business owner

Improving mentoring skills

January is designated National Mentoring Month so what better time than the start of a brand new year to take a look at ways in which you can make improvements to your mentoring skills. 

Mentoring, which was once something that might only have been found in much larger companies, is much more commonplace nowadays, and is something that many companies are actively looking to not only have in place but also improve all the time. There have been a number of studies on the subject and the biggest takeaway from these is that those individuals who are mentored are in fact more likely to be promoted than those who are not, and those who mentor are also more likely to be promoted. 

Consider being more “virtual”

If there is one thing that we have all learnt from the pandemic it is that a lot of things which we thought could only be done in person, or work that could only be done in an office, can in fact be done virtually. This opens up a huge wealth of opportunities that employers are now beginning to tap into in order to help improve working conditions for employees. Mentoring is one of these things that can also have great results when done virtually. It is no longer necessary to have both mentor and mentee working in the same office space, now the best matches can be made from within your organisation regardless of location, offering the best mentoring experience to everyone. 

Reverse mentorship

Mentorship should never be looked at simply as a one-way street. Whilst it is true that the mentor will be offering lots of helpful advice and support to their mentee throughout the entire process there is also much to be gained by reverse mentorship. This can come in the form of feedback from mentees to mentors and can provide valuable ways in which both communication and leaderships skills can be improved. 

Build skills for the future

As we have already mentioned the workplace has changed significantly in the last few years and whilst many of those changes introduced during the pandemic were only put in place out of necessity, and were certainly not meant to be permanent solutions, employees for the most part want at least some of them to stay. A vital part of mentoring will be identifying those skills that are most important to the company you work for and helping to build them in your mentees. It will be important to see where there have been new skills developed as a result of changes like working from home, and more frequently remote working when people have begun to return to the workplace and using these to the best possible advantage.

Diversity and inclusion

With companies being ever watchful that they are implementing improved diversity and inclusion policies it is important to ensure that these are carried over into any mentorship programs that are being run within a company as well. An improved coverage from any mentorship program can only mean good things for the future of any

Alternative Types of Training Courses

A range of professional qualifications are now available through a series of e-learning courses: courses conducted via the internet with email support from a tutor and with peer support and discussions available through the online course forums. So if you ever wondered how you would find time to fit in that training course, and update your skills and qualifications, or persuade your boss of the need for time off to complete a training course – well, this is the answer.

Online Training Courses 

Professional training courses are vital in all sectors of business if, as a professional, you want to develop your skills and stay abreast of the latest tools and techniques. It is easy to fall behind in the latest methods in your particular field very quickly, particularly if you work in a fast-moving business.

But it has always been difficult to find a window in which to take up to a week out of your schedule to devote to a formal training course. It is even harder to persuade your boss that you should take that week away from the office.

Yet training can help you meet not only your personal objectives but also your business objectives. And whilst it might be easier to attend short one day sessions, if your aim is to gain a nationally recognised qualification this will certainly take substantially longer.

Training courses can instil you with more enthusiasm and motivation, which ultimately has to be good for your employer.

The idea of e-learning could well be the solution for all the time-poor workers out there keen to gain additional qualifications. Not least because in the tough economic climate in which we are all living, recent training qualifications and up-to-date marketable skills will give you an advantage if you find yourself looking for a new job.

So what exactly is e-learning and how does it work? Well, fairly obviously, it is just a form of distance learning (which has been around for many, many years through organisations such as the Open University) for the digital age. E-learning is a course of study conducted almost entirely at your computer. The benefits of using online features are varied and many:

– No waiting for a tutor to mark your work – answers are be supplied straight
– You can be flexible about when and where you study
– Learn at your own pace
– No travel and hotel costs to attend a training centre

Online learning courses use the latest technology and interactive components such as animations and quizzes to supplement the on-line learning experience. However, traditional written materials such as manuals and books are still necessary to complement the student’s learning.

Course instructors also understand that it is important not to miss out on the discussions that happen in a traditional classroom setting so there are also online forums and groups where you can communicate with other students taking the same course. There will also be email support from a tutor for those more challenging questions.

E-learning may not be a better solution than instructor-led classroom learning but it is a great alternative for those who simply will never get to the classroom.

E-learning courses are available for a range of professional business subjects from Accountancy, Legal, Tax and Project Management Training Courses. And if you want to study on the move then there are even options to study with podcasts on your mp3 player.

Podcasts Training Courses

Podcasting is one of the most exciting new forms of communicating to an audience to have emerged in recent years. Many types of businesses as well as the government and people in education have started to discover the advantages of delivering their messages to their listeners at a time and in a place that suits them.

Any time of the day or night and, literally, wherever you like – at home, travelling or even whilst on holiday – listening to podcasts is the most current way to keep up with the latest news, your favourite radio program or, more usefully, complete that training course you have been meaning to get around to sometime soon. You can learn at a pace that suits you and can listen to a topic again and again as many times as you wish.

Podcasts are audio (mp3) files made available over the internet but more importantly subscribers to a particular podcast are notified when the latest topic becomes available and it will be automatically downloaded.

Although many people use an iPod to listen to a podcast and the origins of the podcast name is associated with Apple’s ubiquitous mp3 player (and, of course, the word broadcasting) you can, in fact, use any mp3 player or, indeed listen to the podcast through a computer or laptop or even your phone.

Of course, with respect to training courses it is perfectly possible for study guides and course manuals to be emailed to those signed up for the course for remote independent study. Or the same information can be made available on the training company’s website but podcasts simplify access to learning.

No computer or internet connection is required (once the initial download is done) and additional emails do not clutter up already overloaded inboxes.Instead those people subscribed to a course become part of a community who are automatically notified of each new topic as it becomes available.

In education and training, podcasts are an extremely effective way of demonstrating passion and conviction on a certain subject, because verbal communication can provide emphasis in a way that the written word cannot. It is also easier to reinforce important aspects of a subject through the more informal verbal style of communicating typically used in podcasts compared to other forms of distance learning and e-learning.

So a verbal form of providing a training course can in many ways be more beneficial than written guides and can be especially appealing to some people. Many people actually learn better when they hear a subject than when they read it in a book.

Although the term podcasting comes in part from the word broadcasting, it is technically a form of what is called narrowcasting because the listeners have subscribed to the podcast. The communication is to a small niche community whose requirements are known, rather than to a broad audience such as in the broadcast of a radio program.

So for all those busy professionals whose schedules make it difficult to find time to attend a classroom-based course, podcasts are the route to stimulating new learning and ideas in your chosen field, to enhancing your professional skills and improving your career prospects with professional training qualifications.

They are in inexpensive alternative to traditional training courses and mean that organisations without a large training budget can still motivate and retain staff by giving them the opportunity to develop in their career.

Some of the best podcast training courses use 2 instructors presenting the course to ensure there is a natural flow of dialogue that retains the students’ interest. They also provide study guides with each topic containing additional material and exercises to be completed to reinforce the subject being learnt. An online community is almost always established where issues and problems can be discussed with expert course tutors and with other like-minded course participants.

Studying for a business qualification using podcasts is becoming increasingly popular. This attractive, inexpensive alternative to traditional classroom courses is a great use of limited spare time. You can study at your own pace, walking in the countryside or lying on the beach, and it will increase your motivation and improve your career prospects.

Podcast training courses are available for a huge range of subjects from modern languages, Accountancy, Continuing Professional Development for Lawyers, Project Management Courses and a wide range of other business skills courses.

Leadership 2023

Project Management Training

The majority of businesses fail because they do not invest in proper training.  After employees join their company the first thing their manager tells them is to learn on-the-job.

So the person talks to everyone they can get hold of to try an learn the ropes – and there is some benefit to learning from those who have the experience already; who have been there and done it – but that is no substitue for professional training. Especially in the project management field which is fast becoming a modern day profession as organisations increasingly work in a project focused way.

Unfortunately, this type of “on-the-job” training will only work for so long.  One of the biggest mistakes companies make is not properly teaching their project managers how to actually manage projects effectively and consistently for successful outcomes using proven methods such as those from the Association for Project Management (APM) or the Project Management Institute (PMI) or the UK-Government developed PRINCE2 approach. These are PM methods that have a range of professional qualifications and accreditations associated with them that are internationally recognised and respected – and for good reason. Qualified project managers are proven to deliver more successful projects more often.

If you are planning projects for your organisation you need project managers who have studied and learnt best practises the have been refined over the years. And that knowledge is often not available within a single organisation. So whether you opt for APMP training (now known as APM PMQ), the PMP certification from the PMI or PRINCE2 for your project managers they will be more adept and managing and controlling your projects and communicating with clinets and stakeholders.

Would your business change if you had well-quaified project managers using best-practise methods that were more likley to result in successful final deliverables?  I bet it would be more successful – better meeting the needs of your clients.

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Project Management Training For Your Team – Without It, You Will Fail!

Without the Right Project Management Courses You Will Fail!

It’s the sad truth but many projects being started right now will fail.  The failure rates of projects in all industries are still, unfortunately at levels that are too high.  As someone that has been involved with the project management field for over 10 years I can assure you that it’s not the project manager’s fault. 

So why is there such a high failure rate?  I blame some of it on the expectations of clients and stakeholders but those expectations can be managed by a professional project manager with the right training and skills sucg as those advoacted by the Association for Project Management (APM).  For some reason many people still expect to start a project with little planning or controls in place and then expect it to be successfully delivered.

Early Training is Critical

I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make is appoint a project manager and then completely forget about them and expect the project to be delivered on-time and on-budget.  They don’t offer any support or training and the new project manager feels completely lost.  First and foremost, you need to teach project managers about the recognised methodologies and how to best implement them by following best practise from the Bodies of Knowledge available from the Association for Project Management (APM) or the Project Management Institute (PMI).  As a senior executive, you should not expect them to figure everything out on their own.

After they have a good understanding on how projects operate, you should begin to share with them lessons learned from other projects completed in your business.  Why?  Do you want your PMs to duplicate effort or, worse, mistakes?  Share everything you know with your new project managers and help them to get out of the gate as fast as possible.  I believe that another reason why projects fail is because stakeholders don’t see results quickly enough and they lose interest. This is where an agile approach to managing projects can help – by delivering frequent updates and tangible interim deliverables will keep everyone on the project enthused by progress.

Set goals for each of the 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 contribute as much as they can to the project. 

Leadership pipeline

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.