Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

Most executives want to seem decisive, as people of action, and certainly not as dawdlers or procrastinators. So, they try to make fast decisions.

Still, rushing into decisions is unwise. Before you pull the trigger on a given matter, consider asking these 10 vital questions:

(1) Must a decision be made? For example, one of your employees has given you his two-week's notice. Obviously, he has made a decision, and most of us spring to action, calling Human Resources, or starting a replacement campaign on our own. But this presumes that the person's job must be filled, and the sooner the better. Perhaps you can get along, maybe even better, without someone filling his shoes. Or, you may want to take the time to expand the post, to include other vital duties, and by doing so, you'll need to attract a different type of recruit.

(2) What is this decision really about? Take the same example. Someone leaves. Why did she depart? Was it for personal or professional reasons? Perhaps the departure is not a prompt to replace the person, but to re-engineer the job, or to alter its compensation, or to reflect upon and possibly to correct your management practices. Until you know what the decision is really about, no action should take place.

(3) Am I the one that should make the decision? Maybe you're poor at hiring people, overly sympathetic or too hasty. If you've decided to replace the person, possibly someone else should do the applicant screening and initial recruiting.

(4) Is there a deadline, and if so, is it necessary? Most deadlines are self-imposed and they can lead to haste and to waste. Consciously determine if there is a deadline and if it's helpful or harmful.

(5) What additional information do I need before deciding? As Abe Lincoln reportedly said, he would devote four of five hours allotted for felling a tree to sharpening his axe. Make sure your information is sharp, before deciding.

(6) Can this decision be made, incrementally? If you're thinking of replacing a worker, you might split the task into parts, first determining if you can amass a pool of qualified people. If not, go no further.

(7) Can this decision be reversed, and if so, how easily? If a decision is easy to reverse or to modify, then it can be and perhaps should be made quickly.

(8) What will be the impact on me, and my career if I make a poor decision? Again, the greater the magnitude, the more care that should be taken.

(9) What are all of the obvious consequences of the decision, such as costs, time, effort, and results?

(10) What are some of the potential, unintended consequences? This is hard to assess, but let's say you've decided to take on a replacement worker. This could tie you up in training and monitoring her progress when your calendar is starting to require you to travel more and more. Will you be an effective manager and mentor in those circumstances? Might you easily lose the replacement, as well, and how would this look to your other reports, to your peers, and to your managers? Could the position gain a reputation as a revolving door, and might you be seen as am impossible boss?

By quickly using these questions as a checklist you can increase the odds that your decisions will be good and responsible ones, and have the right impacts.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of Customersatisfaction.com & The Goodman Organization is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service, and the audio program, "The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable," published by Nightingale-Conant. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, a Loyola lawyer, and an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: gary@customersatisfaction.com

For information about coaching, consulting, training, books, videos and audios, please go to http://www.customersatisfaction.com

Writen by Michael Russell

In the last article on medical billing we started our review of the GA0 record, which is the ambulance certification, or CMN. We covered the CMN through field number 12. In this installment we'll be covering fields 13 through the end of the CMN.

GA0 field 13, position 50, is the physical restraints indicator. In some cases, a patient is manic or out of control and needs to be brought to the hospital in restraints. This can be common in cases where a patient is having a seizure. This is done to keep the patient from hurting himself. If restraints are needed, this field is filled in with a Y.

GA0 field 14, position 51, is the Visible Hemorrhaging indicator. If it is clearly visible that the patient is doing so, then this field is filled in with a Y.

GA0 field 15, position 52, is the transport reason code. This is a special code that tells the payer why the patient had to be transported to the hospital. Many times a claim is denied because of this reason code.

GA0 field 16, position 53, is the Medically Necessary indicator. This is filled in with a Y if the provider felt that it was medically necessary for the patient to be transported via ambulance.

GA0 field 17, positions 54 - 57, is the number of miles transported. This needs to be filled in because just like with a taxi cab, patients are billed for this ride based on how many miles they had to be transported to the hospital.

GA0 field 18, positions 58 - 97, is the origin information. This is the address of the patient and must be filled in.

GA0 field 19, positions 98 - 137, is the destination information. This is the address of the hospital and must also be filled in.

GA0 field 20, positions 138 - 217, is the round trip purpose. If the patient was transported to and from the hospital, this information must be filled in. It is extra narrative information and must be stated in plain English.

GA0 field 21, positions 218 - 297, is the stretcher purpose. This is also extra narrative and if the patient needed to be taken on a stretcher, this must also be stated in plain English as to the reason.

GA0 field 22, position 298, is the patient discharged indicator. If the patient was brought to the hospital and then discharged, this must be filled with a Y.

GA0 field 23, position 299, is the patient admitted indicator. If the patient was admitted to the hospital, which is true in almost all cases of an ambulance ride, then this field is filled with a Y.

GA0 field 24, position 300, is the services available indicator. This means that when the patient was brought to the hospital, the services or treatment that the patient needed was available at that hospital. If so, this field is filled in with a Y.

GA0 field 25, positions 301 - 320, is filler national and must be filled with spaces.

In our next installment of medical billing, we'll continue our review of CMNs.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Medical Billing

Lifting Poor Performers

Writen by Tel Asiado

Managers and team leaders, let's face it, if you accept mediocre or poor performers in your team, you'll wind up with a bunch of lowly underachievers, which can add up to unnecessary stresses in your projects. No team leader would want poor performers, but it's a fact of a project life, sometimes they are thrown into the team alongside achievers, either by an error in selection choice for the role, lack of project funds to hire a competent employee, internal politics, and so on.

Leaders need to push for excellence. We should demand the most from our team members, but with discipline and fairness in our dealings, and they'll strive to deliver. If we tolerate a half-hearted effort, we are sending a message that our standards are easy to meet.

If poor performers happen to be part of a project team, certainly, the responsibility falls on the team leader to do something about them.

By transforming underachievers into performers, team leaders will impress not only on themselves but to their bosses, earning a reputation as a results-oriented leader. Staff members will also feel better about themselves once they see they are part of a team that performs par excellence. The desire to excel will feed on itself and teams will no longer settle for second-rate work.

In professional sports, there are many examples of athletes who struggle while playing for a last-place team only to bounce back when they're traded to a playoff contender. The fact that they are suddenly surrounded by a coach and team mates who expect and demand superior performance causes them to dig within themselves and produce much better results.

New managers may mistakenly spend most of their time with their top staff and ignore the others. Ignoring poor or below-average workers allow them to burrow into teams. They'll become increasingly difficult to dislodge once left alone.

A method I continuously practiced as a project leader was to set incremental goals and cheering efforts of my team members to improve. We need to reinforce to team members what they do right by praising them. If they lapse into mediocrity, by all means, as team leaders, we should intervene and remind them of our high expectations and their responsibility to their team.

Some workers will resist entreaties from their superiors. The more excellence is demanded of them, the more they will gripe. This is not often easy to do, but team leaders should ensure they don't dignify their staff's complaining by nodding or looking sympathetic. This teaches team members that in order to earn full attention, they must cut the complaints and commit instead to improving their performance.

Here are some suggestions a team leader can do to propel poor performers to improve:

Champion their strengths: Emphasise what the poor performers do right. Talk up their assets and make them realize how much more they can contribute by harnessing their full potential.

Challenge them to improve in increments: Set short-term goals that require slightly more effort and effectiveness. With each incremental gain, poor performers will be lifted up on to a higher level.

Enlist peers as mentors: As necessary, make most driven, talented performers alongside these poor performers as mentors. Poor team performers often respond well when they're influenced by more successful and supportive co-worker.

Tel Asiado is an Information Technology professional turned writer, author and consultant. Employed by multi-national organizations in information technology, computing and consulting, she has several years of varied experience as project manager, business solution manager, process and information analyst, and as a business writer. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, course credits in MBA majoring in Computer Management, and a diploma in Internet Marketing and Small Business. Her writings also reflect her passions for inspirational/motivational and Christian insights, and classical music. Visit one of her websites: http://inspiredpen.4t.com

Writen by Raji Vinod

As your website grows in terms of attracting more footfalls, generating more business, and providing more content; it will demand more time and attention from you to continue performing. As a businessperson, it is advisable that you concentrate on your core competency, which is the reason why you created the website in the first place.

