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Persuasion: A modern management technique
Problem Solving Should be Like Treasure Hunting
10 Ways to be Productive
How to avoid getting into trouble with email blunders
Seven ways to become a better Executive Assistant
Goal Setting: The Heart Of Getting The Job Done
Improving meeting management skill
Understanding strategic planning
Cellphone etiquette
The art of delegation
Listening: A Vital Skill
Building a Career
Time management skills for effective leadership.
Succession planning
Challenges of email management and security
The 5 attributes of successful students
The nine traits of leadership
Five Tips for Improving Email Management
Listening is a key to conveying clear meaning
Is your email culture strangling you?
Guidelines for Empathetic Listening
Event Management: Add a WOW factor
Stress and Work
Tips for Successful Meetings
Effective multitasking
How to Screen Calls for Your Manager
Some tips on charting a career course.
Managing Stress
11 costly mistakes on the Job
When it comes to office gossip, it's best to refuse to take part.
Time Management.
Interview Skills.
The key to your success as a supervisor is your leadership ability.
Business Writing
Get training to push your career to the next level
Time Managment
Inhouse Training Courses Capture the Market
Confidence and Assertiveness
Managing the Team
Basic Business Know-how
Managing Conflict
The Rewards of Being a Great Personal Assistant

Beyond the Expertise Education Gives You, What Else do You Need?
Managing the Team
Assertiveness and Confidence Ensures a Better Job
How to be an Entrepreneur
Call Centre Excellence
Understanding the National Credit Act
Facebook is Not Your Friend
Become Money Wise
Managing HIV and AIDS in the Workplace
Can You Sell Ice to Eskimos?
Service At its Best
Managing Your Time
Masterminding the Perfect Business Function or Event
Stand Out of the Crowd
Good Newsletters
Business Etiquette
Emotional Intelligence
Trouble Free Travel Planning for PA’s
Never Lie on Your C.V
Year-end Office Party - Don't Risk Your Career
Watch Your Language in Emails
Living a Life of Value
How to Fire Someone
Knowing What Those Challenging Interview Questions Really Mean
Before You Give Up on Your Present Job
Managing Change
Beating Inflation & Avoiding Debt
Negotiating a Pay Increase
Understanding Body Language
Making Your Pitch in 15 Seconds or Less
Making a Speech
Managing Your Finances
Keeping the Customer Satisfied
What to Wear
Improving Your Chances of Promotion
Business Etiquette
Colours and Image
Employers Want You to...
Experience Counts
Do You Have What it Takes to Land a Top Job?
CoveringLletter for C.V
Internet Job Applications
Curriculum Vitae Template
Curriculum Vitae
Why Your C.V got Thrown in theBbin

Persuasion: A modern management technique

Persuasion provides you with the power to induce others in your organisation to accept what you are proposing.

To Enhance Persuasive Skills:

  • Develop personal relationships.
  • Know your job well.
  • Be reliable.
  • Develop credibility.
  • Treat others honestly.
  • Be fair with everyone.
  • Keep your promises.
  • Show genuine empathy.
  • Be open to new ideas.
  • Develop an enthusiastic attitude.
  • Strive to be an optimist.

Source: Supervision

Problem Solving Should be Like Treasure Hunting

Given that problem solving is an extremely beneficial process, why isn't it more widely practiced and why do so many resist it?

Six-Step Problem-Solving Process.

1. Define the problem.

  • Select a high-priority problem or opportunity.
  • State the problem in terms of a gap between the current state and the desired future (expected) state.
  • Show why the problem is important, using facts and data.

2. Gather data about the current state.

  • List the three most likely potential causes.
  • List the three primary factors affecting the results from each of those causes.
  • Develop a sampling plan to use for data collection.
  • Prepare check sheets for recording the data.
  • Gather data and create a database of information about the problem.

3. Determine the root cause.

  • Propose a root cause.
  • Verify the root cause by experimentation.

4. Select the best solution.

  • Develop a list of potential solutions.
  • Evaluate each one for feasibility and difficulty of change.
  • Test the most promising solution.
  • Revise the solution based on the test results.

5. Develop an action plan and implement the solution.

  • Develop a list of all specific activities associated with putting the solution in place.
  • Establish measurements to ensure implementation activities are completed as intended.
  • Assign a person to each task.
  • Monitor progress and take appropriate corrective action.
  • Document activities and results.
  • Compare the implementation results to the original and desired states.
  • Analyze reasons for success/partial success and take appropriate corrective action.

6. Establish reliable methods for maintaining the gain.

  • Establish reliable methods to ensure compliance/conformance.
  • Document any side effects or findings that other personnel/teams should address.

Source: The Journal for Quality and Participation

10 Ways to be Productive

1. Sleep for eight hours: Sleeping is as important as breathing, going to the toilet and visiting your doctor. Sleep between six to eight hours not more or less, Sleep is one of the key ingredients of a productive day. Lack of sleep exacts a toll on perception and judgement. In the workplace, its effects can be seen in reduced efficiency and productivity, errors and accidents.

2. Choose your friends wisely: As they say, if you hang around with drug dealers you're sure to consume or sell at some time or the other (no pun intended).
The friends you hang out with must have their own time and place. Avoid any mates who are cranky, needy and aggressive because it means they will need you more than you need them. And I'm sure you have better things to do than babysit your friends.

3. Get fit: Remember folks, 'motion' creates 'emotion'. So get to the gym, go dancing or cycling, play sports - basically, anything that takes your mind off the daily grind so you can be fresh the next day for all the tasks at hand.

4. Write down your goals: A new study shows people who write down their goals and revisit them every morning are 42 per cent more likely to achieve them than the ones who don't.
Write down the 10 things you want to achieve this year, do it now. Be logical though; don't ask for a trillion dollars, even Bill Gates hasn't reached there yet!

5. Create a routine: Every successful individual has a routine. During my research into the habits of highly successful people, the one common factor I found existed between all our pioneers was they had a routine, that is, when they would get up, when they would start work, when they would sleep. They had everything down to a T.

6. Take action: Don't wait for the right time or moment to start a new project or further education or get a new job. Just do it. Positive thinking is great but it's pointless to think that life's great when it's a pile of junk.
Take action, move your butt and walk out of that junk and create a new one. You have the power.

7. Don't be a 'yes' man: Most of us just want to be nice guys and want to feel liked by doing our friends a favour, taking on our colleagues' tasks or going for a pointless coffee. Stop doing that. Focus on what you need to do and be the most productive person you know.

8. Stop smoking, drinking or doing drugs: First, it isn't good for you. Secondly, it takes time and money to do all of the above. And the most important reason is that you will probably die sooner than the people who don't have these bad habits. How productive do you think you will be when you're dead?

9. Make time for your best friend: Use time better than others. Be proactive. While you are commuting, do something productive, like read a book, get some tasks done, listen to some audio books; empower yourself.
Remember, learning never stops. The best way to increase your income is to garner more knowledge. It means you've added another 364 hours of productivity per year to your life.

10. Get lost: Yes, you heard me correctly. Pack up your bags once a year, take your family away somewhere, shut your phones off and just unwind. Your mind and soul needs to rest and not stress all the time. It's always great to forget about things and readjust or refocus on your task and goals.

Source: Eastern Eye

How to avoid getting into trouble with email blunders

There have been few formal guidelines about the use of email and it's all too easy to get it wrong - especially in the workplace.

Sending rude messages to the wrong people or just being too familiar are all mistakes easy to make but hard to undo.

To help users, Rolf Kurth, the author of Debrett's Guide To Correspondence, has drawn up a list of guidelines for email users.

Mr Kurth says: "It is easy to make mistakes on email because it's a very fast and furious way of communicating and can seem unreal. But it is real and what you write says a lot about you so it's important to get it right."

Here are some of Rolf Kurth's guidelines to avoiding email gaffes:

  • Before you hit send, ask yourself...
  • Is email the right way to send this message? Make sure email is appropriate for the type of message you're sending.
  • Email is hard to retrieve once it has been sent, so avoid firing off messages you've written in a rage or a highly-charged state - you might regret it later.
  • Ask yourself: Do I mind other people reading it?
  • There is nothing private about your work email.
  • Who will be reading it?
  • If you're using group addresses double-check exactly who's on there, including anyone you're CC-ing to.
  • Don't just tag people on to your address book - you may forget who's on there and it's unlikely you need to send everything to everyone so be selective.
  • You might end up being indiscreet or giving away confidential information.
  • Bear in mind the difference between "Reply" and "Reply All" - opting for the latter will ping your answer to all the names on the CC field of the original message.
  • Are my spelling and punctuation right?
  • In the email world you are what you write so make it accurate. It's easy to slip up when you're in a rush but spending an extra 30 seconds looking over your work before you send it can make all the difference.
  • Sloppy messages look unprofessional and as most computers include spell checkers there's no excuse for silly mistakes.
  • Before you press Send, ask: "Is this business or personal?", "How well do I know this person?", "If I were to meet them in person, how would I address them?" and "Would they be offended if I addressed them by their first name?"
  • Not everyone checks mail every day - they may be out of the office, working from home or away on a business trip or a holiday, so never assume a late reply is a snub.
  • Source: The Mirror (London)

    Seven ways to become a better Executive Assistant

    Moving effortlessly from the role of a not-so-senior Personal Assistant to a senior-level Executive Assistant (EA) rolewill require a certain degree of proactivity as well as a thorough understanding of the EAs goals, objectives and duties. The following 7 tips represent the type of attributes you probably won't find in an Executive Assistant's job description.

    1) Understanding your boss's objectives should be the most important goal for every Personal Assistant because the EA's core objective is to help their boss achieve his/her strategic objectives. To achieve this, EAs need to understand their boss's standards and boundaries, as well as being familiar with their boss's targets and goals. The best way EAs can familiarise themselves with these issues is by asking the boss to explain his/her decisions and reasons for doing things in a particular way.

    2) Prevent unnecessary meetings - when taking messages, use your questions effectively to drill down to the heart of the matter; asking questions that the boss can act on without needing clarification. Use "who", "what", "why", "where" and "when" questions as the basis for your questions. Seek comprehensive answers the first time round. Asking the right questions will prevent time-wasting and unnecessary meetings.

