now browsing by tag
What is Initiative?
Initiative is something we can all use in our careers. It is what sets us apart from others and our competition. Many people are afraid to take the initiative, but if you can, you will stand out. Initiative is deep down inside all of us, but the successful ones are the ones who use it.
It is important to know what initiative is to properly utilize it. Initiative is defined as the ability to assess and initiate things independently. In other words, it is taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you. It is stepping up, and going beyond your typical duties. Take charge of situations before others do. You may not want to step out of your comfort zone, but usually you will be rewarded for doing so. It is thinking outside the box, preparing for success, capitalizing on opportunities. It is making changes to take a step forward and being persistent.
In life, taking initiative offers many benefits. It is a positive step that anyone can take for themselves. Only you can take the initiative for yourself, so ensure you do it. Taking the initiative provides individuals with a sense of self-control both in their personal and professional lives. No one is going to offer you opportunities if you do not deserve them, so stepping up will make all the difference in your life. In your personal life, it may benefit you by helping you feel more confident with yourself. In your professional life, it may help you get that coveted promotion. In either aspect of your life, it will promote better things.
Taking initiative promotes:
Not everyone is comfortable with taking the initiative, or even knows how to do so. It is something that is developed mentally and takes strength to do. Some individuals have a bounded rationality. These individuals are unable to see past what they currently know. They cannot see the benefits of stepping up. Typically, the individual has never thought about it. Also, individuals do not take the initiative due to a lack of capability. Outside their general knowledge, some individuals do not possess the expertise to take the initiative for a more difficult task. Execution over innovation is also another popular reason that individuals do not take initiative. These individuals only focus on their own work, and do not have concern for any new tasks. Finally, some individuals are too busy to take the initiative. There is already too much on their plate, and they physically and mentally cannot process anymore work.
Reasons for not taking the initiative:
- Bounded rationality
- Lack of capability
- Execution over Innovation
- Task overload
It is our duty to make initiative a priority in both our professional and personal lives. To make initiative a priority, we must first understand what it is and what its benefits are. Once we understand this, we can take the leap forward. To make taking initiative a priority, we must watch for opportunities. We must be aware of our surroundings, and what can potentially be a fantastic opportunity to do so. In your professional career, if you see that your boss needs help with something, offer it! Show that you are a go-getter. Take the extra step when you can! People will take notice of your initiative, and you will be rewarded positively.
For more our Taking the Initiative course, please visit: https://corporatetrainingmaterials.com/course/Taking_Initiative
Before developing and implementing security measures to prevent cyberattacks, you must understand basic concepts associated with cybersecurity and what cyberattacks are. The method(s) of cybersecurity that a company uses should be tailored to fit the needs of the organization.
Cyberspace is the environment where computer transactions take place. This specifically refers to computer-to-computer activity. Although there is no “physical” space that makes up cyberspace, with the stroke of a few keys on a keyboard, one can connect with others around the world.
Examples of items included in cyberspace are:
- Information storage
As previously mentioned, cybersecurity is the implementation of methods to prevent attacks on a company’s information systems. This is done to avoid disruption of the company’s productivity. Not only does cybersecurity include controlling physical access to the system’s hardware, it protects from danger that may come via network access or the injection of code.
Cybersecurity is crucial to a business for a myriad of reasons. The two this section will focus on are data security breaches and sabotage. Both can have dire effects on a company and/or its clients.
Data security breaches can compromise secure information such as:
- Names and social security numbers
- Credit card and bank details
- Trade secrets
- Intellectual property
Computer sabotage serves to disable a company’s computers or network to impede the company’s ability to conduct business.
In simple terms, a hacker is an individual or group of individuals who use their knowledge of technology to break into computer systems and networks, using a variety of tools to gain access to and utilize other people’s data for devious reasons.
There are 3 main types of hackers. They are:
Grey hats: These hackers do so “for the fun of it”.
Black hats: These hackers have malevolent reasons for doing so, such as stealing and/or selling data for monetary gain.
White hats: These hackers are employed by companies to hack into systems to find where the company is vulnerable, with the intention of ensuring the safety of the data from hackers with ill intentions.
