Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Colleagues Management

Managing Colleagues

Managing Colleagues is more difficult than managing either the boss or the subordinates. With subordinates, we have the authority or hierarchy. With the boss, we have the authority of performance. With colleagues we have neither. In fact, prominent display of performance can be dysfunctional, as it can arouse antagonism due to jealously. Colleagues can be managed by establishing a relationship through: Informal Interaction, Reciprocity and Sharing of Credit.
The formal interaction on the job invariably involves compartmental or departmental feuds among the various functions. However, approaching the colleague informally on a personal basis creates a closer relationship that can set aside the barriers of compartmental feuds.
Managing the colleagues also calls for also calls for reciprocity. Giving a colleague priority when he wants something from your department means a good possibility of getting priority when you want something from his department.
It makes a world of difference when you share your credit with colleagues. It sets a positive reaction and they feel that you value their cooperation. Thus, a performing executive has to use the ‘lamp-shade’ strategy. A floor-lamp with a lamp-shade ensures that the light goes above and below – but does not give a glare on side. Similarly, a performing executive ensures that the light of performance reaches the top management and his own subordinates – out minimizes the glare amongst his colleagues.


We have to recognize that listening is the most important aspect of communication and to develop the art of listening is a vital aspect of the management process. Like all communication processes, the listening process improves only if you consider yourself responsible for the success of listening and take initiative to keep it effective.
The success of communication lies in two factors: the first is the satisfaction of the communicator that he got a fair and full hearing whatever might be the ultimate decision. The second factor is the insight that the listener gets not only about the facts of the problem but also about the viewpoint and the emotional aspects of the communicator. A manager can create confidence as an open, reasonable and fair person only through reflective listening and on this are based the organizational morale as well as the truly successful public relations.
If we take a bird’s eye view of the motivational factors in the two hundred years of modern industry, we find that the management efforts started with the use of fear as the prominent motivational factor to induce time-discipline and task-discipline. The use of monetary incentive to introduce method-discipline was the next step in motivational management. The recognition of the role played by social motivation is the development in the last generation and the realization of motivation for creativity as the most important factor in modern industry has occurred in our generation. The Indian manger of today has to deal with an industrial process that has telescoped the two hundred years of western industrial development into a single generation. Consequently, the manager still has to use fear as a motivating factor-albeit of decreasing importance. In the organized sector industry where trade unions are fairly strong, the threat of firing is no longer easy to implement. Even less drastic disciplinary actions have to be used very sparingly-thus reducing the potency of motivation through fear.


The barriers to communications are: 1. Language or “coding” of ideas so that they are easily understood. 2. Transmission: the communication does not suffer from distraction. 3. Hostility: This is the most difficult barrier because it comes from inside and not outside. Hotility is created by the parental messages received-many of them create bias against caste, community, language, state, religion, etc.
Another barrier to communication is feuds. A lot of hostility is created in organizations by feuds between departments. How do these feuds occur? This hostile attitude – I am OK you are not OK – is responsible for a lot of problems in communication. This feelings comes because of the way we have been brought up. Whenever there is conflict there are two routes available: one is the right –wrong, good-bad route which invariably leads to quarrel. The other route is understanding, compromise, co-existence. Depending on our upbringing, we are likely to take the approach and this gives us an image of being a reasonable or unreasonable person. Operating continuously with the hostile prejudices or I’m OK You are not OK attitude, one can develop a dysfunctional life script which makes communication difficult.


Perhaps the most difficult problem that we face after retirement is the psychological problem. When an executive retires, he is at the peak of his career-of his status, prestige, money. The day he retires, all this starts leaking out. He finds that everything is becoming less and less. The first thing he notices is the way his status and prestige are affected. Even at home, a retired person is no longer the important person. If he, in the morning, ask for breakfast early, wife says, “ You are retired man now, relax! Let others go first”. So he find he is no longer number one-he is now number ten. This is not very easy to take after a person has been number one for most part of his life. A similar problem arises in terms of being received by his friends and relatives. When we puts a phone call and says please call back – if he is a retired person, the chances of getting the call back get diminished. A friend of mine who retired as a senior army officer, said the year he retired he got 600 greeting cards for the new year, after two years they were sixty, after five years only six. Greeting cards are not important – except that they show how people regard you and that is important.


Delegation is not a single step process of abdication. Effective delegation is a four step process. This really works.
The step is ‘plan-and-check’: In this step, the executive calls his subordinate and clarifies the objective of the task being delegated to the subordinate. Then he asked the subordinate to plan the tasks and check with him before carrying him out. This step is repeated till the subordinate is able to plan satisfactorily.
Second step is ‘check-and-trouble’: In this step the subordinate is asked to carry out the task-but the boss is available whenever the subordinate wants to check with him. This builds the boss’s confidence in the subordinate and the subordinate’s confidence in himself and the boss. Once his confidence has been built up, the third step may be introduced.
The third step is the ‘feedback system’ step: In this step, the executive has a routine feedback meeting with the subordinate in which he checks on the performance of the task.
When the executive is fully satisfied, that the task is being performed competently, he may take the fourth and the last step that is, ‘abdication’. At this stage the task is being performed by the subordinate without any formal reference to the boss.
All effective delegation must end in abdication!