It would be a strain on your time to continuously work on adding new content and design to your website. It will eat into the time that you would otherwise devote to activities such as building customer leads, obtaining orders, executing orders, coordinating with suppliers, etc. In short, it could affect your bottom-line. In order to avoid such a scenario, it is recommended that you employ the services of a websolutions provider, someone who knows his work. It could even be the person who has been hosting your website till now.

As the size of the database increases, so will the efforts required in managing it. A professional websolutions provider will be best placed to decide everything including the size of images that will load quickly, the best design to provide your website with the most appealing look, how to best ensure compatibility across browsers, adding meta tags to the title and keywords to ensure better indexing with the search engines. Professional webservice providers will also provide you with valuable suggestions and inputs based on their experience and expertise. This will help in ensuring that the pages load quickly and are structured in a manner to ensure clear viewing on different browsers and resolutions. Ease of navigability, addition of any multimedia features such as flash to enhance the user friendliness and appeal of the website are some of the important features that a webservice provider will help you with. It would be very difficult for a businessperson to juggle both sales as well as taking care of the website. Given that there are so many variables involved and the technology keeps getting better and cheaper everyday, outsourcing of your website creation, development, and hosting is a very good idea. If all the aspects of webservice can be trusted to a single webservice provider, then it is even better as the provider can holistically view each aspect before taking a decision. It will also work out to be much cheaper.

The outsourcing of the servicing and hosting of your website is to be preceded by a clear understanding on your part on what you would like achieve by opting for outsourcing.

The following points can be considered.

· Your exact requirements, in terms of the look of the website, utility features such as Flash, Java applets, the level of visibility that you want on the search engines, etc.

· The periodicity of executing each activity, for example the frequency of adding new content, checking for broken links and freezing on the deadlines for completion of each activity.

· The cost of completing the project. Outsourcing the job to experts will always work out to be cheaper.

Breaking down your objectives into manageable portions will help you to execute each portion fast and also to understand the implications of its actual use on the overall effect of the website.

Author has been doing freelancing for many years, and can be reached at FreelanceFree.com. You can bid on unlimited projects for free and post unlimited projects and match them against freelancer portfolios.

Writen by LM Foong

During my early days of employment in the late 80's, the company I worked with engaged a consultant to get the company certified in ISO9002 QMS. I was one of the working committee then. Training was provided, followed by documentation of all our processes. A simple guideline was given to us to "document what we do" and "do what we documented". During that time, this guideline was quite straight forward. So we did and the company obtained its ISO 9002 certification.

In late 90's there was a rush into converting our ISO9002 QMS to meet the new ISO9001:2000 revision. I was told that this new revision is more align to business needs as well as less emphasis on documentation. On the business needs aspect, there is the "Eight Quality Management Principles" in the new revision. They are as follows:-

1) Customer Focus
2) Leadership
3) Involvement of People
4) Process Approach
5) System approach to management
6) Continual improvement
7) Factual approach to decision making
8) Mutually beneficial supplier relationship

Here is the interesting part of this article. The author like to share with readers how some of the companies he worked with interpret these principles and applied them. By no means these companies are wrongly applied the Eight Quality Management Principles. As a matter of fact, these companies has their valid reasons for doing so. This articulation of the principles is written in 3 parts, namely; principles supposed to meant; how it is applied as a case; and author's view to expand its application

Principle 1) Customer Focus "Organizations depend on their customers and therefore should understand current and future customer needs, should meet customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations".

Case 1) Many companies viewed customer needs are obtained from a survey. And as ISO auditor come around to conduct surveillance audit once or twice a year, they get the survey done right before the auditor come around.

Author's view 1) Conducting a survey is a form of documentation. In fact, customer needs can be obtained in many forms (most company knows that). Other than a formal survey, customer needs obtained in other forms such as during customer visits, customers complaints, customer feedback etc. These data should be taken officially as an input into the ISO system

Principle 2) Leadership "Leaders establish unity of purpose and direction of the organization. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization's objectives".

Case 2) Most leaders set direction in the Quality Policy and Quality Objectives. Management reviews were conducted to ensure its fulfillment. However, most leaders are not involved in creating an internal environment in achieving the organization's objectives. Most often than not, they delicate to the Quality manager.

Author's view 2) Delegating to the Quality manager seems to be the most logical role to a Quality Manager. However, in some smaller company, Quality manager does not have enough influencing power to his/her peers hence cannot command radical improvement to the Quality System.

Principle 3) Involvement of People : "People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization's benefit".

Case 3) While most company involve their employee in the ISO compliance effort, some involves them in other aspect of the business especially in production and process improvements as well.

Author's view 3) This is the principle which is well implemented by most companies I came across. While it is perfect to involve employee in ISO compliance aspect. Some involve too much with the employee in selecting improvement projects. It is only logical that employee select projects that they are familiar and easy to do. But this selection often miss the key alignment to the company critical issues.

Principle 4) Process Approach "A desired result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process".

Case 4) All if not most ISO certified companies are very good in production processes. Their ISO documentation for these process are well kept. However, their process approach seem to limit within the production and related supporting departments.

Author's view 4) In the aspect of business process such as decision making, there is lack usage of a process approach in decision making. Often than not, quick decision are expected hence attention is not given to go through a logical steps.

Principle 5) System Approach to Management "Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization's effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives".

Case 5) This area seem to show a loose link between production and the rest of the departments especially the supporting group. In some case, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are established for each department but they are not interdependent.

Principle 6) Continual Improvement "Continual improvement of the organization's overall performance should be a permanent objective of the organization".

Case 6) In general, most companies work on continuous improvement as oppose to continual Improvement. some of the companies take "fire-fighting" as a way to continual improvement. VEry few realize the objective of this principle.

Author's view 6) it is my opinion companies need to understand that source of information to trigger a continual improvement effort. And to establish it in order to clearly identify whether it is a "fire Fighting" or continual improvement.

Principle 7) Factual approach to decision making "Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information".

Case 7) This is probably the weakness principle in terms of its application. To a large extent, Management make decision based on past experience, statement past around and so on. Often minimum data are sough after when a decision is made. Perhaps it is due to time factor. However, this phenomenon is so in the Quality Department.

Author's View 7) This is an important principle management staffs need to develop. Past right decision made may not be repeated due to changes in the business environment.

Principle 8) Mutually beneficial supplier relationship "An organization and its suppliers are interdependent and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value"

Case 8) Most smaller company practice to some extent this principle quite well. perhaps it is due to smaller outfit that cannot command better service from the supplier, person in charge seems to have close relationship with supplier. On the other hand, bigger companies are bound by internal policies that requires 2-3 quotes from different supplier for the same items. Relation ship with supplier does not help to some extent.

Author's View 8) This principle is difficult to master due to the fact that integrity is involved. Unless the company has big volume of purchase and strong vendor development program, it is understandable company pay less attention to this principle.

In summary, while ISO certified companies tried to comply to ISO requirements, they should extent the objectives of these Eight Quality Management Principles to enhance their business such that it become part of their business system.

As a side note, these quality management principles has many similarity to the TQM principles. So, it is of the interest of leaders in ISO certified companies understand it and put an effort to extent the objective of ISO certification beyond certification purpose.

Disclaimer The "Author's View" section provided are merely the author's personal point of view and has no binding to any implication thereof. The author take no responsibility to the use of this article by anyone in any way.

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Resource Box: About the Author, LM Foong

The author holds a MBA major in TQM. He is an expert in Malcolm Baldrige Business Framework and Baldrige Assessment and TQM Implementations in manufacturing and service sector. He facilitates workshops and Cost Reduction and Productivity Improvement projects. He publishes TQM articles, ebooks, case studies, trainer manual and presentation slides available at More to View or Please Visit my Web Site.

Writen by Lydia Quinn

Menu pricing is one of the most important decisions for any restauranteur. It may look easy, but the fact is that you cannot price it simply by your intuition. It requires consideration, observation and asking certain questions. For instance, do you remember your last visit to a market or a mall as a buyer? How many goods had an acceptable price enticing enough to motivate you to make a purchase? In reality, pricing must be an amount that someone else is ready to pay for your service or product.

Creating a restaurant menu is tricky business. Not only does it involve selecting attractive and popular dishes, but also pricing them competitively. Pricing is important not only to make the business profitable, but also to offer good value to customers to win them over.

Tips on Pricing the Food Items

Let's see how to price the food items on the menu:

* Generally, successful restaurants keep the food costs in the range of 27 to 32% of food sales. These percentages can be higher or lower depending upon the type of restaurant. However, to be more accurate, it's best to compare your cost percentage with restaurants having similar menus and services.

* While calculating the cost of food, all ingredients must be included. Work out the cost of each recipe for each menu item and don't forget to include things, like spices and garnishes in the cost.

* Your recipe costs for items and sales prices will determine whether your food cost is in line with the industry averages. This will also help in monitoring your performance and analyzing problems and trends.

* Ideally you should be able to determine a consistent overall food cost which, when combined with proper pricing, will positively impact on your profitability.

* It's also important to remember there are other costs of operating a restaurant that need to be taken into account to determine optimal pricing for menu items. These include the cost of labor, rent and debt.

Tips on Pricing Alcoholic Beverages Now, let's see how to price the alcoholic beverages on the menu:

* Beverage costs are generated in the mid-20% range of beverage sales. As for food, these can be higher or lower. Fine dining establishments may run up to 40%. On the other hand, restaurants serving draft beer may run as low as a 15% beverage cost. So, it's important to find out the industry averages by comparing your cost percentage to restaurants with similar menus and service levels.

* Beverage costs, like food costs, must be constantly monitored, by comparing with previous performance, with other restaurants and the industry averages. This will help you to competitively price the items and increase profitability of your total operation.

* Although you'll need to cater for normal taxes, you must be clear about additional taxes in your local jurisdiction, as they may impact beverage pricing. In Philadelphia, for instance, there is an additional beverage tax of 10%.

If you take the above factors into account while pricing the items on your menu, you'll certainly succeed in running a profitable restaurant.

Lydia Quinn writes for R & I Solutions, makers of Cost Genie restaurant costing software. Get a free demo at: http://www.costgenie.com

Writen by Kostis Panayotakis

The evolution path of a DSS system, varies according to the priorities of each Business.

Development and maturity stages of a DSS system, are the following:

  • Initially, certain critical business processes are selected to be monitored vis-à-vis their performance
  • a data quality mechanism is developed. In order to produce quality information, quality input data are needed.
  • A data warehouse which can produce multidimensional views of the selected business processes, is implemented
  • Standard business process performance reports, are developed
  • Tools for the analysis of multidimensional data (OLAP tools) and the ad-hoc analysis of data, are used
  • Predictive models on areas of interest are developed
If a Business aims at developing predictive capability to support the evaluation of future actions, it shall prioritize the development of such models, even without the implementation of a data warehouse, just by using files or data extracted from operational systems. All DSS functionality categories are developed and matured, as the Business evaluates the benefit derived of each investment:
  • Processes to extract data from operational systems, mature and become more automated
  • Additional business processes are selected to be monitored. The data warehouse is extended with facts on the additional business processes
  • New ways to analyze and drill down on the enriched data
  • New reports which combine data from different process areas (drill across mechanism) are developed
  • Quality of predictive models (the ability to produce a sufficient level of prediction) is evaluated based on the business results. Models are improved based on the feedback received.
  • Predictive capability on new business areas is developed
At the same time, a new culture on information quality and information driven decision making, is cultivated. The Business is gradually deriving more value from the DSS system, given that:

  • quality of data stored in the data warehouse is gradually improving
  • larger subject areas are supported by the DSS
  • a higher number of Users is accessing and using the information which is produced
  • information is gradually perceived as more reliable and a single version of truth is gradually achieved
Copyright 2006 – Kostis Panayotakis

Material relevant to business intelligence can be found at http://www.pleroforea.com

Kostis Panayotakis - http://www.pleroforea.com/Kostis_Panayotakis.htm

Managing Meetings

Writen by Julie-Ann Amos

Plan/prepare - lack of purpose causes aimless meetings. Know why you're there - what the meeting is for.

Unnecessary meetings waste time, and regular meetings, e.g. weekly, become habitual/traditional, regardless of need. Only have meetings when necessary, and cancel when not.

Set agendas which are more than a list of headings without explanation. Each agenda item can have only three reasons for inclusion - to discuss, decide, or inform. Adding short descriptions of items can help people prepare and decide attendance.

Choose an appropriate order. Most important first encourages punctuality. Leave less important items to the end - if necessary they can be postponed/abandoned. Putting them last discourages taking too much time on them.

Attendance needs managing - absence can cause delays, and lead to fruitless discussion. Check important people are attending, and make judgement calls to cancel/reschedule if not. Consider phoning for input during meetings if people can't physically attend, or get briefed beforehand.

Poor timekeeping is rude, disrespectful and a waste of time. If not dealt with, it becomes acceptable, and things usually get worse. Very few meetings have an end-time. Why? Try to give an end-time - it allows people to plan adequately. Otherwise people assume meetings will always be an hour.

Too many people are hard to control - discussions take longer! If people are only needed for some items, let them leave after them, saving everyone's time.

Unhelpful behaviour needs controlling. People digress, ramble, don't pay attention, argue pointlessly, interrupt, even fall asleep! You owe it to others to take action. Be assertive - ask people politely to behave. If necessary, take a break for 5-10 minutes, and during it, take people to one side and privately deal with the problem - ask them to be more considerate.

Tackle past problems head-on - take a few minutes at the beginning of a meeting to lay down some ground rules, or have a private word with difficult people.

Poor chairmanship/control of meetings causes problems. Mischievous or bad-mannered people will misbehave if allowed - it's human nature. If the leader doesn't control things properly, step in. You risk undermining their authority, but they might be grateful for help/support. In any event, your time is at stake!

Action required post-meeting is often unclear. Mixed messages mean several people duplicating time and effort, or things left undone. Be clear about who is doing what, by when, otherwise, the next meeting can be pointless. Be clear - set objectives. Taking minutes, typing them up, and distributing them can be an unnecessary ritual. Only take minutes if necessary.

Learn from your mistakes. If you attend fruitless or badly-managed meetings, make apologies in future.

Recommended action:

· Don't suffer in silence, take action.

· Be ruthless with your time. Don't attend unnecessary meetings out of politeness.

· You may have to make waves or undermine a meeting chairperson to improve things. Think of the long-term benefits.

Julie-Ann Amos is a professional writer and business consultant. For more information, visit http://www.hackingreality.com

Why We Have Quotslackersquot

Writen by Rick Weaver

According to a recent survey only 25% of employees admit that they work as productively as possible. The survey showed that another 25% felt they could do 50% more while half of the workers surveyed openly admitted they could increase their productivity by an average of 26%.

The top five reasons given for thislack of maximum productivity were:

1. lack of supervision,
2. insufficient training,
3. exclusion from the decision-making process,
4. no reward for good performance, and
5. no opportunity for advancement

Not every company experiences a loss of performance to the same degree. Some organizations will suffer a greater loss while other organizations will find their employees better connected to the vision of their organization and their role in fulfilling that vision.

A separate survey revealed that in organizations where management felt their employees were the most connected and productive were typically the organizations where employees felt the least connected -- therefore having lower productivity.

How to overcome the productivity drain

By examining the five reasons given by the admittedly unproductive employees, one can quickly derive and implement low- or no-cost ways to connect employees for an improved bottom line.

Obviously many will draw the conclusion that to eliminate a lack of supervision, one could hire more supervisors. However the typical reason employees do not feel they are getting proper supervision is corporate culture. Supervisors must be encouraged to become more involved in their employees work life. This is not to say that they must look over the shoulder of their employees as that makes productivity even more. By encouraging supervisors to provide better feedback and proper empowerment methods, an organization can quickly, easily, and effectively improve an employee's perception that they are getting the proper amount of supervision without adding one more dollar of payroll.

In a company that feels they are providing adequate training, yet their employees feel the training is insufficient, it is a sign that training is being offered based on what management feels employees need. The proper method of determining what training needs to be offered is through analysis that looks at competencies currently being exhibited and areas where employees are experiencing the greatest struggles. Provided an organization does have some sort of training, it is probable to maintain that same budget for providing training more aligned with the employee's paradigm.

It does not cost any money to include employees in the decision-making process. Granted, the employees will need to be involved in additional meetings or surveys; however the net effect is that you regain the time through less employee grousing and management resolving employee issues.

Rewarding employees for good performance can be done in almost any environment at very low cost. The exception would be a workplace where an existing union contract specifically states that it is inappropriate to give any credit what so ever to a good worker. For some great ideas at low-cost employee reward programs, read "The Supervisor's Big Book of List", by George Fuller.