For more on our Cyber Security course, please visit: https://corporatetrainingmaterials.com/course/Cyber_Security
Plan Ahead for Happiness
Most of us spend more time at work than we do engaged in any other activity other than sleeping. If we consider how much of our lives we spend in our workplace, it quickly becomes clear that spending this time unhappy, unfulfilled, and just counting the days until the weekend is a waste of time and energy. Finding ways to be happier at work can not only lead to better mental health, but can improve your productivity and overall work performance. One key way to cultivate more happiness at work is to plan for it! Develop habits that get your workday off to the right start, and you’ll see greater happiness throughout the day and week.
Have a Nightly Routine
Nothing gets your day off on the wrong foot like rushing around in the morning! Lost keys, skipping breakfast, discovering that the pants you wanted to wear are not back from the dry cleaner – all this can throw your morning into chaos. Taking time the night before to organize what you need for the next day can help avoid this morning rush and let you start your day centered, organized, and with everything you need. Create a nightly routine – and follow it! Choose your clothes for the next day, set up your coffee maker (especially if it has a timer and automatic brew!), pack your lunch. Take time to place the things you will need for work the next day in your briefcase or bag. You might even choose a space near the door to be your “launch pad,” a space where everything you need for the day is in one place and easy to pick up. Your routine will vary depending on what you need each day, what your workday looks like, and what the needs of your family are. It might even help to make yourself a checklist until the routine truly becomes a habit.
Get at Least 8 Hours of Sleep
Sleep deprivation is bad for your mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s hard to feel productive, happy, and positive when you’re exhausted! Making sure that you get at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night is one step you can take to help prepare yourself to be happier and healthier, both at work and in the rest of your life. Many of us are used to running on just a few hours of sleep, or to getting sleep that isn’t truly restful. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that you get the most restful sleep possible and wake up ready to face the day with a positive attitude.
Steps to Quality Sleep:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – including weekends.
- Have a nightly routine that prepares you for bed – shower, tooth brushing, prayer or meditation, etc.
- Put away the electronic devices!
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary.
Wake Up Early Enough for Some “Me” Time
Getting enough sleep is important, but waking up early enough so that you have time to transition into your day can also help foster happiness. If you usually hit the ground running and leave the house with just enough time to make it to the office on time, you are kicking your day off with anxiety. Waking up even 15 minutes earlier so that you can have some “me” time can help you ease into your day with a sense of centeredness instead of a sense of panic. Some people like to wake up very early and have an hour or more of “me” time, while others just need an extra 10 or 15 minutes to linger over a cup of coffee or tea. Figure out what works for you!
Ways to Use Your “Me” Time:
- Read the newspaper or a passage from a book you are enjoying.
- Pray or meditate.
- Do some light stretching or yoga.
- Linger over your coffee, tea, or breakfast.
- Spend time stroking your pet.
It’s important not to use your “me” time to get a head start on your work day by reading emails, working on projects, or checking voicemail!
Give Yourself Time to Arrive at Work Early
Commuting is often the most stressful part of the workday. Whether you drive, walk, bike, or take public transit to work, delays and traffic jams can get your day off to a stressful start. Too often we make this worse on ourselves by leaving for work at the last possible moment, meaning there’s no room for error, and that we arrive at work with only moments to spare before we have to jump into our first project or meeting. All this can leave us frazzled, anxious, and short-tempered. Altering your morning commute so that you can arrive 10 to 15 minutes early for work helps you ease into your workday instead of having to throw yourself right in. And giving yourself that cushion can also give you much-needed wiggle room in your commute to account for the unexpected. When you arrive early, you have time to transition gradually into your work — check email, get a cup of coffee, check your schedule and to do list, or simply say good morning to your coworkers. This helps you meet the day in a positive frame of mind.
For more information on our “Increasing Your Happiness” course: https://corporatetrainingmaterials.com/course/Increasing_Your_Happiness
Essential Skills for Successful Coaching
Life coaching is a profession that is designed to offer guidance and boost confidence in individuals to help them make empowered decisions and reach their goals. The life coach must possess a variety of skills in order to help their client, such as good listening and communication skills, organization skills and the ability to offer guidance and direction.
