communication

4 Steps to Becoming an Effective, Sought-After Business Mentor

 business mentor

Mentors are the cheerleaders, the leaders who show new talent the way. They pave the way to success and encourage others to follow in their footsteps — or to go their own paths to achieve individualized successes. A business mentor relationship can be just as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the mentee. Become an effective mentor and give back to the business community. Your guidance can make a real difference.

1. Earn an Advanced Degree

Although there are always exceptions, the majority of mentors in the business world are educated, experienced people with resumes that can hardly be contained on a single page. The higher and more specialized your degree, the more interest you’ll have among people looking for a business mentor.

Demonstrate your extensive knowledge and learn mentoring tips by earning an advanced degree in a program such as organizational development and leadership. With an emphasis on leadership, your graduate program will prepare you for becoming a more-effective mentor, not just to your chosen mentee, but to all of your younger or less-experienced colleagues at your company.

2. Sign Up With an Organization

As a businessperson looking for mentees, you’ve probably had access to a number of worthy candidates in your company or field. However, there are plenty of opportunities for establishing a mentor relationship outside of your network. Volunteer for mentoring through an organization, particularly the ones most relevant to your experience.

The U.S. Small Business Administration  provides resources for a number of government-sponsored mentor organizations, such as Women’s Business Centers and Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers, which are always in search of experienced businesswomen and veteran businesspeople, respectively. With various chapters across the country, these organizations may make you a more sought-after mentor because of your particular expertise. You can also explore organizations exclusive to your community if such places are available.

3. Strive for a Meaningful Relationship

When you choose a mentee, try to establish a meaningful connection. This doesn’t mean you have to find someone at the same company or in the same industry. A businessperson with ambitions somewhat related to your experience, even if she doesn’t work in the exact field as you, can make as productive a connection with you as someone in your field. For example, if you’re a minority business owner, another minority businessperson striving to start a business will look up to you, even if you work in finance and he wants to start a restaurant.

So long as you find someone who shares the things in business you most value — hard work, taking calculated risks and innovative ideas, for example — the possibility for an effective mentor-mentee relationship is present. Before you establish a long-term relationship, review prospective mentees’ resumes and take them out on an interview meeting. Part of becoming an effective sought-after mentor is realizing you can’t mentor everyone who’s interested because it takes work to create meaningful relationships with those few you choose.

4. Engage in Dynamic Activities

Meeting for coffee or a meal is one way to touch base with your mentees, but it’s not the only or most effective. Do something fun and active with your mentees, and word will get around that you’re not like the other mentors who just occasionally eat with people. Ideas for a mentor-mentee meeting, before, during or after which you can discuss business issues, include:

  • Playing a sports game
  • Attending a conference
  • Going to a theme park
  • Meeting in the park
  • Going camping together
  • Taking kids or grandkids out for a play date

To make sure your legacy lives on after your retirement, you need to do more than just focus on your career and business goals. If you’re interested in leadership, and if you’ve shown talent as a leader, do service to yourself and to the business community at large by becoming a business mentor. Look for mentees in your company, your industry or even in an entirely different field. Wherever there’s a budding young businessperson with drive and a passion to succeed, you’ll find your mentoring talents valued.

 

About the Author: Shonna White is a businesswoman and mentor with over three decades of experience at a Fortune 500 company.

 

Setting Expectations: The Key to High-Functioning Teams

High-performing teams are one of the hallmarks of a successful organization. When the teams in the company work well together and communicate effectively, they are better at managing tasks and are likelier to meet company-wide performance benchmarks.

While there are several characteristics of high-functioning teams, one of the most important things any manager can do to ensure good performance from his or her team is to set expectations.  Making your expectations clear to team members and helping them understand the consequences for failing to meet expectations helps keep everyone on track and aware of what they need to do and when.

focused business

It’s not uncommon for managers to fail to establish adequate expectations. Sometimes this happens because managers want to avoid becoming dictators and prefer to let the team manage itself. Sometimes it’s because the manager incorrectly assumes the expectations are clear, believing that further clarification is unnecessary. Regardless of the reason, a manager who does not set expectations is likely not an effective one and will not have employees who are happy, motivated and productive.

Expectations vs. Goals

When you study the principles of leadership, one of most important things you will learn is how and why to set expectations — and that expectations are different than goals. Many leaders mistake these two, and while they are related, the differences between them are quite significant.