A lack of employee advancement is an issue that cannot be addressed through avoidance. In our current challenging, competitive times many companies have found that attrition must replace hiring at many levels of management. If this is the case in your organization, it is unrealistic to duck the issue or to assume employees understand the issue. When upward movement becomes stifled, is extremely important to discuss this issue individually with each employ. Nothing short of these individual conversations will resolve this issue or reduce its impact on your organization.

MaxImpact offers programs to connect teams to a common vision, contact rick@getmaximpact.com or call 248-802-6138 today.

© 2006 Max Impact Corporation, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA. All rights reserved.

Rick Weaver is an accomplished business executive with a wealth of experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain enhancement, project management, team building, and process improvement.

Rick career began in retailing as a stockclerk, eventually becoming the Director of Vendor Development at Kmart Corporation during it's heyday. In this position he worked with hundreds of Kmart's suppliers to improve mutual processes, procedures, and profits. As a consultant, Rick has worked with companies in various industries to develop leadership and business strategies. As an entrepreneur, Rick has founded or co-founded six successful organizations, including non-profit and for profit.

Now in his role as president of MaxImpact, Rick uses his vast experience helping individuals connect to their dreams and teams connect to a common vision. Rick's presentation style of blending humor, real life examples, and easy to implement ideas has made him a popular speaker at seminars, workshops, and conferences in in 43 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Writen by Lee Harris

With a large boom of new businesses over the past 5 years cleaning consultants are making a lot of money. What is a cleaning consultant? A cleaning consultant is a person that analyzes a companies cleaning expenditures and recommends ways to save money on their cleaning expenses. A cleaning consultant can make money both from the businesses that are being analyzed and referral fees charged to cleaning companies for referrals.

Becoming a cleaning consultant is relatively easy. The first thing to do is gain knowledge about how cleaning companies work, the services they provide and current rates for cleaning in your area. If you look in the phone book there is an abundance of cleaning companies in every city nationwide. Most of these companies would gladly pay you a referral fee for a cleaning account because of fierce competition in the commercial cleaning industry today. On the opposite end most business will pay you a consulting fee for saving them money on their cleaning needs. When you have researched the commercial cleaning market in your area its time to set up a few cleaning comapanies as referral clients. The easy way to accomplish this is to pick a few smaller commercial cleaning companies who are just starting out. Set up and agree on a referral fee with these comapanies for each of the businesses that you send their way. It is advisable to choose cleaning companies that represent different areas of the cleaning market. An example of these different areas would be a cleaning company that provides basic cleaning needs, carpet cleaning companies and duct cleaning companies. Make sure to pick at least three companies in these cleaning categories so that you can have them compete for the lowest pricing possible.

After you have agreed on a referral fee from these cleaning companies its time to approach businesses that need cleaning services. A great way to approach a business is to offer a guarantee that if you don't save them money you don't get paid. The basic plan is to analyze what they are currently spending on their cleaning needs and suggest ways that they can save money by utilizing the cleaning companies you represent. Take a good look at every dollar they spend on cleaning including cleaning labor, janitorial supplies used for cleaning and basic sanitary supplies such as restroom products and waste management needs. Once you have made a list and priced out each of their commercial cleaning expenditures its time to create bids for the cleaning companies that you have recruited. Be detailed when submitting cleaning bids to these companies and spell out the standards of each cleaning task that is to be performed. Once they have filled out bids compare them for the lowest pricing and present the winners to the businesses that need to be cleaned.

A great extra way to make money being a cleaning consultant is to also provide sources for the cleaning and janitorial supplies that are needed for a facility. Contact local and internet janitorial supply houses for the best prices on products and make up a small catalog that you can present to both your commercial cleaning associates and the businesses that are being cleaned. Overall being a cleaning consultant is a win win situation for everybody involved with opportunities for you to make some good money also.

Great cleaning tips and cleaning information by Lee Harris can be found at http://www.monsterjanitorial.com. Lee Harris is an expert in the cleaning industry and can answer all your questions about janitorial supplies and cleaning products.

Is That The Best You Can Do

Writen by Justin Tyme

Is that the best you can do? What a powerful question. It can be used in many business applications: negotiation, project management, self-analysis, and many, many more.

Those seven little words have saved me thousands and thousands of dollars. They can be used in nearly any negotiating scenario. I've used them at flea markets, craft bizaars, sales counters, and the internet. As long as you ask the question in a matter of fact tone (never with a feeling of accusation), it doesn't cast doubt on the product or the person you are doing business with. The person to whom you have asked the question really only has two responses. Both are positive. If the answer is yes, then you continue your discussion. If the answer is no, then it requires an explanation . . . a lowered price . . . a quicker delivery . . . or a better product.

In project management the question can be asked of each team member and the answers can be revealing. I've heard one person reply, "No. It's frustrating. I could do better. I should do better, but I'm just not getting the information back from the client as quickly as I need. Sometimes when I get the information, it's too late for other options." After hearing this explanation, we turned the information around and communicated our concerns to the client. They didn't understand that a single e-mail or phone call could have saved them money. They were focused on a paper trail.

Many people strive for perfection and they want to be the best they can be. Some people never think about it. Even asking the question would be a shock to their system. Is this the best I can do? Is this the best WE can do? Sometimes even answering "yes" leaves a little gnawing dought in the back of your mind, which can surface the next time you work on the same type of project. If the doubt is there, then there must be a way to improve . . . and if we can improve . . . we CAN do better.

A simple question and a complicated answer can result in improved work methods, positive communications, lower prices and better people . . . is this the best we can do? You better believe it.

Justin Tyme is an internet reporter and published author. He writes for print media and industrial video productions and is a contributor to Ideas and Training (http://www.ideasandtraining.com) and Human Resources Radio (http://www.humanresourcesradio.com).

Writen by Martin Haworth

As Albert Einstein said:-

"The significant problems we face today, cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

Problems don't go away unless you get to the cause - the source of them. Repeatedly 'fixing' issues that arise takes a physical and mental toll on you and your team. The key is to solve problems once and for all and move on.

Picture this scenario:-

Luke runs a small engineering factory, making electronic tagging systems for retailers. His business has really taken off in the last two years and his people are really stretched now to keep up with demand. Recently his people have been complaining more; there have been a number of unpleasant incidents where tempers have become frayed. Two large customers have taken Luke to task personally because of late fulfillment of orders.

In the past Luke would have worked harder, fought his fires and got home late, but right at the moment his wife and family have started to complain that he is putting work before them more than ever.

Then he heard about 'Solving Problems with Whys'.

With two of his key people, he asked them to work with him quickly, on why they were having so many little issues arising in the business - and they would use the 'Whys' process to solve them. As an example, one actual issue that they discussed early on, went as follows:-

"Our orders have started to go out late"
Why?
"Because we have too much work on for the people we have"
Why?
"Because we don't have enough people"
Why?
"Because we can't recruit"
Why?
"Because our rates aren't good enough"
Why?
"Because we decided to place a ceiling on them"
Why?
"To keep our costs down"
Why?
"Because costs were eating into our profits"
Why?
"Good question"

Here you can see a whole new series of conversations evolving for Luke and his team. Instead of cursing everyone for late completion of orders, or their behaviours getting out of control, or all and everything else which seems to be going wrong, the discussion about rates causing there to be too few staff, has evolved into a more general issue about costs being too high. Here the process can start again:-

"Our costs are too high"
Why?
"We don't know"
Why?
"Because we don't have the data"
Why?
"Because we've never invested in collecting it"
Why?
"Because we never thought it important"
Why?
"Because we didn't realise the impact it was having"
Why?
"Because we never knew the impact it was having on our customers and on our business"
Why?
"Because we never saw the big picture"

And from here, Luke and his team, using just 14 one-word questions, have a whole new perspective on their business and they are ready to create a whole raft of ideas and actions to move this problem to a solution - for the long term, not just the short-term.

Sometimes, there is value in bringing in a facilitator to work with your team in this way, as a 'neutral' prepared to support the process on some of these challenging 'why's'. This lets you and your team tease out and own the end-point sources of problems. And share the successes of achieving the very best solutions together.

In this example, there is a semi-strategic issue, but the technique can be used for much simpler issues which crop up day-to-day in your business.

And, of course, over quite a short period of time, truly solving problems such that they go away for good, means that you can get home to your 'other life' and get to know your friends and family again...

Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. Martin has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, http://www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com/problem_solving.html (Note to editors. This article may be edited for use in your publication or newsletter as long as a live link to the website is included)

...helping you, to help your people, to help your business grow...

Positive Power Vs Force

Writen by Tim Connor

Force can be defined as – coercion, pressure, to compel, to restrain, compulsory, obligatory, etc., etc. There are many managers, as well as organizations, who still rely on this unproductive approach to motivation and productivity. Management by coercion (force or fear) contributes to:

· poor morale
· high turnover
· low productivity
· poorly motivated employees
· dissatisfied customers
· vulnerability to competitors
· poor organization communication
· uncertain organizational environment (culture)

On the other hand, positive power can be defined as – vigor, strength, significance, influence, clout, potency, greatness etc., etc. Management by positive power contributes to:

· empowered employees
· creative solutions to problems
· an atmosphere of mutual respect
· employees' positive self-esteem
· long term loyal employees
· validated individuals
· effective communication
· peak performance behavior
· customer loyalty

When you review the two lists above, why would any manager, executive, business owner or organization want to maintain a management style that contributes to the first set of results? I have been asking myself that same question for over 25 years. I don't know. It defies logic and common sense. I can only guess that earlier in this century this approach to dealing with people was – more than less – common. As a result, there were massive strikes, poor working conditions, a progressive labor movement and an entire litany of other employee issues and problems.

Times have changed, thankfully. But for some managers, the inheritance of the past is hard to release. Some still practice some degree of negative force to get employee performance. There are some very subtle ways this is accomplished in today's work environment. Here are just three examples:

1. Outdated quota systems and approaches to compensation.

2. Heavy top-down and no bottom-up employee communication.

3. Top-down decision making without bottom-up participation or contribution.

Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; Soft Sell, That's Life, Peace Of Mind, 91 Challenges Managers Face Today and Your First Year In Sales. He can be reached at tim@timconnor.com, 704-895-1230 or visit his website at http://www.timconnor.com

Writen by Brent Filson

Organizations live and die by results. Yet most organizations get a fraction of the results they are capable of. There are many reasons for this: poor strategy, poor leadership, insufficient resources, etc. But one main reason is overlooked by most leaders. Many organizations stumble because they are permeated with a robust status quo.

The trouble with the status quo isn't that it gets poor results. After all, if you know you're getting poor results, you can do something about it. You can start taking steps to turn them into good results.

The trouble with the status quo is that it gets mediocre results but represents them as good results. And poor results are less harmful to an organization than mediocre results misrepresented as good results.

The status quo is simply the existing state of an organization. You might ask, "What's wrong with the existing state of an organization?" My response is, "A great deal." In fact, the status quo is always ... not sometimes ... always wrong.

Leadership is not a measure of results. Results are a measure of leadership. A leader should be getting not average results but more results faster, and "more, faster" continually.

The status quo is the enemy of the "more results faster continually" because the status quo is in business to be the status quo first and get results second. Its number one priority is always self-preservation.

Of course, without the impulse toward self-preservation, organizations would quickly fall apart. But when the impulse hijacks the need of the organization's leaders to adapt to changing circumstances, the status quo is a threat.

For instance: For years until the mid 20th century, IBM flourished by having their machines perform calculations using punch cards. But then the digital revolution came along. However, during the late 1940s and early 1950s a strong status quo of employees were wedded to punch cards and were convinced digital would lead to disaster.

As IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson Jr. said in his book, "Father, Son & Co.", "There wasn't a single, solitary soul in the company who grasped even a hundredth of the potential the computer had."

It took his strong leadership to fight off the status quo and move IBM into the digital age. If the status quo had prevailed, IBM would have been out of business in a few years. Still, the status quo put up such a fight that switching the organization from punch cards to digital processes nearly destroyed the company.

The IBM example is not the exception but the rule: The success or failure of any organization hinges to a great extent on how its leaders deal with the status quo.

No question about it, if you try to get into the realm of achieving more results faster continually, the status quo will attack you. The question isn't, "If " but "How?" and "When?"

One way it attacks is through status quo pep talks to gain ardent support. When you are ready for them, you are better able to deal with them and get ahead of the curve in thwarting the status quo. Here are some phrases that may be used in status quo pep talks to rally people against anyone threatening its existence.

"Pretend to go along and they'll go away."
"Just do your job and nothing more."
"Agree with anything they say but do what you want to do."
"Let it die a natural death."
"We tried that before and it didn't work."
"I'm too busy."
"That's not my job."
"Wait 'em out."
"You're the leader. You take care of it."
"That's not the way we do things."
"You'll ruin this organization."
"You don't understand me."
"You don't understand what I'm doing."
"You don't understand our organization."
"It's more complicated than you think."
"I'm doing the best I can."
"Give me a break."
"You're not being realistic."
"You'll squeeze me dry."
"Don't you have better things to do?"
"I've got too much on my plate."
"Don't bust a blood vessel."
"I'll help -- if you do me a favor."
"It's not in my job description."
"It all pays the same."
"Why don't you quit while you're ahead?"
"Let study it some more."
"Don't go off half-cocked."
"Too much, too far, too fast."
"We need more facts."

Now that you have an idea of what the status quo is and how dangerous it can be; don't let its pep talks dissuade you from your mission as a leader of achieving more results faster continually.

2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: brent@actionleadership.com

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – and for more than 20 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at http://www.actionleadership.com

How To Use W Edwards Deming

Writen by Peter Hunter

Human beings and the way they interact are extraordinarily Complex. Deming tried to define that complexity.

We have since learned the impossibility of defining natural events in a digital way.

When we ignore the complexity and allow people to get on with what they want to do by removing the barriers to their performance, their performance becomes extraordinary.

I have been trying to discover why there is so much resistance to what is essentially some very basic philosophy.

Demings early work on statistics and quality was built around an ability to analyse complex systems and the use of that analysis to predict complex outcomes.

Deming was a statistician and his work very soon leaves the basic philosophy and becomes bogged in the complex use of numbers to define complex systems.

The very complexity of his approach deters many students but there is a more fundamental problem with complex systems that was identified by the later work on chaos.

There seems to be two approaches to the world.

There is the modern Digital approach where every action and interaction is controlled at the microscopic level by single bites of information.

Below this level it is not possible to go because a single bite of information is not divisible.

But we know from chaos theory that below the level of that single bite of information there is a whole world of complexity that has huge and unpredictable outcomes.

The flaws occur when we begin to realise the limitations of the start point digital data.

When the weather centre at Bracknell decided to tighten up its long range forecasting ability with the purchase of their first computers the reaction of the computers was completely unexpected.

The computers told the forecasters that they should stop issuing long range forecasts because the probability of a correct forecast was no better than chance.

Natural events are far more complex than a digital approach can ever define.

We can take a digital picture that looks great but when we blow it up we start to discover its limitations.

By trying to try to define complex systems in this way we are building in errors that become evident in the variation we encounter and are magnified massively whenever one complex system encounters another.

The second approach is the analogue approach.

In nature the interaction of complex systems occurs all of the time without any trouble at all because when a wave hits a beach what happens, just happens.

If we try to define what happens to the wave or the beach in a digital way we will probably end up concluding that nature is at fault.

The digital approach to managing process's and operations will always have the same built in errors when it contains these complex natural components.

The component that causes most trouble is the human operator whose actions and interactions may be the most complex on the planet.

When treated in this digital way the complexities cannot be resolved.

The human being has to be treated in natural way that instead of trying to define the complexity of the condition simply creates the environment that allows the conditions to interact and come to a natural conclusion.

In this way we avoid the impossibility of trying to define a complex system and instead concentrate on the result when the two systems combine.

Try to define sex.

What is it, what starts the thought processes that lead to it, what are the physical changes that must preceed it, how do we feel during and do we have to smoke afterwards, what about the partner, what appealing characteristics, body type, skin tone hair colour etc.

There are an enormous number of questions before we can define the act in a digital/analytical way and an even bigger number of answers to those questions.

The complexity of the analysis puts us off the act.

If we appreciate the possibility of the act then we just have to create the right environment for the act to take place and ignore the complexities because it is what people want to do.

In the same way, if we assume that people want to be able to do a good job we simply have to create the environment that allows them to do a good job.

As Deming said, "Remove the barriers that stop people from being as good as they can be".

You will be amazed at what happens.