    3) It's essential that you understand the wider issues within your organisation, such as the company's goals and that of it's main customers and competitors. Understanding these issues will help you to make decisions within the right framework.

    4) Ask your boss to mentor you. This will encourage better teamwork and help the boss to understand the pressures and challenges that you are faced with. The boss is also more likely to explain why he/she has made a particular decision, which will give you an insight into his/her thinking and priorities.

    5) Always provide a possible solution when approaching the boss with a problem. Make sure you have thought it through and can explain the pros and cons of the solution.

    6) Be the boss's memory; a mind of useful information. Get clued up on personal things like the names of the wives of the boss's main customers (and their birthdays if you can manage it). Understand the issues and peculiarities of less senior members of your boss's team so that you can advise the boss and fill in gaps in his/her knowledge.

    7) Always have a plan for continuous development. Don't allow yourself to be overlooked for training and development or promotion. Set goals for your development and identify training courses you would like to attend. Be an active part of succession planning for your own role - if you don't prepare the boss to accept that you will move onwards and upwards by making the necessary preparation, he/she will imagine that all manner of horrors will occur if you move on. This could cause your boss to block your progress.

    Source: http://www.personal-assistant-tips.com/

    Goal Setting: The Heart Of Getting The Job Done

    How many managers have not heard about the need to set goals with and for their workers? None! How many managers still avoid or resist goal-setting programs? Many!

    True to say, many managers consider goal-setting to be too time-consuming, and definitely, too-much-paperwork. And they're absolutely right! Trouble is, if managers want excellent performance, they will have to consciously plan it.

    One of the "windows-of-opportunity" available to enhance a worker's job performance is goal-setting: a game plan that establishes direction and clarifies expectations. Here are eight simple rules for a workable goal:

    First, any goal must be written down to avoid the probability that it will lose importance as the performance period continues.

    Second, any goal must define the outcome expected. It must be capable of being measured with clarity and creativity.

    Third, any goal must emphasize results, not activities. It must improve key organizational results, for example, system outputs--quality, quantity, and so on.

    Fourth, any goal must focus on keen performance and identify one specific area of performance to be improved.

    Fifth, any goal must be agreed upon by the manager and workers.

    Sixth, any goal must be balanced. Easy goals produce little desire to achieve. Hard goals create frustration.

    Seventh, any goal must be linked with other organizational goals.

    Eighth, any goal must be evaluated.

    Source: Modern Machine Shop

    Improving meeting management skill

    MEETINGS can be very productive. And they can also be a waste of time! Here are some ways to improve your meeting management skill. A meeting has to have: a purpose, an agenda, and a timeframe. Otherwise don't do it, scrap the meeting!

    Purpose. You should be able to define the purpose of the meeting in one or two sentences at most.

    Set an agenda. List the items you are going to review/discuss/ inspect.

    Set a timeframe. At the very least set a start and end time. I also recommend setting duration for each item in the agenda. These should total to the overall meeting timeframe. Don't wait. Meetings need to start on time.

    Don't wait for stragglers to show up. When someone arrives late, don't review what has already been covered. That will waste the time of the people who showed up on time for the meeting. If the meeting organiser/sponsor doesn't show up on time, consider the meeting cancelled and go back to work. How long to wait for the organiser to show up varies among companies, but I wouldn't wait any longer than five minutes.

    Keep and send minutes. Someone, other than the meeting organiser, should keep minutes of the meeting. How detailed these are depends on the nature of what is being discussed and the skill of the note taker. If you set an agenda in the first place, as you should have, the note taker can use that as an outline. The minutes should record who attended, what was discussed, any agreements that were reached, and any action items that were assigned.

    Soon after the meeting, usually within 24 hours, the minutes of the meeting should be distributed to all who attended, any invitees who did not attend, and anyone else effected by the discussion. E-mail is a great vehicle for distributing them. Distributing the minutes informs those not at the meeting of the progress that was made and reminds every one of their action items.

    Stay focused. Every meeting should have a "topic keeper". I like to ask for a volunteer at the beginning of the meeting. The topic keeper's job is to interrupt whenever the discussion strays from the topic under discussion. These new topics can either be tabled until later or scheduled for their own meeting. There is a fine line between what are amplifying remarks about the topic under discussion and what a tangential topic is. The meeting organiser can decide. It never hurts to say "let's take that up off-line".

    Source: New Straits Times

    Understanding strategic planning

    Organizations need strategy to guide them in achieving objectives that fulfil their vision and mission. The basic steps of the process are as follows:

    • Develop a clear understanding of what should be accomplished in the business and why.
    • Look outside the environment in which the business operates in order to identify potential opportunities and threats.
    • Evaluate the business to identify its strengths and weaknesses in terms of being able to compete in its business environment now and in the future.
    • Review current strategies and evaluate new strategies that appear to fit the situation.
    • Develop a plan of action for implementing selected strategies.
    • Identify the factors that are critical to the successful implementation of strategies and methods for frequent monitoring.
    • Recognize the assumptions underlying the selection of strategies.

    Source: Top Produce

    Cellphone etiquette

    Have you ever had a very important conversation interrupted when someone receives a cell phone call and takes the call instead of letting voice mail answer?

    Have you ever been stuck in an elevator with someone yelling into a cell phone? Have you ever been abandoned or ignored by a client that accepts a telephone call during a meeting?

    Cell phones have become essential to the conduct of modern business. They're every employees¹ best friend, a mobile answering machine, and a vital link to the office.

    The new generation of cell phones include Web resources like news, weather, text messaging and e-mail. But along with the incredible utility of cell phones, there is rampant misuse.

    Some people seem to think nothing is more important than answering their cell phones.

    Here are cell-phone do's and don'ts:


    • Keep your phone on vibrate mode when in meeting;
    • Conceal your phone. Displaying," or holding your phone where people can see it, is showing off;
    • If you have to take the call, speak in a volume that's appropriate for the setting;
    • Turn off your phone immediately if it accidentally rings during a meeting and
    • Respect others by limiting the length of conversation.


    • Choose a song as your ring tone;
    • Set your phone down between you and someone else, whether it's dining with a friend or during a business meeting;
    • Talk about personal issues in public and don¹t.
    • Approach a rude cell phone user with anger. It only worsens the situation

    Source: Boston Globe

    The art of delegation

    Effective delegation is a large part of a manager's position. As a way to think about whether or not the person will be able to do the job, ask yourself these questions:

    • Will the person have time to do the task?
    • Does the person have the ability to do the task?
    • Is the person trained to do the task?
    • If the person lacks the skills to do the task, can he or she be taught those skills in a reasonable period of time?
    • Is the person generally reliable?
    • Is the person seeking out new responsibility?

    Delegation should be a five-step process:

    • Describe the results that you want
    • Listen for suggestions about how the person thinks the task should be clone
    • Give them autonomy and freedom
    • Follow up
    • Give feedback and credit

    Lastly give your subordinates credit for their successes with delegated tasks. But if they fail, take the blame yourself. Sound unfair? It is. This is particularly true when you are reporting failures to people above you. You can't point to your delegate and tell your boss that it's not your fault a task was botched. You are responsible. Period.

    Source: Physician Executive

    Listening: A Vital Skill

    Listening is a key to conveying clear meaning. Listening is a skill which we all need to better develop.

    There are eight clusters of ways quality listening manifests itself.

    1. Good listeners pay close attention to individual inferences, facts, and judgments.
    2. Good listeners give clear non-verbal evidence to speakers that they are listening attentively.
    3. Good listeners give clear verbal evidence to speakers that they are listening attentively.
    4. Quality listeners and ethical speakers respect each other.
    5. Good listeners do not exaggerate, distort, repeat out of context, or unfairly juxtapose what others have said.
    6. Quality listeners are able to detect, in speakers, atypical baseline communication -- by tone, vocabulary, sentence structure, and voice quality dimensions -- and are willing/ able to seek out verification and reasons for such changes in communicator behaviour.
    7. Good listeners are able to determine -- either by what is said, inferred, or determined through probing -- a speaker's motive, personal involvement, self-interest, intensity, and expectation(s) of listeners.
    8. Good listeners are able and willing to offer speakers, when they have completed their turn, responsive, honest, clear, unambiguous, timely, respectful, and relevant acknowledgement to what they have said.

    Source: Journal of Instructional Psychology

    Building a Career

    Today, and more than ever, most people are responsible for building their own careers. Whether you are just starting, or you have several years of experience, these paragraphs might help you advance your career.

    The 9 most important career planning tips is listed below:

    1. Never Stop Learning
    Life-long learning is your keyword. The world is constantly changing, and everybody is looking for new ways of doing business. If you have decided that your current skills are good enough, you have also decided that your current job is good enough. But if you want a career in the future, you should add regular updates to your skills and knowledge.

    2. Ask, Listen And Learn
    A good listener can learn a lot. Listen to your co-workers, your boss, and your superiors. You can learn a lot from their experience. Ask about issues that interest you, and listen to what they say. Let them tell you about how things work, and what you could have done better. Most people will love to be your free tutor.

    3. Fulfill Your Current Job
    Your current job might be best place to start your career. It is often very little that separates successful people from the average. But nothing comes free. If you do your job well and fulfill your responsibilities, this is often the best way to start a new career. Talk to your supervisor about things you can do. Suggest improvements. Offer your help when help is needed. In return ask for help to build a better career. It is often possible - right inside your own organization - especially if you have proved to be a valued employee.

    4. Build Your Network
    Your next career step might arise from your contact network. Did you know that more than 50% of all jobs are obtained from contact networks? If you have a good contact network, it is also a good place to discover future careers, to explore new trends, and to learn about new opportunities. Spend some time building new contacts, and don't forget to maintain the ones you already have. One of the best ways to get serious information from your network is to regularly ask your contacts how they are, what they do, and what is new about their careers.

    5. Identify Your Current Job
    Your current job should be identified, not assumed. Make sure you don't work with tasks you assume are important. This is waste of time and talent. When you start in a new job, talk to your superior about your priorities. If you're not sure about what is most important, then ask him. And ask him again. Often you will be surprised about the differences between what you assume, and what is really important.

