Sunday, January 31, 2010

Kotter's Change Model

What was true more than two thousand years ago is just as true today. We live in a world where "business as usual" IS change. New initiatives, project-based working, technology improvements, staying ahead of the competition - these things come together to drive ongoing changes to the way we work.
You know that the change needs to happen, but you don't really know how to go about doing delivering it. Where do you start? Whom do you involve? How do you see it through to
the end?
Many ideas about change originate with leadership and change management guru, John Kotter. A professor at Harvard Business School, Kotter introduced his eight-step change process in his
1995 book, "Leading Change." We look at his eight steps for leading change below.

Step One: Create Urgency

For change to happen, it helps if the whole company really wants it. Develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. This may help you spark the initial motivation to get things moving.

Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition

Convince people that change is necessary. This often takes strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organization. Managing change isn't enough - you have to lead it. You can find effective change leaders throughout your organization - they don't necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy.
To lead change, you need to bring together a coalition, or team, of influential people whose power comes from a variety of sources, including job title, status, expertise, and political importance.

Step Three: Create a Vision for Change

When you first start thinking about change, there will probably be many great ideas and solutions floating around. Link these concepts to an overall vision that people can grasp easily and remember. A clear vision can help everyone understand why you're asking them
to do something. When people see for themselves what you're trying to achieve, then the directives they're given tend to make more sense.

Step Four: Communicate the Vision

What you do with your vision after you create it will determine your success. Your message will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the company, so you need to communicate it frequently and powerfully, and embed it
within everything that you do. When you keep it fresh on everyone's minds, they'll remember it and respond to it.

Step Five: Remove Obstacles

If you follow these steps and reach this point in the change process, you've been talking about your vision and building buy-in from all levels of the organization. Put in place the structure for change, and continually check for barriers to it. Removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision, and it can help the change move forward.

Step Six: Create Short-term Wins

Nothing motivates more than success. Give your company a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of
change), you'll want to have results that your staff can see. Without this, critics and negative thinkers might hurt your progress. Create short-term targets - not just one long-term goal.

Step Seven: Build on the Change

Kotter argues that many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change. Launching one new product using a new system is great. But if you can launch 10 products, that means the new system is working. To reach that 10th success, you need to keep looking for improvements.

Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture

Finally, to make any change stick, it should become part of the core of your organization. Your corporate culture often determines what gets done, so the values behind your vision must show in day-to-day work.

Internet Recruitment

Firms can’t always get all the employees they need from their current staff, and sometimes they just don’t want to. We’ll look at the sources firms use to find outside candidates next.

Recruiting via the Internet:

Most people today go online to look for jobs. One survey found that on typical day, more than 4 million people turn to the Web looking for jobs. Surveys how that for most employers and for most jobs, Internet based ad and recruiting is far and away the recruiting source of choice. The Cheese cake Factory gets about a third of its management applicants via the Web.

Rather than place their own Internet ads on their own sites or sites like, many managers do keyword searches on sites like Hot Jobs’ resume database. For example when the HR manager for one hydraulic products company placed a Sunday ad in his local newspaper, it cost $3,000 and produced about 30 resumes, 10% of which were relevant By comparison he found that keyword search of the Hot Job database produced 52 resumes many of which included the necessary industry experience I find more qualified candidates by searching for resumes than posting ads, he says New sites are capitalizing on the popularity of social networking tom provide recruiting assistance. For example users register by supplying their name, location and the kind of work they do on sites like monster networking and These sites facilitate developing personal relationships for networking hiring and employee referrals.

Advantages: In general, the Web is a cost effective way to publicize opening; it generates more responses quicker and for a longer time at less cost, than just about any other method. Foe example, Marsha Wheatley, human resource director or the Washington DC based American Crop Protection association no longer runs $ 4000 ads in the Washington Post when she’s looking for professionals. Instead ads on cost only $ 200. Instead of a tiny ad that says, ACPA needs an accountant they get a whole page to describe the job, give information about the association and include a link to one website. She estimates that she averages nine times as many applicants via the online ad. A newspaper ad might have a life span of perhaps 10 days, whereas the Internet as may keep attracting applications or 30 days or more.


Internet recruiting has two potential problems that employers must address:

First, fewer older people and certain minorities use the Internet, so automated online application gathering and screening may inadvertently exclude higher numbers of older applicants and certain minorities. To prove they’ve complied with EEOC laws, employers should keep track of each applicant’s track of each applicant’s race, sex, and ethnic group. However, it’s so easy to submit resumes online that many applications are unsolicited and not job specific. Therefore, many applicants may not applicants for EEOC purposes. The inter-agency uniform guidelines on employee selection procedures define an Internet applicant as follows:

1) The employer has acted to fill a particular position.
2) The individual has followed the employer’s standard procedures for submitting an application.
3) The individual has indicated an interest in the particular position.

Note that under this definition the employer probably need not keep track of non applicant race, sex, or ethnic group.

The second challenge is that Internet recruiting is often too much of a good thing: employers end up deluged within resumes. There are several ways to handle this. The Cheesecake factory, as noted earlier, posts detailed job duties listings, so those not interested need not apply. Another approach is to have job seekers complete short online prescreening questionnaire and then use these responses to identify those that that may proceed in the hiring process. (This carries legal risks, particularly if the device disproportionately screens out minority or women applicants) Most employers also use applicant tracking systems, to which we now turn.

On Recruitment Ads

While Web based recruiting is rapidly replacing help wanted ads, a glance at almost any paper or business or professional magazine will confirm that print ads are still popular. To use help wanted ads successfully, employers have to address two issues: the advertising medium and the ad’s construction.

The Media:

The selection of the best medium – be the local paper, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, TV, (or some other) depends on the positions or which you’re recruiting. For example the local newspaper is often the best source for local blue collar help, clerical employees, and lower level administrative employees. On the other hand, if recruiting for workers with special skills such as nurses you’d probably want to advertise in Kerala, even if you are in Delhi. The point is to target your ads where they’ll reach your prospective employees.

For specialized employees, one can advertise in trade and professional journals like American Psychologist, Sales Management, Chemical Engineering, Electronic News, Travel Trade, and Women’s Wear daily. Indian firms seeking specialized employees advertise in professional journals like Vikalpa, University News, Economic and Political associations. Help wanted ads in papers like the Times of India ad The Hindustan Times can be good sources of middle or senior management personnel. Most of these print outlets now include online ads with the purchase of print help anted ads.

Technology is enabling companies to be more creative about they advertise for job applicants. For example Electronic arts the world’s largest video game publisher, knows that our best [job] candidates hang out online and read gaming magazines. The company therefore uses its products to help solicit job applicants. For example, Electronic Arts includes information about its internship program on the back of its video game manuals. Thanks to non-traditional techniques like these, the firm now has a database of over 200,000 potential job candidates. It also has special tracking software to identify potential applicants with specific skills, and to facilitate ongoing communications (via e-mail) with everyone in its database.

Constructing the Ad: Experienced advertisers use a four guide labeled AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) to construct ads. You must, of course, attract attention to the ad or readers may just miss or ignore it. An ad from one paper’s classified section the words next key player certainly helps. Employers usually advertise key positions in separate display ads like this one.

Next, develop interest in the job. You can create interest by the nature of the job itself, with lines such as are you looking to make an impact? You can also use other aspects of the job, such as its location, to create interest.

Create desire by spotlighting the job’s interest factors with words such as travel or challenge. As an example, having a graduate school nearby may appeal to engineering and professional people.

Finally, the ad should prompt action, with a statement like call today or please for ward your resume. (And, of course, as explained earlier, the ad should comply with equal employment laws, avoiding features like, man wanted).

Employment Ads and Image: Smart employers don’t just use ads to attract recruits, they also use them to create the company image they want to project. For example, in one study, researchers surveyed 133 students who were graduating with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in engineering. For these students, job related ads where significantly related tot heir perceptions if the company. The results suggest that employers should try to create positive impressions of their companies through their job postings, Web sites, and other means. Building word of mouth reputation is also important: From a practical standpoint, the results indicate that expanding and capitalizing on word of mouth endorsements will [proved] a highly effective and economical method for increasing applicant [inquiries].

Friday, January 29, 2010

Good Executive Recruiters

Executive recruiters (also headhunters) are special employment agencies retained by employers to seek out top management talent for their clients. The percentage of your firm’s potions filled by these services might be small. However, these jobs include key executive and technical positions. For executive positions, headhunters may be your only source of candidates. The employer always pays the fees.

There are two types of executive recruiters – contingent and retained. Members of the association of Executive Search Consultants usually focus on executive positions paying $ 150,000 or more, and on retained executive search. This means they are paid regardless of whether or not the employer eventually hires the executives through the efforts of the research firm. Contingency based recruiters tend to handle junior to middle level management job searches in the $50,000 to $ 150,000 range. Whether retained or contingent fess is beginning to drop from the usual 30% or more of the executive’s first year pay. For example, in one survey about 96% of clients paying executives search fees paid the full 30% in 2000. This dropped to 77% in 2001 and to 70% in 2002.

Two trends – technology and specialization are changing the executive search business. Most recruiting firms have or use Internet linked computerized databases the aim of which, according to one senior recruiter, is to create a long list [of potential candidates] by pushing a button. Korn / Ferry has an internet service called Future step to draw more managerial applicants into its files.

Executive recruiters are also becoming more specialized and the large ones are creating new businesses aimed specially at specialized functions or industries. For example, LAI Ward Howell launched a new business specializing in financial executives with bases in London and New York.

Pros and Cons:

Recruiters are often irreplaceable. They have many contacts and are especially adept at contacting qualified, currently employed candidates who aren’t actively looking to change jobs. They can also keep your firm’s name confidential until late into the search process. The recruiter can have top management’s time by advertising for the position and screening what could turn out to be hundreds of applicants. The recruiter’s fee might actually turn out to be insignificant compared with the cost of the executive time saved.

But there are pitfalls. As an employer, it is essential to explain completely what sort of candidate is required and why. Some recruiters also may be more interested in persuading you to hire a candidate than in finding one who will really do the job. Recruiters also claim that what their clients say they want is often not really what the clients want. Therefore, be prepared or some in-depth dissecting of your request.

Guidelines: In choosing a recruiter, guidelines include:

1) Make sure the firm is capable of conducting a thorough search. Under their ethics code, a recruiter can’t approach the executive talent of a former client for a period of two years after completing a search for that client. Since former clients are off limits for two years, the recruiters must from a constantly diminishing pool.
2) Met the individual who will actually handle your assignment
3) Make sure to ask how much the search firms charges. Get the agreement in writing.
4) Never rely solely on the executive recruiter (or other search professional, such as employment agency) to do all the reference checking. Certainly, let them check the candidates’ references, but get notes of these references in writing from the recruiter (if possible). And, in any event, make sure to check at least the final candidate’s references yourself.

On demand Recruiting Services (ODRS):

A service that provides short term specialized recruiting to support specific projects without the expenses of retaining traditional search firms.

ODRS provide short term specialized recruiting assistance to support specific projects without the expenses of retaining traditional search firms. They are basically recruiters who get paid by the hour or project, instead of a percentage fee. For example, when the human resource manger for a biotech firm had to hire several dozen people with scientific degrees n expenses in pharmaceuticals, she decided an ODRS firm was her best option. A traditional recruiting firm might charge 20 to 30% of each hire’s salary, a prohibitive amount for a small company. The ODRS firm charged by time, rather than per hire. It handled recruiting analysis and prescreening and left the client with a short list of qualified candidates to put through the employer’s own internal screening process.

HR As A Career

With HR becoming a key strategic contributor to business, it has become a much sought after function for job aspirants today. However, several HR professionals complain that finding a job within the HR domain is not and easy task. Here’s what some top leaders have to say about this ironical perception.

These are people who get us our jobs, organize lucrative induction sessions, introduce us to the right mentors, address issues related to employee grievances and ensure our journey into any organization is a smooth one. HR professionals are no longer just doing back end jobs, but are now considered active decision makers too in subjects related to business. The creativity and innovation that they bring to the table in matters concerning recruitment, the incentive approach they harbor towards people management and experiments that they conduct to ensure retention and employee motivation are a few factors that led to the transformation of HR from being timekeeping function to key strategic contributor to business goals.

