Haris Ahmed | Chicago | When Change is Inevitable in the Workplace

Haris Ahmed Chicago Consultant on the Inevitability of Change

Haris Ahmed of Chicago-based Pragmatium Consulting, Inc. is an organizational change expert and management consultant. He has provided his professional expertise to countless organizations looking to enhance their performance, productivity, and profitability. In most instances, the leaders of the organization recognize the need for change. The problem is they might not know what needs to be changed, much less where to begin. In this post, he discusses the most common issues associated with organizational change, giving particular focus on the one component that feels the deepest effects of change: its people.

First of all, an exceptional organizational leader is a good decision-maker. A good leader does not dilly-dally when it comes to change. He either immediately works on the details with the rest of his team when change is inevitable, or he decides that a particular change being adopted by other similar businesses isn’t ideal for his organization at the moment. He also understands that implementing change in the workplace is a time-dependent strategy. He knows that jumping in too quickly without a solid strategic plan, backed by analysis and data, can jeopardize the entire organization and be costly for the business.

One of the main causes for resistance to change is the uncertainty of the future. Oftentimes, this resistance arises from employees who were surprised by an announcement that will have a huge impact on their place in the organization. Are they being replaced? Will some people be laid off? Anger, confusion, and loss of confidence and trust in their leader are the most common sentiments of employees. All of these could have been avoided, or at the very least, the blow lessened, had their organizational leader been open about the inevitable change from the very beginning.

For this, Haris Ahmed and his Chicago team recommend that leaders include their members in the discussion. One cannot expect to announce such a huge decision without inviting anger and frustration if the most affected people were kept in the dark.

Two things can happen here: either the employees will leave or they will stay but will deliver mediocre performance since they were made to feel that their inputs are not valued anyway. Loss of morale in the workplace is the surest and fastest way to encourage underperformance and disloyalty to the company. You can bet that as soon as a better opportunity comes along, employees will leave to go where they will be appreciated.

If change is inevitable in the workplace, then open communication is important. Be open about the change; why you’re adopting it, how it will benefit the employees first and the organization next, and more importantly, how it will affect the employees’ roles in the organization.

Change can be implemented effectively through constant, open communication. Communicate with your employees and give them the chance to embrace this change.

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Haris Ahmed of Chicago Firm Pragmatium Consulting Inc. on Change Agents

 

 

Haris Ahmed, Chicago Consultant Asks: Are You A Change Agent?

Haris Ahmed of Chicago management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has more than two decades of experience as an organizational change expert. He has also a decade of experience as an executive coach, having trained business leaders from both the private and public sectors. Read his blog below about change agents in the workplace:

It’s a known fact that humans fear change, probably more than any other fear. We resist change, not because we want to, but because we are helpless in doing so. However, the sooner we understand that change is the only permanent thing, the only constant that will greet us in our journey, the faster we can adapt and adjust to its effects.

Compared to humans who by themselves are already complex, corporations or large firms may have a harder time adapting to change. This may have to do with the structure or the size of the firm, or the management in place which, often, can make the change more difficult than necessary. For instance, rather than supporting employees with the imminent change, they may end up closing communication lines, which consequently causes everything to go downhill from there. But regardless of size, structure, or the people at the top, in no way do any of these factors excuse an organization from being more proactive with change – far from it. Businesses should actually strive to develop and care for change agents in their midst as they are not afraid to make a lasting impact.

First, what does it mean to be a change agent? In its most basic definition, a change agent is an individual who can help an organization transform itself. Often, change agents concern themselves with organization effectiveness, improvement, or development. That individual may either come from outside or inside the organization, and often, they will exhibit desirable and valuable attributes and characteristics.

Employees who want to be noticed by their superiors for the value they bring to the table may want to consider becoming a change agent in their respective organizations. To be a change agent means to be an innovator and a visionary – someone who sees how things can be made better and takes the necessary steps to achieve it. The good news is, there’s a change agent in all of us, if only that fear of change can be buried deep and surpassed.