Peter A Hunter
Author of "Breaking the Mould"
http://www.breakingthemould.co.uk

Writen by Sandro Azzopardi

A learning organisation is an organisation that learns and encourages learning among its people. It promotes exchange of information between employees, hence creating a more knowledgeable workforce. This produces a very flexible organisation where people will accept and adapt to new ideas and change through shared vision.

It is said that the only constant in life is change and organisations are not spared. Change brings about not only uncertainty and risks but also opportunities for growth. Those organisations that can manipulate the information available have a bigger chance to succeed. It is therefore important for everyone to be more knowledgeable about the work environment they are in. Building a learning organisation is a means to a business goal. It is not a new theory but a concept that has become an increasingly widespread philosophy in modern companies, from the largest multinationals to the smallest enterprises. It is to be applied according to the circumstances of each business, which has to cater for it at strategic and operational levels.

'Systems Thinking' takes a holistic approach to learning whereby not only does the organisation learn but so do all its employees, irrespective of their role within the organisation. Information has to be disseminated to all levels and does not stop at top management, thus, facilitating learning through flexibility and open communication by removing barriers to communication and adopting flatter organisational structure and design.

Therefore the message is clear: any organisation that is committed to future success must become a learning organisation in order to compete and survive. Today continuous improvement is a must. "Any organisation is only as good as its people and continuous improvement in business is about the development of people and therefore creating a learning culture." (Sheppard)

Systems Thinking

The idea behind the concept coined 'Systems Thinking' in the 1950's was that enterprises need to be aware of both the company as a whole as well as the individuals within the company - taking a holistic approach to managing. Gould-Kreutzer Associates Inc. defined it as "a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things; to see the forest and the trees." System Thinking therefore tries to change the managerial view so that it includes the ambitions of the individual workers, not just the business goals.

However, it was only during the 1990's that this concept started to be taken seriously by organisations. Systems Thinking nowadays is synonymous with Peter Senge, one of the modern day gurus, who in his book "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organisation" popularised the concept of the learning organisation, and referred to 'Systems Thinking' as the Fifth Discipline. Since its publication in 1990, more than a million copies of this book have been sold and in 1997, Harvard Business Review identified his book as one of the seminal management books of the past 75 years.

According to Senge, learning organisations are "organisations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. " Senge posits that the dimension that distinguishes learning from more traditional organisations is the mastery of certain basic disciplines, which he regards as a series of principles and practices that we study, master and integrate into our lives. The five disciplines that he identifies are said to be common to all learning organisations.

They are:

1. PERSONAL MASTERY. This is the discipline of 'continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.

People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode, continually clarifying and deepening their personal vision. This takes place by assessing the gap between their current knowledge and the desired knowledge, and by practising and refining skills. This develops self-esteem and creates the confidence to tackle new challenges.

2. MENTAL MODELS. These are 'deeply ingrained assumptions, generalisations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. '

The discipline of mental models starts with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. Every individual has his own perception of the things around him. This happens consciously and unconsciously and therefore, if team members can, through positive, constructive criticism, challenge each others' ideas and assumptions, they can begin to perceive their mental models, and to change these to create a shared mental model for the team. This is important as the individual's mental model will control what can or cannot be done.

Sandro Azzopardi is a professional author who writes several articles on various subjects on his web site and local newspapers and magazines. You can visit information about this article and others on: http://www.theinfopit.com/business/learning/buildingalearningorganisation-1.php

Writen by Leslie Malin

Let's be honest, this is just between us … are you one of the 10% who work purposefully to complete important tasks or one of the 90% that are frenzied and fed-up?

If frenzied and fed-up sounds right, join the 90% of those with responsibility for managing people and/or processes who self-sabotage by busily engaging in non-purposeful activities, procrastinating, detaching from their work and needlessly spinning their wheels.

OK, I'll be the first to admit it…I have been known to scurry around, multi-tasking away and at the end of the day I am horrified at what little I have actually accomplished.

It's called, "Busy Idleness" and it affects most of us. We have an easy and abundant access to knowledge and timesaving resources, yet we spend most of our time "making the inevitable happen". What that means is that all our activity doesn't achieve any measurable level of achievement beyond what would occur if we just sat around with our feet on the desk! What makes a real difference in outcomes is single minded focus on specific activities that can really make a difference.

What's our problem? Is it that we can't tell the difference between competing activities? Are we bereft of creative ideas and strategies? Are we so addicted – yes addicted - to the buzz of busyness that everything other than frazzled feels flat? Or, perhaps it's something even more?

Do you attend to the routine, day-to-day tasks, yet fail to seize opportunities to achieve something significant? This problem is nothing new. Stanford University Management Professors Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD, and Robert Sutton, PhD, studied this dynamic for their book, "The Knowing-Doing Gap". They asked: "Why do so much education and training, management consulting, and business research…produce so little change in what managers and organizations actually do?...Why [does] knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fail to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge?"

What It Takes to Be on Purpose

People who exhibit purposeful action possess two critical traits: energy and focus. Energy is not what I call "efforting" which equates to all that external activity and scrambling. Rather, energy is defined by your level of involvement in meaningful activities, propelled by both external resources such as technology. knowledge, working with a coach or business consultant and internal resources such as patience, listening , communication skills and business acumen. Purposeful action is self-generated, engaged and self-driven.

Where Do You (and Your Employees) Fit? Profiles of Behaviors

If 90% of managers/entrepreneurs and professionals fail to act purposefully in their everyday work, what exactly are they doing? Heike Bruch's and Sumantra Ghoshal's study, conducted over a 10-year period and published in "A Bias for Action", describes four profiles of managerial behavior that are measured by their levels of energy and action.

Where might you fit?

The Frenzied:

48% of managers are distracted and off-purpose due to the onslaught of tasks that face them each day. They may be highly energetic, but they are unfocused. They were found to be positive about their work as well as strongly identified with their jobs, but "the need for speed" prompts them to be unreflective. It is obvious that much more could be achieved if they consciously concentrated their efforts on what really matters. And, what really matters? Most business owners and managers don't think much beyond the moment and often, when asked, can't answer the question, "What really matters to your business?".

The Procrastinators:

30% percent of managers were observed to procrastinate on doing their organizations' most important work. They lacked both energy and focus, most often spending their time handling minor details in lieu of what could make a real difference to their organizations. I bet you know a few of these folks – maybe even yourself.

The Detached:

20% percent of managers are disengaged or detached from their work. They can be focused, but have no energy. They seem aloof, tense and apathetic. I have worked with many managers of this description and when probed they often acknowledge (upon pledges of secrecy), that they feel depressed, purposeless, stale and disengaged. They look back and long for the days of vitality, excitement and challenge. And, although they know that they are dying on the vine, they often feel helpless to make a change, re-steer their careers or create something new.

The Purposeful:

Only 10% of managers and executives get the job done. That is a startling and frightening statistic, I think. If only 10% are highly focused, energetic, and can appear reflective and calm amid chaos, how does that bode for our future as a country? What does that mean about the future of our economy, of innovation, of adaptability and readiness for change? What are we prepared to do about it? How do we get on purpose?

What does it look like when you are on purpose?

Willpower is the propelling force behind energy and focus, enabling us to execute disciplined action. Willpower is the sibling to commitment and together they energize us to focus on gaining clarity of what needs to be accomplished. They move us towards the accomplishment of the major steps/activities that will achieve results and they fuel our positive attitudes about accomplishing what we are passionate about while helping us to adamantly refuse to give up.

The following action steps are essential for real achievement to occur and they are an antidote to frenzied activity:

1. Design a clear mental picture of your intention or future vision. What is it that you want to create? How does it serve your customers, your organization, your employees, yourself? What are the outcomes you desire? Is your vision or purpose large enough?

2. Make a conscious choice to commit to—and pursue—this intention. This means staying vigilant about your activities and those of others, exercising discipline and committing yourself for the long-term.

3. Develop strategies for protecting this intention against the triple threat of distractions, boredom or frustration. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect because this deadly trio is what derails most people from accomplishing their intention.

You have to be propelled by a vision of what you want to achieve that is unstoppable. Napoleon Hill wrote about this in "Think and Grow Rich" and it is what has separated those who achieve beyond all expectations and those who merely get by. While, you may have success, imagine how much more you are capable of achieving if you were clearly focused; determined to harness your energy and to stay on the track. And, I'd be willing to wager that deep inside, in the quiet times you know this is true.