Several aspirants are ken on starting a career in HR as it throws lucrative opportunities. Career analysts point out that demand for HR jobs will increase in the future and the median annual income for careers in HR too will shoot up. However, in India, it has been observed that getting a job in the HR department is not an easy task. Also, people already in HR who is seeking out for a change find it difficult to grab a good opportunity as not many vacancies are advertised as openly as the rest.

Why is it so difficult for HR professionals to find a job for themselves? Most organizations work on an average ratio of 100:1 which means, for 100 employees there is one HR personnel that is hired. Also, the size of the HR department depends on the culture and size of the organization. The trend also seen these days is that of organizations resorting to technology and outsourcing HR transactions. However in certain verticals like BPO, the number of HR personnel required is more because of the size of the organization and high levels of hiring and attrition that take place.

An organization may grow multiple folds, but a good ratio of an HR team in any organization will be less than 1 per cent for large organizations and 1 to 1.5 per cent for medium and small organizations of the total strength of the organization. Hence, if you compare the availability of opportunities compared to other professions, the opening are very less.

Finishing MBA around 25 years ago, HR heads of different companies were not very well known. But now, there are some very big names and people have become like brands in HR. Therefore, it is seen as recognition of HR as a function itself taking place very significantly in the past 10 years or so. And also, even in terms of what these people get paid and the kind of responsibilities they shoulder, there is a very big change form what it was earlier; therefore, one is not very sure whether getting jobs per se has become difficult for them. But what is important to realize is that the quantum of jobs in HR is basically less.

There are seven management functions of a human resources (HR) department staffing performance appraisals compensation and benefits, training and development, employee and labor and human resource research. The HRM staff in larger organizations may include human resource generalists and human resource specialists too. As the name implies, a HR generalist is routinely with all seven HRM functions while an HR specialist focuses his / her attention on only one of the seven responsibilities. So, has the trend changed from hiring generalists HR people to hiring specialists HR managers?

While at a middle management level specialist skills may be required, at top and operational levels, generalist skills are preferred. Specialists: HR professionals might be in demand when that particular industry vertical is growing but it is always the generalists professionals who are more in demand as they have the expertise of working with various industry verticals goals, every HR professional aspires to head the HR department of an organization and one can only do that by being a generalist equipped with the knowledge of all HR domains.

These terms are used normally at the entry and middle levels where people do undifferentiated jobs, which are largely transactional in nature. If you look at HR out sourcing then certainly, it requires a certain level of specialization. But if you look at the bulk of jobs, about 60-70 per cent of them are in functional Hr. For person working in HR, you have to know everything. You can’t afford to be a master of just one area as at some point, it will hamper your growth. Hence, if you are getting into an organization, it is best to have wide range of HR exposure.

This goes by the maturity of the organization. In large organizations each sub function of HR will have accountability for that particular vertical and it is important to have specialists in those areas, whereas in small organizations, generalists can play multiple roles within HR. For example, we created a specialist role for performance management recently in order to link the scorecard approach to Performance Management Systems (PMS) All that we did was move a HR generalist to win this process and groomed him /her to be a specialist in PMS.

So, what is that HR professionals should keep in mind in order to crack it through some good jobs? In my opinion before seeking n opportunity in HR, it is important for aspirants to understand the underlined purpose of this function. HR professionals at junior levels should be open to working in various HR sub-domains and should not restrict themselves to one particular sub-domain. As they climb up the organizational ladder, they should look to some form of specialization to the middle level and again generalize at a senior level.

So, if you were finding it difficult to crack it through that HR job, apply these tips and you are sure to land yourself a great job soon.

Business Gender Biasness

Business negotiations are perhaps the most fundamental commercial rituals. All the just discussed differences in business customs and culture come into play more frequently and are more obviously in the negotiating process than in any other aspect of business. The basic elements of business negotiations are the same in any country. They relate to the product, it product, its price and terms, services associated with the product and finally friendship between vendors and customers. But it is important to remember that the negotiating process is complicated, and the risk of misunderstanding increases when negotiating with someone from another culture.

Attitudes brought the negotiating table by each individual are affected by many cultural factors and customs often unknown to the other participants and perhaps unrecognized by the individuals themselves. His or her cultural background conditions of each negotiator’s understanding and interpretation of what transpires in negotiating sessions. The possibility of offending one another or misinterpreting each other’s motives is especially high when ones’ self reference criteria (SRC) forms the basis for assessing a situation. One standard rule in negotiating is Know thyself reference criteria is the basis for assessing a situation. One standard rule in negotiating is Know thyself first and second know your counterpart. The SRC of both parties can come into play here if care is not taken.

The gender bias against women managers that exists in some countries, coupled with myths harbored by male mangers, creates hesitancy among US multinational companies to offer women international assignments. Although women constitute nearly half of the US workforce, they represent relatively small percentages of the employees who are chosen for international assignments – only 18 percent. Why? The most frequently cited reason, the inability of women to succeed abroad, might be more fiction than fact. As one executive was quoted as saying, overall female American executive tend not to be as successful in extended foreign work assignments as are male American executives. Unfortunately such attitudes are shared by many and probably stem from the belief that the traditional roles of women in male dominated societies preclude women from establishing successful relationships wit host country associates. An often asked question is whether it is appropriate to send women to conduct business with foreign customers in cultures where females are typically not in managerial positions. To some it appears logical that if women are not accepted in managerial roles within their own cultures, a foreign woman will not be any more acceptable.

It is true that in many cultures – Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American – women are not typically found in upper levels of management and men and women are treated very differently. Indeed, the scariest newspaper headline ever written may have been Asia Vanishing Point for as many as 100 Million Women. The article appearing in the International Herald Tribune in 1991, points out that the birth rate in most countries around the world is about 105 boys for every 100 girls. However, in countries lie the United States or Japan, where generally women outlive men, there are about 96 men per 100 women in the population. The current numbers of men per 100 women in other Asian countries re: Korea 102, Chain 103, India 109, and Pakistan 106. The article describes systematic discrimination against females from birth. Now illegal everywhere ultrasound units are still being used for making gender specific abortion decisions, a and all this prejudice against females is creating disruptive shortages of women. In some provinces in China there are currently 120 men per 100 women.

Despite the substantial prejudices towards women in foreign countries evidence suggests that prejudice toward foreign women executives may be exaggerated ad that the treatment local women receive in their own cultures is not necessarily an indicator of how foreign businesswomen is treated. It would be inaccurate to suggest that there is no difference in how male and female managers are perceived in different cultures. However, this does not mean that women are not successful in foreign postings.

The "Over Qualified" Claim

Would an organization hire an MBA student with three years of experience for the post of a front office receptionist? Certainly not, right? This is the dilemma that many over qualified candidate face, in recent terms, as they approach organizations for job prospects. Are you amongst those who are being disqualified for being over qualified?

Though things are looking a little brighter and recession is lowly fading away the job market still remains little volatile. Many companies have started recruitments again but selective hiring is the new mantra ha they abide by. There is a huge number of over qualified professionals looking out for jobs and also ready to compromise, either on the designation or composition. However, organizations are a little reluctant to have such over qualified people on board. So, why is it so? Organizational concerns predominantly stem from fear and instability. The anticipated threat and intimidation of an over qualified candidate to his/her peers and sometimes even supervisors, the demoralization due to a lull in team cohesiveness and perceived rigidity in the said candidates, are some such strong reasons. Over qualified candidates come with threatening stigma attached to them. For instance, they will try to intimidate their colleagues, even be averse to following orders from a lesser qualified managers and end up damaging the company morale. There is also the looming prospect that they will shortly start feeling bored and dissatisfied with the inferior job, eventually turning into resentment. Also, they could be expensive and a strain to the budget. Experts point out that if they can’t get hired experience they end up applying for jobs at lower levels. People are expressing interest in positions that provide flexibility in salary and job responsibilities. These candidates are high functioning, professional people who will accept decreased salaries in exchange for other benefits such as future growth prospects, a conducive working environment or the challenge of learning new applications etc.

Though many organizations feel hiring over qualified professionals would not be that great deal, there are quite few advantages to it as well. Such hiring helps the organization plan for its future, especially succession and development. If handled and nurtured well, these employees can transform themselves into good business leaders within their units. In fact, such people can lead better and meet long term strategic needs of the organization’s human capital. Over qualified candidates usually have the technical capabilities to dot the job immediately. Their learning curve is short and have innovative approaches to do the job efficiently. These candidates add value beyond the role.

Hence, though these like a threat to many organizations, they do come along with a lot of benefits and add to the overall value of the organization with their experience and knowledge. If the company hits the right chord and takes a loyal candidate aboard, it ill certainly reap fruits and transform you into better employees.

1) Make sure that you are the one who broaches the over qualification issue with potential employers. By doing so, you defuse their objections with a carefully pitch.
2) Convince the recruiter that he / she is hiring the best talent and this will prove to be most cost effective in the long run for the organizations. Focus more on skills than job titles.
3) Take anon defeat attitude. Point to your job longevity history if they are worried that you might leave the company at the earliest available opportunity.
4) Take salary off the table. Reframe the discussion by speaking less of cash compensation and more of job stretch and growth opportunities.

Campus Recruitment

College recruiting – sending an employer’s representatives to college campuses to prescreen applicant and create an applicant pool from the graduating class is an important source of management trainees, promotable candidates and professional and technical employees. One study several years ago concluded, for instance new college grads filled about 38% of all externally filled jobs requiring a college degree.

The problem is that on-campus recruiting is expensive and time consuming if done right. Schedules must be set well in advance, company brochures printed, records of interviews kept and much time spent on campus. And recruiters themselves are sometimes ineffective or worse. Some recruiters are unprepared, show little interest in the candidate and act superior. Many don’t screen candidates effectively. Such experiences underscore the need to train recruiters in how to interview candidates how to explain what the company has to offer and how to put candidates the ease.

On-campus Recruiting Goals: The campus recruiter has two main goals. One is to determine if a candidate is worthy of further consideration. Exactly which traits to look for will depend on company’s specific needs. Usual traits to assets include communication skills, education, experience and inter-personal skills.

The other aim is to attract good candidates. A sincere and informal attitude, respect for the applicant as an individual and prompt follow up letters can help sell the employer to the interviewee.

Employers have to choose recruiters and schools carefully. For recruiters, employers naturally seek employees who can do (and preferably who have done) the best job of identifying and attracting top applicants. Factors in selecting schools include the management school’s reputation and the performance of pervious hires from that source.

Building close ties with a college’s career center can help employers achieve these goals. Doing so provides recruiters with useful feedback regarding things like labor market conditions and the effectiveness of one’s on and off line recruiting ads. Shell reduced the list of schools its recruiters visit using factors such as quality of academic program number of students enrolled, and diversity o the student body.

On site Visits: Employer generally invite good candidates to the office or plant for an on site visit.

There are several ways to make this visit fruitful. The invitation letter should be warm and friendly but business like and should give the person a choice of dates to visit the company. Someone should be assigned to meet the applicant preferably at the airport or at his or her hotel, and to act s host. A package containing the applicant’s schedule as well as other information regarding the company such as annual reports and employee benefits should be waiting for the applicants at the hotel.

Plan the interviewers carefully and adhere to the schedule. Avoid interruptions; give the candidate the undivided attention of each person with whom he or she interviews. Luncheon should be hosted by one or more other recently hired graduates with whom the applicant may feel; more at ease. Make an offer, if any as soon as possible, preferably at the time of the visit. If this is not possible, tell the candidate when o expect a decision. If an offer is made, keep in mind that the applicant may have other offers, too. Frequent follow ups to find out how the decision process is going or to ask if there are any other questions may help to tilt the applicant in your favor.

What sorts of things turn job candidates on or off? A study of 96 graduating students from a major Northeast university reveals some positive and negative factors. For example 53% said that on site visit opportunities to meet with people in positioning similar to those applied for, or with higher ranking persons had a positive effect. Fifty one percent mentioned impressive hotel / dinner arrangements and having well organized site arrangements. On the other hand, 41% were turned off by disorganized unprepared interviewer behavior, or uninformed useless answers. Similarly, 40% mentioned, unimpressive cheap hotels disorganized arrangements or inappropriate behaviors of hosts as having negative effects.