In a nutshell, change agents allow themselves to be the catalyst for the growth they want to achieve. Change agents are not troublemakers. They may even be the first to say that change isn’t easy but since they’ve learned to embrace it and welcome it, change has now become a tool with which they can reach their purpose. In this sense, change agents can be understood as leaders in their own right, or at the very least, have the potential to be astonishing leaders – they only need to be given a chance to shine.

Stay tuned to this page to read more from Haris Ahmed of Chicago management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc.

 

 

Haris Ahmed | Chicago | Social Responsibility in the Workplace

Haris Ahmed Chicago Consultant: Social Responsibility in the Workplace

Haris Ahmed established Chicago-based Pragmatium Consulting, Inc. in hopes of being able to help a lot more companies and organizations improve their performance and productivity. With his own team of management consultants and organizational change experts, he is now more capable of reaching a wider audience and assisting more companies and organizations. His only desire is to see other organizations achieve the same success that his company has had the privilege to enjoy over the years. His primary focus is helping organizations identify and adopt changes that would be beneficial for everyone, internally and externally—the organization, teams, each and every member of these teams, customers, suppliers, stakeholders, and business affiliates.

Haris Ahmed believes and acknowledges that a company’s greatest asset is its people. And all too often, we see an organization fail because its key players aren’t happy with the direction that the organization has taken. Often this direction is also seen as outdated—for organizations that failed to adapt to certain changes.

Take for example, social responsibility. A lot more people nowadays have become aware of their social responsibility, in such a way that they have started to adapt certain changes in their homes and lifestyle. Recycling, using energy efficient appliances and lighting fixtures, keeping their surroundings clean and green, reducing their contribution to air pollution (walking instead of daily commutes to and from the workplace), and eliminating plastic use in the household are only some of the things people are starting to do. Now, imagine an applicant who has taken his or her social responsibility seriously. One of the factors that they will consider when working for a certain company is its social awareness. Someone who advocates a cleaner and greener environment wouldn’t think twice about skipping a certain organization because its advocacies (or lack thereof) aren’t aligned with theirs.

It may seem like such a small factor to even merit serious consideration, but this is where organizations are failing their employees—current and future—according to Haris Ahmed and his Chicago team of management consultants and change experts. By refusing to adapt to this change in people’s mindset about the environment, the organization is considerably limiting its potential to acquire highly-talented and skilled employees.

Wouldn’t you rather give your employees and applicants the option to work with a socially responsible organization, targeting both the ‘regular’ and the socially aware employees and applicants, than limiting your option to just one type?

It’s also worth mentioning here that a socially responsible organization earns more respect from consumers and the industry. When you show that you do business with compassion for the environment, you will most likely be seen as a positive influencer in your industry.

If you haven’t yet adopted certain measures to make your organization more socially aware and responsible, it’s time to consider it.

Haris Ahmed, Chicago change expert and management consultant, will share his tips on how to become a socially responsible organization in his future posts so please check back again for those. For comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave Haris Ahmed a message in the comments section below.

 

 

Haris Ahmed | Chicago | Leadership | Building a Startup Team

 

 

Haris Ahmed Chicago Consultant on the Importance of Building a Great Startup Team

Haris Ahmed (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting, Inc. has seen several organizations fail because of issues with personnel. Before he founded his management consulting firm, Haris knew that he would need the help of key people—individuals with their unique skillsets who bring specific valuable contributions to the table. In any startup, building an exceptional team is a key component in successfully launching it and establishing it as a worthy competitor in your industry.

A leader is only as good as its team and vice versa. One needs the other in order to fulfill their duties, accomplish tasks properly, accurately, and on time; and give the organization the chance to grow and thrive.

So how do you build an exceptional team?f

As a startup, you don’t have the luxury of hiring as many people as you want—that, and the luxury of getting someone for your team based on a friend’s or a relative’s recommendation, request, or demands of “you owe me”.

What you’re looking for are people who will help you achieve your goals; people who are already experts in their own field, and who take the initiative to not only perform at their peak level but to go the extra mile without being prodded or coaxed, or waiting for the boss’ orders.

Taking these into account, what you want to focus on is quality, not quantity. Sure, you may have to pay a bit more to get the best people on your team, but the quality of output will be nothing short of what you expected—and what your startup needs.

