Help your team attain its goal

As a team leader/manager you need to make your team “the best” among other teams. As a leader you need to encourage your team with motivating words. Even the criticism should be such that they don’t feel discouraged to work further. Instead they should be able to strive ahead to achieve their goal.

Be heard among your team members

Develop excellent communicating skills so that you can convey the actual message to your subordinates. Be simple and clear from the start so that there remains no place for doubt. Ask your team members to come to you repeatedly for clarification. Ask them in return given a chance how they will try to achieve the set goal. They will feel encouraged and happy.

Encourage your team to trust you

Your team should trust you enough to confide in you. You should always be there for them when they want to share anything with you. This will increase the understanding between you and your team. As a leader of the team, you need to make certain that they like what you are doing for them to be satisfied and contented.
Again in the process of sharing things with them, do not encourage them to disclose any grapevine gossip.

Incorporate friendship with your team members

As a manager or leader, if you stay unapproachable and keep a wall around you, you will be creating a barrier between yourself and your team members. There should never be a huge gap between you and your team. As a good leader you should incorporate friendship and camaraderie.

Positive Reinforcement

Let your employees know that their efforts will always be recognized and will be treated as true accomplishments in the company. A token gift, a certificate, a scribble of encouragement in the whiteboard or even sticking a post-it on their cubicle wall will work wonders.
Make sure to reward the entire group once a project has successfully commenced. Take them out to team lunch or give them small tokens like gift coupons.

Happy Employees

Always try to determine whether your team members are happy with their job or not. The performance of an unhappy or dissatisfied employee will never be up to the mark. Create a positive energy among your employees. This will come once they are truly happy and well encourage in their work.

Want to know more about the tips & secrets to becoming a motivational leader in the cut-throat corporate world so that you can motivate your slacking team to become more responsive and productive?

Should to knows before expand your business

Business Expansion: It Can Be Good, It Can Be Bad…

Most business owners hope their business will grow and be successful. Others want to remain a one person business. They left their previous jobs to start their own business so they would no longer have to work for someone else.

In addition, growth can generate a whole new set of problems that most business owners don’t’ want to deal with.

With growth goes more responsibility. Sometimes employees that were able to handle certain levels of business are overwhelmed by the new load of responsibilities. And so are you as the owner.

Now instead of your little one person operation you have; delivery people, a part time bookkeeper, two or three full time employees, someone to answer phones and take orders and counter people or outside sales.

In addition to that add; absenteeism, employee benefits, vacations, profit sharing plans, payroll taxes, higher overhead and increased liability insurance.

Next problem; communication. With one or two people a quick meeting has everyone of the same page. With multiple locations a “team meeting” becomes a logistic nightmare to get everyone together at the same time for information to be past or training to be done.

Last but not least; This business is your dream. It’s not your employees dream. They have their own dreams that don’t include you.

What Are The Business Expansion “Triggers” You Should Look For

How do you know when the time is right to kick the business into high gear? Or, to use a much overused expression, when to take the business to the “next level?” Are there signs to watch for to let you know when the time is right?

Here are some of the most obvious:

  • You can no longer fill customer needs in a timely manner. If customers are leaving empty handed or going to your competitor because you are “too busy” then the time has come to do something.Employees can no longer keep up with production demands. They begin making more and more mistakes and missing deadlines. Absenteeism increases and production falls. Due to the increased pressures of your job you begin making poor business decisions or using a “quick fix” for problems that need long term repair.
  • Reaction to the competition. If you are equal to your competitors then you may not need to do anything. If, however, they are expanding and taking business from you because of that expansion you should at least evaluate the possibility of expansion. 
  • Don’ t misunderstand the above. I’m a big believer in “NOT” reacting to every little thing the competition does. That’s why I advise you to “evaluate” the situation and not over react.Changes in the marketplace or industry. Your business is affected by many factors. One of those factors is the very industry you are in. Government regulations may force additional equipment or other costly changes.

    New products or services might force you to change the way you do business. In New York City, newspaper stands are in trouble because people who used to buy out of town newspapers now get the same information on the internet sooner and for free.