Internships: Many college students get their jobs through college internships. Internships can be win–win situations for both students and employers. For students, it may mean being able to hone business skills, learn more about potential employers and discover their career likes (and dislikes). And employers, of course can use the interns to make useful contributions while evaluating them as possible full time employees. One survey reports that employees offer jobs to over 70% of their interns.

Chain of Command & Span of Control

Chain of command:

The continuous line of authority, extends to the highest levels in an organization to the lowest levels and clarifies who reports to whom.

Unity of command:

The management principle that no person should report to more than one boss

For many years the chain of command concept was a cornerstone of organizational design. Although it has far less importance today, contemporary mangers still need to consider its implications when deciding how to best structure their organizations.

The chain of command is the continuous line of authority that extends from upper organizational levels to the lowest levels and clarifies who reports to whom. It helps employees answer questions such as Whom do I go to if I have a problem? Or to whom am I ultimately responsible? Such questions led early management writers to the conclusion that an employee should be directly responsible to en and only one supervisor.

An employee who has to report to two or more bosses might have to cope with conflicting demands or priorities. Accordingly the early writers believed that each employee report to only one manager, a term called unity of command. In those rare instances when the unity of command had to be violated early management early management workers always explicitly designated a clear separation of activities and a supervisor responsible for each.

The unity of command was logical when organizations were comparatively simple. Under some circumstances it is still sound advice and organizations continue to adhere to it. But advances in technology, for instances, allow access to information in an organization that was once only accessible to top managers. Moreover, with computers, employers can communicate with anyone else in the organization without going through the formal communication channels of the chain of command. As such in some instances which we introduce later, strict adherence to the unity of command creates a degree of inflexibility that hinders an organization’s performance.

What is Span of Control?

Span of control:

The number of subordinates a manager can direct efficiently and effectively:

How many employees can a manager efficiently and effectively direct? This question of span of control received a great deal of attention for early management writers. Although early writers came to no consensus on a specific number, most favored small spans – typically no more than six workers in order to maintain close control. However several writers did acknowledge level in the organization as a contingency variable. They argued that as a manager rises in an organization, he or she has to deal with a greater umber of ill structured problems, so top managers need a smaller span than do middle managers, and middle managers require a smaller span than do supervisors. Over the last decade, however, we are seeing some change s theories about effective spans of control.

Many organizations are increasing their spans of control. The span for managers at such companies as General Electric and Hindustan Levers in India has expanded significantly in the past decade. The span of control is increasingly being determined by looking at contingency variables. It is obvious that the more training and experienced employees have the less direct supervision they need. Managers who have well trained and experienced employees can function with a wider span. Other contingency variables that will determine the appropriate span include similarly of employee tasks the complexity of those tasks, the physical proximity of employee, the degree to which standardized procedures are in place, the sophistication of the organization’s management information system, the strength of the organization’s value system, and the preferred managing style of the manager.

Preparing Yourself for An Interview

Often job seekers have a tough time fielding some of the simplest questions that interviewers ask.

No matter how well you think you are prepared for a job interview, the fact remains that there are no set answers to sense of the seemingly innocent questions that an interviewer ask. However, your responses to these questions are absolutely crucial for if you manage to get it right here, half the battle is won.

Some questions like ‘Tell me about your self’ may seem rather simple but these questions can have a variety of answers. The more open ended the questions is, the wider is the variety of probable answers. Once you are confident of your interviewing skills, you can use any question as a launch pad for a particular topic or compelling story.

Some of the other frequently asked questions include classic ones like. What is your greatest weakness? These are questions that most aspirants answer incorrectly. The standard text book answer for the greatest weakness question is to provide a veiled positive such as ‘I work too much’. But if you think that is the correct answer, you are wrong. The interviewer screens many candidates and by virtue of his or her experience knows that you are either lying or worse, you are telling the truth, in which case you define working too much as a weakness and really do not to work much at all.

Behind every interview question there is a concern or another question. As job seekers, your first reaction is to comprehend the question while simultaneously trying to understand what the interviewer’s concern might be. In other words, why is the interviewer asking you this question?

Mentioned below are a couple of questions – answers sets that will, probably give you a new perspective on how to answer

Tell us about yourself

The best thing to do here is to give a brief introduction about yourself and then move on to provide the basic details about your previous positions and any significant achievements — don’t go into too much detail – just a brief overview.

What is your long term objective

By asking this one, the interviewer is probably asking you to make his or her job easy. In this case you should ideally focus on your achievable objectives and what you are doing to reach those objectives. It is best if you illustrate what you are doing with instances. For example, if you intend to become the best copywriter in your agency highlight those weekend classes in communicative English that you are taking to further your prospects.

Are you a team player

Almost everyone answers in a positive to this question. But employers need examples to back up your answer. You will need to highlight. You will need to highlight cases like the time when you pitched in to complete some project at the nth hour when a fellow teammate called in sick. You will also need to focus on your openness to diversity of backgrounds. You should also let them understand that you always believe that the strength of the team is beyond that of the individual. And note that this question may be used as a lead in to questions around how you handle conflict within a team, so it’s best to be well prepared for this one.

Where do you see yourself in five years

Yes, that is what most aspirants feel when they are asked to blurt out their future plans at such a short notice. A good answer here would be something along the lines of wanting to study and participants in training that will assist you in your job and aid in your chances of progressing within the company.

Why do you want to work here?

This is an opportunity for you to show the interviewer how enthusiastic you are about the job / industry. Try to think of an answer that shows your interest in the job.

Have you got any questions for us/me?

There is absolutely no doubt that you will be asked this towards the end of the interview. Make sure you do ask question as this shows your seriousness and interest in the position. May be you could ask about how you will be trained for the position. Do not ask about salary or holidays though.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This perhaps the most frequently asked question. The ideal way to answer this one is to map your strengths your strengths and weaknesses to the job profile that you have applied for. For example, if you are applying for a job where accuracy is an important issue, one of your strengths could be that you have an eye for detail. When asked about your weakness, avoid negative answers and use this question to your advantage by actually turning negative into a positive.

Why did you leave your last job?

When answering this question, make sure you do not give a negative answer. For example, I did not get along with my boss, or I did not agree with the way the business was managed. This will make you sound negative and will greatly reduce any chance of you have of being offered the position. If possible, try to answer the question so that it shows you are looking for career progression.

Word of Caution:

The answers mentioned are not meant for random usage in your next interview. They can at the most provide the base upon which you will be needed to formulate your own answers.

Distance Interviewing

Did you ever land the job you desired 1000 miles from home, not by flying out for your job interview but by interacting with your interviewer over a webcam? If not, then in the future, you certainly will, as recruiters are hiring candidates through such and many more innovative, virtual platforms. Experts suggest unique ways through which you could create strong impression without being physically present for the interview.

Are you dressed appropriately for the interview? Is your posture right? Did you maintain eye contact throughout the interview? These are a few questions that hover over your head when you are physically present for the job interview. But then, how can you win over your recruiter without being in front of him / her? Recently for one of the senior positions at sanofi-aventis India, they had received a lot of enquiries from NRIs who were interested in taking up the position. They decided to interview the candidates though video conferencing and were successful in short listing the candidate for the role. Salary negotiations wee also conducted through email and tele-conferencing. Thus, they were able to utilize the new medium of job interview that thereby lead to considerable savings in costs and time for sanofi-aventis India. With organizations introducing newer, more technological modes of interviewing candidates, it has virtually become possible to interview a prospective employee in Alaska by an HR manager based in Nasik today. But for job seekers who are physically present, the challenge is even bigger for you to create a good impression as your recruiter will evaluate you and your personality traits (read: motivation, professionalism, honesty team skills, etc) in ways oblivious to you.

While some processes need physical presence of the participants simultaneously from various geographies it is practically impossible to get everyone to be physically present at one place at all times. The only solution to address these kinds of situations is to take shelter under technologies such as video conferencing, web casts, online transactions and chats. And this holds true for job interviews as well, especially today where talent is globally scattered. The need for speed, time optimization and the increasing trend of collaborative hiring practices wherein selectors from different geographies and time zones need to converge on hiring decisions are the drivers behind this trend. There are several factors that contribute to this key among those include advancement in various technologies as these facilitate seamless interview experience and also speed of execution.

This method also helps to provide a greater degree of comfort to the candidate since he / she is not facing the interviewer directly. Given the non intimidating environment that this creates, it provides the interviewer to have a better understanding of the candidate’s psyche and helps evaluate his / her fitment with the job. People are not limiting themselves to taking up jobs in their home towns anymore. They are steeping out to the best deal in various markets. Technology has evolved to provide a rich live screening experience. Audio conference has become sharp and less expensive across geographies and most audio and video technology is now widely available.

However, since every coin has two sides, this trend is not devoid of challenges. One of the key limitations of having a non-physical interaction, according to experts, with a candidate is that the interviewer is unable to gauge certain behavioral and non-verbal aspects of the candidate. A decision on a potential hire cannot be made solely on the basis of non-physical interview as one is unable to gauge the softer and social skills of the candidate. This is more relevant when the role demands the candidate to interface with consumers. There is also likelihood that the interviewing environment on the candidate’s side may distract him / her and hence, affect his / her candidature for employment. Two major cons: 1) The video conference quality varies and may not always be great and 2) this recruitment technique is ideal for only specific job profiles.

It is evident that virtual interviewing techniques are the need of the hour and may be, in the future face to face interviews may no longer persist.

Using Power

The early management writers were enamored of authority. They assumed that the rights inherent in one’s formal position in an organization were the sole source of influence. They believed that managers were all powerful. These assumptions might have been true 30 or 60 years ago. Organizations were simpler. Staff was less important. Managers were only minimally dependent on technical specialists. Under such conditions, influence is the same as authority. And the higher a manager’s position in the organization, the more influence he or she had. However, those conditions no longer hold. Researchers and practitioners of management now recognize that you do not have to be a manager to have power and that power is not perfectly correlated with one’s level in the organization.

Authority is an important concept in organization, but an exclusive focus on authority produces a narrow, unrealistic view of influence. Today, we recognize that authority is by element in the large concept of power.

How do authority and power differ?

The terms authority and power are frequently confused. Authority is a right, the legitimacy of which is based on the authority figure position in the organization.

Power: An individual’s capacity to influence decisions. Authority is part of the larger concept of power. That is, the formal rights that come with an individual’s position in the organization are just on means by which an individual can affect the decision process.

Exhibit visually depicts the differences between authority and power. The two dimensional arrangement of boxes in part A portrays authority. The area in which the authority applies is defined by the horizontal dimension. Each horizontal grouping represents functional area. The influence one holds in the organization is defined by the vertical; dimension in the structure. The higher one is in the organization the greater one’s authority.

Power on the other hand, is a three dimensional concept. It includes not only the functional and hierarchical dimensions but also a third dimension called centrality. Although authority is defined by one’s vertical position in the hierarchy, power is made up of both one’s vertical position and one’s distance from the organization’s power core or center.

Types of power:

1) Coercive power: Power based on fear
2) Reward Power: Power based on the ability to distribute something that others value.
3) Legitimate power: power based on one’s position in the formal hierarchy.
4) Expert power: power based on one’s expertise, special skill, or knowledge.
5) Referent power: Power based on identification with a person who has desirable resources or personal traits.

The cone analogy explicitly acknowledges two facts: (1) The higher one moves in an organization (an increase in authority) the closer one moves to the power core; and (2) it is not necessary to have authority in order to wield power because one can move horizontally inward toward the power core without moving up. For instance, have you ever noticed that administrative assistants are powerful in a company even though they have little authority? Often, as gatekeepers for their bosses, these assistants have considerable influence over whom their bosses see and when they see them. Furthermore, because they are regularly relied upon to pass information on to their bosses, they have some control over what their not to upset the boss’s Rs 8 lakhs year administrative assistant. Why? because the assistant has power. This individual may be low in the authority hierarchy but close to the power core.

