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Time Management Tips

Tick, Tick, Tick. . . 

Does your work day slip between your fingers and make you wonder where the time went by the time you reach closing time? If so, you may need to re-think your time management skills. Learning how to manage your time can be difficult and take some time to learn but here are some expert tips that can get you started.

  • Maintain a Calendar – Carry your schedule with you at all times. This may mean using an online scheduler and project management tool. Be sure to refer to the calendar regularly throughout the day and keep track of how long regular activities take. This may seem tedious but will give you a better idea of how long certain activities will regularly take. You will then be able to plan your time better in the future.
  • Plan Every Morning – Many business leaders emphasize that what keeps them on track all day is a 30 minute review every morning of what the goals are for the day and week, maybe even the month. Having those goals in mind before you start meetings or rushing from activities to activity can keep you focused.
  • Know How to Delegate – Having a trusted employee who can handle some of your daily duties can mean you can attend to more important duties. Someone who can field your email and phone calls as well as prioritizing them can help you stay on task all day long.
  • Eliminate Distractions – Start paying attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Eliminate those distractions by closing your door or doing work in a separate area. Or set aside a certain time of day when you are free.
  • Start Early – While it might be nice to sleep in or have a lazy coffee, getting an early start is the hallmark of leaders who have time management mastered.

 

Organization Skills for Business Leaders

One characteristic of exceptional leadership (that many times is overlooked) is the organization skills of that leader. Sure, we have all had a great boss whose desk is a mess or can’t seem to keep meetings straight, but for every one of those types of leaders there are leaders who have their business lives organized. Here are a few tips for business leaders to maintain organization.

  • Planning – There never seems to be enough time in the day for business leaders. That is why planning is a critical part of being organized and taking advantage of every moments to get things done. Many leaders believe that using one calendar for the entire office can help keep things organized. Google Calendar and other online options can keep everyone on the same page and reduce overbooking a day.
  • Office Management – Many businesses have a designated person who keeps the office organized. For example, when the copier breaks down or the clients are running late, an employee should be a point person that can keep things running smoothly even in the absence of the owners or management.
  • Goals – While it is a great idea to have a planning calendar, often managers and owners can get bogged down by the day-to-day activities and not keep the ultimate goal in mind. Organized business leaders have regular meetings with key members of the team or office staff to check in on goals and see whet the progress is for each goal. Be sure to set both realistic as well as long and short term goals. Prioritize them according to your company’s needs.
  • Clean Things Up – At the end of each long work day it is tempting to leave for home and relax with your family. Take an extra ten minutes to tidy your desk and prep for the next day’s meetings or activities. You won’t believe how good it feels to come in the next day with a start on the day already.

Communication: Best Business Practices

Communication is the life of any company whether it is communicating with employees or clients. Business leaders are expected to be able to effectively and clearly communicate with stakeholders, customers and employees. While many business leaders have found their own unique skill of communicating through years of practice, there are some common strategies that they all seem to master. Let’s take a look at the best practices of communicating skills. 

  • Be Clear – If an employee leaves a staff meeting not quite sure what you mean then you are not being clear enough in your speech. When speaking and giving directives to employees give clear and precise points. Many successful business leaders find that being repetitive about goals, work habits, and projects can help employees understand what they need to accomplish.
  • Be Approachable – As a business leader, you want clients, employees and business partners to feel that they can come to you for clarification about an issue without feeling like they are in trouble or bothering you. Be open and understand that clarification can only mean that they are trying to give you what you are asking for.
  • Use Many Communication Formats – While it may seem that everyone is on technology these days, communication should come in all different forms from: emails, inter-office communication, newsletters, phone calls and in-person visits. Different personalities respond better to varying forms of communication.
  • Be Present and Timely – When clients, employees or others need to talk with you, be present with them instead of trying to juggle multiple activities at once. In addition to being present, respond in a timely to questions or issues whether it is via email or in person.
  • Listen and Ask – One of the most important parts of communicating is not talking, but rather listening and asking questions to find out the heart of the matter.