    6. Identify Your Next Job
    Your dream job must be identified. Before you start planning your future career, be sure you have identified your dream job. In your dream job, you will be doing all the things you enjoy, and none of the things you don't enjoy. What kind of job would that be? Do you like or dislike having responsibility for other employees. Do you like to work with technology or with people? Do you want to run your own business? Do you want to be an artist, a designer or a skilled engineer? A manager? Before building your future career your goal must be identified.

    7. Prepare Yourself
    Your dream might show up tomorrow. Be prepared. Don't wait a second. Update your CV now, and continue to update it regularly. Tomorrow your dream job may show up right before your nose. Prepare for it with a professional CV and be ready to describe yourself as a valuable object to anyone that will try to recruit you. If you don't know how to write a CV, or how to describe yourself, start learning it now.

    8. Pick The Right Tools
    Pick the tools you can handle. You can build your future career using a lot of different tools. Studying at W3Schools is easy. Taking a full master degree is more complicated. You can add a lot to your career by studying books and tutorials (like the one you find at W3Schools). Doing short time courses with certification tests might add valuable weight to your CV. And don't forget: Your current job is often the most valuable source of building new skills. Don't pick a tool that is too heavy for you to handle!

    9. Realize Your Dreams
    Put your dreams into action. Don't let a busy job kill your dreams. If you have higher goals, put them into action now. If you have plans about taking more education, getting a better job, starting your own company or something else, you should not use your daily job as a "waiting station". Your daily job will get more and more busy, you will be caught up in the rat race, and you will burn up your energy. If you have this energy, you should use it now, to realize your dreams.

    Source: www.w3schools.com

    Time management skills for effective leadership.

    One of the frustrations of being a leader is trying to find enough time in the day to accomplish everything your job requires, and still have time for yourself, family and friends.

    The result often leads to stress, anxiety and inefficiency. Why does this happen? There are several reasons.

    First, as a leader, you are a goal oriented task master. It is extremely hard to say "no" to requests, not only because you want to do everything asked of you, but because you feel a responsibility to oblige. Determining when to say "yes," when to say "no," and how to prioritize your tasks is the best way to manage your time and get the job done.

    The second problem is how to schedule your time. We all have the same number of hours in the day--24 of them to be exact. So the problem is not the amount of time you have, but how you effectively use it in a balanced fashion. Making time and taking charge of the time you have allocated in any given day takes skills and learned techniques, but mastering those skills can give you back the time you thought you never had.

    Finally, we have all become victims of technology. We have increased our ability to communicate, but conversely we have decreased our understanding. In fact, in some cases, we have made our time less manageable. Learning how to use technology so that it actually works for you rather than against you can be done if you have the right tools and know how to use them.

    Managing time with solid skills and techniques will give you more time to concentrate on the important tasks and decisions that need to be made for your organization, while not requiring you to give up time with family and friends, hobbies and other things in your life that require and deserve your attention.

    Source: Nations’ Cities Weekly

    Succession planning

    Manchester United value personal traits over pedigree.

    Manchester United have been planning for Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement for so long that the club believes it can outwit upheaval. The desire is not to appoint a successor who is an identikit of Ferguson, but to find an individual who will fit into the structure and ethos that he has created.

    Similar personal qualities are required, not least because following arguably the greatest manager of all time creates unique demands and tests of character, but United has become a club that defines itself by its brand.

    The sheer force of his personality, the relentless drive for success, achieved the rest, the glory, the triumph, and the unmatched resilience. Ferguson set standards the club does not want to dismantle, so choosing his successor was more about looking for someone to fit the circumstances rather than a man with a certain pedigree or status.

    David Moyes was immediately considered the leading candidate amongst informed observers.

    Ferguson changed United, and the club does not see the need to go through that process again. Moyes has the strength of mind and authority to not be cowed by succeeding Ferguson. The closeness of their relationship is important, too, since Ferguson will remain a figure of power and profile at Old Trafford. He will not interfere with the football operation, but the two men chat on a regular basis anyway.

    Having advised so many other clubs on the recruitment of managers during almost three decades, it was inevitable that Ferguson would influence the choice of his successor.

    Moyes is a hard, demanding manager, but shrewd and innovative. He has not won any trophies, and the experiences in Europe have been fleeting, but United want a manager of certain personal qualities and ethos, rather than pedigree.

    Moyes does not boast many achievements, but few in football are a better judge of a manager's ability than Ferguson. He appears convinced that his fellow Scot is the ideal successor.

    Source: The Herald Wilson, Richard

    Challenges of email management and security

    Email has practically replaced print correspondence, most telephone conversations and many in-person meetings. It has become the primary method of transmitting documents, data and files as attachments. In addition, work emails are often transmitted throughout the day, from home, offices and cell phones, with no clear demarcation between professional and private life.

    Here are the top 10 email usage guidelines:

    1. Watch out for virus and phishing scams;
    2. Use a clear subject heading;
    3. Do not mix professional and personal;
    4. Think, read - and think again - before hitting send;
    5. Talk in person or call if dealing with a sensitive or personal issue;
    6. You could get published - but not in a good way; 
    7. Check your "to" line to make sure your email is going to the right person;
    8. Properly delete emails that could be a risk to your organisation;
    9. Keep those emails that are vital to you and your work;
    10. Email does not manage itself. You need to actively manage it.

    Source: States News Service

    The 5 attributes of successful students

    As thousands of last year’s Grade 12 learners count down the days to their first day at university or college, they’ll be faced with mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety. Excitement about a new experience of life as a young adult, but also anxiety about whether they are going to succeed in their new educational venture.

    This anxiety is quite justified, as often conflicting demands can take their toll on a student and his or her performance. Success is a personal thing as it is closely linked to personal and social ambition and is not just measured by the quantitative things such as how many subjects are passed or what mark you got in each of them. What the attributes are of successful students (those who achieve in the things that are easily measured as well as the personal definitions of success) is a widely studied area. Many of the attributes are in fact “characteristics” of people rather than skills, but it is also true that these characteristics can be developed through a disciplined intention to behave in line with them until they become natural or habitual ways of interacting with the world.

    Put differently – even if these things are not naturally part of you, a decision to make them more a part of your life will contribute directly to achieving success.

    In tertiary study, the responsibility for student success moves from the institution to the student, who will need to start cultivating the following characteristics to achieve success in their studies and beyond:

    Attitude: An individual’s attitude tends to be a common measure determining whether they will succeed in anything that they do. A student with a positive attitude possesses the ability and willingness to learn new subjects even if some of them are not interesting. She is able to realise the importance of the entirety of the subject towards the overall success in the course and does not give up easily. A student with a positive attitude will also take advantage of all the institutional support provided. A successful student is goal-oriented and believes that she can and will succeed.

    Academic skills: A student cannot succeed if he does not possess the skills to deal with academic work at university or college level. Studies have shown that acquiring the academic skills needed contributes enormously to success – more so than simple measures of innate ability (2006 NPEC Report). At college level, students are expected to study independently most of the time. Without the ability to read comprehensively, write effectively, speak fluently, and to communicate clearly, chances of success are reduced. Students should therefore actively engage in acquiring these skills through workshops or feedback or practise.

    Interpersonal skills: Much as college or university studies demand an amount of independent work, a successful student is also a student with positive inter-personal skills. This increases the student’s ability to interact with other students, make friends and be an active member of study groups. It also enables the student to seek out and use help when it is most needed and therefore feeds positive attitude and the development of academic skills.

    Self-motivation and self-discipline: At university level, students are expected to work more independently and with much less direction from lecturers than at high school. More so if they study online. This requires a lot of self-motivation during those times when the lecturer is not there. Much self-discipline goes into the completion of assignments on time, research and doing other academic activities. A student whose goal is to succeed is able to stick to this kind of discipline. Students who generally lack this discipline will also not seek out ways to master a positive attitude or the relationships or skills they need and the cycle becomes self-reinforcing.

    Good time-management skills: Successful students learn how to manage their time. This goes together with self-discipline. Being able to manage time, the student is able to prepare for various academic activities, including preparation for tests and examinations. The student is able to communicate effectively with lecturers due to the ability to prepare ahead of time and stick to appointments. Procrastinators do not succeed.

    Perceptiveness: Student perceptiveness starts with the selection of a career and going to college or university to pursue it. This means that the student is accurately able to interpret her ambition and then seek the right route to achieving it. On a more micro level, a student who can interpret and perceive meanings from the curriculum and general conversations is better able to master material and structure arguments. A good student almost always perceives right meaning from conversations, but an average student often misunderstands the original thoughts, ending up with wrong conclusions. This attribute is perhaps the hardest to develop as it relies on more than acquired habits. One thing that a student could do to build this ability is to deliberately invite feedback from others on meanings and conclusions being reached. This will only work if that feedback is then accepted and one is able to keep one’s mind open to the fact that your interpretations may be incorrect. A willingness to challenge your own interpretations will deepen your ability to reach conclusions about meaning that you would not ordinarily have been able to do.

    Ultimately, it must be recognised that successful students will not be able to sustain their success without institutional and parental support. It is a holistic responsibility that we all have to be conscious of, and to which we must be responsive if we are to improve the overall outcomes in SA’s tertiary education.

    *Dr Coughlan is the Director of the Independent Institute of Education, which is responsible for the academic leadership and governance of education and training on 21 registered higher education campuses in SA.

    Source: www.thecareersportal.co.za

    The nine traits of leadership

    There are different leaders for different times and situations. Regardless of particular circumstances, there are a number of characteristics of effective leadership

    To be an effective leader you need to know what traits translate into desired action. Although there can be several traits of leadership, there are nine specific ones.

    Trust. Leaders must be consistently trustworthy to continue to earn that confidence from others. The leaders earn that trust through their behaviour: acting with integrity and being business-like, honest, and respectful.

    Respect. Respect is also a two-way street. Not only is the leader respected for his or her expertise, but effective leaders respect others as well.

    Vision. An effective leader sees the big picture for the organization and understands how its mission interacts with the external and internal environment.

    Self-confidence.  Strong have a presence about them; they know their strengths and weaknesses and exude composure and self-assuredness.

    Communication skills. An effective leader has personable and professional communication skills. This is one trait that can make or break the leader's ability to achieve results with others.