In short, expectations are the standards that guide your daily behavior and efforts. Goals are what you hope to accomplish. For example, a restaurant’s goal might be to be the highest-rated location in terms of customer satisfaction among an entire chain. To meet that goal, team members must adhere to certain expectations regarding how they interact with customers. The expectation isn’t that the restaurant will be number one, but that the team will do everything possible to make that goal a reality.

Before you can establish expectations, you must establish goals. What is the team hoping to accomplish? Everyone wants to feel like he or she has a purpose, and setting a goal helps provide that purpose and gives team members a framework to guide their activities and behaviors. Make sure the goals are specific, measurable and realistic, and establish benchmarks so the team can assess its progress and make adjustments.

 

Common Team Expectations

While specific team expectations vary according to the organization and industry — a hospital will have different expectations for its employees than an auto body shop, for example — there are certain categories of expectations that apply across industries. At minimum, managers should establish expectations in the following areas to lay the groundwork for a successful team.

Behavior. Obviously, you expect your team members to behave appropriately and professionally. However, setting specific expectations for how team members are to handle certain situations can prevent problems. For example, you might expect team members to avoid particular words or phrases in lieu of others, or perhaps you require anyone who has a problem to devise a potential solution before addressing the group. These standards bring order to the group and prevent misunderstandings down the road.

Conflict resolution. Conflict is an inevitable part of teamwork — we’re only human after all. Conflict does not have to be negative as it often can lead to creative solutions. How we deal with conflict can make the difference in how the team functions. Set expectations and a clear process for dealing with disagreements, and you’ll have healthier (and shorter) conflicts among team members.

Division of labor. Quite simply, team members must understand exactly what they are responsible for doing. Establish expectations for how to handle situations in which no one is responsible for a task. By doing so, you’ll avoid claims of “It’s not my job,” or “I thought that so-and-so would handle that.”

Failure to perform. Setting expectations is important, but it’s equally as important to establish what will happen if the expectations are not met. Clearly outlining the consequences for failing to meet expectations prevents confusion and provides recourse should a team member fail to fulfill his or her role.

Successful managers establish clear expectations for their teams, and successful teams adhere to expectations and work toward a common goal. Whether you are a new manager just getting your footing or a more experienced leader struggling to keep your people on track, take time to set expectations and watch your results improve.

 

About the Author: Rhonda Deland is a strategic management consultant and business blogger.

The Difference in Private, Public, and International Schools in China

Education in China is continually growing and parents are eager to send their kids to school there. The national government has instituted a “Nine Year Compulsory Education Program” for all citizens of the country. In this educational campaign, education is free; therefore, the number of students attending middle schools in China or other learning institutions at different levels are increasing each year. Even though it is free, there are additional fees that need to be paid for, such as uniforms, and books etc.

As expatriate parents, you are not exempted from increasing school fees. With that, you are considering several options on where to enrol your children.

Public Schools

Because of innovations, Chinese learning institutions are now accepting children of expats or foreigners holding legal resident status. This is a welcome move for parents as private school education becomes more expensive each year. Expat parents are not exempted from the benefit of free tuition. However, the fees that they pay to a public school of choice are much lower when compared with what parents will pay if they want to enrol their children in private schools.

Language is a big problem; therefore, it is suggested that your children should be equipped and prepared with skills in the language. Another aspect that parents should consider is that non-Chinese speakers are usually held back one year level if enrolled through the public school system.

Private Schools

This type of school has better advantages when compared to public schools. The student population per classroom is much lower. There is little barrier when it comes to language as subjects are taught in English, or the school has language tutorial support. In a public school, all subjects are taught in Chinese and offer little or no support at all when it comes to language.

The learning environment and processes in private schools are just replicates of the public school system. But there are private schools which embed learning process and accreditation of foreign schools in order for students to be accepted in any schools around the world. It can be deduced that private schools are better equipped than public schools.

International Schools

International schools are still preferred among expats, but it is more expensive than private schools.  The number of international schools in China is quite impressive and most of these are located in urban cities. Normally, the baccalaureate program of this type of school follows that of their origin country. Some of these schools are also incorporating local subjects such as Chinese language and culture. The cost of education in this kind of learning institution is as high as that in the U.S.

Just because you are an expat in this country, your obvious choice for academic institutions for your children is not always private or international middle schools in China.  This is not the case; you may also want to try public schools if only for cheap school fees or for a more colourful experience for your children.

