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Top 10 Time Wasters !!!
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Top 10 Time Wasters !!! - April 20th, 2006

Top 10 Time Wasters
By Jan Gordon

1. Clarity of Priorities
Not knowing one's priorities is the biggest time waster! Know your priorities and you'll have a road map to guide your behavior.

2. Investment of Time
Not putting enough time into "A" and "B" activities wastes time. It's been said that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. Maximize your efforts by investing 80% of your time into the essential "A" and "B" activities.

3. Interruptions
Interruptions, distractions, drop-in visitors, unplanned telephone calls are all potential time-wasters. Schedule "open hours" during specific time frames in order to accommodate those who need to contact you.

4. Conflict
Conflict takes up energy and drains us of our ability to be enthusiastic, focused and productive. Handle whatever conflicts are in your life so as to minimize the "drains" in your life. You'll have more energy and focus as a result.

5. Personal Concerns During Business Hours
Whether one works for a business or in one's own business, it's important to respect the boundaries between personal concerns and business. Boundaries help you to stay focused on the present task at hand while also minimizing distractions.

6. Procrastination
Indecision, daydreaming and delay on taking action impede progress. Consider creating supports that can help you in your decision-making. Create an accountability system with a colleague or friend, or better yet, consider working with a professional coach!

7. Lack of Self-Discipline
Lack of structure can be a problem. Structure supports our creativity ­ it doesn't impede it! Self-discipline is knowing what to pay attention to and living from this awareness. It's also about creating the supports and structures that help us "stay on track" so as to fully honor our commitments.

8. Unfinished Projects
Jumping from project to project without resolution of the previous project, leaving tasks partly done, constantly switching priorities all contribute to wasting time. Treat every day like the day before vacation ­ tie up loose ends! You'll have more energy, less stress and renewed focus the following day.

9. Socializing
Too much socializing with our colleagues or customers can be distracting. Understand the difference between productive socializing and wasting time ­ there's a fine line and balance between the two.

10. Guilt and Shoulds
"Shoulds" come from the unexamined beliefs that unconsciously guide our behavior; guilt is the outcome of these "shoulds." Identify your pre-existing beliefs to see whether they make sense to you ­ whether they're still worthy of orienting your life around. Unexamined beliefs create guilt when we don't live up to them. Explore what's really important to you NOW as you deconstruct outdated beliefs.
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*:*See The Beauty *:*
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*:*See The Beauty *:* - April 20th, 2006

Beauty is not what you think of as beautiful. Beauty is what you experience as truth.
Beauty cannot be defined, limited or contained. Yet when you let go of the need to possess it, beauty is yours to behold.
The less you try to grasp it, the more beauty you'll know. For beauty speaks directly to your soul, without the need to pass through your mind.
Today is a beautiful day, wherever you may be, whatever you are doing. For beauty depends not on outer circumstances, but is there when you are ready to see it.
Beauty is here and now, right among the seeming disappointments and imperfections. Beauty needs nothing and always says so much that can be said in no other way. Let go of the need to decide whether any particular thing or time is beautiful or not. And see the beauty in it all. ~ Ralph Marston ~


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The Art of Delegation !!!
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The Art of Delegation !!! - April 20th, 2006

Delegation is a skill of which we have all heard - but which few understand. It can be used either as an excuse for dumping failure onto the shoulders of subordinates, or as a dynamic tool for motivating and training your team to realize their full potential.
Everyone knows about delegation. Most Managers hear about it in the cradle as mother talks earnestly to the baby-sitter: "just enjoy the television ... this is what you do if ... if there is any trouble call me at ..."; people have been writing about it for nearly half a millennium; yet few actually understand it.
Delegation underpins a Style of Management which allows your staff to use and develop their skills and knowledge to the full potential. Without delegation, you lose their full value.
As the ancient quotation above suggests, delegation is primarily about entrusting your authority to others. This means that they can act and initiate independently; and that they assume responsibility with you for certain tasks. If something goes wrong, you remain responsible since you are the Manager; the trick is to delegate in such a way that things get done but do not go (badly) wrong. Objective


The objective of delegation is to get the job done by someone else. Not just the simple tasks of reading instructions and turning a lever, but also the decision making and changes which depend upon new information. With delegation, your staff have the authority to react to situations without referring back to you.
If you tell the janitor to empty the bins on Tuesdays and Fridays, the bins will be emptied on Tuesdays and Fridays. If the bins overflow on Wednesday, they will be emptied on Friday. If instead you said to empty the bins as often as necessary, the janitor would decide how often and adapt to special circumstances. You might suggest a regular schedule (teach the janitor a little personal time management), but by leaving the decision up to the janitor you will apply his/her local knowledge to the problem. Consider this frankly: do you want to be an expert on bin emptying, can you construct an instruction to cover all possible contingencies? If not, delegate to someone who gets paid for it.
To enable someone else to do the job for you, you must ensure that:
  • they know what you want
  • they have the authority to achieve it
  • they know how to do it.
These all depend upon communicating clearly the nature of the task, the extent of their discretion, and the sources of relevant information and knowledge. Information


Such a system can only operate successfully if the decision-makers (your staff) have full and rapid access to the relevant information. This means that you must establish a system to enable the flow of information. This must at least include regular exchanges between your staff so that each is aware of what the others are doing. It should also include briefings by you on the information which you have received in your role as manager; since if you need to know this information to do your job, your staff will need to know also if they are to do your (delegated) job for you.
One of the main claims being made for computerized information distribution is that it facilitates the rapid dissemination of information. Some protagonists even suggest that such systems will instigate changes in managerial power sharing rather than merely support them: that the "enknowledged" workforce will rise up, assume control and innovate spontaneously. You may not believe this vision, but you should understand the premise. If a manager restricts access to information, then only he/she is able to make decisions which rely upon that information; once that access is opened to many others, they too can make decisions - and challenge those of the manager according to additional criteria. The manager who fears this challenge will never delegate effectively; the manager who recognizes that the staff may have additional experience and knowledge (and so may enhance the decision-making process) will welcome their input; delegation ensures that the staff will practise decision-making and will feel that their views are welcome. Effective control


One of the main phobias about delegation is that by giving others authority, a manager loses control. This need not be the case. If you train your staff to apply the same criteria as you would yourself (by example and full explanations) then they will be exercising your control on you behalf. And since they will witness many more situations over which control may be exercised (you can't be in several places at once) then that control is exercised more diversely and more rapidly than you could exercise it by yourself. In engineering terms: if maintaining control is truly your concern, then you should distribute the control mechanisms to enable parallel and autonomous processing. Staggered Development


To understand delegation, you really have to think about people. Delegation cannot be viewed as an abstract technique, it depends upon individuals and individual needs. Let us take a lowly member of staff who has little or no knowledge about the job which needs to be done.
Do you say: "Jimmy, I want a draft tender for contract of the new Hydro Powerstation on my desk by Friday"? No. Do you say: "Jimmy, Jennifer used to do the tenders for me. Spend about an hour with her going over how she did them and try compiling one for the new Hydro Powerstation. She will help you for this one, but do come to me if she is busy with a client. I want a draft by Friday so that I can look over it with you"? Possibly.
The key is to delegate gradually. If you present someone with a task which is daunting, one with which he/she does not feel able to cope, then the task will not be done and your staff will be severely demotivated. Instead you should build-up gradually; first a small task leading to a little development, then another small task which builds upon the first; when that is achieved, add another stage; and so on. This is the difference between asking people to scale a sheer wall, and providing them with a staircase. Each task delegated should have enough complexity to stretch that member of staff - but only a little.
Jimmy needs to feel confident. He needs to believe that he will actually be able to achieve the task which has been given to him. This means that either he must have the sufficient knowledge, or he must know where to get it or where to get help. So, you must enable access to the necessary knowledge. If you hold that knowledge, make sure that Jimmy feels able to come to you; if someone else holds the knowledge, make sure that they are prepared for Jimmy to come to them. Only if Jimmy is sure that support is available will he feel confident enough to undertake a new job.
You need to feel confident in Jimmy: this means keeping an eye on him. It would be fatal to cast Jimmy adrift and expect him to make it to the shore: keep an eye on him, and a lifebelt handy. It is also a mistake to keep wandering up to Jimmy at odd moments and asking for progress reports: he will soon feel persecuted. Instead you must agree beforehand how often and when you actually need information and decide the reporting schedule at the onset. Jimmy will then expect these encounters and even feel encouraged by your continuing support; you will be able to check upon progress and even spur it on a little.
When you do talk to Jimmy about the project, you should avoid making decisions of which Jimmy is capable himself. The whole idea is for Jimmy to learn to take over and so he must be encouraged to do so. Of course, with you there to check his decisions, Jimmy will feel freer to do so. If Jimmy is wrong - tell him, and explain very carefully why. If Jimmy is nearly right - congratulate him, and suggest possible modifications; but, of course, leave Jimmy to decide. Finally, unless your solution has significant merits over Jimmy's, take his: it costs you little, yet rewards him much. Constrained Availability


