Archive for July, 2010

Be more successful – Delegate more

Posted in Lifestyle Management, Management / Leadership, Time Management with tags , , , , on July 22, 2010 by virtualcitypa

There is only so much time in the day, so it is important to delegate tasks as the managementstudyguide.com reports:

A manager alone cannot perform all the tasks assigned to them. In order to meet the targets, the manager should delegate authority. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. Delegation is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results.

Elements of Delegation

1. Authority – in context of a business organisation, authority can be defined as the power and right of a person to use and allocate the resources efficiently, to take decisions and to give orders so as to achieve the organisational objectives.

Authority must be well- defined. All people who have the authority should know what is the scope of their authority is and they shouldn’t misutilise it.

Authority is the right to give commands, orders and get the things done.

The top level management has greatest authority. Authority always flows from top to bottom. It explains how a superior gets work done from his subordinate by clearly explaining what is expected of him and how he should go about it. Authority should be accompanied with an equal amount of responsibility.

Delegating the authority to someone else doesn’t imply escaping from accountability. Accountability still rest with the person having the utmost authority.

2. Responsibility – is the duty of the person to complete the task assigned to them. A person who is given the responsibility should ensure that they accomplish the tasks assigned to them. If the tasks for which he was held responsible are not completed, then they should not give explanations or excuses.

Responsibility without adequate authority leads to discontent and dissatisfaction among the person.

Responsibility flows from bottom to top. The middle level and lower level management holds more responsibility.

The person held responsible for a job is answerable for it. If they perform the tasks assigned as expected, they are bound for praises. While if they don’t accomplish tasks assigned as expected, then also they are answerable for that.

3. Accountability – means giving explanations for any variance in the actual performance from the expectations set.

Accountability can not be delegated. For example, if ‘A’ is given a task with sufficient authority, and ‘A’ delegates this task to B and asks them to ensure that task is done well, responsibility rest with ‘B’, but accountability still rest with ‘A’.

The top level management is most accountable. Being accountable means being innovative as the person will think beyond his scope of job. Accountability ,in short, means being answerable for the end result.

Accountability can’t be escaped. It arises from responsibility.

For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps : –

1. Assignment of tasks and duties
2. Granting of authority
3. Creating responsibility and accountability

Delegation of authority is the base of superior-subordinate relationship, it involves following steps:-

1. Assignment of Duties – The delegator first tries to define the task and duties to the subordinate.

2. Granting of authority – Subdivision of authority takes place when a superior divides and shares his authority with the subordinate. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results.

3. Creating Responsibility and Accountability – The delegation process does not end once powers are granted to the subordinates. They at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them.

www.managementstudyguide.com/delegation_of_authority.htm

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How to win the commitment of staff

Posted in Office Management with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Having committed staff is key for small buinesses and this is why Virtual City PA would like to refer to this article from teamtechnology.co.uk.

Top tips to having dedicated support from colleagues and co-workers:

The most powerful motivators are not monetary. They include a variety of things, such as:

* a sense of achievement
* a feeling that the job is worthwhile
* thanks or recognition from respected people
* a sense of having made a difference
* contributing to a long term vision
* developing a new understanding
* bringing organisation into a situation of chaos
* building up knowledge, skill or experience

Not all of these are of the same importance for each individual – different people are motivated by different things. This is of particular relevance when deciding how to tackle the issue, because there are (broadly speaking) two approaches:

1. developing a standard approach
2. enabling staff to develop their own approach

The problem with option (1) is that it often presumes that employees have a particular type of motivation. If they do, then the approach you introduce will work. But if they don’t then your standard approach will not win their commitment (at most you will gain ‘compliance’ with your appraoch which, in a customer service environment, is just not good enough). Proponents of this option may argue that a standard approach is required to achieve quality – but if supposed “quality” is achieved at the expense of staff commitment, then the level of customer service will be poor.

The value of option (2) – which enables staff to become the architects of their own customer service – is that staff can incorporate the things that motivate them in to that approach. You need standards as well – but if staff are involved in the development of those standards then then are much more likely to be committed to them.