Listen with Curiosity
Great listening skills are important for life coaching skills, but listening with curiosity goes deeper and portrays an actual interest in what the client is saying. Listening with curiosity is considered a vital tool in any coaching dialogue or team (coach and client) discussion. When we listen to other normally, there is usually a sense of impatient and lack of attention while we try to determine what we want to say or input into the conversation once the other person has stopped speaking. Sometimes we focus so much on what our answer will be that we do not give our full attention to the question in the first place. This thought process can hinder the dialogue or conversation between people and can negatively affect communication skills. Instead, whether the coach or the client, take a valid interest in the other person and devote your attention to them while they speak. Life coaches shouldn’t do all of the talking, but be able to pace the conversation and keep the client focused on the topic if needed. They will be more willing to open up if they feel you are genuinely curious in what they have to say.
Take in What You Hear
Listening with curiosity may be the first step in being a great life coach, but it doesn’t end there. The life coach or the client may be genuinely curious as to what the other person has to say and may want to be involved, but the information means nothing if it is not taken in when it was heard. The information should not – as the old saying goes – “Go in one ear and out the other”. The listener should not only be listening to the other person, but they should be taking in and registering what the other person is saying – actually hearing the words, recognizing gestures and feeling emotions. For life coaches, this includes being able to listen to the client and not only listening to the words they say, but what they are trying to get across with their words. The client may sound happy when they talk about their job, but then they change their tone when discussing their job duties. The life coach may need to pace and steer the conversation so they client does not wander off topic when talking.
Reflect with Accuracy
Reflective listening is a common tool used when two people are having a conversation. Reflective listening involves actively listening to a person and then reflecting or ‘mirroring’ back what you heard. This not only helps with obtaining clarity, but also shows the other person that you were listening and are hearing what they are saying. It also allows the other person to hear what was said to them and can portray to them what they are putting out there – and if it was what they meant to say or not. In life coaching, it is always important to clarify and reflect what the other person is saying because it is not uncommon to mishear or misunderstand what a person is trying to get across and derail any target or goal plan.
Methods of reflecting:
- Repeating words or phrases
Questioning for Exploration
No matter how well we listen or how well we reflect and mirror information, there are chances that something will be missed or unclear. That is why it is important to utilize asking questions and use them to further explore the conversation. The use of active listening and using questions further creates a more productive dialogue between the life coach and the client. Life coaches should use open ended questions with their client in order to draw out more structured answers other than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. These types of questions allow the client to search within themselves and create a more thoughtful and personalized answers. Also, when the client is able to bring out these answers for themselves, they feel more empowered and confident about what they share and will be more willing to participate since they provided the answers themselves instead of blindly taking it from someone else. From these questions and answers, the life coach can better offer various forms of feedback as well as guidance and help with their development and growth.
For more information on our Life Coaching course, please visit: https://corporatetrainingmaterials.com/pages/training_library
Using Proper Phone Language
Every environment we enter requires a different form of ‘language’. For instance, we wouldn’t enter a team meeting with the same type of language we use in the break room. The same is true for the telephone. Telephone language is different than our everyday language and can take some time to get used to its flow. But with the right tools, it can be easy to adapt in no time.
Please and Thank You
Using good etiquette is a way to show respect and consideration to those we interact with. Some of the basic essentials of proper etiquette are phrases such as “Please” and “Thank you”. When asking the caller for something, such as their name or account number, always follow with “please”. After the customer has given something to you or says something polite, follow with “thank you” to show your appreciation for their help. Using “Please” and “Thank you” when speaking with a customer allows the operator to remain professional while still showing courtesy and respect.
- “May I have your name, please?”
- “Please hold for one moment, Mr. Smith.”
- “Thank you for your time today.”
Do Not Use Slang
Slang is typically defined as a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal and are used in everyday speech. Common examples include “Yeah”, “Y’all”, “I guess so”, and “ain’t”. Slang is not appropriate to use on the telephone and should not be used, even if we know the caller. Slang language implies inconsideration and disrespect to the caller and can make them feel as though you do not want take your time to help them. It is important to always use professional and courteous language in order to convey to the caller that you are there to help and can get the job done.
Avoid Using the Term “You”
When speaking with someone on the telephone, it can be easy to get lost in speaking with the caller and letting them know what they may need to do on their end. However, it is important for the operator to avoid using the term “you” excessively. When we continuously use the term ‘you’, in reference to the caller, it sends the message that everything is their responsibility and that the person on the other end of the line is not there to help them. If we continuously tell them they have to complete a task before we can help them, the company not only looks unprofessional, but unwilling to do business with them.
