Category Archives: areas of improvement

The Five Blunders in Reprimanding

Employees sometimes make mistakes or violations.  If the mistakes or violations will adversely affect the productivity or integrity of the company, you call the employee in your office and give him or her a reprimand.

There are five serious errors which a manager or leader can make in reprimanding.

1.  Failing to get facts.    Don’t accept hearsay evidence or go on general impressions but be sure to have all the facts before jumping.

2.  Acting while angry.  Do it when you are calm and be as impartial as possible in making a decision to reprimand. Make a self-evaluation, perhaps it was possibly your fault that the error or violation occurred.

3.  Being vague about the offense.  Let the person know the general charge and the specific details of the offense.  Don’t refer to general complaints or refuse to give details.

4.  Not considering the other person’s side of the story. Listen to the person’s  full story about what happened and the reasons why he did what he did. There may be mitigating circumstances, conflicting orders or even unclear orders you gave which were at fault.

5.  Neglecting to keep records.  Disciplinary reprimands should always be recorded in the personnel folder of the person to become part of his or her work history  and as evidence in the event of further disciplinary requirements.  In many cases, people who were known to be unsatisfactory employees over the years have been reinstated after discharge because the company could produce no proofs that the person had ever been told of his shortcomings.

These are the blunders that I know and if you have some in your list please share them with us by leaving your comments below this post. We love to hear from you.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

How to Deal with Grapevine Rumors

A grapevine always exists in the office, organization, community or anywhere.  Trying to crush it out entirely is both hopeless and counterproductive.  But rumors that threaten job security can destroy an organization if left unchecked. One of the major concerns in dealing with the grapevine is that it is usually impossible to pinpoint the source of rumor.

Grapevine rumors may develop during gatherings.

The following are the strategies that we must utilize to soothe the potential damage of grapevine rumors:

1.  Always be available for frank discussion of employee concerns.  A minor rumor may loom important to employees if it is allowed to worsen, taking a toll on morale and performance.  Make an unfounded rumor the subject of the next employee meeting.

2.  Give your undivided attention to the employee who comes to you with the latest rumor. If it is totally unfounded, tell him so, honestly.   If there’s some truth to the story, but management doesn’t want to address it at this time, simply tell the employee that you’re not at liberty to discuss it.  Then report the conversation to top management right away.  The timetable for announcing the subject of the rumor should be moved up if employees are already aware of it.

3.  Don’t waste a great deal of time trying to trace the source of the rumor – unless an employee is releasing confidential information. Never try to publicly embarrass employees who are responsible for spreading rumors.  You can accomplish the same goal by releasing the facts and having other employees realize how deceptive their information really is.

4.  Devote time at every meeting for employees to ask questions about subjects that may be bothering them.  There is no better way to detect the subject of the latest rumor.

5.  Keep the work environment predictable and give employees as much control over their work as possible. They should have sufficient power and authority to accomplish the jobs they are expected to perform.  Insufficient authority breeds discontent, a major fuel for the rumor factory.

If you have other strategies in your mind or have remarks to this post, I’m inviting you to leave your comments below . I love to hear from you.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

Focusing on Costs as an Area which Needs Improvement

In my  article on How to Know What Areas Need Improvement , the first guide that I give is to focus on costs.

The article stresses that whatever your organization is, whether you are operating for profit or with a budget, like a government agency, the good result of initiating with a cost reduction is great.

This doesn’t mean that we eliminate necessary services, such as income-generating activity, in order to reduce costs.  It means producing more products and services for every amount that the organization spends.

You must analyze and act assertively on how the present operating expenses can produce more products and services or  how the same volume or products and services can be produced at lesser costs.

A manager’s basic function is to get the work done, but certainly not at any cost.  Finding ways to improve your operations with better, less wasteful methods is as important a contribution to your company as meeting production quotas and schedules.  Here’s how to balance the two areas of responsibility:

*  Use Time Well. Wasted time is one of the costliest elements in any operation.  A manager can cut this waste by engaging the right equipment, the right materials and the right people at the right time.  Time is the essential element.  The lack of any factor at the right time holds up the job and increases costs.  Learn these facts about each operation:  how long it takes, how many people are needed, how the work flows from station to station, and the capacity of each station.

*  Coordinate Correctly. After determining just what has to be done, where, and by whom, each step must be coordinated.  Proper coordination can eliminate waiting for assignments or supplies, cut down chasing time for information or materials, and assure optimum use of workers and equipment.