Customer Service Workshops

Staff can become architects of the customer service through a workshop-based approach. Take your team offsite for a couple of days, and take them through a syndicate-based process where they:

* think about their own experiences – good and bad
* define what is (generically) good customer service
* apply those definitions to their own environment
* ask a customer to make a presentation (followed by Q&A) on “the type of service I want from you”. Have syndicate discussions afterwards to review the issues raised.
* get them to produce an action plan to follow up on the workshop.
* appoint a follow-up manager, to make sure that all the output from the workshops is supported by management, and progress on actions are regularly communicated to everyone involved

This approach gives staff:

* direct exposure to customers’ views of the service they provide
* the opportunity to shape the future customer service (and thereby implicitly include what motivates them)
* full support from management
* an efficient communication mechanism to see that their suggestions are being acted upon

These are the essential components for winning commitment of staff to better customer service.

http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/customer-service.html

Team Building – A Complete Guide

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , on July 8, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Team Building is the process of improving collective performance.

Small businesses need to work harmoniously to really thrive and this is why we thought this exert from the teamtechnology.co.uk website was relevant for many of our clients.

Simple but effective way of making team building work include:

* Establishing ownership of shared goals
* Removing inhibitors/blockages to achievement of those goals
* Introducing enablers (awareness, resources, information, processes, etc.) to help achieve those goals
* Using team building processes (e.g.: health checks, performance management, 360 feedback)

Team Building is often ineffective because:

* In many cases, advanced techniques are used whilst there is a lack of buy in to the shared objectives (commitment to team building activities is predicated on commitment to the overall direction/goals)

* Interventions are made out of sequence (e.g.: a poorly defined structure, roles and responsibilities will undermine attempts to improve interpersonal relationships)

* Many offsite events fail to add any real, lasting value because the approach taken to team building is too generic(any offsite event should be designed to meet specific goals and outcomes

* There is often a lack of understanding of the difference between a group and a team (team building with a group can be counter-productive, detracting from individual performance without any compensatory collective benefit)

* There is a lack of assessment of the team (diagnosis is required in order to develop effective intervention strategies)

Objectives

In the Forming stage (Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing), individuals are committed, at most, to their own objectives. Members will only invest time in Storming activities if they think it is worth it – that is, if the collective objectives are seen as important as their own.

A common mistake is for individuals to think that being committed to their own objectives means they are committed to the team.

As in the age-old metaphor where a house needs to be built on rock, the foundation of all team building is commitment to the shared goal.

Techniques

If team building is viewed as a commodity, as a product to be purchased from a supplier, then it is unlikely to have any lasting value. Having an awayday, playing games or doing fun things will generally lead to lasting and improved collective performance only in the context of a good plan, where events are bespoke (designed to meet specific objectives and outcomes). In fact, having an awayday without good design is taking a gamble – it may achieve something, be a waste of time, or even damage teamwork.

The choice of intervention strategy depends not only on the current state of teamwork, but on the nature of the people. For highly motivated individuals, it can be enough to set a high level direction and then allow individuals to contribute to the detailed development of the goals. For others, whose natural motivations are more individual, there may need to be objective-based rewards that require teamwork. In some instances, where high levels of teamwork cannot be achieved, they may only be effective in the Forming stage, which is highly dependent on leadership.

Groups

A group is a set of people with individual objectives who happen to share the same boss, or the same workplace, or be part of the same organisational unit. In a group, individuals might even have the same objectives – e.g.: in a sales force, everyone might have the same sales target to meet, but they may also compete against each other rather than cooperate.

A team is a group that works towards a single, common objective. In fact, they might have different individual objectives, but those objectives contribute to the higher collective one. E.g. in a sales team, one person might make appointments, another provide technical sales support, another prepare a bid document, and another make the sale. But they are all accountable together for the sales and are not judged solely on individual objectives.

Strategies

Interventions fall into four main areas:

* Individual – e.g.: development of individual skills; establishing familiarity with shared processes
* Relational – e.g.: improvement of unconscious dynamics; engendering a sense of common purpose and commitment
* In/Out Groups – tackling the barriers between different organisational units
* Cultural – building a teamwork ethos in larger organisations
The foundation of good teamwork is having a shared commitment to common objectives. Without this, all other forms of team building will have a limited impact. Therefore, before using any team building exercises and activities, or team buildinglooking at relationships in the team, or embarking on other forms of team building, you need to put this foundation of shared commitment in place by:

* Clarifying the team goals, and building ownership/commitment to those goals across the team
* Identifying any issues which inhibit the team from reaching their goals, rand emoving the inhibitors
* Putting in place enablers to help the goals be achieved to higher standards
* Using team processes in the correct sequence to help the team climb one rung at a time up the ladder of performance

Team Building is therefore not just a single event (though events can play a part), nor is it something that can be done by someone outside the team (though outside consultants can help). It is a task primarily for the team manager and the team members themselves.

