The Change That Howard Schultz Saw Coming One Cup at a Time by Haris Ahmed of Chicago

One of the most admirable leaders and business owners for Haris Ahmed, Chicago change expert, is Howard Schultz. True, there are many success stories that are worth the read and reference but for Haris, it was Howard Schultz’s story that struck him the most. If you were to ask Haris Ahmed of Chicago to name just one person who epitomizes the true value in, and meaning of, change, it would be Howard Schultz.

Changing his personal story

Howard Schultz grew up in a poor family, in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn—the “other side of the tracks,” as he’d call it. He saw how his father struggled to provide for the family with his meager income as a truck driver. He also how the lack of medical insurance could easily wipe out one’s finances, as was the case when his father met an accident and didn’t have medical coverage to pay for his bills. To cut a long story short, Haris Ahmed of Chicago shares, Howard Schultz did everything he could to get his family out of poverty. He paid for his college education with student loans and income from part-time jobs.

Changing his personal circumstances was just among the many pivotal changes he would do to achieve success.

His Starbucks Story

Haris Ahmed of Chicago shares that a series of what would become fortuitous events led Howard Schultz to working for Starbucks Coffee Company. At the time of his entry (he was hired as Director for Retail Operations and Marketing after persuading the owners to hire him), Starbucks was selling coffee beans by the pound for home brewing.

On a business trip to Milan, Howard saw the “relationship” Italians had with coffee. There were espresso bars everywhere, and he saw how people not only flocked to these coffee bars for the coffee, but also for the convenience they afford customers—convenience of having a cozy meeting place, and being given a personalized service (the owners practically knew every customer by name). This was the kind of coffee experience he wanted to bring to Starbucks.

Unfortunately, Haris Ahmed of Chicago says, the owners of Starbuck weren’t sold out on the idea; and after several more of his attempts were rejected, Howard decided to leave. For him, this was the kind of change that he knew would be embraced by the public. It didn’t matter if Starbucks didn’t see the need to adopt this change; he knew he was onto something great and he was determined to pursue it regardless of the outcome.

Howard opened his own coffee shop called Il Giornale where he introduced his own version of the Italian coffee culture he witnessed in Milan. He pitched his idea to 242 investors, and 217 of them rejected his pitch. Heartbroken though he was, he never faltered in his resolve. He was determined to introduce this coffee culture to American soil, and he was going to keep pursuing it no matter what.

Il Giornale eventually opened, and his instincts proved right on point; the coffee shop was a success. In fact, says Haris Ahmed of Chicago, it was such a huge success that it would eventually acquire the entire Starbucks Coffee Company. Today, the Starbuck coffee culture as we know it, is all thanks to the vision of this brilliant man.

 

 

 

3 Critical Steps to Take Before Changing Departmental Leadership by Haris Ahmed of Chicago

According to Haris Ahmed, Chicago change expert and leadership consultant, one of the issues that always comes up whenever he gets tasked to investigate internal operations by his clients is employee performance. Simply put, the effectiveness and efficiency of internal operations are, for the most part, hampered by how employees do their specific jobs. The hard truth is that not everyone on the team will meet your expectations, and often, this only becomes apparent after considerable time has passed. Most of the time, says Haris Ahmed of Chicago, employees put their best foot forward during their first months with the company. It is when adverse situations arise that you will see everyone’s fight or flight response.

What happens when someone you entrusted with a leadership role fails to live up to expectations?

This is where CEOs and/or business owners will need to step in. As the top leaders of the organization, they must decide on the best course of action for the entire organization. The decision-making process requires careful thought and analysis because changing organizational leaders will affect not only the department or team directly involved, but overall operations as well. Here Haris Ahmed of Chicago shares the top three critical steps for making a more informed and educated decision, and mitigate risks that could arise from such internal actions.

Haris Ahmed of Chicago recommends the following steps:

1. Perform a thorough investigation

While knowing all the facts before making the decision on whether to change departmental leadership may seem like it should be automatic, you might be surprised at how little thought is given to this crucial step. Sometimes, changing leaders is based solely on others’ opinions or feedback. While Haris Ahmed of Chicago is not saying that opinions and feedback should be completely disregarded, they also shouldn’t be the sole basis for removing someone from his or her leadership position.

