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Mentoring And Coaching For Professionals

In recent years there has been a significant rise in the demand for mentors and coaches. The driving forces behind this are: executives, managers and other specialists are increasingly expected to demonstrate that they are undertaking significant professional development; the workplace and business employment environment is becoming even more competitive; the influence of the emerging industrial nations is forcing radical changes in the skill mix required of managers and other professionals in the developed countries; the diversity of personal and professional skills, knowledge, and expertise needed to be successful in today’s global business environment. As this demand has increased, so has the diversity of roles played and the range of services offered. Indeed, there are so many variations and combinations of mentoring and coaching, that it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between them and almost impossible to categorise the variations available.

Workplace mentoring is, despite appearances, a structured, organised, element of the organisation’s training and development activity. It is, however, usually quite separate from organised training activities and from the formal appraisal process carried out by the line-manager. This formal, hierarchical relationship that exists between a person and their line-manager is usually not a suitable vehicle for a mentoring relationship. Mentoring generally takes the form of a confidential, one to one relationship, where a more senior person, at least one position higher than the line-manager of the person being mentored, helps a more junior one to make progress, usually as part of a planned development programme, such as management fast-tracking, preparing for a more senior post, or leading a phase of workplace activity, such as a project. The mentor offers guidance and advice, in a supportive and non-threatening manner, but in a format and style which is designed by the organisation’s human resource department and then monitored by that department. The aim is to provide the recipient with support that will enable them to move forward confidently and to achieve their personal workplace objectives and also the objectives set for them by the organisation.

In an organisational setting, coaching has traditionally been part of the supervisory role played by line-managers, or more experienced employees, who show less experienced colleagues how to carry out an activity, or set of activities, competently. This is by default part of the cyclical process of developing an individual’s skills, evaluating their performance, appraising their progress, carried out by the line manager. If the line manager does not carry out the coaching personally, they will have arranged for an experienced employee, usually within the same team as the person being coached, to deliver the coaching. In this context, coaching is, in effect, the teaching of a skill until the skill is learnt and can be consistently performed, independently, to the required standard. Although the majority of this type of coaching is delivered by people who are more experienced, it is not always the case that they are more senior. Often, because the coach is explaining or demonstrating a skill, or process, the coach can be a younger person, but someone who is capable of passing on their skills to others who are less experienced in that activity.

Today, the traditional roles of mentors and coaches can still be seen in action. However, in many organisations, and particularly in most business sectors apart from the heavy industries and manufacturing, there has been considerable change. The main changes have been in the widening of the range of coaching approaches and the merging of mentoring and coaching into one approach, generally under the title of Coaching. Despite the best efforts of some academics and management gurus, senior managers in some organisations, and the human resource purists, the terms mentor and coaching, and the roles, are now used interchangeably in many business sectors. The main reason for this is that individuals are demanding and expecting their mentor-coach to have a wide range of skills that encompasses the best features of both categories. Many organisations are also establishing mentor-coaching systems that also combine the best practices of both. The result is that, increasingly, the terms are in effect synonymous, and what one individual or organisation will label as Mentor, another will label as Coach.

Also, many individuals are arranging to work with a personal coach, whose role is a combination of mentor and coach. This is similar to the relationship between a sports person, for example athlete, and their persona coach, and that between individuals and their personal fitness trainer. In the business and professional development world, the result is a hybrid of mentoring and coaching that most people now label as Personal Coaching.

The ideal mentor is a person who has been trained in mentoring techniques, and has a blend of appropriate work experience, qualifications, and general business knowledge, that can be used to guide and advise a particular mentee. In addition it is very important that the mentor is a person who has an enthusiasm, if not a passion, for helping others to develop, fulfil their potential, and achieve their and the organisation’s objectives.

The ideal coach is a person who has been trained in coaching techniques, has a broad range of experience and expertise, has knowledge and understanding of current business activity and trends, and an understanding of how an individual’s career and professional development should be tailored in order to assist that person in being successful in achieving their development objectives.

As can be seen, there great similarities in the two roles, and, as a result, the differences are virtually indistinguishable and they are now frequently combined. Both are expected to have appropriate knowledge and experience, both must be skilled in: listening actively; communication techniques; being able to understand the work and personal environment of the person being coached; building a rapport and developing a relationship; asking appropriate questions; directing the coachee to other sources of help when appropriate; identifying, agreeing and setting goals; helping to devise action plans to achieve the goals; helping to monitor and make adjustments to the plans; and finally, knowing when it is time to end the relationship.