Low ranking employees who have relatives, friends or associates in high places might also be close to the power core. So, too are employees with scarce and important skills. The lowly production engineer with 20 years of experience in a company might be the only one in the firm who knows the inner workings of all the old production machinery. When pieces of this old equipment break down, only this engineer understands how to fix them. Suddenly, the engineer’s influence is much greater than it would appear from his or her level in the vertical hierarchy. What do these examples tell us about power? They indicate that power can come from different areas. John French and Bertram Raven identified five sources, or bases of power: coercive, reward, legitimate, expert, and referent.

إدارة الوقت والفرص الضائعة

أنظر حولى فإرى الحياة تتبدد والناس تتصرف كما لو كان العمر مشوارا نحدد طوله ونقرر متى وكيف نقطعه .. ألغى الناس عنصر الوقت من حساباتهم وأصبحوا يرتدون الساعات استكمالا للمظهر العام وليس لحساب الوقت والإلتزام به .. أليست نكتة سخيفة أن تحاصرنا أدوات ضبط الوقت فى كل مكان نذهب إليه ولكننا نتجاهلها ولانلتفت إليها ؟ ساعات الحائط فى كل مكان ، أجهزة المحمول تظهر الوقت على الشاشة ، والساعات أشكال والوان نرتديها حول معاصمنا ولكننا نصر فى كل مانفعل أن نؤكد على عدم فائدتها وضآلة قيمتها.. حجم الفرص الضائعة عندنا يساوى حجم عدم تنظيم الوقت واحترامه ، والخسارة الناتجة عن ذلك جسيمة وهائلة على المستوى الشخصى والمستوى القومى والإقليمى .. حسن إدارة الوقت ثقافة نفتقدها ، أما "قتل الوقت" فصناعة مصرية تحتل مكانا مرموقا فى موروثاتنا الثقافية على كل مستويات وشرائح المجتمع ، وتعالوا نأخذ بعض الأمثلة على تفننا فى إهدار الوقت وأهم الأسباب التى تشجع على ذلك :
• أصبنا بما يمكن أن نسميه "شهوة الكلام" حتى لأدهش من الذى يستمع فى مصر. خمسة وخمسين مليونا من المصريين يحملون تليفونا يصاحبهم فى أى وقت وفى أى مكان بصورة مرضية توحى باخترع يسمح بأن يصبح المحمول جزءا من الأذن حتى لايضطر أحد إلى تحمل عبء فتح وإغلاق التليفون أو إعادته إلى جيبه أو جرابه حين الرد على مكالمة أو الإنتهاء منها .. شعب يصرف 36 مليار على الكلام كل سنة ، ولو حسبنا العائد على الدخل القومى من وراء ذلك فلن يتجاوز 10% والباقى يدخل فى جيوب شركات المحمول الثلاثة بالإضافة إلى مايصرف على التليفونات الأرضية .. لايمكن أن نسمى مايحدث "صناعة الإتصالات" بل نسميها وبحق "صناعة الكلام" ويحق لنا أن نسجل الإسم وحق الإختراع إذا لزم الأمر.
• المرور أصبح وجعا قوميا مزمنا يسيطر على المراكز العصبية لمصر ويصيبها بالشلل فى معظم الأحيان ، وبحسبة بسيطة للوقت الضائع فى الذهاب إلى العمل والعودة أو فى حضور اجتماع أو قضاء الحاجات اليومية سوف نكتشف أننا نضيع ربع حياتنا على الأقل داخل وسائل المواصلات المختلفة أو داخل سياراتنا على حساب الإنتاج وزيادة الناتج القومى .. بل إن الأخطر من ذلك أننا نحتاج إلى مزيد من الوقت لكى نعالج توابع التلوث الذى يحدثه عادم تلك السيارات بأنواعها المختلفة وموديلاتها القديمة وحالتها المتردية ، وسواء اقعدنا المرض فى المنزل أو فى المستشفى فإن النتيجة المؤكدة أننا نضيع مزيدا من الوقت حين نؤجل الحلول الجذرية للمشاكل فتصبح مزمنة أو مستعصية تحتاج لمزيد من الوقت للتصدى لها .. أكثر من 50% من الفاقد فى الناتج القومى الإجمالى يرتبط بتصلب شرايين الشارع المصرى بصورة تجعل العاصمة تعيش على جهاز التنفس الصناعى .
• قبول أكثر من عمل نعلم يقينا أننا لن نجد الوقت لأدائها فى قطاع عريض من كبار المسئولين بالدولة آفة أخرى تشكل مؤامرة على حسن إدارة الوقت عندنا ، فلا يمكن لمن يتقلد أكثر من منصب أو يكلف بأكثر من مهمة أن يتقن عمله فيها كلها لأنه ببساطة لايمكن أن يجد الوقت الكافى لذلك .. الخروج من هذا المأزق لايكون إلا بتأجيل التعامل مع المشكلات والتسويف وعدم إتخاذ القرارات اللازمة فى الوقت المناسب ، والنتيجة ضياع الوقت مرتين : مرة فى تأخير القرار ، ومرة فى التعامل مع تبعات القرار المؤجل ومحاولة حل المشكلات المترتبة على ذلك.. وهناك كثير من المشكلات تتفاقم وتزداد تعقيدا نتيجة لغياب المسئول أو من يملك اتخاذ القرار وتكون النتيجة فقدان ثقة الناس فى الحل وتشككهم فى نوايا المسئول "المنشغل" عنهم لاسيما إذا تعلق الأمر بتطوير أو إصلاح .
• عشق الإجتماعات فى مؤسساتنا أكبر مضيعة للوقت حين تتحول تلك الإجتماعات إلى "مكلمات" وفرصة للفضفضة أو لتبادل الإتهامات أحيانا .. وكثير من اجتماعات العمل لايحدد لها جدول أعمال ولاإطار زمنى تبدأ وتنتهى عنده ، وحتى لو كان هناك جدول أعمال قلامانع من الخروج عليه للأعلى صوتا الذى يريد أن يفرض إرادته على الآخرين .. الإجتماعات مالم تنتهى بالإتفاق على شيئ وتوزع التكليفات ويتم متابعة تنفيذها تتحول إلى لقاءات نميمة أو مناسبة اجتماعية للدردشة .. أكثر من نصف الوقت المخصص للعمل يضيع فى اجتماعات لالزوم لها لمناقشة موضوعات روتينية بسيطة يمكن التعامل معها واتخاذ قرارات سريعة بشأنها دون إضاعة وقت فريق العمل الذى حضر الإجتماع .. الناس فى مصر يحسبون وقت الإجتماع بحساب الفرق بين وقت بدء الإجتماع وانتهائه ، ولكن الصحيح هو أن وقت أى إجتماع ينبغى أن يكون حاصل ضرب عدد الحاضرين فى الوقت الذى استغرقه الإجتماع.
السرد والتكرار والإستطراد ملامح تحدد نمط التواصل بيننا .. نحن حكائون بطبعنا والقصة التى نحكيها نعيدها أكثر من مرة بسيناريوهات وطرق مختلفة زيادة فى التأكد من أن الرسالة التى نريد أن تصل للطرف الآخر .. نفعل ذلك حتى فى أبسط الأمور التى لاتحتاج إلى شرح كثير والمقدمات فى كثير من الأحيان تكون أطول من الموضوع نفسه ودائما مايسرقنا الوقت فلا نجد وقتا كافيا لقول المفيد بعد أن استهلكنا الوقت فى المقدمة للموضوع والتمهيد له .. ويكفى مشاهدة أى برنامج حوارى لكى نتأكد من أن مايدور ليس "حوارا" بين طرفين وإنما عزف منفرد للمتكلم دون أن يلقى بالا للوقت ولا لحق الآخرين فى التعبير عن أرائهم.

إتجاهات جديدة فى التعليم العالى فى العالم

دعيت إلى مؤتمر دولى عن الإتجاهات المعاصرة فى التعليم العالى فى جامعة مصرية كبيرة ، وأصبت بالنكد مرتين : مرة لما سمعته عن خطط إصلاح التعليم فى مصر ، ومرة حين عرضت بحثى عن توجهات التطوير فى العالم من حولنا والفجوة الرهيبة بين مانحن فيه وبين مستقبل التعليم كما يخطط له بالخارج حتى عام 2050.. لدينا فى مصر أكثر من هيئة وجهة خصصت لها الحكومة مبالغ طائلة إلى جانب الإتفاقات الدولية التى تعقد مع الجهات المانحة لتقديم الدعم المالى والفنى كقروض أو منح .. هناك أكثر من جهة وهيئة فى مصر المفروض أنها أنشئت لكى تتولى تطوير التعليم فى مصر أملا فى أن تحتل جامعاتنا مكانا ولو متأخرا فى ترتيب الجامعات وتصنيفاتها دوليا . خصصت الحكومة 2 مليار جنيه للهيئة القومية لضمان جودة التعليم والإعتماد ولمشروع تأهيل الجامعات للحصول على الإعتماد باضافة إلى وحدة للتخطيط الإستراتيجى بوزارة التعليم العالى تتبع الوزير شخصيا ، ومضى أكثر من أربعة سنوات ولم يحقق أيا منهما أهدافه التى كان مقررا لها ثلاث سنوات ، وصرفت الميزانية أو كادت على سفريات ومكافآت وبدلات ورواتب ولم يطرأ أى تحسين فى جودة التعليم المتوسط والجامعى بينما العالم يخطط كما قلت ليصل بهما إلى مسارات فلكية تخرج عن نطاق الجاذبية الأرض إلى أعلى درجات الفضاء الخارجى.
الجهات الثلاثة التى ذكرتها لايربط بينها أى خطة استراتيجية تحدد الأدوار ، وتقوم جميعها بعمل بعضها البعض فى نواحى كثيرة فتتبدد الموارد وتضيع الجهود ولايتحقق أى عائد .. لازلنا فى مصر نتكلم عن تنمية قدرات أعضاء هيئة التدريس فى إلقاء المحاضرات ، وفى تطوير بعض المناهج والمقررات ، وتوفير كتاب جامعى متخلف للطلاب ، وتجهيز معامل بأبسط الأجهزة التى عفا عليها الزمن ونعتبر ذلك إنجازا تستحق أن تحصل الجامعة بموجبه على الإعتماد .. جامعاتنا – وبالقطع مدارسنا – ليس بها دورات مياه آدمية ، وليس بها أماكن ملائمه يستريح بها أعضاء هيئات التدريس ، وفوق هذا وذاك لاوجود لما يسمى بالبحث العلمى الذى هو جوهر العملية التعليمية كلها وبدونه لايمكن أن تدرج جامعاتنا فى أى تصنيف عالمى حتى المتواضع منها .. وفى نهاية المطاف نعرف جميعا المستوى المتدنى لجودة المخرج النهائى وهو الطالب الذى يحمل شهادة بلا علم ولاعمل.. تعالوا نأخذ عينة من توجهات تطوير التعليم العالى بالخارج لكى نعرف حجم الفجوة التى تفصل بيننا وبينهم:
• يفكرون فى الخارج فى إنشاء جامعات "تفصيل" تلبى احتياجات الطلاب وظروفهم من حيث أوقات المحاضرات والبرامج التعليمية المقدمة التى تناسب تلك الظروف بحيث يصبح التعلم متعة وقيمة مضافة وليس عبئا يحتاج إلى ترتيبات خاصة .. سوف يستطيع الطالب بالخارج أن يختار البرامج التى يريد أن يتعلمها بحيث تنمى قدراته أو تخدم عمله ويسقط من حسابه أى برامج أخرى "حشو" تمتلئ بها برامجنا الدراسية .. وسوف يختار الطالب مواعيد الدراسة والإختبارات التى سوف تتطور هى الأخرى لكى تقيس مستوى تحصيل الطالب وليس مستوى حفظه أو "صمه" للمقرر الدراسى ، بل إن الطالب فى نطاق اتفاقات التآخى بين الجامعات فى البلدان المختلفة يستطيع ان يستكمل دراسته فى أى جامعة فى موطنه دون أن يسافر إلى الجامعة التى يريد أن يتخرج فيها.
• ويفكرون فى إلغاء الكتاب الجامعى الذى يرون أنه لم يعد ضروريا فى ظل إنتشار تكنولوجيا الإتصال وسهولة وسرعة الحصول على المعلومات .. سوف يتواصل الأستاذ والطالب إلكترونيا فى أوقات متفق عليها دون حاجة إلى أن ينتقل الطالب إلى الجامعة دون أى ضياع للوقت.. سوف يتحدد إطار عام للمقرر الدراسى الذى اختاره الطالب لنفسه ومتطلبات استيفاء المقرر من خلال البحوث التى يجريها الطالب باستخدام مصادر المعرفة المتاحة فى الموضوع وخبرته الشخصية العملية .. هناك يلغون الكتاب الجامعى بجاذبيته وألوانه والأقراص المدمجة التى تصاحبه ، وهنا لازلنا نحتفظ بأيدينا بكتاب متخلف ردئ الطباعة قديم المعلومات لايفخر أحد باقتنائه ناهيك عن الإحتفاظ به كمرجع.
• التوسع فى الجامعات المؤسسية هو توجه مستقبلى فى الخارج حيث تتولى المؤسسات الكبرى ذات الإمكانات العملاقة إنشاء جامعاتها الخاصة المعتمدة والتى تمنح الدرجات العلمية لطلابها من بين العاملين بها والذين سوف تتجه دراساتهم وأبحاثهم لكى تصب فى تطوير العمل بتلك المؤسسات وزيادة الإنتاج وجودته وتلبية احتياجات السوق من المنتجات التى يحتاجها العملاء ومعها تنمية ذاتية للمجتمعات التى تعمل بها تلك المؤسسات وتعتبر اسهاماتها فى هذا السبيل واجبا عليها ينبغى الوفاء به.
أكبر صدمة اصابت الحاضرين حينما قلت أن الناس فى الخارج يتجهون نحو إلغاء الجامعات تماما بحلول عام 2050 ، وأنهم يفكرون فى توفير ميزانيات الجامعات بمبانيها وصيانتها ومعاملها وقاعاتها وملاعبها وأنهم سوف يستعيضون عنها بمراكز البحوث والنوادى المنتشرة فى كل مكان باعتبار أن المجتمع المدنى شريك فاعل فى النهوض بالتعليم .. الأستاذ الجامعى سوف يشرف على طلابه ويلتحم معهم خارج أسوار الجامعة وسوف يجرون أبحاثهم فى البيئة التى يعيشون فيها والتى يعرفون أكثر من غيرهم احتياجاتها .. نحن أحوج مانكون إلى نوفير المليارات التى اقتطعها الشعب من قوته والتى يستفيد بها فئة الموظفين والمنتعفين من وراء تخريب التعليم ، ونتوقف عن الحديث عن جودة التعليم الذى هو غير موجود أصلا ..!