    Enthusiasm. An enthusiastic leader can mobilize staff and volunteers to excel no matter what the circumstances.

    Feedback. Strong leaders give sincere praise and recognition to staff and volunteers. The effective leader is able to listen and receive constructive input.

    Ability to fulfil commitments. Effective leaders take responsibility for their words and actions. Their credibility, and thus their effectiveness, increases when others know they can count on the leader to fulfil commitments made.

    A focus on growing more leaders. The effective leader knows that the organization will be better by nurturing future leaders.

    Source: Directors and Boards Association Management

    Five Tips for Improving Email Management

    Five Simple Email Productivity Tips

    Schedule your inbound email usage. Try to check your email twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon and occasionally in the evening.

    Use spam filters; they work.

    Prioritize more important messaging over less important.

    Delete or move items. It was true with paper, and it's true in the digital paperless age.

    Be concise. Sometimes quick is best, so if you can say something in six words, don't spend a dozen.

    Source: Software World

    Listening is a key to conveying clear meaning

    Listening is among our most consequential communication skills even though it is too frequently relegated to a lesser role in many educational, social, political and workplace spheres.

    Following is a list of common good listener traits.

    Good listeners pay close attention to individual inferences, facts, and judgments and are able to later make useful and logical connections between what they have heard on multiple occasions.

    Good listeners give clear non-verbal evidence to speakers that they are listening attentively.

    Good listeners give clear verbal evidence to speakers that they are listening attentively.

    Quality listeners and ethical speakers respect each other.

    Good listeners do not exaggerate, distort, repeat out of context, or unfairly juxtapose what others have said.

    Quality listeners are able to detect, in speakers, atypical baseline communication -- by tone, vocabulary, sentence structure, and voice quality dimensions -- and are willing/ able to seek out verification and reasons for such changes in communicator behavior.

    Good listeners are able to determine -- either by what is said, inferred, or determined through probing -- a speaker's motive, personal involvement, self interest, intensity, and expectation(s) of listeners.

    Good listeners are able and willing to offer speakers, when they have completed their turn, responsive, honest, clear, unambiguous, timely, respectful, and relevant acknowledgement to what they have said.

    Good listeners stand out in a crowd; they are cherished by employers, teachers, friends, and others since they aid speakers make their points and convey meaning efficiently.

    Source: Journal of Instructional Psychology

    Guidelines for Empathetic Listening

    Be attentive. When you are alert, attentive and relaxed, the other person feels important and more secure.

    Be interested in the speaker's needs. Remember listening at Level 1 means you listen with understanding and mutual respect.

    Listen from a caring attitude. Be a sounding board by allowing the speaker to bounce ideas and feelings off of you while assuming a nonjudgmental, non-criticizing manner.

    Act like a mirror. Reflect back what you think the other person is feeling. Summarize what the person said to make sure you understand what he's saying.

    Don't let the other person "hook you." This can happen when you get personally involved. Getting personally involved in a problem usually results in anger and hurt feelings or motivates you to jump to conclusions and be judgmental.

    Use verbal cues. Acknowledge the person's statement using brief expressions such as, "hm," "uhhuh," "I see," "right" or "interesting." Encourage the speaker to reveal more by saying "tell me about it," "let's discuss it," "I'd like to hear what you're thinking," or "I'd be interested in what you have to say."

    Following these guidelines will help you be a successful listener. You can do this by taking time each day to carry out these skills successfully in a specific situation. You will be surprised at the results.

    Source: Society for Human Resource Management


    Work stress or the stress that is encountered within the workplace is another aspect of stress that has negative implications not only on employees' physical and mental well-being but on organizational outcomes as well. Employees who are stressed tend to have greater on-the-job accidents, have difficulty concentrating, make poor decisions, take greater sick leave and generally display disruptive behaviour within the workplace.

    From an organizational point of view, work stress causes losses in productivity and profitability, higher staff absenteeism and staff turnover and leads to stress related costs of millions. Therefore stress takes a huge toll on not just the person experiencing the stress but on the wider community that he/she is a part of as well.

    However, it must be borne in mind that not all stress leads to distress and hence deemed undesirable and damaging. Mild doses of stress before a major event can actually motivate behaviour towards goal achievement. For example feeling slightly stressed before an upcoming exam, motivates a student to study and prepare well for the exam.

    Similarly, in situations where immediate concentration and extra effort is required, such as preparing for an important presentation, stress is useful in making people work harder towards achieving and realizing their desired goals. It is only when stress becomes uncontrollable, overwhelming and ongoing that stress becomes problematic.

    Source: British Journal of Psychology

    Event Management: Add a WOW factor

    Event organisers agree the following points are critical to the success of an event or business function:

    Define your objectives and know what you need. This applies to the venue, numbers, catering and access to technology.

    Know your budget--having this clear will help you work through your various options.

    Find and book a venue that meets all your requirements AND is flexible enough to handle last minute changes of plan. The venue that can deliver may cost a little more but it will be worth it. Check parking facilities. This can be expensive for delegates.

    Add a WOW factor--an interesting theme, setting, or break-out area can make all the difference in creating a memorable event.

    Test the technology and equipment before the event.

    Re-confirm your expectations with suppliers a day or two in advance.

    Keep delegates informed--even knowing what to wear can be useful.

    Get feedback. Measure and debrief. How did attendees feel about the venue and the programme? Were their expectations met?

    Always have a Plan B.

    Source: www.corporateeventsguide.co.nz


    Work stress or the stress that is encountered within the workplace is another aspect of stress that has negative implications not only on employees' physical and mental well-being but on organizational outcomes as well. Employees who are stressed tend to have greater on-the-job accidents, have difficulty concentrating, make poor decisions, take greater sick leave and generally display disruptive behaviour within the workplace.

    From an organizational point of view, work stress causes losses in productivity and profitability, higher staff absenteeism and staff turnover and leads to stress related costs of millions. Therefore stress takes a huge toll on not just the person experiencing the stress but on the wider community that he/she is a part of as well.

    However, it must be borne in mind that not all stress leads to distress and hence deemed undesirable and damaging. Mild doses of stress before a major event can actually motivate behaviour towards goal achievement. For example feeling slightly stressed before an upcoming exam, motivates a student to study and prepare well for the exam.

    Similarly, in situations where immediate concentration and extra effort is required, such as preparing for an important presentation, stress is useful in making people work harder towards achieving and realizing their desired goals. It is only when stress becomes uncontrollable, overwhelming and ongoing that stress becomes problematic.

    Source: British Journal of Psychology

    Tips for Successful Meetings

    Most employees dislike meetings, but they are an inevitable episodes in our daily work life.

    Here is how to run successful meetings.

    Schedule the meeting well in advance.

    If there aren't enough items to warrant the meeting, cancel it. (A cancelled meeting is better than an unproductive one and people will appreciate the gift of some unexpected time.)

    Start on time and end on time.

    Pay attention to seating. Everyone should be able to see everyone else. (A circle, Ushaped or rectangular table arrangement is usually best.)

    Change the meeting location occasionally.

    Make the meeting room comfortable, but not too comfortable.

    Use name tags if participants don't know one another.

    Pace the meeting. Watch the clock and keep things moving. If possible, put time limits on each agenda topic.

    Lead, don't "run", the meeting.

    Show some enthusiasm.

    Encourage openness and discussion.

    Be open-minded and allow for detours and unexpected directions.

    Use audio-visual aids only if they "fit" and are well-done.

    Use hand-outs, but don't read them to the participants.

    Be flexible.

    Use meetings to celebrate individual and group successes.

    Allow time for questions;

    Reserve time at the end to ask for feedback on the meeting.

    Recap what was decided or agreed upon.

    End on a positive note.

    Follow up with accurate "mini-minutes" as soon as possible.

    Source: The Gale Group

    Effective multitasking

    Do you sometimes feel as though you're on a treadmill in your professional life? You were coasting along comfortably at a "five" setting, yet the speed just bumped up to 10. While you may be able to keep up briefly, you're exhausted just trying to maintain. You constantly fear being thrown off and everything crashing down.

    First, you must admit and acknowledge the three truths

    You will never get it all done. Even if you work 24/7, there will still be unfinished business; things to do, people to see, reports to prepare, and e-mails and publications to read.

    Your day will not always go the way it was planned-but that's OK. Your success at the end of the day should not be based upon whether the schedule you set was followed, but on how productive you were leading to your end goals. Just as a satellite navigation system recalculates as you go off course, you will have to continually reprioritize to adjust to changing situations.

    Everything takes longer than you think it will - but that's OK, too. The high quality output you demand of yourself takes a little longer to produce. If it's on your schedule, it's important that you do the absolute best job you can; even if it means you can't get to everything else on your plate.

    Source: The Guld Resource Group.

    How to Screen Calls for Your Manager

    Your career is in your hands. Take charge.

    As an assistant, one of your jobs is likely to be screening calls for your manager. This will entail not only determining who gets through, but also courteously deflecting callers who will not be speaking to your manager at the time of their call. You will need to be able to take clear messages that enable your employer to understand exactly what the caller wanted later when you give them the information.

    Make a list of “Every Time” Callers
    There are some people that will always need to be let through. You need a firm list from your manager that gives you the full names and titles of people who should always be put through. Generally these people will be family members and school officials if there are school-age children in the family.

    Establish a firm line for callers who will be screened
    You need a clear, polite, firm way to tell people who will not be getting through that they need to leave a message. One of the best options is to tell them that your manager is in a meeting or out on a job, but that they will return the call later. Then you can simply take the message.

    Set a time for when callers can expect a return call
    Work with your manager to determine what type of timeline you can give callers who are screened. For example, will they receive a call back within the business day? 24 hours? A week? Many callers will become belligerent if you cannot give them an idea of when they will receive a call back, and you will get more return and repeat calls if you cannot tell them roughly when to expect a call back.

    Screening calls is not difficult, but you do have to be firm with callers. Having an established set of rules for yourself will help you do your job effectively.

    Some tips on charting a career course.

    Your career is in your hands. Take charge.

    Here are some guidelines to help you navigate today's complex workplace.

