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  1. 8-point checklist for effective online training

    July 7, 2015 by Penny Robertshawe

    Are you using online learning to train your staff? Online learning gives staff the benefit of being able to do their training when it suits them best and dispels the need for having staff in one place at one time for training.

    Done well, online learning is engaging, meaningful and produces desired outcomes. Done poorly, it lacks sound learning strategies, achieves little towards meeting outcomes and demotivates learners. So before you invest in a training strategy for online learning, go through this checklist to assess a training program and ensure you’re not wasting precious resources:

    Communicate expected outcomes. Make it perfectly clear what your staff need to know by the time they’ve finished their training and why they need to know it – never assume that they know the expected outcomes of their training.

    Highlight critical information. Focus the learner’s attention by using headings, clear formatting, colour and plenty of ‘white space’.

    Build on existing knowledge. Help learners to recall prior knowledge so they can link new information with related information in their long-term memory.

    Cater for individual differences. 
Include different types of activities – branching scenarios, case studies, eLearning games, videos, audio and ‘chunked’ text – to engage a range of different learning styles and test knowledge.

    Ground learning to real life. Design activities that are relevant to learners’ real life roles and responsibilities in the workplace to emphasise the relevance of what they are learning.

    Give feedback. 
Let learners know how they are progressing by giving feedback on their activities, congratulating them on completing learning modules and helping them keep track of their progress.

    Encourage collaboration. Create a community of learning within the workplace by encouraging learners to share knowledge, insights and link their own success to the success of their colleagues.

    Provide sound support. Ensure that learners can access support when needed to help them with issues like site navigation, questions about the learning and strategies for completing the modules in the time required.


  2. Tips on how to effectively lead teams

    May 5, 2015 by Jenna

    Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

    1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

    2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

    3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

    4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

    5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

    6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

    7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

    8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

    9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

    Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?


  3. What are the next steps after gaining a promotion?

    April 28, 2015 by Jenna

    You have worked hard to get your promotion, now you have to set yourself up for success in your new role. Preparing to take on more responsibility will make the transition process run smoothly and will help set you up for future success.

    So what are the next steps after you receive the promotion? What can you do to keep yourself on track?

    1. Get clear expectations. The first thing you need to do is really understand your new role. What does the organisation expect of you? What does your manager expect of you? And what do you expect of yourself? Clarifying these expectations sets up a path to follow.

    2. Set your goals What do you want to accomplish and why? Set personal and career goals both short and long term so you can measure your progress on the path. Don’t be afraid to share your goals or vision with management and get their buy in as well,

    3. Talk to your boss. Get to know your manager and determine how you will work together. How and when will you communicate and what will help you succeed beyond the job description. These things are critically important to your mutual success.

    4. Focus on building relationships. You may have moved to a new department with new peers or report to and a new manager. The relationships with the people around you are part of that job! Invest time in building relationships with your new peers, people in other groups, your boss, your customers, and if you are a leader, your team. It makes your working environment more positive and productive if you have a level of rapport with your team.

    5. Learn what you need to learn. Remember you are new to this position so you cannot know it all on the first day! It is part of our development to learn new skills. Take notes, ask questions, request feedback to make sure you are heading on the path towards success. The earlier you set yourself up to understand the requirements and expectations of the role, the easier it will be to settle into the position and start delivering.

    6. Celebrate! Of course you deserve the time to celebrate your promotion and share the excitement with others. Take some time for yourself and those closest to you to celebrate your progress and accomplishments. Celebrating builds your confidence and awareness, and it sets you on the right path for even better performance.

    Sometimes we tend to rush from one project to the next without fully understanding what we have achieved. Every accomplishment is a stepping stone on the path towards your future. Show appreciation towards those who helped get you get to that next stage.

    If you have been through a promotion recently, what steps did you take to continue to perform at your best and show that you were the right one for the job?


  4. What to expect in a performance review

    April 14, 2015 by Jenna

    Performance reviews can seem intimidating and can make you feel anxious, but at the end of the day they are important in helping us develop and improve our performance. Whether you have been in an organisation for a few months or a few years, the performance review is inevitable. With correct preparation though, they don’t have to be scary.

    1. Be Prepared

    There is no harm in asking your manager ahead of time what to expect from the upcoming review. You can also ask fellow colleagues who have been at the organisation longer what they have experienced. Make sure that you are recording your work progress and achievements so that you also have something to present to management during the review process.

    1. Be Honest

    This is an opportunity for you to share with your manager your honest thoughts and opinions on your current workload and working environment. This means acknowledging if you are struggling in some areas and working with management on ways to resolve or delegate certain tasks. This is also an opportunity to shine and really show your manager where you are excelling (as long as you can back it up with examples).

    1. You are Part of a Team

    Remember that your performance review should not be just an opportunity for your manager to point out all of your failures. You should both be discussing how you are performing as an individual and a team member for the overall success of the company. If you have ideas or feedback to put forward on possible improvements or incentives for the team, now would be the time to do so.

    1. Know Your Accomplishments

    Don’t sell yourself short. A manager may not always be present during the time of an accomplishment and may ask you what you have contributed to the company so far. Don’t let it fall under the radar, even get a colleague or witness to verify it if it was a team effort or if it helped another person significantly. If you are a facts and figures type of person, present it to management with the data necessary to support your review.

    1. Be Open to Constructive Criticism

    These periodic assessments are provided to everyone in your team to help you improve. It is important to not take constructive feedback as though it is a personal attack or react in a defensive manner. Take the time to listen carefully to the feedback your manager has provided, and once you know they have stated all of the details, take the time to ask any questions about anything you may be unsure about. You can also ask what steps you can start taking to improve this area of feedback.

    1. Give Feedback

    There should be a point in the review session where you’re asked if you want to give feedback on your colleagues, your boss, or the projects you’ve worked on. Be honest, but professional with your feedback, especially about co-workers or the way a certain project has been organised. Don’t leave anything out, but at the same time provide value by offering suggestions for improvement instead of just complaining.

    1. Ask Questions

    Show that you were attentive and have initiative by asking questions at the end of the review on the next steps and areas of improvement. Be open to answer any questions provided by the reviewer as well. It’s a lot better to reflect on questions while the conversation is still fresh and even take notes on responses to reflect upon afterwards.

    If you’re honest and assertive in your performance review and know what to expect, you’ll leave your review with more positive motivation than ever.


  5. LinkedIn Study Reveals the Skills Employers (Really) Want

    April 7, 2015 by Jenna

    What do you tell an employer when they ask you what your strengths are? Do you provide them with leadership examples from previous roles, outline key skills or educational achievements that could be valuable for the role? Do you know what skills the employer is looking for to fulfill the role?

    A recent study by LinkedIn reveals that when it comes to interviewing and hiring early-career professionals, employers aren’t just considering education, experience and job skills. They are also looking for specific soft skills and personality traits — and how these characteristics rank may surprise you.

    LinkedIn defines early-career professionals as those with zero to three years’ experience. Understanding these skill sets will give you a better indication of how you can be considered in today’s job market.

    Specific skills
    The two most important skills employers look for are problem-solving skills (65 percent) — defined as the ability to see and create solutions when faced with challenges — and being a good learner (64 percent) by learning new concepts quickly and being adaptable in new situations.

    Employers also look for candidates who have strong analytical skills: 46 percent of the employers surveyed said early-career hires need to be able to use logical reasoning.

    Communication skills are essential. The ability to clearly communicate ideas while speaking plays a much more important role than doing so in writing, however. The study revealed that 45 percent of employers want to hire people with strong oral communication skills, whereas only 22 percent consider strong written communication skills to be crucial.

    Furthermore, creativity, the ability to think outside the box (21 percent), and being tech-savvy (16 percent) are also pluses for employers.

    Personality traits
    The most important personality trait employers look for in early-career professionals is the ability to collaborate. Fifty-five percent of employers put a premium on the ability to work well with others. A close runner-up was the ability to work hard, with 52 percent of employers preferring candidates who have strong work ethics and go above and beyond.

    Having a positive attitude also goes a long way for 45 percent of employers, while 31 percent said being passionate by demonstrating enthusiasm for their work and the business’s values is also important.

    Additionally, employers look for candidates who are organised (twenty nine percent) and resilient (twenty one percent).

    Role-based skills
    The types of skills employers are looking for also depends highly on the position and industry they work in. LinkedIn’s study found that hiring managers look for these specific skill sets when interviewing and hiring for sales, marketing and consulting roles:

    For sales roles: Candidates should possess strong oral communication skills and a good attitude that shows optimism and maintains positive energy.
    For marketing/PR roles: Creativity, passion and strong written communication skills are key to a great hire.
    For consulting roles: Employers look for candidates with strong analytical and written communication skills.

    Hiring managers, do you agree with the above statistics? What other skills sets are important to you when it comes to the ideal employee for your office team?


  6. 4 Work Habits to Help Increase Your Performance at Work

    March 31, 2015 by Jenna

    We all want to be top performers at work. We want to work hard, achieve goals and be recognised for our efforts.

    Here are four habits that will help you achieve more:

    1. Make Yourself Accountable: While working independently is advantageous, it is also important to have someone that you report your progress to, whether it is members of your office team or a supervisor. This can often enforce more urgency and effort to complete the task when you know you need to report your progress to someone on a regular basis.

    2. Discipline yourself to set priorities: It will make it easier to focus on the important tasks. Address the higher priorities in the morning when you are freshest and save the more repetitive ones for later in the day. If you receive assignments as the day is winding down, use the last five to ten minutes to prioritise for the next day. Lists are very helpful, and checking items off as you complete them will further encourage you to accomplish more.

    3. Don’t let fear prevent you from completing challenging tasks: If fear takes control of our daily lives it can paralyse us from completing tasks. It results in achieving less and we may start avoiding commitment to tasks. The remedy for fear is planning. Start by making a list of things you have accomplished (even if it’s only two or three) and keep it in a visible place to use as self-encouragement. Then make a list of things you want to accomplish and the steps to complete each one. The best way to successfully complete a big project is to break it down into smaller pieces.

    4. Avoid Procrastination.The longer you put off a task the more it will end up haunting you. You can save a lot of time and stress if you work on the difficult/important tasks first, then the rest of the day will seem less daunting.

    What steps do you follow to keep yourself performing at your best? How do you keep track of your progression? What works best for you?


  7. Bad News, You Didn’t Get The Job… What Next?

    March 17, 2015 by Jenna

    You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

    At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

    Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

    • Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

    • Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

    • Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

    • Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

    Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

    What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?


  8. What to avoid during the job interview

    March 4, 2015 by Jenna

    When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

    1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

    To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

    2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

    Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

    3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

    4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

    If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

    5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

    6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

     7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

    8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

    What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?


  9. How do you control online productivity suckers?

    February 17, 2015 by Jenna

    Technology has revolutionised the way we work and how we run business. We can obtain data faster, respond to the needs of customers and connect with others locally and globally. We have multiple avenues to source information and tools that help us to be more productive.

    However, with access to so many resources we can also get caught up with many distractions. Our eyes are easily drawn to flashes on the computer screen or mobile phone.

    Anyone can relate to the irritating sound of an alarm going off or the ‘pings’ and ‘zings’ of notifications on mobile phones.  You are not just distracting yourself, others around you are also affected. However, with some simple discipline, you can still be in control of your online networks, without letting it take control of you.

    Silencing Notifications

    There are multiple ways that technology can catch our attention. There are calendar reminders, instant messages, online notification updates on your social media pages, you name it!

    While it is important to keep calendar reminders for appointments chances are most of your other notifications can wait.

    Solution: You have the control to silence the notifications on your phone and disable pop ups on your laptop/PC. If you are receiving texts, chances are if the matter is urgent, the individual can call you directly. While calendar updates are important for reminders, you don’t need to set yourself up to receive every LinkedIn or Facebook notification.

    Sometimes it can be as simple as keeping your mobile off your desk if you feel yourself inadvertently checking it for no reason.

    You can even block sites completely from your PC if you know they will distract you from your work.

    Managing your time to access different resources

    Many emails will not require a direct response, but as the amount of emails increase in your mailbox, it can be easy to get caught up with trying to answer all of them at once. But you will normally find as soon as you finish that last email, all of a sudden, another email pops up.

    It can also be very distracting to be on the phone with a customer or colleague and see the notification come up on your computer screen advising you of a new email. You can find your eyes wander to the subject heading, and then immediately you are thrown off from your conversation.

    Solution: Block out an allocated amount of time to just action emails and nothing else. If any matters are urgent or you need an immediate response, avoid the email trail by making a direct phone call to the person.

    By managing your priorities for the day, you can then allocate time to check on LinkedIn requests, customer queries, and company social media statistics. This may require setting a disciplined routine to start off with so that it becomes a habit to manage your priorities before letting technology distract you.

    Unless Social Media is part of your job description, save your personal updates and group chats for personal time outside of the office or in your breaks.

    How do you deal with online distractions and notifications?


  10. Making your LinkedIn Profile Attractive to Employers

    February 10, 2015 by Jenna

    These days having a LinkedIn profile in the corporate world is almost a necessity. While Facebook and Twitter share your personal thoughts and opinions, LinkedIn will make you shine as a professional if you utilise it correctly.

    It’s an opportunity to share you’re employment history, qualifications/achievements. Effectively, it’s your digital resume. Your LinkedIn profile is available to a huge variety of employers. People are often head-hunted even when they aren’t looking for employment.

    However, if you are not using your profile to its potential, you could be missing out on opportunities without even realising it.
    An article by Emmanuel Banks posted on Lifehack shares simple steps to making your LinkedIn profile more attractive to employers:

    Treat It Like an Interview
    First impressions are quite important during an interview and so is your presentation. The same applies when formatting your online layout and choosing an appropriate profile picture.

    You want to create a positive and professional image so choose a profile picture that reflects you in a professional way. If it looks like you are on an all-night party bender, or modelling a bikini while on your latest holiday, you may be deterring employers straight away. This also applies to a poorly presented or poorly written ‘Summary’ or ‘Employment History’. If you are not taking the time to proofread or update your personal details, qualifications or skill, you could be automatically viewed as sloppy. If you are making LinkedIn connections with business professionals for the first time and they have potential to help you get your foot in the door, make sure you are advertising yourself to your best ability.

    Stay Connected
    The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect and network.

    Requesting a contact to connect allows you to provide a tailored introduction to the person and explain why you feel it is important to connect with them. You can then follow up with contacts on a to keep them up to date on your career. There are also groups for members within your industry where you can be kept up-to-date regarding networking events, news topics and discussions.

    It also shows your passion and genuine interest in the industry to keep connecting with others and participating in as many groups and interactions as you can. It maintains relationships with past and present contacts.

    Have Your Experience Vouched
    Your background and experience can appear even more attractive to an employer when they see that other professionals have verified your experience or expertise.

    Employers may be looking for a select set of skills for a potential role and it can prove advantageous when others verify your experience or even provide recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask past employers’ if they would mind verifying details or providing a recommendation.

    Keep Profile Up to Date
    It is time consuming for an employer to chase up information that isn’t included on your online profile. Important information can include; a good description of your current position, start and finish dates of your previous appointments, reference details or educational achievements.

    Even if you are not looking for a new role, it is important to keep your information up to date just in case you situation changes. This will also save you time if you do decide to look for work elsewhere in the future.

    What do you highlight on your LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out?




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