How Can Theory X and Theory Y Help You to Work With a Difficult Manager?

I see many comments and feedback on the site from people who say their manager is not easy to work with, and does not practise the enlightened behaviours we often discuss. And many people ask me for advice on how they can work with difficult managers.

This type of manager can sometimes be referred to as a theory X manger, whereas a more liberal, contemporary style of management is referred to as a theory Y.
Let’s begin by having a look at Theory X and theory Y to help us understand what is happening here.

What is Theory X and theory Y?

It is worth having a look at the theory in detail. It addresses motivation and management and has been used to develop a positive management style. It is often used to improve organisational culture and development.

McGregor’s theory postulates that there are basically two ways of managing people. Theory X is an authoritarian style of management, based on a belief that most people do not like work and must be forced to work towards their company goals and objectives. They need to be closely supervised, will avoid responsibility and are not ambitious. They only want security. This style of management does not encourage staff development, and fosters a limited, depressed culture. It is generally held to be unhelpful and produce poor results
Theory Y is a more participative management style, based on the belief that people will naturally make an effort at work, and will automatically try to achieve company goals and objectives, as long as their achievements are associated with rewards. They welcome responsibility and many people will use their creativity and ingenuity to solve company problems.

This style of management is liberating, allows staff to develop, achieve things, and enables and empowers them. It is generally held to be more constructive and beneficial, allow people to grow and develop and produces better performances from staff.

Why do managers behave like this?

Sometimes it helps to understand why managers behave as they do. Theory X managers are often responding to pressure from their own managers, or from external influences such as business problems or cash flow problems if they are the business owner. Maybe they have personal problems, family issues. Perhaps they are under a great deal of pressure one way or another and this is what influences their behaviour.

Theory X managers can be characterised as results-driven and intolerant. They will often issue deadlines, threats and instructions, rather than asking for something to be done. They may be short tempered, often angry, arrogant, or elitist. They are not usually good at team building, and are not interested in the welfare of their staff. They never offer praise, delegate, listen or thank their staff.

They are often a nightmare to work for, and create an extremely unpleasant situation for everyone concerned. In the next lesson we will consider what action you can tak.

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How Can Theory X and Theory Y Help You to Work With a Difficult Manager?

I see many comments and feedback on the site from people who say their manager is not easy to work with, and does not practise the enlightened behaviours we often discuss. And many people ask me for advice on how they can work with difficult managers.

This type of manager can sometimes be referred to as a theory X manger, whereas a more liberal, contemporary style of management is referred to as a theory Y.
Let’s begin by having a look at Theory X and theory Y to help us understand what is happening here.

What is Theory X and theory Y?

It is worth having a look at the theory in detail. It addresses motivation and management and has been used to develop a positive management style. It is often used to improve organisational culture and development.

McGregor’s theory postulates that there are basically two ways of managing people. Theory X is an authoritarian style of management, based on a belief that most people do not like work and must be forced to work towards their company goals and objectives. They need to be closely supervised, will avoid responsibility and are not ambitious. They only want security. This style of management does not encourage staff development, and fosters a limited, depressed culture. It is generally held to be unhelpful and produce poor results
Theory Y is a more participative management style, based on the belief that people will naturally make an effort at work, and will automatically try to achieve company goals and objectives, as long as their achievements are associated with rewards. They welcome responsibility and many people will use their creativity and ingenuity to solve company problems.

This style of management is liberating, allows staff to develop, achieve things, and enables and empowers them. It is generally held to be more constructive and beneficial, allow people to grow and develop and produces better performances from staff.

Why do managers behave like this?

Sometimes it helps to understand why managers behave as they do. Theory X managers are often responding to pressure from their own managers, or from external influences such as business problems or cash flow problems if they are the business owner. Maybe they have personal problems, family issues. Perhaps they are under a great deal of pressure one way or another and this is what influences their behaviour.

Theory X managers can be characterised as results-driven and intolerant. They will often issue deadlines, threats and instructions, rather than asking for something to be done. They may be short tempered, often angry, arrogant, or elitist. They are not usually good at team building, and are not interested in the welfare of their staff. They never offer praise, delegate, listen or thank their staff.

They are often a nightmare to work for, and create an extremely unpleasant situation for everyone concerned. In the next lesson we will consider what action you can tak.

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The Path to Innovation: The Cloud as the Quickest Shortcut

One of the biggest issues companies face with innovation is integrating new systems into legacy systems.