    Map out clear career goals. Dream and strategize on where you want to be in the future and work on it. Without setting rigid and unrealistic goals, plan the vision of your career as detailed as you can;

    Look for creative ways to get from here to there such as developing new skills, new experiences and building your knowledge base;

    Always look for new challenges and responsibilities that will broaden your skills and overall perspective of your job;

    Look for relevant training opportunities. Plan to attend job-related workshops and seminars. Take advantage of any company-sponsored training programmes available to you;

    Build your own network. Make sure your relationships in the company are healthy and positive. Your career success is often determined by your internal and external network;

    Look for advisers. Look for people, both inside and outside your company, who can give you honest and helpful feedback as you make decisions about your career;

    Take a career temperature regularly. Ask yourself whether you like what you are doing. Are you performing in your job and relating to your boss and colleagues well? Use the information to help you refine and reformulate your career strategies.


    It’s all in a day's work, say British bosses.

    The ability to manage stress is vital for a successful business career, according to the latest research from The Aziz Corporation, the UK's leading independent executive communications consultancy.

    The research reveals that two thirds of bosses believe that the ability to manage stress effectively is a very important skill for a successful business career. The research also found that the overwhelming majority (92%) of managers think that placing staff under a certain degree of pressure can be a positive factor in ensuring that targets and deadlines are met, and that a business is run efficiently.

    Professor Khalid Aziz, Chairman of The Aziz Corporation, which conducted the survey as part of the eighth annual Aziz Management Communications Index, comments:

    "Although stress has become a buzzword and is often used to account for all kinds of ailments and conditions, it is interesting that such a high proportion of management believe that some degree of stress can be positive.

    The key is to manage stress effectively, so that instead of spiraling out of control, the pressures of the workplace can be harnessed and put to positive effect.

    "Whilst very high levels of stress can be damaging, both to employees' health and to the company in the long-run, a certain amount of pressure can be useful. In fact, employees under some degree of pressure are more likely to demonstrate the motivation, ambition and productivity that their bored counterparts fail to muster."

    Managing Stress

    Stress is a major illness of the 21st century. It can debilitate employees and be very costly to an organisation. Many suffer from stress yet don't even realize it. Some think it just "goes with the job".

    It is impossible (as well as naive) for anyone to think that they will completely eliminate all stress from their lives. The key is to avoid stress when possible and learn to manage it. How people adapt to stress is the key. It is important to recognize that stress is present and is a part of everyone's life. Time should be spent, therefore, on managing that stress.

    One way in which stress can be better handled is through a routine exercise program. Any exercise that increases the heart rate is most beneficial. Simply walking and getting fresh air often helps with the release of pent-up tension.

    Simple relaxation exercises reduce tension. Deep breathing is the easiest and most popular relaxation technique. (This one can even be performed on the job!) Part of relaxing is getting the proper amount of sleep and reserving time from busy schedules for enjoyable activities. Laughing is another underrated relaxation technique. Simply reading the comics every day provides a brief respite from the rigors of daily life.

    Eating well is another method of managing stress. A balanced diet and a good nutrition program better prepares the body for the daily stressors.

    Optimism is often the best tool anyone has to manage stress. The power of positive thinking cannot be overstated. Thinking positively can reduce stress levels while saying "I can't ...." increases the stress.

    The reverse of positive thinking is to ask what the worst thing is that would happen if ... the deadline was not met or whatever the stressful activity was not performed. This helps us prioritize and put things into perspective. Seeing the "big picture" helps us realize how small some of the stressors really are.

    A manager must be aware of the symptoms of stress to recognize who may be under too much stress. This might also include a self-analysis. At the first signs of stress, it must be addressed.

    The astute manager can establish well-defined roles for employees that reduce stress from ambiguous job descriptions. Appropriate training and development can be undertaken so the employees are technically equipped to handle the job. Participative decision making can be utilized to increase the employee's amount of control on the job.

    A manager has a responsibility to monitor employees for stress and to assist them in managing this stress. We cannot eliminate all stress from our lives. Some stress may provide benefits. Our job in the organization is to learn to manage our own stress and help our employees to learn to manage theirs.

    11 costly mistakes on the Job

    Most people spend 25-67% or more of their working hours at work. Yet far too many end up miserable in their jobs and find themselves stuck in careers they did not choose and do not like. By avoiding the 11 mistakes listed below, you can make your next career move the one you've always wanted:

    Following the normal trial-and-error career-selection process;

    Following a career path to please others;

    Failing to discover what you want and what you believe is important;

    Failing to discover your true passions;

    Failing to discover your true desires and priorities;

    Failing to discover your true values;

    Failing to discover your true talents;

    Failing to create or find the position that matches you;

    Failing to get help from the right person;

    Believing you will discover your inner self overnight and

    Failing to recognize that your career wants and needs will change.

    Source: www.findyourcoach.com


    When it comes to office gossip, it's best to refuse to take part.

    Lies, rumours and office gossip have always been an entrenched part of the workscape. The office water cooler has long been a place to chitchat about the latest company news and to swap lurid tales.

    In today's increasingly angry and malicious society, thanks to the Internet and electronic mail (e-mail), it's possible to spread ugly words as fast as a nasty virus.

    Being the brunt of malicious gossip affects your ability to do meaningful work. In other words, whisper campaigns can ruin the workplace and the worst part is, there's no way to completely escape cruel rumours in the workplace.

    While there's no way to measure how common or destructive office gossip is, it's clear that it can wreak havoc in an organisation. Yet determining what's unacceptable and trying to establish a clear-cut policy can prove elusive.

    Some gossip and banter, including discussions about Hollywood celebrities or a child's soccer league, can help employees bond and create a sense of camaraderie.

    But when the gossip mill begins to grind people up and ruin their reputations, there is both cause for concern and a real need for the human resources professional to step in. When left to fester, gossip can not only cause deep personal pain but also lead to turnover, conflict and lawsuits.

    Gossip usually takes two forms: relationship-oriented talk that focuses on which executives and managers are dating which employees, and office politics about who is on the verge of being promoted, fired, or transferred.

    In some cases, the gossip is designed to slander or defame an individual, often for personal or political gain. Making matters worse, managers often look the other way or engage in the gossip themselves.

    Not surprisingly, certain companies are more prone to gossip than others. Organisations that foster a chummy, cliquey environment, particularly where some employees feel like outsiders, can undermine relationships and productivity.

    In the final analysis, office gossip is insidious and destructive to the work environment. Combat it by refusing to take part. When a conversation turns to gossip, excuse yourself.

    Companies recognise that gossip is bad for the workplace. It causes stress and conflict, which can affect productivity and morale.


    Time Management

    Time can be cruel and oppressive.

    It is a powerful dictator.

    It tells us where to go and when to go there.

    We work ourselves into a sweat against the pressure of appointments, deadlines, and an insidious attitude of urgency.

    Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

    Management consultant, Jay Walljasper has developed sound advice on how to cope with smothering time pressure. Here are some his tips on time management suggested by Walljasper:

    * Find quick, easy ways to break your demanding tempo

    Don't jump on the first ring of the phone but let it go a few rings. The simple act of pausing can interrupt the hectic rhythm and at least create the illusion of expanding time.

    * Create time boundaries

    These are oases of time for ourselves. Perhaps stopping at the coffee shop to get a cup of latte and strolling more leisurely from the parking lot to the office will do it. Set aside 15 minutes to read something you wouldn't normally have time for, preferably some escape, popcorn literature. Break up your day by closing your office door for 15 minutes and engaging in contemplation or meditation that is uninterrupted.

    * Honor the mundane

    Instead of thinking about what to do next, enjoy the process of whatever ordinary activity needs to be done.

    * Create spontaneous time

    Block out some time for spontaneity. This may seem oxymoronic, but if we set aside some of our future and just go somewhere with no particular destination in mind we may stumble into impulsivity that rewards us.

    * Create time retreats

    Go somewhere that breaks the rhythms and tempos of your ordinary moments. Watch and listen to some minutes going by that are unfilled with planned activities. Find a spot to be still. Play dead. Don't frighten your family, but let yourself drift into beta. Let the time block be variable so that you are controlling time and not vice versa.

    People have puzzled how to manage time successfully since time immemorial. Be careful with time, the coin of your life. Spend it wisely and don't let it spend you.


    Interview Skills

    There are often questions on how to improve interview skills, Malaysian based recruitment and marketing and positioning strategist guru, Pat Lu, addresses a couple of the more common queries often dealt with by recruitment consultants.

    Lu deals with;

    dealing with nervousness,

    the importance of breathing before answering a question and

    avoiding being confused by questions.


    Being nervous for an interview is a very natural state to be in. Recognise that. In fact, think about your potential employer. He or she may be just as nervous as you are. Just as you are nervous over wanting the job, the employer could be nervous about hiring the right person. In fact, they have a bigger stake than you have, because if they hire the wrong person for the job, they will incur expensive costs. So do keep in mind that the interview is as important to the employer as it is to you.

    There are a few ways of reducing nervousness before an interview:

    Firstly, wear comfortable clothes. You don't want to wear tight polyester clothes which will make you sweat, whether you are nervous or not! And use antiperspirant!

    If you have sweaty palms, don't clench your hands before the interview. Some people clench their hands into tight fists as a sign of nervousness, and this will simply make your palms sweat. Relax your hands, leave them open to air. And if they are still sweaty, wipe them unobtrusively before you meet the interviewer.

    Secondly, aim to get there early. When you are early, you have time to prepare yourself and you are not rushing and out of breath when you arrive at the interview venue. But - don't get there too early, otherwise you may have too much time on your hands and stress yourself out further.

    Thirdly, Remember to Breathe!:

    Take deep breaths and concentrate on breathing slowly in and out. This will usually calm your nerves. And you can also repeat to yourself under your breath, "I can do this! I can do this!" When you can vocalise and visualise yourself positively, it will help you to make it come true.


    There is no point knowing the answers after the effect. The interviewer can only assess you on what you say during the interview, because he or she cannot read your mind.

    When your interviewer asks you questions, take a deep breath before answering. This gives you time to gather your thoughts and think about what you want to say. Think carefully about what point you want to convey. And make sure you convey it in your answer.

    If it's a question about you personally, then try to prepare a list of `tough' questions before hand so that you are not caught by surprise. Ask a friend to help you, because sometimes it's better to get another person's point of view.

    Also prepare a list of questions for the interviewer because at some stage of the interview, he or she is sure to ask you if you have any questions. So think ahead so that you are not caught off guard. It's strange but almost everyone who has been for a job interview knows that they will be asked this, and yet every time, they seem to be caught off guard!

    Ask the interviewer intelligent questions. Not questions which may show that you should have done research on the company but questions which show you have. For example, don't ask what other core businesses the company has, because you should have found that out before you attended the interview.

    Visit the company's website, or obtain an annual report if it is a public listed company. Look up news of the company in the archives of newspapers online. If it's a small company, call up a few days before and ask if you can see a company profile. Show the interviewer that you will go the extra mile, and that is why they should hire you.


    The key to your success as a supervisor is your leadership ability.

    Supervisors must lead. The reason is obvious! In order for a company to remain profitable, supervisors must be able to successfully guide, direct and motivate their teams' interests and energies toward specific goals. This is what leadership is all about.

    Supervisory leadership

    In essence, the dictionary defines a supervisor as a person with delegated authority to hire, transfer, promote, assign, to discharge an employee or to recommend suspension.

    All this is true ! But supervision is more than that. Supervisors are hired to lead. Supervisors are the main link between management and the workers.

    When you accept a supervisor's position, you automatically accept responsibility:

    To Management (for getting work done through your subordinates within existing rules, policies, procedures and on time.)

    To Your Team (by looking out for them in regard to their interests, fair treatment, advancement possibilities, benefits, etc.)

    To Yourself (by assessing and further developing your own supervisory leadership skills.)

    The best way to earn loyalty, respect and the devotion of hearts and mind to the job is to first find out what employees want most from their supervisors and the job itself.

    In recent years, workers have come to expect more and more. To succeed as a successful supervisor today, the first step is to find out what your teamsubordinates want most, both on-and-off the job.

    Here are six common traits (we can use as a starter) that followers expect to see in their leaders:

    Honesty: Employees respect honest supervisors.

    Knowledgeable supervisors: Workers expect their supervisors to know the job and understand what it takes to get the work done.

    Caring supervisors: Today's workers don't hesitate to bring their personal problems to work with them. To expect their supervisors to be interested and to show concern. Certainly, supervisors can't be everything to everyone. But if you're not already doing it, you should start showing more interest in your employee's on-and-off the job concerns, ambitions and problems. You'll find this pays !

    Listening supervisors: Workers expect supervisors to listen, hear what they say and understand what was said. But this doesn't always happen. Supervisors - like most people - talk too much. Fail to listen seriously to what is being said and frequently miss the point.

    Positive supervisors: Workers like supervisors who think on their feet. Make decisions and stick to them.

    Positive supervisors are enthusiastic. Their enthusiasm is contagious. It spreads quickly throughout the work place.

    Meaningful work: Workers want more than a job. They want meaningful work; they don't want to vegetate on the job. This is your clue to rearrange the workload to make it more interesting, challenging and to make the best use of your subordinates' talents.

    Other things that workers want include, but are not limited to, respect, fair treatment, consideration --and above all--a personal interest in them.

    Many things can cause supervisors to fail. Some like dishonesty, inadequate job knowledge, not listening and lack of concern for your team followers (workers) have already been covered. But there are more:

    The key to your success as a supervisor is your leadership ability.

    By leading - rather than pushing, shoving or driving - your team subordinates, you'll be able to build a team of willing, cooperative members that get quality work done on time with a smile!


    Business Writing

    Like it or not, putting your ideas into writing is an inescapable part of everyday communication at work and in everyday communication. Through letters, memos, emails and reports you communicate with your colleagues, friends and or your boss.

    Use the inverted pyramid approach to give your writing punch.

    What is an Inverted Pyramid?

    The facts that best support your argument are like the wide base of a pyramid. As you go up the pyramid the facts are narrower and become less important.

    In the telling the story you begin with the base and work your way to the less important stuff. So the bottom of the pyramid is the top of the story (thus the pyramid is inverted).

    Start with the Most Important Information then move onto the Tertiary Information and finally finish with the Least Important Info.

    Consider the following answers to the question "How was the drive home?"

    "I saw a car accident involving two taxis. There was a traffic jam. I don't know if anybody was hurt. It happened at that last street before the airport ..."

    "Well, I walked out into my BMW in the parking lot and it was pretty hot, so I took my jacket off. I got into the car and buckled. I pulled out of the parking lot onto Barbara Road, 3kms from the airport. About a block along the way this taxi passed me ..."

    Which answer was more interesting and engaging?

    Story 2 is a chronological narrative.
    Story 1 is a dramatic narrative told in inverse pyramid order. It starts with the most important thing with each successive bit of information progressively less relevant. Story 1 might end with "It made me glad I wore my seatbelt, otherwise I would be dead."

    Journalists are the traditional users of the inverted pyramid (At least 20 people were injured in an accident involving two taxis near the airport). It is also fundamental to writing to colleagues, your boss and even for the Web. Your regular business communication can also benefit from this approach.

    For starters consider the following:

    Write out all the things you need to say in point form. Some prefer to do this in long hand, but an outline mode in a word processor also works.

    Read over your points. Make sure every point is clear and germane to an overall conclusion. Cross out the ones that are not.

    Organise your points from the most important to the least important.

    Write a Conclusion in a sentence or two that clearly and directly sums up your points.

    Start with your conclusion in composing your letter, memo, or report.
    ü In a memo or letter, the conclusion should be the first paragraph of the main body of the document.
    ü In a report, your conclusion statement should be part of an abstract or executive summary at the top of the document.

    Use your points to support your conclusion, beginning with the most important.

    While starting with a clear statement of the point will sharpen most business writing, there are some particular areas where being circumspect may work better. Example: In delivering bad news, you may want to soften the blow by stating the reasons for a decision first.

    Power Tip: If you are having a hard time stating your conclusion first, write your piece as a regular pyramid. Build to your conclusion and write it last. Then, using your word processor, move the last paragraph to the beginning.

    Bottom Line: State your conclusion first, is the kind of golden rule that you should print in big letters and tape to your computer monitor. Use the inverted pyramid to sharpen the focus of managerial writing.


    Get training to push your career to the next level

    1. Critical personal assessment is vital – for example, you are a great administrator but believe you would be a better manager. Take a hard look at your strengths and weaknesses, for example, you know your financial skills are good but you have persistent problems managing staff. In other words, to get ahead you need to strengthen your human relations skills first, and then brush up on other areas. 

    2. How many courses do you believe you need to attain your goal? Don't just rely on courses; you need to read to keep up with the latest trends in your chosen field. Today education is considered lifelong; there is no single degree, course or diploma that is sufficient.

    3. Choose a training company that has the closest fit with your development needs. Examine precisely what topics are covered in the course, the quality of the facilitator being used and if the program is in a learning-friendly environment. 

    4. Before you book, look at testimonials and feedback forms from others who have attended your course or others. Assess their client list and see if any of your colleagues have experience of courses from that company. There are a number of independent websites, like HelloPeter that give feedback on problematic service providers. 

    5. Training is expensive, attend your course diligently, take lots of notes, and ask questions. Network with fellow course attendees, you can build valuable relationships with fellow experts in your field. 

    6. Choose a course that gives follow-up counselling or advice or has a friendly facilitator who is happy to assist you with immediate queries that come up after the course. 

    7. When you get back to the workplace, immediately implement what you have learnt. The sooner you practice what you learnt, the longer you will remember it and the more value you will get from the course. Stay in touch with those you met. Career brilliance needs daily attention. 


    Time Management

    Poor time management is likely to see us burn-out faster. Prolonged tense-energy or tense-tiredness affects emotional intelligence and raises vulnerability to anxiety and fearfulness meaning that while apparently very busy, you’re persistently losing effectiveness.

    “A good deal of poor time management is about self-deception,” Liza Van Wyk, CEO of BizTech says, “if you take the way the average person deals with urgent but not important matters, the noise of urgency creates an illusion of importance, but the activities are only important to someone else. We spend a lot of time meeting other people’s priorities and expectations.”

    The state to strive for is calm-energy which is low tension, high energy where you feel serene, in control, alert, optimistic and creatively intelligent.

    “Take a look at politicians during an election,” Van Wyk says, “they need to sustain calm-energy, if they get into a tense-energy state, they start saying and doing things they shouldn’t and accelerate their chances of losing.

    “A good deal of managing time effectively has nothing to do with work – it’s about sleeping properly, having healthy meals, exercising, maintaining humour and interest in people and life around you. It is important to recognise your personality style and how that impacts on you wasting time.”

    Classic time-wasters include attempting too much at once; poor health; a cluttered desk or office; lack of self-discipline; prolonged courtesy calls; inability to say ‘no’ and a lack of co-ordination. Ignoring the phone adds to time and costs – you’ll have to call back, rather deal with it immediately. Procrastination allows issues to develop and become more complex to resolve.

    Improving time management:

    Tidy your office, throw out what you don’t need, get filing up to date and have a clean desk

    Keep documents to one page, reject junk mail, screen phone calls, learn to use software correctly and cancel unnecessary subscriptions

    Channel day dreaming into something that productive – give yourself a definite time and place to meditate each day and just one subject to muse on

    At the start or end of each day plan tomorrow’s activities with a To-Do list and rank in order of priority

    Good planning includes establishing objectives, determining resources, assigning accountability, action plans, deadlines and review points. Assess progress at the same time each day

    Keep meetings to a minimum but when they are held stick to an agenda and a time frame

    At the end of each day have 15 to 20 minutes where you sit back and reflect on the day and how you could have done it better

    Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can complete today

    If you have to wait in someone’s outer office for an appointment take a book, your computer or work you can scan while waiting

    Delegate or outsource that which is not imperative for you to do

    “Effective management is really about knowing when to step back, delegate, ramp up productivity and manage time better. It sets a good example for staff and provides for more inspirational leadership,” Van Wyk says. And it also saves companies a small fortune.



    Inhouse training courses capture the market

    A new trend is to bring more trainers in-house to minimise time away from work.

    BizTech has seen a surge in demand for inhouse courses which are cheaper if attended by 10 or more people, than those held at public venues.