There is a danger with "open access" that you become too involved with the task you had hoped to delegate. One successful strategy to avoid this is to formalize the manner in which these conversation take place. One formalism is to allow only fixed, regular encounters (except for emergencies) so that Jimmy has to think about issues and questions before raising them; you might even insist that he draw-up an agenda. A second formalism is to refuse to make a decision unless Jimmy has provided you with a clear statement of alternatives, pros and cons, and his recommendation. This is my favourite. It allows Jimmy to rehearse the full authority of decision making while secure in the knowledge that you will be there to check the outcome. Further, the insistence upon evaluation of alternatives promotes good decision making practices. If Jimmy is right, then Jimmy's confidence increases - if you disagree with Jimmy, he learns something new (provided you explain your criteria) and so his knowledge increases. Which ever way, he benefits; and the analysis is provided for you. Outcomes and Failure


Let us consider your undoubtedly high standards. When you delegate a job, it does not have to be done as well as you could do it (given time), but only as well as necessary: never judge the outcome by what you expect you would do (it is difficult to be objective about that), but rather by fitness for purpose. When you delegate a task, agree then upon the criteria and standards by which the outcome will be judged.
You must enable failure. With appropriate monitoring, you should be able to catch mistakes before they are catastrophic; if not, then the failure is yours. You are the manager, you decided that Jimmy could cope, you gave him enough rope to hang himself, you are at fault. Now that that is cleared up, let us return to Jimmy. Suppose Jimmy gets something wrong; what do you want to happen?
Firstly, you want it fixed. Since Jimmy made the mistake, it is likely that he will need some input to develop a solution: so Jimmy must feel safe in approaching you with the problem. Thus you must deal primarily with the solution rather than the cause (look forward, not backwards). The most desirable outcome is that Jimmy provides the solution.
Once that is dealt with, you can analyse the cause. Do not fudge the issue; if Jimmy did something wrong say so, but only is very specific terms. Avoid general attacks on his parents: "were you born this stupid?", and look to the actual event or circumstance which led to the error: "you did not take account of X in your decision". Your objectives are to ensure that Jimmy:
  • understands the problem
  • feels confident enough to resume
  • implements some procedure to prevent recurrence.
The safest ethos to cultivate is one where Jimmy actually looks for and anticipates mistakes. If you wish to promote such behaviour, you should always praise Jimmy for his prompt and wise action in spotting and dealing with the errors rather that castigate him for causing them. Here the emphasis is placed upon checking/testing/monitoring of ideas. Thus you never criticise Jimmy for finding an error, only for not having safe-guards in place. What to delegate


There is always the question of what to delegate and what to do yourself, and you must take a long term view on this: you want to delegate as much as possible to develop you staff to be as good as you are now.
The starting point is to consider the activities you used to do before you were promoted. You used to do them when you were more junior, so someone junior can do them now. Tasks in which you have experience are the easiest for you to explain to others and so to train them to take over. You thus use your experience to ensure that the task is done well, rather than to actually perform the task yourself. In this way you gain time for your other duties and someone else becomes as good as your once were (increasing the strength of the group).
Tasks in which your staff have more experience must be delegated to them. This does not mean that you relinquish responsibility because they are expert, but it does mean that the default decision should be theirs. To be a good manager though, you should ensure that they spend some time in explaining these decisions to you so that you learn their criteria.
Decisions are a normal managerial function: these too should be delegated - especially if they are important to the staff. In practice, you will need to establish the boundaries of these decisions so that you can live with the outcome, but this will only take you a little time while the delegation of the remainder of the task will save you much more.
In terms of motivation for your staff, you should distribute the more mundane tasks as evenly as possible; and sprinkle the more exciting onces as widely. In general, but especially with the boring tasks, you should be careful to delegate not only the performance of the task but also its ownership. Task delegation, rather than task assignment, enables innovation. The point you need to get across is that the task may be changed, developed, upgraded, if necessary or desirable. So someone who collates the monthly figures should not feel obliged to blindly type them in every first-Monday; but should feel empowered to introduce a more effective reporting format, to use Computer Software to enhance the data processing, to suggest and implement changes to the task itself. Negotiation


Since delegation is about handing over authority, you cannot dictate what is delegated nor how that delegation is to be managed. To control the delegation, you need to establish at the beginning the task itself, the reporting schedule, the sources of information, your availability, and the criteria of success. These you must negotiate with your staff: only by obtaining both their input and their agreement can you hope to arrive at a workable procedure. When all is done for you


Once you have delegated everything, what do you do then?
You still need to monitor the tasks you have delegated and to continue the development of your staff to help them exercise their authority well.
There are managerial functions which you should never delegate - these are the personal/personnel ones which are often the most obvious additions to your responsibilities as you assume a managerial role. Specifically, they include: motivation, training, team-building, organization, praising, reprimanding, performance reviews, promotion.
As a MANAGER, you have a responsibility to represent and to develop the effectiveness of your group Within the company; these are tasks you can expand to fill your available time - Delegation is a Mechanism for Creating that Opportunity.
Gerard M Blair is a Senior Lecturer in VLSI Design at the Department of Electrical Engineering, The University of Edinburgh.