Four Types of Team Building

Once you have established the basic foundation of shared commitment, the approach you then take to team building depends on the size of the team and the types of issues that may be inhibiting good teamwork.

Better teamwork is achieved through dealing with: individuals, small teams, team islands and the organisation.

Individuals

In a project environment, where team composition is continually changing, the emphasis must be on selecting people who are self-starters and developing the skills in individuals to become effective team members very quickly. The ‘scale’ involved is 1 person, and the team building consultant or trainer is endeavouring to change the skills and abilities of the individual at operating within a team (or within multiple teams).

Small Teams

In teams where membership is static – typically in management teams – the motivational challenge is to align the drive of the disparate individuals around the same goals. There can be many inhibitors to performance – eg: personality, dynamics, processes etc., and how the individuals within the team relate to each other can have a big bearing on team performance. So, if a member leaves, or another joins, the dynamics of the team can be changed greatly and the task of team building has to start again. Here, the scale is small – say, 2 to about 12 – and the main priorities are to build the foundation of collective ownership of team objectives, and then overcome inhibitors through team bonding, facilitation, processes, etc..

Team Islands

A larger scale operates between teams. Where the teams do not relate well, they are called ‘team islands’. The motivational challenge is to overcome the problem of “in/out groups” so that people have positive attitudes towards those in other teams. There are often many barriers between teams that inhibit team performance, but not all of them can be removed. The main task, therefore, is the bridging, or relationship, between the teams.

Large Teams

The largest scale is organisational culture change. With the exception of the senior management team, any changes to personnel have limited impact on the corporate culture. The key aim of company-wide team building is to change the behaviours and attitudes prevalent in the organisation, which are almost independent of who actually works there – new recruits who are ‘different’ often start behaving in accord with the existing culture.

Summary

* A team is a group of people working towards a common goal
* Team building is a process of motivating and enabling the team to achieve that goal
* The stages involved include clarifying the team goals, building ownership, removing inhibitors, introducing enablers and using processes to move up the ladder of performance
* The nature of the team building varies in terms of scale, and what you are trying to achieve:

http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/h-articl/tb-basic.htm

The easiest way to get new business

Posted in Marketing with tags , , , on July 5, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Network Marketing Lead Generation

Nowadays it is called networking, but it used to be known as hunting; and this is REAL hunting:

    Spot your quarry, thrill to the chase and develop a killer instinct!

You already have a network

In a small or medium-sized business or a professional partnership there should never be a need for cold calling. Stop for a moment and consider how many people you know. It will run into hundreds:

    * existing clients
    * other professional contacts
    * friends
    * family
    * people at the sports or social club
    * committee members you may work with.

These groups are the fuel that people in network marketing use to generate leads and propel their businesses into the big time.

And this is just for starters. Pool your resources with all the other key people in your office and you’ve got a big and valuable database.

See every invitation that lands on your desk as an opportunity for lead generation. Say to yourself: ‘Aha, a chance to meet new contacts, to make new sales or increase my fees!’

Work the Room

Now don’t get me wrong, working the room requires the courage of a lion and nerves of steel. If you feel a bit shy and nervous, don’t worry. Most people feel exactly the same and only the most accomplished and regular networker will feel at ease.

What’s the problem? For most it is fear of rejection. But the well-known international motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says: ‘Fear? False Evidence Appearing Real!’

How often have you been rejected at a business or social gathering? When was the last time someone turned their back on you, ignored you or rejected your extended hand? No matter how many times I ask this question, the answer is always NEVER.

So take a deep breath, approach someone new, introduce yourself and ask for their name. They will mentally hug you for approaching them as they are probably more nervous than you.

Networking is like learning to drive or learning to touch type – it’s always a bit uncomfortable at first. But how long does this feeling last? You’ll soon feel just as comfortable about networking as you do behind the wheel of your car or at your word processor.

You don’t necessarily want business from them but you can ask them the question: ‘Who do you know who may be interested in.?’. People, generally, want to help you with lead generation. Why? Because it makes them feel good!