Tips for First Time Managers

Are you about to be promoted to a leadership position in your company, or have you just gained employment in your first management position? First of all, congratulations! Being in charge of a team is exciting and requires juggling many things at once. If you have never been in a leadership position you may be a bit intimidated at the thought of being a leader and having team members look to you for answers and directions. There are, however,  a few things that you can do to make the transition to leader/manager a little easier. Here are a few tips from management experts and human resources professionals.

  • Know Your Stuff – In other words, know the business inside and out.  This may take time to study, research and ask tons of questions but the more you actually know the more you will be respected and seen as a source of information. This also goes for knowing what each member of your team does. Spend time with senior leaders as well as team members and ask questions. The more you know, the more you can help your team focus.
  • Delegate – A common problem with new leaders is that they tend to take on too much and get overwhelmed. Realize that you can not be everywhere at once  or do everything alone. Create an environment where you are actively relying on others to help carry projects. You will still be informed, but you need to let others lead so they can grow their abilities and perspective.
  • Create Priorities – As a team leader or manager, there will be lot on your plate.  Start by prioritizing what needs to be done and communicating that to your team.  The more they understand what is important to you the better they can work.
  • Find a Mentor – Whether it is senior leadership or someone in your field, find someone you can trust to be a sounding board in tough times. This person should be someone you are not in direct competition with but has a vested interest in seeing the company and you succeed.
  • Be a Role Model – As a leader, you are probably the inspiration and model for your team members. Your employees are going to look to you to gauge how they should act and how to persevere through workplace challenges. Be a role model and lead by example.  Allow for give and take and learning opportunities. Remember, you are still learning too.

 

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

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Common Business Leadership Mistakes

We all know the “bad boss” types: the “micro-manager, the “know-it-all”, or perhaps the “missing-in-action” boss. These nicknames are great for water cooler talk but in the long run these business leadership mistakes can be disastrous for your company. If you find yourself in a leadership position at your company, it may be time to do some self evaluation to examine if you are making the most common mistakes. Here is a list to help you get your act together.

  • Too Involved? or Not Involved Enough? – Finding a balance between managing every step of a project and stepping back until the completion is a difficult task for even the most seasoned leaders. Many leaders want to avoid micromanagement but in doing so become too hands off. The problem is that if your team misunderstood the specifications of the project it may be too late once it is completed. Leaders and managers must find the right balance between being a Laissez Faire leader and a micro-manager.
  • Communication Nightmares – Team members need prompt and helpful feedback. According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don’t provide prompt feedback to your people, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.
  • Being a Role Model – Leading by example is the best way to show your team members how to be professional and the work ethic that you desire. When it comes to achieving results, there is no substitute for leadership by example instead of the “Do as I say, not as I do.” Double standards have no place in business leadership.
  • Lack of Delegation – According to Inc. Online the key to leadership success is to learn to effectively delegate both the responsibility for completing assignments and the authority required to get things done. Whenever you prepare to take on a new task or assignment, make a point to ask yourself whether one of your employees can do it instead.
  • Being Boring – Your employees spend anywhere from 8-12 hours of their day in your office or working for the “good of the company”. Not having any fun during those hours is a huge mistake. Fun doesn’t mean that employees are losing efficiency or productivity. The best leaders make their organizations fun places to be. Your people spend about one-third of their lives at work. Make it a pleasant place for them.
  • Not Recognizing Excellence – There are many things that leaders can do to recognize employees that cost little or no money, are easy to implement, and take only a few minutes to accomplish. When you take the time to recognize employees’ achievements, the result is improved morale, performance, and loyalty.

 

Holding Productive Staff Meetings

When employees hear the word staff meeting the first thing that may come to mind is . . .  “time waster.”  According to a recent survey of U.S. professionals by Salary.com, meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer. For many employees, staff meetings are seen as a time when a manager may drone on and on, or “Bob” from marketing hijacks the meeting or worse yet, when they are continually asking themselves “why am I here?”  There’s no quicker way to sap employee morale and productivity than by convening a meeting that fails to produce results. However, this doesn’t need to be the case.  If done correctly, meetings can be effective, spark creativity, unite the group and prompt meaningful action.  Let’s look at some suggestions to keep your meetings on track and make them fruitful and productive.