الديموقراطية تبدأ باستطلاعات الرأى

الذين حضروا المؤتمر الدولى الثانى لاستطلاع الرأى بالقاهرة الأسبوع الماضى ربما يخرجون بانطباع واحد أكدته البحوث التى قدمت والكلمات التى ألقيت يتلخص فى أن الديموقراطية الحقيقية فى أى بلد لابد وأن تبنى على استطلاع آراء الناس حول القضايا التى تهمهم والتى تعتبرها الحكومات مؤشرات قوية تحدد أولوياتها وتبنى عليها خططها.. ومنذ أن نبه عالم الإجتماع الأمريكى "تشارلز هورتون كولى" فى 1918 النظر إلى أهمية عملية التواصل بين الحكومات والناس من خلال بحوث الرأى العام أخذت أهمية تلك البحوث فى التعاظم وتزايدت أعداد مراكز استطلاع الرأى فى العالم لتغطى مابين حكومى وخاص ، تغطى استطلاعاتها كافة نواحى الحياة اقتصاديا وسياسيا ودينيا واجتماعيا على امتداد الكرة ألأرضية بقاراتها الستة.
وفى ظل تورة الإتصالات التى يعيشها العالم الآن إزدادت مساحة التغطية فى استطلاع آراء الناس واصبح هناك نوع من "التمكين" لفئات لم يكن يمكن أن يسمع صوتها لو لم تتح لهم وسيلة سهلة وسريعة لإبداء آرائهم ، وأصبح الناخبون يشاركون فى الإدلاء باصواتهم لاختيار مرشحيهم من أى مكان فى العالم ، ولم يعد الأمر قاصرا على مراكز استطلاع الرأى الرسمية تحتكر المعلومات وتوجهها حيثما تشاء ، بل اصبح فى مقدور الناس أن ينشئوا مراكزهم الخاصة المستقلة عن الحكومات، ومن خلال المدونات الشخصية التى يحررونها .. وتبارت الصحف وأجهزة الإعلام لكى تستطلع رأى قرائها ومشاهديها فى الكثير من القضايا المثارة والخلافية حول شئون الوطن.. أصبح العالم شبكة اتصالات واحدة عملاقة يتواصل من خلالها الناس ويشاركون بالرأى الذى يتخطى دون عوائق اى حدود ، وأصبح اهتمامات الناس عالمية وليست إقليمية أو محلية فى مشاكل البيئة والغذاء وندرة المياه واسلحة الدمار الشامل وتجنب الكوارث.
الموضوع إذن أكبر بكثير من مجرد إنشاء مراكز لاستطلاع الرأى وإنما يتعدى ذلك إلى أن يكون "مرصدا" لكل مايدور فى المجتمع والعالم من حولنا ، يحلل ويخرج بآراء مدروسة يضعها أمام واضع السياسات فتكون القرارات التى تصدر متوافقة مع مايتوقعه الناس.
من هذا المنطلق تحولت مراكز استطلاعات الرأى فى العالم تدريجيا إلى "مراكزفكر" يتم بداخلها أول مراحل صنع القرار من المادة الخام التى تمثلها آراء الناس تجاه قضية ما .. وربما كان ذلك وراء المبادرة التى خرجت من المؤتمر بتكوين "شبكة عربية لمراكز استطلاع الرأى" فى العالم العربى لكى تكون كيانا عملاقا تتكامل فيه الإمكانات الهائلة المتوافرة لدينا .. وأهمية تلك الفكرة هى أنه بوضعنا الراهن ليس هناك وسيلة نرد بها على نتائج استطلاعات الرأى التى تخرج علينا بها كل حين المراكز العالمية المرموقة فى هذا الشأن والتى قد يشوبها تحيزات خاصة قد "توجه" الإستقصاء فيخرج بنتائج غير دقيقة .. فكرة نبيلة وجيدة لو توافر لها إمكانات النجاح وأولها أن تأخذ شكلا مؤسسيا يحدد رؤيتها ورسالتها وأهدافها ومنهج اختيار أعضاءها وطريقة إدارتها وصيانتها حتى لاتترك للإجتهادات الشخصية أو التصارع على المناصب أو محاولات التأثير على عملها ، وبحيث لاتتبع الحكومات فى البلدان العربية المشاركة فيها حتى تكتسب المصداقية التى تكتسبها مراكز الفكر المستقلة مثل "جالوب" الذى يعمل منذ سبعين عاما ولايقتصر عمله على استطلاعات الرأى بل تتبعه الآن جامعة تحمل إسمه تمنح أعلى الدرجات العلمية ، ودار نشر ضخمة تطبع أعماله بكل اللغات ، وهيئات استشارية تضم الخبراء والمتخصصين فى علوم الإدارة والإحصاء والسياسة والإجتماع .. بدون هيكل مؤسسى تصبح فكرة تلك الشبكة فكرة رومانسية تصلح للكلام عنها فى المنتديات والمؤتمرات دون أن يكون لها تأثير يذكر على توجيه السياسة العامة للبلدان العربية وتحولها إلى مجتمعات ديمقراطية.
هذا مايحدث بالخارج ، فماذا يحدث عندنا ؟ باستثناء عدد لايتجاوز أصابع اليد الواحدة من مراكزالمعلومات واستقصاءات الرأى فى مصر والتى تتمركز جميعها بالعاصمة والتى تنجز عملها بحرفية عالية تستند إلى قواعد العلم – بغض النظر عما إذا كان صانع القرار يأخذ بالنتائج التى تتوصل إليها من عدمه - فإن كثيرا من الهيئات والجهات إنجرفت إلى إغراء المكاسب المادية الرخيصة من تشجيع الناس على أن يبدو آراءهم فى موضوعات بسيطة ولكنها مثيرة تجظى بشعبية كبيرة تجتذب من يملكون تليفونا محمولا وتغريهم بحصد جوائز قيمة لو أبدوا آراءهم أو شاركوا فى مسابقة تعتمد على الرأى مثل التعرف على شخصية ما أو مؤلف أغنية أو التنبؤ بنتيجة مباراة مما يشيع ثقافة التسطيح ويجهض الغرض النبيل من وراء توسيع قاعدة المشاركة الشعبية فى إدارة شئون الوطن ويمكن أن يحدث تحولا جذريا فى ثقافة اللامبالاة والسلبية التى تهدد البقية الباقية من الأمل فى الإصلاح.

درس فى اقتناص الفرص

أريد هنا أن أهدى إلى شبابنا نموذجا لاقتناص الفرص يتعلمون منه كيف يبدأون عملا بسيطا يتطور ليصبح كبيرا لو نظروا حولهم ورصدوا مايحتاجه الناس وهو كثير وقاموا بتوفيره إما بتصنيعه أو التوسط لجلبه أو بيعه لحساب الغير .. لو فعلنا ذلك لما كان بيننا عاطل بالمعنى الحرفى للكلمة .. الصين أصبحت نموذجا للتسويق المقتحم الذى يراقب الأسواق بعينى الصقر وينقض على الفرص المتاحة بسرعة خاطفة يعجز أهل البلد أنفسهم عن الظفر بها .. وإليكم أمثلة نتعلم منها أسلوب الكوماندوز فى فنون التسويق والبيع:
• السعودية سوق عملاقة باعتبارها ملتقى العالم العربى والإسلامى يرتادها ملايين الناس طوال العام لزيارة الأماكن المقدسة وأداء شعائر الحج والعمرة .. وهؤلاء يحتاجون إلى ثلاثة أشياء أساسية يستكملون بها مشاويرهم الروحانية : ملابس إحرام وسجاجيد صلاة وسبح بأشكالها المختلفة .. ولايقتصر الأمر على الإستخدام الشخصى وإنما يتجاوز ذلك إلى إصطحاب تلك الأشياء معهم كهدايا لأحبائهم فى البلدان التى قدموا منها .. يدخل الصينيون منافسين شرسين يقدمون تلك السلع بأسعار رخيصة فى متناول كل الطبقات تكتسح أمامها كل ماعداها .. فرصة نادرة استغلها الصينيون واقتنصوها لسد حاجة ماسة إلى منتجات بأعداد ضخمة ومستوى أسعار منخفض وجودة معقولة تتناسب مع الأسعار.
• فى مصر لايزال الناس يقبلون الشراء من الباعة الجائلين الذين يدقون الأبواب يعرضون بضاعتهم ويفاوضون على السعر على الرغم من المحاذير الأمنية .. فرص كثيرة متاخة فى مجتمع الكثافة السكانية التى يتركز معظمها فى الأحياء الفقيرة التى يجاهد الناس فيها لكى يوفروا لأنفسهم وأسرهم سلعا ضرورية بأسعار تتناسب مع دخولهم الضعيفة .. يحمل الصينى أو الصينية شنطة ضعف حجمه ، يدخل العمائر ويدق أبواب الشقق يبيع بضاعته من الملابس والأجهزة المنزلية والإلكترونية والإكسسوارات الرخيصة المهربة دون كلل أو تعب .. جزء ليس بالقليل منهم إختاروا وسيلة أقل مخاطرة وهى مشاركة مصرى فى محل يعرضون فيه بضاعتهم يستهدفون المجمعات فى الأماكن الراقية ويظلون على اتصال دائم بالعملاء والأسواق يحددون احتياجاتها ويلبون تلك الإحتياجات بسرعة.. بل إن بعضهم أصبح ينافس الحرفيين فى أعمال الكهرباء والسباكة والنجارة بل وقص الشعر بالمنازل بأسعار تبلغ نصف مايدفع عادة فى مثل تلك الأمور .. اسواق موازية اصطنعوها مستفيدين من ضعف الرقابة واستهانة الأجهزة المعنية وسلبيتها.
• وأخيرا تنزل فرق من الصينين إلى مصر تحدد احتياجات مشجعى كرة القدم فى المباريات ذات الأهمية الخاصة مثل التأهل لكأس العالم فتغرق السوق بأعلام متقنة الصنع وبأحجام مختلفة تناسب كل الأغراض ومستويات الدخول .. ملايين الأعلام بيعت وسوف تباع يحملها الناس ويعلقونها ويزينون بها سياراتهم .. والذى يغيظ فى كل ذلك أن صناعة الأعلام بالذات لاتحتاج إلى تكنولوجيا متقدمة ولا ماكينات معقدة ولا تكلفة مرتفعة للإنتاج ، ولكن أحدا فى مصر لم يفكر فيما فكر فيه الصينيون ، فماذا حدث لنا لكى نفضل الإستهلاك على الإنتاج ، والراحة والكسل على السعى والتعب ، والوظيفة التى لاتجيئ على العمل الحر بكل مكاسبه ؟
حتى الأفكار الإبتكارية أصبحت وسيلة لاقتناص الفرص فنجد البليونير الأمريكى "وارن بافيت" يدعو ثمانية أشخاص كل عام لكى يتناولوا العشاء معه من خلال مزاد يشعل نار المنافسة بين من يريدون أن يحظوا بتلك الفرصة لحجز مقعد على مائدة رجل الأعمال الأسطورة .. ويفتح المزاد عادة بحد أدنى قدره 35 ألف دولار للمقعد الواحد وصلت هذا العام إلى أكثر من 860 ألف دولار.. ولما استغرب الإعلام من ضخامة المبالغ التى يتسابق أصحاب الملايين على دفعها والتى يخصصها بافيت كلها لأعمال الخير قال أحد المزايدين " لم يكن ممكنا لقاء بافيت بغير هذه الطريقة والحصول على استشارة من خبير مثله تزدهر بها أعمالى فأصبح مليارديرا مثله"