  • Customer perception or your goods or services: Back in the 1970’s seven people died from taking Tylenol® which had been laced with poison. Tylenol® reacted quickly to remove all their product from store shelves. It took a long time to regain their leading market share but they did it.But at sustained cost increase. A whole new form of packaging had to be developed. Tamper proof packaging had to be implemented alone with stricter inspections.

    Not just at Tylenol® but all pharmaceutical companies had to retool for this change in customer and government demands for safety.

by Tom Egelhoff

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How to create a buyer or user persona for your business

Creating a persona doesn’t have to be hard and it will lead to a better product, better marketing, and a better business. In other words, it’s a small investment that can pay off big time.

The 10 basic components of a persona

I’ll give you a few tips for creating your persona in a minute, but first let’s review what makes up a good persona:

  1. Name
    While this may seem obvious, giving your persona a name is a huge step forward in making your persona real. When you persona has a name, they’re easier to relate to as a “real” character and easier to talk about in marketing and product development discussions.
  2. Professional and personal background
    These two elements go together. Specifically, you want to describe what your target customer does for a living and where they are in their career. You also want to expand their background into a quick review of your persona’s hobbies, educational background, likes and dislikes. This background influences your persona’s disposable income and also their brand choices.
  3. Demographics such as age, gender, education, ethnicity, family status, etc.
    Here, avoid dividing up your persona into age ranges or percentage male/female. You’re creating a fictional character for this exercise, so be specific about age, family status, and other details. Once you have created one persona to represent your core customer, you may think about creating secondary personas to represent other customer groups. But, for now, just create one persona with as many specific details as possible.
  4. Goals
    What are your persona’s goals? Oftentimes, user goals are beyond the immediate problem that your company solves. For example, while we sell business planning software, our customers’ goal is to create a successful company.
  5. “I need/want” statements
    What does your persona want and/or need in order to reach the goals you have defined for them?
  6. Concerns
    What concerns does your persona have? Are they worried about security? Are they concerned about potentially difficult return processes? How important is reliability and long-term access to your product or service?
  1. Past buying behavior
    Do most of your customers buy from you repeatedly? Or is their purchase a one-time purchase? Does your customer have brand loyalty? How have they solved their problems and achieved their goals in the past?
  2. Environment, including physical, social and technological environment
    Often overlooked, your persona’s environment is a critical aspect that defines who they are. If you’re building an online application, is your persona going to be mostly using your site from home? From work? Maybe on their mobile phone? What is their home or work environment? Is it noisy or quiet? Answering these questions will create a full picture of your persona and how they will be interacting with your site.
  3. A quote that sums up what matters most to them
    A user quote should be just one or two sentences that sums up what matters most to your persona. For example, our persona Garrett says, “I want a simple planning solution that will impress my investors and not take too much time away from actually building my business.”
  4. A photo

To complete your persona, add a picture. After all, your buyer persona should be real to you and your team and adding a picture accomplishes this. It may seem counterintuitive to just focus on one person, but focusing on just one customer that is a good representation of your core customer base will make your marketing and product development much, much more effective.


5 steps to create a persona

Now that we know what a persona is, it’s time to create one. Here are five steps to create your persona:

  1. Survey your existing customers
    If you have customers, put together a survey, get on the phone, or talk to them in your store and get to know them better. If you have email addresses for your customers, you can even use services like Rapleaf to automatically gather demographic data. If you don’t have customers yet, find people who you think are going to be your customers and talk to them.
  2. Get out of the building
    This seems obvious, but it can be a huge hurdle for many marketers. Your biggest advantage over your competition is to get to know your customers in their “native habitat”. Seeing where your customers live and work gives you the real-world picture of how your customers will be making decisions. You can also observe what other brands your customers choose to surround themselves with.
  3. Research online
    If your customers are all from one location, or from a single industry, you can get a lot done online. If you’re trying to learn about a location, Wikipedia is a great resources to learn about the region your customers are from. Do they live in a college town? Where are most people employed? What are the prevailing politics?

If you are researching a particular industry, turn to YouTube. You’ll be able to find industry experts talking about the industry as well as videos showing workplaces, locations, etc.