Do your own investigation and background check; and if possible, observe the leader in question incognito; that is, without blatantly letting on that they are being observed.

2. Listen to both sides

There is always two sides to a story, says Haris Ahmed of Chicago, and it is your job to hear both sides to be fair. If an employee is underperforming, for instance, there could be another underlying reason and not merely because of a failure in leadership. Get to the bottom of the truth first, and then talk to the leader involved about your own observations and the feedback of his or her subordinates.

3. Make a lateral transfer, internal promotion, or bring someone in from the outside

This third step is one of the hardest to decide on, in the opinion of Haris Ahmed of Chicago. Before you decide to bring someone in—a new player that you’re looking to hire, it’s important to check within your organization first if there are key personnel who can take on the job. For this, you may need to perform a major organizational restructuring. Haris Ahmed of Chicago believes that getting someone from within your organization is a good move because you have already trained these people, and they are already familiar with the company’s mission, vision, and culture.

In the end though, your choice should be what you deem is best for the organization.

 

 


3 Key Changes that Can Encourage Employee Loyalty, by Haris Ahmed of Chicago

For Haris Ahmed, Chicago change expert and leadership consultant, being open to change is one of the best ways to encourage employee loyalty. In a nutshell, an organization that operates in the same manner it did when it was still a fledgling company fails to seize the opportunities that change can present for the company and its employees. Haris Ahmed of Chicago believes that change is a critical factor to the success of any endeavor. When you’ve become set in your ways and live within the confines of your comfort zone, there is no room for growth. And growth is the one thing that can prevent your employees from jumping ship.

But here’s the caveat; there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to change. What may work for one organization may not necessarily work on yours, and vice-versa. There are, however, three key areas that you can keep an eye on to recognize the changes that should be done and how to approach each one. Haris Ahmed of Chicago shares these three key areas below:

Innovations for internal operations

In this day and age of technological advancements, internal processes have become easier to accomplish; thanks to programs, applications, digital innovations, and other modern solutions. Failure to adopt these changes slows down the entire organization, and ultimately heavily impacts your external operations—timely delivery of your goods or services to your customers. Why subject your employees to laborious and tedious processes when there are innovations that you can adopt? These innovations not only streamline processes and make work easier for your employees; more importantly, they can enhance the efficiency of the entire organization. With efficient internal operations, you can serve your customers better, says Haris Ahmed of Chicago.

Employee growth and development

To put it simply, when your employees know that you are invested in their growth and development, they won’t think twice about being loyal to the company because they know that there are opportunities to advance within the organization. Regular training can be one of the ways you can encourage your employees’ growth and development. Understandably, Haris Ahmed of Chicago says, you might be a little hesitant about regular training because employees will need to take time off work to participate. But that’s all in the past. A lot of organizations have shifted their training to virtual platforms, which means that your employees don’t have to leave the office to attend. More importantly, they can learn at their own pace. Haris Ahmed of Chicago strongly suggests that you consider virtual training, and consider it as the better alternative to traditional, classroom-based training.

Change in leadership, or leadership styles

If your employees are underperforming, one of the factors that could be causing this is your leadership style. In this case, Haris Ahmed of Chicago says, don’t be averse to changing your style. Understand that this isn’t a personal attack; it’s merely an objective input aimed at improving employee and organizational performance.

In situations where underperformance is attributed to the leader or manager to whom the employees directly report to, consider taking steps to address the situation. You can talk to the leader about issues raised by their subordinates, and discuss measures that can be taken. When a change in leadership becomes the only apparent solution, step in and take action.


Haris Ahmed, Chicago Change Expert, Asks: Is it Time for a Change?