Tips On Video Editing Course

The world of media production is one of the very few industries that experiences continual growth despite the unpredictable state of today’s economy.  It seems as though everything from entertainment to small business development is using various types of media to reach their audience for a wide range of purposes.

Continue reading…

Degree in Criminal Justice from Portland State University

Portland State University leads the way when it comes to online educational opportunities. This includes a top of the line program through which a person can obtain a bachelors in criminal justice online.

An online education in criminal justice from Portland State University represents both a convenient as well as an affordable for traditional and non-traditional students alike. Through an online education in criminal justice at Portland State University, a person can obtain a degree and beyond the way to a satisfying career at his or her own pace. For example, a non-traditional student with family and professional obligations can still obtain a bachelors degree in criminal justice without interfering with other vital commitments. Continue reading…

How to Manage an Off-site Workforce

Globalization has impacted the workplace in various ways with one of its prominent benefits being the potential for reduced costs and competitive advantages associated with hiring remote workers. Whether your employees are half way around the world, or simply working from home, the attractive concept of off-site work has various benefits for all involved parties. On an individual level, employees benefit from increased flexibility and a healthier work-life balance, while on a corporate level, your company would see a decrease in absenteeism and general turnover.

This scenario sounds dreamy but where does it leave your management team? Any manager trying to tackle the challenge of overseeing remote workers would know that it takes more than fancy technology and expense allowances. You need to ensure that you’ve equipped the right people and placed them in the right jobs. In addition, as a manager your communication skills have to be well above par – it’s your duty to build relationships with your employees based on trust, and ensure that all employees are geared towards a culture of teamwork irrespective of location. This is understandably a tough nut to crack so we’ve put together some advice on a few best practices that may come in handy:

Be Strategic
Ideally, the human resources department should have a formal agreement in place with all involved before the remote working program is launched. The documentation behind the strategy should be supported by all senior staff, unambiguous and formal in its execution. All participants should have a clear indication of why there is a business need to launch such a program and how they play a part in meeting those business objectives. Examples of this type of language is now being taught in human resources masters degree programs online as it is becoming a larger part of organizations across the globe.

Work Differently
This process takes time and effort but all participants will need to adjust their approach to work. While effectively the same job functions need to be fulfilled, remote work often requires a shift in how the job actually gets done. As a manager, this may mean that you’ll have to understand business flow from the ground up and redesign your core processes accordingly – ultimately opening up new waves of communication on both operational and technical levels. Another factor for you to consider is that your management style has to shift from ‘monitoring’ to more of an outcome measurement/rewards structure.

Management Education

Regular training should be a central component of any off-site workforce program. Both senior managers and off-site employees should prioritize formal training sessions. Managers of remote staff need to learn how to lead a distributed team with a vision for the future. This will require up-skilling on a managerial level in terms of; periodic goal setting, employee engagement and setting expectations accordingly. Getting to know your employees to a point that you’ve built two-way trust is an essential skill for all managers to have, yet even more crucial for those with an off-site team.

Explore Collaborative Technology
The effective use of collaborative technology is fundamental to successfully managing an off-site workforce. This goes beyond smart phones, web-based accessibility and secure laptops – management and off-site staff need to be comfortable with multiple tools that aid distributed work; most of which are readily available for commercial or consumer use. Go ahead and test drive a couple of these tools to see which ones work for your team before deploying them. In addition, the use of such tools must be routine and within boundaries i.e. publish times for contact-ability and know when to unplug to avoid burnout.

Plan for Change
The planning and implementation of an off-site work program must be both systematic and aggressive. The long-standing work ethic of planning ahead still applies to this modern approach to managing staff. It is imperative to understand that off-site work programs don’t just call for a change in tools and added freedom for staff; it requires a major shift in your corporate culture, and that certainly needs to be planned for.

The current economic time calls for a lean, mean workforce to reduce corporate costs – this shouldn’t mean trying to achieve the same work load with less resources. As senior staff and thought leaders of our generation it is our duty to nurture smarter solutions to executives; one of them being a happy, well-managed offsite workforce.

The power of the online community and the impact on your reputation

Online communities drive the web, they are the spark which helped create the internet and the engine which continues to power it.

Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email newsletters can provide a good solid foundation for a thriving online community. They give you the opportunity to gain meaningful feedback and receive ideas to help you improve and grow your business.

Just the fact that you ask for a response or reply to a question posed by one of your customers online, will have a massive impact on the way your company is perceived and its reputation as a whole.

WebHostingBluebook.com can help you find the right support to manage your company’s online presence.

It is fair to say, if you’re not constantly monitoring and improving your company’s online reputation, you could be sending potential customers to competitors. Although you can’t control what others say about your brand online, you can manage how your business comes across on the internet with a few helpful tools, tips and tricks.

Start by simply searching for your company’s name – and the names of your products and services – on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and see what types of information come up. Search using the exact title of your business, along with common misspellings of it. You’ll also want to run an image search using your company’s name.

 

In an ideal world, your business’s actual website, along with some favourable, accurate news and reviews, should dominate the majority of the first page of search engine results.

 

To find out when your company has been mentioned online all you have to do is create a Google Alert. These are free, real-time emails that are sent to your email address automatically. You can set up multiple keyword-based alerts to notify you when relevant new web content is published about your products, services and events and those of your competitors.

 

It’s just as crucial to monitor your competitors’ online reputations just as much as your own. And remember, your company’s website is your first line of defence when it comes to your online reputation. Does it contain compelling brand messaging that clearly demonstrates what your company does?

More importantly, does your company’s website URL directly mirror your actual business name? If not, you should immediately acquire an exact match domain name, so consumers can easily, quickly find you online.

Word-of-review is now more powerful than word-of-mouth, so it’s critical to analyse and understand what people are saying about your company on review sites that are relevant to your specific line of business.

 

Use your online community spaces to share good stuff about your business too. This could be reviews of your products, pictures that people post of them or videos where people are enjoying what you create.

The Seven Best Industries To Work In

Whether taking your first tentative steps onto the career path you hope will set you up for life or seeking a dramatic change from your usual line of work, knowing what route to take can be a difficult and daunting task. With such a diverse range of employment opportunities, each offering their own advantages, you may not even know where to begin looking. If that is the case, then here are a number of the most popular industries to work in and why so many people choose to make their living in this way. Continue reading…

Gadgets that Speed Up (or Slow Down) Productivity

We live in a high speed world. Everything needs to be done ASAP or before to remain competitive.

 

Good internet plans have become as necessary as the people who use them. The advent of Wi-Fi, smart phones and other gadgets that can access the internet on the go, means those even the daily commute to and from the job has become an opportunity to get more work done. But which of the many gadgets on the market are really cost effective?

 

Which ones actually boost productivity enough to be worth the money spent on them? Of course, exactly which gadgets will help you the most depends on the business you are in, but here are a few of the most and least effective in general terms.

  • Laptop computers – Once hailed as the salvation of the modern business person, these have become antiquated as newer gadgets have been created. They are big, bulky and require access to Wi-Fi hotspots for internet access. Leave the computers on your employees’ desks.
  • Smart phones – These little marvels allow your employees to keep in touch with clients, access the internet and can be synced to others devices to allow for seamless transfer of information. If used correctly, not just to view the latest viral video on You Tube, these definitely pay for themselves in increased productivity.
  • Multi-device speaker phones – These handy devices allow the users keep their hands free while maintaining clear voice communication. They work with any internet plans landline, cell phone or computer and can help keep the ideas flowing from many folks at once. Great for remote brainstorming.
  • Cameras – These come standard on almost every internet ready device. Once thought to be a detriment to productivity due to the distraction factor, (who wants to think about work when there are so many images to capture and send to your friends), the increased popularity of Skype and other live video applications have made them an essential part of business life. With these, conferences can be held with anyone, anywhere there is internet access. This saves a great deal of money and time wasted on travel.
  • Tablets – The size and ability of some of these devices to use connect to the internet makes these much more effective tools than even the smallest of laptops. They can be slipped easily into a backpack or purse and can be used on even the most crowded of buses or trains without the need for a tray table or lap. Make sure that the one you choose has a slot for a memory card or USB port to ensure that work done on the go can be easily transferred to other devices.

All of these devices are dependent on high speed, reliable internet plans to be effective. No longer a luxury, access to the World Wide Web is a vital part of any business that wishes to succeed in today’s high speed and global marketplace.

Before deciding on any gadget to boost the productivity of your employees, talk to your internet provider about available internet plans. They can help you find the one that best meets your workplace’s specific needs and offer helpful advice about how to best use your chosen gadgets to effectively to stay connected with your employees and clients.

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