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Creating a Plan
When a stressful event arises (or if you anticipate a stressful event), creating a plan can give you a much-needed sense of control. With a plan, you can feel like you’re at least a little bit on top of things, and that you have power over the situation. Often, people find that making lists and planning (even if it’s for the short term) restores a bit of order and control to their life.
Things to think about include:
- How can I maintain a healthy lifestyle (with appropriate amounts of diet, sleep, and exercise) during this period?
- What changes will I need to make to my lifestyle?
- How will my routine help me during this period?
- How might my routine change?
- How can I use the triple A approach to handle this situation?
- What relaxation techniques might be appropriate?
- What support systems can I rely on?
Remember, stress is individual, and therefore your approach should be too. If you simply can’t find the time to exercise during this stressful period, for example, and can manage only a ten minute walk per day, accept that as your new routine. This is not the time for you to put additional pressure on yourself.
After the stressful event is over, try to return to your normal routine as soon as possible. This will help restore order to your life and return your stress levels to normal.
For more information on our Stress Management training course, please visit:
What is Business Succession Planning?
Successful succession planning is related to leadership development. It develops a pool of talent so that there are numerous qualified candidates throughout the organization to fill vacancies in leadership. Succession planning used to concentrate on developing leadership at the top level, but now it is building a strong talent base, which helps to increase employee loyalty and ensure the longevity of the company. This strategy requires recruiting qualified talent, creating a talent pool, and instilling loyalty.
Benefits of succession planning:
- Decreased turnover
- Increased employee satisfaction
- Improved commitment to company goals
- Enhanced image of the organization
What does succession planning require?
- Identify the long-term goals and objectives of the business: The long-term goals directly relate to succession planning. Is the company’s goal to grow or maintain its current position? Will it expand into other fields? All of these questions need to be addressed before creating a succession plan.
- Understand the developmental needs of the company and identify employees who fit these needs: The responsibilities of employees change over time. Some positions may be eliminated in the future while others will be added.
- Recognize trends in the workforce and engage employees to build loyalty: Understanding workforce trends will help you predict the needs of your organization. For example, are your key employees nearing retirement? Have you invested in talented employees to take on additional roles?
For more information on our Business Succession Planning, please visit:
One of the best ways a facilitator can anticipate problems in a group discussion is to set ground rules. Ground rules orient participants with what is expected from them. Moreover, they set boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behavior during the discussion. For best results, ground rules must be set in a consultative fashion, with the rules, and sometimes the consequences of violation of rules, negotiated among members of the group and agreed upon by consensus.
When setting ground rules, it is important to both verify if the rules are understood, and if they are acceptable. Make sure too that a documentation of the ground rules is available for everyone, either as a hand-out or posted in a flipchart paper for everyone to see.
Ground rules in a group meeting can relate to:
- How to make the most of the meeting. For example: practice timely attendance, participate fully.
- How to make a contribution to the discussion. For example: do the members raise their hands and ask the facilitator for permission to speak; use I-messages.
- How members should treat other members. For example: “don’t interrupt whoever is speaking, listen actively to whoever has the floor, accept that everyone has a right to their own opinion, no swearing or any aggressive behavior.
- Issues relating to confidentiality. Example: all matters discussed in the group shall remain within the group. This is also the moment for the facilitator to reveal if the minutes of the meeting will remain solely for his or her reference, or will it be given to an authority in the organization.
- How violations of ground rules would be addressed. Example: the use of graduated interventions from warning to expulsion from the group.
For more from our Facilitation Skills training course, please visit:
Performing a Needs Analysis
Clients need many more things than you might be planning to sell them. The more you can do for a client, the more you will be seen as a valuable partner. Here are some suggestions about how it might be possible to meet some other client needs:
- Information. You might be able to act as a consultant to a client, providing information about the latest developments in your field.
- Training. If you provide a product that requires some training, make training part of the package.
- Financing. If your company does not provide financing, put the client in touch with banks that do.
- Community. Communities often grow up around particular products, especially high tech products. Introduce clients to users groups or trade organizations.
- Personnel. You probably know a number of capable people who are thinking about changing jobs. Helping a client find skilled employees can benefit everyone involved. If the people you recommend are hired, they will become some of your strongest advocates.
For more on our Sales Fundamentals training course, please visit:
Guidelines for Managing Ethics in the Workplace
Managing ethics in the workplace requires certain tools. Every organization needs a Code of Ethics, a Code of Conduct, and Policies and Procedures, which is discussed within the CTM Business Ethics course. These tools direct the organization as leaders attempt to manage ethics.
