them not to give ground than it is to negotiate a winning conclusion.

So what are some of the techniques that enable you to reach a win/win agreement? 

In the following two examples, the strategies differed Among them are the ability to step into the other parties shoes and really understand what he or she is saying they need – and why.  Another strategy is to help them by making suggestions as to what they can do to meet your needs.  In the first example below, I figured out what I could do to help the other person give me what I wanted.  Make it easy for them.  In the second, long time loyalty and relationship enabled me to negotiate more effectively.

Let me give you one example each of these methods.

In salary negotiations the applicant and the hiring manager eventually get to sit down to talk terms.  Each has a range that they are comfortable with – and each hides that basic information from the other.  They haggle back and forth and eventually it is important for the applicant to find a way to increase the offer.   In a role-play the other day, I was playing the applicant.  The hiring manager offered me an amount that was at the top of her available range.  I continued to be positive, to explain that I really wanted the job and liked the company, and wondered what else she could possibly do.  She finally offered me a $5,000.00 signing bonus.  I thanked and asked if it were possible to make that annual.  She agreed, thus I had increased my salary by $5,000.00 a year – now well into my desirable range.

I did it by giving her a way to give me what I wanted.  In other words, you have to make it easy for the other side.

Of course that’s not the only way to create a win/win situation.  Let me give you another example.

When negotiating for a car a few years ago, I knew my limit.  I told the salesman that I would buy the car (which I loved – and had already ooohed and ahhheed about) my bottom line and stuck to it.  It was five thousand dollars less than they were asking.  I knew they wanted to sell the car (it was used) and so stuck to my limit.  The salesman played the usual games of going back and forth from “the back room” each time lowering his offer by $500.00.  I stood firm, but polite.  Guess what!  I walked out with the car at my bottom line price.  Now, I wasn’t asking for anything outrageously lower than reasonable, but it was lower than they wanted.  I knew what was reasonable – and had a prior good relationship with the dealer.  The reason they eventually yielded was because the owner of the dealership came in just as we were going back and forth and I said “Hi – tell your team to be good to me.”  He did.  They did.   Relationship trumped money.  I still deal with them and the next time I buy a car, it will probably be from them.

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A set up for failure

I was reading a book on Leadership and Persuasion today, in preparation for some workshops I will be conducting when I had an epiphany.  I was brought in to consult for a company that had been sold to another company - and was set up for failure.  Let me tell you the story.

The Vice-President of HR hired me to work with the conflict and emotional turmoil that was occurring because of what felt like a hostile takeover.  In fact, the merger was really an acquisition.  So, many people were being fired when I arrived.

Rather than introducing me to the rest of the executive staff, I was left to my own devices.  Rather than clearly articulate my role, I was left to define it myself.  Rather than being available to me as I needed him, this VP was always "too busy."

In talking with other executives, I learned that they asked him many months previously to hire me (or someone like me) to help with the turmoil of the acquisition.  He stalled.  Presumably the reason was because he thought his regular HR team could handle the fallout.  His team was weak.

Many members of the executive staff told me that they no longer needed me.  The damage had been done.  They needed me months previously to help them explain what was happening to their teams, counsel members who were being fired to help them with their resumes, interviews for new jobs, etc., and to work with the guilt and anger those remaining were experiencing.

The HR VP was seen by the other executives as ineffective - and as working hard to protect his own job and his own turf.

Since I knew his wife socially, I later learned that he claimed that "I didn't understand the power politics" and was unable to ingratiate myself into the company.

At first I thought the failure had been my fault.  My epiphany today was the realization that he made a series of errors that made me look bad.

Consultants are often in vulnerable positions.  They absolutely need the support of the senior executives who hire them.  Without that, they are wandering in the wilderness.

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Monday, July 07, 2014

"Inscription on the Statue of Liberty"

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Author: Emma Lazarus

Once that was true - but almost always with strings attached.  

According to some experts, when the Jews came over Peter Stuyvesant met their boats and extracted a promise that they would always take care of their own.  Thus, the service organization B'nai Brith was created.

During Hitler;s regime the boatloads of Jews trying to escape being annihilated were turned away.

Cuban's escaping Castro were allowed to remain if their feet could touch the shore.

Where is the balance?  How do we determine who and how many?   If we had a totally open door policy would we be encouraging millions of people to leave their countries of origin to come here - just the thousands we could readily absorb?

The great compliment of course - never to be forgotten - is no matter how much we may complain about our country - and how much we want to "tweak" it to improve it - it is still the greatest country in the world - the proof being it's where everyone wants to be.

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