Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Effective Methods for Managing Workplace Conflict

Conflict is a natural part of being in a society and regularly occurs  in personal and professional arenas. In the workplace, disputes can be especially destructive as issues spread to other members and damage the ability of people to work together. Learning to develop a healthy style of conflict management helps minimize damage quickly and keeps the company moving in the right direction.

Collaborating with others is one of the best methods of managing a business as it solves problems and helps keep people focused on goals (Paul, et. al., 2004/2005). When all parties are interested in resolving differences and finding an equitable solution, stronger companies emerge. The collective action of solving conflict forces the organization to get stronger as it reaches to overcome issues.

Conflict management styles determine the  preferred approach when problems arise that cannot be easily rectified. People react to challenges in different ways but fundamentally take an obliging, integrating, avoiding or dominating approach (Anjum, Karim, & Bibi, 2014).  Applying the wrong style to an explosive situation can lead to further problems.

Obliging is giving in, and this can be beneficial when the issues are not important, or the person may be entitled to what they are requesting. For example, if you forgot to return an item to a coworker and conflict results than obliging them is appropriate. Respecting the needs of others helps reduce pending issues.

Integrating is a useful method for creating strategies that blend the interest of multiple people into a shared vision. Stakeholders needs and issues are integrated into the solution so that involved parties can come to an agreement. This often occurs during negotiations or planning the use of resources.

Avoidance occurs when avoiding the person, and their demands is the primary objective. This can be counterproductive if the behavior crosses boundaries but may be beneficial if there is nothing to gain from the conflict. An aggressive person who has little to do with your core business should be avoided unless they become destructive and challenged.

Dominating is a standard approach where people seek to create power over each other instead of power with each other.  Escalating conflicts usually occur because of these dominating actions where one person attempts to force compliance of another person. For example, companies may fire an employee who vandalized property in the best interest of the organization.

Managers spend a lot of time resolving employee and customer issues and it is important to be familiar with how personality impacts the overall process of development. Creating shared visions is be a primary tool but when this isn't likely to occur, due to unreasonable demands, it is important to use one of the other approaches to find a constructive resolution. Resolving a problem quickly can help in minimizing its damage.

Anjum, M., Karim, J. & Bibi, Z. (2014). Relationship of values and conflict management styles. IBA Business Review, 9 (1).

Paul, S. et. al. (20014/2005). An empirical investigation of collaborative conflict management style in group support system-based global virtual teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 21 (3).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Short-term versus Long-Term Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is a major component of business planning that sets the course of action that leads to either business success or business failure. Short-term thinking can be problematic as resources are wasted fixing potholes and gaining immediate results without considering long-term solutions. Executives that focus exclusively on short-term results sometimes leave their organizations in worse shape.

A great portion of our day is engaged in crisis management where new problems arise and we must deal with them immediately before the they spread. This process can be effective in the short run but can damage the company in the long-term when the root of the problem is not addressed. The crisis situations will continue to spread and grow as the underlying issues spread.

A strategy should focus on limiting the damage caused by crisis problems while ensuring the root problem is still being addressed. Executives who think short-term will see immediate results but will often damage long-term organizational performance. Jumping from fire to fire is a reactive strategy.

Long-term thinking can save the company money in the future by increasing competitiveness. When the company doesn’t have the ability to implement a long-term strategy, plenty of resources are wasted on counter-productive activities.

For example, a business many continue facing shut-downs due to dilapidated infrastructure. The production line breaks down frequently and requires heavy maintenance to keep going. It has a poor design and raises per product cost leaving a company slowly but surely less competitive by the year.

A long-term thinking will assess the long-term goals of the company and the strategy to get there to determine how to handle this problem. Instead of hiring new maintenance workers and dumping more money into a poor system the long-term thinker invests in a cutting-edge system that affords more adaptability to the production system.

Short-term and long-term strategy can work together. Short-term strategies can fix or minimize immediate problems through proper crisis management but will not ignore the needs of deeper problems. Short-term goals can build into long-term goals that lead to a stronger competitive stance.

Executives should ensure that short-term solutions do not supplant the long-term needs of the company. Even though solving immediate problems is attractive, it is the resolution of long-term issues that separates the exceptional executives from the rest of the herd. Developing a stronger strategy helps to reduce the frequency of short-term distractions by fixing fundamental competitive problems.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Do You Have an Opinion or a Persuasive Argument?

What makes the difference between an opinion and a persuasive argument? People love their opinions, but are based on thoughts, feelings, and wishes of the individual and don’t always have validity. It doesn’t matter if one is in college, a seasoned manager or running for political office, creating a persuasive argument leads to credibility. Their emotions may drive people, but it is their logic that makes them worthy of your ear.

Persuasive arguments are reinforced by substantial information that is reasonable and logical in its construction of the conclusion. The average person can see the argument as reasonable based on shared knowledge. They can follow the information and make the same conclusion as the speaker.

Opinions based on emotions and quick judgments often lack enough supportive information to be worthy of attention. They can use emotions to draw a crowd into a frenzy but lose their appeal once people start to question the logic. Over time, the emotional appeal fades the speaker's credibility suffers.

A problem with not evaluating what others are saying is that most people simply regurgitate the opinions of others within their social networks or people with authority without critical thought. This leads  to the spreading of false information among a broad group of persons.  They didn't look into the details of the information or whether or not it is true before spreading it.