Guidelines for Implementing and Managing Ethics:
- Give it time: Managing ethics is a process-oriented activity that requires time and constant assessment.
- Focus on behavior: Do not give vague requirements; make sure that ethics management has an impact on behavior.
- Avoid problems: Create clear codes and policies that will prevent ethical problems.
- Be open: Involve different groups in ethics program and make decisions public.
- Integrate ethics: Make sure that all management programs have ethical values.
- Allow for mistakes: Teach employees how to behave ethically, and do not give up when mistakes happen.
Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities necessary to effectively implement workplace ethics will vary with each organization. A manager should be in place to oversee the ethics program, but he or she will need the support provided by other positions. Smaller organizations may not need to fill all of the roles listed below; determine what your company needs before executing an ethics program.
- CEO: The CEO of every company needs to support business ethics and lead by example.
- Ethics committee: An ethics committee will develop and supervise the program.
- Ethics management team: Senior managers implement the program and train employees.
- Ethics executive: An ethics executive or officer is trained to resolve ethical problems.
- Ombudsperson: This position requires interpreting and integrating values throughout the organization.
Developing a Tracking System
Although there are many time management systems out there, we have found that most systems boil down to a few key principles. Here are our top three ideas.
Electronic Solutions: Most e-mail applications (including Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes) actually fall into the category of a PIM (Personal Information Manager) application. This means that they can store calendar, task, e-mail, and contact information all in one place.
To make the most of your electronic solution, follow these tips:
- Keep personal and professional information in two separate locations. (For example, you might have a computer at home and one at work, or two e-mail profiles on the same computer.)
- Take the time to learn about the features of the application and how to use them to be more productive. We’ll look at this a bit more later on in the course.
- Try to use just the application as much as you can. Switching between your computer and your day timer will waste time and increase the risk of missing information.
Productivity Journal: If you’re more of a traditionalist and prefer using something similar to an old-fashioned day timer, try this solution.
To start, get yourself a spiral notebook and label it as your Personal Productivity Journal or your Professional Productivity Journal. (We recommend keeping a separate journal for work and for your personal life, so you can focus on them at separate times, thus maintaining your optimal work/life balance.) Label each page with the day and the date and what needs to be done that particular day. Next, prioritize each task in order of importance. Highlight the top three items and focus on those first. Cross off items as you complete them. Items that are not completed should be carried over to the next page.
You can keep a long-term calendar in the back of the book (or use a three-ring binder with sections) to record upcoming events.
The Urgent/Important Matrix: Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that you want to achieve, means spending your time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, you need to distinguish clearly between what is urgent and what is important. This concept, coined the Eisenhower Principle, is said to be how former US President Dwight Eisenhower organized his tasks. It was rediscovered and brought into the mainstream as the Urgent/Important Matrix by Stephen Covey in his 1994 business classic, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Here is a breakdown of each quadrant.
- Urgent and Important: Activities in this area relate to dealing with critical issues as they arise and meeting significant commitments. Perform these duties now.
- Important, But Not Urgent: These success-oriented tasks are critical to achieving goals. Plan to do these tasks next.
- Urgent, But Not Important: These chores do not move you forward toward your own goals. Manage by delaying them, cutting them short and rejecting requests from others. Postpone these chores.
- Not Urgent and Not Important: These trivial interruptions are just a distraction, and should be avoided if possible. However, be careful not to mislabel things like time with family and recreational activities as not important. Avoid these distractions altogether.
For more information on the course Personal Productivity, please visit:
Critical thinking is akin to the study of logic. Critical thinking relates to how we make decisions and use our judgment. Critical thinking is more than just thinking about thinking or metacognition. It is also about how we take action. Critical thinking involves many components, lets have a look at four:
The ability to reason is often considered one of the characteristic marks of being human. Further, the individual’s ability to reason well is a critical thinking skill. Many of the definitions of critical thinking tend to focus on this ability to reason. Reasoning occurs when we use our knowledge of one thing, process, or statement to determine if another thing, process, or statement is true. When we apply reasoning, we use logic to determine “what follows what.” Human reasoning does not always follow logic and is often based on emotional bias.
Open-mindedness is the virtue by which we learn. In particular, being open-minded means taking into account relevant evidence or argument to revise a current understanding. It means being critically open to alternatives, willing to think about other possibilities even after having formed an opinion, and not allowing pre-conceived notions to constrain or inhibit reflection on newly presented information. Open-minded inquiry is a central theme in education.