  1. Analyze your data
    Once you have collected all of your data, you need to synthesize it into one persona, as I described above. Over time, you may end up building multiple personas, but even having just one persona to work with gives you a huge advantage over many businesses that just do “shoot from the hip” marketing and product development.
  2. Share
    Since you’ve now gone through all the effort of researching and creating a persona, now is the time to share with your entire company. This is not something that should only be presented to the management team. Everyone in the company should know who your ideal customer looks like, how they make decisions, and what kind of interactions they expect from your company. Some companies have even made posters of their personas and put them up on the walls of the office so that everyone knows exactly who they should be trying to design for, market to, and sell to.

Keep in mind

Finally, here are a few mistakes to avoid when creating your first persona.

  1. Don’t base your customer persona on one real customer. It’s tempting to go out, meet one customer, and then write a bio of that customer for your persona. A good persona is a composite of all of your core customers and will bring in elements from multiple real customer profiles.
  1. Don’t base your customer persona on stereotypes. This is similar to mistake #1, but you might not even realize you’re doing it. Don’t make assumptions about your customer persona’s interests and needs based on their age, gender, or location—do your research, and let your customers tell you about themselves.
  2. Inconsistencies make your persona unrealistic. Your persona should be as real as possible, so try to avoid inconsistencies. If your persona is a Portland hipster, they probably don’t also drive a BMW.
  3. Don’t be generic. As a counterpoint to mistake #1, don’t be too generic when you create your persona. Your persona shouldn’t be “between 30-45 years old.” They should have an exact age, specific interests, etc. You may find that you need to create multiple personas to represent different customer segments. Just make sure that each one that you create is specific and represents one of your core groups of customers.

Taking the time to create a customer persona will accelerate your marketing, sales, and product development efforts. The time you take to create a solid persona will pay off many times over in the growth of your business, so make the time and watch your business take off.

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Thin difference Between Business and Non-Profit Company

You can find a few major similarities, even so, amongst the 2 that will assist reconcile distinctions and make them appear more alike than distinct, which is important to comprehend.

Leadership/Management Issues

With any huge group or organization, the leadership and administration of workers and volunteers will be really important. In for-profit corporations leadership retains the workers contemplating income, bonuses and teamwork, even though in nonprofits the main focus is more on what very good these are undertaking for the public, how they need to work collectively to be successful and so on. Different motivations does not suggest that the leaders and professionals of the two should act any differently in their techniques for motivating the business.

Both Include Price to your Entire world

This can be a major level of contention to some people in that they do not see how for-profit businesses include value towards the planet the way nonprofits do. Nevertheless, for-profits, their companions and their public relations departments add value to your entire world by making positive their workers are content, they’re well taken care of and secure within their work opportunities. Additionally they add price by being a few of the public donors that nonprofits depend so much on to perform the good they do, during which case they may be much far more alike than diverse.

Just take Key Work

There exists no doubt about this one – the two nonprofit organizations and for-profit ones get key work and time and effort to achieve success and executed. Board members, mission statements, bylaws, goals and achievements awarded to equally are important to equally. Do not forget that they are each businesses, during which case they both need to work inside a comparable manner and in a comparable potential to be able to achieve success. Nonprofits and for-profits are equally very involved with their own workings, and are as a result quite related.

It could be difficult to dismiss the foremost distinctions among for-profits and nonprofits in the entire world – consumerism vs charity, tax exemption, etc. Nonetheless focusing on the similarities between the two could make a more harmonious partnership among them, including for the accomplishment and profitability of the two and additional the lead to for each in the long run.

Nonprofit Legal Center offers suggestions and helpful information for you to discover much more about and institutions.

Personas business develop the right choices as they start, grow, and advertise their business

To make those decisions easier and more effective, many businesses develop personas (fictional characters that represent the business’s customers or potential customers) to help them make the right choices as they start, grow, and advertise their business.

What is a persona and how do you use one?

Success in marketing and product development comes from a deep understanding of your customers. Your ability to put yourself into the shoes of your customer, to understand their needs, wants, aspirations, work and home environments—in fact, every aspect of their lives—will drive your success. Being able to think and behave like your customers is the key to being able to communicate with them effectively.