Think of it as purchasing an artisanal product versus something created in a mass-production factory—which one do you think has the better quality? In other words, you get what you pay for.

With that said, you shouldn’t also hesitate to let people go if they are not performing up to par—or delivering what they promised. Again, you don’t have the luxury to keep people who could potentially pull you down.

A great leader is a good decision maker; he doesn’t hesitate, and he doesn’t back down; and he approaches every situation with determination and compassion.

Lastly, every member of your team must be able to learn and adapt; because if they are going to work as a team, they all should get along, and they should be open to criticisms and suggestions. You don’t need someone on your team who is into power playing. No one is above the other; even you, when you think about it.

If you wish to get in touch with Haris Ahmed  (Chicago)-based management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting, Inc., please feel free to leave him a message below. Questions, comments, or suggestions are more than welcome! You can rest assured he will get back to you promptly.

In the meantime, please take your time browsing through the rest of the website.

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Haris Ahmed | Chicago | Leadership and Cutting Corners

Haris Ahmed, Chicago Consultant: Leadership and Cutting Corners

In all of his years working as a management consultant, Haris Ahmed (Chicago) has seen it all. Having had the privilege to work with various organizations from diverse industries, he has seen organizations fail or businesses on the brink of ‘extinction’ because of poor leadership. This isn’t to say that the organization’s leaders were incompetent or that they were the wrong fit for the job. What he has seen is that leaders, in their desire to help the company at whatever cost, would sometimes resort to taking shortcuts or foregoing a crucial step in strategy execution, to save money.

First off, there is a huge difference between taking steps to manage the company’s finances and regular budget, and cutting corners to the point of overlooking reason, ethics, or safety. In the end, the money you saved would end up being too little for the damage repair that you need to do to contain the problem. Because that’s what cutting corners eventually result in—numerous issues that develops over time, forcing you to spend more time and effort containing the problem than following protocol as you should have done in the first place.

Leaders of organizations, especially startups, are understandably under a lot of pressure but there is no reason strong enough to justify cutting corners, at least in the eyes of Haris Ahmed (Chicago)-based management consulting firm, Pragmatium Consulting, Inc. For him, cutting corners will do more harm than good in the long run.

Where do businesses usually cut corners?

Take a look at each of the departments at your company. How many people does each of these have? Are they trained for the job? These factors alone should already clue you in on whether or not you’ve been cutting corners—or the department heads are doing so without your knowledge or consent.

Letting go of key personnel or forgoing hiring new people (people that have specific skills that you need for a specific task, role, or position) because you want to save on overhead costs is one of the most common areas in businesses that are first to get hit by budget cuts.

Employee safety also often receives the brunt of leaders who are cutting corners. From putting the employees’ health and safety at risk to not providing them with a safe working environment, health insurance, and other related factors, these components that are critical to employee health and safety are overlooked, neglected, or altogether omitted for the sake of saving on costs.

Finally, there’s the Accounting department. Organized bookkeeping will leave little to no room for headaches come audit time, so get a licensed and experienced accountant to handle your books. Your numbers need to be accurate, and while other employees may be good at crunching numbers, their numbers skills may not be up to par with a licensed and experienced accountant. Why risk your financial records, cash flow management, and operational expenses (tracking and monitoring) when you can hire a licensed professional who was trained and educated for the job?

A good leader will never ever put the future of the company and its people at risk—at least not intentionally. And for Haris Ahmed (Chicago), cutting corners is as intentional as it gets.

 

 

Haris Ahmed (Chicago) Firm Pragmatium Consulting Inc. on Audience Adaptation

Haris Ahmed (Chicago) Consultant on Getting to Know Your Audience

Haris Ahmed (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has nearly two decades of experience as an organizational change expert and executive coach. He is an experienced facilitator for leadership workshops and team-building sessions.