*  Insure Proper Work Flow. Sometimes poor work flow just sort of grows from a lack of any real planning.  Improper work flow results in uneven workloads and unproductive waiting time.  Don’t let time-wasting bad habits develop into accepted procedures.

*  Schedule Carefully. Any kind of bottleneck adds to costs, but you can avoid some of them with proper scheduling.  Even the occasional rush job should not throw off your schedule if you have padded in a little extra time for the inevitable emergencies.  If you don’t need the time, you don’t have to use it.  But if you do need it, using it won’t create excessive costs.

*  Use Manpower Efficiently. Failing to use available manpower to the fullest potential is always the costliest item of doing business.  Target these areas of waste:

–        Using more workers on a job than are actually needed.

–        Not having enough workers on a job, resulting in unnecessary overtime.

–        Using highly paid, skilled workers on jobs that lower paid workers can do.

–        Failure to use skilled workers in their specialties for reasons of day-to-day expediency.

–        Failure to give adequate on-the-job training.

–        Not policing the overtime.  Is it really necessary or would realistic scheduling help reduce it?

As good executive, you shall act as role model in terms of cost reduction. According to John Maxwell, When they need to cut cost, many executives will sacrifice employees ahead of their own corporate perks. They see their OWN picture instead of the big picture. I believe that a leader should not ask others to make sacrifices until he’s made some himself. A good employee is simply too valuable to let go without exhausting other options.

If you have any other cost reduction ideas to include in this list, I shall be very glad to hear from you.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

Have a Plan for Personal Growth

Growth is not automatic; it does not necessarily come with experience, nor simply as a result of gathering information.  Personal growth must be deliberate, planned, and consistent. – John Maxwell

I came across the practical steps for personal growth in the book, Developing the Leaders Around You, by JOHN MAXWELL.

JOHN MAXWELL, who was listed as number one  in my post on  the Top Ten Leadership Gurus, outlines these five practical steps for personal growth:

1. Set aside time daily for growth. John Maxwell shares with us the two important concepts in this step:

First, time for growth must be planned.

Second, the time set aside must be set aside daily – for no fewer than five days a week.

Reading books and informative magazines while traveling and waiting is also good for personal growth.

When I was reassigned from the regional office  to the central office, I made my daily schedule of reading books and other resource materials, at least one hour when I wake up early in the morning and one hour in the evening, to prepare me intellectually to the bigger responsibilities I was facing.

2. File or copy quickly what you learn. Always carry with you a small planner or notebook where you could write what you learn from your readings or from the tapes.

3. Apply quickly what you learn. Choose a learning that you want to apply each week.

4. Grow with someone. The best way to grow is to share your knowledge with someone.

5. Plan your growth and follow it for a year. If you want to read one book per month and listen to one tape per week, you will be able to read twelve books and listen to 52 tapes in a year.

According to John Maxwell, personal growth is like investing.  It’s not your timing.  It’s your time in.  Get them going now.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

Lead with Patience

You probably became the person you are today because somebody had patience with you at some critical points in your life…When you are patient with a person, you make a long-term investment in them.- Blaine Lee

On November 25, 2009, I posted an article titled Leaders Pay Attention to the Details. It stressed that there are projects which fail due to the leader’s failure to be attentive to details.

Most projects and problems encountered by us are not as simple as they seem.  It needs patience to dig into the details of each task and issue.  Much more, it takes a lot of patience to deal with the people doing the task or causing the issue –  people of varied attitude, work habits and experiences.

We develop the people we lead because people is the life of the organization .  We have to study the details of the project or of the job to help our people improve their performance. We could not teach what we don’t know.  Helping people grow requires patience.  We don’t keep digging up a  plant to know how it’s growing.

A Director is discussing the details of the job with her employees.

When I was  new in supervising people, I was so impatient with the slow learners,  slow workers and those who always commit mistakes.  I wanted everyone to be efficient and high achievers to meet and even exceed our goals.  But, I realized that my impatience has affected our relationship and didn’t motivate them to do better. Later on, I learned to be a good coach to them and most of them thanked me for the learnings they got from me.

In his book, The Power Principle: Influence with Honor, Blaine Lee suggests the following words to say to ourselves to check for patience:

Are their efforts acceptable as a place to start?

Must it really be done now?  This way?

Are the deadlines real?

Where are the pressures coming from?

Are the pressures real?

Is this good enough for now?

Are they good enough for now?

Am I open to their opinions?

How do you demonstrate patience to your people and to your peers?  Please let me hear from you by leaving your comments below this article.

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes