May 19

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: 4 qualities to look for in your coach

qualities-in-your-coachYou’ve poured over your company’s balance sheets and attempted every in-house training you can think of — but your business still seems shaky.

Solution: Now may be the time to bring in a business coach, says Gary Hensen, president and founder of A coach can help you “focus on your goals, make concrete plans, and work towards executing them in an effective manner,” he explains.

Remember: Not every coach is created equal. Look for these professional qualities in yours:

  • Accountability. Your coach’s job is to whip you and your employees into shape. That means he must be accountable for pushing you toward excellence — but it also means that he must help you be more accountable for the decisions you make each day. How: A business coach might ask you to list your duties and responsibilities, and their effect on the company. Then he might help you prioritize and streamline your obligations so that they are more effective.
  • Open communication. When you hire a coach for your company, you must ensure that he communicates his ideas and strategies effectively. For instance, if he wants to make a change, he should be able to explain concisely why the change is important, how it will happen, and what bumps you’ll encounter in the process. Best: Before you sign a coaching contract, take a few days to interact with the coach. Does he respond effectively to emails or telephone calls? Do you understand what he hopes to help you accomplish? If not, you may want to keep looking.
  • Strategic planning. Anyone can tell you what you’re doing wrong, but a good business coach will also help you figure out ways to correct those problems and get your company moving in the right direction. Do this: Ask a potential coach to share a few of the winning strategies he has developed for other companies. Find out what challenges he overcame to develop that successful plan.
  • Leadership development. Your coach isn’t just a problem solver — he should also a teacher. Ask him how he’ll turn your employees into leaders.
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Nov 11

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Take advantage of online classrooms for professional development

online-classroomsThe Internet is more than a research tool — it can also be a virtual classroom that helps you expand your experience and add credentials to your resume.

Best: You can take online classes from any place with Internet access, making them much more convenient than traditional courses.

Reality: But online courses aren’t necessarily easier or less time consuming than traditional ones. Many people don’t realize that online classes still come with lectures, reading materials, and lengthy assignments.

While many people will thrive in an online classroom environment, disorganization and procrastination could destroy your chances for success. Try these tips to help you stay on task:

Dedicate A Workspace

The problem with online courses is that you can attend from your desk or your living room couch.

Good idea: Rather than working from random spots, designate a work area that you will use during every class. Make sure that you choose a quiet, neat space that will help you remain focused.

Know How You’ll Take Notes

Online courses are notoriously tough and the last thing you need is to worry about where you stored last week’s notes.

Try this: You might prefer typing directly into a word processing system, but you’ll waste time toggling back and forth. In this instance, you’re better off using paper and pen to jot down information.

Bonus: This way, you can study your notes even when you’re away from your computer.

Set Up A System

As with any independent work, you need to establish an organizational system quickly that will work for you and keep you focused.

Example: Write all important course dates — such as when you’ll take an online quiz or turn in an assignment — on a calendar that you keep with your notes. You should also print out any key information, such as your professor’s contact information.

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Oct 28

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Develop your staff to boost your biz

boost-your-staffYou could spend your days scrutinizing and questioning every decision your employees make. Or, you could provide them with the training that will allow them to make decisions you can trust.

Micromanagement is usually a symptom of a manager’s inability to judge whether her employees can perform well without her input. You can avoid this mistake by investing your resources in your staff, as well as in your products.

Problem: Most micromanagers don’t even realize what they’re doing. Look for these warning signs, then combat them with our suggestions:

Red flag:You often perform employees’ tasks for them to ensure the job is done well. As a manager, it’s your job to develop your staff so that they can perform their duties. Completing their tasks for them doesn’t challenge them and it doesn’t increase their skills.

Training solution: Devote at least one third of your budget to employee development. Use that money to send your employees to seminars and workshops that will enhance their business acumen and critical-thinking skills.

Best: After your staffers return from their educational workshops, ask them to train the rest of your staff on the new information.

Red flag:You block employees from strategic planning sessions. Micromanagers often don’t include employees in strategic planning and, therefore, fail to see potential stumbling blocks until it’s too late.

Training solution: You can gauge your employees’ strategic thinking by including them in planning sessions before disaster strikes. This way, you learn to trust them and they learn to look for potential problems that you may not see.

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