When personal views affect business

April 8, 2014 in At Work, Leadership

How important are your personal views when it comes to your business? The short answer is: very.

While you might think that your personal opinions and views are entirely detached from your business and how it operates (why should it matter if you wear real fur outside of work?), when you’re in a high-level position the lines can become blurred – after all, you’re one of the decision makers.

People tend to see you and the company as one and the same, which means a controversial view or decision by you almost always affects the company, especially in bigger companies who are often in the public eye.

This lesson was recently learnt the hard way by co-founder and recently appointed CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, who in 2008 made a donation to support a same-sex marriage ban campaign in California.

While his contribution was met by the public with negativity at the time, it was not until he was appointed CEO that the outrage bubbled over the surface.

Among those opposed to Eich’s appointment as CEO were online dating website OKCupid, whose visitors using the Mozilla Firefox web browser were stopped before being able to access the site and greeted with the following message:

“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”

Also found on this page were links to download alternative browsers, although Firefox users could still continue if they wished.

Eich has since stepped down as CEO.

So what can we learn from this?

While one could argue that what someone says or does in a personal capacity, as long as it’s not illegal or malicious, should be accepted according to our laws regarding freedom of expression and not associated with our businesses; we have to be realistic and accept that this is not the case and our personal views can and do affect how people see the companies we run.

All we can advise is that you think about how your words and actions may reflect on your business. If your views and the company’s views do not align, be aware that publicly acknowledging this could cause you and the business to both come under fire.

The same goes for the comments and updates you post to social media and other sites – while you are entitled to your own personal views you need to always be mindful of how these views may reflect on you and your future prospects.

Sometimes it is best to err on the side of caution. Controversy can occasionally be good for business, but usually the opposite is true.

Staff Training is a soft skills training provider. For more info on our training options please call (021) 839 3021 or drop us an email.

Do you and your body speak the same language?

April 4, 2014 in At Work, Leadership, Personal Development, Skills Development

They say it’s not what you say, but HOW you say it that matters. That might be the case, but what if your body language says something different altogether?

When communicating with our employees and colleagues we often pay close attention to the words we use, and many of us are even mindful to put them across in a way that we think the listener will be receptive to.

But what we forget to take note of is what our bodies are saying.

Body language is something all of us use and interpret every day, mostly on a subconscious level. That wild arm waving and gesticulation you do while speaking on the phone? That’s your body trying to help you communicate.

Whether you’re aware of it or not your body is constantly speaking on your behalf; and the other person, whether they’re aware of it or not, is always trying to interpret that body language.

That’s why it’s so important that you become aware of what your body is saying so you can ensure that your message is clear.

For example, a very relaxed posture while reprimanding someone could lessen the impact of your words, or an unintended smile while dealing with a serious matter could undermine its import.

Making sure that your body language is doing what it’s supposed to, which is to affirm what you’ve said, is a key step to excellent communication. And all it takes is a little attention!

Staff Training is a soft skills training provider. Contact us at (021) 839 3021 or drop us an email.

How to Become an Early Riser

March 31, 2014 in At Work, Personal Development, Skills Development

If you’re one of the people who knows the benefits of waking up early, but can’t seem to get up before snoozing the alarm three times, then this article is for you…

Waking up earlier in the mornings helps us to be more productive, more organised and in the long run can make us happier people, but if you’ve ever tried it then you’ll know that sticking to it is much easier said than done.

So, we’re going to let you in on a little secret.

The trick to waking up earlier is this:

1. Put your alarm clock out of arm’s reach.

Ensuring that your feet have to touch the floor before you can turn off your alarm clock is a great way of helping you to not go straight back to sleep. You’ll probably still have to fight the urge to get back into bed, but at least half the battle is won.

2. Gradually wake up earlier and earlier.

Don’t decide that you’d like an extra two hours in the morning, set your alarm for two hours earlier and expect to feel fresh and alert in the morning. Our bodies don’t like this. If you want to wake up two hours earlier rather keep setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day until you reach your target waking time.

3. Switch on the lights once you’re awake.

Make an effort to turn on the lights once you’re awake. Not only does this make you feel less groggy but it also helps to set your internal clock’s day/night cycle, meaning that before you know it you’ll be waking up naturally around the same time as your alarm.