آراء صادمة عن جودة التعليم فى مصر

كان لابد أن أكتب عن هذا الموضوع بعد أن قرأت آخر حديث أدلى به المسئول الأول عن جودة التعليم والإعتماد فى مصر لصفحة "جامعات ومدارس" (الوفد – 25 نوفمبر) وقبله بعدة أيام لمحرر الأهرام. الحديثان يثيران من علامات الإستفهام أكثر بكثير من الإجابات التى انتزعها المحرران ودللت بشكل صادم عن حجم المأساة التى يعيشها التعليم فى مصر والذى أصبح فى حاجة إلى قبلة الحياة قبل أن نغلق المدارس والجامعات بالضبة والمفتاح لحين إشعار آخر عندما يكتمل لنا الحد الأدنى لمستوى تعليمى يسير بنا فى الإتجاه الصحيح للإدعاء بأن لدينا تعليما يقوم على رؤية شاملة وتخطيط استراتيجى يرتبط بالخطط القومية للتنمية. قلنا قبل ذلك بأعلى صوت ولازلنا نصرخ بأن البنية التحتية للمنظومة التعليمية فى مصر مهترأة وتحتاج لإحلال مثلما نفعل بشبكات الصرف الصحى والمياه والإنارة لكى توفر ولو الحد الأدنى لاحتياجات الناس .. وتحدينا أن يخرج علينا أى مسئول عن التعليم بما يسمى "خطة استراتيجية" وليس "قائمة أنشطة" تصلح لإطفاء الحرائق هنا وهناك وتسكن من المطالبات المخلصة بأن تضع مصر التعليم فى أولى أولوياتها إذا كنا نأمل فى أى إصلاح قومى أو إقليمى أو عالمى ..الآراء التى أذكرها تدل على أنه لايوجد خطة استراتيجية قومية لإصلاح حال التعليم فى مصر لا للعشر سنوات القادمة ولا لخمسة سنوات ولاحتى سنتين من الآن .. وإليكم الدليل :
• فى إجابة على سؤال لماذا لايتولى شأن الهيئة المسئولة عن جودة التعليم والإعتماد متخصص فى شئون التعليم بدلا من مهندس تجنب المسئول الإجابة وأكد أنه على دراية تامة بالموضوع وأنه قد تلقى بعض التدريب العملى على العمل و كان يساعد السيدة حرمه فى بحوثها المتعلقة بمجال التعليم ومجال تخصصها.. لم يعلن المسئول عن أى جدول زمنى يتم خلاله تأهيل المدارس والجامعات ، ولا الأسس التى يتم على أساسها التأهيل عملا بمبدا الشفافية فى موضوع يحدد مستقبل مصر.
• وفى سؤال آخر عمن يقوم بالتقييم أجاب أن الهيئة قد دربت مايزيد على 3500 خبير للقيام بهذا العمل ، ولكنه أضاف أن الهيئة سوف تشرك خبراء أجانب إلى جانب الخبراء المصريين لكى يشاركوا فى عملية التقييم والزيارات الميدانية لكى يأخذ التقييم لكى يأخذ التقييم "طابعا دوليا" .. كنا نفهم أن يتم ذلك لو كانت المعايير التى وضعتها الهيئة معايير عالمية لجودة التعليم ، ولكن المعايير التى وضعت معايير محلية لاترقى إلى مستوى المعايير العالمية ومن ثم فإن اشتراك الخبراء الأجانب فى التقييم مضيعة للوقت والجهد والميزانية الضخمة التى رصدتها الدولة لهذا الغرض والتى تزيد على المليار جنيه سنويا.. لم يقل لنا المسئول عن جودة التعليم موضع البحث العلمى من عملية الإعتماد ولا كيف يكون هناك تعليم عال بلا بحث علمى .
• وعن عدد المدارس والجامعات أو حتى الكليات التى تم اعتمادها حتى الآن رغم مرور من أربعة سنوات على إنشاء الهيئة كانت الإجابة بأن المدارس والجامعات بدأت فى الإستجابة للتقدم للإعتماد وأن ذلك سوف يتم تباعا وأن الهيئة تقوم بتدريب الكوادر التعليمية للمساعدة فى الحصول على الإعتماد .. وفى ذلك خلل واضح حين تقوم جهة ما بوضع المعاييروالتدريب على تحقيقها ومراقبة تنفيذها والإلتزام بها ثم تقوم نفس الجهة بتقييم الأداء ومنح الإعتماد فتكون خصما وحكما فى نفس الوقت.. يحدث ذلك فى الوقت الذى يوجد به مشروع قومى آخر رصدت له الدولة مليار جينه أخرى مهمته أن يعد الجامعات للتأهل للإعتماد ويقوم بالتدريب على ذلك .
أصبح حديثا مكررا معادا أن نضرب المثل بالخطر الذى استشعره المسئولون فى الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية حين أحسوا بتدهور مستوى جودة التعليم ، والتقرير الذى صدر عقب ذلك بعنوان " أمة فى خطر" والذى تلاه خطة شاملة مكتملة للنهوض بمستوى التعليم لكى يظل لأمريكا الريادة فى هذا المجال .. وفى مصر لسنا " أمة فى خطر" وإنما " أمة تنتظر كارثة" ولايزال العرض مستمرا..!

بيروقراطية الإدارة

بدون سابق إنذار قررت الشركة المصرية للإتصالات – مثلما فعلت كثيرا من قبل – أن تجعل نظام التحصيل شهريا بدلا من كل ثلاثة شهور ، وأن يقتصر ذلك على كل أصحاب التليفونات المشتركة فى خدمة التليفون الدولى ، أى أنها تعاقب شريحة هامة من عملاءها ممن يستعملون التليفون الأرضى فى تعاملاتهم الخارجية سواء لتسيير أعمالهم أو للاتصال بذويهم فى الخارج .. وطبعا لن يحاسب أحد الشركة على قرارها الفجائى الذى يترتب عليه كثيرا من المشاكل سواء فى وصول الفواتير لعناوين المشتركين شهريا ، أو لسداد تلك الفواتير وضياع المزيد من الوقت فى سبيل ذلك .. من الناحية القانونية الشركة لديها كل الحق فى ظل "عقود الإذعان" التى يوقعها طالبوا الخدمة والتى لاتضمن لهم أى حقوق قبل الشركة سواء انتظمت الخدمة أم ساءت ، وليس هناك مايلزم الشركة أن تستطلع رأى العملاء فى النظام الذى يناسبهم أو تغيير سياستها أو حتى فى سعر الخدمة فهم الطرف الأضعف فى معادلة العلاقة بينهم وبين الشركة التى تقدم الخدمة وتحتاج إليهم ولكنها تتعامل معهم بأسلوب فرض الواقع الذى يناسبها .

وعلى الرغم من أن تحسنا كبيرا قد طرأ على انتظام الخدمة وعلى سرعة الإستجابة لشكاوى العملاء ، وإدخال عدد من الخدمات الجديدة لمواكبة احتياجاتهم إلا أن البيروقراطية لازالت تضغى على الرغبة فى التطوير وملاحقة ديناميكيات السوق لدى الشركة .. وآخر تلك المظاهر أن الشركة بدأت فى إرسال خطابات مسجلة لعملائها الذين سوف يخضعون للنظام الجديد بغض النظر عن موافقتهم من عدمه تخطرهم فيه بقرارها – وليس رأيهم فى تغيير النظام – وتطالبهم بفروق غريبة لايمكن إلا أن نعجب ممن وجد فى نفسه الشجاعة لكى يوقع تلك الخطابات ويقر إرسالها بالبريد المسجل .. لدى مثلا – وقد تأكدت من حالات مشابهة كثيرة لأصدقاء وأقرباء ومعارف – خمسة فواتير لمكتبى ومنزلى تطالبنى الهيئة فيها بمبالغ أكبرها أربعة جنيها وأربعون قرشا وأقلها جنيه وخمسة قروش .

ويستطيع القارئ أن يخمن مدى غيظى وفوران دمى حين أجدنى مدفوعا بحكم التخصص أن أحسب كم تكلف كل خطاب من الخطابات الخمسة مابين فاتورة مطبوعة بتفاصيل المطالبة التى وضعت تحت بندى "استهلاك وضريبة مبيعات" والخطاب المرافق للفاتورة للإخطار بالنظام الجديد وظرف الخطاب وطابع البريد ومشغل الكمبيوتر الذى قام بطباعة الخطاب والفاتورة وراتب ساعى البريد الذى أوصل الخطاب ومن قام بختم الخطاب وحصل على توقيع العميل عند الإستلام .. وطبيعى ألا يحتاج أحد إلى ذكاء خاص لكى يسأل سؤالا بديهيا يعجب المرء كيف غاب عن بال من أجاز كل تلك العملية التى على مايبدو أنه أراد أن يشغل بها عمالة زائدة تعانى منها الشركة .. السؤال المنطقى هو : لماذا لم تقم الهيئة بإضافة تلك المبالغ التافهة على الفواتير التالية للعملاء وجميعهم كما بينا يمثلون شريحة خاصة تستخدم الخطوط الدولية فى تعاملاتها؟

كنت قد حذرت الشركة فى ندوة لجمعية مهندسيها منذ أكثر من ثمانى سنوات أن تستعد للتنافس مع شركات المحمول الموجودة على الساحة وقتها ، وتنبأت بزيادة هذه الشركات ، وأن هذه الشركات سوف تحصل على جزء كبير من نصيبها فى سوق الإتصالات .. واليوم لدينا ثلاث شركات للمحمول يصل عدد عملائهم 55 مليونا بعد أن تضاءلت التكلفة بين التليفون الأرضى والمحمول إلى حد يجعل المحمول يتفوق من حيث ملاءمته ووجاهته ووفائه بكافة احتياجات العملاء .. شركة الإتصالات نزلت بأسعارها إلى الحد الأدنى وألغت مصاريف تركيب أى تليفون جديد لكى تزيد من قدرتها التنافسية وتحافظ على الإثنى عشر مليونا من المشتركين الذين تأمل فى زيادتهم .. وهنا يزيد العجب من قرار الشركة الأخير بتحمل مصاريف إدارية تبلغ أضعاف القروش القليلة التى تطالب بها عملاءها والذى قد يغرى كثيرا منهم على إلغاء خطوطهم الدولية والإكتفاء بتليفوناتهم المحمولة .. قاتل الله البيروقراطية وتأثيرها على قطاع خدمى حكومى كنا نحلم بأن يخرج من الدائرة الجهنمية للتخلف ..!