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Managing Difficult People !!!
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Managing Difficult People !!! - April 20th, 2006

Managers deal with a wide range of personalities. Most people are cooperative and reasonable. However, some employees are very difficult to be around and work with. A human resources manager states, "They're totally focused on their own agenda and needs. They cause tension and conflicts. Difficult people absorb a lot of a manager's time and attention."
Three types of difficult people are:
- The aggressor
- The victim
- The rescuer


You may never "like" these people. But it is important that you understand them and develop techniques to help them be more productive.
The Aggressor
Aggressive people are demanding and loud. They don't listen and they talk over people. Their attitude is, "I'm right, you're wrong." Their view of the world is win/lose, and of course, they must "win." Some of the words used to describe aggressive people include: "Sherman tank," "bull in the china shop," and "bullies." A participant in one of my seminars commented, "Aggressive people talk down to people. They're know-it-alls. They make rude comments, followed by biting sarcasm."
Some of the comments I've heard aggressive people make include:
· "If you don't like it, leave. It's my way or the highway."
· "You don't know what you're talking about. I'm right."
· "Drop whatever you're doing - I need this completed ASAP."

When dealing with aggressive people, start by letting them vent. They often are angry and need to blow off steam. Use active listening skills to indicate you're trying to understand their views. Aggressive people aren't used to people really listening to them. Most often it's point, counterpoint, reload, and attack again.
Sometimes it's hard to get a word in when the aggressor is verbally attacking. Try "clipping." This technique allows you to get a few words in such as "Yes," "No," "I agree," "No, you're wrong." This often causes the attacker to back off and take a breath.
Aggressive people are often tolerated because they do get things done. The problem is that they also cause tension and upset people. In addition, because they dominate the conversation, other people don't contribute, which results in lost input.
Aggressive people need to realize there is more than one right answer. Their opinions are valid and valued, but other people have equally valid ideas.
The Victim
Harvard researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey describe victims as "BMW" people. They , whine and moan. They blame others for their problems and come across as timid and helpless. Their attitude is, "People don't understand how bad I have it." A student in one of my courses said, "Victims are depressing to be around. They feel sorry for themselves and blow problems out of proportion. They waste a lot of time and don't take any responsibility for making changes."
Victims like to "blamestorm." They're very good at discovering reasons and finding people to "blame" for their performance shortfalls. Their stories and explanations are purposefully incomplete. They leave out the details that indicate their inability to get the job done.
Some of the comments I've heard victims make include:
· "Why does this always happen to me?"
· "I can't get it done. I never have time for myself."
· "They won't give me the information I need."

When dealing with "victims" take the time to listen to their complaints. A middle manager states, "Victims complain so much, no one really takes the time to listen to them. They feel neglected." Feed back your understanding of what the victim has said. Try to force the victim to prioritize his or her problems. Next, facilitate a discussion to help him/her choose an appropriate course of action to solve the problem.
Victims need to realize they are not helpless. Find ways to help them achieve some short-term wins. A colleague states, "Victims have strong psychological needs for attention and recognition. Recognize them for taking responsibility and achieving success, not for winning."
The Rescuer
The rescuer is the person who's always willing to help other people. Their major need is to be liked and appreciated. "I'll help" are their favorite words. Rescuers are very good at recognizing when other people need help, and they know how to jump in to save the day. A consultant friend remarks, "The rescuer avoids confrontation. They're 'yes' people. They say 'yes' without thinking through the implications. Oftentimes they overcommit and their own work doesn't get done."
Some of the comments I've heard rescuers make include:
· "I hesitated to fire non-performers. I was afraid of ruining someone's life."
· "It was my responsibility to take care of people."
· "I habitually took care of other people's problems."
· "I know this is your project, but let me add it to my list to take the burden off of you."

