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Project Management: Giving Everyone a Seat at the Table

To create a new service, product or result, your team must meet specific goals and success criteria at a specified time. This will include the basics of project management: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team.

Although there is the thought process that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, this isn’t always the case when you are taking on a new project. Getting help from employees of all levels can bring a fresh perspective to the task at hand, breathing new life into processes and how to implement them.

Avoid Micromanaging

Giving up control over aspects of the work your company produces is one of the most healthy things you can do as a manager. Through fear that certain tasks will not be done to your standard or a lack of trust in the ability of your employees, this style of project management can really stifle your team and the potential success of each project.

To relinquish control or simply take a step back can be difficult if you are used to having your eye on every aspect of your business. However, by divvying out responsibility – maybe just part of it or a possibly all of it – you can focus your attention on the bigger picture or other matters that need your attention.

One of the key perks of project management is the ability to move from one project to another, keeping things fresh and exciting in the workplace. Creative people can flourish in this environment if given free reign to flex those creative muscles. By overseeing even the most simple of tasks, this enjoyment will eventually wane and die. New research by YouGov says that 80 percent of employees have experienced what they consider poor management, or a poor manager, at least once during their career, with 55 per cent actually quitting their job because of bad management.

The downsides of micromanagement include:-

  • Time Costs of Micromanagement – It can often take a manager less time to perform a task themselves than to hover over an employee to micromanage them completing the same task. This is an ineffective use of time for someone in a senior role, which could be better used developing systems and facilitating processes.
  • Stifling Creativity and Efficiency – A good thing to keep in mind is the reason you hired this person. They seemed capable, enthusiastic and you could see them improving your business in some way. Micromanagement essentially creates employees who all perform in exactly the same way – your way – so that nothing new and improved can reach the projects you manage. Given the breathing room to do so, employees can develop ways of working more efficiently on tasks they perform every day, potentially creating superior outcomes.
  • Reduced Job Satisfaction – This sort of atmosphere in a workplace creates unnecessary stress on the employer and the employee. Under this management style, employees become dissatisfied and less enthusiastic about the task at hand. They don’t feel empowered or trusted, so why would they stick around? Staff turnover is sure to be higher, causing you more hassle and eating in to valuable time.

Lean Management

A great project management style to adopt is lean management. One of the key takeaways from this method is to encourage shared responsibility and share leadership. As explained by Kanban software, lean management is about continuously improving work processes, purposes and people – discouraging the mentality of trying to hold control of work processes and ‘keeping the spotlight’.

A great idea can be born at any level within the company so giving everyone a ‘seat at the table’ is a positive step forward. After all, who would know the best way a job should be done other than the people who are actually doing the job every day?

The three basic ideas of lean management are:

1.    Delivering value from your customer’s perspective

2.    Eliminating waste (things that don’t bring value to the end product)

3.    Continuous improvement.

To succeed in creating value to the customer, lean management helps as a guide for building a stable organisation that evolves constantly and helps to identify actual problems, so you can remove them. Through lean you should be able to create a stable workflow based on customer demand, while also ensuring that every employee is involved in the process of improving.

The removal of micromanagement and the introduction of a tried and trusted workflow can turn your business around. With improved processes and happier, more fulfilled employees, you can bet on happier customers and increased business.

Finding the Right Business Training

If you are currently struggling in your small business I’m going to guess it’s because you have yet to find the right training.  Have you listened to every CD and read every training manual that you can get your hands on?  While training methods can be useful in regards to professional development they are not going to magically grow your business for you. It is by applying what you have learnt in the training in the workplace.

Take project management for instance, many organisations large and small struggle to consistently achieve project success yet the right project management training, when put into practise, has been proven to increase the proportion of successful projects. So little wonder that businesses are investing in professional project management courses for their employees, such as the APM Project Fundamentals course. And the same is true of finding the right training in other fields.

Why “On-The-Job” Training Doesn’t Work

I have been in this industry since 2001 and when I first started out my project manager told me everything he knew – that was my “on-the-job” training.

After 16 months and hundreds of working hours as a project manager I had achieved a total of ZERO successful projects. Senior execs in my organisation at the time thought that professional project training for their employees was just a waste of thousands of dollars.  Why did I fail in those early months?  Simply put, the so-called “on-the-job” training that I received does not work!  Here’s why:

Good Managers are not Good Trainers

You can be very good at your job but that doesn’t mean you know how to properly train other employees. Training is a skill, even more so in a profession such as project management.

Our society has learned to shut down when anyone asks them to explain how they do their job. People are not comfortable talking about what they do either because they are worried it will show up gaps in their own knowledge or because they want to keep all their tricks-of-the-trade to themselves to protect their own job.

Why should a PM tell everything they know about APMP, PMP, PRINCE2 or Agile project management to you?  They probably don’t trust you.

Why Professional Training Does Work

I like to refer to the above mentioned “on-the-job” training as the “old school” way to develop employees.  Yes, these techniques might have worked in the past but that was before the Internet and social media exploded.  As a society, we are becoming more and more social but it’s all online

If you want to build a thriving business you need to tap into the power of the internet.  Online training courses are a great way to learn how to properly grow a business.

It is critical to understand that professional training in project management, or indeed any other business field, is an investment in the future of your company.  You want to use the recognised methodologies (such as AMP, PMP, PRINCE2) to position yourself as a leader.  By doing this, you are going to begin to achieve greater project success for your business!

My advice to you is to ditch the old school ways and embrace the modern training techniques such as podcasts, training videos, online learning even if senior executives don’t have a clue about these methods.

So You Want To Start Your Own Business?

According to the digital marketing experts at Ditto Digital SEO service, starting your own business is exciting but involves hard work and determination. You will have to do, or be aware of, every aspect of running a business to comply with regulations, handle finances and deal with staff.

Running your own business gives you the freedom to work in a way that suits you best but it is also a challenge. If you have been employed for any length of time you will have become accustomed to certain aspects of the business being dealt with by someone else behind the scenes. But in your own business you will have to do everything and make all the decisions. 

We all know that many small businesses fail in the early stages and this is often down to a lack of planning. It is easy to get carried away with the excitement of owning your own business and not plan the essentials properly. But good planning is far more likely to result in a successful business so try and curb your enthusiasm to do all the things that interest you and make sure you have the business basics covered. You may decide to start small and initially run the business from your home; this can work well if you have the space and good access to facilities and broadband. However, if it encroaches on your family life and you find yourself looking for a new home just to accommodate a small business then, clearly, there could be better options.

Remember that being a business owner may offer rfeedom in some areas but brings with it additional responsibility in the form of legal requirements, training staff (e.g. change management courses), health & safety and financial obligations. Expect to work hard in the early years – maybe harder than you ever have before.

Think about what you personally hope to achieve from the business; of course, financial reward will be up there at the top of the list but what about the other perks of being your own boss such as deciding where to work and what hours you will work; and choosing who to work with. All of your objectives should be written down so that you don’t lose sight of your original aims. Of course, you may not achieve these aims immediately but, at least, they will be a stated goal for a year, 5 years or 10 years down the line.

A new business does not have to be based on a new idea but it does have to have something that differentiates you from the competition. Are your prices cheaper or do you offer a bespoke or personalised service; whatever that difference is make sure you understand the competition and their capacity to change the way they work so that you are no longer different from them especially if they have a well-recognised brand and already have a foothold in the market

And of course don’t forget about the financing – even in today’s world of “on demand” services and for many businesses no need to hold large amounts of stock, you will still need a certain amount of money to get started. A website, advertising costs, staff costs all have to be covered somehow.

A good accountant will help with the financial planning side of a new venture and can advise on sources of finance such as a loan, overdraft, government grants and venture capital. Accountants can also help you determine which route is most appropriate for your business and the costs involved in the various different approaches. Remember that loans will usually require some security but avoid using personal assets for this. Again take the advice of a chartered accountant who can advise on the best route as well as ensuring you are not paying too much tax, helping prepare a business plan that will secure you a good finance deal as well as various other accounting services.

The Reason Leadership Is So Essential To Success

In our competitive world today, management skills are crucial to any profitable business. What is management? Management is commonly used to discuss with activities reminiscent of conducting, guiding, or directing people; initiating activity. Nonetheless, leadership can also be used to check with someone who’s a leader. How can management be utilized in so many ways and what constitutes a leader in all of these situations? The answer is contained within the realization that maybe essentially the most elementary characteristic of management, and therefore of leaders, is personal leadership.

Some individuals are born leaders while others have to acquire the skill and expertise to successfully make their mark as a leader. It is obvious that some individuals have the confidence and the charisma to make themselves role models for others to follow. These people do not require much steering in nurturing their inherent talent.

However there are scores of others for whom developing management qualities is essential to their success. Management skill coaching is of immense significance within the present day corporate world. Leadership skill training is imparted to concerned people to help them derive the utmost profit so far as buying leadership skill is concerned.

At instances it’s not very simple for new leaders to change their position from a contributor to a leader. Management skill coaching empowers an individual to place confidence in others and likewise assists him in utilizing his time fruitfully with others by grooming individuals with assistance from steerage, assist, and training.

These skills, much like keyword research, may be tough to amass, so the switchover to the status of leadership may be very demanding and at occasions unthinkable within the absence of effective steering and help.

What is personal management? It is the capacity to guide others and yourself in the path you need your life to take. The ability to outline what you want out of life and how you’ll get there is the first step in growing leadership. It is just the beginning as a result of personal leadership means “main”, “directing”, and “taking action”. It means dwelling each day to the fullest. It means growing targets that you want so badly that you simply live every day with enthusiastic ardor to your goals, yourself, and all who’re close to you. Realizing what you want out of life; understanding what success is to you; realizing what your targets are; figuring out that you will achieve those goals no matter what different folks suppose, say, or do, is the essence of non-public leadership.

Personal leadership additionally means “accountability”. It means that you have decided to use the abilities which can be distinctive to you and can develop them further to succeed in your goals. It means that you realize that you’ve got the potential to develop further. It means that you’ve got determined the course of your future-you’re the master of your life.

Management coaching additionally helps leaders who have the inherent talent in them to advance their skill and sense of judgment to transform themselves into leaders of great repute.

If you want added information with reference to leadership development programs visit Mindi B Menxter’s website.

How To Lead Well When Things Go Wrong

How do you react when things go wrong? Does it make you a bad leader if you have that awful feeling of dread and freeze just for a brief moment?

The truth is that something is going to go wrong eventually, no matter how good your leadership skills are, so what can you do to prepare yourself and make that inevitable occasion a minor blip that you handle like a pro.

No matter the cause of things going wrong, having a trusting team by your side will help. They need to see you are equally up to the job in good times as bad if you are to succeed.

Even if things go wrong due to your bad decisions, a hiccup in plans or someone else’s failure, your leadership skills and how you act to get yourself and your team out of it will be what you are ultimately judged on.

Stay calm and positive

While it is easy to be flustered and negative, attempting to isolate who is to blame for what went wrong will not help in any way to put it right. There’s time for investigations after you are back on track. If you stay calm and positive, those around you are likely to follow and find it easier to think and focus on solutions and fixing things. A great leader will bring out self-confidence in others, only if they handle problems well.

Try –  you have to do something

You must do something. Inaction will only make things worse. You may even find that things you have tried before may work this time if you really are out of any other option. It is not bad leadership to enlist the help of others. They may see things differently and harbour the solution, a good leader will listen and not be afraid to ask. As they say, ‘the only stupid question is the one never asked’.

Be prepared to try and keep looking forward

Focus on your required outcomes and see the obstacles you face as opportunities to learn. This involve taking risks you otherwise wouldn’t or a leap into the unknown. Think outside the box and get help before it’s too late.