4. Keep track of your progress.

It is so easy when lying in bed, the alarm clock blaring next to you, to just turn it off and creep back into your warm bed. It takes a lot of self-control to say no to that inner voice that’s asking for just another five minutes under the duvet, which is why we suggest keeping track of your success at waking earlier. Once you’ve had a few days where you’ve woken up early and see your progress moving along you will become less likely to want to break the string of successes.

Remember: It takes about two weeks for a repeated behaviour to become a habit. Stick with it when the going is tough and before you know it you’ll be one of those people who naturally rises with the sun, happy and ready for the day.

Staff Training is a soft skills training provider. Contact us at (021) 839 3021 or drop us an email.

Team leading with the Enneagram

March 26, 2014 in At Work, Leadership, Personal Development, Skills Development, Small Businesses

To manage and lead a team effectively it is crucial that we have an understanding of how our team operates, what drives them and what causes them to get stuck.

Unfortunately we don’t always know our teams. They could be made up of people from different departments; could have new people coming and going as time goes by; or maybe team building isn’t a thing at your company and you simply aren’t very well acquainted with your co-workers.

Taking the time out to get to know them is also not always an option because this cuts into time that should be spent completing the project, so our choices become: A) Try to lead a team you don’t know very well and hope for the best, or B) Get to know the team in order to lead them more effectively, but sacrifice precious work time in order to achieve this.

Neither of these options are ideal from a productivity perspective, but what if there was a third option?

Ahh but there is!

Thanks to the folks over at Integrative Enneagram Solutions a tool now exists which aims to not only give us a clearer understanding of how we operate, but helps us understand how others operate as well.

With the Enneagram we become more in-tune to different people’s communication needs, allowing us to adapt our approach to get the best results.

The Enneagram helps us understand exactly what it is that helps motivate the individual members of our teams as well as identifying their core fears, which we can then incorporate into our entire approach, from communication to incentives, resulting in comfortable, happy and contented team members.

At Staff Training we recognise the value of modern leadership tools such as this, and apart from using it within our own company (which we do) we have also incorporated it into various short courses including our 3 Day Leadership +, Enneagram and Emotional Intelligence and Enneagram for Team Development.

To find out more about the Enneagram click here to read our FAQ.

Staff Training presents more than 40 soft skills training short courses nationwide. Contact (021) 839 3021 for more info or drop us an email.

What it takes to be a great receptionist

March 25, 2014 in At Work, Personal Development, Skills Development, Small Businesses

Having a great receptionist at your front desk not only helps the company run like a well-oiled machine, but is actually one of the major reasons people either love or hate you.

As we know, first impressions count for a lot.

Having an encounter with a disorganised or unfriendly receptionist can easily be the deciding factor on whether we visit that business again, so we know why it’s so important to have a competent receptionist behind the desk.

The question is: What makes a receptionist “Great”?

We’ve narrowed it down to the top six traits that make receptionists great, do you agree?

1. The right attitude

Being a friendly, bubbly, energetic and helpful person is all part of the territory when it comes to reception. Receptionists are required to have an innate ability to seem happy when they aren’t, to smile when then they don’t want to, and go the extra mile when they don’t feel like it.

2. Impeccable organisation skills

Being organised is one of the most important aspects of a receptionist’s job. She will often have to take messages, answer calls, do admin work, and assist people who visit the business – usually all at the same time. Without good organisational skills this just isn’t possible.

3. Good communication skills/interpersonal skills

As receptionists have to deal with both clients who call on the business as well as staff who work there, her communication and interpersonal skills need to be top-notch.

4. Good telephone/email skills

The image of the business is hugely affected by the receptionist – how she speaks on the phone, how she deals with face-to-face clients and how she conveys herself in emails needs to always be of the required level of professionalism.

5. Technologically savvy

We live in a world of ever-changing technology. Tablet computers and smartphones are fast becoming a big part of how businesses operate; receptionists need to keep abreast of this technology.