When it comes to public speaking, it’s been said time and time again that the audience is the main star of the show. But what does this mean, and what are the steps taken to get to know the audience? In public speaking, getting to know the audience falls under what is also known as audience adaptation. It involves analyzing the audience’s attitudes and beliefs, their gender, age, religion, where they come from, and so on, and taking these different elements together to arrive at a speech that has been adapted to become more audience-centric. In concept, this sounds simple enough, but in actuality, it’s a ton of work, often requiring practice and multiple trials.

Get to Know Your Audience

Why is it so important to get to know the audience? Often, people can get caught up worrying about what to say and how they might come off with their speech, forgetting that the audience’s attitudes and beliefs are what can determine a speech’s success. Take for example a local politician that plans to open up a city for more businesses and investments. The residents in the area may have safety concerns, given their religious and conservative backgrounds. Rather than emphasizing on the numbers and economic benefits of such a move, the politician could have addressed the safety issues in his/her speech, thereby winning the city’s support. Surveys or simply having an ear on the ground can help identify such attitudes and beliefs. In fact, this is common practice in the political arena, wherein politicians and elected officials get to know the needs and concerns of their constituents through surveys, questionnaires, forums, and town hall meetings, to name a few.

What Should You Figure Out

Audience adaptation in presentations encompasses several factors, the most basic one being a demographic analysis. Age, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, and one’s educational level are some of the factors looked at. Same as the example above, figures in the political sphere heavily rely on demographic analysis when giving speeches on the campaign trail. Depending on the type and size of the audience, they may adapt their speech and cater exclusively to the attitudes and beliefs that audience. On the other hand, for broader and more diverse audiences, the speech may be watered down, avoiding pandering to any one group’s interests. Instead, the speech could be peppered with pieces of vital information that must be said.

As one might guess, a lot of research and legwork goes behind audience adaptation efforts, but the time, cost, and efforts taken are certainly worth it. Conducting surveys, questionnaires, forums, and town hall meetings are not viable for everybody, but what they can do is to ask the person who arranged the speaking engagement what kind of audience are expected to attend. This, at the very least, can give one a starting point from which to build the speech around.

Stay tuned to this page to read more from Haris Ahmed (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc.

For more information please follow me at Haris Ahmed Chicago

 

 

Haris Ahmed of Chicago Firm Pragmatium Consulting Inc. on Audience Adaptation

Haris Ahmed Chicago Consultant on Getting to Know Your Audience

Haris Ahmed of Chicago management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has nearly two decades of experience as an organizational change expert and executive coach. He is an experienced facilitator for leadership workshops and team-building sessions.

When it comes to public speaking, it’s been said time and time again that the audience is the main star of the show. But what does this mean, and what are the steps taken to get to know the audience? In public speaking, getting to know the audience falls under what is also known as audience adaptation. It involves analyzing the audience’s attitudes and beliefs, their gender, age, religion, where they come from, and so on, and taking these different elements together to arrive at a speech that has been adapted to become more audience-centric. In concept, this sounds simple enough, but in actuality, it’s a ton of work, often requiring practice and multiple trials.

Get to Know Your Audience

Why is it so important to get to know the audience? Often, people can get caught up worrying about what to say and how they might come off with their speech, forgetting that the audience’s attitudes and beliefs are what can determine a speech’s success. Take for example a local politician that plans to open up a city for more businesses and investments. The residents in the area may have safety concerns, given their religious and conservative backgrounds. Rather than emphasizing on the numbers and economic benefits of such a move, the politician could have addressed the safety issues in his/her speech, thereby winning the city’s support. Surveys or simply having an ear on the ground can help identify such attitudes and beliefs. In fact, this is common practice in the political arena, wherein politicians and elected officials get to know the needs and concerns of their constituents through surveys, questionnaires, forums, and town hall meetings, to name a few.

What Should You Figure Out

Audience adaptation in presentations encompasses several factors, the most basic one being a demographic analysis. Age, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, and one’s educational level are some of the factors looked at. Same as the example above, figures in the political sphere heavily rely on demographic analysis when giving speeches on the campaign trail. Depending on the type and size of the audience, they may adapt their speech and cater exclusively to the attitudes and beliefs that audience. On the other hand, for broader and more diverse audiences, the speech may be watered down, avoiding pandering to any one group’s interests. Instead, the speech could be peppered with pieces of vital information that must be said.