Leslie Malin, MSW, President of Management by Design is a co-author of "The Essential Coaching Book: Secrets to a Winning Life," and is the author of two forthcoming books: "Meeting Yourself on the Way to Work: Finding Meaning from 9 to 5" and "HireSmart: A Straight Forward How-To Guide for Business Owners & Their Managers".

As an entrepreneur, coach, consultant and therapist, she guides independent professionals, solopreneurs and small business owners who want to create their success by choice, not by chance.

Her expertise in working with people in career transition or seeking their first job provides mastery of the job-search process.

Undue the "default thinking" in your life, get your FREE Copy of "As a Man Thinketh", by James Allen by emailing Leslie at results@lesliemalin.com with your contact information (Full name and email)and be signed up for her ezine, "On the Way". Browse her website at http://www.lesliemalincoach.com

Leslie is available for public speaking engagements, executive retreats and motivational seminars. Contact her at: results@lesliemalin.com

Writen by Michael Beitler

For centuries companies have used on-the-job training (OJT). OJT works because it follows much of what we know about adult learning theory. For example, we know:

1. Adults learn best when new learning can be applied immediately.

2. Much of classroom "learning" is lost because it does not transfer back to the job.

Action learning is a two-part method to maximize learning and productivity by maximizing OJT. Action learning involves teams of organizational members working on real organizational projects and problems. The team members' work is also accompanied by regular (and spontaneous) facilitator-led reflection and discussion meetings.

Action learning projects have led to new product launches, acquisitions and divestitures, and large-scale organizational changes. In addition to extensive and measurable productivity, there are significant learning benefits from these action learning projects. The benefits include:

* exposure to other parts of the organization,

* development of emotional intelligence (EI),

* learning the political realities of the organization, and

* being able to showcase skills to senior management.

Obviously, action learning projects require serious senior management commitment. Senior management buy-in includes not only contribution to choosing projects and participants, but also a commitment to evaluating and implementing projects.

Not every organizational project is an appropriate action learning project. Many projects have severe time constraints that would not allow sufficient time for reflection and discussion for the project team. Some projects are not strategically important enough to justify the investment of organizational resources (time, people, and money).

The facilitator for the action learning project must be a trained facilitator. To maximize the learning in an action learning project, the coach or facilitator must know how to extract learning from the team's work. Learning goals must be identified early in the project. Provoking critical thinking, reflection, creative thinking, and self-awareness is the job of the facilitator.

Action learning is one of many organizational learning strategies. Action learning must be used in alignment with the other organizational learning programs, such as individual coaching. For example, many coaching discussion topics can be based on the real-time learning that takes place in an action learning project.

Obviously, action learning projects (like any other organizational learning methods) are not a cure-all for every learning need. But, the productivity and learning benefits of action learning should be considered by every organization.

For more information of action learning projects read Dierck and Saslow's May 2005 Chief Learning Officer article entitled "Action Learning in Management Development Programs."

Dr. Mike Beitler is the author of "Strategic Organizational Learning." Get a free 7-part mini-course about organizational learning and learn more about the book at http://www.strategic-organizational-learning.com/

Writen by Kal Bishop

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation.

There are other useful definitions in this field, for example, creativity can be defined as consisting of a number of ideas, a number of diverse ideas and a number of novel ideas.

There are distinct processes that enhance problem identification and idea generation and, similarly, distinct processes that enhance idea selection, development and commercialisation. Whilst there is no sure fire route to commercial success, these processes improve the probability that good ideas will be generated and selected and that investment in developing and commercialising those ideas will not be wasted.

Raw brainpower versus experience

The best problem identification, idea generation and idea selection requires a intellectual cross pollination. That means, at least:

a) A large number of people.

b) Large diversity of people.

c) Large novelty of people.

There are of course other classifications, and one of the most interesting is:

a) Those with raw brainpower. A team of hot shot Ivy League MBA's is great, especially for the raw number crunching and analysis that needs to take place to arrive at good decisions.

b) Those with experience. Can fresh faced Ivy League MBA's compete with the non-graduate with twenty years experience? Probably not. In those twenty years an incredible amount of tacit knowledge has been built up.

But the answer is not one or the other. The answer is that teams of both will produce better results. The key is collaboration and intellectual cross-pollination, not competition.

These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from http://www.managing-creativity.com/

You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.

Kal Bishop, MBA

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You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author's name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com/

The Employee Time Clock

Writen by John Furnem

Many of us still remember those punch clocks that our parents used to punch in and out of work, these machines were planned to keep an eye on the time employees spent and hopefully worked at the work place.

For many years, companies have relied on employee time clocks to accurately record how many hours are worked by each employee every week. Even though clocks have changed, these companies need to have some type of system that they can use to create payroll and ensure employees are getting paid for each hour worked. Employees these days use cards that they swipe along a slot, which reads their name and records the time they clocked in. Employees must also clock out each day the same way.

After the pay week is over, the central computer system tallies every employee's hours and prints them out on a spreadsheet. This makes the payroll process efficient and rids much human error. The employee time clock is something that has been tied to the factory and to productiveness, it is very surprising to learn that a lot of workers during the years have tried to find creative ways of using the time clock to their advantage, it is even more surprising to understand how much time and effort was spent into making sure that the time clock was always one step ahead and that company rules made absolutely sure that no one even thought of messing with it.

The employee time clock is usually located near a main entrance or break room area. Employees who do not get paid for lunch breaks must clock out during lunchtime. It is against any companies policy to use another employees time card or to clock in or out for them. This type of behavior usually results in both employees being fired. It is considered fraud to use another person's time card.

The employee clock is a time saver in that payroll hours are automatically added up by the computer system. This is not to say the machines are perfect. Sometimes the magnetic stripe on the machine or the card does not work properly, so an employee's time will not be recorded. Other times an employee might forget to clock in after lunch. These errors will need to be fixed in the computer system.

The employee clock will also be around for payroll needs. Even though there have been advancements made to make the clock more efficient, the principle of the employee clock will not change. Hourly employees need a way to keep track of their time. Companies need logical ways to record and monitor an employees time to ensure they are putting in the hours they need to continue being a productive employee.

With the development of computer software and better time clocks the old fashioned time clock slowly disappears from our lives, but new and better tools are added daily to ensure employees time is well spent.

John Furnem is a dot com veteran, specializing in personality psychology he has written articles and held seminars for stress management & Work Life Balance. John currently writes articles on Emplyee Time Clock for a content site.

Deworsification Is Bad Business

Writen by Andrew Rowe

Focus your business, focus your marketing. Back in the 80's, Peter Lynch, the once famous fund manager for Fidelity Investments Magellan Fund, wrote a book called "One Up On Wall Street". The book is about how great companies build themselves and how to pick great companies as an investor. One of the chapters in his book is called "Deworsification". Companies that decide that because they're good at one thing, they can do all things well and they get beyond their core competencies.

Question I have is, is your company engaged in deworsification behavior? Companies that stay focused on their core competencies and core markets are the ones that over time have the best chance of winning. First of all, focus all of your internal corporate resources on building a sustainable competitive advantage in your core markets. Some businesses decide to venture into new markets and into new customer bases even though it has a tendency to dilute their efforts and can actually make it harder for them to compete, even in their core markets. We see many different examples where a company has started in one business, they have decided to sell their products into different markets, and not recognizing the expense associated with building brand awareness, building channels and actually driving sales into multiple markets at the same time.

So, if your company has over-extended itself by trying to sell products and services into too many markets at the same time, it's time to rethink that strategy and stop deworsifiying and re-focus your efforts on selling more products and services into your core markets and core customer bases. A better strategy instead of deworsification is to find a way to add more services and more products onto sales into your current markets; that is a much more smart approach from a strategic marketing standpoint.

About Cube Management

Cube Management delivers sales acceleration services to emerging growth and mid-market companies. The experts at Cube Management work across the entire spectrum of marketing, sales and business development to provide customized solutions (whether recruiting, interim management or consulting) that drive revenue and profit growth. Cube Management combines Strategy, Process & People to produce winning results. Download the Cube Management Inside Sales Guide and the Cube Management Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide.

Writen by Gayle Santana

Definition From http://www.merriamwebster.com -- "Virtual: - being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted."

