Archive for empowerment

Good presentation tips

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , on August 28, 2010 by virtualcitypa

There are four aspects of a good presentation that we should all be aware of: 1) The purpose of the presentation is chrystal clear 2) The message is concise 3) Well prepared 4) Vivid message delivery

Understand what you want to achieve.

Before you start working on your talk or presentation, it’s vital that you really understand what you want to say, who you want to tell and why they might want to hear it. To do this, ask yourself: Who? What? How? When? Where? Why?

When it comes to wording your message, less is more. You’re giving your audience headlines. They don’t need to and are usually not expecting to become experts on the subject as a result of hearing your talk.

If you’re using slides, limit the content of each one to a few bullet points, or one statement or a very simple diagram

Be prepared

Preparation is underrated. In fact, it is one of the most important factors in determining your communication successes.

Of course, not all communications can be scheduled. In this case, preparation may mean having a good, thorough understanding of the office goings-on, enabling you to communicate with the knowledge you need to be effective, both through verbal and written communications.

Unforgettable delivery

Your delivery of your speech or presentation will make or break it, no matter how well you’ve prepared and crafted your clear, concise message. Some useful tips for keeping your presentation vivid include:

  • Use examples to bring your points to life
  • Keep your body language up-beat – don’t stay stuck behind a rostrum
  • Don’t talk to fast. Less is more here too. Pauses are effective.
  • Use a variety of tones of voice
  • Use visual aids.

We thank MindTools.com for this insight to effective presentations

http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/PublicSpeaking.htm

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

Top 10 Tips for Outsourcing Success

Posted in Outsourcing with tags , , on January 26, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Entrepreneurs and small businesspeople are always looking for creative ways to accomplish more of their business goals for less money. One strategy that can help you save time, money and frustration as you start and build your business is to outsource as much work as possible to skilled, but cost-effective, external service providers.

Following this advice can help you get the most out of your relationships with external vendors or contractors — whether you use the web to find service providers or are requesting and evaluating quotes from vendors the “old fashioned” way.

1. Clearly define the scope and schedule for your project
This might seem obvious, but any successful outsourced project always starts with a clear statement of what you are hoping to accomplish. Define your project requirements up front. Service providers need accurate, complete information to present you with realistic proposals and to quote you a reasonable price. Be specific about the deliverables you expect the vendor provide. Give vendors as much information as you can about what you need delivered and the way in which you need the work done. Also, be clear and realistic about your schedule requirements – project schedules can have a huge impact on project costs.

2. Evaluate a service provider like you’d hire a full-time employee
When you’re evaluating proposals from service providers, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just like hiring a full-time employee, selecting a vendor is a very subjective experience. Check their references and ask for feedback from other clients who have used their services. Engage in a dialog – if you have any concerns about a vendor’s specific capabilities, voice your concerns. Don’t just stew about it and hope for the best.

3. Look for specific experience fit
Ideally, the service provider you select will have specific experience with the type of project that you’re undertaking. You don’t want to be somebody’s “guinea pig.” This is especially crucial when outsourcing complex technical projects such as software development. For example, if you’re looking for someone to develop an application for the Palm PDA, make sure they’ve actually completed commercial projects on that platform for other satisfied customers. This advice holds true for other types of projects as well. If you need a business plan for opening a retail store, you’ll get best results if the consultant you hire has verifiable experience in the retail sector.

4. Don’t choose a vendor based solely on price
Though it might be tempting, never select a vendor based solely on price. Experienced buyers who have outsourced many projects and evaluated hundreds of proposals almost always recommend discarding the highest-priced and lowest-priced bid. Buyers report that their most successful projects are the ones where they felt the vendor offered a balance of good value and quality results.

5. Review portfolios and samples
Examine the vendor’s previous work (their “portfolio”) and make sure that their previous work meets your expectations for quality and style. If you’ve evaluated a vendor’s portfolio, references and previous experience and are still unsure of their capabilities, consider asking them to do a quick mock-up or provide a basic outline of a work plan. A service provider who really wants to win your business might be able to give you a rough concept so you can better understand their approach to solving your problem. But never cross the line between asking for a mock-up and insisting that a vendor provide you with finished work “on spec.” No qualified professional expects to work for free.