There is a problem, which exists at all levels of management but becomes severely accentuated at the top level-that is the problem of power. The first aspect of the problem is how much power to share with the people below. This is not a very easy decision because sharing power excessively can create a situation where the top man is rendered virtually powerless. At the other end of the pendulum there can be a situation where everybody else feels totally powerless and every decision has to go to the chief executive. To find the balance between the two is very important skill the top manager has to develop.
The second is the problem of information. Whenever a person has power, the power creates the problem of information. Everybody wants to tell the person in power what he feels the person in power would like to hear. This means very often the information is doctored. Again, many people approaching the top manager have their viewpoints and their axes to grind. That also causes distortion. This means that the top is very rarely with the real information about what is happening around him.

criteria for good interviews

A real good interview is one which does three things:
1. It gives the person interviewed a feeling that he is getting a fair treatment from the organization. This is essential for public relations and for the reputation of the organization.
2. The interviewer must feel that he has got a good understanding of the strong and weak points of the candidate.
3. The requirement of the organization and the skills available with the candidates are compared and discuss.


There are basically three sources of authority.
The first is hierarchical which comes from the organizational position. However, hierarchical authority is not really accepted by the younger generation.
The second authority is the authority of expertise. If a manager is an expert, the subordinates say: ‘Boss is nasty – but he knows. Better check with him.’ With changing technology, expertise is becoming difficult. The subordinate who is operating the new technology may have greater expertise compared to the boss who has only studied the catalogue.
The third authority is the authority of concern. This is the authority every housewife enjoys. The housewife has no hierarchical authority; she has no authority of expertise. She has the authority of concern – the word ‘worry.’ She uses the concern control the husband and children.


The performance appraisal system as it exists today in most organizations. Is not really relevant to present times. The judgmental appraisal is useful only where there are ambitious subordinates who want to get feedback to decide for themselves to stay in the organization or find greener pastures elsewhere.
It is the developmental appraisal, which is going to be useful for improving the performance of subordinates. In developmental appraisal, the first step taken is to avoid comparison with other subordinates. A person’s performance must be compared with the performance he is capable of, rather than with the performance of his colleagues. If this sis emphasized and everybody is encouraged to think that he is capable of better performance, then the performance appraisal starts on the right note. Secondly, the performance appraisal must be taken not as a feedback only to the subordinate, but also as a feedback to the boss. The subordinate conveying to the boss what kind of support he would require-which has been lacking in the past-is a very important feedback for the boss to receive and act upon. Thirdly, the performance appraisal must avoid a sermonizing attitude on the part of the boss and consequent defensive attitude on the part of the subordinate.
If the post-appraisal counseling is effective, the subordinate is encouraged to think about his own performance, to introspect and make of plan of action as to how is going to improve the performance. In light of this, the developmental plans for the subordinate in the areas of technology, systems or relationship can be drawn. Then the performance appraisal and counseling can end in improved performance for the subordinate, the boss and the organization.


Perhaps the most important aspect in managing the service industry is the aspect of teamwork. Teamwork is important in manufacturing industry also-but in service industry teamwork becomes vital. For example, in a bank, if a client has to cash a cheque, two-three-four persons in a bank have to co-ordinate, so that the client gets the service. In a hotel, the co-ordination between the reception, room service and house keeping is essential if the customer has to receive satisfactory service.
This teamwork is not natural. Within the various groups concerned there is always a feud. People feel that they belong to a specific compartment and each compartment has certain grudge and feeling about other compartments. Unless these feelings are overcome and people understand the importance of teamwork, we would not get adequate service.


The word decision-making denotes choice of alternatives. The most frequent decision is the programmed decision (like the mail-clerk decision to decide the postage) - information gives the decision.
The second type is the operational decision where decision were information plays an important role-but judgment has to be used. Each manager may use a judgment in a different way and we may get different decisions when the information is essentially the same.
Judgment plays a more important role in the strategic decision e.g. location of factor, product-mix, technology, capacity, etc. These are vital decisions. If these decisions are wrong, in spite of good operational decisions, the factory may end up in a disaster. In the case of strategic decision, although a lot of information is collected, intuition plays the deciding role.
The last category of decision is the entrepreneurial decision. These are essentially three: How much to invest, where to get the resources from, who should be the chief executive. These are vital decisions for the long-term success of an organization. In these decisions, information plays a very small role. The entrepreneur taking these decisions will have to use his judgment to the full extent and this is why these are called entrepreneurial decisions.


Depending on the environmental situation, historical background and management efforts, the organization will essentially have three types of unions.
The first is the ‘collaborative’ unions which is ready to collaborate with the management and consider the management’s view-point when there is a conflict. The union itself thinks of a compromise that would be acceptable to the workers.
The second type of union is the ‘confronting’ union. Here the union confronts the management for various demands of the workers. A series of negotiations go on for a long time and thereafter a compromise is reached as a package deal which both sides are ready to accept and live with for the next three or four years.
The third is the ‘militant’ union. This is the most difficult to deal with because any compromise made or any concessions given is considered a sign of weakness and increases the appetite to ask for more. This union also uses violence to intimidate workers (and even mangers) to create pressure and to create unity amongst workers.


It is not only the high quality that satisfies the consumers. Often his ideas are subjective. Till a few years ago, all electric bulbs were produced in the same plant, but were marketed by different organizations. The customer were ready to pay a higher price for the leading brands and felt they were getting a better performance. Similarly, it is not a high wage level that satisfies the employees. In fact, a unit paying the highest wages is likely to have maximum labour problems. The employees feel that they have no alternative but to stick to the organization and cannot vote against it by resigning and finding another job with the same or better emoluments. Consequently, the employees with grievances stay on to spread their discontent. Likewise, the company, which gives the maximum return, does not necessarily enjoy the greatest confidence of the investor. Thus, in each case it can be shown that it is not merely the technical performance that brings the greatest reputation. Unless the technical performance is used politically to project the image and influence the stakeholders, it is not possible for the organization to gain reputation.
An organization achieves both the ‘technical’ performance and the ‘political’ performance through managers. Consequently, the effectiveness of managers is a vital aspect of the organization’s effectiveness.

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