Avoid phrases such as:
- “You will need to call back tomorrow.”
- “You have to take your bill to the other office.”
- “I need you to come into the office for that.”
Emphasize What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t
When we are speaking with someone on the phone, for any reason, it can be hard to communicate what the caller wants or needs from the operator. Sometimes the operator is quick to tell the caller that they cannot complete a certain task or that they cannot help them at all – but this type of attitude does not build relationships. Flatly telling someone you cannot do anything for them shuts the door on negotiations and portrays a negative light on the company. Instead, emphasize what you can do for the caller. Offer ‘favors’ or alternate tasks you can do for them to help them get what they need. If you’re genuinely not able to answer their questions or do something for them, it’s alright to let them know that, but offer an alternative action for them, such as finding someone who can help.
- “I can help you with that.”
- “I’ll be happy to transfer you to the department.”
- “I can take a message if you’d like.”
- “I don’t know the answer, but let me find someone that does.”
For more on our Telephone Etiquette course, please visit: https://corporatetrainingmaterials.com/course/Telephone_Etiquette
Establishing Performance Goals
Performance goals require strategic action. To be effective, these goals should not be handed down to employees. It is important to include employees in the goal setting process and encourage them to meet their individual performance goals. This will improve individual and company performance.
A strategic plan determines where employees are, where they want to be, and how they will get there. It should embrace the values of the organization and align with the following company information. The organization must create a strategic plan before creating performance goals.
Company Strategic Plan:
Employee performance goals need to consider the company’s strategic plan. Individual performance goals must be SMART goals that include strategies and actions for employees to take.
Example Goal: Stay informed about innovations in the industry, it can help improve productivity by 10 percent this year.
Examples of Actions:
- Attend training classes
- Meet with a mentor
- Communicate consistently
A job analysis determines what is required to do a specific job. It will help determine which skills and attributes an employee needs to complete a job successfully. A job analysis will help determine who to hire, how to train, and what compensation a job should receive. Job analyses are instrumental in determining performance. Research a position to determine the following information:
- Tools or systems used
- Reporting requirements
- Necessary certification
Performance goals need to be SMART goals. They need to address behavior, competency, and results. Remember to involve employees in their performance goals.
Examples of Goals:
- Behavior: Employees have complained about distance. Communicate with employees in person every week, rather than just sending emails.
- Competency: New equipment is being installed. Perform all the training within three weeks.
- Results: Sales are down. Increase sales by 5 percent this quarter.
Performance is related to motivation. Motivation is the job of every leader. There is not a single method for motivating employees. People have different personal motives, and leaders must meet the needs of individuals.
- Lead by example: Motivate yourself before you can motivate others.
- Meet with individuals: Communicate with employees directly to find out what motivates them.
- Reward employees: Find motivating rewards for individuals.
- Delegate: Do not micromanage employees.
- Inform: Inform people about how they are making a difference in the organization.
- Celebrate: Pay attention to achievements and celebrate with employees.
For more on our Performance Management course, please visit:
Communicate to Motivate
Studies show that organizations with open, frequent communication between management and employees tend to foster motivation. Communicate with your sales team often to help keep the motivation flowing. Also encourage your team members to communicate with you. By keeping the lines of communication open, you are better able to head off problems, learn what the team needs, and understand what will motivate both the whole team and individual team members.
Regular Group Meetings
Along with frequent check-ins, regular group meetings are a key channel of communication. While email and phone calls are vital tools in today’s workplace, face-to-face meetings are invaluable for creating a sense of shared goals and connection. Schedule regular meetings with the entire sales team. These might be weekly, monthly, or quarterly depending on the set up of your organization. However often you decide to conduct them, keep to a regular schedule so that there is consistency. Use regular meetings to discuss successes and setbacks, challenges, and needs. Also use them as a time to simply check in with each other, build relationships, and otherwise establish or reinforce shared goals and values. Ensure that meetings are not just management giving orders, but are instead composed of two-way communication with team members.