When dealing with rescuers it's important to hold them accountable to performing all of their job responsibilities. If they have excess capacity the manager should assign them bigger bricks to carry.
Interrelationships
Aggressive people find, and sometimes create victims. Victims are easy prey for the bully. Victims don't get the job done but always have excuses why it's not their fault. Rescuers jump in to save the victim. Everyone Wins! This cycle can go round and round, each playing his/her role and in effect supporting the behavior of the other two.
You can do several things when dealing with difficult people.
1. Listen to them. Let them know you want to understand their point of view.
2. Make them feel valued and appreciated.
3. Have them read this article. Indicate we all play these roles to some degree. Ask them which role they play most often. Discuss the impact that role has on others.
4. Indicate what you would like to see them do more of and less of.
5. Ask them to commit to making one or two changes.
Summary
Dealing with difficult people is a challenge. However it's possible to help them be more productive and effective in doing their job.
Applying the Concept
Jim Ligotti, Senior Technical Manager
First and foremost, I try to get an understanding of what's driving the person's behavior. It's also important to remain calm and communicate openly with difficult people. Aggressive people are looking to be recognized and rewarded. I work with the person to help him see the fastest way he can achieve his goals. Aggressive people produce negative vibes, which impacts their ability to be successful. Co-workers don't go the extra mile to help irritating people. I try to help aggressive people make that connection. Less aggression and more cooperation goes a long way.
The issue with victims is that they believe they cannot get the whole task completed, because inevitably something will be outside their control. This makes me think of Elephant Training.
The young elephant is restrained by one leg. While elephants are young and not very strong, they are unable to get free. Over time elephants become conditioned. When they are older and stronger and could get free, they don't even try. Their attitude is; why try now; it's never worked before. This is similar to the victim. The key is to retrain them. They have to believe they can control their destiny. Help them develop a new, positive, can-do attitude. Help them plan and achieve short term wins. As they learn and "win," increase their field of influence.
Rescuers want to help their teammates but often don't see the negative effects of missed commitments. I try to help these people realize that offering to help and missing their own commitments is worse than not offering at all. Rescuers have to learn to focus first on their own commitments. Sometimes it helps to show rescuers how to prioritize and manage their time effectively.
Dealing with difficult people is an investment in time. These people are executing "learned" behaviors. I coach and mentor them on more effective ways to reach their goals. It takes time to build trust. However, when people truly believe you're trying to help them succeed, they listen and respond.
William H. Denney, Ph.D., Quality Consultant
Aggressor
Hold your ground. Don't change your position out of intimidation.
Interrupt by saying their name until they stop to listen.
Go back and clarify their first point. Slows them down and shows you are listening. Only address the key issue and don't get tangled up in miscellaneous stuff. Give them a way out. Seek a Win-Win if possible.If you are in the right position, don't be afraid to fire an aggressor that is damaging teamwork. Regardless of technical skill and or hard work, aggressors can demoralize and destroy a company.

If the aggressor is your boss then that's another story. You have to figure out if he/she is a detail person or a big picture person and give them what they are most comfortable with. But that's another story.
Victim
Listen and empathize.
Ask for specifics that you can analyze and comment on, or correct wrong perceptions.
Focus on solutions and the future, not the past.
If necessary, draw a line in the sand and tell them that talking about complaints without solutions is unproductive and time wasting.
Don't be afraid to tell them they are undermining company success by affecting the morale of others.
Offer to help them find another job.

Rescuer
The rescuer is more of a "know-it-all."
Be prepared for your discussions with this person. They think they know more than you and others.
Be appreciative, respectful and sincere about their contribution.
Take an indirect approach to help them see your point to avoid putting them on the defensive.
Use soft words -- maybe, perhaps, we, us, etc.
Help them understand that there is time for others to have a learning curve on what needs to be done.
Help them understand that it is in the company's interest to have more knowledge in the pipe line.
Use them as a coach to others if possible.
If you are in a position to do so, get them into team training. Even facilitator training will enlighten their views and show them how to work with others.

Advice on dealing with difficult people
Everyone means well. Listen and understand before you try to give your opinion or position.
Try to determine what circumstance in the past has molded their position.
Repeat without agreeing so they know you understand their concerns.
Get their input on how to improve the situation. Pass it along or act on it if possible.
Strive for a Win-Win situation. There is often a middle ground.
If nothing works, don't let them undermine morale. Offer to help them find another job.
By Paul B. Thornton



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Cultivating Performance !!!
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Cultivating Performance !!! - April 20th, 2006

Can you turn poor performers into company assets, or should you simply fire them? Before you decide, take time to evaluate your management approach and the employee's capability. Then develop a plan that supports an employee with high potential, or redirects the employee to another employer.
Step One - Evaluate
Evaluate the employee and his job role by asking yourself the following questions:

1)Is the job role clear? Does the employee understand the role? When the expectations of a position are not clearly defined, you've got a recipe for failure for both the employee and the company. When a shoe doesn't fit, you get blisters. When an employee doesn't fit, you get blistering performance.
2)Have you told the employee your performance expectations? Often managers fail to communicate job expectations and performance standards. Without an understanding and agreement of successful outcomes and practices, the employee may proceed down the wrong path.
3)Does the employee have the willingness to do the job? People have different levels of willingness to perform various tasks and activities. Willingness refers to the "I will" or the "I won't" factor in performance.
4)Does the employee have the ability to do the job? A person's ability refers to an individual's level of competence or proficiency in performing the task, activity, or behavior required. Ability is often described as the "I can" or "I can't" factor in performance.
5)Does the employee's behavioral style support his role and environment? We are born with characteristics that make up our behavioral styles. These traits influence our ability to perform certain tasks and sway how we interact with others. Since there are different personal styles, we can misinterpret people's intentions based on their behavior. For instance, someone who is naturally social, but not naturally detail oriented, could be assumed to be a poor performer if placed in the wrong job.
6)Does the employee have a good relationship with you, her manager? A manager's skills can determine an employee's performance. The same employee using the same skills and behavioral style can flourish under one type of manager and wither under another. Factors that cause failure include personality conflicts, poor people skills, and lack of understanding of the role of a manager