In organizational leadership, one of the most pressing issues that one can ever encounter is change; more specifically, deciding on whether certain changes should be adopted or ignored. For Haris Ahmed, Chicago change expert, adapting to change is needed if you want to stay in the game. Whether in business or your personal life, certain changes need to be made at some point to make progress, or to keep moving forward. And if you fail to adapt to change, you might get stuck in a rut or left by the wayside as the rest of the world moves forward. This isn’t an exaggeration, Haris Ahmed of Chicago says. Your failure to change is a failure for your organization. This is the harsh reality of owning a business, and the sooner you embrace this reality, the sooner you can move your company towards the right direction.

For every client that Haris Ahmed of Chicago has worked with in his capacity as a change expert, there are three common challenges that organizational leaders face when it comes to change. They recognize the changes they have to make, they have to develop a strategy for the seamless integration of the changes into their operations, and then they have to encourage the organization to welcome the change.

Of these, the most resistant factor is usually the people in the organization itself—the employees. One must understand that regardless of how effective and carefully planned your change strategy is, if your own employees are resisting it, your change strategy will never get the chance to take flight. Remember that your employees are your biggest and greatest assets, says Haris Ahmed of Chicago; and without their cooperation, any change that you introduce into your operations or services may not give you the expected results.

Communication is key

Most of the time, it’s not that your employees are resisting the change itself but actually how you communicated this change that had a much bigger impact on how they received it. If you’re encountering resistance, ask yourself how you made your employees feel about the change, advises Haris Ahmed, Chicago change expert.

Put yourself in their shoes. If you were them, would you have welcomed this change without a second thought? Don’t just look at it from your business perspective; consider it from their place as an employee and a member of your organization. Did you talk about the change in a way that made them feel devalued? Did you introduce it in such a manner that undermined their importance in the organization?

How you say it has an even bigger impact on what you’re saying; most of the time at least, says Haris Ahmed of Chicago. Further, your way of communicating change could make your employees feel a sense of urgency, or it could make them feel that the change is not important at all.

One final tip: Haris Ahmed of Chicago says that when your instincts tell you that it’s time for a change, let everyone in your team participate in the decision-making process. By making them a part of the process, they will most likely be more open to the changes you wish to implement.

Haris Ahmed Chicago Consultant: Top 3 Benefits of Job Rotation

For Haris Ahmed of Chicago-based management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting, Inc., employees are the heart of every business. Each one plays a crucial role in the organization, and as such, each one deserves equal opportunities and privileges. But despite the company’s best efforts, there will always be employees who are underperforming or not living up to their full potential—for whatever reason (professional or personal). How do you encourage your employees to always give their best to whatever task needs to be done? How do you help them establish strong bonds with one another?

In this post, Haris Ahmed, Chicago management consultant and change expert, shares with readers what a job rotation is and the benefits to be derived from it.

What is job rotation?

In simple terms, job rotation is an internal strategy where the organizational structure is reshuffled to encourage employee growth and retention. This strategy is often initiated by the Human Resources department of the organization, discussed with team or department heads, and approved by the CEO and other top executives.

Usually, an employee is assigned to another department or given a new position because this is where their talents and skills will truly be of value to the organization, and where they have more opportunities for growth. When an employee has been with the company for years, he or she may have acquired or developed new skills, and assigning them to a new department with new responsibilities is the best way for them to further hone their newly acquired skills.

Here are the top 3 benefits of organizational restructuring and job rotation:

1. Improve performance and productivity. As mentioned above, when you assign an employee to a new team and give him or her new responsibilities, you allow the employee to grow. New challenges mean new opportunities and with these come a rejuvenated spirit, which could mean improved performance and productivity. This, in effect, targets the employee’s performance and productivity, and the department’s or team’s.

2. Encourage loyalty. When an employee feels that he or she has become ‘stagnant’ or feels more like a wallflower than an active participant within the organization, chances are they will eventually leave and go where they are appreciated—where they would be made to feel that their contributions are valuable to the organization. Job rotation prevents this from happening, for reasons stated above.

3. You create a dynamic organization. When people learn of the organization’s active participation in their employees’ growth and advancement, they will see your company as a potential employer, upping your reputation as a good organization to work with. When you have positions that need to be filled, applicants wouldn’t hesitate to join your organization because they know there is room for growth.