Regular One on One Meetings
In addition to regular meetings with the entire team, it is key to take the time to meet one on one with individual team members as well. Individual meetings offer you a chance to get to know each team member and what motivates him or her. They are also a place to discuss issues or needs that individual team members might not feel comfortable bringing up in a group setting. Depending on the size of your team and the structure of your organization, the frequency of these meetings will vary. What is important is that they occur on a regular basis and that they serve as a setting for two-way communication between you and individual members of your sales team. Use this time to explore motivations, goals, needs, successes, and challenges with each team member in a setting where he or she has your undivided attention.
Focus on Strengths and Development Areas
A key to using meetings – team and one-on-one – to motivate is focusing on both strengths and development areas. These meetings should neither be wholly about what is going “wrong” nor entirely about praising success. Take the time to recognize the team or individual’s strengths first, reinforcing how valuable they are. Also take time to point out areas where the team or individual can grow and improve, and use part of the meeting time for creating next steps or a development plan. Never call out an individual team member’s development needs in front of the whole team – save that feedback for your individual meeting. Use team meetings to focus on strengths and development needs for the team as a whole, and focus on individual strengths and development needs in the one on one meetings. Also use the team meetings to reinforce shared goals and the mutually interdependent nature of the team.
Ask for Feedback
A major feature of motivational environments is that the communication is two-way. You will provide a great deal of feedback in the regular meetings with your sales team. Be sure to ask them for feedback as well, in both the team meetings and individual meetings. It may be necessary to offer training in how to give useful feedback, if your sales team is not used to be asked to provide feedback to management. Model good feedback behaviors as well, by not personalizing feedback and by focusing on shared values and goals. Encourage your team members to give you regular feedback in between meetings as well. Reinforce that their feedback is how you will know what they need, how they are doing, and how you can support them. Asking for feedback shows team members that you and the organization value them, which can motivate them and lead to increased investment in the work.
For more on this course, please visit:
What Is Self?
What is the self? To many, the answer might be so obvious that they haven’t given it much thought. Others might proffer up one idea after another and finding each imperfect to an extent that they wonder if the self even exists, and if it does can it be defined. They may or may not realize that this is a question humanity has been asking for millenia, with answers from different eras often addressing not just what we are but who we are at that particular place in time. Nor is the answer a trivial one. Too often we stumble through life and take a shallow view of ourselves, our environment, and prevailing forces. And yet, we can do better. We can be better. Our first step is to become aware of who and what we are.
Which still fails to answer the original question, what is the self? No answer will be completely accurate or at all times precise. Instead , here is a temporary answer, good for the purposes of this book: the self is the aspect of an individual organsim that is aware of its existence as an individual organism. It’s the part of ourselves that we are referring to when we each say “I,” as in “I am thinking” or “I am feeling”, etc. One helpful way to think about the self and become more aware of our complete and total self is to divide it into four aspects: the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
The Physical Self
This is probably the most obvious aspect of one’s self, our physical bodies. Awareness of our bodies when that body is in great pain or distress is usually strong. But when we feel physically neutral or slightly good or bad, we can block our awareness of the physical body and replace it with other levels of awareness, awareness of our thoughts or our emotions, for instance. It is important to remember that each level of self affects the other levels of self. Feeling physically uncomfortable can lead to feeling emotionally uncomfortable, as well as feeling emotionally uncomfortable can lead to changes in our physical feelings.
At a certain point, examining one’s physical self requires an examination of one’s physical environment, such that what emerges is the recognition that the two mutually interact, change, and reinforce each other. This aspect of one’s environment and one’s self interacting with and changing each other is important to remember not only in examining the physical self and the physical environment, but at all levels of self-examination. Just as there is a physical environment that interacts with a physical self, there is a mental environment, emotional environment, and spiritual environment that interacts with each corresponding level of self. This will become vital to our understanding the concept of interdependency that comes up in a later chapter.
The Emotional Self
Being aware of oneself on an emotional level means being aware of one’s emotions. In a culture that values concepts such as logic and reason, emotion often gets undervalued. When people become emotionally expressive others will tell them to calm down or to act rationally. Being emotional is thought of as being out of control. This might give you the idea that emotions are things to be avoided, but such a position would be harmful. Emotions serve an important purpose in providing the self with information about its environment as well as motivation for what to avoid or embrace in that environment.