A coach works with individuals and organisations to help them to achieve higher levels of performance and-or specific goals. The coach will, by necessity, take into account past performance and events, but focuses on actions and goals for the future. The approach is action oriented, focusing on where the client is now, where they want to be in the future, and how best to get them there. This framework is familiar to those involved in strategic planning or project management, as it is the foundation of both. The coach takes this simple, structured approach, and builds on it to develop a plan of action that will enable them to help their client achieve their objectives.

For individuals, the benefits can be many, including helping the individual to: avoid making mistakes in their business or personal lives; achieve more, in less time; minimise current problems; effectively prepare for potential difficulties; be happier with their personal and-or work life; achieve career or personal development targets; change career or career direction; become more effective and influential in all areas of their life; be more attractive to others, in their career and professional development and-or their personal life.

For organisations, the benefits are similar. They include: learning from a person who has a broad range of knowledge; obtaining independent, unbiased, objective, advice and guidance; gaining improvements to productivity, quality levels, customer satisfaction, shareholder value; gaining increased commitment and satisfaction levels in operational and management staff; improved staff retention; supporting other training and development activity; visible evidence that the organisation is committed to developing and improving; establishing an effective process for organisational development.

The role of mentoring and coaching has changed radically over recent years. However, the changes are generally accepted as being positive ones, and today coaches are accepted as an integral feature of the development process, both for individuals and for organizations. As always, great care must be taken to ensure that the coach and any process that is undertaken is appropriate for the particular client, but with this caveat, it is now clear that coaches have an important role to play in the development of individuals and organizations in today’s business world. As the pace of change and the complexity of business activity increases, it is certain that coaches will continue to play a key role in helping individuals and organizations manage that change and complexity more effectively.


100 Ways To Be A Better Time Manager

Here are 100 ways to be a better time manager. Practise them all and you’ll discover that you’ll get more done, improve the quality of your time with others, and have a better balance between all the demands on your work and life.

1. Value your time.

2. Treat time as a resource to be managed.

3. Measure your time.

4. Assess how much time you have to manage.

5. Negotiate more control over your working time.

6. Decide the best work pattern for yourself.

7. Get control of your tasks.

8. Have the freedom to balance your tasks.

9. Work at an even pace.

10. Plan ahead.

11. Balance the demands on your time.

12. Don’t work more than you need.

13. Be a pearl diver: look for the gifts that time brings.

14. Use time to get results not just fulfil duties.

15. Do something productive and enjoyable each day.

16. Ask “what is the best use of my time now?” questions.

17. Identify your time robbers.

18. Have a purpose to your life.

19. Be effective…

20. …and then efficient.