This is why entrepreneurs are often encouraged to build businesses that solve problems that they have themselves. Clearly, it’s much easier to develop a product and design marketing campaigns when you know exactly who the customer is and how they will react to different kinds of marketing, because the customer is you. If you’re marketing to yourself and people just like you, you have a huge advantage because you know exactly how you, and your customers, will react.

But, what if your business is solving a problem that you don’t have? What if the target customer isn’t you? How do you start seeing your business through your customers’ eyes?

In marketing and product development, we can solve this problem by developing fictional characters that are highly detailed representations of your target customer base. These characters are called personas, and just like in plays and movies they need a full backstory so that you, as a business owner and entrepreneur, can fully understand their goals, motivations, and problems.

There are two commonly-used persona types: buyer (or customer) personas, and user personas. Depending on your business, you might just need one persona. The key is to not be overwhelmed with the thought of creating lots of personas and then end up creating none. Just having one persona that you design your marketing around will give you a huge advantage over many other businesses, and it’s worth the initial investment in time and research.

Buyer (or customer) personas

Buyer personas describe your ideal customer. They help you make decisions about marketing and sales processes. I’ll dig into the details of creating a buyer persona in a minute, but first, here’s a quick example of a buyer persona that you may be familiar with.

While most businesses don’t make their personas public, Subway did with their spokesman, Jared. Even though he isn’t fictional, he is still a character that represents a segment of Subway’s customers: Overweight Americans who want an easy-to-follow, affordable diet plan with lots of choices and familiar foods. The Jared buyer persona helped Subway redefine itself as a healthy place to eat, and the company reorganized its menu to highlight its low-calorie sandwich and meal options and revamped its advertising to make eating at Subway seem like a good diet plan. Much of what Subway does in its sales and marketing is driven by asking themselves the question, “Would Jared want this?”

Once you develop a solid buyer persona, that’s the question that you should be asking yourself constantly: “Would Jane (or John) like this?”

User personas

User personas are critical for companies that sell a product that is purchased by a person who is different from the person that ends up using the product or service. If your business makes its own product, you should consider developing a user persona. Here at Palo Alto Software, we have developed a persona named Garrett who drives the bulk of our product decisions.

Designers—of software, shoes, kitchen appliances, websites, and pretty much everything else—have long relied on user personas for developing products. The idea is two-fold: if you design with a certain user in mind, not only will you design a product that gives that user what they actually want and need, but you will also design a product that that user will actually buy (i.e., a product that gets you customers).

Buyer and user personas are very similar, and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. The differences between them aren’t as important as understanding how to create a buyer (or user) persona, and how to use it to your business’s advantage.

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Leadership mentoring programs is one of simple way to be a leader

Many organizations have discovered providing a mentor for high performing employees not only helps them settle into their job and company environment, but also contributes to a lower employee turnover rate and greater job satisfaction.

A mentor, basically, is someone who serves as a counselor or guide. Being asked to serve as a mentor is an honor. It indicates the company has faith in the person’s abilities and trusts him or her to have a positive impact on the situation. The use of a mentor may be an informal, short-term situation or a more formal, long-term assignment.

In an informal mentoring program, the mentor usually helps the mentee for a limited period of time. Advice from the mentor may include the most basic of information about everyday routines including tips about “do’s and don’ts” not found in the employee manual to helping the employee learn job responsibilities and prepare them for future roles in the organization. A mentor who is available to answer questions and provide leadership development also saves time for the supervisor or manager. In addition, mentees often feel more comfortable asking questions of their mentor than their supervisor.

In a program of this type, mentors often are volunteers. Forcing someone who does not want to serve as a mentor to do so can quickly create problems. Obviously, someone with a negative attitude, who might encourage a new employee to gripe and complain, should not serve as a mentor.

A more formal version corporate mentoring program occurs when an organization appoints a senior manager with extensive knowledge and experience to serve as a mentor to a professional the company feels has excellent potential for growth. The mentor’s role usually lasts for an extended period of time.

Effective mentoring programs must have senior level support from the beginning, otherwise it will fail to get the attention and support it needs to become part of the organization’s culture. Experience shows the most effective mentoring programs are run by senior level executives, not just the human resources department.

Whether informal or formal, both parties need to understand the parameters. These may be more important in a long-term, formal mentoring situation, but can also influence the success of short-term, informal mentoring.