Everyone wishes they could simply start with a greenfield deployment and avoid that hassle – but in the past, that integration has been highly complex. Now it’s becoming less complex, thanks to the cloud. Even so, whenever a company deploys a cloud, there’s always going to be the issue of eventual integration. How can companies use the cloud to “start from scratch” and still make it part of the enterprise architecture later?
Let’s start with what the cloud brings to the table when it comes in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS).

In a nutshell, it enables companies to take advantage of innovation more quickly than they would have been able to in the past.

Procurement is certainly faster. Upgrades are easier, because they’re done once in a central location. And companies can even try out new cloud-based services to determine their efficacy. Overall, SaaS applications are less of a burden on IT, and lines of businesses get access to advanced application capabilities. The same advantages apply to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) scenarios as well. Continue reading The Path to Innovation: The Cloud as the Quickest Shortcut

Managing a Distributorship – What Is a Distributor?

A distributor purchases goods from a manufacturer and distributes them on their behalf. They act as an extension to the company’s salesforce. They are wholesalers who trade goods for profit, like the early merchant traders.

They are used in different industries and sectors in different ways appropriate to the sector requirements and characteristics.

They form part of a supply chain which usually includes a manufacturer and often dealers and retailers. The basic supply chain structure has many variants. Let’s have a look at some definitions.

Manufacturers produce products

Distributors move the product from manufacturer to market.
Dealers or retailers usually purchase the product from the wholesale distributor and sell to end users.

Types of distributors

There are several types of distributors –wholesale and retail. There are also manufacturers’ sales offices, agents, commission agents and brokers.

A distributor takes title and legal ownership of the products, whereas a broker facilitates the transfer of products without necessarily handling them or owning them
Wholesale distributors buy product from the manufacturer and offer them to resellers, but not to the end user or consumers. They are a business to business, or B2B, operation

Retail distributors sell directly to end users, or business to consumer, or B2C
Similarities to franchising There are some similarities to franchising, in that the relationship is contractual, and the distributor is usually allowed to use the brand, but not pass themselves off as the manufacturer. Distributors and dealers usually have the right to use the manufacturer’s trademarks and logos.

There is usually a clearly defined territory and an agreed strategy, objectives and specification, governed by a contract. Powerful trading partnerships can be developed.

But distributors don’t pay up front fees for the right to sell goods. They purchase the goods on their own account and then distribute them. The distributor or dealer usually has their own established market and reputation, and may carry several competing brands.

Why do manufacturers use distributors?

Basically so that they can concentrate on their core business of manufacturing without the cost and distraction of managing a sales force.

The manufacturer may be involved in marketing programmes, incentives for distributors and dealers, discounts for the consumer, and if appropriate by providing technical training programs for distributor and dealer staff.

Although distributors might undertake simple repairs, difficult technical problems will probably be referred to the manufacturer. So distributors are an efficient means of selling car parts to garages, or electronic components to electronic companies. They ae not so effective for selling complex industrial products or IT equipment.

Share the financial load

For the manufacturer, capital is required to purchase components, manufacture products and hold inventory. Distributors purchase goods on their own account, freeing up the producer’s working capital for new production.
Import distributors.

A manufacturer may engage a distributor to cover a territory for them. For example a company manufacturing products in China will probably have several distributors in the USA, one in the UK, another in Germany, and so on. They are often known as import distributors.

This means that the manufacturer can concentrate on manufacturing rather than on selling their goods in new territories, thus avoiding the risks incurred by entering new markets, with the associated costs and investment of time.

The distributor may carry several ranges which he promotes to his network of retail buyers, showing them the ranges, introducing them to the manufacturer, acting as their point of contact in the relationship with the manufacturer.

In turn the buyers may purchase directly from the manufacturer, but will depend on the distributor to manage the relationship, and deal with any issues. The distributor will earn a commission on any business transacted. Or the buyer may purchase from the distributor in their home country.

This allows them to purchase directly where they want to buy large volumes because they are sure of the demand, or to mitigate the risk by buying from domestic stock, or indirectly. The risk of purchasing and importing the stock then lies with the distributor.

The buyer will pay a higher price for stock bought domestically, rather than as a direct purchase from the manufacturer.

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BUSINESS TIPS: Managing a Distributorship – Wholesale or Import

What is involved in being a wholesale or import distributor?
This is a very exciting field, in my opinion. It is akin to being a retail buyer in that you need the same ability to spot a volume seller, and to negotiate the optimum deal.You also need sales skills because you are reselling the product. And social and interpersonal skills to enable you to build your client network.