In his next post, Haris Ahmed will share his recommendations on how to approach job rotation and make employees understand that this is a step towards their own growth and advancement.

Do you have comments on this post? Please feel free to leave Haris Ahmed of Chicago a message below.

 

 

Haris Ahmed Chicago Consultant: Top 3 Tips on Becoming a Socially Responsible Organization

When Haris Ahmed established Chicago-based Pragmatium Consulting, Inc., he had but one goal in mind: to help organizations improve their performance and productivity, and ultimately, to increase the company’s profitability.

If you’ve visited this blog before, you may have noticed that most of the topics here discuss changes in the workplace, in various degrees; and for the most part, leaders, their organizations, and their employees are the focal point of the topics here. This is because for Haris Ahmed and his Chicago team of management consultants and change experts, the success or failure of the organization largely depends on two key components: the organization’s leader and its members. When one of these components isn’t performing up to par, you can be certain that it will create a ripple effect that could affect the entire organization down the line.

In a previous post, Haris Ahmed talked about how more and more people are becoming more socially aware and they often choose to work for, and with, a socially responsible organization. In this post, he shares a few tips on how to become a socially responsible organization. Bear in mind that these tips are only meant to serve as a guide or a starting point. You will have to perform careful analysis and evaluation on how best to adopt these steps and apply them into your organizational model as you see fit.

1. Source your supplies and materials from manufacturers and suppliers that employ sustainable production processes. Restaurants these days have adopted the farm-to-table concept, where they source their ingredients and fresh produce from local farmers with sustainable farming practices and humane animal treatment. Factories have also taken the initiative to use renewable energy and adopt processes that reduce their contribution to air pollution. Coffee companies like Starbucks have also started sourcing their coffee beans from farmers protected by fair trade regulations.

While you may not be able to get all your supplies and raw materials from such producers (depending on what you need), you can check to see which ones you can get from suppliers and manufacturers like those mentioned above. Small steps go a long way in helping the environment.

2. Donate a portion of your profits to a charity. This is one of the most widely used avenues for promoting social responsibility in the workplace. You can market a push product every month (quarterly or twice a year, it all depends on you) and advertise it in a way that will encourage your consumers to purchase it—by promoting it as a tie-up with a charitable institution or cause. Here, you are actually hitting two birds with one stone.

3. Buy one, give one to charity. A good example of this initiative is shoe company TOMS. For every pair of shoes that consumers purchase, they donate a pair to children in Africa and South America.

These examples show that companies not only encourage social responsibility in their organizations, but also in their consumers.

There are others steps that you can take to make your organization more socially responsible. The above are simply suggestions that you could consider.

Do you have comments on this post? Please feel free to leave Haris Ahmed of Chicago a message below.

 

 

 

 

Haris Ahmed Chicago Consultant: Top 3 Factors That Affect Organizational Leadership

For Haris Ahmed, founder of Chicago management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting, Inc., a company’s greatest and most valuable asset is its people. And whatever the company’s ranking in its industry is, it’s the organization’s leader and his or her team that put it there. So if your company is deemed as a leading authority in your industry, you have your entire organization to thank for it.

To lead an organization, regardless of size, one must understand that everyone should be on the same page. Everyone’s goals must be aligned, and everyone should be working towards the same vision. When you lose sight of the company’s mission and vision, everything is affected—operations and processes could be hampered and everything could go awry.

For Haris Ahmed and his Chicago team, leadership is the point at which everything starts. The effectiveness of your leadership style will determine the outcome. To expound further, here are the top 3 factors that he believes affects organizational leadership:

1. Planning and execution. A leader must not only know how to develop a solid plan for profit and performance strategies but must also know how to perfectly execute each plan. These two should always go hand-in-hand. For this combined factor, the leader must also understand that proper execution means having the focus and determination to execute the plan accordingly, and that this could sometimes mean forgoing other opportunities to allow the plan to materialize and deliver results. In other words, you may have to say no to some things so you can say yes to the things that matter.