  1. Purpose – Every meeting should have a purpose or goal.  It should not just be held because it is Monday and meetings are always on Monday.  That purpose should be laid out in a written agenda that clearly states what will be discussed and materials that employees will need with them.  Tell them your time frame so they know how much time to block off for the meeting.
  2. Involve Everyone – There really is nothing worse than going to a meeting where an employee feels invisible.  Don’t let one person hog the show or overrule others.  Make sure you hold a meeting where everyone’s voice is heard.  Meetings that offer everyone a chance to voice their opinions and insight are much more productive than meetings that only have one or two voices in conversation.
  3. Ban Distractions – With so many people tethered to their smartphones, it is no doubt that they are a distraction.  Ask that phones, tablets, or other devices be put aside while discussions are happening.  Note taking is usually allowable but during brainstorming or back-and-forth discussions assign a note taker so others can concentrate on the task at hand.
  4. Follow Up – One chief complaint about meetings is that items that were discussed and actions that were decided upon somehow don’t get done. Compile the meeting’s notes into action items and distribute them to everyone who attended. Appoint someone to keep track of who’s responsible for doing what and by when. This helps people understand that the end of the meeting signals the start of taking action.
  5. Give Credit Where Credit is Due – Sometimes staff meetings get caught up in the minutia of everyday workplace activities.  It is a good idea to spend some time during each meeting doling out praise for a job well done or a key project completed.  The positive reinforcement will go a long way to keep morale up and employees inspired to do more.

Top Project Management Systems

If your business is like so many others, you probably have multiple projects in the works simultaneously.  How do you keep all team members informed?  How is the project broken down into manageable parts?  Every project you work on needs a timeline that includes calendars, a road map to completion, and a listing of sub-projects with the priority level of each one.  Finding the right Project Management System for your company may be just the right thing for your growing workload.  Let’s look at some of the top Project Management Systems and find out what makes them so successful.

Project management software has the capacity to help plan, organize, and manage resources for your entire team whether they operate remotely or in the office.  Depending upon the software that you choose, it can manage:  time allocation, budget resources, communication abilities, link project files, and make decision making easier when breaking down a project into smaller parts. Floow the links for more specifc tools for each system.

  • Basecamp – One of the more popular project management tools is Basecamp by 37Signals. This is a a company which believes that less is more, Basecamp focuses on communication between users to achieve optimum performance. It allows for work to be divvied up easily between the right members of a group.  When it comes to file sharing, Basecamp supports every popular file formats, ranging from word documents to images to any file type. When it comes to revisions, uploaded files with the same file name will not overwrite existing files, and the older file will be archived so that people can see what changes have been made. For uploaded images, users get to preview it first before downloading the file. For over 10 years, millions have relied on Basecamp to help them get their projects done on time, on budget, and on point.
  • Trello – Trello is fast, flexible, and even fun to use, and in minutes you’ll organize all of the components for your projects into columns and cards that are easy to drag around, add supporting details to, comment on, and assign from person to person on your team. You can create different boards for different projects, set due dates or times for each card or set of cards, and more.
  • Liquid Planner – This project management tool is easy to use and extremely customizable to your unique projects.  Liquid Planner is for businesses that need to stay disciplined in their planning and need a world class scheduling tool.  It’s amazing tracking features can help you monitor the project at each step.
  • Podio – Citrix Podio is the new way to organize, communicate and get work done. More than 500,000 organizations use Podio to run projects and company departments. This includes everyone from small growing companies using Podio to run their entire businesses to innovative teams in enterprises. Podio speeds communication and provides the transparency and accountability needed for efficient teamwork, by enabling people to organize and track work in one easy-to-use place.(Source: Review at Capterra)
  • Merlin – Merlin Project is the leading professional project management software for Mac OS X. Developed by project managers for project managers, Merlin truly delivers in meeting your professional requirements.Merlin is recognized globally not only by its customers but with numerous industry awards. Merlin stands apart as the most professional tool for projects of all kinds on the Apple Macintosh.