  • Select the right mentor. Not everyone makes a good mentor. A mentor is someone who is respected, successful and understands the culture of the organization. They must be willing to make a commitment of their time and knowledge.
  • Ensure proper pairing and create an emotional bond. It is helpful to conduct a behavioral assessment on both the mentee and mentor. This insures proper matching and helps both parties understand each other’s communication styles, strengths and limitations.
  • Establish goals and a purpose. The mentor needs to outline these areas at the beginning. The goals should be in alignment with the strategic plan. Just as important, the protégé should outline their objectives as well.
  • The mentor’s role is to coach and advise the mentee. The mentor does not interfere with the supervisor or manager’s decisions. The new employee, while expected to seek the mentor’s advice particularly on critical issues, is not bound to accept that advice.
  • Confidentiality is important. Both parties need to feel confident that discussions remain between them–not immediately relayed to a supervisor or manager.
  • Decide in advance how you will communicate. Will you have regularly scheduled meetings? Will discussion be face-to-face, over the telephone or even via e-mail?
  • Both parties need to make their preferences known at the beginning and reach an acceptable compromise if they are different.
  • Discuss time limits. If the mentoring period has a time limit the mentor should state that at the beginning.
  • Discuss time commitments. Again, this may be more critical for long-term, formal mentoring. The mentor must expect to give the employee adequate time, but the newcomer should not expect excessive amounts. Setting a schedule at the beginning (example: meet once a week the first month, then once a month after that) avoids irritating misunderstandings later.
  • Build openness and respect. Both the mentor and the person being mentored need to be open and honest, yet respect the other. A mentor who withholds important information or comments does not contribute to the other person’s success. However,
  • such feedback should be delivered with tact and courtesy–and (even if somewhat hurtful) received with an open mind.
  • Establish a professional relationship. The relationship between the mentor and his or her protégé is a professional one, not a personal one. This is particularly important for the mentee to understand.

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Simple ways to improve leadership skills

What makes a good leader is the use of effective management skills such as spending 50 percent or more of their time listening carefully.

Great leaders understand that some of the best leadership qualities entail listening to others with undivided attention.

When was the last time you actually listened single-mindedly to one of your staff members?

Can you remember when you last listened to someone without interruptions or distractions from either telephone calls or drop-in visitors, when you just focused intently on the person speaking with you, ignoring all else? When CEO Alan Mulally arrived at Ford, he used a technique he had refined at Boeing. He found a way to instantly shift the senior executives on his team from talkers to listeners by changing the way he evaluated his team’s performance.

“It always comes down to incentives. What’s the incentive for someone to behave differently? Is it recognition, time, or more money? No. It’s usually visibility,” he said. “When you give a speech, you’ll be scored by the audience.”

So those executives who were smart enough to leave lots of time for Q & A got better grades than those who lectured. And those managers who encouraged a dialogue with the team came out on top.

Great leaders with excellent management skills encourage input and change, and the best way to measure them is based on feedback they get from their best people. People usually give the best scores to leaders you trust and to leaders who listen.

The Most Essential Leadership Qualities

Integrity is perhaps the most valued and respected quality of leadership and one of the most important management skills you need to attain. By saying what you’ll do and then doing what you say, you will build trust around your team.

Do you stand up and speak out for what you believe?

Do you demonstrate the courage to stay the course when the going gets tough and the outcome looks uncertain?

What makes a good leader is the ability to stay calm and in control, especially when everyone around them is wondering whether it’s the right decision or if it was a mistake to commit to a particular course of action.

When you exude confidence in yourself, in the decision, and in the people around you, you instill the same feelings and attitudes in others.

Leaders have what is called “courageous patience.” Between the decision and the result, there is always a period of uncertainty when no one knows if the effort is going to be successful.

To be a successful leader, you must strive to have these essential leadership qualities. If you have lived with this feeling many times in your career, you’re in good company.

What Makes A Good Leader?

To be successful as a leader, you need a combination of two ingredients: character and competence. You need to be a person of integrity. Someone people trust and are willing to follow.

To be trusted in business, you must be trustworthy. You must believe in yourself, your company, the essential goodness of your products and services, and in your people.

