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I received an interesting call the other day from a lady claiming to be a 'Windows Certified Professional', and telling me that I was downloading malicious software, spyware and viruses onto my computer.

She proceeded to tell me to turn on my computer so that she could show me the problem.  I am not a nasty person on the phone, but I am told regularly that I need to be more assertive, so I asked what company she was from and what she wanted to sell me.  

Really I should have said 'no thank you', but I didn't and she continued repeating the script she had in front of her.

Equally, I continued on, asking her, “why?”with no decent reply.  So finally I told her that I didn't use Windows, to which she replied: "So what do you use, XP, Vista, Windows 7?" (more…)

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Effective business planning will determine what business success looks like and what needs to be done to achieve it.

Once you have a clear plan for your business, you need to look at the numbers to see if your plan will provide the financial results that you want.

This is done by preparing a budget based on your business plan objectives. For example, if you have decided to increase your sales, then this may mean extra staff, stock and/or increased marketing.

You will need to prepare a budget that shows not only increased sales but increased expenses that will be required to achieve the increase in sales.

A budget can form the basis of the financial strategy for your business and help you review and refine your plan of how our goals and objectives will be achieved. A plan of action will guide you and your business activities towards improved business performance.

The benefits of having a financial strategy include:

Clarity on the key drivers of your business – what are the key aspects of your plan that need to be achieved in order for you to reach your expected budget results?

Tools to measure and monitor performance– your budget can include key performance indicators such as minimum monthly sales, maximum level of expenses etc. and you can then measure these against actual results (more…)

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Research shows that only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information.

In this article, Stephen Covey  explores the concept of trust within leadership and in our society at large.

Consider the loss of trust and confidence in the financial markets today. Indeed, "trust makes the world go 'round," and right now we're experiencing a crisis of trust. This crisis compels us to ask three questions. First, is there a measurable cost to low trust? Second, is there a tangible benefit to high trust? Third, how can the best leaders build trust in and within their organizations to reap the benefits of high trust?

Most people don't know how to think about the organizational and societal consequences of low trust because they don't know how to quantify or measure the costs of such a so-called "soft" factor as trust. For many, trust is intangible, ethereal, unquantifiable. If it remains that way, then people don't know how to get their arms around it or how to improve it. But the fact is, the costs of low trust are very real, they are quantifiable, and they are staggering.

In 2004, one estimate put the cost of complying with federal rules and regulations alone in the United States -- put in place essentially due to lack of trust -- at $1.1 trillion, which is more than 10% of the gross domestic product. A recent study conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners estimated that the average American company lost 6% of its annual revenue to some sort of fraudulent activity. (more…)

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High levels of stress at work could be having a negative impact on engagement, according to research from Robert Half UK

The  "It’s time we all work happy" report found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK employees surveyed said they experience stress in their jobs. The report cites data from Towers Watson’s Global Benefits Attitudes survey, which found that of the employees who claimed to be experiencing high-stress levels more than half (57%) reported being disengaged.

Phil Sheridan, senior managing director of Robert Half UK, explained that happiness at work and health, including mental health, are closely linked. “Starting a wellbeing programme may come at a cost but health and happiness go hand-in-hand,” he said.

“Creating a working environment that encourages good health fosters a more stable workforce. It also helps facilitate better team relationships, which in turn drives employee satisfaction, performance and morale.

“It’s important to remember that employees are an organisation’s most important asset. Companies that promote and protect workers’ health are building a culture dedicated to the overall well-being and happiness of employees. These businesses are likely to see higher levels of staff engagement and productivity, helping them become more successful and competitive in the long term.” (more…)

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Good communication is one of the best ways to have a positive impact. It is not just about what you say and write, but also about how you say and write it.

Here are some tips on how you can use your verbal and non-verbal communication skills to ensure you make a positive impact.

What You Say

Be Direct: If you are to get a message across effectively, you must be direct and accurate. Use short, punchy sentences and try to summarise whenever possible. If people have to identify the important information from a long dialogue, they will eventually give up and your message will be lost.

Be Appropriate: Consider the person you are addressing and the time and place. For example, you wouldn’t use a team meeting to speak to an individual about their poor performance.

Take Responsibility: Taking ownership of your message shows assertiveness, e.g. stating: “in my opinion …”. This is not confrontational, as you are offering an opinion rather than stating fact. People are less likely to respond defensively or aggressively to your opinion and are more likely to take your view into consideration.

Tackle The Problem: Avoid confrontation by tackling the problem and not the person. For example, “Why can you never get anywhere on time?” is a personal attack; while “Please make sure you are here on time” is a solution to a problem. (more…)

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"In the fast-paced 21st century a mentor can be anyone with subject matter expertise, regardless of their age."

In the following article,  Ken Blanchard shares his experiences of mentoring

One of the most invigorating experiences I’ve had in the past couple of years has been my partnership with Claire Diaz-Ortiz.

A former Twitter vice president in her early thirties, Claire has taught me a great deal about the business of social networking — and I’ve helped her learn a few things about the business of publishing. Ours is truly a cross-generational mentoring relationship.  Mentoring has become a hot topic in recent years, and it’s one that’s always been close to my heart. Yet despite growing interest, mentoring is still not a common practice. We’d like to change that.

Mentoring has become a hot topic in recent years, and it’s one that’s always been close to my heart. Yet despite growing interest, mentoring is still not a common practice. We’d like to change that.

Our research has found that while people like the idea of mentoring, they encounter predictable obstacles when taking that first step. Many don’t know how to find a mentor. Then, many people aren’t sure how to work with a mentor.


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Many of the defining characteristics needed for effective leadership -- like having a vision, integrity, commitment and resilience – are innate.

Happily, another quality, as essential for success as the others, can be learned. It is the ability to mobilise a fire-in-the-belly effort among employees to help the leader realise ambitious goals. This quality can be acquired by observing the behaviours of leaders who deploy these skills, by being coached or incrementally with "stretch” efforts by the leader to generate the needed employee commitment.

The power of the leader’s position alone cannot command enthusiasm and dedication from today's workforce. Instead, employees must be convinced that the leader’s objectives are achievable, understand that meeting the goals will provide a personal payoff and be inspired to make their own full force contribution. To generate the needed support from everyone in the organisation, the leader has to put their leadership on parade:

He must be visible, crystal clear about his message and take every opportunity to demonstrate, live and in person, his passion for his goals. Unless he shows how deeply he cares, few others will care and his plan may be seen as another flavour of the month.

Some leaders believe it is sufficient to communicate their goals to the workforce through the organisation's internal media: employee publications, intranet, video conferencing, etc. -- the more sophisticated the technology the better. Many have become enamoured with blogging because it makes possible instant communications with large numbers of employees, assuming they make the effort to log on.

All this is useful because it allows for repetition of the leader's message, which is essential for making an impact. But using media is not a substitute for interacting with employees face to face. Media cannot convey the intensity of feeling the leader has for his plan nearly as well as human contact does. The very fact that the leader is there, that he has left the comfort of the office to communicate with employees, gives the message importance. (more…)

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