Step Two - Plan
Now that you've assessed the factors that contribute to an employee's poor performance, you need to develop a strategy and action plan. Your goal is to turn a poor performer into a self-motivated, accomplished, powerful employee. Of course, if this is not possible, then the kindest gift you can give this employee is the freedom to find a more fitting job.
If the employee and job role are not a match, find a better fit for the employee within your organization. If there is none, then let the employee go. Also, if you have not previously told your employee their job expectations, then discuss them in a professional and tactful manner. Also, let the employee know that you will support him and monitor his growth.
You want employees who are both willing and able to do their job. When evaluating someone's willingness, look for specific things that a person says or does to indicate willingness or unwillingness. If an employee is unwilling, you need to discover the reason for the unwillingness and support the person in resolving it. If someone does not have the skills to do a job, training or mentoring can increase her ability.
Your proactive interaction with your staff is key to both their and your success. To improve the manager/employee relationship, use a behavioral style profile assessment tool, such as the Personal Profile System (DiSC), to understand yourself and those you manage. Also, have your staff take the profile. The knowledge gained from accurate assessments promotes better communication, minimizes conflicts, and helps develop good rapport. You will also gain insight into how to help employees become self-motivated.
Conclusion
If you decide that the employee can go from poor to powerful performance, then coach, monitor, and praise him. Develop a performance improvement plan together with the employee, and help him move toward your mutual goals. Then monitor his achievements, give continuous feedback, and praise his accomplishments.
An accurate role description, sound hiring practices, and a manager's ability to foster the strengths and talents of her staff leads to good job performance at the onset. But, if an employee is not teachable, coachable, or praiseworthy, it is time to say goodbye. By documenting coaching sessions, problems, and performance, you will have the paper trail that supports disengagement.
By Gloria Dunn


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Nikhil Gadodia
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The Brand Called You !!!
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The Brand Called You !!! - April 20th, 2006

Every company has a reputation. Everyone you meet will form an opinion about your company, even if they have not done business with you yet. The challenge is to manage your reputation so that the opinion that people have of you is positive. This is what creates a brand.
Brands have a number of strategic functions, enabling you to:

  • Differentiate yourself from your competition;
  • Position your focused message in the hearts and minds of your target customers;
  • Persist and be consistent in your marketing efforts;
  • Customize your services to reflect your personal brand;
  • Deliver your message clearly and quickly;
  • Project credibility;
  • Strike an emotional chord;
  • Create strong user loyalty.

For small businesses, branding is not about slick advertisements. Small-business branding is about getting your target market to see you as the preferred choice. Building a slightly famous brand is not just about what you do; it's about what you do differently from everyone else.
Building Your Brand
A brand is a promise of the value your clients will receive. In an amazingly complex and competing world - where it's increasingly hard to know what's real and what's not - having your customers not only acknowledge but support the promise of your brand is the key to building a thriving business.
To become a brand, you've got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value. Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Do you anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Do your clients save money and headaches just by having you on the team? Do you complete projects within the allotted budget?
Branding integrates customer service, sales promotion, public relations, direct mail, newsletters, discounts, event sponsorship, word of mouth and other communications tactics to present a unified message about the company, its products or services.
Your brand will integrate all your marketing around a core idea and vision. As a result, you will find it easier to sell yourself, because your message will be uniform and powerful. Every business needs to evaluate its brand identity against the following criteria:
Relevance to the Market
A brand must stand for something that is meaningful to members of a target market. Your brand encompasses the total experience of doing business with you.
Consistency of Behavior
Customers must be able to depend on the brand to deliver the same experience every time. Because your market experiences your values through your brand, the only way they will truly become loyal to your brand is through your dedication and consistency.
Relationship-Building
A brand is not a logo or an advertising strategy. The strength of any brand is in the relationship it has between a company and its customers. The stronger the relationship, the more business they will do, and the more likely it is that customers will refer them to their friends and business associates.
Loyalty to the Customer is Returned
The test of a brand is, in fact, the strength of loyalty it generates. If you have a strong relationship with your target audience, then you have a strong brand and a strong business.
Reputation is Priceless
The only way to be successful in business is by establishing a good reputation, and a brand can help you do that. Your reputation works as your strongest marketer by communicating the relationship you have with people who've done business with you, and your target market in general.
Good brands stand the test of time. To develop a brand that will last a lifetime, go beyond what you do right now. Think long term. Look at Coke, Ford and General Electric. No matter what they sell or how they change over time, they can rely on their brand equity built on a foundation of customer trust to take them deep into their customer's trust quotient and keep them there.
If you establish a place of trust and relevance in prospects' minds, you're already in the door. The more people believe in your brand, the more it will spread throughout your niche market without your pushing. If your brand is clear, distinctive, and easily understood, and expresses a unique, compelling benefit that people believe in, it will bring you all the business you can handle.
By Steven Van Yoder .


