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March 02, 2011

Can there be such a thing as too green?

I don't have the energy for a full-on entry right now, but this very interesting blog article caught my attention and I wanted to share it. In the light of our recent work on CSR, and Jack Welch's management policies, it is a very interesting read. I'll come clean, the reason I found it was that I just made an application to work for GE, and it was part of my research...:P But it seems to me that they're headed in a much better direction than they used to be...haha!

http://blogs.forbes.com/stevedenning/2011/03/01/dont-blame-green-for-ges-problems/

What are your thoughts?


February 21, 2011

What techniques are there for managing cultural and organizational diversity?

As the world becomes a smaller place, and we find ourselves working with different people from all walks of life, this becomes an increasingly important topic. I couldn't find any techniques as such, but the most important underlying theme was to do with effective communication. People from different cultural/organisational backgrounds will obviously have different ways of doing things, due to varying standards, expectations or norms.

The best way to combat any difficulties that might arise from this is to make sure that people understand each other. Effective communication crosses the boundaries, and help people to empathise with the position of others, and why certain things are important to certain people.

An inclusive environment also helps. People who feel welcome to be themselves are likely to be happier than those forced to live a lie. This may require an open mind on the part of a manager, along with a readiness to compromise and be adaptable to the needs of different types of people.

Brownell (2003) felt that self-monitoring, empathy, and strategic-decision making are important. The first is the awareness one has of how their behaviour affects others, and their willingness to change this based on the impact. The second is the ability of those on the end of communication to go beyond the spoken words to understand what is really meant, based on the communicator's background (feelings, values, assumptions and needs). The last relates to which channels of communication are used, and why. Certain ones will work better on/for certain people. 

Mor Barak (2010) agrees with many of these themes. She also adds that managers should use their knowledge of cultural differences to aid their understanding of what helps facilitate effective communication, and what can create barriers to it.


Brownell, Judi (2003). Developing Receiver-Centered Communication in Diverse Organizations. Listening Professional, 2(1), 5-25

Mor Barak, Michalle E. (2010). Managing Diversity:Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace. Sage


How do you manage people with strong personalities?

Well, the first thing that strikes me about this topic, is that working with people who have strong personalities is not necessarily a bad thing. From the context of leadership, it can actually be a very good thing, particularly if they share your vision and ideals.

From my own experience, and some quick research, I think there are some do's and don'ts regarding managing or leading a strong personality types. These are in no way exhaustive, or necessarily applicable to all situations:

Don't - 

  • Expect them to change, or think you can change them. Their personality is who they are, and any attempts you make will probably cause resentment on their part. 
  • Try to take the moral highground on an issue - it often leads to the other person getting defensive, making them unlikely or unwilling to cooperate with you later.
  • Make assumptions about why they act a certain way.
  • Try to control them, or show who's boss with displays of power, whether aggressively, or passively by making demeaning remarks to them or others about them. That shows weakness and insecurity.


Do - 

  • Manage your own emotions first of all. Understanding why you feel a certain way is important. Also, taking the time to make sure you are calm means you will act in a rational way. Instant, emotional responses are often destructive and uncontrolled.
  • Target the specific behaviours that you have a problem with. This is not the same as trying to redefine their personality. Addressing things like this in an open, honest, direct, but non-confrontational or blaming way (with reasons for why they are detrimental if possible) leads to positive results.
  • Get them focused on the goals that matter to you, by showing especially how they themselves might benefit. Strong personality types are often strongly goal-oriented, and so really motivated by new ideas and challenges.
  • Show strength and confidence, through assertiveness, body language, speech and tone of voice. People respond instinctively to these alpha characteristics, providing they appear natural rather than forced or over-the-top.
  • Stand your ground when you have made up your mind and don't back down easily.
  • But, always be open to suggestions, and ready to act on them. It conveys respect for their opinion, and by extension, them.
  • Praise them publicly, but only when they have done something that warrants this and they know it's not false.
  • Avoid or downplay conflict.

October 27, 2010

Looking back and forward, while watching the time slip away.

There's so much to do! Has anyone else been finding this? I don't feel like I'm struggling especially, but then perhaps I haven't been tested too strongly by demands as yet! During the two CBE weeks, I had some balance, but it was tilted towards the module and course. Since it finished, my focus has shifted the other way, onto me, and my various other goals and interests. I feel like this is going to be something of a running battle throughout the year...

I haven't done nearly enough so far this week. I think that's fair enough, seeing as I worked through the weekend, and then Monday was my birthday, and I decided in advance I was going to give myself a few days off. But, filling out my year planner yesterday night gave me the requisite kick up the bum to be more productive today! Did you know, that once you fill in the modules, the study weeks, time for PMA's, and the two weeks vacation at Christmas, you are left with 16 full weeks?! (I'm not including ReMe in this). So, at the recommended 45hrs working time/week, that gives you 720 hours for a project that is meant to take 900 hours. Say you are one of those who is only taking the mandatory 9 modules (which I'm now strongly considering!), then you have an extra two weeks, or a total of 810 project hours.

I know these numbers don't mean much really, it's about whether you use that time effectively. But still, that's a huge shortfall, without making any allowances for making mistakes, or taking an extra few days holiday somewhere (which is not unreasonable), or mild illness, etc. It really makes you think back to Paul's words about time being the major currency this year, and it's certainly more than enough to make you get out of bed at 8am on a dreary autumn morning, despite having nowhere to be!

It's probably good that we asked for that extra session on time management then. I know it definitely helped me, if nothing else, to realise just how many things I try to do every week (I think it was 184hrs worth... there are just 168 in an actual week, sadly), which is probably where my problems lie. Cutting things out is hard, and making yourself do the things you had to put aside for whatever reason, even harder.

Makes you wonder if all this reflective writing is a good use of time - guess I'll have to trust Paul on this one ;-) Back to the self-assessment, study skills work, PMA prep, and project selection and application I go!

Actually, never mind... I'll do it later this evening. I want to go and play football now. This is what weekly planners were meant for!


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