21. Don’t rush or overwork.

22. Inject variety into your daily tasks.

23. Spend up to a quarter of your day on routine tasks.

24. Do routine tasks in the shortest time possible.

25. Develop good time habits.

26. Experiment with different methods for doing routine tasks.

27. Use the Shoe-shine principle of doubling-up routine tasks.

28. Make the most of shortcuts.

29. Prepare your materials in advance.

30. Tidy up as you go.

31. Question every bit of paper you use.

32. Automate.

33. Identify bottle-necks and eliminate them.

34. Create easy work flows.

35. Use just-in-time systems to minimize clutter.

36. Bunch similar tasks together.

37. Identify the quickest work methods and then train everyone.

38. Know which jobs can be speeded up and which can’t.

39. Have a regular time slot for chores.

40. Put aside time for maintenance tasks.

41. Don’t encourage unnecessary paperwork.

42. Organise your filing systems.

43. Back up your computer records at fixed times.

44. Clear your files out regularly.

45. Keep your desk clear.

46. Handle every piece of paper just once.

47. Eliminate junk mail and spam.

48. Phone rather than write.

49. Don’t photocopy anything unless it is essential.

50. Send replies on the same piece of paper.

51. Keep your communications sweet and short.

52. Manage your projects with time, cost and quality estimates.

53. Run projects with detailed time plans.

54. Add on 20% to your initial project plans.

55. Have detailed lists of your project tasks.

56. Create a series of deadlines for your projects.

57. Look for weak links in your project and have back-up plans.

58. Streamline low-priority project tasks.

59. Keep on top of what’s going on in your project.

60. Track and monitor your project progress.

61. Spend up to a quarter of your day on progress work.

62. Have a clear vision of your goals.

63. Align your goals with your values.

64. Be certain of achieving all your goals.

65. Write down your goals.

66. Plan your key result areas.

67. Set SMART goals for short-term tasks.

68. Identify jobs you hate and delegate them.

69. Break down big jobs into smaller chunks.

70. Prioritise your tasks according to their importance.

71. When you’re overwhelmed, write out to-do lists and prioritise.

72. Leave loose ends so you can come back easily.

73. Use little scraps of unused time for itsy-bitsy jobs.

74. Plan 60% of your day; leave the rest for what comes up.

75. Put big jobs in your diary first, then the little ones.

76. Celebrate reaching your goals.

77. Spend up to a quarter of your day on non-doing tasks.

78. Take time out to sit and think.

79. Look after your health.

80. Get a sense of the times.

81. Take time to enjoy and appreciate.

82. Use the energy of the moment.

83. Occasionally just do what you want to do.

84. Take breaks at least every 90 minutes.

85. Review your day or week.

86. Spend up to a quarter of your day with others.

87. Always turn up to meetings on time.

88. Be courteous and brisk with others.

89. Only hold meetings that have a clear purpose.

90. Let people know when you’re not free.

91. Minimise unnecessary interruptions.

92. Learn to say No to jobs that aren’t yours.

93. Avoid time-wasters.

94. Control your phone.

95. Screen all incoming calls.

96. Devise a team time policy.

97. Keep a clock on the wall.

98. Know your time manager personality.

99. Check whether you have a tendency to overwork or underwork and adjust.

100. Enjoy your time.


Tax Deductions For Home Businesses

For most home business owners, tax deductions may be the key that can help put a little extra cash back into their pocket. Tax deductions vary from business to business but it is worth your time to familiarize yourself with some of these common tax deductions.

First, determine if you qualify for a home business tax deduction. A home office is generally defined as a place where you meet with clients, patients, or customers. Or if this part of the house is used exclusively for business purposes. Most people have a general image that comes to mind when they hear the words “home office”. In reality, tax deductions can apply to a variety of places. Your home office can be a garage, basement, or a studio. If you do qualify as a home business, it is crucial to keep all records, receipts, and paperwork that you have accumulated throughout the year.

It will make tax time a much less stressful experience for the home business owner. Do not overlook the small things. This can be as simple as keeping the receipts when you purchase paper, staples, or toner. Any item that is purchased for your home business is usually considered a tax deduction. This may seem tedious and unimportant but nothing could be further from the truth. You might be amazed when all these little things add up at the end of the year.

Home business deductions can be separated into two categories. The first is for Direct Expenses. These are expenses that are needed for your actual home office. Direct expenses include office furniture, decorating costs, or equipment. Indirect Expenses are the expenses that must be paid the entire house. This includes heating, electricity, or mortgage interest payments. You can deduct the percentage of your business expenses from your utility costs.

Another tax deduction to consider is telephone expenses. If you have one telephone line, the IRS is usually not going to believe that you use this only for your home business. The second phone line installed in your home is purely one hundred percent deductible. Another common deduction that is often missed is the lost distance charges incurred because of business calls.

An overlooked tax deduction for some home business owners are the meal expenses when they entertain an employee, a customer, or a client. Save all your receipts from these business dinners. It is possible to deduct fifty percent of meal expenses. Education expenses can also be a tax deduction if it is required by law to update your skills or if you are trying to enhance your skills for your current position.

Most home business owners use a vehicle as a means of transportation for their business. This vehicle can be used for running to the post office, or meeting with a client. Keep a log book in the vehicle to keep track of the mileage on these errands. Vehicles can be vital to run your home business, and overtime these kinds of charges can hurt your profits. There are many valuable tax deductions for vehicles, such as car repairs and car insurance. Airline fare can be another costly, but necessary aspect for home business owners. The IRS does allow your trip expense as another tax deduction.

As you can see, home business owners have a variety of options when it comes to tax deductions. Remember to keep records of all your home business activities and consult with a tax advisor to get the best deductions for your home business.


The 7 Rules Of Growth For Small Businesses

For years, I have tried to answer this one question: What do small businesses that achieve sustained growth do differently from those that do not grow?

As a senior consultant for Inc. magazine, I speak to thousands of business owners each year. I’ve learned that there are no silver bullets or 17-point checklists that will lead to guaranteed growth. There are, however, seven specific areas in which growth companies concentrate their efforts.