In critical thinking the step of analysis helps us to discriminate and access information. Going back to Bloom’s taxonomy, remember that learning occurs in three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. In the cognitive domain, analysis is the fourth level and a higher ordered thinking skill. Analysis involves the process, as previously mentioned, of discriminating or separating.
Logic and reasoning are similar but not the same. Logic is the branch of philosophy that gives the rules for deriving valid conclusions. A conclusion is valid if it follows from statements that are accepted as facts. For instance, a logical statement might be, 1 + 1 = 2. This is a rule based on fact. Factual statements are called premises. When reasoning does not follow the rules, we say it is illogical.
For more information on our Critical Thinking course, please visit:
Budgets are critical for businesses. Many stakeholders within the organization require that budgets be submitted for review every year. The budget sets spending limits and usually is broken down to the individual departments or business units. Typically, budget numbers are reviewed every month to determine how well the company is keeping within the budget.
In order to begin a budget, you will need the following three pieces of information:
- Goal: Identifying a goal is the first step to creating a budget. Think about what you need to accomplish. This could be a sales goal, an efficiency goal or quality goal. No matter what the goal is, it is important to think carefully about the feasibility of the goal. Use the SMART technique for goal setting, which is making the goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time driven.
- Money: How much money do you have? In the corporate environment, you may need to review the financial reports to determine how well the company is doing. When things are financially tight, the monies allocated to the budgets may be limited. Knowing how much is available will help you determine what you should request in terms of the business environment.
- Costs: You will need to determine how much are the costs related to your goals. This may require you to breakdown your goals in to smaller components so you can put a price on each of them. Knowing how much things will cost will help weed out unnecessary expenses in your budget.
These three items will point you in the right direction when you are ready to begin your budget.
For more information on our Budgets and Financial Reports course, please visit:
Dealing with Difficult Situations
A difficult person can be your boss, your co-worker, or anyone else. He or she behaves in a way that is disruptive to business or life outside of work. In a work setting, often the functioning of a team is disturbed leading to a disruption of the work flow, flared tempers, and gossip. The bottom line is that work suffers and difficult situations cost organizations money.
To deal with difficult people, we innately try to apply coping filters, such as:
- Removing virtually all positive attributes about the person. (“He was my worst hiring mistake…”)
- Defaming him or her (We build consensus with others against the person
- Explaining the person in negative terms.
Anger also plays a big part; feeling angry, we instinctively use anger to try to manage the situation.
To break the cycle of negativity, take time to answer the following questions:
- What observable behaviors or statements did the person perform or say?
- What is the most positive interpretation an outside witness would make? The most negative?
- What will you gain by interpreting the difficult person’s actions or words in as positive a light as possible?
- What would you do or say when you respond to the difficult person if you viewed his or her actions in a positive light? What is stopping you from responding this way?
For more on our Assertiveness & Self Confidence training course, please visit:
You probably have an idea of your own personality type. A personality type is defined by the aspects of your character that emerge when around others or when doing important work. These character aspects are, as often as not, described as “soft skills”. You may have been described as “maternal”, “skeptical”, “humorous”, or any number of other things. These are issues which do not relate directly to your work but can aid or restrict your ability to do it, and can aid or restrict others. It is considered beneficial to have as many different types of personality in a workplace as possible.
There are countless tests that can be done to detect a personality type, and many different ways the results can be expressed, but there are certain things which hold true in all personality tests. Perhaps the best way in the workplace to detect a personality type is to judge your reaction to a problem which affects a whole team, or a group within it. Are you immediately looking for a way of overcoming the problem? Are you instinctively worried by what happens, and do you look to other people to help out? Do you comfort people who are stressed out by the problem? Or do you perhaps sit on the fringes, making comments and playing for laughs? Strange as it may sound, all of these elements are worthwhile in a team. The person who immediately looks for the solution is a “problem solver”; the second type is a “consensus seeker”. The third is considered a “nurturer” while the last listed is a “humorist”. All of these are classic personality types.
Equally, all of these people, and others, play a major part in making up a workplace.
- Without the problem solvers, an organization would be in trouble if things deviated from the plan as laid out.
- Without consensus seekers, it would be easy for a problem solver to become too autonomous, solving the problem to their satisfaction without being particularly concerned for how others felt about the solution.
- Without the nurturers, people would feel that a problem could too easily become a crisis.
- Without the humorists a bad situation would depress everyone.
Reason and etiquette dictate how much we allow our personality to take control of us, but most people will avoid becoming too “cliché” in how they behave.