Be honest

You will only gain respect if you are honest. If you have made a mistake, it is better to admit it than to hide behind a story that generally is either found out or never believed in the first place. Admit to yourself, accept and move on, then be honest with those affected or whose help you require to put things right. Now is the time for you to shine in fixing it. Getting hung up on failure will harm both thinking and progress. You miss learning opportunities that could help you succeed if you never fail, as often we learn the most by fixing things that went wrong.

Believe in yourself

For others to believe in you as a leader, you must believe in yourself and be prepared when challenged to stand up for your choices. Persistence always wins, always keep heading towards your end goal. 

If you still struggle when things go wrong or would benefit from honing your leadership skills in general, it is always a good idea to consider professional business training.

Leadership Communication Strategies For Business Success

A great leader understands the importance of communication. Communication skills can undoubtedly be learned to make success easier. No matter how big or small your business or organisation, you need to excel at communication for the sake of your business.

Does It Matter As Long As The Job Gets Done?

In short, the answer is yes. Poor communication leads to low morale, lost sales and missed goals and that hits your bottom line. On the other hand, get communication right and you will rally teams, empower employees and build trust amongst colleagues. 

What Are Essential Skills?

  • Active Listening– hearing and understanding what is being said to you. Knowing when to speak and when to listen, ask questions and listen to what is said. Employees who feel heard, have a chance to express ideas and give feedback feel more valued, are more actively engaged, leading to higher morale and productivity. Keep your focus on the employee and eliminate any distractions. If you want to win them over, they need to know they are an essential part of the company structure.
  • Identifying your leadership style and adapting your communication style–you need to understand how employees perceive you and tailor your interactions to influence them to respond. Whilst you may feel you are an authoritative leader, this may not be the best approach to win over a strong employee seeking autonomy. The ability to adapt your communication style will make a difference.
  • Transparency – Leaders build trust through an environment where employees understand the company goals and challenges. Every individual understands the importance of their role within the company and transparent leaders helps make this connection. 5 Powerful things happen when a leader is transparent; this Forbes article shows changes a leader can make to get results.
  • Empathy– this quite possibly should have been listed first, as it is a leadership skill must for success. Acknowledging employees feelings and experiences will help them feel valued. Showing you may not be able to change things, but you hear them will build a more robust, more productive culture that every leader needs for success.
  • Body Language– How you carry yourself can undo thousands of words. Make eye contact and take control of your mouth. Know when to give a smile or grimace and convey warmth with your movements. 
  • Questioning style– Practice asking open-ended questions and how to elicit thoughtful and thorough responses. Clarify and probe when you need to. In doing so, you will get more considered answers and clarity on what is required for all to succeed. Closed questions will shut down opinions and employees feeling that they have no right t be heard.
  • Feedback– Ask for it and be prepared to act on it. If you never implement changes from feedback or are not transparent about why changes cant be made, you will lose employee faith. Let employees know you hear them and inform them of any progress you can or have made if you want them to take you seriously.

Alongside the tips above, we recommend you check out these top 5 leadership books of all time to give you even more strategies for communicating well within your business.

Proper Training For Your Team

Without the Right Training You Will Fail!

It’s the sad truth but the majority of individuals that start a business will fail.  The failure rates of small businesses are astronomical.  As someone that has been involved with running their own business for over 10 years I can assure you that it’s not the economy’s fault.  There are some fantastic opportunities out there for anyone to start a business and grow it to be a successful company. 

So why is there such a high failure rate amongst small businesses?  I blame some of it on the people with expectations that they are going to be rich overnight.  For some reason they expect to start a home based business and then a week later their checking account will be exploding.

Early Training is Critical

I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make in any industry is not learning as much as they possibly can right at the outset for both themslevs and their employees.  They don’t offer any support or training to their new employs, who can  feel completely lost.  As a business owner, it is your responsibility to properly train your staff.  First and foremost, you need to teach them about the business, leadership, products and services.  As a leader, you should not expect them to figure everything out on their own.