Work the room enthusiastically, your confidence will build, you’ll begin to enjoy these events and new business will flow. This is real network marketing or word-of-mouth marketing

From Cave Dweller to Hunter

There’s a common theme to driving, typing and networking. Practice and a positive attitude make perfect. Ask yourself four questions:

    * Am I good at what I do?
    * Do I provide a great service?
    * Have I got the capacity to take on more?
    * Do I want more fees or sales?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, then leave your cave, and start hunting!

For more information:
Will Kintish

Will Kintish is the Founder and Managing Director of Kintish Ltd, a UK-based training organisation who show people how to grow their business through networking.

5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance

Posted in Lifestyle Management, Time Management with tags , , , on July 1, 2010 by virtualcitypa

At Virtual City PA, we feel its important to remember to keep a healthy work-life balance and are here to help take the strain. These 5 tips from Sherry Rauh made a lot of sense..

1. Figure Out What Really Matters to You in Life

1. If my life could focus on one thing and one thing only, what would that be?
2. If I could add a second thing, what would that be?
3. A third?
4. A fourth?
5. A fifth?

If you answer thoughtfully and honestly, the result will be a list of your top five priorities.  Research shows that a typical top-five list might include some of the following:

    * Children
    * Spouse
    * Satisfying career
    * Community service
    * Religion/spirituality
    * Health
    * Sports
    * Art
    * Hobbies
    * Adventure/travel

2. Drop Unnecessary Activities

By making a concrete list of what really matters to you, you may discover you’re devoting too much time to activities that aren’t a priority, and you can adjust your schedule accordingly.

If at all possible, you could try dropping any commitments and pursuits that don’t make your top-five list, because unnecessary activities keep you away from the things that matter to you.

3. Protect Your Private Time

You would probably think twice before skipping out on work, a parent-teacher conference, or a doctor’s appointment. Your private time deserves the same respect. “Carve out hours that contribute to yourself and your relationship,” says Stevan Hobfoll, PhD, distinguished professor of psychology at Kent State University, and co-author of Work Won’t Love You Back: The Dual Career Couple’s Survival Guide. Guard this personal time fervently and don’t let work or other distractions intrude. “Stop checking email and cell phones so often,” Hobfoll advises. “Few people are so important that they need their phones on at all times.”

If work consistently interferes with your personal time, Hobfoll recommends discussing some adjustments with your boss. “There’s a mythology in the workplace that more hours means more.” Demonstrate that you can deliver the same or better results in fewer hours. Your job performance “should never be judged in terms of hours of input,” Hobfoll says. Protecting your private time often leads to “greater satisfaction in both work life and personal life, greater productivity, and more creativity.”

If you’re your own boss, it’s up to you to create boundaries that keep work from intruding on family time. Lachlan Brown is president of Tech for People, a small business consulting firm specializing in Internet marketing. “I make it very clear at the beginning of any new business relationship that if I work nights and/or weekends then this is purely by choice,” he tells WebMD. “I’ve told clients more than once that if they call me at night or on the weekend that they shouldn’t expect me to a) answer the phone and b) reply until the next business day.”

4. Accept Help to Balance Your Life

Allow yourself to rely on your partner, family members, or friends — anyone who can watch the kids or run an errand while you focus on other top priorities. “Try tag-teaming,” Hobfoll suggests. “One spouse works out before dinner, one after dinner, while the other watches the kids.”

To get more alone-time with your partner, accept babysitting offers from friends and family, or try arranging a regular trade-off with another couple. “‘I’ll watch your kids this Saturday if you watch mine next Saturday.’ Tag-teaming is a great way to create extra free time,” Hobfoll says.

5. Plan Fun and Relaxation

Fun and relaxation are an essential part of living a well-balanced life. That’s why Brown makes time for weekly guitar lessons, a yoga class, a date night with his wife, and a guys’ night out a couple times a month. In addition, he exercises on a trampoline in his backyard most days of the week. How does he squeeze in all this playtime while running his business and sharing the responsibilities of raising a daughter? “If you believe that the most important thing is to be happy in life (not when I’m a millionaire or when I retire but right now) then you can always make time.”

Until you get into the habit of taking time for yourself, set aside space in your planner for relaxation and fun. Plan what you’re going to do and make any necessary arrangements to ensure you’ll be able to keep your commitment. “Remember, you make time for what you want to make time for,” Fortgang says. If something is important to you, don’t brush it aside with a dismissive “I don’t have time for that.” You are in charge of your own schedule — it’s up to you to make time.

WebMD “5 practical steps toward better work-life balance” by Sherry Rauh
Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD
http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/5-strategies-for-life-balance?