Effective Communicators

boost_effective_communication_among_family_1_635018772422033232Business leaders are expected to have many skills to draw upon in their role as owner, manager or department head.  One of the most important tools that every business leader should is the ability to be an effective communicator.  Facilitating information sharing in a positive and easy-to-understand manner can substantially contribute to the success of a business. Let’s look at the key elements of being (or becoming) an effective communicator.

A good communicator has. . .

  • Clarity of Message – Good communicators communicate clearly whether in writing, speaking or via body language. Ambiguous statements or questions not only show a lack of knowledge of the topic or problem but an inability to deal with the situation. Effective communicators organize their thoughts, speak with a confident voice, project their  voice, make eye contact and answer or speak with a purpose.
  • An Understanding of the Audience – An effective communicator knows who they are talking to, and they understand the style of communication will vary based on the recipient. For example, you probably talk to your co-workers very differently than you talk to your boss. Good communicators look for feedback from the audience to signal they understand such as: smiles, nodding heads or eye contact.  An effective communicator can read those signals and cater his/her message to the needs of the audience.
  • Effective listening skills – Communication is not just one way. Effective listening means really hearing what the other person is saying as well. In order to be a good communicator, paraphrase what the other person is saying, ask questions, and use body language to indicate that you are hearing what the person is saying.
  • Self evaluation skills – An effective communicator can self regulate things like:  tone of voice, filler words (like um or ah), distracting body language signals, eye contact, and facial expressions.
  • A Positive Attitude – An effective communicator is positive even in the face of harsh criticism.  Obviously, be authentic in the personality you portray but also keep in mind that no one likes to hear repeatedly, “No”, “You can’t” or “Not possible”. Keep messages positive and answer any criticisms with professionalism and, if possible, a smile.

Challenges of Leaders

Business leaders wear many different “hats” on a daily basis.  They are motivators, coaches, moderators, and sometimes disciplinarians.  Regardless of the type of business or role that the leader is currently “playing,” there are always challenges that crop up.  Challenges may be extremely  common or extremely unique to your field. They may be  temporary glitches or or ongoing issues.  Let’s examine some of the challenges facing business leaders today.

  • Maintaining Focus – Over the course of a day, week, month or year there are innumerable demands of a business leader’s time.  Effective leaders know how to prioritize what should have their attention and what can be delegated.  This may take years of trial and error or careful mentoring, but knowing where to focus attention is a challenge that can trip up even the most seasoned leader.  Having clear goals (both short and long term) can help overcome this challenge as well as maintaining a focused “to-do” lists which is clearly communicated with the rest of the team.
  • Motivating the Team – Unfocused or unmotivated team members can really undermine the completion of a specific goal and bring morale way down in your office.  Sometimes the “fix” may be communicating the mission and goals to the employee, while other times it may be figuring out a good incentive program.  Keeping workers happy also makes them more motivated to do a good job, therefore, be sure to foster a positive workplace environment.
  • Open Communication – Business leaders want to be approachable but also, at the same time, they want to maintain a sense of authority.  The balance can be a tricky one.  Carve out time for brainstorming and strategy sessions where you openly communicate and discuss issues. Make employees aware that you want feedback and encourage them to add their “two cents” in positive and constructive manners.
  • Creating Team Unity – Teams that do not work well together often take a lot longer to complete even routine tasks, not to mention larger projects. It is up to the leadership in your business to cultivate a positive workplace where relationships can grow.  Team building, matching project partners by personality or even just simple things like eating lunch together can help bridge the gaps in relationships.
  • Balancing Consistency with knowledge of individuality – Leaders need to be consistent in their policy’s and even in their actions in the workplace.  However, all employees are not the same.  Leaders must learn, through experience, how to balance the idea of treating people in a consistent manner and knowing that exceptions must always be made.