Heera Training and Management Consultancy

eNewsletter September 2010

Dear Everyone,

Hi! And how are you all? Firstly, a very happy 'Merdeka' to all Malaysians. I hope and pray that this great country of ours will continue to be bestowed with wise leaders who will be able to bring the nation to greater heights in the future. I also do hope that this beautiful country of ours will be blessed with peace, harmony and prosperity for many, many years to come.

As you can see, there has been a change in the format of the newsletter. Like most things, the newsletter needs constant rejuvenation to create excitement and hence this change. I do hope all of you will like this new design and I shall be more than happy to receive any feedback on this.

This month I want to talk about a very common management phenomenon in most organizations. I will illustrate it with the following scenario. It is the meeting room of a medium sized corporate organization and there is a managers meeting going on. The main items of the agenda have been discussed and they are on to the 'other matters' part of the meeting.

David, the IT manager puts up his hands and makes the following statement, "Mr. Chairman ( who happens to be the MD), I wish to bring your attention to the appalling state of the parking system in the company. Presently, there are not enough parking spaces for cars let alone motorbikes. The sign posting is also bad such that I have received many complaints from visitors. I think something should be done about this." The chairman nods and replies, "I agree with you on this David i.e. the present system is bad. Since you have brought this matter up, I am now appointing you to do a comprehensive study of the parking system and to come up with some effective solutions. I would appreciate it if the task can be completed in two weeks time to be tabled at the next manager's meeting." David then sits down perplexed and unhappy, amid the laughter of the others in the meeting room.

The above scenario sounds familiar doesn't it? All the IT manager did was to make a genuine and good suggestion and what happens: he gets 'punished' by being asked to do the job. This unfortunately is the fastest way to kill new ideas and to de-motivate staff who are enthusiastic about making the organization better. Employees will then be conditioned into not communicating ideas in the future for fear of also being given the burden to implement them. And this means that the organization will be deprived of very many good ideas and suggestions which could tremendously improve its effectiveness and efficiency.

Some possible ways out of this dilemma are as follows:

a. Always appoint the person responsible rather than the person who suggested. For example, if it is a car park problem, then it should be the facilities manager rather than the IT manager who has to tackle the problem.

b. When good suggestions are made, sometimes it will be good for the superior not to take immediate action, but to say that the matter will be looked into. A month later, he could bring up the matter again, but this time appoint the rightful person to look into it. In this way, there will not be conflict between the person who suggested and the person who has to do it. Employees usually do not like others who make suggestions which could result in an increased work load for them.

c. Organize and manage a suggestion scheme in the organization. A little reward will usually assist greatly.

d. Finally praise those who make good suggestions or bring up good issues rather than 'punishing' them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. To all my Muslim friends, Selamat Berpuasa and may God bless you always in this holy month of Ramadan. Till my next newsletter, have a great month ahead.