Listening Full Test 6 - Section 4

Listening Full Test 6 - Section 4

Questions 31–35

Complete the summary below.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER for each answer.

Questions 36–40

Complete the table below.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer

Answers

31. imagination
32. standardisation
33. implemented
34. achievement
35. performance bonuses
36. control levers
37. motto
38. negative thinking
39. boundaries
40. interactive control

Transcript

You will hear a lecturer giving a talk on managing creativity in a business. First you have some time to look at questions 31 to 40.

Now listen carefully and answer questions 31 to 40.

Hello everyone. The topic of today’s management lecture is “Managing Creativity in Your Business”, and believe me, this is one of the toughest tasks that any manager has to face. How do you lead and control the staff whose job it is to create new business and product ideas for you? They are the ones full of creativity and imagination, so they need to have a lot of freedom – after all they are the people who are paid to come up with new ideas! Controlling staff who are at the forefront of innovation will be one of your most challenging tasks. After all, creativity implies freedom of thought and action.

Management styles used to be different, especially in manufacturing. In the factory, staff would be told what to do and how to do it – with a watchful eye kept on them. In that setting, standardisation was important for efficiency and product quality. Work could be exceptionally boring and there was no place for individuality. Now, of course, robots have taken over many of the exacting, repetitive tasks. Nowadays, we employ far more people to generate business than to manufacture products. It’s very competitive out there. Innovation – that’s what our modern consumer craves.

Successful companies have got the message – we need lots of new ideas, and now we employ bright young minds to come up with them. However, these ideas have to be implemented to make a change to our profits! So we have to find staff with entrepreneurial flair, and be ready to listen to them and support them to follow through on their ideas. We need to supervise without stemming the flow of ideas, or sending the brightest minds to work for the opposition. Creative people won’t welcome us always looking over their shoulder and checking up on what they’re doing.

One of the most common ways that management handles this problem of keeping people working along company lines, is by establishing achievement targets, like money earned, products developed, or clients gained. These targets are a useful guideline, but they have a downside. Young enthusiastic staff will be very keen to meet these targets, and some of them might potentially use illegal means or behave unethically in order to meet requirements — for example, by offering bribes to gain sales, or making their sales numbers or earnings look higher than they are, or even threatening or criticising other staff to get a job completed. Achievement targets are often linked directly to performance bonuses, and this can make a bad situation worse. So, as you can see, the standard management techniques can create inherent problems both for the individual and for the company.

More recent theorists suggest new tactics for managers. Robert Simons, writing in the Harvard Business Review, has added some new concepts to the thorny problem of encouraging creativity while maintaining a viable business. He suggests three other control levers to assist in getting positive creative contributions from the workforce. Remember – this is the point – we want creativity, wild, vibrant creativity to compete in the marketplace – yet we must be careful to keep people on track, sticking to our core business and maintaining the company’s reputation.

The first of his levers is getting the workers actively involved in the central ethos of the business. One of the most common ways to do this is to create a mission statement, but along with that, many businesses have some kind of motto, which summarises their key idea; for example, ‘the most durable tools in the world’ or perhaps ‘the customer comes first’. Whatever it is, you’ll want your bright minds to believe it and act on it, so Robert Simons suggests that it should be developed with staff input – letting them feel like part of the operation. After all, their jobs depend on it!

A second lever was once described by Charles Christenson, Professor at Harvard Business School, as “the power of negative thinking”. You can’t continually instruct your creative minds in what they should do. They are meant to be inventing, leading, not following, and telling them what to do is counter-productive. But you can tell them what not to do; which potential products are not related to the company’s objectives, or which strategies or behaviours are unacceptable. This is a tactical ploy to maintain the company’s integrity. It’s absolutely vital to establish boundaries to assist in controlling innovation without suppressing it.

The third lever is basically sitting down with your crew to share ideas about the business. As manager, your duty is to stay abreast of the external factors such as: Who’s competing in your market? How well is the company doing this month, and are you losing or gaining money? Is there some new product seducing your customers?

This lever is called ‘interactive control’. This means you talk to your innovators, and communicate honestly and clearly about your perceptions of what’s happening in the market. You encourage them to share their ideas, and make plans together for the future.

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