القيمة المضافة للإنسان فى المجتمعات التى تقدمت

علماء الفيزياء يتحدثون هذه الأيام عن " تجميع الذرة " بدلا من تفتيتها لتوليد طاقة تفوق ملايين المرات مانعرفه ووقر فى أذهاننا عن حجم الطاقة التى تتولد من جراء ذلك على عكس كل المفاهيم القديمه ، وأظن أنه قد آن الأوان لكى نفكر بنفس الطريقة هنا فى مصر فيما يختص بجودة الإنسان المصرى .. لو فكرنا فى "تجميع " طاقات الناس بدلا من "تشتيتها" فربما كان هناك أمل فى مستقبل أفضل .. أقول ذلك لأنه كلما زاد احتكاكى بفئات مختلفة من الناس كلما ازددت يقينا بأن لدينا ثروة بشرية هائلة أهملناها لفترة طالت فأصبحت عبئا يؤرق الحكومات وقنابل موقوته تنذر بالإنفجار وتتطاير شظاياها فى وجوهنا جميعا .. أهملنا مالدينا من رأس مال بشرى لانستثمره ولانحوله إلى طاقة عملاقة جبارة تحولنا إلى دولة عظمى من حقها بكل تاريخها أن تصبح كذلك .. أصبح الناس لدينا مثل قش الأرز نتفنن فى التخلص منه ونحمله النصيب الأكبر من التلوث البيئى دون أن نفكر – مجرد تفكير – فى كيفية الإستفادة منه لتخصيب الأرض أو لتصنيع طوب نحتاجه لكون سقفا لمن لايجد مأوى أو لتصنيع بعض مايحتاجه الناس ويتناسب مع مواردهم المحدودة.. رأس المال يحتاج إلى استثمار وإلا تناقصت قيمته واللهفة على الاحتفاظ به مثلما حدث لودائع البنوك من الدولارات التى لاتزال الفائدة التى تمنح على ودائعه صفرا وتكاد البنوك أن تستدعى أصحاب تلك الودائع ليسحبوا ودائعهم وتخلصهم من عبء إداراتها حتى لو كان ذلك دون مقابل.
دولتان مثل الصين( مليار و 380 مليون نسمة) والهند (مليار و 197 مليون نسمة) أيقنتا قيمة تحويل رأسمالهما البشرى إلى طاقة هائلة تتجمع وتتحد لكى تنطلق فى اتجاه تحقيق التنمية .. طاقات تحول المصانع إلى كيانات عملاقة منتجة ، والبيوت إلى وحدات إنتاجية صغيرة كل من فى المنزل يسهم بجهده فى صنع شيئ أو أداء خدمة يحتاجها الناس ويدفعون ثمنها .. استطاعت الدولتنان أن تقضيا على البطالة دون إضاعة الوقت فى الشكوى من كثرة الناس ، وحين تشبعت الأسواق المحلية بمنتجاتهم الرخيصة ساحوا فى الأرض يفتحون اسواقا جديدة سصدرون إليها إنتاجهما .. لم تقتصر تلك الأسواق على الدول النامية فقط بل تجاوزت ذلك إلى الدول ذات الإقتصاد العملاق مثل الولايات المتحدة التى تستورد ولاية واحدة فقط بالهند هى " بنجالور" مايوازى 80% من إنتاج تلك الولاية وحدها من قطع غيار الكمبيوتر والرقائق الإلكترونية والبرامج المختلفة.
أنظر إلى ماصرنا إليه وأتحسر كما قلت حين أتعامل مع شرائح مختلفة من الناس من أول بسطاء الناس من خلال العمل التطوعى ، أو أساتذة الجامعات من خلال الأدوار المختلفة التى أؤديها داخل منظومة التعليم لعالى .. أرى الناس وقد أصابهم الإحباط فى مقتل ، تسلل إلى عقولهم وقلوبهم يمتص منها على مهل ماتبقى من طاقة تصلح ضوءا خافتا ينير حتى مواقع أقدامهم .. ضاعت القدرة ومعها الإرادة فتوقف الطموح عند توفير الحد الأدنى من الاحتياجات ، ووهن العزم على بذل أى جهد مطلوب للإرتقاء بتلك الإحتياجات .. فقد الناس الرغبة فى تعلم أى شيئ جديد أو المساهمة برأى أو فكر لتحسين وضع ، وانعكس الإحباط على سلوك الناس وخطواتهم فتباطأت الحركة ووصلت للمرحلة التى تسبق التوقف عن فعل أى شيئ أو بذل الحد الأدنى فقط للحصول على مصلحة خاصة .. وتزداد المأساة وتتعقد بين طبقة المتعلمين والمثقفين والمفروض فيهم أن يكونوا قاطرة التطوير والتنمية فتراهم يفضلون موقف المتفرج عما يدور حولهم والعزوف عن المشاركة ، وتزداد مقاومتهم حين يتطلب الأمر تكليفهم بعمل ما فيسارعون بالهروب من المسئولية والتنصل من تبعاتها.
أصبح الناس جزرا منعزلة يعيش كل منهم فى عالمه الخاص ، ومن ثم تصبح مهمة "تجميعنا" مهمة غاية فى الصعوبة إن لم تكن مستحيلة .. فى مصر أراض شاسعة لم تستغل ، ولازلنا نعيش على 6% فقط من مساحة الوطن ، وفى مصر ثروات طبيعية هائلة لو تحولت إلى صناعات لخلقت ملايين فرص العمل فى القطاعات الزراعية والصناعية والتجارية المختلفة .. حكوماتنا المتعاقة مسئولة عما آل إليه أمر الناس فى مصر من غياب الديموقراطية لعقود طويلة حتى فقد الناس الأمل فى أن يكون لهم رأى فى أمور حياتهم .. المشكلة إذن ليست فى الموارد ولكن فى العقول التى تخطط وتدير يحكمها توجهات سياسية جامدة تختزل الوطن فى حزب واحد أعضاؤه أولى بالرعاية طالما أنهم يقبلون تزوير إرادتهم واستخدامهم غطاء يضفى الشرعية على مايصدر من قوانين ومايتخذ من إجراءات.

كارثة الخطاب الدينى فى مصر

ماذا نقول فى خريج أزهرى المفروض فيه أن يكون داعية يؤم الناس فى المساجد ويكون أعلم منهم بشئون دينهم ولكنه لايحفظ القرآن ؟ كيف تخرج ، ومن الذى صدق على الدرجة العلمية التى حصل عليها وهو لايستحقها ؟ أسئلة هامة يستحق كل المسئولين عنها محاسبة جادة تتناسب مع حجم المأساة.
أقول ذلك بمناسبة ماأثير أخيرا من أن 16 الف خريجا أزهريا قد رسبوا فى الإختبارات الأولية للأئمة الذى أعلنت عنه مؤخرا وزارة الأوقاف من أصل 19 الف خريج من كليات الشريعة بجامعتى الأزهر ودار العلوم ، ولم تجد الوزارة فى النهاية غير ثلاثة آلاف يصلحون بالكاد لكى يكونوا أئمة أى بنسبة تقل عن 16%.. كيف يمكن أن نتحدث عن تغيير أو تطوير الخطاب الدينى دون أن نعد الداعية الملم بأحداث العصر والمفروض أنه مؤهل ليفتى فى أمور الدين ويربطه بواقع الحياة والمعاملات بين الناس ؟ هل صحيح أن الغالبية ممن يعينون أئمة مساجد نيشغلون بأعمال لاصلة لها بعملهم سعيا وراء الرزق وزيادة الراتب الهزيل الذى يتقاضونه ولكنهم يحتفظون بالوظيفة كنوع من الأمان الوظيفى مثلهم فى ذلك مثل ملايين العاملين بالحكومة ؟
إذا كان هذا هو ناتج عمل أكبر وأقدم جامعة فى المنطقة قوامها 32 ألف عضو هيئة تدريس ومثلهم من الإداريين ناهيك عمن يعملون بدار العلوم يتقاضون مرتبات ومكافآت وحوافز ويبيعون كتبهم التى يقررونها بأنفسهم على الطلاب ، ألا يقتضى ذلك وقفة مسئولة وجادة تستشعر عظم الكارثة ، وتتيقن من الحقائق التى أطرحها هنا بالمقاييس العلمية والبحث الموضوعى الجاد ؟ والموضوع لايعنى جامعة الأزهر وحدها وإنما الجهة التى تتبعها الجامعة والمسئولة عن مراقبة الجامعة واعتماد سياساتها ونظمها وتقييم ناتج عملها .. والمشكلة بهذا بالغة التعقيد حيث لايختلف أحد على أن دور الأزهر قد تضاءل وزاد ضعفا بطريقة ملحوظة خلال العقد الماضى، وازداد بعدا عن مسايرة مشاكل العصر وملاحقة التطور فى الخطاب الدينى لكى يتناول المتغيرات المتلاحقة فى حياة الناس ومطالبها الملحة وماطرأ على المعاملات ،ولاينبغى إطلاقا أن يرهبنا شخص من يتولى مشيخة الأزهر عن أن نقول كلمة حق وأن نبدى رأينا موضوعيا لكى تقوم تلك المؤسسة العريقة بدورها مهما كان نوع التغيير المطلوب.
جامعة الأزهر التى كانت الأمل فى تخريج دعاة يؤمنون بالوسطية وينتشرون فى كل بقاع الأرض برسالة الإسلام السمح الذى يعترف بكل الأديان السماوية ويتعايش معها فى سلام ، وتستقبل مبعوثين من أكثر من مائة دولة أسلامية لكى تعدهم كدعاة مستنيرين يسهمون فى نشر تلك المبادئ السماوية السامية .. هذه الجامعة العريقة يحكمها فكر جامد غير متطور لايلاحق أيقاع العصر ، ولا يسعى لتطوير برامجه ولا مقرراته لكى تتناول دور الدين فى تناول مشاكل المجتمع بمفهوم عصرى لايخل بثوابت الدين ولكنه يتصدى لكل مايستجد من تيارات مدمرة .. خريجو الأزهر ينضمون إلى طابور الدعاة التقليديين الذين يملئون الساحة حاليا موظفين فى وزارة الأوقاف يحفظون نصوصا قديمة لخطب عفا عليها الزمن لاعلاقة بينها وبين التعاملات بين الناس ولا المشاكل العصرية التى يعانون منها.. خريجو الأزهر الذين نبعث بهم للخارج لايجيدون أى لغة أجنبية على الرغم من وجود كلية للغات والترجمة تابعة للجامعة .. الكتب التى يشتريها الطلاب لم يتغير فيها حرف منذ أكثر من ربع قرن .. قلعة حصينة مغلقة الأبواب فى وجه أى تيار إصلاحى يهدد المستفيدين من بقاء الحال على ماهو عليه.
هل نحن بحاجة إلى إعادة النظر فى قرار إنشاء الجامعة والذى خرج بها عن دورها فى أن تكون جامعة متخصصة فى العلوم الشرعية لتخريج دعاة مستنيرين مسلحين بالعلم وأدوات التخاطب باللغات المختلفة لكى ينتشروا فى الأرض ينشرون رسالة دين سمح وسطى يحترم كل الأديان ويتعايش معها فى سلام ؟ أم أننا بحاجة إلى "هز شجرة الجميز" والدفع بدم جديد وفكر متطور ليقود مسيرة التحديث والتطوير فى تلك الجامعة على أسس عصرية سبقتنا إليها جامعات دينية شتى فى السعودية والمغرب العربى سحبت البساط من تحت أقدام جامعة الأزهر بمقررات متطورة وأعضاء هيئة تدريس يجيدون اللغات ويتعاملون مع العلوم الشرعية بروح العصر ومتطلباته ؟ أذكر أن جهات مانحة عرضت على جامعة الأزهر أن تنشئ وتجهز مراكزا لتعليم اللغة الإنجليزية للطلاب لاستكمال إعدادهم للدعوة فثار لوبى أصحاب المصالح والمقاومون للتغير ولووا الحقائق متهمين المبادرة بمحاولة التغلغل واختراق الجامعة لأغراض شتى مستخدمين فى ذلك العديد من الإكليشيهات سابقة التجهيز لإجهاض المبادرة وليبقى الحال على ماهو عليه من جمود وتخلف .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Alternate Methods to Motivate Ohter Than Money

Hoping for a raise in 2010? How about a nice pat on the back?