You need to believe that you are offering an excellent product or service in every way, one that makes a difference in the lives of your customers.

You must lead by example and obtain management skills that inspire others to join you in the exciting project of building a great company. At the same time, you must become excellent at the key capabilities and functions of leadership and set yourself on a course of continuous improvement throughout your career.

“You need the humility to remind yourself that you’ve got to get better at everything you do,” insisted Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. “I don’t know about you, but I’m never done growing my company or myself.”
Believe In Yourself

Management guru Jim Collins uses the phrase “Level 5 Leadership” to describe the characteristic of the best leaders, those who build great companies.

Out of all the existing leadership qualities, the most fascinating and distinguishing characteristic of level 5 is an often misunderstood trait: humility.

As it happens, humility doesn’t actually mean being humble . . .

People who are crazy enough to launch businesses as the economy is falling apart and then fight Goliath-size adversaries, are not exactly humble.

“Humility simply means you have a burning, driving, relentless ambition to serve and to win,” Collins told me, “Without the arrogance to delude yourself into believing that you are all knowing or always right.”
As a Level 5 Leader, you don’t believe you are perfect. You must, however, believe in yourself, and be convinced that you have what it takes to succeed and that you can get better. You are always looking for new ways to develop your leadership qualities and take your game to the next level.

If you enjoyed this article on how to improve your management skills and develop your leadership qualities, please share it with others right now!

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School children in Atlanta experiencing a crisis of leadership

School is a place where children – children not only gain knowledge, but also to build self-reliance and confidence. So what if the opposite is happening in schools in Atlanta.  A regional accrediting agency has proclaimed the Clayton County Atlanta schools district as needing a complete change in leadership to have any hope of retaining its accreditation. The CEO of the Atlanta based Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has issued a terse notice that the Clayton County Atlanta schools can expect to have their accreditation removed by September 1st if drastic changes are not implemented.

Discrediting is Disastrous

Discrediting would be disastrous for this member of Atlanta schools district. It would throw into jeopardy all avenues of federal funding for the schools and throw a question mark over a students eligibility to be accepted into colleges. Scholarships would also be affected.

Its not often that the agency strips an Atlanta school of its accreditation. In fact, in the past 10 years only one school district has had accreditation stripped away. No Atlanta school has ever had accreditation stripped away. If the move goes through and it will, unless members of the schools board put aside their personal agendas and focus on the larger picture it will be the first time a Georgia school has slipped though the cracks.

The step to remove accreditation of Clayton County Atlanta schools has led to frantic efforts by Clayton County lawmakers, students groups and the Georgia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons. These groups along with worried parents have been calling for all members of Clayton Countys board to resign with immediate effect to ensure that this Atlanta school district does not skip though the cracks and take its student body with it.

Atlanta Schools Students Will Suffer

Problems at this Atlanta schools district involve everything from corruption among members of the board, to a shoddily designed curriculum thats not benefiting students. Teacher morale is also reported to be low at this Atlanta schools district, and thats hardly a surprise. You cant expect to teachers to be highly motivated when one member of the school board fires a football coach for not handing over a game film featuring her child, while another board member lives it up at a hotel with school money.

The crisis at Clayton County schools has led to tensions between members of the school board and the public. At a recent board meting, visitors were made to pass through metal detectors and a police helicopter hovered overhead.

Its a sad state of affairs that a member of the Atlanta schools district has let down its students so badly. Students at these Atlanta schools risk having their futures in jeopardy if the move to strip Clayton County schools of accreditation does succeed.

How HR Department To Manage Employee Induction

One of the primary reasons changes to a company’s employee induction may not get done is simply because it can be a bit of a task to actually make the changes in the first place. It can also be very costly. Making changes may involve printing new booklets, editing videos, contacting (and relying on) a third party provider, or fighting for IT department attention. And because there is an employee induction up and running, the status quo is often enough to satisfy the over-worked HR department.