The skill is in buying the right product at a keen price, and generating a profit by making a margin on your sales to your customers, who are themselves in business.

You need to make a decent margin to cover your overheads and generate your profit. Your clients need the “headroom “to make a margin when selling to the end customer.

Why do professional buyers use distributors?

Surely they can get a better price dealing directly with manufacturers? Yes of course, but there are a limited number of hours in a day. A buyer is charged with scouring the Globe for their category of product, but there is a limit to the number of manufacturers that they can personally visit , as well as making their selections, ordering stock, dealing with quality issues, ensuring margins are met, keeping current lines in stock, dealing with customer complaints, producing reports for management ………………

So they come to rely on distributors as an extra set of eyes and ears. A good distributor has the confidence and trust of retail buyers, they have demonstrated a track record, and if they advise a buyer to accompany them to see a range, the buyer will usually make the effort and take the time. While Buyers are on sourcing trips they will visit some manufacturers directly, but will also allocate some time to their best distributors to see what they have found.

The distributor is researching the source market for their own business, which is importing goods to sell domestically. He will also be able to signpost buyers he deals with directly to the manufacturer if appropriate. The buyer then has the choice of whether to purchase direct from the factory, or indirectly via the wholesale distributor.

Another factor is that the distributor gets the opinion of the buyer which may help them make their own decisions.

In turn this ability to attract the attention of the buyers lends kudos to the distributor, and enhances their reputation. They are then sought out by manufacturers looking for a route to market.

So a strong profitable partnership can develop, with everyone winning. The buyer may still purchase directly from the factory, but the distributor will have in place an arrangement where he earns from every sale, whether the retailers purchase is direct from the factory, or indirectly through the wholesale business, where the wholesale distributor imports the goods and sells on to the retailer.

What skills does a distributor need?

They need all the skills necessary for running an import and distribution company –financial skills, management skills, knowledge of shipping and warehousing as well as customer service.

Also of course the social and people skills required to develop trading relationships with manufacturers and retailers, and to understand their business and requirements.

And the ability to read and forecast the market for the products they are purchasing. To overestimate sales and buy stock of the wrong product in depth is the quickest way to undo all the good work you have done for months!!

So a successful distributor must master every facet of the business, from working closely with their clients, both manufacturers and retailers, to managing their own complex business.

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Customer Service – What should be in your customer service strategy?

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What should be in your customer service strategy?

Your customer service strategy should be designed to delight customers during their interaction with you by using proactive customer service methods to ensure your customers don’t have to come to you with problems.

Make it personal

Make your service feel personal. Your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, not just a website with FAQs. Don’t just offer automated email responses, let them get in touch directly if they need to. Use social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp) to communicate with them, and respond when customers post on your page. Post photos and bios on your website.

This shows your customers that you are real people working on their behalf.

Be available

Make sure your customers can reach you. Even if your business is online, you could offer video calls, such as Skype. Someone should work early and late if your customers are in different time zones. Or you can outsource customer support outside of business hours. Publishing your physical address helps build trust and reminds customers that your company exists in the real world off the internet
Meet customers’ needs
Consider what special services your customers might like. Set up focus groups, interview customers, invite feedback, offer a contact email address, or run a survey to collect ideas.

Create a community

Your customers will feel valued if you treat them as members of a community. You can bring them together in numerous ways, including forums, webinars, interactive websites, and social media. You can learn from them through these interactions.

Deal with problems

Things do go wrong but it is important to admit and rectify mistakes. This will build trust and restore confidence. You can also control the situation, re-focus the customer’s attention and resolve the issue to their satisfaction.

Follow up

Once a problem is solved you need to follow up to ensure the issue stays solved and that your customers were satisfied with the service. Sending an email, or a feedback survey is a great way to let the customer know you’re still interested in them.

Allow for feedback

It is very difficult to deal with every customer issue. To make sure you learn about them, create an easily accessible way for customers to give feedback.

You could use an email survey, or a form on the “Contact Us” page of your website, or a “contact us” email address, but find a way of creating a means for customers to give you feedback. This not only shows you what needs improvement, but also discourages unhappy customers from commenting in visible places like your social media pages. It will also help highlight your strengths and weaknesses, and help you get closer to your customers.
Your customers will be able to see that the company is dedicated to providing first class, proactive customer service.

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