2. Acknowledging employees’ talents and contributions. One of the most ‘hated’ leaders in any organization is one who takes all the credit, and leaves everyone behind on his or her way to the top. A leader who doesn’t acknowledge the team’s contributions, and neglects to utilize the employee’s talents and strengths, may soon find that doing so will encourage the employee to go where he or she is appreciated. In other words, the employee will not think twice about leaving since he or she doesn’t know if their contributions are even valuable to the organization—or if their presence or absence will even make a difference. There’s nothing worse than feeling you are undervalued and unappreciated.

3. Knowing the difference between motivation and blindly following. It’s one thing to keep pushing your team to perform to their highest potential, and another to keep pushing them because you say so or because that’s what they get paid for. When a team feels motivated, they almost always deliver exceptional performance.

And the tricky part is balancing all of these three factors in order to propel the organization towards the right direction.

If you wish to get in touch with Haris Ahmed or his 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.

Kindly stay tuned to this page to read the latest updates from Haris Ahmed.

 

 

Haris Ahmed, Chicago Consultant: Top 3 Reasons Why Startups Fail

In the business world, one of the things that Haris Ahmed (Chicago)-based management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting, Inc., finds most unfortunate is that companies consider consulting services when it’s too late; often turning to management and business consultants only as a last-ditch effort to save the company from going bankrupt. And sometimes, not even the best management consultants can save the company because the issues are far beyond repair—or if they are, it would cost more than what the company is worth. Cutting losses would be the best option in such cases.

This post looks at some of the most common reasons why startups fail; and while there may be several factors that are at the root of these common causes, the underlying, and arguably most relevant factor, is leadership. Haris Ahmed, Chicago management consultant, believes that everything starts with leadership; now whether this will take the business to profit or loss all depends on the leader and his leadership style.

According to an analysis conducted by CB Insights, the top 3 reasons why startups fail are: there isn’t a market for the product, the company had problems with cash flow, and the company wasn’t backed by a solid and competent team.

Haris Ahmed  (Chicago) expounds further:

1. There is no market for the product. To be more specific, the startup’s target audience doesn’t need the product that they are offering. The concept may have seemed promising at first, and on paper, everything may have looked as if it will take off in a matter of weeks. But when the product hit the market, no one was buying. If no one is buying, you won’t have a business for long.

2. Problems with cash flow. Poor financial management, lack of financial backers (i.e. investors), lack of foresight and anticipation, or all of these, could eventually leave the company’s coffers dry. And when there is little money to run operations or pay for unforeseen expenditures, this could only go one of two ways: the startup falls into debt because of heavy borrowing from loan sharks (easy to get, hard to pay) or it could shut down operations for good—in most cases, both.

3. No competent team to help the startup achieve its goals. One of the most common issues that Haris Ahmed (Chicago) and his Chicago management consultancy team see in organizations that have sought their help is underperforming personnel. It could be because the leader isn’t good at motivating the team, some employees were hired based on recommendations alone, there was lack of training or none at all, and a lot of other reasons. The bottom line is, if the company doesn’t have a team it can rely on, a team that they don’t have to monitor all the time, a team they know will do a great job, and a team that knows the company’s goals and takes positive action to help the organization achieve it, then you can expect to encounter issues down the line. All businesses need an exceptional team to back it up, and it’s more important for a startup because your future is at stake here. Everything and everyone involved in your startup is a key player, and each of these players should be handpicked by you, the leader/business owner.

 

 

Haris Ahmed, Chicago Consultant: Top 3 Reasons Why Startups Fail

In the business world, one of the things that Haris Ahmed (Chicago)-based management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting, Inc., finds most unfortunate is that companies consider consulting services when it’s too late; often turning to management and business consultants only as a last-ditch effort to save the company from going bankrupt. And sometimes, not even the best management consultants can save the company because the issues are far beyond repair—or if they are, it would cost more than what the company is worth. Cutting losses would be the best option in such cases.

This post looks at some of the most common reasons why startups fail; and while there may be several factors that are at the root of these common causes, the underlying, and arguably most relevant factor, is leadership. Haris Ahmed, Chicago management consultant, believes that everything starts with leadership; now whether this will take the business to profit or loss all depends on the leader and his leadership style.

