Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 19th 2013 Contents Avoid these
When creating strategy, far too many lead-
ers give in to temptations that result in weak
strategic choices. Here are three common
mistakes and how to avoid them:
Failing to choose. Attempting to be all
things to all customers isn t a winning strategy.
Select specific segments of consumers with
particular characteristics that you can serve
Acquiring to change playing fields. Acqui-
sition usually just adds unnecessary com-
plexity. If you can t strategise in your current
environment, you won t necessarily excel in
a different one.
Accepting an existing choice as unchange-
able. A company always has a choice of where
in the market it will play, so don t use this
as an excuse for mediocre performance.
Change won t happen overnight, but you can
alter the course with focus and dedication.
(Adapted from "Playing to Win: How Strat-
egy Really Works" by AG Lafley and Roger L
Don't overpromise on
your new job
When taking on a new role, it can be
tempting to list all the grand things you plan
to accomplish in your first year. But be careful
before you make any hard commitments. It s
better to underpromise and overdeliver.
You don t know what unforeseen obstacles
may get in your way---the organisation s
resistance to change, for example. Be con-
servative when setting expectations with
your new boss and other stakeholders. If you
deliver more results, you will delight them.
But if you promise too much and fall short,
you risk undermining your credibility. Even
if you successfully complete a great number
of projects but don t do everything on your
list, you will have failed in their eyes.
(Adapted from "The First 90 Days, Updated
and Expanded" by Michael D Watkins.)
Stop these negative
If you want to empower, engage or motivate
others, don t just focus on increasing your
positive behaviours. Pay attention to the
things you need to stop doing:
Using judgmental body language. No one
likes perceived condescension. Watch out for
scowling, furrowed brows and quizzical or
sarcastic looks (as if to say, "Are you stupid?").
While seemingly harmless, each of these
subtle darts damages relationships.
Interrupting. It s almost impossible for
people to feel safe if the boss takes up most
of the airtime or cuts people off. Do more
listening than talking, and let people finish
Being inconsistent. It s hard on employees
to wonder who is going to show up: "smiling,
charming, funny boss" or "judgmental,
intense, snapping manager." Try to keep your
tone and personality consistent so people
know what to expect.
(Adapted from "Which Behaviors Must
Leaders Avoid?" by Amy Jen Su and Muriel
Help someone vent
It s hard to know what to do when someone
is ranting. A lot of people will try to jump
in and give advice. Others freeze up and just
sit there silently. Neither of those approaches
will help the person get the negative emotions
out and move on (which is what she needs
most). Next time someone is bending your
ear about a problem, try asking questions.
What s most frustrating to her? If you ask
about her feelings, it often sounds conde-
scending. Asking about frustration is less
judgmental. Listen and gather more details
about the problem.
Once she s vented her feelings, she ll be
better able to think about potential solutions.
When people are upset, it matters less what
you tell them than what you enable them to
BG16 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt SEPTEMBER 2013 • WEEK THREE
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
Money's other purpose:
easing our fear of death
34%: In an experiment, people who
had been counting money indi-
cated a lower fear of death than
people who had been counting slips of white
paper---about 5.3 versus 6.5 on a zero-to-12 scale,
says a team led by Tomasz Zaleskiewicz of the Uni-
versity of Social Sciences and Humanities in War-
Moreover, people's estimates of the sizes of coins
were an average of 34 per cent larger if they had
been primed to think about mortality, presumably
because thoughts of death intensify the subjective
value attributed to money. People seem to desire
money in part because it has the power to soothe
fears of death, the researchers say.
Are you among the effort averse?
1/5: Results of an experiment suggest
that more than one-fifth of partici-
pants preferred the boring but easy
task of watching visitors in an art gallery to the
more engaging but demanding tasks of escorting
performers and cleaning up at a cultural festival,
even though they had predicted they would enjoy
the engaging tasks more.
These participants' willingness to accept lower
wages to work at the gallery job reveals a phenom-
enon the researchers, David A Comerford and Peter
Ubel of Duke University, call "effort aversion." The
reasons for it aren't clear; the researchers speculate
that because attention is a scarce resource, people
may reject effortful tasks without thinking about
how enjoyable they might be. (Source: ScienceDi-
@2013 Harvard Business School Publishing
Corp. (Distributed by The New York Times Syn-
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