The inability to truly think about issues and come to an independent conclusion is based in mental laziness and lack of self-confidence. We can see that destructive nature at work on the path to war, bullying behavior, or any other situation where emotions are stirred, but critical thinking is missing. Those who are least likely to think about issues or stand up for their beliefs are open to manipulation.

Leaders who want to create credibility and develop a justifiable argument should state their main proposition and then support that proposition with reliable information. Their argument should have enough supporting facts to justify that position and lead to a reasonable conclusion. Well thought-out arguments gain more support than flimsy opinions.

The justification for arguments should be from credible sources that have facts to support their claims. For example, a generic search for a term on the Internet will return lots of opinions but it is up to the reader to seek out credible information to formulate their  opinions. Perusing government websites, research, studies, polls, and industry knowledge is better than relying on the abundance of unsubstantiated fluff on the web.

The ability to see logical holes in other’s arguments allows for a more critical view of presented information. People are always seeking adherents to their cause and regularly manipulate information to justify their main points. Being able to question that information and where that information comes from makes a big difference in creating persuasive arguments.

It has been said that no one truly owns themselves until they can create an independent opinion. That opinion should be based in fact, information, experience, logic, and knowledge versus social considerations. Stating the main points and supporting those points with factual information is likely to raise credibility and differentiate a substantiated argument from unsubstantiated opinion. When people speak with  knowledge, they can gain long term followers to their cause.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Collaborative Investing in Local Clusters Leads to Economic Development

Group investment is not a novel idea but can be significant in developing stronger local growth models. Ahotmarket is one that draws substantial investment interest that encourages growth among market relevant businesses. Pack investing offers opportunities to create multiple points of capital infusion that lead to the growth of a battery of related companies.

Companies do not work in a vacuum and rely on different local stakeholders to feed the building of their business. They need resources, human capital, science, facilities, suppliers, partners, and customers to develop momentum. If they lack the right environment, their business is doomed to failure before it gets started.

Pack investing offers the opportunity to take a local core competency with a solid industry base and infuse large amounts of capital at various points to encourage mutual growth. Multiple investors may work together to invest in complementary businesses that have market relevance but are not operating at peak performance.

The potential for quick growth and higher market returns is greater for companies that work together. Network relationships and alliance capitalism can create higher growth records among businesses (Eng, 2007). Sharing resources and knowledge during the growth stages with peer companies seems to make a difference.

Pack investing, and allied companies develop a stronger competitive stance. Industry alliances, even when money is not transferring between them, earned abnormally high local returns (Wang & Der-Jin, 2005). Getting businesses to support each other’s growth trajectories with shared services lead to stronger intra-firm alliances.

Collaborating on an investment level and working on a firm level creates two forms of potential synergy. Infusion of cash allows individual companies to expand their operations. Sharing knowledge and resources with other businesses helps them learn and adapt. Together investment and development create clusters of competitive firms that lead to jobs and economic wealth.

Investing in a pack and encouraging mutual growth is different than standard competitive strategies and requires a new way of thinking. Competitiveness is in the American blood, but collaboration can sometimes supersede this instinct to create greater value. Persuading investing institutions and company CEO’s to work together is a challenging game.

Pack investing relies on transparent city data that allows investors to find underperforming clusters and explore them. Seeing the opportunities and sharing those opportunities with like-minded investors may be against culture but can be lucrative, in the long run, when investment returns rises. Greater revenue is followed by new investment, tax income and jobs that can raise living standards of residents.

Eng, T. (2007). Relationship value of firms in alliance capitalism and implications for FDI. International Journal of Business Studies, 15 (1).

Wang, Y. & Der-Jin, M. (2005). Using strategic alliances to make decisions about investing in technological innovations. International Journal of Management, 22 (4).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Studying for Career Success-Knowing What You Know

Everyone who attended formal schooling knows that studying is a grueling and often not so fun process. For a few out there who enjoy learning they seem to slice through their books like a knife through butter. Despite the motivated few the vast majority of students either don’t know how to study or don’t study to maximize their future potential.

Studying is one of those activities that comes along with attending any type of formal educational program. The professor typically steers the student to certain conclusions, but it is up to the student to do the leg work so they can learn the necessary background information to reach those conclusions. Understand what the professors says is different than understanding why he/she says it.

Not reading the text or outside sources is apparent in the level of depth in discussion and papers. Length is not the same thing as depth. Depth means a student can cover the required concepts succinctly and with enough substance to justify their main points. It is not a long winded explanation consisting of shallow and unsubstantiated rhetoric.

Without this effort, answers won’t have much meaning and graduates are unlikely to be able to apply this information to real life situations during the course of their employment. For example, if a graduated was exposed to best management practices during a course but doesn’t know how to apply those practices they will risk failure in their careers.

Success comes to those who put in the time and effort to learn. It can be frustrating, and it can take a long time but over the course of one’s career they will become more successful than those who didn’t study. It may not make sense to them while they are in class, but it will make sense to them when they have to rely on their knowledge to overcome challenges.

A few tips for studying:

-Read all required and supplemental materials.

-Search through the library and outside sources to support papers and develop a point of view.

-Engage in discussions to learn what others know about the topic.

-Question other students and expand on ideas they offer.

-Develop a method of studying  that can apply to most learning situations.

-Ask questions when you don’t understand principles.

-Incorporate feedback to continue to add the quality of papers and thought.