According to an analysis conducted by CB Insights, the top 3 reasons why startups fail are: there isn’t a market for the product, the company had problems with cash flow, and the company wasn’t backed by a solid and competent team.

Haris Ahmed (Chicago) expounds further:

1. There is no market for the product. To be more specific, the startup’s target audience doesn’t need the product that they are offering. The concept may have seemed promising at first, and on paper, everything may have looked as if it will take off in a matter of weeks. But when the product hit the market, no one was buying. If no one is buying, you won’t have a business for long.

2. Problems with cash flow. Poor financial management, lack of financial backers (i.e. investors), lack of foresight and anticipation, or all of these, could eventually leave the company’s coffers dry. And when there is little money to run operations or pay for unforeseen expenditures, this could only go one of two ways: the startup falls into debt because of heavy borrowing from loan sharks (easy to get, hard to pay) or it could shut down operations for good—in most cases, both.

3. No competent team to help the startup achieve its goals. One of the most common issues that Haris Ahmed  (Chicago) and his management consultancy team see in organizations that have sought their help is underperforming personnel. It could be because the leader isn’t good at motivating the team, some employees were hired based on recommendations alone, there was lack of training or none at all, and a lot of other reasons. The bottom line is, if the company doesn’t have a team it can rely on, a team that they don’t have to monitor all the time, a team they know will do a great job, and a team that knows the company’s goals and takes positive action to help the organization achieve it, then you can expect to encounter issues down the line. All businesses need an exceptional team to back it up, and it’s more important for a startup because your future is at stake here. Everything and everyone involved in your startup is a key player, and each of these players should be handpicked by you, the leader/business owner.

 

 

Haris Ahmed of Chicago Firm Pragmatium Consulting Inc. on Public Speaking Coaches

Haris Ahmed (Chicago) management consulting firm Pragmatium Consulting Group Inc. has personally coached over 100 leaders from public and private corporations alike, not-for-profits, and the federal sector.

There’s no doubt that honing one’s public speaking skills can bring tremendous personal and professional benefits. But should you join a respectable organization like Toastmasters or hire a dedicated public speaking coach to train you?

Toastmasters vs. Public Speaking Coach

To begin with, both options are viable means to improve your communication skills. Toastmasters is known for grooming some of the most confident and persuasive public speakers who have become leaders. They have put up numerous chapters all over the country so chances are, you can find a local Toastmasters club not too far away from your home or office. They also take pride in building a supportive atmosphere where you can learn and grow from the feedback given to you by other members who happen to be on the same boat as you are. All in all, Toastmasters remains the incubator of choice of many business leaders, executives, coaches, and other professionals who want to polish their communication skills.

What about public speaking coaches? With a coach or mentor, you can get one-on-one training and tweak your sessions according to your goals. For instance, if you’re pitching a business idea or giving a speech for a loved one’s wedding, you can ask to be guided on that specific task and still have a supportive environment with constructive feedback. Public speaking coaches are great when you want to hone your skills faster because it’s their job to ensure you’re making progress. This doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll be left alone in Toastmasters; it’s just that you’ll have the luxury to delve deeper into your communication issues and work on fixing them when you collaborate with a public speaking coach. For instance, he/she will evaluate your tone, pacing, word choice, and gestures, to name a few.

If you think you’ll thrive better alone, or are more comfortable with the idea of practicing in front of a few before you face bigger crowds, then working with a public speaking coach may turn out to be a better experience. A short engagement may also work here as well. The only caveat to public speaking coaches is that you may have to spend time finding one that you’d jive well with. This is because public speaking coaches vary in their styles and strategies. You want to find one who will work with what you already have and make them better. A coach that may dictate too much of this and that can make you appear forced and contrived to the audience. Safe to say, this lack of authenticity or rigidness can backfire on you and your speech.

In this sense, Toastmasters has one up over public speaking coaches. Their program has been tried and tested on thousands of individuals and they have an established pathway to your transformation as a distinguished public speaker.

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

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