Typically, when we speak of our bodies or of our emotions, we speak in terms of feeling or sensations, things that come upon us rather than things we create. This gives the impression of passivity. We are slaves to our physical and emotional needs. Rather than choosing how we feel, feelings hit us, and then, we react. The most important thing to remember is that we cannot avoid feeling emotions, but we can intervene and through our actions change how we react to our emotions and this can transform our future emotions in turn. Being able to identify how you feel in any given moment is an important goal of becoming more self-aware.
The Mental Self
The mental aspect of your self concerns your thoughts and your imagination. Like the physical and emotional feelings, thoughts also have to capacity to come upon you without your control, but it is far easier to consciously change your thoughts, especially when you practice being more aware of them in the first place. When people think, they often think in sentences or words, but just as often, they can think in images or words and phrases that act as a kind of shorthand. In these moments, it is quite easy for thoughts to get distorted and not accurately reflect a true situation.
The Spiritual Self
This is not about any one religious belief, nor does it reject religious belief, either. The use of the term spirit here is not meant in a religious sense. Instead, the spiritual self is about your continuing sense of identity. The spiritual self is the realm of what a person values. It’s the world view and the source of motivation. If the emotional self and mental self are about the feelings and thoughts of a person in a given moment, the spiritual self is about the interconnectedness of thoughts and feelings over time that forms into a sense of personal identity.
For more on our Self Awareness course, please visit:
Formatting a Team Building Plan
Like any other key initiative, team building needs a plan. Take the time to format a solid team building plan so that you know where you’re going. This helps you keep your team abreast of what’s happening, what they can expect, and what they need to do. Create your team building plan with input from your team, as well as your own research. Create a plan that is manageable and realistic, yet diverse and fun.
Define the Goal
The most important step is to define the goal of your team building plan. Just saying you want to “build a team” isn’t enough. What needs to change or improve on your team? This will help you focus your team building efforts. Also take into account the circumstances of your team. Are you spread out over many office locations? How large is your team? What special considerations are there, such as remote employees or heavy travel schedules?
Some common goals for team building include:
- Improved interpersonal communication
- Improved collaboration
- Higher morale
- Greater camaraderie
- Integration of new team members into an existing team
- Motivating the team
Based on your goal or goals, choose activities that best support what you are trying to achieve. Be sure to evaluate your plan regularly in case your goals change.
In addition to an overall goal for your team building plan, it is key to define a goal for each team building activity and clearly articulate it.
Consult Team Members
Your team members are your best source of information when you plan team building activities. There is no sense in scheduling social gatherings, for example, that no one comes to! Take the time to ask your team what kind of activities they’d like to engage in and what they would like to do. Also ask them what they think could be improved about your team and how you might go about making those improvements occur. Taking time to consult your team shows that you want to create a team building plan that works for them, and that you are invested in what they care about and have to say. Check in with your team often about different activities. Also encourage your team to come to you when they have new ideas for team building activities.
Research and Create Structure
After you’ve consulted your team, research their suggestions. Look at what industry leaders and your colleagues are doing in terms of team building. Spend some time surfing the Internet, which is a wealth of team building ideas, as well as looking at books of team building activities and games. Figure out what types of activities are possible and practical for you to do. This may include creating a budget, contacting outside vendors and consultants, and otherwise examining the logistics of various activities. Then create a structure. Decide in what order you will do activities or what goals you will address first. Determine whether you’ll have monthly, bimonthly, or more/less frequent team building activities. If possible, start putting these on a calendar. Then communicate with your team what this schedule will be like. Let them know what to expect. Having a structure in place helps make it easier to consistently implement your team building activities and plans.
Keep It Fun
Perhaps the most important thing when creating a team building plan is to keep it fun! If team building is a drudgery, your team is not likely to benefit from it. Find ways to keep even meetings and trainings infused with a sense of fun. Balance more task-oriented sessions with fun activities. Have a sense of play. Make note as you research of ideas for infusing team building with levity and fun. This will help ensure that your team gets the greatest benefit from your plan. And don’t be afraid to revise your plan if you start to implement is and realize that no one’s having any fun!
For more on the Team Building For Managers course from Corporate Training Materials, please visit: