Flexibilization

Writen by Michael Beitler

Professor Walter Oechsler of the University of Mannheim (Germany) believes the workplace and workforce in the 21st century will be characterized by "flexibilization." Oechsler sees the "flexibilization" of the workplace and workforce leading to "a core group with unlimited full employment, and an increasingly larger group of short-term limited and/or part-time employees who face severe employment risks, ultimately resulting in stress."

Unfortunately, I must agree with Oechsler's rather unpleasant prediction. Increasing global competition will lead to increasing pressure and stress on all employees. Employees who are unprepared for the new workplace will find themselves at great risk.

Oechsler goes on to describe a major change in corporate strategy. "Whereas the typical corporate strategy of the industrial society was uniform mass production with Tayloristic structures and stable employment, the dominant strategy for global competition is flexible specialization...The strategy of flexible specialization is directed toward customer needs."

This shift in focus from fixed standardized production schedules to flexible customized customer services will dramatically affect the workplace and workforce. The 21st-century employee will have to bring a "flexible specialization" to the 21st-century organization.

Twenty-first century organizations will only be interested in hiring employees who bring a specialization that will serve the flexible needs of customer/clients. Staff positions to support these customer-driven processes will still be available, but these staff positions (non-core competencies) will constantly be re-evaluated in light of possible outsourcing.

Except for a small group of core professionals, employees will have to adopt a mindset of selling their special competencies to different employers. Oechsler envisions these employees as "entrepreneurs marketing their own human resources in order to make a living". Employability will be the key to employee survival, not the stability of the company.

Another powerful trend in the workplace will be the technologically possible "virtual company." Oechsler believes the virtual company can suppress social interaction and lead to new forms of alienation. What we know about group dynamics in face-to-face interactions will have to be re-examined in virtual interactions. How will employees react in the decentralized work structures of the virtual companies? We simply don't know.

Oechsler believes, "Information technologies will dissolve social entities". If Oechsler is correct, what new entities and relationships will be created? I assume the social aspect of our human nature hasn't changed.

Oechsler (2000) summarizes his predictions for the 21st century workforce by saying, "The employee will take on more and severe risks of being unemployed."

The work of organizational effectiveness (OE) consultants will be dramatically affected by these changes in employer-employee relations. The downsizing, outsourcing, and global alliances that began to grab headlines in the 1980s were not simply fads driven by a few greedy capitalists. These trends are indicators of the more powerful megatrends of increasing global competition and increasing technological sophistication. No doubt, numerous psychosocial problems will arise from these trends.

Are you and your organization (or clients) ready for flexibilization?

Dr. Mike Beitler is the author of "Strategic Organizational Change." Read 2 free chapters of the book right now at http://www.strategic-organizational-change.com/

7 Steps To Hire The Best

Writen by Michael Mercer

You can use this step-by-step method to hire applicants who are likely to be "superstar" employees:

- highly productive

- low-turnover

Important: Focus on hiring applicants you rate positively on all seven prediction methods.

1st Prediction Method = Brief Initial Screening Interview

If an applicant's application looks suitable, then conduct BISI, a customized 15-30 minute over-phone or in-person interview. BISI quickly reveals if an applicant has biographical data similar to your company's "superstar" employees.

For example, at one company, we discovered "superstar" Sales Reps had many similarities before working for this company:

* Work: (a) 1 or 2 previous sales jobs, (b) only 1 or 2 jobs before applying at the company, and (c) kept prior jobs 2 – 5 years

* Education: (a) earned B.A. from state universities, (b) majored in business or liberal arts, (c) worked part-time throughout college, and (d) college jobs entailed a lot of people contact

* Pay: Earned less than likely first year compensation at this company

* Vocal Style: Exuded high energy

So, this company's BISI screened-in applicants with similar work, education, pay, and vocal style – and screened-out other applicants.

2nd Prediction Method = Customized Pre-employment Tests

If the applicant did well on 1st Prediction Method – BISI, then you can have applicant take customized pre-employment tests. Use tests specifically designed to screen applicants and predict:

A. Work Behavior – e.g., interpersonal skills, personality, and motivations

B. Mental Abilities – e.g., problem-solving, vocabulary, math, grammar, and small detail abilities

Importantly, the test must use customized "benchmark scores" based on scores of your "superstar" employees. With customized "benchmark scores," you quickly see if an applicant scored similar to your company's "superstar" employees.

3rd Prediction Method = In-Depth Interview Using Customized Interview Guide Form

If you decide the applicant did fine on 1st and 2nd Prediction Methods, then you may conduct an In-Depth Interview. Crucial: Create a customized Interview Guide document for each job, including (a) 6 – 9 key "make-or-brake" job talents, (b) questions to ask, (b) note-taking, and (c) ratings.

Importantly, you must provide seminar training to teach managers how to use your customized Interview Guides to assess applicants. Without superb training, interviewers fail to hire the best.

4th Prediction Method = Role-Play

If the applicant did well on 3rd Prediction Method, then have applicant do Role-Play immediately after In-Depth Interview. The 15 – 30 minute role-play lets you see if the applicant has critical job skills. For example, have a Sales Rep applicant role-play selling. Then, assess the applicant using a customized Role-Play Rating Checklist.

5th Prediction Method = Realistic Job Preview

If you decide applicant did well on 1st – 4th Prediction Methods, then do Realistic Job Preview: For RJP, the applicant spends ½ - 1 day watching an employee doing the job. Benefit: Applicants who received RJP are less likely to (a) accept job offer – but, if they accept, (b) turnover. Reason: The RJP assures they know what they are getting themselves into!

6th Prediction Method = 1 Executive Must Approve All Hiring

If the applicant did well on 1st – 5th Prediction Methods, then one executive at your company reviews Applicant Rating Summary Form. Your company's quick Applicant Summary Rating Form

* summarizes ratings – positive, average, or negative – on 1st – 5th Prediction Methods

* "forces" managers to actually use your structured hiring steps

Important: If the applicant's ratings on 1st – 5th Prediction Methods include

+ all positive ratings, then executive may approve hiring applicant

- average or negative ratings, then the executive may not allow applicant to be hired

7th Prediction Method = Reference Checks

If your company decides the applicant did well on 1st – 6th Prediction Methods – plus accepts job offer – then you conduct Reference Checks. If they prove

+ positive, then your company keeps applicant as an employee

- negative, then you take appropriate action

How Much Time Do You Need to Hire the Best?

Many managers moan they are time-crunched, and ask how much time these seven steps require. Two answers:

1. If an applicant does well on 1st – 7th Prediction Methods, then you invested 2 – 3 hours to hire the best

2. Ask yourself: How much time – and money – did you waste when you hired average or below-average applicants? You wasted many hours – plus salary, benefits and low productivity – because you failed to invest only 2 – 3 hours to hire the best!

© Copyright 2005 Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is America's Hire the Best Expert™. Dr. Mercer authored five books, including "Hire the Best -- & Avoid the Rest™". Many companies rely on his pre-employment test – "Abilities & Behavior Forecaster™ Test" – to help hire the best. You can subscribe to his free e-Newsletter at http://www.DrMercer.com or call him at (847) 382-0690.

The Challenge Of Retention

Writen by Amir Shahzad

I being employer believe that our real assets/customers are our employees. It means, if our employees are satisfied they will automatically be loyal to the company, which ultimately leads to growth and development of the company.

Meeting the demands of today's changing environment requires building and retaining satisfied, loyal, and motivated staff. In this competitive work environment, workers are no longer inclined to stay at one position or in one company for the entire duration of their career. The most talented professionals are more likely to be hunted by other organizations, especially by competitors, and previous company is left with tears of turn over costs, which include recruitment, rehiring, and orientation/training cost and the turnover effect on the targets is another big issue. With the turnover ratio of 15% in higher management and 10% in middle and lower management, company can't make succession planning because success does not depend only on financial and material resources but on satisfied and loyal employees and good leaders.

The manager whose mood swings, determine the climate of the office on any given workday. Poor interpersonal skills, unfortunate office practices, some managers by sheer shameful force of their personalities make working for the employees rotten. So we can call them toxic managers. Apparently, their results may look fine but behind the screens, none is OK even if you loose one from your workforce. It is unhealthy, unhappy, and unproductive, and it will eventually undo HR's efforts to create a healthy, happy, and progressive work place.

Here the question arises that why managers are remembered as toxic. The main reason is that companies don't rate the managers outside the productivity and business performance. The reasons are culture and the background.

Another cause for high turnover rate of any company is unsatisfactory compensation and benefits plans e.g. Base pay, performance based pay, equity based compensation and bonuses, benefits packages and different allowances and facilities like conveyance, medical, house rent etc, also the lawful benefits like gratuity and provident funds, which varies across countries. This plan of C&B depends on the HR of the company as much as the HR is strong, it will make and implement good policies.

Putting aside some specialized industries, I believe that there is no labor shortage in this country, if in case there is any that is of unemployed people; however, there are millions of qualified people in labor market. Hiring the people from open market is not a big issue but hiring and retaining competent work force is the biggest concern. Now the question arises, how to retain them? How to reduce the turnover costs? What policies make the employees happy and satisfied?

The key to retain employees is that one must start before the first day of the job, when a worker looks for a place to hang a jacket, or refrigerator to keep his lunch fresh. As the first impression is the last impression. This is the work environment a good worker look into.

Company should identify the bad apples (toxic managers and workers who are responsible for dissatisfaction of other employees). HR should take care of these bad apples and should recreate these into detox. Because we do not need dictators, we need good leaders, who could inspire the employees and can motivate the staff even under the hard circumstance and work conditions. We need managers who could manage things instead of complaining and de motivating the staff so by finding good leaders and managers; we can prevent future problems, which can also reduce turnover ratio.

If you cannot offer with good salaries than at least keep your compensation packages competitive to the market. If, comparatively you are paying a little lesser, compensate them by other sources, as money is not every thing for every body, may be some employees are interested in big increments and salaries, but for most, it has no attraction. The good working conditions, environment, good communication, leader subordinate relationship, caring management, employee relationship and career development through training and development and career management plan, all are very important factors to motivate and retain employees.

The awareness also plays an important role in employee's management. First of all employees should be well aware of the goals, which are given to them and of course regarding rewards and benefits expected after completion. They should have a vision and a mission before them. All managers should be communicated about the turnover cost on priority bases. Managers should also be held accountable for employee's turnover and the cost involved. These costs should be a part of every department's profit and loss statement, and should be made integral aspect of each department's budget. Today employee retention is a big issue, and can only be handled successfully by team effort along with a strong communication network, and feed back mechanism.

Aamir Shahzad, Human Resources Specialist and consultant from Pakistan.e-mail: aamirhrd@yahoo.com, cell.# +92 300 5229192

Writen by Don Doman

I really enjoyed the feature film Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah. In the movie the character Georgia Byrd, played by Queen Latifah, finds out that she only has a short time to live. She changes her outlook on life and becomes determined to enjoy every moment she has left.

One of the first things she does is quit her retail job. She stops in at her manager's office and knocks, but the manager is too busy listening to a greedy self-help tape (Hip and Rich). When Georgia enters his office, the manager growls at her for not knocking. He recently barked at her for offering food samples in her popular cookware section. As Georgia tries to talk to him, he takes a call on his cell phone even after she asks him not to. When she gets completely fed up and quits, he is aghast. He tells her that she can't quit. Her area is the only bright spot, profit-wise, for the store. She quits anyway. The manager tries to entice her with little, piddling raises of fifty cents an hour and then boosts it to a dollar and then a dollar and a half . . . she is too busy leaving this part of her life behind to notice or care.

This one little scene is indicative of bad management and bad judgment. When employees do an outstanding job, the least they deserve is recognition. You wouldn't expect a marriage to last very long without terms of endearment. Why should management think employees on the job function without respect and recognition? What does it cost to say, "I love you?" It cost nothing, but those words let marriages endure many hardships. What does it cost to say, "You are doing an excellent job?" Again, it costs nothing, but those words help many organizations endure corporate change, economic change, and encroachment by the competition.

Some friends of mine sold their family business three years ago. They remain friendly with the workers there. The new owner added some new sales people at higher pay than previous positions. My friends confessed, this was a good move, but there are still problems. There were employee appraisals promised by the new owner and they are long overdue. Business is up and the indication is that appraisals would mean "job well done" statements and pay raises, which haven't been done since the business sale. Respect and recognition would help retain some unhappy key employees.

What we say today affects how others act tomorrow. Respect and recognition saves marriages and employees. The time to show people that you value them is now . . . daily . . . every chance you have. Life is short.

Author Don Doman: Don is a published author of books for small business, corporate video producer, and owner of Ideas and Training (http://www.ideasandtraining.com), which provides business training products. Don also owns Human Resources Radio (http://www.humanresourcesradio.com), which provides business training programs and previews 24-hours a day.

Working With Professionals

Writen by Kim Haas

Even the smallest and newest business needs help from at least two kinds of specialists: an attorney and an accountant. Depending on your type of business and your skills you may need the advice of other professionals such as an insurance agent, computer specialist or public relations experts. There are several guidelines you should follow no matter what kind of expert you are dealing with.

Always interview professionals to make sure you feel comfortable with them. Since you will be exposing various aspects of your business, you may want to check out their references before deciding on a particular person. Also make sure to check out the fees that you will be paying ahead of time so you won't be surprised when you receive their bill.

Be honest about your business situation. If you are seeking advice on investments or legal matters, you will only be hurting yourself in the long run if you are not completely honest. Professionals need complete information in order to give you the proper advice based on your particular situation and needs.

Always pay your professionals on time and be prompt in keeping your appointments with them. Remember that your professionalism is also being considered by the professional you are working with.

Your Lawyer can help you with many stages of business from the initial setup to handling more difficult aspects of your business. A lawyer can help you decide which business entity you would benefit the most from such as sole proprietorship, partnerships or a corporation. He or she can help you with zoning, licensing, contracts, patents, trademarks, copyrights and other legal problems or questions. Since there is always a possibility of a lawsuit, you will also want to have someone who is familiar with your business before any legal crisis may occur. You should also consider when choosing a lawyer, what their specialty is so they will be the most beneficial to you should a situation arise.

When choosing a lawyer, it is always best to go with someone who comes highly recommended as well as for the fees they charge. You might find an attorney who charges $75 an hour, only to learn that he has little experience in business ventures and may not be the best choice for representing you and your business. Should you decide to hire an attorney on retainer, always have a written agreement as to what you expect and what is expected of you in your working relationship. You will also need to agree on a high spending limit so that if additional work is required beyond what you intend on spending for fees, the attorney should call you before proceeding so you won't be shocked by unauthorized fees on your bill.

Your accountant is a very important part of your business. As with the attorney referral, you will also want a referral for an accountant. He or she will have access to all of your business information and you should be able to trust that this information will remain confidential. Discuss fees in advance and have your attorney write up an agreement about how you will work together.

Decide in advance whether the accountant will handle all matters of your financial workings, such as all data entry and tax computations, or if he or she will simply be double checking your own work. I have found it most beneficial and financially "doable" to have the accountant go over my records at the end of each year when the annual tax returns are filed. Many, prefer to have an accountant involved in the quarterly tax returns or even in the day to day recording of accounts payable and receivable.

Making the right choices as to the professionals that will be involved in your business is important. Remember, they work for you so you'll want to interview each one thoroughly and make sure you feel that you can trust them completely with your business matters.

Kim Haas is a WAHM and Founder of Womans-Net.com, a popular online networking community focusing on working from home and women in business and owner of http://Article-Host.com. To learn more about Kim, visit http://kimberlyhaas.com
Copyright 2005 Kim Haas

Knowledge Management Tools

Writen by Kristy Annely

A variety of software tools have come into existence for the management of knowledge. These tools generally provide features such as intranet, logged chat, search, FAQ lists, personalization, database maintenance and so on. All these supposedly help the process of knowledge sharing within an organization. The development of technology has resulted in facilities such as the Internet, search engines, group support systems, portals, data warehouses and the use of artificial intelligence techniques. This is very useful in managing large databases of knowledge and providing access to them from anywhere in the world. It is in this regard that software tools provide valuable assistance to knowledge management systems.

The question of managing and keeping track of myriad documents in an establishment, searching for a certain piece of knowledge from a huge knowledge base, or providing customer service round the year, 24/7, is resolved through software tools that help organize and manage knowledge.

Knowledge management tools have the advantage of the existing information technology infrastructure in any organization. With the evolution of the IT industry, companies are keen to empower their employees with access to information, intranets, document management tools and full text indexing tools, to name a few, as called for by knowledge management. It follows, therefore, that employing those technologies in knowledge management has encouraged the development of knowledge management tools. Knowledge management is nothing but a collection of technologies used for authoring, indexing and storing data, and for the application of this information and knowledge, where applicable.

Knowledge is an invaluable advantage for organizations, and the security of this knowledge has to be addressed by all tools used in the management of this knowledge.

No matter what the type or format of knowledge, it has to be stored in repositories. All tools that sustain these repositories must have shared features such as regulation, storage, search and recovery, content delivery and content evolution.

Knowledge Management provides detailed information on Knowledge Management, Knowledge Management Software, Knowledge Management Systems, Knowledge Management Tools and more. Knowledge Management is affiliated with Supply Chain Management Software.

Back To Square One

Writen by Michael Harrison

If you look, see, hear and think you will learn.

Sounds obvious but how many do it? I am a self confessed infoholic. My addiction is information on topics that interest me; world affairs/politics, business and sport. I am interested in 'cause and effect' so the net result is I read a lot.

Not just novels like most people but what interests me. It's amazing what you see, what it means and what you learn.

Recently I came across two short articles in the same journal on facing pages and they said so much about why people fail in business and yet, do people ever learn?

One article gave statistics on businesses failing from cash flow problems and the other was about a business that went down because it's single largest customer placed it's business elswhere.

In summary it goes like this; a survey revealed that in the UK 100,000 businesses fail each year because their owners fail to do any financial planning.

25% of firms never set any financial targets and 35% have never set aside funds for employee development. 20% admitted to beginning to plan when it was too late and 50% blamed this on not having enough time. They were surprised to learn that these causes of failure were greater than adverse trading conditions.

The failed business was a very cost sensitive business that did sub contract machining. It had been established 49 years and employed 12 people.

It was dropped by it's single biggest customer. The owner has now re started as a 'sole trader' doing the same subcontract machining and 'working all hours' to survive.

He says he has learned his lesson and will not carry out work for businesses in the sector of the company that dropped him and is now doing work for other businesses.

I admire his tenacity and wish him well for the future but these two tales tell us so much that should be applied as normal business practice.

Never rely on a single customer, never stop marketing, prepare an annual business plan with costed goals and timed targets.

Manage against that plan and review progress making adjustments in accordance with the trading position. At all times control cash flow and only spend when you can afford to. Simple but so effective and as important as any 'day to day' task.

My experience is that many business owners have a job working for themselves. They do tasks 'in the business' and though this is necessary when starting a business the objective must be to develop the business by working 'on it' not 'in it'.

If our business owner had set a financial plan with a costed marketing plan to acquire one new customer in each of the 49 years history - would it have gone bust? I believe not. I am almost certain that in many of those years he was busy working 'in' the business not 'on' it.

No matter what type of business you consider continuous, targeted and costed marketing is crucial. No customers, no cash flow, no business.

Tip: Look, Listen, Learn and take strong firm action. Do the thing you think you cannot do,

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Resource Box: Article by Michael Harrison, Author, Publisher and Business Consultant. Learn from an expert: Go to: http://www.be-your-own-business-expert.com/

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Michael Harrison is an author, publisher and business consultant specialising in helping business owners and individuals to realise and release the full potential of their situation. He has helped many people to improve their business situations and advised and supported individuals to embark on new directions in their careers.

Good Idea Generation A Process

Writen by Kal Bishop

It seems incongruous that good idea generation can be a process or that a process may lead to insight. However, if you examine the behaviour of people who regularly generate good ideas – such as creatives in advertising - you will find that common patterns of behaviour do emerge and it is possible to make insight more likely.

Below are just some elements of the good idea generation process:

a) Creativity is often triggered by the need to solve a problem. People who generate good ideas tend to clearly identify the problem through a tangible process. They will look at a problem from various perspectives, create multiple definitions of it and ask many others to contribute to the precise nature and basic qualities of the problem as they see it.

b) Problems require intense investigation. People who generate good ideas intensely investigate the problem using various knowledge bases and information sources. This allows frame breaking, reduces path dependency and parochialism and allows the intellectual cross-pollination that gets people thinking in new directions.

c) Forced productivity. People who come up with good ideas force themselves to produce ideas without evaluating those ideas. They will separate creative from critical thinking and simply bash out ideas using a variety of techniques. Common methods involve linking to diverse objects and concepts, vertical and lateral thinking techniques. They will regularly maximise the size and quality of their idea pool. This patterns the mind into seeking answers and triggers cognitive activity at multiple levels.

d) Seek stimuli. People who think of good ideas seek out stimuli from novel, diverse and numerous sources. The range of stimuli is infinite and this tends to suit people who have or benefit from a life long interest and curiosity in many subjects.

e) Constant conscious thought. People who generate good ideas constantly think about the problem at all times. Often they describe themselves as incapable of thinking of anything else, no matter what distractions may be present. Hence the common occurrence of descriptions such as "obsessed," "single-minded," "preoccupied," "compulsive," "consumed," "captivated," "infatuated," "absorbed", "immersed," "possessed," "hooked" and so forth.

f) Engagement in rest and unrelated activities. People who generate good ideas will allow for rest and engagement in unrelated activities, which allows unconscious processes to take over. It is at this point that insight is common. Having progressed past the previous stages numerous times, the solution presents itself when engaging in something completely unrelated.

g) Incubation. Following intense cognitive activity, it may be that the problem is set aside. A solution may present itself at any point thereafter.

The above process can be learned, controlled and the effective use of it is just as much a matter of practice as any tool. It explains why some people are more able to regularly generate a large number of diverse and novel ideas. Two relevant footnotes should be applied:

a) It is compelling that the more complex the problem, the longer the process.

b) Further, the closer the idea is to the origin of the S-curve (a measurement of impediments), the greater the number of intermediary issues requiring resolution before a solution can be obtained.

These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased at http://www.managing-creativity.com

Kal Bishop, MBA.

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You are free to reproduce this article as long as the author's name, web address and link to MBA dissertation is 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.

Writen by Wesley Ford

When a young man or woman joins the military, they are making a commitment to serve their country. When an employee is hired onto your staff, they should be making a commitment to serve the good of the company.

However – there's one glaring difference between the business world and the military. When you join the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marines, they make sure that they first strip you of bad habits and negative character traits that you possess before they train you to be a winner in the greatest military on Earth.

In the business world, you hire someone on as is – and you often cross your fingers and hope they possess the skills you need them to have. There's a level of boundaries you must adhere to – you can't yell at your new-hire to get a move on like a drill sergeant can.

But there are ways you can employ tactics to get your new-hires or existing employees to fall in line and act in the same manner a highly trained soldier would – with the skills and respect necessary to give 110% toward the success of the business.

Depending on what industry you're in, you may be dealing with heavy bouts of competition. Like a soldier in the trenches, you have to have a team of workers surrounding you to help fend off the attacks and secure a win in the world of business.

Let's go into the ways you can employ tactics to retrain your staff and create an army of highly skilled, competent individuals willing to show full commitment to your company and help you reach the ultimate level of success.

The military isn't like a civilian career. If a soldier doesn't like his duty, he doesn't have the option to up and leave and find another job. Still, they take their commitment very seriously, which is what you want in a devoted employee.

The branches of the military have the right to discriminate for age and gender in some instances, if you have bad credit, if you have more than two dependents under the age of 18 or if you're a single parent, and based on your educational experience.

With many of these situations, you'd be breaking the law if you denied employment to a civilian in your company on these factors. Therefore, it's vital that you know how to hire anyone and turn them into a champion "soldier" for your business success.

There are five steps you can use to instill the kind of characteristics that separate the employees of a company that gets by from a company that soars to greatness. They will work in any industry with any number of people.

  1. Character Development
  2. Increase Skillsets
  3. Training Principles
  4. Practice Competence
  5. Reward System

The key is to consistently work each of the five steps. Ensure your organization has the human resource processes in place to guarantee your organizations success. Join the Successful Forces!.

Wesley Ford is the Nation's LDRSHIP Expert! His primary mission is professionally developing leaders using The Soldier's Method™. His more than 17 years of experience allows him to speak to and train organizations globally on tactical and strategic issues. Join the Successful Forces by visiting http://www.wesleyford.com.

Writen by Marcia Zidle

When economic conditions turn tough or when the heavy work load seems never-ending, leaders tend to forget the "basics"–building commitment beyond the paycheck. It's the small things everyday that can bring down morale and it's the small things everyday that can raise performance. A holiday party or picnic once or twice a year probably won't do it. Rather, it's a leader's sincere recognition that employees are assets to be valued, not tools to be used up and discarded. Here are quick ways too boost morale.

Don't let respect slip under the radar screen.
If you treat your employees with respect you will earn their respect. For example, if you pay attention to and take care of your front-line people, they will in turn pay attention to and take care of the customer. Start with daily greetings. Remember their birthdays or other important dates. Take an interest in their interests. Say thank you for a job well done.

Take them serious.
There's incredible brainpower all around you, so why not put it to work? You hired your employees because you thought they could make a valuable contribution. Ask for their suggestions to problems. Include them in decisions that affect their work. Give them enough authority that goes with their responsibility.

Work for your people.
Listen and act quickly on their questions. Clear the way so they can do their jobs well. Once people see their leader as acting for them, or on their behalf, they develop a personal loyalty that energizes their performance.

Walk the talk.
Here are 5 tips from employees to leaders on how NOT to walk the talk of employee motivation. Are they talking about YOU?

  • Make promises but don't deliver. Only give excuses.
  • Be nice to me only when you want something extra from me.
  • Let me find out through the gossip mill if you don't like my work.
  • Scream at me when things go wrong and ignore me when things go well.
  • If it's really a 'rush job', interrupt me every 10 minutes to inquire how it's going.

Marcia Zidle, the 'people smarts' coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job ­ to grow and increase profits. She offers free help through Leadership Briefing, a weekly e-newsletter with practical tips on leadership style, employee motivation, recruitment and retention and relationship management. Subscribe by going to http://leadershiphooks.com/ and get the bonus report "61 Leadership Time Savers and Life Savers". Marcia is the author of the What Really Works Handbooks ­ resources for managers on the front line and the Power-by-the-Hour programs ­ fast, convenient, real life, affordable courses for leadership and staff development. She is available for media interviews, conference presentations and panel discussions on the hottest issues affecting the workplace today. Contact Marcia at 800-971-7619.

Forecasting Support Costs

Writen by Luc Richard

Did you know that maintenance accounts for 50% to 80% of the overall product cost? Well, it does! And while most project managers are fairly good at sizing new product features, many are terrible at estimating the effort required to support a product once it becomes generally available. As a result, maintenance projects are inadequately staffed, companies can't respond to customer requests in a timely manner, and products never reach payback.

This article presents a methodology to help you guesstimate and therefore plan for the maintenance phase of generally available products. But first, let's define a few terms that are important to the comprehension of this article.

Maintenance

Maintenance is defined as the effort associated with fixing defects in a software system after general availability (GA). In other words, how many person-months will it take your organization to fix bugs discovered by your customers in the field?

Maintenance can be subdivided in three sub-categories.

Corrective maintenance involves fixing bugs that are discovered in the system after it becomes generally available. An example of a corrective maintenance activity is a developer fixing a Java method that causes a compilation error.

Adaptive maintenance involves changing the system to work in a different environment such as a different network topology, platform, or operating system. An example of an adaptive maintenance activity is a developer fixing a Java method that works on BEA WebLogic but not on IBM Websphere.

Perfective maintenance involves changes that allow the software to meet the same requirements but in a more acceptable manner. For example, the designer might change some code simply to make the system more efficient or easier to maintain.

Enhancements

Enhancements, also known as change requests, are defined as the effort associated with adding new capability to a software system, or modifying a software system to meet newly defined non-functional requirements.

Imagine an application that requires the user to authenticate using a username and password. Pretty standard stuff, right? Maybe, but some customers might want to add a third credential to the password mechanism such as a domain. Others might want the username to adhere to an email address pattern. Finally, others might want the application to remember the user's credentials over sessions, thereby authenticating the user automatically.

Support

Support is defined as the sum of the maintenance and enhancements efforts performed after the product is GA. In other words, support includes all the activities that go on after a product is declared generally available.

Methodology

Early in my career, I realized that simple rule of thumbs could be applied to estimating the support cost of certain projects. For example, the annual cost of supporting a static Web site after it goes live is more or less equivalent to the cost of developing it. In other words, if developing a static Web site costs $10,000, you can expect to spend $10,000 per year maintaining it.

Understanding such rules is very practical. Unfortunately, few of them are transferable. In other words, the same rule would not apply to an e-commerce enabled dynamic Web site distributed across 3 tiers.

Various models have been developed over the years to predict maintenance costs based on defect-density (e.g. Raleigh Curve, Weibull Analysis), KLOC and KDSI, and development efforts. Unfortunately, these models are not without any shortcomings either. Many of them are either highly inaccurate or too complex to bother learning them. As a matter of fact, some are so complex that you need to purchase an application worth thousands of dollars and enter 100+ parameters in order to have it compute the effort required to maintain your product.

After having studied over a dozen forecasting models, there is one methodology that I highly recommend to any beginner or seasoned project manager.

Boehm's Model

Boehm's model is widely accepted in the industry as a valid model for predicting maintenance costs. It's relatively simple to understand, and more importantly, it allows you to refine your forecast thanks to cost multipliers, which will be explained later in this article.

Boehm's formula is the following:

AME = ACT X SDT, where

  • AME is the annual maintenance effort measured in person months
  • ACT is the annual change traffic, which represents a fraction of a software product's source instructions that undergo change during a typical year through addition or modification
  • SDT is the software development time in person months

Say a software project required 100 person-months of development effort and it was estimated that 15% of the code would be modified in a typical year. The basic annual maintenance effort estimate (AME) is therefore:

AME = 0.15 x 100 = 15 person-months

In other words, you should plan to spend 15 person-months of effort per year to maintain this specific software project.

The basic annual maintenance cost estimate may be refined by judging the importance of each factor that affects the cost and selecting the appropriate cost multiplier. The basic maintenance cost is then multiplied by each cost multiplier to give the revised maintenance cost estimate.

Say in the previous system the factors having most effect on maintenance costs were Product Complexity (CPLX), which was very high, and the availability of support staff with application experience (AEXP), which was very low.

If CPLX = 1.30 and AEXP = 1.29, then:

AEM = 15 x 1.30 x 1.29 = 25.2 person-months

Forecasting Enhancements

The revised maintenance cost does include the impact of the cost multipliers but does not include product enhancements, also known as change requests.

The bad news is that forecasting enhancements is extremely difficult because it requires you to know ahead of time what additional capabilities your future customers will request. The good news is that you can charge your customers for any enhancements they require. As a result, a good organization does not consider enhancements to represent a cost but rather a source of incremental revenue.

Conclusion

When forecasting the cost of maintaining a product that is generally available, follow this advice:

  • Learn and use this (simplified) version of Boehm's Model to forecast maintenance costs.
  • Track your SDT.
  • Measure your ACT.
  • Define cost multipliers to refine your forecast.

Furthermore, make sure you have a professional services team to implement change requests required by your customers, but do not treat them as costs since they are in fact a source of revenue.

Luc Richard holds an MBA with a major in high technology. For the past 10 years, he's been managing the development of software applications. He is the founder of The Project Mangler (http://www.projectmangler.com), an online resource that publishes free articles, stories, and other ready-to-use tools to help developers, team leaders and managers deliver software projects on time, according to specs, and within budget.

Time Tracking Software

Writen by Ross Bainbridge

Time tracking means keeping a detailed account of each action and deed performed in a particular period of time. Time tracking and management have become very important in today's fast-paced world. Time tracking as a program is finding applications in all fields, especially business and industry. This is because it eases other related functions like payroll processing, employee productivity, revenue management, invoicing, database management and project management. Time tracking has a proven record of increasing the productivity of organizations significantly.

Time tracking software has special applications that can be used on a computer. These have various features, like keeping detailed notes about each activity; organizing tasks, meetings, contacts and even inventory; generating reports; client management; creating invoices; and more. Other features include translation into many languages, easy-to-learn tutorials, e-mail management, customized options etc. There are sophisticated time-tracking programs available today. This software is very easy to install and use, and can be used on any kind of environment. It can also be custom designed to suit all kinds of requirements. Some time tracking software also does other functions like invoicing, billing, expenses tracking, project management and other applications. Time tracking software is especially beneficial for attorneys, writers, programmers, self-employed professionals, consultants, sales reps, contractors, artists and other professionals who do not work as per scheduled timings.

Some time tracking software is offered as freeware, while others have to be purchased. A standard time tracking software package costs around $100 for a single user and $1,200 for a 10-user program. However, prices vary significantly, depending on the program. TimeWhiz, Timesheet, Titrax, Hours, Seconds Count, AllTime, PicoTrack, Standard Time, Doing, SDS Time, Track-it Light, Proj Clock Pro Time, TraxTime, and TimeMate are some of the popular time tracking software programs available today. Most of this software works on Windows, Linux and Mac platforms. These can be used online as well as offline. This software is available over the internet and can be downloaded onto the system very easily.

Time Tracking provides detailed information on Time Tracking, Time Tracking Software, Time Tracking Programs, Employee Time Tracking and more. Time Tracking is affiliated with Time And Attendance System.

Writen by Mansi Aggarwal

Business and professionals share an everlasting liaison. Just as a skilled potter produces a perfect pot, efficient professionals lead to a successful business. The qualities of professionals are different from those of ordinary men and women. For instance

· Business professionals are idols of discipline. They work in a well-organized manner and adhere to business ethics. They do not compromise either on their principles or on their goals.

· Business professionals do as well as demand hard and quality work. They are not a bunch of sluggish people who lack proficiency. They put their heart and soul in their job and seek excellent output.

· The best part about professionals is that they run a business and do not let the business run them. This reflects their incredible controlling power and potency to curb situations in a desired manner.

· These people are professionals not just in their deeds but also in their thoughts. They are mentally strong people who dare to take risks with an optimistic outlook. These business experts exhibit incredible self-confidence and courage to handle all the ups and downs in their work. They have the ability to take decisions and stand for their words against everyone and anyone.

· Highly proficient professionals not just complete their task with perfection but they also make others work in the desired manner. They have the ability to bring out and exploit the unrecognized talent of people. The professional people are blessed with excellent leadership qualities. They know how to guide people and enjoy an amiable teamwork.

· Along with these qualified entrepreneurs are quite prudent and understanding in nature. They never overlook the problems of their employees, or colleagues, instead endeavor to help them out in the best possible way. Also they are good teachers. In case their juniors do not perform well, rather than chewing them out they are ready to teach and modify the mistakes.

· Business experts are quite responsible individuals. They understand their duties well and want everybody else also to do the same. Since the onus of running a business lies on shoulders of these expert people they never blame anyone else if things go wrong. For if they hold themselves responsible for success in business they are also liable for the failures.

· Since a business grows with the aid of positive relationships and contacts, the qualified people believe in maintaining good relationships even with their opponents.

· These people love to take challenges. But they never compete with their own company members. This proves their dedication towards the success of organization and their team spirit.

· The last but not the least that can be said about business professionals is about their quality of being punctual and tolerate stress. These connoisseurs stick to all the deadlines, work under tremendous pressure but never get dissuaded by it.

Mansi aggarwal writes about business and professionals. Learn more at http://www.businessandprofessionals.com.

Writen by Hans Bool

We know infrastructure from such basic things as gas, water and electricity. They have always been there and they are so basic that you do not know what to do when it is not there. A day without electricity during a hot summer can give a real problem. Internet is also part of infrastructural support. One important characteristic of infrastructure is that it serves a group of people in the same way. It comes with a standard. The water you tap from your home is of the same quality as the water you will find in a restaurant. But the level of an infrastructure could vary from one supplier to the other and according to the service level you have contracted it.

Internet is again a good example. The penetration of internet is very high in most countries, but the quality if the connection shows also a high variety; from a simple modem connections to a high-speed broadband connection. Without digging in to theoretical foundations we can easily see that a high-speed connection will increase our productivity -- if all other aspects are left the same; you have to wait less and you are able to access more functionality (video, news) etc. that was otherwise out of your scope.

For the content part, internet has also increased our productivity. We are able to reserve online, we can lookup a roadmap, we can exercise an online assessment without leaving your desk, and the main search function served for general inquiries that you need for your work. Internet also brought new productivity issues -- people that are surfing for fun without a real purpose but this is something you can handle at the organizational level.

The point is that internet the infrastructure has changed our lives, only by providing support. All those extra functions are possible because of the "availability" of the service.

Just try one day at the office without Internet and see what work you can do. Experience the impact on your productivity level. Internet is an enabler of a higher productivity, but at the same moment, when the service fails, your business is also more vulnerable. It serves everyone and it may hurt the whole organization.

And this is only internet. Infrastructure is more than only internet. How about other infrastructural supplies? Office-ware for example.

© 2006 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools

Writen by P. Quinn

Whether your company holds one meeting a week or dozens of meetings a day it is essential that this time is used efficiently and effectively. Most meetings are less effective than they could be not because they are poorly managed, but because meeting managers spend all of their time focusing on the one or two hours when people will be gathered around the conference table or video screen. Smart meeting managers know that it is the actions you take during the three days immediately before the meeting which are much more important than the meeting itself.

When Your Meeting Starts
The key to making your meeting successful begins long before the scheduled start-time of your meeting. Just as any athlete knows the importance of stretching before exercising, top-level meeting managers know that how you spend your time the week prior to a meeting is as important as or more important than the meeting time itself.

Common signs that a manager has spent too much time focusing on the meeting itself and not enough time focusing on the activity leading up to the meeting include people coming to your meetings unprepared, a few people suggesting many of the ideas, and a consistent pattern of rushing through the items at the bottom of your agenda.

Roger Burns, a 30-year veteran of high-level meetings describes it like this, "Often times the first 20 or 30 minutes of our meetings would be spent with people flipping through the documents I had sent them over a week ago. They had not prepared and had no idea what questions I was going to ask in the next few minutes."

If you are like many, these symptoms show up more often than not. So what is a meeting manager to do? How can you avoid these common pitfalls? The answer is simple, but it begins a full week before the meeting is scheduled to start.

The Three P's of Successful Meetings: Preparation, Participation, Prioritization
Although a successful meeting requires a skilled facilitator, that is only part of the puzzle. Equally important is the activity that has occurred prior to the meeting.

The First P: Preparation
Effective use of your meeting time relies on all parties being prepared to participate. This means that each person in attendance has already read the meeting materials prior to the meeting taking place. In addition to this, the meeting participants should be given the questions that are going to be discussed prior to the meeting.

Historically, most meetings begin with the chairperson asking a question to those in attendance. As an example if you were holding a strategic planning meeting, a good question might be, "What do you think are the strengths of our organization?" At this point the discussion moves around the table with each person having two minutes to process the questions, come up with a smart-sounding solution, and express the solution coherently to the group.

The problem with this method is that most good ideas do not come in those two minutes. Good ideas come as you are driving to work, as you are falling asleep, as you are in the shower – the very times you are probably not with your co-workers in a meeting. (Unless you are routinely holding your meetings in the company locker room!) Giving the questions you are going to ask to each meeting participant prior to the meeting is essential to getting the best ideas out of your participants. It also gives them a reason to read the materials you have distributed prior to the meeting.

The best time to distribute the materials and questions is three to seven days prior to your meeting. This gives participants a chance to think about the issues and questions, but not long enough to forget their good ideas and why they liked them. The payback here is fast and obvious. You will get more accomplished in less time – saving your organization money and allowing you to get your ideas implemented faster.

The Second P: Participation
Getting the best ideas from your best people is essential for your meeting to be successful. The other half of this equation is to get a broad base of participation so there is ownership in the solution rather than resentment.

If these two elements are so important to successful meetings, why is it so rare that they happen simultaneously? The first reason it rarely happens is because your best idea people are often your busiest people. More times than not these high-value people who are like popcorn machines full of ideas are already scheduled for other meetings when you choose your meeting times. Although it is sometimes possible to reschedule your meeting to meet their availability, it is impossible to adjust every time and for every need.

The second reason you rarely get your best idea people to participate and have a wide base of ownership at the same time has to do with the dynamic within meetings. Each person within your organization is wired differently and for every person who is comfortable expressing and advocating for ideas in a meeting there are others who do not have this gift. For those who are good at verbal maneuvering, gaining support at a meeting is like a sport. For those who feel less comfortable in this environment advocating a position can feel like torture. Clearly a venue is needed to allow everyone a chance to participate in the solution in a way that is non-threatening, democratic and builds ownership directly into the process.

Do not underestimate the value of this increased participation. Ideas, initiatives and even directives that are viewed as having a broad base of support are implemented faster and with a higher level of quality. In addition to this, you do get better ideas when more people participate – especially when the people participating are those closest to the action not those incubated in their executive offices. All of this helps you innovated faster than the competition, get to market quicker with your ideas, and win the battle of consistent quality.

The Third P: Prioritization
In a perfect world we would have unlimited time in each day to get everything done. Unfortunately we live on the clock each and every day. Too often our meetings are crammed full of agenda items placed there in the order they showed up on our desk or the order we jotted them down on a yellow sticky note while on the phone, with no level of importance or urgency.

The best meeting managers understand that all items on an agenda do not deserve equal weight, and they prioritize the issues starting with the most urgent. This allows your best minutes to be dedicated to your most important items.

Unfortunately the priorities of the leader are not always the priorities of the team. There are many times when the rank and file have a burning issue that has completely slipped past the management. Effective meeting leaders have a system in place to identify and address just such issues.

The benefit of having such a system in place is increased productivity in your most vital areas. By focusing everyone's attention on the issues which are most important to your success you will quickly see a decrease in non-value added activity and increased profitability for your efforts.

A New Set of Tools
Now that we have switched our focus from the one hour meeting around to the full week leading up to a meeting – a whole new set of tools needs to be added to your toolbox.

There are a multitude of tools already present and accounted for to help you with the actual meeting: from flip charts to electronic white boards, from video-conferencing to the latest collaboration software allowing a group of people edit a document from locations around the world, companies have kept up-to-date with a variety of e-meeting solutions.

One tool new to this market sector is ehuddle. Ehuddle is an internet-based tool used by companies pre-meeting and post-meeting to increase the effectiveness of meetings. Initiated by a simple email to meeting participants, ehuddle let's everyone who is invited to the meeting see the questions that are going to be asked, brainstorm possible answers, and evaluate a list of possible solutions. All of this activity happens in the days leading up to the meeting ensuring that participants are prepared for the meeting – having already thought about the important issues and evaluated each other's possible solutions.

Ehuddle utilizes a proprietary online format that is anonymous and democratic. This not only allows members of your committee who could not make the meeting to give input, it also creates an environment where no one is afraid to suggest ideas. Ownership is built into the process because everyone has had a hand in evaluating each solution.

Smart meeting managers are even using tools like ehuddle to set a portion of the agenda. By letting rank and file members of any group to brainstorm and rank issues that are important to them, the agenda automatically reflects the needs of the organization.

The return on investment for tools like ehuddle is quickly realized. Managers recognize the money lost in non-optimized meetings, low levels of participation, and distracted activity. Couple this with the increased productivity, quicker issue identification and resolution, and faster time-to-market the tool brings and you will quickly see that this is money well spent.

Utilizing this full set of tools prior to a meeting allows the leader to walk into the conference room or video-conference confident that the groundwork has been laid for a successful meeting.

About the author…
Pat Quinn is an author, presenter, consultant helping companies maximize the effectiveness of their meetings. Each year Mr. Quinn speaks to thousands of leaders around the country.

ehuddle.com

Writen by Donna Cutting

Recently, I was asked the following question: "How do I set up a recognition program for employees without having them coming to expect the rewards?"

This is a great question, especially if you are setting up a centralized and structured program of recognition for your employees. If you set up a precedent that when an employee achieves such and such, then he or she receives a tangible reward, other staff members may expect the same reward for the same result. Then your recognition program actually becomes an incentive program. This may not be a bad thing, if the incentives are creating the desired results in your business. However, it can become expensive.

Furthermore, if you give all employees the same reward, at the same time of the year, it will become an expected treat. An example of this might be the holiday turkey or a holiday bonus.

To truly be effective, employee appreciation must be more than a special event or an incentive program. It must be part of the culture. You can acknowledge the efforts of your staff members without "creating a monster" whereby they expect a tangible treats just for showing up and doing a great job. (Other than their paychecks of course!)

For the record, it is my opinion that all people who do a great job at work have the right to expect appreciation and acknowledgement from their bosses and their co-workers. While employees must be held to the standard of the company, they also have the right to be treated with understanding and respect.

Yes, your employees should expect to work for someone who cares enough to create a company culture where they are valued as human beings and recognized for the contribution they make to the workplace. This can involve both tangible and intangible rewards.

The best way to make employees feel appreciated, without setting up the expectation of constant tangible rewards, is to start at the grass roots level.

Although it is important that the corporate office and human resources set the stage for a caring workplace, the most meaningful recognition comes from a person's own supervisor. Here are a few steps to setting up a successful recognition program.

TRAIN YOUR SUPERVISORS in employee relation and recognition techniques. I can't say it enough!! A corporate incentive and rewards program will not make a dent if your staff members don't feel respected by their own boss. Too often a person is promoted to supervisory status because they excel in their own job. However, their supervisory skills are sorely lacking. To keep morale up and employee turnover down, you must have supervisors who know how to treat their team members well and show their gratitude for a job well done. This step is too often skipped, and it's why many centralized recognition programs don't work!

WALK THE FLOOR and start to look for reasons to thank your employees. Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, said it best when he reminded us to "Catch Them Doing Something Right!" When you do "catch" them, sometimes a simple thank you is all that is needed. A "way to go!" or a "you're just terrific!" can go a long way. Will your staff members come to expect that you're a boss who cherishes his/her employees? Probably! What's wrong with that?

Sometimes, you'll find that more tangible rewards are deserved. If you notice someone has gone above and beyond, you may want to send a note to their family, give them a gift certificate or day off. You may want to empower the supervisors under your leadership to do the same for their team members. Yes, you can do this without creating the anticipation of a steady stream of tangible rewards.

SURPRISE THEM! Dawn Winder was the name of my boss when I worked for Parkview Retirement Home in Clearwater, FL. (Actually, although she's no longer my boss, her name is still Dawn Winder!) She was absolutely one of my favorite bosses. In fact, she inspired loyalty in every one of the staff members that work for her directly. We would do just about anything for her, because she was fun, understanding and acknowledge us when we did a great job. We would often pitch in to help other departments, or stay longer hours for special events, without too much griping. We did this, not because of any tangible rewards, but because we knew our contribution was valued. However, occasionally, Dawn would surprise us with thank you gifts such as a certificate to a favorite restaurant or store. The key words are occasionally and surprise! We did NOT look for gifts of appreciation, because they came to us spontaneously, individually and unexpectedly. When you give tangible rewards on an individual and spur-of-the-moment basis, you are more likely to inspire loyalty than greed.

BE SPECIFIC! When you give a reward for a job well done, be specific about why you are sending the gift. What did the person do to merit a reward? The words "You handled that customer complaint with poise and respect" are much more meaningful than simply "Great Job." Perhaps you want to give a simple thank you for every day good work, and something more tangible when someone truly goes above and beyond. Be sure that the behavior being recognized merits the size of the reward given. My colleague, Dave Timmons of Six String Leadership puts it this way. "As a former senior manager, I always reserved the right to reward specific, non-recurring behaviors that were clearly "over and beyond". I never worried about creating a monster although I hoped for one." BE SPECIFIC with your tangible rewards! A gift card to your employee's favorite store says a lot more than a generic token from the recognition closet. Can you give to one employee and not another? Yes and No. Although sometimes it's appropriate to recognize the entire team, it's also important to acknowledge the work of an individual. The key is to acknowledge EACH individual for their SPECIFIC contributions at different times.

BE SINCERE! Don't have a recognition program just because it's the "thing to do!" Truly look for the good things your employees are doing right. Try to catch each of them individually! Be sincerely thankful. If you design a recognition program without heart behind it, you will NOT produce the desired results of a positive workplace with high morale and low turnover. If you can't find something in EACH of your employees to be grateful for, than perhaps you need to take a look at your hiring process. Either you aren't looking closely enough, or you have the wrong employees in the wrong positions.

ENCOURAGE PEER TO PEER RECOGNITION! Give your team members a vehicle to appreciate their co-workers. Perhaps you could give them space in the employee newsletter or bulletin board for warm fuzzies, or support the formation of a staff spirit team. Regardless of what it is, encouraging gratitude among co-workers will give your staff members reasons to look for what is RIGHT in your workplace.

Finally, ask yourself the following question.

Would you rather have employees that expect to come to work and be disrespected, undervalued and unnoticed or would you rather they expect to be appreciated, acknowledged and championed??

If the recognition your employees receive has heart behind it, the "monster" you create may be happier, more productive and less likely to leave! The choice is yours.

©2005, Donna Cutting, St. Petersburg, FL. You may reproduce this article in it's entirety in your publication if you include the byline at the end, including the web address and telephone number. If you would like a photo to accompany the article, email us at rachel@donnacutting.com. We would appreciate a copy of the issue in which the article appears. Please send a copy to ShowStopping Solutions, PO Box 76461, St. Petersburg, FL 33734.

Donna Cutting is a speaker, author and consultant who helps leaders create places where employees get Standing Ovations and customers receive a Celebrity Experience. She can be reached at 727-525-5818 or via her website at http://www.donnacutting.com/

Companies and Associations across the United States enjoy her presentations filled with immediately applicable ACTION steps delivered in a FUN, upbeat and interactive style. She is otherwise known as Gal Morale!

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.

the Value of Work Processes

One of the most valuable tools for maximising idea generation is the use of work processes. Work processes align activity with the goal and produce far more output than randomness or simply "do your best." Some examples include:

a) Incremental goals. These produce much more output than would be produced otherwise. Two pages a day produces a words-on-paper first draft screenplay in two months. Consider this against the fact that innumerable people have half finished screenplays waiting for attention under their beds.

b) Project Timelines. Project timelines allow individuals to gauge the whole goal, gauge the incremental requirements leading to the goal, appraise the effort and competencies that will be needed and set themselves up psychologically for the coming task. They are akin to business plans. Efficiency and output are increased when a business plan is followed, as opposed to using it merely as a means to raise finance.

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.

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 MBA, 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/

Writen by Michael Russell

In this final installment of medical billing of electronic claims, using NSF 3.01 specifications, we're going to cover the last fields of the FB0 record. Before we do that though, there is something that should be pointed out not only about the FB0 record but about all line item detail records, which include FA0, FB0, FB1 and FB2 records.

Many people in the industry feel that the amount of information transmitted in regard to line item detail is overkill. The majority of professionals who work in the field of medical billing feel that the item description, item number and price is all that should need be transmitted in addition to the patient the drug, item or procedure is being billed for. There are pros and cons to this argument that we're going to touch on briefly.

The pros are obvious enough. With a decrease in the amount of information that is transmitted, the cost of medical billing will go down. While many people think that doctors are mostly responsible for rising medical costs, as well as the drug manufacturers who charge insane amounts of money for one pill, the truth is, medical billing costs are greatly responsible for the overall increase in medical costs in general. The red tape involved with processing most claims doesn't help to reduce costs any. And let's be honest, the billing companies and the companies that provide billing services and software want to get their piece of the pie too. So the more information that needs to be transmitted, the more money they can charge for the service. By reducing the amount of information that needs to be sent, you not only reduce costs but you also get rid of a lot of the red tape.

The cons are not quite as obvious because most people don't realize what sending all this information does. For one thing, it helps cut down on medical fraud, which is a growing problem in this country. By requiring more information to be transmitted, it makes it more difficult for a biller to commit fraud, as well as the patient. Those who think that there aren't claims filed that aren't legit are living in a world that doesn't exist. Medical fraud is one of the worst problems in the United States and gets worse every year. The other problem with cutting down on the amount of information that needs to be sent is that it will ultimately put people out of work. This does nothing but add to the unemployment problem, which is already bad enough.

Like it or not, this overkill of information is here to say. With that, let's wrap up our review of the FB0 record.

FB0 fields 27 - 32, positions 182 - 313, is the purchase service company info, which includes their name, address and phone. This information needs to be provided so that the payer can verify with the company that the purchase actually happened. Again, this goes back to the fraud problem. Most people would have this info eliminated.

FB0 field 33, positions 314 - 316, is the drug number of days supplied. This is the number of days that the drug that was prescribed for. This must match the number of units per day to the total number of units prescribed.

FB0 field 34, position 317, is the payment indicator type and is not supported.

FB0 field 35, positions 318 - 320, is filler national and must be left blank.

This finally concludes our review of the FB0 record. In our next installment of medical billing, we will begin our review of the FB1 record.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Medical Billing

Writen by Joe Rubino

Do you ever wonder why people do not simply do the things that you want them to do? Well, instead of waiting for things to happen, decide to take responsibility for making them happen. The way to do this is often as simple as making an appropriate request.

Requests are the engine that drives action. To the extent that you become proficient in making requests that people understand to be in their best interests, they will comply with your wishes and honor your requests. To the extent that your requests come across as self-serving and in only your own best interests, you will likely meet with opposition and avoidance. The best way to access your power through impacting others is by making requests that move people into action. By moving the action forward, you are able to take an insight you have into what would support you, someone or some situation and make a request that has the person move into accomplishing something they may not have in the absence of your request. In our culture, people generally operate out of the mistaken notion that information is the source for action. Information alone produces no results without the ability to act upon the knowledge you have and move the situation forward. Making a request is a conversation that does just that and produces action. So, if requests cause us to move people and situations powerfully forward, why don't we typically make them routinely to bring about a result? The answer lies in the following areas.

1-We are often fearful of having our requests declined. With the mere possibility of getting turned down, we will retreat and hide under a rock. A good example to demonstrate this is asking someone out for a date. You might really want to date that special person but that little voice on your shoulder reminding you that they just might turn you down can cause paralysis. If you are more committed to getting the date than you are to protecting yourself from potential rejection, you'll pop the question. If the reverse is true, you might never know if the answer would have been ...YES!

2-We are more committed to looking good (or not looking bad) than to making a difference by making a powerful request. Again, when your focus is on yourself, you trade your ability to impact others for protection and comfort. Look to contribute to someone else instead or focus on something worthwhile, something larger than yourself or your all-too-often petty concerns and you will not be so concerned about how you are looking!

3-We are not clear about what requests to make and what needs to happen in a particular situation in order to bring about a result. Our lack of clarity results in paralysis.

4-We are not skilled at making requests in such a way that they can be heard and acted upon by others. When the requests we make are not seen by others to be in their best interests, they may fall on deaf ears.

One way to get our requests heard and acted upon is to combine our request with a promise. I request that you do (whatever) and if you do, I promise to do (this)...in return. Having the requests you make be accepted and acted upon will be a function of how effective you are in creating a listening for what you have to say. Another way to create a listening for your requests to be heard is by speaking your commitment to the person or situation so that the reason for making the request can be understood and appreciated. Example- Out of my commitment to support you to be as powerful as you can be, I request that you practice making at least three requests every day whenever you see an opportunity to influence a situation.

To make your requests more effective, make sure that you are clear as to what must be done to satisfy the request and the time period by when your request is to be carried out. Example- I request that you hire a personal development coach by the first day of next month.

Always remember that whenever a request is made, the person to whom it is made has four options: 1- to accept the request, 2- to decline the request, 3- to commit to respond to the request by either accepting it or declining it by some later date or 4- to counteroffer the request with a possibility that works better for you.

When, on the receiving end of a request, you find yourself needing to decline a request that has been made of you, it is important to leave the person making the request whole. And, when possible, look to see if there is a counter offer you can make to the benefit of all involved. Your ability to first recognize what may be missing in a given situation to bring about an intended result and then powerfully make the appropriate request will result in the world becoming a more obliging place that responds to satisfy all your needs.

Exercise For Making Powerful Requests

Look for at least three opportunities every day in which you can make a request to move the action forward in order to accelerate your business growth. Make your requests powerfully by creating a listening for them to be heard. Always include a "by when" with each request you make. Practice making requests with your prospects, your upline and downline and with your family and friends in some area that will move your business in the right direction.

Dr. Joe Rubino is an internationally acclaimed trainer, author and success coach. He is the author of 10 best selling books available in 19 languages and 48 countries. For more information on Dr. Rubino's coaching programs, books, tapes, CDs and courses, visit http://www.CenterForPersonalReinvention.com, e-mail to: drjrubino@email.com.

Writen by LM Foong

In this issue, I will share my experience acquired from the conglomerate and its operating companies. For the purpose of this article, I will articulate the Focus on Results and Creating Value which is one of the Eleven Values and Concepts in Malcolm Baldrige Criteria (Source: http//www.nist.gov/quality). As before, I will use case studies to show how some of the companies implement them.

To recap, below are the Eleven Core Values and Concepts of Baldrige Criteria:-

Visionary Leadership | Customer-Driven Excellence | Organizational and Personal Learning | Valuing Employees and Partners | Agility | Focus on the Future | Managing for Innovation | Management by Fact | Public Responsibility and Citizenship | Focus on Results and Creating Value | Systems Perspective

I will deal with the one of the Value in bold letters in this article as below:-

Articulated Focus on Results and Creating Value

An organization's performance expectations need to focus on key business and operational results. These results should be used to create and balance value for your key stakeholders: -

  1. Customers
  2. employees
  3. stockholders
  4. suppliers and partners
  5. the public and community

By creating value for your key stakeholders, your organization builds loyalty and contributes to growing the economy. To meet the sometimes conflicting and changing aims that balancing value implies organizational strategy should explicitly include key stakeholder requirements.

This will help ensure that plans and actions meet different stakeholders' needs and to avoid adverse impacts on any stakeholders. The use of a balanced of lead and lag indicators offers an effective means to communicate short- and longer-term priorities, monitoring of actual performance, and provide a clear basis for improving results.

Case Study on Focus on Results and Creating Value

It was a very strong focus on creating results in all the companies I worked with. Although there is some differing of stakeholders needs, it seldom put enough emphasis on other stakeholders except for the stockholders, customers, employees, partners and community. Incidentally the lists are ranked based on its priorities.

Stockholders needs are traditional very strong in the philosophy of these companies. It is not the case where leaders of these companies does not appreciate the needs of other stakeholder, it is a case where they cannot meet all these needs consistently hence the ranking of priorities. Unfortunately, the priorities became a norm after some times of non fulfillment.

Companies still very much chase after the finance number at best the market sakes numbers. Not many chase after productivity numbers hence the operations.

Opportunity for Improvement

Based on Dr. Kaplan's balanced Scorecard concept, the financial results are the consequence of the focus given to the customer, the operation excel into satisfying these customers, the competency of the human resource that perform these operations etc.

If this balanced scorecard concept is fully appreciated, leaders should realign the business into meeting the stakeholders need i.e. Financial aspect by way of gear up the human resource capabilities and process capabilities to satisfy the customers such that they remain with the companies. Consequently, financial result should be the expected outcome.

In summary, having understood the Focus on Results and Creating Value in Values and Concepts of Malcolm Baldrige, it should be taken as a strategic issue rather than operational. Most companies have in placed a Marketing Strategy, some would have Operational Strategy, would you want to consider having HR Strategy too? Leaders might benchmark their CEO of Baldrige Winners on their TQM successes in this value. My next article will articulate the next Core Values and Concepts in System Perspective

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Disclaimer: This article is written by the author based on his practical application experience. All definitions and interpretation of terminology are his point of view and has it has no intention to conflict with experts in similar topic. The author holds no responsibility for the use of this article in any way.

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Free to reprint or re-publish: All rights reserved. You are free to reprint or re-publish this article as long as you include my resource box at the end of this article. And ensure that the URL in the resource box remained intact and it is linked to the author's website.

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About the Author: LM Foong

The author is a trained Assessor in Baldrige style of assessment. He facilitates Baldrige style Assessment workshops and post assessment improvement. He publishes TQM articles, ebooks, case studies, trainer manual and presentation slides. Please visit my Web Site for Baldrige Criteria 2001 and other TQM related matters

Writen by Peter Wright

The increasing complexity and breakneck pace of running any organization has had the effect of pushing executives, managers and staff farther away from the clients that use your services. Ask yourself honestly: how many days can go by without ever thinking about your clients? We can balance the need to effectively manage our operations, without losing sight of our clients. Clients can't be top-of-mind all the time, but there are actions you can take to keep them at the forefront.

Put Your Executives in the Trenches
Implement a mandatory program for all senior executives to be exposed to clients, and their issues, several times a year. Depending on your business, executives can spend half a day listening in to real live customers at your call centre, working the cash register, or pairing up with a case manager. The benefits are endless, and executives will see your organization in a new light.

Turn Your Employees Into Customers
Remove any obstacles that prevent employees from using your products or services. Then go farther and take real steps to encourage your employees to become customers. For employees at all levels of your organization, you can't get any closer to your customers than becoming one.

Watch and Learn
Objectively observe your clients using your services. This isn't about surveys and focus groups. This is real observation and investigation to gain an intimate knowledge of what problems clients are trying to solve, or tasks they are trying to accomplish. Begin to understand that, and product development, and segmentation will take on new meaning. These are only a few ideas that might be included in a comprehensive client intimacy initiative. What would you do to get closer to your clients?

During years of developing business plans with North America's largest companies, Peter Wright has created many tools, models, and practices that are highly applicable to the strategic planning process used by medium and large organizations. Peter has recently started a website devoted entirely to the strategic planning process at http://www.planningprocessstrategic.com.

Writen by Philip Lye

People management and leadership has become a major topic of conversation in today's market place and have assumed mythical qualities. Managing you people is not that difficult if you are willing to invest one thing in their development; YOU.

The emotional cost and some simple training and mentoring can see you be a successful leader and manager.

As a previous CEO of companies (before starting Biz Momentum) I proved this time and time again and often baffled and confounded those that wanted to make the whole leadership thing complicated!

What's it all about!!

1. Managing your people is largely COMMON SENSE

2. Leaders don't wait for others to show the way.

3. Leaders participate in the workplace and are seen doing the hard yards, leading by example we used to call it.

4. Leaders inspire other people through authenticity (Random Acts of Kindness, Mentors not Tormentors)

5. Leaders know their people - Mother Teresa took the time to know her 700 sisters? It's all about choice. As for your people, do you now their partners and children's names? do you know what is important to them?

A Metaphor - Motor Vehicle - How do you treat your car?

Most people put more positive effort into servicing their motor vehicles than taking the time to fine-tune their employees.

• Get to know your car
• Get used to driving it
• Servicing it
• Recognising the different noises – timing chain
• Know when its time to replace, upgrade or keep it

A. What has this to do with employees?

Sign the Contract
Ensure you employees have a valid Employment Contract

Fuel the Car - Empower your people
A comprehensive 'job description' and let them do the job

Take out Insurance
Induct your employees – let them know their responsibilities and rights

Insurance – might have 'an excess' – MULTI-SKILL

Maintenance
Show genuine interest, Develop Listening Skills

Regular Service
Conduct regular performance management appraisals that are highly interactive and positive? Take the time or do the crime. Neglecting to performance manage you employees takes the agenda largely out of your hands and into theirs in times of strife.

Regular Inspection
Being a peacemaker not a peacekeeper. A peacemaker makes peace! A peace keeper constantly keeps warring side apart - there is no peace just the appearance of peace.

Go for a Joy Ride Celebrate successes and Learn to have fun in your business.

THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

(Phil's law of unintended consequences)
You don't intend to fail; however, the choices you make today will determine where you are placed tomorrow. Each choice builds on another and all of a sudden you have a foundation – good or bad – your decision my decision.

You cannot escape your responsibility to manage your people or they will manage your time and you.

People who feel and are genuinely valued are priceless and add great value to your business.

The ball is in your court!

For more helpful information visit www.biz-momentum.com you can sign up for our free monthly newsletter.

Philip Lye is Director of Biz Momentum. Philip has considerable international and cross cultural experience. He works with small to medium businesses to help them cut through the maze of people matters. Clients get specific actionable strategies to protect their business interests. For more information on Philip, visit http://www.biz-momentum.com and subscribe to his free monthly e-zine.

Writen by Matt Parmaks

This subject is addressed time and time again. Some retailers have more Store Manager and Assistant Manager positions open than they have filled. Take a look at on-line job sites and you'll see that even large, well known retailers are trying to fill positions that should be filled with candidates from within the company. In fact, if a solid internal promotion policy was in place – one that really worked - the majority of vacancies would be at entry level.

The concern is that this is not just an occasional problem for many retailers and other companies in the service industry. It is an on-going state of affairs. It has become a 'mission critical' item that goes unrecognized as such. C level individuals absolutely must become involved with this epidemic called excessive turnover.

The research is out there. We know it's very expensive to attract and train high caliber employees. Why, then, do so many organizations treat excessive turnover as normal and acceptable? The answer, simply and unfortunately, is lack of awareness.

Often top management is unaware of the root causes of excessive turnover and, as a result, their questions to high level subordinates focus on the activities taking place to attract people to fill vacancies (job fairs, advertisements here, there and everywhere, possibly the use of a professional recruiter, word of mouth, etc.) and those activities are pushed very high on the priority action list. The question to subordinates should be "Why do we have excessive turnover?" and "What is being done to ensure that we keep the good people we already have?" Why not put 'hiring and keeping good people' high on the priority action list? And I mean high…right up there with sales and profit.

When you define 'good people' for your particular business it is highly likely it will include some form of performance or productivity criteria. You don't want to attract and retain nice people, or sweet or happy or kind people. You want to attract and retain people who are 'good' based solely on your particular company's definition of 'good'. Someone else's definition of 'good' just won't cut it.

Why not set up a new department to delve into this area? With all due respect to Human Resources professionals everywhere - and I mean that sincerely - the HR department is not the place to start with this new endeavor. An 'attitude survey' alone won't serve the purpose. An 'open-door policy' won't serve the purpose. Exit interviews won't serve the purpose. You must have objective, sales and customer service oriented individuals looking at operations and asking quality questions in order to figure out what kind of management employees are being subjected to in the organization. Top performers, or producers, usually know what they do and do not like; what inspires and motivates them to perform. Getting them to tell you what those things are is the difficult part.

The main cause of excessive turnover is inadequate management practices. Given the sophisticated society we live in excessive turnover should have been eradicated long ago. ET is bad for your business and bad for employees, as anyone interested in, or struggling with, this subject surely has figured out already.

But why are so few companies dealing with it in a productive manner? The reasons are many. 1) They haven't actually seen the effect on the bottom line; which is not to say it isn't there – it certainly is – but it may not have gotten enough attention to extract the actual dollar figure and attack it as a priority action item. 2) They believe it is an industry related malady and, therefore, believe there is not much they can do. 3) Top management is not asking the right questions. And the list of reasons goes on.

Managers and recruiters spend an inordinate amount of time and energy scurrying around in a never-ending flurry of activity to get new people on board. If we would only spend half as much time and effort focusing on keeping the 'good' people we already have we would be able to climb off of the hamster wheel and become far more productive.

It takes great managers to manage and develop people for maximum effectiveness.

Among other things, great managers are consistent; are credible; promote stability; communicate well and often:

Consistency – It is difficult to follow a leader who is inconsistent. They may be seen unpredictable and/or wishy-washy.

Credibility - It is impossible to respect a leader who has no credibility. They can be seen as untrustworthy and insincere.

Stability - It is uncomfortable to work for a leader who does not create stability in the workplace and may even appear to promote instability and insecurity.

Communication - It is difficult to follow a leader who cannot, or does not, communicate well. They are often misunderstood and believed to be lacking clarity of vision and/or direction.

ET can be abolished by following some innovative as well as some solid, tried and true management/people development practices. You need to know what those practices are and how to implement them successfully within your organization. Understanding what your good people need from you is the first, and crucial, step. Your great managers have to do the rest.

DMS Retail offers an insightful guide to people management as it relates to the eradication of ET. For further information go www.dmsretail.com.

Matt Parmaks is well known in management circles for his insights to people management issues. He is a believer of application of practical, common sense and value based concepts rather than theory to get most out of your human capital while giving the most back to them. You can reach him at mparmaks@dmsretail.com

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