1. Strong sense of purpose. Most leaders of companies that have achieved growth discover that it takes more than the promise of increasing financial reward to fuel their aspirations and ambitions. They find a higher calling than simply the pursuit of “more money.”

2. Outstanding market intelligence. This is an organization’s ability to first recognize, then adapt, to fundamental changes in the marketplace. Many times, small-business owners become too myopic, seeing only a limited view of the markets in which they compete. Growth leaders see the bigger picture.

3. Effective growth planning. This is the best predictor of whether or not a business will grow. To be effective, a plan for growth does not need to be overly formal or complicated. However, it does need to be written, well-communicated and regularly updated.

4. Customer-driven processes. These days, every company I talk to believes it is customer-driven, when actually very few really are. Take a look at all of the business processes from a customer’s perspective. Are they in place to make it easier for the company, or to help deliver on the promise of faster, cheaper and better for the customer?

5. The power of technology. Successful leaders don’t let the boom and bust of technology cycles give them the excuse to ignore that we live in an information age. If a company is in business, it is in the technology business.

6. The best and brightest people. Growth leaders recognize that they are only as good as the people with whom they work. The ability to hire, train and retain the best and the brightest people is often the difference between success and failure.

7. Seeing the future. Few organizations take the time to regularly consider the future. Growth leaders learn how to diligently monitor and interpret the macro forces of change affecting the world in which they live.


Additional Phone Lines Allows For Greater Customer Service Success

With the complexity of one’s business comes the stress of an effective phone system. With multiple customer service representatives at my business, I found it hard to find a phone system that could handle the workload of the many users at one time. After researching other options, I found a website that allowed me to not only buy the complete phone system, but also the equipment to add additional lines to my current business system.

After reviewing the cost factors, their company made it easy for me to decide if it was more cost-effective for me to add additional lines to my current phone system or to purchase a new one. After consulting with the phone professionals, it was decided that a key system would be most effective for my business. This decision was made by weighing the costs of purchasing a new system versus upgrading an older one.

Ultimately, cost is most important in deciding the benefits toward one’s company future success. After consulting with my boss, we discussed the positives and negatives in purchasing a new system. While new equipment would be a great addition, we were concerned of the complexity of the new system. We would want to implement our current business activities into its use immediately and would have to be trained on using the new phones.

After great consideration, we purchased a new key system for our near 10 person customer service staff and 100 other employees. After an introduction meeting for the entire staff to the new system, employees were back at work immediately using the new system within an hour.

This decision has been very important to the continued success of my company. I have seen greater results with the speed in which calls are transferred to the appropriate representatives. This allows customers’ needs to be addressed in a more timely manner. Overall, this new system has positively increased the quality of our customer service.

By investing in a better system, the success of my company and the satisfaction of my customers are better dealt with. Quality definitely is essential to effective work equipment. And after taking the time to make a change in my company, I have continuously been satisfied with my decision.


Tips To Improve Your Customer Loyalty

Statistics show that, on average, U.S. companies lose half of their customers every five years.

It’s true that acquiring new customers will help your business grow. However, your current customers are the lifeblood of your business and keeping them happy should be your highest priority. Here are a few ways to make sure your customers keep coming back.

* Understand lost customers. Many business owners mistakenly believe that customers choose to patronize other companies solely because of better prices. While pricing can be a concern, customers often head to the competition when they don’t feel valued.

A change of lifestyle may have also created a situation where customers no longer need your product. By staying in touch with their needs, you might be able to adjust your offering to continue servicing them.

* Know your customer’s top priority. Maybe it’s reliability or speed or cost. Your company should know your clientele’s No. 1 priority and consistently deliver it. Remember, customers’ desires change frequently, so ask yourself this question every six months.

* Acknowledge the lifetime value of customers. The lifetime value of your customers is the income you would gain if a customer stayed with you as long as they could possibly buy your product or service.

For example, the lifetime value of a customer employing a financial adviser could be several decades and could span several generations. Treat the parents well and you could win the children’s business.

* Create a positive first impression. Good first impressions tend to generate loyal customers, and you get only one chance to make a positive first impression. Appearance is important. The exterior and interior of your business should be neat and clean.

* Listen to the customer. Employees should listen actively to customers. Reassure your customers that you genuinely want to help them. Customers will judge your business based on the politeness, empathy, effort and honesty of your staff.

* Address and resolve complaints quickly and effectively. Inevitably, your employees will encounter unsatisfied customers. Whether they’re returning an item or changing a service, customers expect a fair policy. If you cannot offer a resolution immediately, let the customer know when he or she can expect an answer.