6. Be presentable

Appearance plays an important role in how we are perceived by the public. An inference is drawn about how organised we are before we are even spoken to, which explains why it is so important that we always look our best. This is no different, and some might argue that it is more important, for receptionists.

Staff Training presents Frontline Receptionist Training I and Frontline Receptionist Training IInationwide. Contact (021) 839 3021 for more information or send us an email.

What is assertiveness? What is it not?

March 20, 2014 in At Work, Personal Development, Skills Development, Small Businesses

Imagine a world with no road rage, no unresolved conflict, no feeling pressured into doing things, no guilt from saying no…

While the above scenario might seem a little far-fetched, in reality all it would take to achieve this is a bit more assertiveness in the world.

So what is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is, in a nutshell, one’s ability to understand and assert their own boundaries, while still respecting the boundaries of others.

Obviously to do this, however, you first need to know what your own boundaries are. Ask yourself what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with. How do certain situations make you feel? Keep asking yourself these questions until you feel like you truly understand how you feel and what you want to allow in your life.

What is Assertiveness not?

Imagine assertiveness as being the middle ground between passivity and aggression. When people are passive it tends to bring about an “I lose/You win” situation. When people are aggressive it tends to lead to an “I win/You lose” situation. But with Assertiveness we are able to create “I win/You win” situations all the time as we consider our own limits as well as those of the people we deal with whenever conflict arises.

Being Assertive does not mean that you need to change who you are or become aggressive or bossy, but rather that you respect your own boundaries enough to say no without feeling guilty about it.

How can we be more Assertive?

Unfortunately being assertive isn’t something that comes naturally to the majority of us. For many of us Assertiveness is something we have to learn and practice over and over before it truly becomes part of our lives. On the other hand we’re lucky in that there are many workshops and courses we can attend and numerous free resources online we can read to help us become more Assertive.

Click here to view the Staff Training Assertiveness Workshop

Tips for more Assertive Communication:

1. Breathe deeply

2. Be mindful of your needs and the needs of others

3. Listen and acknowledge the other person’s point of view

4. But then equally state your own (without emotion and at the right time)

5. Recognise that others have the right not to meet your needs just as you have the right not to meet theirs

6. Celebrate collaborated outcomes

7. Know that your internal power is yours to give away, your external power can shift with circumstances…

Staff Training presents Assertiveness Training nationwide, both inhouse (at your premises) and open hosted (at our premises with delegates from different companies). Contact (021) 839 3021 for more info or send us an email.

Why Failure Shouldn’t Get You Down

March 17, 2014 in At Work, Leadership

Experiencing failure is a rotten business. It’s depressing and demotivating and can make you feel like there’s no point in even trying… So this might come as a shock…

But failure is good for you!

While we wouldn’t go so far as to say you should seek to make mistakes and find failure, there certainly is something very positive that comes from an unsuccessful attempt: we call it experience.

The reason failure feels so bad to us is because it feels like it’s a reflection of our abilities, not realising that the most successful people in the world frequently make their own mistakes. It’s how we learn – what makes us grow as people.

It’s crazy to think that Richard Branson, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs reached their level of success on a path of straight wins, yet in the moment of defeat we forget that in the long run experience can be a more valuable tool than accolades.

I think Zig Ziglar summed it up best when he said, “If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”

The moment you realise that your successes and failures don’t define you, that they are all just experiences that you can learn from if you choose, is the moment that you lose your fear of failure and truly begin to grow.

Embrace your failures, pick yourself up and try again. There’s nothing to fear but the fear of failure!

Staff Training is a soft skills training provider. Click here to view our courses or call (021) 839 3021 for more information.

Do we think less and Google more?

March 5, 2014 in Skills Development, Small Businesses

Are our critical thinking skills being lost to smartphones and computers? Does today’s generation think less and Google more?With the advent of the smartphone humanity became connected in ways completely unimaginable in the past. It takes no more than a few seconds to convey a message to someone thousands of miles away, and depending on your internet speeds, just a matter of seconds to find out the answer to nearly any question you can think of, wherever and whenever you please.

But doesn’t this scenario pose a problem further down the line?

Instead of digging deep in the recesses of our minds for answers, we dig in our pockets for our phones. We spend more time trawling through search results than we do applying our brilliant minds to the problems we face.