6. Start small
When engaging with a service provider for the first time, start with a project that is relatively small and simple in scope. This will give you a better idea of the provider’s style and capabilities before you entrust a “mission critical” project to them.

7. Tie payment to clearly defined project milestones
Just as you should be clear about project scope, make sure that you define a work plan for your outsourced project with clearly defined milestones. Having scheduled checkpoints where you review the status of the project as it works toward completion—is an easy way to ensure that you meet your final deadline and that the final product meets your standards. Tie the vendor’s payment to these milestones. A good guideline for IT and software development projects is to pay no more than 20% to 30% of the total project price up front, with the rest of the payments awarded based on the completion of 3 or 4 milestones.

8. Negotiate ownership of work up front
For any type of outsourced project, make sure that you are clear about who owns the resulting work product and any important components of that product. Make sure the service provider understands how you intend to use the deliverables that they are agreeing to provide. For example, the development of a custom software application for your personal use would be substantially different from the development an application that you intend to package and re-sell.

9. Don’t forget about support after the project is complete
For technology projects, it’s a good idea to specify a warranty or support clause so that you are assured of some amount of continuing support from the vendor after the project is complete. It’s much easer to negotiate a support clause before the service provider begins work, rather than after the completion of the project. Even creative or business services can benefit from a support clause. Suppose you need some changes to a business plan based on feedback that you get from potential investors. Or maybe you find that you need that snazzy new logo delivered in a new type of file format. Specifying some amount of free support or negotiating discounted prices for future modifications can save you time, money and headaches later on.

10. Get it in writing
During the course of a service engagement, the scope of the project, deliverables or even the agreed upon price may change. Make sure that you clearly communicate any schedule, scope or payment changes to your service provider and get confirmation from them – in writing – that they understand and agree to the changes. Similarly, keep a record of any agreement changes requested by the service provider and whether you accept or reject those modifications. Save copies of any email exchanges that you have.

You can access top-notch expertise any time you need it without the overhead of hiring full-time staff. By staying focused on your core competencies and hiring expert freelancers for your other needs, you can compete with the delivery capabilities of larger organizations while maintaining your independence.

http://entrepreneurs.about.com/cs/beyondstartup/a/uc041003a.htm

Management Styles – which suits you..?

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Sometimes its interesting to take a step back to review where you fit in the text book world of business. Where am I now and how do people see me..?

Democratic Management Style

A democratic manager delegates authority to his/her staff, giving them responsibility to complete the task given to them (also known as empowerment). Staff will complete the tasks using their own work methods.

However, the task must be completed on time. Employees are involved in decision making giving them a sense of belonging and motivating individuals. Because staff feel a sense of belonging and are motivated the quality of decision making and work also improves.

Although popular in business today, a democratic management style can slow decision making down because staff need to be consulted. Also some employees may take advantage of the fact that their manager is democratic by not working to their full potential and allowing other group members to ‘carry’ them.

Autocratic Management Style

In contrast to the above an autocratic manager dictates orders to their staff and makes decisions without any consultation. The leader likes to control the situation they are in.

Decision are quick because staff are not consulted and work is usually completed on time. However this type of management style can decrease motivation and increase staff turnover because staff are not consulted and do not feel valued.

Consultative Management style

A consultative management style can be viewed as a combination of the above two. The manager will ask views and opinions from their staff, allowing them to feel involved but will ultimately make the final decision.

Laissez Faire Management style

A laisses faire manager sets the tasks and gives staff complete freedom to complete the task as they see fit. There is minimal involvement from the manager. The manager however does not sit idle and watch them work! He or she is there to coach or answer questions, supply information if required.

There are benefits, staff again are developed to take responsibility which may lead to improved motivation. However with little direct guidance from the manager staff may begin to feel lost and not reach the goals originally set within the time frame.

http://www.learnmanagement2.com/leadership%20styles.htm