Monday, June 1, 2015

Loyalty killed marketing... Or did it?

This could be just me, and my experiences in the corporate world or that the prestigious MBA degree just messed up my expectations. We aspire to be Marketing Managers and Brand Managers, the aim is just the title but we rarely want to do the work. Higher management usually wants people to just say yes, keep your ideas to yourself and especially those out of the box campaigns that will propel your brand.
I aspire to have a discussion which will help the brand grow, where the strategic implications of a decision are discussed and people are held accountable.  But sadly it’s the region that decides the brand direction. Therefore we are merely, facilitators to the clerical tasks associated with marketing. An HBR article “Marketing Is Dead, and Loyalty Killed It” deems marketing to be dead and loyalty being the prime focus, but the fact is that loyalty is a product of strong marketing practices. I believe if your definition of marketing is narrow, it probably is dead but if you define marketing as understanding customer and their needs and converting those into products they will buy I doubt it can ever die, its just an evolution, a new set of tools and broader understanding.
 Brands like Apple have achieved a dream loyalty due to the emotional connection made by Steve jobs and same has been capitalized upon, consumers remain loyal even when the brand makes mistakes and the product has bugs. But brand loyalty is not only about forgiving mistakes but ensuring the fact that consumers won’t switch at the first onset of competitors offering lower prices, which means company is ensured revenue, making loyalty a priority.
Apple is an easy brand to talk about, locally speaking (in Pakistan) I’ve seen loyalty programs which only mean points redemption, I need to give the company thousands of rupees of revenue to get a key chain, banks to some extent have gotten some leverage Faysal Bank for example, but still a long way to go.
If you want brand loyalty, figure out the function of each aspect of marketing, find a way to connect with your customer and more importantly believe it yourself. The rest will certainly follow

Monday, May 11, 2015

Circadian Rhythm

For people who travel a lot one must have heard the phrase body clock, and wondered if such a thing does exist. It does and it is called Circadian Rhythm. Researchers are worried about the wide range of implications a disrupted circadian rhythm may have which includes the risk of cardiovascular events, obesity, sleep disorders and many other neurological disorders

Circadian Rhythm and its applications have a vital management implication, especially on productivity. Managers will expect employees to be on the top of their game throughout the day, which is quite unrealistic, employers might want to perform at peak levels throughout the day but that too doesn’t seem viable. For most employees it takes a while to reach their peak maybe after their first cup of coffee, and this was last till about lunch time, hitting a low at about 3 pm. We usually blame this on lunch, especially the huge servings of Biryani, but this is a natural process of the circadian rhythm.                
Managers should tailor tasks of employees keeping in mind circadian rhythms like assignments, deadlines and expectations. It all boils down to understanding your employees and deriving the maximum from them at the right times. Employees should be well aware of their own circadian rhythms while planning their day to achieve maximum productivity. The best way to keep everything in check is taking naps, power naps as there are known. Keeps the mind and body table, also stay hydrated most energy dips are usually experienced due to lack of hydration.   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How Meetings Kill Productivity

 Every minute you spend in a meeting you can spend it doing something productive. Before I get into the specifics of meetings, it’s important to note that leadership styles and prevalent corporate culture plays an important role. Employees and managers go through phases in their level of productivity throughout the day (see Circadian Rhythm) therefore their times need to be utilized efficiently.  A variation of Parkinson’s Law applied to meetings goes something like this: “Meeting activities expand to fill the time available.” Ergo, more time, more activities. If you set an hour for the meeting, people will use the hour, regardless of how much is on the agenda.
Business meetings require people to commit, focus and make decisions, with little or no attention paid to the depletion of the finite cognitive resources of the participants--particularly if the meetings are long. So if that is true, the three or four hour project meetings may be counterproductive. In my experience the meetings were a way to give the owner the due attention, it rarely had any significance. Another experience where as a part of the marketing department I was asked to conduct daily progress meetings in an organization where people worked in shift, which meant some, had to come in early while others had to stay late. These are practices from former Managing Director of a top pharmaceutical company.
More time should be spent in communicating roles, responsibilities and KPI’s so that an employee is given direction and does not need to be micromanaged. Meetings should be held for absolutely important reasons with a fixed agenda and with a limited amount of people.
An excerpt from
Recently, my colleagues and I heard a story about a U.S. undersecretary of defense who was managing procurement. She came to her first meeting with contractors and saw some 60 people in the room. So she said, “Let’s first create a big circle. We’ll go around the room, and everyone can say who they are and why they’re here.” Participants rolled their eyes  — did they really have to do something this gimmicky? —
After the first two had identified themselves, the undersecretary said, “Thanks for your interest, but we won’t need you here. You can excuse yourself.” Others met a similar fate. By the time she got to the 10th person in the circle, people all over the room were getting up to leave, knowing they had no real reason to be there. Eventually the group got down to around 12 members — and the human capital productivity of that meeting rose about fivefold.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success

The first day at a new job is very similar to your first day at school. The emotions, the uncertainty and mostly the stress. Each employee will handle these extreme emotions depending on their personality type; some will adjust fasters than others, while others might just take longer. There are many factors involved in the duration of acceptability, the most important one being past experiences, especially your last employment. If it was a positive experience, you carry forward the positivity, if it’s the opposite then the negativity sticks for longer period of time creating issues and may destabilize a candidate for a longer. A total of 25% of the entire working population undergoes career transitions each year.[i]
HR departments in Pakistan have yet to evolve into the function they are expected to perform. The change in the name from “Personnel Department” into the “Human Resource Department” aimed to have a strategic significance. New employee onboarding is an important process of getting employees adjusted to social and performance aspects of their new job. It’s through this that employees learn attitudes, knowledge and skills and the appropriate behavior to function effectively. Some organizations aptly have formal onboarding programs while others take up the “sink In” approach, which is highly risky. A good onboarding program is a major contributor to the overall retention policy. Organizational Best Practices for Onboarding: 
·         Implement basics prior to the first day on the job
·         Introduce a buddy system or mentor program to show the employee around.
·         Introduce the employee to other staff members in person as well as via email.
·         Make the first day on the job special
·         Design and implement formal  and informal orientation programs
·         Create and use written onboarding plans
·         Schedule trainings to familiarize the employee with company best practices and systems.
There is no better way to alienate an employee than ignoring them on their first week on the job. Human Capital is the one contributing factor in the success of the business, it’s not surprising that many companies are outsourcing their HR activities, but if HR delivers on its core functions, it could be a major contributing factor for the organizations strategic and competitive advantage.
[i] Rollag, K., Parise, S., & Cross, R. (2005).  Getting new hires up to speed quickly. MIT Sloan Management Review, 46, 35-41.