    "There is a rapidly growing demand for these courses because instead of three days of concentrated training at a hotel or conference centre, we are able to tailor make a course to fit the company needs. We can stagger the days if necessary. We don't encourage having shorter courses – if you're going to spend money on training then rather get the full benefit. We would rather stagger days; training can take place on a Monday, Tuesday and Friday, or three consecutive Fridays, as examples," CEO of BizTech Liza van Wyk advises.

    She says too that many companies approach training without fully thinking through their needs. "They might see a course advertised and say that looks good and phone to book it but they need to consider: what exactly are the skills needs you want to improve? That starts a process of the company going back and more completely analysing what they need which helps us design something that gives them most value for their rand.

    "We have more than 60 courses on offer, so sometimes if we take a module from one and another from another and add it to the course they initially wanted we can give them the best possible product. They may have technical people adjusting to customer sales, so we draw modules from other courses. The company might want them to improve newsletters, minute taking or ethics; we can add those to form an ideal package. Very often people are promoted because they are doing well but they may lack the necessary skills so we try and assist with that."

    Training often reveals gaps in knowledge or capacity "and so many companies will ask us to come back and do more training focussed on a specific area where more information is needed. Or run the same course for another group of employees to ensure more uniform positive changes across the organisation."

    Van Wyk says: "We try to go the extra mile for clients; there was a demand for training from a company for bilingual course material. All of our course material is in English; so we got one of our staff to translate all the material into Afrikaans too."

    Today an increasing number of companies want staff to remain in the office so they can check emails or respond to phone calls during tea or lunch breaks so the company experiences minimum down time, but too chat about the benefits of the course pervades through the company and sees more positive results for the organisation faster.



    Confidence and assertiveness

    Seek out constructive, positive thinking people.

    Dress well, walk tall, act confident

    If you fear someone, visualise being pleasant and getting along well with them

    Praise yourself to yourself

    Allow time for thinking and planning – make lists, measure progress

    Learn to empathise – look at situations from the point of view of others and try to understand why they behave as they do.

    Bestow compliments generously

    Begin the day positively think about the things that make you happy

    Do nice things for others – it surprises them and makes you feel good

    Learn new things, keep developing skills and acquiring new interests – and meeting new people


    Managing the Team

    Effective teams PERFORM:
    P = purpose and values
    E = empowerment
    R = relationships and communication
    F = flexibility
    O = optimal productivity
    R = recognition and appreciation
    M = morale

    Ponder: Ego stifles growth

    If top management does not support teams, performance is not consistent. You will find individuals trying to attain personal glory and to do that they sabotage co-workers. Shared ownership of duties and responsibilities always sees better performance.

    Effective Team Managers encourage:

    · Listening – the free exchange of ideas encourages innovation

    · Questioning – interrogate suggestions and old methodologies

    · Persuade – individuals are encouraged to exchange, defend and rethink ideas

    · Respect – treat others with respect and support their ideas

    · Help – mutual co-operation and assistance is vital

    · Participation – work shared is work completed more efficiently, faster

    Be solutions focussed, think problems through seeking constructive outcomes. Know when to be assertive and never aggressive in addressing challenges. Be dependable and truthful.

    A can-do attitude inspires confidence. Take reasonable risks, be goal-directed, admit mistakes and move on.

    Success carries its own perils, the greatest of which is arrogance.

    Resolving issues

    · Have proper introductions.

    · State purpose and outline agenda.

    · Enable the group to raise issues in a non-judgmental fashion. Allow questions for clarification. Use appropriate facilitation techniques including brainstorming, SWOT Analysis or Projective Techniques.

    · Brainstorm solutions: Identify root causes and if sufficient information is available, brainstorm potential solutions.

    · Decide steps for implementing solutions and if necessary refer them for more indepth analysis. Decide on joint implementation and monitoring structures.

    Create psychological closure. Allow expression of how they experienced the process. Show progress. Decide on next steps.

    Basic Business Know-how

    For a profit budget:

    Establish an opening balance

    Forecast future revenues

    Cash and credit sales

    Income from investments

    Any other types of fees earned

    Sale of assets at a profit

    A cash budget:

    Establish the opening bank balance

    Forecast future cash inflows

    Cash sales

    Debtors payments

    Income from investments

    Loans received and shares issued

    Sale of assets

    Constantly analyse the budget, variances could be the clue to challenges or new opportunities. Cashflow management is critical as poor cash management can cause a bankruptcy despite a project being very profitable.

    Selling is a strategic exercise; know first who needs the product, understand why and set a price that is attractive to the purchaser.

    If your solution can provide the customer with increased income, profit or sales you will have an attentive listener.

    Consumers want assurances of quality and reliability.

    The attitude, personality and level of expertise of sales staff makes all the difference between a person signing on the dotted line or walking away.

    Respect: A client wants their questions to be addressed thoughtfully. If a salesperson does not gain confidence at the beginning of the transaction they never will.

    Customers buy benefits, they need to know the value added criteria that are not immediately apparent that will make their life easier, their job more enjoyable or their life more comfortable.

    Listen carefully to any objection or complaint. Don't take it personally; the client has the right to express dissatisfaction. Empathise, admit disadvantages if there are any and offer a solution. Often discord occurs because a client has not understood a sale or aspects of the product fully or the salesperson does not understand their product or service sufficiently and cannot suggest ways to assist the client


    Managing Conflict

    ‘Park your ego at the door’ should be the sign before every crucial conversation and tricky negotiation – without sensitivity to the damage ego can do, wars are launched, divorces are set, strikes are waged and lives are lost.

    “We forget how many emotional triggers we may carry until something a sales assistant says, or a work colleague or our partner comments on, raises our hackles and sees us sail forth into a tirade or dismissive remark, we later regret,” Liza van Wyk, CEO of management training company, BizTech says.

    “Look at the very high divorce statistics globally where one in three people who promised to remain with their partner through thick and thin, throws up their hands and walks away. And the amount of terrible conflict and suffering that could have been avoided if those who went to negotiating tables had open agendas and keen listening skills as well as diplomatic conversational abilities.

    Management guru Stephen Covey says, “There are a few defining moments in our lives and careers that come from crucial or breakthrough conversations where the decisions made take us down one of several roads, each of which leads to an entirely different destination.” He says that such conversations succeed if it is not about ‘my way’ or ‘your way’ but finding ‘our way.’

    Covey says: “They produce what Buddhism calls the middle way – not a compromise between two opposites on a straight-line continuum, but a higher middle way, like the apex on a triangle. Because two or more people have created something new from genuine dialogue, bonding takes place.”

    In a business, difficult discussions usually take place around wage talks, performance assessments, safety, productivity, diversity, quality and other hot topics such as sexual harassment. In the family it might be issues around fidelity, sexuality, values regarding the raising of children, difficult teens or finances. In politics it can be anything from service delivery to the performance of politicians to negotiations to end conflict, build economies, fight crime or stimulate a sense of belonging.

    Research by marriage counsellors Clifford Notarius and Howard Markman, as an example, show that  couples tend to fall into one of three camps during heated discussions: those who digress into threats and name-calling; those who revert to silent fuming and those who speak openly, honestly and effectively.
    And to force a person or group to conform to your position never works.  It’s the old, you can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink syndrome.

    So how do you get negotiation to take place with a real chance of a constructive outcome?
    Before you open your mouth consider:

    What do I really want for myself?

    What do I really want for others?

    What do I really want for the relationship?

    How would I behave if I really wanted these results?

    We should engrave those words on our tongue.  If you’re still battling, try this, clarify what you want and what you don’t want – link the answers with ‘and’: it carries your solution and a clue to how you need to behave.


    The rewards of being a great Personal Assistant

    High powered personal assistants know the rich and famous as we will never know them. Top personal assistants are often university educated, may speak a smattering of languages and can expect to travel the globe with high flyer bosses.

    In the USA, an executive personal assistant earns around $120 000 (R900 000) a year. In South Africa, a high powered PA can earn up to R100 000 a month and have hair, clothing and travel allowances. Average salaries for executive secretaries in the Johannesburg area are around R21 000 to R25 000, Kelly recruitment says.

    Wayne Ford, a BizTech presenter says, “The modern PA is really an assistant manager with a career path into management.”

    They know the boss better than his or her mother does and are the power behind the great. Their days are seldom the same. They are more discreet than a priest’s confessional and have the nerves of a test pilot.
    * If you want to be a high powered PA what qualifications do you need?

    A BA or BCom, computer literacy in all basic computer programs including Microsoft Word, Excel, Microsoft Office, and excellent communication and listening skills, organizational ability, knowledge of business, personal and social etiquette, polished, professional appearance and disposition, available for travel.

    A recent ad in a South African publication calling for a PA for two management consultants promised a salary of R500K plus for someone who could do “complex travel coordination both domestic and international, email management, coordinating conference and teleconferences, document production and generating reports, producing PowerPoint presentations and general administrative support.”


    Beyond the expertise education gives you, what else do you need?

    The executive PA needs initiative, knowledge and familiarity with information systems. "The key function of the top PA has become data interpretation. Tasks like surfing the Net, spotting industry trends, tracking international developments and identifying key nuggets of information for her boss are a priority," says Gayleen Baxter, chief operating officer, Kelly. “She is expected to pick up trends on the horizon, and as a filter - keeping out the insignificant, time-wasting stuff that won't add value to current negotiations or projects. Initiative, intelligence and the courage to make a judgment call are key."

    A great PA anticipates her boss’s needs and can behave appropriately with very important people. Take Eureka Smith, PA to Tokyo Sexwale, she meets and greets everyone from Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates to former US president, Bill Clinton.

    Excellent communication skills are essential, often you filter information, either top down or down up. You must have a very good sense of humour and excellent human relations ability.

    A top PA is good with organisation, assertiveness and project management. They add value. Being a PA is for many men and women a way to get an insider’s view, from the top, of how an organisation or industry works. They then use that knowledge to move into management themselves.
    * He or she will deal with bosses who are angels, and bosses that are monsters.

    One famous newspaper editor was known for throwing his typewriter or computer at whoever angered him, his exploits would always be precipated by a roar, a thud and some hapless journalist sprinting from his door. He was kinder to his PAs.
    * Sometimes you will have to handle difficult situations.