Virtual Businesses offer Real World Profitability

Let's face it, most of the Fortune 500 companies are doing it. When you press five for customer service and you imagine a department on another floor, you are actually being routed, sometimes overseas, to a remote call center. These days, virtual or remote departments and workers exist in every aspect of business. In an online article called Good Times for Call Centers, at Network World Fusion (www.nwfusion.com) , a quote By Toni Kistner states "Customers include 1-800 Flowers, several marquis-name catalog and e-commerce retailers, as well as several retailers that sell direct via TV infomercials." Another article about Cisco advertising ventures at www.cisco.com states, "Thanks to Cisco, we keep a small group of our best people working effectively, when and where they want to while also empowering us to bring in specialists from around the world, if and when needed to support our 15 person staff. These people work virtually as if they were in the office next door."

"Virtuality" is the hottest trend in business today. The recognition that four walls are not needed to establish a company presence has sparked the imagination of virtually everyone. But no one wants to admit it! Does the call center mention that they are located in Taiwan? You have a problem and you want it solved. As long as the end result is accomplished you, as the customer, are satisfied. If this result is accomplished pleasantly and efficiently, you are more than satisfied, you are now an assured repeat customer.

Making a Virtual Business Work

As an employee, you want to feel confident in your product knowledge, an integral part of the company and included in its vision, mission and results, and not treated like an outsider. Being left in the dark is not only a death knoll for employee loyalty, it can eventually erode your company! The efficacy of virtual departments and companies is evident. They can work. What is the most important factor? Having worked with cutting-edge companies that embrace and utilize "Virtuality", I have seen successes, situations that need improvement, and total failures.

My observance of this has led me to the following conclusion: That communication is the absolute key to success in such ventures. The quality of communication between employees as well as customers will determine your future success, period. Your employees cannot be effective unless they are informed and have a feeling of belonging. They must be knowledgeable about the company mission, values, goals and products. They must be excellent with troubleshooting but without communication how effective can they be? Their feelings are most certainly conveyed to the client or customer. If they feel connected and informed, it comes through.

Start with a Virtual PBX System

Great technology can most assuredly help in the area of communication. A phone system that keeps you all connected, seamlessly is the beginning. There are many products on the market, but my personal experience with one in particular has been most satisfactory. Virtual PBX, a system available through Access Direct, (www.messagingservice.com) is wonderful. A local number (or 800 number, depending upon your preference) is established. For a virtual company, having a staff (for example) of say six virtual employees, the auto attendant will go down the line "for John Doe, press 1, for Mary Doe, press 2. You are then seamlessly routed to your party, whatever that employee's preference; cell phone, landline, etc. The employee is then alerted that the incoming call is from the company with an announcement of "To accept this call, press 1, to return this call to voicemail, press 2)". If the call is routed to voicemail, not only will that message be waiting in your voicemail box, it is also routed to your email address, so they can click and listen through their desktop computer speakers or, we can send a brief e-mail text message to their cell phone, letting them know a new message is waiting. This system not only works beautifully, it's affordable.

Teleconferencing is the Way to Go!

Weekly or monthly staff meetings will foster camaraderie amongst the staff, keep everyone in touch with what is going on in the company and personalize relationships. Using a "bridge line" is great for this. Eagle Teleconferencing (www.eagleconf.com) is a great company to use. For companies that can afford video conferencing, this is the piece d' resistance in the world of virtuality. This is the perfect vehicle for enforcing or updating the company mission, values and goals and also to listen to and address employee concerns and needs, not to mention the next best thing to being in front of your customers. But we are getting away from what matters most because it's not really about the equipment you use. Even if it's just the landline phone or the dreaded snail mail, communicating with everyone, often, is the key.

The Personal Touch goes a Long Way

Having someone to touch base with your customers, adding the personal touch (thereby eliminating or at least lessening, the impersonality fostered by technology) can create customer loyalty.

A customer outreach program - - someone to call just to say hello, update contact information and keeping your company in the face of customers can have a direct impact by increasing business because you have placed yourself in the forefront of their minds and they may possibly make an order right there. Sending a useful, yet inexpensive gift or a thoughtful card can help. Terrie Williams, of the Terrie Williams Agency, has built her success on the foundation of "The Personal Touch" which is also the title of her book. "… you can learn to succeed by taking the time to know the person you're trying to contact or deal with-even those with whom you've already established a relationship."

Doing something a little extra can go a long way with your employees as well. First, knowing something about your remote employees, and sending little personalized cards or gifts accordingly, will foster loyalty. If you really want to go over the top, here's a suggestion. Know the location of your remote employees and research the local deli or restaurant that provides delivery. Order coffee and Danish from each, paying via credit card and have it delivered at the time of a weekly or monthly staff meeting. It takes a bit of effort to be "personal" but the rewards can affect your bottom line in keeping the loyalty of employees and customers alike.

How can you find the time to be personal and run a company when there aren't enough hours in the day? Spending 15 minutes a day to come up with creative ways to value your staff and customers isn't much when you think about the return on your investment. And if you still have no time, get a virtual assistant to help.

Gayle Santana is the owner of The PVS Network and The PVS Network Virtual Call Center helping business owners everywhere focus on the bottom line! http://www.pvsnetwork.com (718) 977-0092

Writen by Martin Haworth

Picture the scene. Anthony pops down to the guardhouse, partly because he wants a break with the lads, but also because he has a problem. Cleopatra says she wants to bathe in ass's milk. So Anthony tells the guys in the guardhouse, that he needs some help. "The wife wants to bathe in ass's milk now." He says.

Gerald, the Head Guard, says, "She wants to what?" "Bathe in ass's milk", says Anthony, "You know what these women are like - she's read it on some tablets of stone somewhere - it's supposed to be good for her complexion".

"So how are you going to sort that out then," says Gerald, "Are you going to get someone to pour it over her or something?" Anthony thinks about it and says, "No, that won't do, she wants to soak in it. She needs a 'bath'."

"What's a 'bath' then..", says the Gerald. "It's a big thing you get into that's full of the ass's milk - and then you lie down in it," says Anthony.

"What do you want to do that for then..?" asks one of the new guards, a young lad really.

"So you can get clean all over and relax in it - let the ass's milk do it's job." Says Anthony, trying to sound as if it makes sense. "Oh, right then.." Says the Head Guard.

"Nah, I don't know where you'll get one of them."

Anthony goes on his way, this time stopping at the stonemason's yard, thinking all of a sudden, those big stones we shape, all we need to do is to hollow on out and that will do.

So he starts a conversation with the Head Stonemason, Steve. "Can you do me a 'bath'", he says. "What's one of them, then?", the rather busy stonemason says. "It's a big thing you get into and lie in, full of hot liquid. It's relaxing." Anthony says, sounding less and less convincing each time. "You can do it, with this stuff you're cutting up each day, it'll be a breeze". "Nah, mate," says Steve, "This stuff is sandstone, it won't hold the liquid".

Disappointed, but losing a bit of interest, Anthony moves along in his quest.

But it starts the stonemason thinking - he has a bit of spare granite out the back of the shed, so over the next few days, he does a bit if chiselling and sees what he can do.

A week the following Friday, he gives old Anthony a shout and shows him his work. "Brilliant", says Anthony - let's get it installed, she'll be having her nails done all afternoon. "Let's get those asses milked too", he shouts to his PA.

Later that afternoon, Cleopatra has a big surprise and excitedly clambers into the new granite bath, filled with warm asses milk and she is in seventh heaven.

Bet you're wondering what the moral of the story is eh?

Well, in our everyday job, we are faced with dozens of little challenges. New problems to puzzle out. And they cause us irritation and frustration. Yet, like the stone mason, Steve, we have people around us who, left to their own devices and interested enough in the challenge, will sort things out - in their own way and in their own time.

It's as true today as it was when Anthony and Cleopatra were around.

There is a postscript to this. Two days later the stonemason is called up to the new 'bath' room. Cleopatra was pleased to see him and thanked him for his excellent work but asked, discreetly, if he could bring his polishing stone up with him later.

"The bath is great, but I have a little problem. There's something right in the bottom corner that is a little rough - in fact, she said, it's a bit of a pain in the ass."

Knowingly, the stonemason left the bathroom for his tools. "I know, I know" he said, "We get them all the time." And he smiled a little smile as he prepared to meet a challenge of a more delicate nature.

Copyright 2005 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, http://www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com. (Note to editors. Feel free to use this article, wherever you think it might be of value - it would be good if you could include a live link)

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