After they have a good understanding on how the business operates, you should begin to share with them the methods that you have used to build your business.  Why?  Do you want your business to grow?  Share everything you know with your new “business partners” and help them to get out of the gate as fast as possible.  I believe that another reason why people fail in business is because they don’t see results quickly enough and they don’t think that they can build a truly successful business.

Rinse & Repeat

As you take on new employees and help them to build on earlier successes you shouldn’t stop there!  Set goals for each of your team members.  Have them right down their goals and follow up with them on a weekly basis to see where they are at.  Provide training and mentoring where needed and help them grow their carfeers with you and hence your business.  This type of training should go all the way through your organization.  Don’t just train your first employees and stop.  You should talk to every single new employee in your business.

I would also recommend that you try and automate your training process.  If you can set up a webpage that has training “how-to” videos you will save yourself a lot of time and headaches.  It will take some time to get it set up but once you have it running it will be completely automated.

If you want to build a big business with enough income to change your lifestyle you need to focus a lot of time and energy on proper training for your team.  You will be amazed at how successful you can become if you just learn to spend some time properly mentoring your team.

future proof your career leadership training

Leadership Tips for Introverts

Are you looking for your next promotion, the next step in your career or a leadership role? Are you concerned that as an introvert you are not a natural leader? Well, fear not, as introverts have personality traits that can lead to great leadership skills. 

Here are some leadership tips that will help you secure your next big role and be successful in it. They are simple and easy to implement. 

1. Listen skills

The ability to listen to others is a powerful skill that introverts have and comes naturally to them. This will allow you to listen fully to your team then acting instinctively. You will be able to listen to all viewpoints when making various decisions. This will enable you to lead your team in a positive way.

2.Thinking skills

As an introvert, you are more likely to enjoy spending time on your own than with others. This can allow you time to think and contemplate. This could aid you in making better decisions and could lead you to consider ideas more, instead of jumping in with little thought!

3. Writing it down

It is probably easier as an introvert to write things down then speaking about them. This can be used to your advantage. We don’t always remember what we would like to say but writing them down on paper allows as to come back to the ideas and not forget them.

4. Meetings

It is key that you prepare for meetings so you don’t feel overwhelmed or nervous talking in front of a large audience as this is something which you are not used to. It may also be productive to practice beforehand the agenda that is to be discussed. This will give you more confidence in the delivery.

5. Get to know your team

You may find it difficult to socialise, as this does not come naturally to introverts. However, if you plan for this through after-work events or even allow times during the working day this will help you build positive relationships within your team.

6. Recognise different personalities

It is probably likely that there are many other introvert personalities within your team. Recognising this will allow you to hon in on each individuals strengths, regardless of their personality. This will give them the best possible chance of success.

7. Professional Development

Always remember that professional development will allow you to further develop your skills in leadership and get better at the things you are not particularly good at. Look at the skills you want to develop and take action. This can be through taking on a public speaking course, taking the lead on the next big project and more. 

So, as an introvert, you have an abundant set of skills to take on your next leadership role. Some of these skills come naturally and others can be developed and refined. Remember, through time there have been plenty of famous introverts such as Albert Einstein and Bill Gates, who have revolutionised the world in their field, and you could be up there with them!  

Training for Small Businesses

The Importance of Training

The majority of small businesses (95%) fail because the owners do not have the proper Training.  After they start their company the first thing they try to do is sell their product or service to friends and family.

But this is basing success on a limited supply of referrals – setting yourself up for failure from the get-go. Yet the step beyond that into the world of networking is far from guaranteed to succes either. After all everyone at networking events has something to sell. What you really want to attract are targetted buyers who will approach you. That’s where online marketing comes in to play – a technique that has seen training providers such as Parallel Project Training achieve such great success.

Unfortunately, this type of “marketing” will only work for so long.  The referral list will soon dry up and then the person is left with a crushed dream and mis-understanding of how marketing works.  One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is not learning how to properly market themselves and not their opportunity.

If you are planning on building a successful business you need to study and learn about building relationships.  After you have a clear understanding of how this philosophy works you need to train your employees.