We don’t need to think outside of the box because there’s an app for that.

But what does this lack of critical thinking mean for our businesses if we have no choice but to employ millenials, smartphones in hand?

What can we expect from these employees when they have limited resources and Google can’t solve their problems? What happens when we need them to think for themselves?

Finding balance…

Our ease of accessing information makes many tasks far easier and speedier than they were before the coming of Google. We can’t deny that the immediacy of the internet is a huge benefit to businesses and organisations and that the potential it brings is nothing to be scoffed at or ignored.

What we as leaders need to do is encourage the use of Google and the like as a means of sourcing data to facilitate critical thinking – not allow the one to replace the other.

Tools like Google should be seen and used as just that: tools. We can use them to make our jobs easier, or to help us be more productive, but they should never become a replacement for good old fashioned thinking.

Do you think the use of Google has hampered critical thinking in your organisation? Do employees really let Google do the thinking for them, or does Google simply make critical thinking easier?

Staff Training presents Critical Thinking and Problem Solving training nationwide. Contact (021) 839 3021 for more information or drop us an email.

The language of leadership

March 3, 2014 in Leadership

You’ve got your vision, you’re motivated and your team is assembled, but are you able to effectively communicate your goals?Without an understanding of your own leadership style, as well as your team members’ individual personality types, it can be a bit like the blind leading the blind. There are misunderstandings, uncertainty, a lack of accountability, and worst of all there is no cohesion among members of the team.

Effectively communicating as a leader to truly bring about the most productive, motivated and energised team, which in turn naturally produces the best results, requires leaders to become committed to understanding both themselves and their teams on a whole new level.

And this is where we introduce the Enneagram…

With the help of a self-mastery tool called the Enneagram we are able to delve into our own decision-making and thought processes, which equips us with a far better understanding of what drives us and what inhibits us than we’ve ever known before.

We also become aware of what motivates others and what their reasons may be for their reluctance when it comes to certain tasks, which makes it easier for us to deal with these hold ups and ensure that we are motivating our staff for the right reasons.

Communicating, delegating and motivating are all made easier and more effective once there is an understanding of what’s making your team members (and yourself) tick, and the results of this improvement can quickly reach all corners of the business.

Interested in the Enneagram? Read our Enneagram FAQ here.

Want to develop your own leadership skills using the Enneagram? Book on Staff Training’s upcoming 3 Day Leadership + course in Cape Town (26 March) and get a full Enneagram Professional Report and five coaching sessions from a Staff Training coach. Click here for more info.

Staff Training is a soft skills training provider with more than 40 training courses available, contact us at (021) 839 3021 or drop us an email.

Warehouses from Hell

February 18, 2014 in At Work

Does the thought of entering your organisation’s warehouse send shivers down your spine? Here’s why an efficient warehouse is vital for your organisation…

Goods receiving and dispatch (GRD) is a vital part of any efficient organisation, but did you know that the effects of a well organised warehouse and well-trained GRD staff can boost performance throughout the entire organisation?

Benefits of efficient warehouses

Consider the increased efficiency of sales staff who can check for stock reliably and quickly, or the time saved by warehouse staff who can locate goods more readily due to a logical and neat storage system.

Well organised warehouses can also lead to reduced costs as space requirements decrease and fewer instances of employee theft or false accusations of theft against staff due to inaccurate stock counting.

Benefits of well-trained goods receiving and dispatch staff

For employees who deal with goods receiving and dispatch training is important to ensure that the policies and procedures for GRD, including receipt of damaged goods, over/under deliveries, and incorrect deliveries, are clearly understood and adhered to.

Once warehouses and stockrooms have been logically laid out and are efficiently managed other departments within the organisation are able to function more effectively.

There are fewer discrepancies during deliveries and stock levels can be maintained far more effectively.

Is your organisation’s warehouse and stockroom well organised? Do you think training your warehouse staff would make a noticeable difference throughout your company?

Staff Training is presenting Goods Receiving and Dispatch Training in Cape Town on 20 February, click here to book. This workshop is also presented inhouse nationwide, contact (021) 839 3021 for more info.