Keyword Research It S A Critical Step Any Way You Slice It

Ah, keyword research: the foundation of every successful website out there.

Wow, that’s a strong statement, isn’t it?

Well, it’s true. For those of you who put little to no thought into, OR who don’t understand the high significance of keywords, the keyword research you do before getting one single web page up will have a tremendous impact on how well you market to your target audience.

No pressure.

So, why is this keyword research so darned important, you ask?

Let’s say you and I are standing behind a curtain. You are probably the most revered speaker in your area of expertise. I pull back the curtain and motion for you to go up to the podium and speak in front of an audience of about 200.

No problem. You pull some notes out of your pocket, confidently place your hands on the mic and speak ever so compellingly for about 35 minutes.

After you are finished, the crowd claps nicely…almost out of obligation. You don’t understand. It was actually one of your best presentations yet! You were compelling, but not too sales-y. You presented the problems, outlined the solutions available, and then unveiled your perfect product to fit the bill.

So, what happened?

This audience wasn’t waiting for you…they were actually waiting on someone else who was going to talk about a totally different subject. They don’t even know what you were talking about.

So…..this wasn’t YOUR audience. This was not your target market.

You had everything prepared…you had everything all perfectly laid out to be a “slippery slope” that led right to the obvious solution…your product. But….you were talking to the wrong people.

How does this relate to keyword research?

The visitors you get to your site are a direct relation to what keywords your site is known for. If you are telling the search engines that your site is known for “niche widget solution” or using other keywords such as your name, the name of your business…..that’s not the stuff your market is out looking for.

The keyword research you need to do is to determine what phrases people are searching for that have the problem for your solution. They are searching for “perfect posture” or “correct golf swing” not “Xtreme Putter.” They don’t even know your Xtreme Putter even exists!

And, unless you do effective keyword research, they never will.

So, how do you do the right kind of keyword research? Put yourself in their shoes. If you were someone out there with the problem your product solves, what would you be searching for?

“How to train my dog”

“Popular 30 something hangouts in L.A.”

“Seattle modern art”

“Ping golf clubs”

These are the things prospective buyers are searching for….you just need to have the right keywords as bait to catch them before they go surfing by.


The Importance Of Autoresponders To Internet Marketing

You may have heard the phrase “the money is in the list”, or another similar saying. The reason behind this is that with your list you can target customers that are interested in your product or service. The likelihood of a successful relationship with your customers and to build your list is enhanced with the power of autoresponders.

Internet marketing is made easier with the use of autoresponders. They can fulfil tasks that would otherwise be difficult to complete and also be moulded to fit in with your marketing plan. For example, you may decide that as part of your online marketing efforts you would like to offer a 5-part e-course on your niche area. Without an autoresponder this would be very difficult, effectively and professionally anyway. However, with an autoresponder in your marketing arsenal, you are able to achieve this by automatically sending out your e-course spread over a number of days, keeping your customers interested and eager for the next part of the course. You are then able to target these customers with your future products and services, and will have hopefully built up the trust with your customer and conveyed to them that you are an expert in your field.

Once your autoresponder has been setup, you can rest assured that your emails and follow-up emails are running on autopilot. This saves you a lot of time, which can be spent on your other marketing work.

The number of uses for an autoresponder is vast. You could also set up an autoresponder to deal with invoicing if need be. There are many creative ways that you can use your autoresponder to build customer relations and make more sales.

It is wide belief that a potential customer must hear your message several times before they will commit and make a purchase. This is made possible with an autoresponder and most probably unachievable without one. You’ve probably experienced the scenario when you have received an email from a marketer with a hard sales pitch, to try and force you into buying their product with one message, but you have more likely than not declined the offer. Use an autoresponder and you can take a much more subtle approach to gain the trust of the prospect first off.

A good idea is to build interest among prospects gradually, starting by providing information on the topic that your product is related to. You can then progress from there with each message to include how your product is going to be of benefit to the customer and how it can solve their problem. Do not merely send a few emails saying the respondent should buy your product, else they will be left with questions such as “what will the product do?” and “how will it help me?”. You need to provide informative messages on the topic and how your product is going to solve a problem to keep the potential customer interested and for an end result of convincing the person to make a purchase.

Good practice is to concentrate on how successful marketers may contact you. Keep note of the methods they use and whether they work on you, and you can then mold a plan on the most effective methods that you have encountered and put them into practice with your own efforts.