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Nikhil Gadodia
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*:*Power of Persistence *:*
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*:*Power of Persistence *:* - April 20th, 2006

One small effort, by itself, will not have much of an impact. Yet when that same effort is repeated again and again, the results can be truly magnificent.
Persistence has power. With Persistence, soft drops of water can wear away the hardest stone. With Persistence, a tiny seed can grow into an enormous tree. With Persistence, what seems to be impossible can in fact be achieved.
With Persistence, the setbacks and obstacles are overcome, one by one. With Persistence, you will get where you intend to go.
Persistence does not require a massive effort or special resources or exotic skills. To benefit from the Power of Persistence, all you must do is keep on going.
Persistence is really quite simple, and available to anyone who decides to use it. Choose to put the Power of Persistence on your side, and you'll bring the very best of your dreams to life. ~::~: Ralph Marston :~::~:


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8 Ways to Help Accept Change !!!
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8 Ways to Help Accept Change !!! - April 20th, 2006

By working with individuals and organizations to prepare for, excel through and improve from change, we have discovered some ways that help those who have resistance to change accept it.

Each of us, to some degree, resists change. Personal changes may come in the form of the joyous birth of a child or perhaps a job promotion. Sad changes may come when a loved one dies or when a job is lost. Other changes may include learning a new computer program, having a new boss, or beginning or ending a relationship. In any of these situations, there is generally some resistance. It may appear as emotional sorrow or joy, a feeling of despair or helplessness, even feelings of incompetence or lack of direction. Resistance may appear as anger or unwillingness to try the new experience that we are called into.
Overcome resistance by:
1) Admitting that you are powerless over controlling the changes imposed upon you.

2) Identifying the things that you can control and take action accordingly.

3) Believing that through introspection and support of others you can restore yourself to a sense of sanity about the situation and events.

4) Seeking to understand the origin of your fears, anger, and resentment about the changes being faced.
5) Developing consciously plans to overcome the causes of resistance and build upon your strengths.
6) Looking for the positive benefits of embracing the change as opposed to dwelling on the negative implications.
7) Realizing that the change is likely to (or has already) occur(ed) whether or not you embrace it.
8) Considering, when you can reflect on the experience, how you dealt with this specific event or experience and seek ways to learn from it. This will help you prepare for the next change, which is most likely right around the corner.
By Lawton & Associates.


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Nikhil Gadodia
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*:*LESSONS OF LiFE*:*
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*:*LESSONS OF LiFE*:* - April 20th, 2006

Every situation is a lesson to be learned. From the most mundane chores to the most complex projects, life is always ready to teach you something.
Life is ready to teach when you are willing to learn. And the more you learn from what life offers, the better life becomes.
The lessons are usually not all that obvious. Yet they are there if you will think to take a look. The lessons are there in every moment, in every dilemma, in every frustration and every joy. They are there in every sadness, every victory, every discomfort and every pleasure.
Each lesson you learn paves the way for a new and even more valuable one. Each lesson you ignore keeps coming back, again and again.
One way or another, life will teach you its lessons. When you're a willing student, Those Lessons are Pure Gold. ~:~:~ Ralph Marston~:~:


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Change is the Law of Life !!!
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Change is the Law of Life !!! - April 20th, 2006