Why it has to get done
An employee induction is your first, and one of your primary, tools for educating staff on the specific characteristics of your workplace safety. The simplest change to procedure can have disastrous results if your staff is unaware of it.
For example: If an emergency exit is changed, for any reason, and the induction does not reflect this change, any employees inducted between the time current staff members were informed (by other means) and the time of hire, they will have the wrong information.
This may sound a bit far-fetched, but it’s just one of thousands of changes that can happen in a workplace. And it should always be assumed that every piece of information in an induction is there for good reason.

How to do it simply
When your employee induction management system enables you to control course content simply, you are much more likely to actually do it. When you can spend 5 minutes doing something yourself, rather than hours (even days) trying to get someone else to do it, you’ll just do it!
Not too many systems will enable you to control your own course content. Induction systems that enable you to deliver courses online are probably your best bet. Try a simple Google search for “employee inductions” or “online inductions” and take a look at what you find. There are some great solutions out there, just make sure it gives you control over your content!

Confident key to successful lead management

Presentations are the most feared part of most managers’ lives. I’ve read that most managers’ would prefer the stress caused by moving house than give a ten-minute presentation. To some extent I get it. It can be intimidating to stand up in front of a roomful of people and talk. In another way I definitely don’t. A lot of the blame must go to ‘presentation skills courses’. Yes, it’s nice to be able to project your voice to the back of the room. It’s great to have exciting slides. It’s superb if you can manage the correct eye contact with your audience. Unfortunately (fortunately) within a few minutes of the start of the presentation most of the audience has taken this for granted – however effectively you can carry this out. The message is far more important. Get that right – in your own head – and you’re winning.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” I ask.

The replies tend to fall into two categories; physical and mental. On the physical side there’s; projector failing, nothing to write on, nothing to write with, no chairs, too many chairs, room too hot, room too cold, no one turning up, too many turning up, finishing too early, finishing too late, audience being bored. Go through these one by one and ask yourself “So what?”. Think of everything that can go wrong and plan an alternative. Great. Something you hadn’t even thought of will still undo you. Something will not go exactly to plan. You know that. How many things in any other part of your life has gone perfectly? Exactly.

The good thing is that people don’t judge us on the mistakes we make but on the speed of recovery from those mistakes. Think of the best customer care you’ve received? Nine out of ten occasions people recall a situation that went wrong. It went wrong but the service they received to put it right led them to remember it and recommend the company to their friends years later. Speed of recovery.

OK now that you know there will be mistakes and you’ve accepted it, truly accepted it life gets easier. You can arrive early, do all your last minute panicking in peace, relax and wait. People will forgive you if you’ve prepared as thoroughly as possible. You can’t help it if it’s the day of a tube strike, the room gets flooded or police have cordoned off the area looking for armed terrorists. It happens.

The second category of things that can go wrong is the mental side – your mental side. You do need to get this right. Preparation is the key. I know it’s a cliché but it’s also true. This preparation starts right from the moment it’s decided you’re the one for the presentation. Firstly, do you agree? If not get out now. It doesn’t get easier the longer you ignore it. It’s like that sink full of washing up you leave in the kitchen for a few hours, a day, a few days. It never gets easier – just a bit worse, a bit harder to face each day.

Once you’ve decided it is definitely going to be you – accept it and go for it properly. Do you really want them to know and understand something they didn’t know before or do you just want to tell them something and get off? If it’s the latter and you just want to impart knowledge, send them an e-mail and save yourself and your audience some grief. If it’s the former then you need to prepare thoroughly. This means that on the day you can throw away your notes, talk and listen. And to listen effectively you’ve got to involve the audience.

It is so much better for everyone if you interact from the start. Find out what the audience knows and doesn’t know. Find out why they’re there. Find out their particular interests. Get them involved – they’ll enjoy it more and so will you. It may well be more nerve racking than hiding behind a script, but it is so much more rewarding. But this can only happen if you’ve got your head straight first. To do this you need to ask questions and get them to ask you questions.

How presenters deal with questions by the audience is a tremendous indication of where they are in terms of confidence. If the first line in a presentation is “I’ll take questions at the end” then the odds are that;

a) they are petrified,
b) they have no idea what they are talking about, or
c) they have hours worth of material and they’ll never reach the end.

You need to take a deep breath, throw away your neat, colour-coded notes and go for it. The audience will certainly enjoy it more and guess what? So will you. I promise.

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