The economy may be showing signs of life, but that doesn’t mean managers and employers are starting to shower their people with cash. Far from it. Instead, they’re turning to an old-timey, feel-good technique to motivate their overburdened workers: praise.

“It’s probably the most powerful driver of performance known to mankind,” says Bob Nelson, a workplace consultant who has advised Fortune 100 companies on the use of praise. “Whether it’s an employee or a spouse, you get more of what you want when you praise someone.”

As a motivational tool, of course, praise has been around forever, long before the self-styled experts began teaching us how to practice it. But the praise-making industry only came into vogue as the coddled offspring of Baby Boomers — the kids who got soccer trophies whether they won or lost — entered the workforce en masse and required constant complimenting.

Then the economy blew up, leaving empty cubicles, cut wages, forced furloughs, and a whole lot of insecure workers. Today, it’s not just Gen Y that needs emotional reinforcement. It’s everyone. All employees and their managers are more stressed than ever, working faster and with fewer resources. And lots of managers mistakenly think they are too busy to give praise.

“The only time you hear from the boss is when you made a mistake,” says Nelson, “And bosses think they don’t have to do this because you’re lucky to have a job now. People need it more but tend to get it less.”
.Make your praise tangible
Giving out praise isn’t as easy as you might think, and the approaches vary. One strategy, says Nelson, is to make praise visible. Visit the offices of BankBoston, for instance, and you’ll spot gold embroidered stars all over the place, little decorative rewards from managers to good workers. “You walk around and people have these stars on their cubicles maybe attached to their name tags,” says Nelson.

Elsewhere, companies are trying to add a little levity — perhaps as a way to lessen the risk that forced praise in bad times can seem insincere, even hokey. Nelsen recommends gag trophies. At TRW in San Diego, managers buy a piece of junk at the flea market each year, say a lamp or a pitcher, that they pass around each month to recognize a job well done, says Nelson. The winner decorates the trophy to give it personal flair.

Other companies are tossing in some prizes — a little something to sprinkle on the thank you in these dire times. At the Universal Orlando theme park, which last year shed jobs due to the slump, managers give each other S.A.Y. IT! cards, which stand for Someone Appreciates You, and are redeemable for movie tickets, dinners, and other gifts. Says Rhonda Rhodes, vice president of human resources at Universal: “You take care of your people and they will take care of your customers.”

Even Bank of America, with 200,000-plus employees, is in on the praise action. Part of its motivation program rewards workers with recognition points that they can redeem for gifts. The idea, says BofA’s spokeswoman Kelly Sapp, is to “keep associates engaged and ultimately drive business results.”

See also: 7 Ways to Build a Loyal Team
Change the way you talk
Perhaps the most effective praise doesn’t come with a coupon, but rather from human interaction. And this often the most difficult, especially for managers for whom praise doesn’t come naturally. Jerry Pounds, who has consulted for Wal-Mart and Ford and writes a blog called Positive Influence, advises managers to praise intellect and problem-solving skills, working the flattery into everyday discussions. “If the boss comes out of the office and shakes your hand then goes back in that’s no good,” Pounds says. “There’s no need for gimmicks.”

Nelson, who wrote the book “Keeping Up In a Down Economy,” advises managers to create a new mindset. When the thought crosses your mind that someone has done a good job, act on it. Pick up the phone, jot a note, or send an email. Better yet, says Nelson, go find the person no matter what they’re doing.

“Have you ever interrupted someone in a meeting to give them good news?” says Nelson. “It’s exceptional. You say, ‘Hey, I know you’re in middle of something, but I had to let you know. We blew past last quarter’s numbers. No way that could happen without you and your team.’ That little 10 seconds is going to be conversation at dinner that evening.”

The words you choose are critical, so tread carefully. Mark Holmes, an employee-retention consultant and author of “The People Keeper: How Managers Can Attract, Motivate and Retain Better Employees,” advises his corporate clients to find specific attributes that show that you, the boss, really are paying attention.

“You can simply say, ‘I want to say thank you for being somebody not afraid to tell me what you need to say,’” says Holmes. “Or you say, ‘The thing I appreciate about you Joe is you’re consistent.’ Or ‘Suzie, you are great as a mentor with our younger employees.’ Or ‘I love your contribution. I love the way you speak up in meetings.’ It all means the world to an employee.”

Oddly, the best workers are often the ones who get overlooked by the praise givers — like the good kids in a family, who are seen as capable and directed. Yet those are often the people bosses need to go out of the way to praise in bad times so they stick around in good. “It’s not uncommon for a high-performing employee to leave companies because of a lack of feedback,” says Holmes.

Turn praise into dollars
Anyone who doubts that proper praise can boost a company’s bottom line along with its morale should listen to what happened at Houston-based Tetra Technologies, a service company in the oil and gas industry. Steve Hardwick, the global vice president of business development, brought Holmes in 2008 after a dozen big Tetra accounts had shrunk. Holmes worked with the sales and marketing teams on building teamwork and recapturing that business. A big part of what Holmes did was to make sure specific achievements were recognized.

“He made a big deal of saying, as we rolled out a new product and sought accounts, “’Look what Joe did over here,” says Hardwick. “Or he’d say, ‘Bob’s got it, look at what he told customers.’”

Tetra ended up bringing all of those lapsed accounts back into the fold. It also recently extended its contract with Shell — one of its largest accounts — for an additional three years. Two of his top guys had led the effort. “I took time to take both of these guys to dinner one-on-one and tell them how much I appreciate them,” says Hardwick. And while Hardwick says the company does its best to compensate high performers, he says praise is often equal to money.

“Money is inert,” he says. “A few thousand here or there isn’t going to be the reason you leave a job. What’s important is how you feel about how you’re fitting in, producing, contributing as part of the team, all non-monetary issues.”

True enough. Even so, most of us wouldn’t mind a few extra thousand along with the praise.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Utilizing Business Lunches

There is too much pressure of work and everyone is running from pillar to post to perform well, professionally. There are deliverables to be made, deadlines to be met and businesses to be done and that too, all at the same time. This fast paced work environment has cut down on most things at the workplace. And one major element amongst these is the regular meetings that used to be held. The era of long meetings in conference rooms that would continue for hours, today, is long gone. Now, most organizations are coming up with some innovation ideas to conduct meetings. One such new initiative is of having meetings lunches and his, is becoming quite popular trend in most organizations. Meetings over lunches are not only meant for meeting up with business associates, but also are an excellent platform that helps facilitate increased interaction and even new recruits.

Lunch meetings = Productive meetings

There can be meaning to a lunch meeting in a corporate environment. The first is when you meet business associates for lunch another type of a lunch meeting is the wring lunch wherein you gather together. A task force in a conference room and bring in food and the third is when you meet up a prospective employee to understand and know him / her better. There can be several reasons for such a meeting. It could be for a discussion of a specific project, since almost managers have more on their plate than they can handle; it makes sense to take advantage of the lunch time to keep working. The second reason could be for bonding or team building. You manage people, not machines or processes. You need to spend time with your direct reports to build professional relationships with them. The third reason could be for brainstorming. Sometimes changing your environment gives your creativity a boost and allows you and your lunch guest to come up with a solution to a problem that had eluded you back at work. Fourthly, these lunch meetings can be for job interviews. For both internal and external job candidates, going out to lunch often produces a better interview.

Meeting over lunches is a regular phenomenon at GLF Pramerica Life Insurance. In fact, they recently conducted a working lunch for our marketing team. Partner agencies were invited and the objective was to come up with innovative marketing ideas for 2010. The meeting proved to be an excellent tool to bring the team together for the completion of the agenda without any pressure. More often than not, changing one’s environment gives creativity and allows one to come up with novel solutions. Look at meetings over lunches or even coffee as investments – like a timely email or a phone call made to business associates or stakeholder. It is true that one ends up putting in two hours of work day but in my opinions it is completely justified and well worth the time spent.

Lunch meetings are catching on in today’s scenario, especially while recruiting candidates for managerial / senior positions. It is expected to know the person formally as well as informally. Meetings over lunches give you adequate time to interact with the candidate; one gets more personalized and gauges more insight about the candidate’s current and previous jobs and there is always an opportunity to discuss things beyond regular format interviews.

Good food = Good outcome

In this fast paced work environment how do these meetings over lunches prove beneficial? Between employees working lunches prove to be a much welcome break from their work. They can catch up with colleagues outside work, share thoughts, discuss common professional issues, jointly arrive at solutions, etc. On a one to one level, employees can discuss personal matters with each other in confidence and at a team level, having employees out of the office for an hour over a meal is an effective bonding exercise, especially if it involves celebration involving the team. Otherwise too, good food in a great setting appeals to the foodie in each of us. In addition, company meetings held outside the office premises can be great motivational tools. An off site meeting always works as a way to revitalize and reenergize employees and in rebuilding team spirit. It is often the best way to generate fresh ideas and build enthusiasm and a renewed commitment to company goals. Usual corporate meetings are quite formal in nature. Meetings over lunches give comfort and space to the person at the other side of table. One starts sharing his / her views, personal liking and speaks as much as possible within comfort zone; this also helps understand compatibility skills and fitment to opportunities abilities of the candidate.

If organized in the right manner, these lunch meetings prove to be highly effective, both for the organization and employees. The senior leader leaves the meeting having done his / her job a little better by including another important group of stakeholders. The employee goes away feeling much better about the company and its leadership and in a mood to share that positive feeling with those around him or her.

Creating Your Professional Identity

ource Management It is important to understand that career management is more than posting a resume online for individuals. It involves cultivating relationships collaborating with colleagues and adding tangible value to one’s network. For organizations, high levels of employee professionalism and productivity generate efficiencies, insights and success at the group level.

Creating and managing one’s professional reputation and brand in this Internet age can be intimidating for people who haven’t worked in a networked world. But the fast adoption and increasing engagement we see on networking sites globally suggest that people here in India and around the world, are quickly adapting to this new mode of doing business.

Proactively building a strong network is one of the key requirements for such people. Participating on professional groups, asking and answering relevant questions and most importantly sharing your knowledge and insights showcase young talents capabilities and collaborative skills, all of which are important to potential employers, partners and clients.

Passion for your job a desire to be the best and an ability to help others succeed are three vital ingredients of successful careers. And finally, a truly unique characteristic of a good leader is his / her ability to enable others to be successful.

Create a professional identity, connect with other professionals and collaborate with colleagues and partners to solve their business problems.

The preferences vary from person to person and they also keep changing as an employee grows in his /her career. An entry level employee primarily expects monetary benefits and a good supportive work environment that nurtures and grooms them for future roles. Supervisory staff, on the other hand, may expect a competent pay structure wherein they could have more provisions for savings and timely appreciations form the senior management team so that they are encouraged to deliver better. Managerial staff, however, will look beyond monetary and intangible benefits such as appreciation and encouragement and specifically are ken on being bestowed upon with empowered roles i.e. responsibility with authority flexible work options and decision making power with respect to their respective teams.

Cash rewards according to me, would help serve a greater purpose. After all, today’s young professional would like to realize his / her aspirations by experience a distinguished and personal lifestyle of his /her own taste and choice. The feeling of being master of one’s decision on what and where to expend on is a strong motivator without any parallel. Live rich than die rich is how the youth likes to live it.

Employees do look forward to receiving non-monetary benefits as it gives them instant recognition amongst their peer group. The certificates, appreciations letters, etc can be laminated and pinned up on the wall of their respective workstations; this not only motivates them to enhance their productivity levels every single time they look at it while working, but also encourages peers to perform better, in a quest to reach to that level. Cash rewards on the other hand give a momentary high and then, according to me, the enthusiasm slows down and eventually employees start complaining again with the passage of time. Employees always seek instant and timely recognition and appreciation for their work and this need of employees should be fulfilled.

Cash based rewards act as a big pull for at least the first few years for most employees. The reason for this may be attributed to the initial exasperation of getting the best paying job under peer / social pressure. The case is not the same after a few years when employees tend to rationalize their presence in companies based on their interest levels and the value they are able to add to the employer and its bottom line.