Change is the Law of Life
John F. Kennedy
Change is inevitable in all facets of life. To stay on the leading edge requires the skills of mastering change. I focus on just that: helping you develop the paradigms and skills to become a change master in your personal and professional life.
First let us discuss how to think about change. Thought determines action; correct thought determines correct action. Mastering change requires... The very nature of change has undergone both subtle and dramatic changes. It is important that our views about change and its implications are contemporary and sound. Let's look, then, at the realities of change.
1.The World at Large isn't the same as the World of One.
It's been 25 years since Alvin Toffler published Future Shock, a book based on the dread that most people felt about the future. Peter Schwartz interviewed Toffler for Wired magazine (a must read for people on the leading edge) and asked what big things he didn't anticipate, Toffler said that one central error of Future Shock is that it wasn't radical enough. He went on to relate:
I once had a class of 15 year old high school kids and I gave them index cards, and I said, "Write down seven things that will happen in the future." They said there would be revolutions and presidents would be assassinated, and we would all drown in ecological sludge. A very dramatic series of events. But I noticed that of the 198 items that they handed in, only six used the word "I." So I gave them another set of cards, and I said, "Now I want you to write down seven things that are going to happen to you. Back came, "I will be married when I'm 21, "I will live in the same neighborhood, I will have a dog." And the disjunction between the world that they were seeing out there and their own presuppositions was amazing! We thought about this, and concluded on the basis of just guesswork that the image of reality that they're getting from the media is one high-speed rapid change, and the image that they're getting in their classroom is one of no change at all.
I suggest yet another explanation for what Toffler observed. We tend to think that change especially significant changeis something that happens to other people. We don't really think it will affect usuntil it actually does. In other words, we don't believe the world at large is the same as our world of one.
It has been astutely noted that the difference between a recession and a depression is this: in a recession, your next door neighbor loses his job, in a depression, you lose your job.
Impersonal change is an abstract concept. We can't be adequately prepared for the future until we realize that the changes impacting others will almost certainly affect us as well. The world of one is very similar to the world at large.
2. Change is normal but not natural.
At a biological level, change and adaptation are normal and natural. The biological process of life is one of continual change. But at an intellectual level, it seems that change is any thing but natural. Most deny or resist it, few embrace it.
The natural world offers some useful metaphors for dealing with change. Consider how trees deal with strong winds. The tree is incapable of controlling the strength of the wind any better than we can control the world we live in. Rather than resist and break, the tree bends and sways. It moves with the forces of nature in such a way that it survives and prospers.
3. We aren't taught how to be change adept.
Dealing with change is a crucial skill, and yet we aren't taught how to do it. It is assumed that the basic skills taught in the classroom will somehow "add up" to make us change adept. I doubt that they ever did.
Events are redefining "stability." It is foolish to look for external sources of stability. The only real stability in times of change is based on internal resilience. Our own values and beliefs are our gyroscope in a wild careening world.
4. Change is painful
If corporate America has been guilty of ignoring an important aspect of change, it is this.
Writing for Fortune magazine ("How Will We Live With The Tumult," 12/13/93) Stratford Sherman points out, "The era of revolutionary corporate changestill just beginning promises enormous economic improvements at an exceptionally high cost in human pain."
In the same issue, the cover story reported that GE, Ameritech, Tenneco & Allied Signal have shed nearly 250,000 jobs under their present leaders while creating $104 billion in new wealth. This is one of the dismaying paradoxes of business today: the simultaneous cre ation of wealth at the cost of great pain.
It is easy to become insensitive to the human cost of change. Even when it is necessary for organizational survival, real people suffer jobs are lost. Men and women like ourselves agonize over decisions about their career and relationships. Don't downplay or discount the pain of change, for yourself or others.
5. It will never be"back to normal," but rather "forward to normal"
"Nothing endures but change." Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
We can't rationally look forward to things getting back to normal. They never will be the same again. No amount of wishing, hoping or waiting will make them so. Change-adept leaders look forward to determine what "normal" will be.
6. Change is relative
Some people and/or industries are being rocked more severely by change than others. I recently spoke at a public utility that was experiencing layoffs for the first time in their 107 year history. As you might expect, they were traumatized much more than those industries where downsizing has been going on for the past five or ten years.
You present change-resilience will be determined in part by how much change you've been accustomed to in the past. Because of their employment background and experience, some peopleeven within the same department or familywill be more change adept than others.
7. The skills and beliefs necessary for dealing with change are transferrable
When it comes to change, the world is your classroom: whether at work or at home, with a spouse or a colleague, we have plenty of change to learn.
Context and circumstances change, but truth is truth. That's why it is important to learn the fundamentals of change.
8. We are not in control of many of the changes that affect us
Some changes are initiated by us; others are imposed by others or circumstance. We can't count on being "proactive" to determine which changes will impact us. We must be as capable of dealing with imposed changes as we are in dealing with change by choice.
9. Change itself has changed
Jean Paul Valery said, "The trouble with the future is that it is not what it used to be."
I don't agree with those who say, "We've always had change like this..." Change is substantively different. So what specifically has changed about change?
In the past, most change was evolutionary : we modified our organizations. Today change is revolutionary. A revolution, by definition, makes things radically different.
In the case of re-engineering, everything is being abandoned and management is starting from scratch. Organizations and lives aren't being modified or adjusted, they are literally being transformed.
We've gone from "new and improved" to "unimagined and radical." The speed of telecom munication has accelerated business, social and political change around the globe. We watch world events as they occur in the comfort of our own living rooms.
And change today is more complex. We live in an interconnected and interdependent world. Change touches many and, as such, requires their input and/or cooperation to address.
Since change is different more dramatic, complex and voluminous we are confronted by a new reality: the past is incapable of explaining much of the present and most of the future . We can't always use old patterns to solve new problems.



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