Training and The Relationship Funnel Outlined

Instead of harassing your friends and family members wouldn’t it be nice if you actually had targeted qualified leads contacting you?  Wouldn’t it be nice to receive 50-100 leads in your email inbox every single week?

Would your business change if you had this amount of leads coming in each and every week?  I bet you didn’t expect that leads could be contacting you.

The entire relationship funnel can be defined as such:  a philosophy and methodology that is used to drive targeted traffic to a capture page on your website where you gather leads.  You then build a relationship with these leads with follow up emails and phone calls.

You provide these leads with a lot of value on your blog, Youtube, Facebook, twitter etc.  You DO NOT discuss your opportunity with these leads until they ask you about your business.

Step 1 in the relationship funnel is to target the market that you are going after.  You do not want people that are interested in “cake decorating” coming to your blog about network marketing.  You can use a variety of methods to drive targeted traffic towards your blog including paid advertising, content marketing, social media and SEO.  The goal is to send this traffic to a lead capture page where you gather their name, email address and phone number.

Step 2 involves capturing their information.  You want to offer something of value in return for their information (name and email).  The offer could include free training, ebook etc.

Step 3 involves setting up an email autoresponder.  There are plenty of great email autoresponders that you can use.  Once you capture a lead, send an automated response with a welcome message that you have created.

Step 4 is probably the most critical step in the relationship funnel and should be a large part of your focus.  You now need to focus on building a relationship.  People trust those that they know and those that are leaders

Step 5 – You need to provide a tremendous amount of value to your list of individuals that you build and you will begin to see a paradigm shift.  They will start to ask YOU about your opportunity.  You can provide value through platforms such as your blog, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

Conclusion

If you want to grow your business in the 21st Century you definitely need to be using the relationship funnel to build and grow your business.  Use the steps outlined above and implement them into your business today.

So, remember start finding targeted leads and leave your friends and family members alone!

Strategies to improve sales productivity

Looks pretty busy in the sales department right? Lots of phone calls going on, plenty of email traffic and face-to-face meetings being set up? Sounds great? So why do you need to worry about how productive they’re being if they’re clearly working hard?

The problem lies in whether your sales department is working productively or just working! Productivity is measured as the ratio of output effectiveness (value of sales made) to input effort (the sales budget).  Maximising productivity means the least you can per pound earned and clearly, that will have a knock-on effect on the success of your sales process as well as your balance sheet at the end of the year.

Invest in training

You can’t sell a product you don’t know. Even your best sales rep needs to keep up to date with market, with evolving buying processes, and changing best practice methodology. Scheduling in regular sales training time for the whole team will give them the opportunity to attend strategic sales workshops, learn new aspects of your CRM or simply catch up the latest innovations from your competitors.

Use your CRM

Far too many CRM systems are used as nothing more than fancy contact databases. That’s rather like buying an iPhone and only ever making phone calls on it. Train your sales department to actually use the CRM to record and then to influence the sales process. Use it track what it takes to clinch deals and use it to influence future sales cycles.

Implement robust sales processes

Of course, in order to improve your sales processes you actually need to have some! Your staff should be following the same steps for the same type of contracts each time. This is another area your CRM can manage if you let it. Automated tools can set up templates with customer contacts, notify salespeople when they need to make a contact, who else is involved and allow them to identify good leads faster enabling them to concentrate their resources on the sales cycles that are most likely to lead to a successful conclusion. Not wasting your time is key to improving productivity.

Listen to your analytics

Your CRM should be a goldmine of customer data and, when you use it effectively it will produce analysis (i.e. keyword analysis) that can be used to point you in the direction of better processes and more likely new customers. But that can only happen if you are prepared to listen to what the data is telling you. It might come as a shock to see a sales graph dropping but instead of ignoring the message take it as a call to action. Use your CRM to tell you where you’re struggling and allow it to help you redesign your processes to target the areas where you’re not performing as well as you could. And then use some of your training time to disseminate the findings to the whole sales team ensuring that they all know what they should be focussing on and what they need to do to improve.