As one might guess, a lot of research and legwork goes behind audience adaptation efforts, but the time, cost, and efforts taken are certainly worth it. Conducting surveys, questionnaires, forums, and town hall meetings are not viable for everybody, but what they can do is to ask the person who arranged the speaking engagement what kind of audience are expected to attend. This, at the very least, can give one a starting point from which to build the speech around.

Stay tuned to this page to read more from Haris Ahmed of Chicago management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc.

 

 

Haris Ahmed, Chicago Executive Coach on Elevator Pitches

Haris Ahmed, Chicago Consultant on Elevator Pitches

Haris Ahmed (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has over two decades of experience as an organizational change expert and executive coach. His experience as a facilitator taught him the importance of public speaking whether for one’s personal or professional life.

Due to the booming number of start-ups looking for venture capital investors, it would appear that the “elevator pitch” has become a constant in the business vocabulary. Seemingly overnight, everyone is talking about his/her elevator pitch, and what he/she can do to refine it. However, there’s more to the elevator pitch than opening a million dollar window of an opportunity – an elevator pitch, by its nature, purpose, and form, actually has all the trappings of a public speaking exercise.

The Elevator Pitch

What is the elevator pitch? In a nutshell, the elevator pitch is a short but persuasive sales pitch that succinctly summarizes what a product, company, or service is about. The idea is to present the pitch by the time the audience lands on their destination floor, which may last anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Some believe that the term elevator pitch had originated from the experience of scriptwriters who only had a few minutes to get the nod or approval of a Hollywood director in the elevator for their story, while some credit Vanity Fair editor Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso for coining the term. To this day, no one definitively knows who defined it, but the important thing here is that the sudden resurgence in the use of the term has the potential to revive public interest in honing communication skills, particularly public speaking.

Why should you work on your elevator pitch, even if you aren’t working in Silicon Valley? Good question, and one that can be answered with the classic pitch exercise: Imagine you’re about to pitch to legendary investor Warren Buffet. After hearing your pitch, would Buffet engage you and ask follow-up questions about your company, or walk away, never to be heard from again? Buffet’s investment in your company would not only give you a big confidence boost, but validate your work as well. After all, he built his fortune investing in valuable blue chip companies; any business owner would naturally want his nod of approval. With this in mind, wouldn’t you want to find out just how great your company or that million dollar idea is, just by your elevator pitch alone?

Public Speaking

As mentioned, the elevator pitch perfectly encapsulates what public speaking is about, which is to inform others about a certain topic, consequently influencing or persuading them towards a certain view. By honing your public speaking skills, you would have hit two birds with one stone and have an easier time giving that elevator pitch. At public speaking classes, you learn the proper way of carrying yourself, what to say and how to say it, what makes your audience tick and how to connect with them all while developing your speaking skills.

Stay tuned to this page to read more from Haris Ahmed (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc.

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Haris Ahmed (Chicago) Firm Pragmatium Consulting Inc. on PR and Twitter

 

 

Haris Ahmed, Chicago Consultant: PR’s Place In Twitter and the Digital Era

Haris Ahmed  (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has personally mentored more than 100 C-level executives and business leaders across a number of industries.

As public relations shifts from traditional to digital channels, one question businesses have is who should have the responsibility of handling the corporate social media accounts? Should they enlist the help of a PR agency to handle it? Or tap someone from within the organization to craft the business’ strategic messaging? The urgency underlying this question also comes in the wake of the latest Twitter gaffe to hit the White House.

PR Goes Digital

There are several relevant social media platforms used by businesses to reach their customers, but for the purposes of this blog, Twitter will be solely discussed. Many forget that Twitter describes itself as an online news platform. PR practitioners, however, rely on Twitter more than any other platform to follow stories. Since its conception more than a decade ago, Twitter and its millions of users has been witness to some of the greatest PR blunders. Some have comedic value while others are just downright tragic, but all bear valuable lessons for PR professionals, especially in this digital age.

One example that comes to mind which had such dreadful magnitude is Chrysler’s PR blunder in 2011. In 140 characters, the rogue tweet managed to drop an F-bomb and insult a city’s iconic automotive history. The tweet went, “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f-ing drive”. At the time, Chrysler had more than 7,500 followers on its Twitter handle and unfortunately, a lot of people already saw it by the time the tweet was taken down. Fortunately for Chrysler, they immediately deleted the tweet and posted an apology, “Our apologies – our account was compromised earlier today. We are taking steps to resolve it.” Short but succinct, Chrysler’s follow up tweet, to its credit, was the right thing to do. The company later explained that the tweet had come from an employee of the social media agency they were working with. The employee was fired and Chrysler no longer renewed their contract.

So what can we learn from this event? First, there will always be risks when handling social media accounts. Whether this had been an external PR agency or a well-funded in-house PR staff, anyone reckless could have made that mistake. The more important thing here is to have PR practitioners who understand your company’s messaging and the audience to target. Given that Chrysler has a reputation for being luxurious, the apology they provided was in line with their brand image. It was objective and straight to the point. Another business in a different industry like retail could have gone about it differently and inject humor, for example, and it would have still prevented a PR nightmare from unfolding.

Stay tuned to this page to read more from Haris Ahmed Chicago based management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. Please follow my Twitter at Haris Ahmed Chicago

 

 

 

Haris Ahmed – Chicago | Of “Covfefe” and Other Presidential Tweets

Haris Ahmed Chicago: About “Covfefe” and Other Presidential Blunders

Haris Ahmed, from Chicago, heads Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., a Management Firm based in Chicago that handles both corporate and federal/local government accounts. Pragmatium draws upon the vast experience of its workforce, which has decades of cumulative experience in handling crisis communications, promotional campaigns, and client/public engagement. Today, he talks about how a single Twitter post might have repercussions on a public figure’s image – and how engaging an external PR firm could help prevent similar incidents from happening.

By now, everyone in the public relations industry and beyond would have heard of the President’s “covfefe” post on Twitter. The President is well-known for personally using Twitter for fleshing out details of his policies and to engage other public figures, and while the “covfefe” tweet isn’t his first perceived gaffe, it certainly puts him under greater scrutiny from the rest of social media.

While I sincerely believe that public figures get high engagement numbers whenever they take to Twitter, I also think that they need to let go of the social media accounts and have PR agencies handle them. There are three compelling reasons for doing so.

1. Clarity of message. Public figures are expected to be articulate and conscious of the way they put their messages across. While it is widely understood that “covfefe” is a mere misspelling of the word “coverage”, it was not until six hours later that the President realized his mistake and deleted the message. A PR agency will ensure that a public figure’s social media posts are checked for spelling and grammar, thereby reducing the need to clarify them when questioned later on.

2. Consistency of posts. A single tweet has the potential to do much damage to a public figure’s image, whether the said figure is the head of a Fortune 500 company or a politician. People on social media are unrelenting when it comes to detecting contradictory posts and put a premium on consistency. While the “covfefe” tweet, on the surface, is not particularly damning, it certainly served as fodder for those who perceive the said public figure as inconsistent and careless. On the other hand, PR agencies routinely review their clients’ social media strategies and previous posts, therefore making sure that their clients are consistent in their messages.

3. Message filtration. Incoherent posts project an image of a public figure as someone who puts very little thought into what they say and do. The success of PR agencies is measured by the public’s perception of their client, especially on social media. One can easily tell the difference between a Twitter account maintained by a PR firm and one to which a public figure has personal access – the posts on the former tend to avoid controversial topics, and if it does tackle the said issues, the posts tend to be articulate and stand up to the public’s scrutiny. On the other hand, the latter tends to be a bit loose in the way posts are written and timed, which often results in the public figure having to perform damage control later on.

The social media strategies of many of the world’s public figures continues to be a topic of interest for PR practitioners, including Haris Ahmed. A Chicago management firm he heads, Pragmatium Consulting Group, has handled different kinds of clients, and has vast experience in doing social media strategy and execution. He believes that if public figures engaged the services of external PR agencies for their social media engagement, they could communicate their messages more clearly and effectively, increasing their influence and credibility.