    One PA says: “In a previous job I was asked by one of my bosses to ask leading questions of a colleague – they believed that she was involved in fraud. She was later caught and put into prison. It was a really difficult thing to do at the time.”
    * There is often inspiration.

    For example, being trusted to put together international conferences.
    * What are the top attributes of a high performance PA?

    Stay in step with your manager, and if possible stay a step ahead. It may mean having a look at schedules; at the moment my boss is busy with conducting back to back interviews, so I have to make sure that life for her and her co-interviewers runs smoothly.

    Plan ahead; manage your time and theirs. Remember their need to travel to and from appointments, schedule time that allows for that.

    Be pro active. If they are not around step in and try and do what they would have done. Understand how they do business and how they feel about certain decisions.


    Managing the team

    Failures in team management are usually seen in a lack of accountability and too a situation where differences are enhanced rather than managed and excellence is not emphasised.

    Team is the most over-hyped term in management and business, it’s also a word rarely effectively applied - to the detriment of strong businesses, Liza van Wyk, CEO of major national training company, BizTech says.

    Sometimes managers or team leaders apply an often bullying, coercive approach to management that sees productivity drop and tempers flare. And there can be a number of obstacles to resolution including:
    Using power/money/coercion/connections/status as the basis for resolution
    Becoming a victim of perceived power
    Operating in a predominant ego state
    Using the ‘difficult person’ label
    Distorted communication and poor listening
    Failing to acknowledge emotions
    Superficial conflict discussions

    Van Wyk counsels: “Mis-using power in such a way causes sides to be pitted against one another, inevitably leading to a win-lose scenario.” Many political conflicts across the world typify this but what then happens is that “the most powerful side will get what it wants, encouraging an abuse of power. This in turn may result in ‘less powerful’ side to use negative forms of power to get their interests met.” And so we have protests, sabotage, strikes, arguments and workplace conflict.

    “It’s remarkable how much human behaviour is predictable and how little we learn unless we have been sensitised to observe our conduct and that of our team and to take the right measures to remedy problems,” Van Wyk says.

    Classic ways to generate rebelliousness in teenagers, partners, work associates and customers is to use verbal red flags, for example, “you’ll never change” (judging); “you are so stubborn” (personalising); “don’t you think you should” (manipulating); “that’s so typical of you” (labelling); “I’ll tell you what your problem is” (diagnosing) and “you always; you never” (generalising) – if you want to ensure your words are ignored, preface them with one of those verbal red flags.

    “In a good team and a healthy corporate or working environment, people feel free to engage in discussion, they welcome each other’s views. There is a general camaraderie at work and a buzz, an energy among people who enjoy working with each other. It takes constant work, but it is a far easier management solution than eternal conflict, high staff turnover and low productivity,” Van Wyk notes.


    Assertiveness and confidence ensures a better job

    A primary reason bosses give for not employing many work-seekers is a lack of assertiveness and confidence.

    Tshidi Mokgabudi, a director of KPMG noted: “It is not enough to just have a degree; people have to have life skills to get jobs. There were many that, despite having a degree, were not work-ready and lacked the soft skills of interpersonal communication, comprehension, listening ability, assertiveness or self esteem. Almost uniformly the graduates spoke of sacrifices often made by single mothers to send them to university.”

    CEO of Tsogo Sun, Jabu Mabuza recalls that a human resources director told him “that HR people are spoilt for choice when they seek to appoint someone. He said that having a degree doesn’t mean you can do the job; all that it says is that a person can complete an assignment. He said that there is more to work than donning a gown and saying I graduated.”

    A lack of assertiveness should be seen as an imperative for growth. Liza van Wyk, CEO of BizTech has always battled shyness. “It’s something I’ve taken deliberate measures to deal with,” van Wyk says, “but it is a major problem for many people young and old, and if they don’t learn how to manage it, it can delay progress.”

    Van Wyk points out that some of the most successful people in the world are shy – “Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and many of the world’s most famous comedians and actors. Johnny Depp once said that, ‘As a teenager I was so insecure. I was the type of guy that never fitted in because he never dared to choose. I was convinced I had absolutely no talent. And that thought took away all my ambition too.’ He did what we all have to do if we want to succeed; he swallowed his fears, projected self confidence and became better than the best at his chosen career.”

    She said that the type of people who came onto BizTech’s Mastering Confidence, Influence & Assertiveness Skills course were often staff whose bosses wanted them to move onto greater things because of their talents, but a lack of assertiveness and confidence was holding them back. “Some people become confused about assertiveness, they think it is about being loud and dogmatic. In fact, assertiveness is about taking responsibility and respectfully asserting your rights. The dictionary meaning of assertiveness refers to affirmation and a positive statement.

    “For example, it is aggressive to say, ‘you always interrupt me’ – an assertive statement, isn’t blaming, the individual takes ownership and will say something like, ‘I would like to say what I need to without interruption.’ As another example, an aggressive boss will say, ‘this is sloppy work’, whereas an assertive individual will respectively make the firmer point, ‘the punctuation in your document does not work.’ He or she makes a statement the individual being addressed can learn from and go away not feeling humiliated or angry.

    “We help people to set goals, give them problem solving skills and do group work in confidence building and assertiveness training. The results are often dramatic.

    “The mind is an incredibly powerful mechanism and we teach people how to use affirmations, role acting, visualisation and to reprogram their thinking so that they can project greater confidence even if their tummy is filled with butterflies. There are also obvious image considerations they have to use too, better dressing, walking tall, speaking clearly make them feel good and also ensure they are taken more seriously,” van Wyk said.

    Poor knowledge of English in spoken skills and comprehension is another major obstacle, including among native English speakers. Van Wyk advises companies to take deliberate measures to ensure staff receive regular training to improve written and comprehension competency in English.

    Nelson Mandela had wise advice for the new graduate: “There are certain precautions you should take to prepare yourself for a fruitful career. You must brush up your knowledge through systematic reading of literature and newspapers.”


    How to be an entrepreneur

    (Tips from UK entrepreneur and former Channel 4 chairman, Luke Johnson, Tatler, December 2009)

    Work with partners – you can bounce ideas off each other and reinforce each other’s strengths.

    Find businesses that don’t require capital – There are a lot of business that don’t require capital, particularly with the web, try to find one especially if it is your first business.

    Don’t be afraid of failure – Failure has happened to everybody.

    The only tragedy is giving up – Don’t do that. There have been plenty of hiccups for every entrepreneur; they are part of the package. You need to get used to it. Pick yourself up and move.

    Keep going.

    If you’re someone who doesn’t feel like you have the capability or ideas to invent something, try franchising.

    Get help with the numbers. This is very important.


    Call Centre Excellence

    In 2005, the McKinsey group said if managed correctly the call centre industry in South Africa could create 100 000 jobs by 2009, however, growth in the industry, while significant, has failed to meet expectations.
    Liza van Wyk, CEO of BizTech a top Johannesburg-based training company that has a successful in-house call centre training programme said, “South Africa has failed to meet its potential as a call centre destination especially from other countries despite a population that speaks relatively good English and has good education levels.

    “With the Soccer World Cup fast approaching we are seeing a dramatic escalation in the recruitment and training of call centre agents in a wide variety of fields whether tourism, medical, sports-related and transport fields to name just a few as we gear up to help almost half a million new visitors to South Africa,” Van Wyk said.

    “Being a call centre agent is an art. The ability to analyse a caller, predict situations that may arise that the agent may need to educate the caller on – without patronising them - and always seeking solutions that will benefit the company and leave the client impressed with the service can be tough. There is very high burnout in the industry.

    “South Africans can sometimes be dismissive or rude to clients which damages business relations. Call centre agents are exceptionally important but also the skills they learn on the job make them experts in whatever industry they are in whether medical, paralegal, IT or financial services. This is a professional career and the skills and knowledge acquired in the role can be the first step into a team leader or management position.

    “It is essential that South Africa starts exploiting the potential of this service to boost job creation. It requires very good, persistent training. Firstly, in recruitment the company has to ensure that the employee has good interpersonal skills that can be enhanced with additional training and coaching. There is no point hiring a person who does not like dealing with people or can’t handle their emotions,” Van Wyk noted.

    The call centre is often the frontline of the organisation. “First impressions count,” cautions van Wyk, “and call centre training has to ensure a good understanding of this complex environment from operating procedures to contact centre technology and even the psychology of callers.

    “The call centre agent needs to understand the bigger picture. They can make or break the service offered on one day by not adhering to schedules, being off the phones or not coming in to work. This has huge implications to service delivery, cost and adds additional stress to the other agents that are performing.”

    South Africa is Africa’s biggest economy and a huge market for BPO. Currently, almost 71 percent of call centres are n Gauteng, followed by Durban and Cape Town. The Eastern Cape has only two percent of South Africa’s call centre market.

    BizTech’s inhouse course on Contact Centre / Call Centre Service Excellence also looks at the skills needed to be a contact centre agent, how to interact and communicate with a client. “This is not an easy role and can be highly pressurised. The average life span of a call or contact centre agent is two years before they need to move into another area of the business. The risk to the company is high attrition rates and replacement costs that are on average equal to about two and a half months salary, but the advantages are that when an operator moves out of that environment he or she is an effective communicator, should be diplomatic, business savvy and able to work under high pressure,” Van Wyk said. “This is an industry that helps grow economies in many positive ways.”

    A suitable candidate for this environment is a person that is a good communicator, has the ability to learn on the job, can tolerate diversity, can empathise, listen effectively, questions appropriately and has a positive attitude that comes through on their call.

    Interpersonal skills and performance measurement and management are also part of the BizTech training course.


    Understanding the National Credit Act

    Increasing numbers of companies are putting staff through training courses about the National Credit Act so they can use it’s mechanisms as an aid to apply it correctly in the workplace, but also to help staff become more financially astute in the workplace and at home.

    "We are seeing a dramatic rise in companies sending staff onto courses especially to learn financial management skills and to learn the ins and outs of the National Credit Act – which economists agree has cushioned South Africa against some financial blows. Companies are improving financial management and showing heightened interest in ensuring managers, executives and administrators hold a tighter rein on cash flow and have the skills to improve financial assets," Liza van Wyk, CEO of BizTech said.

    "South African staff have poor financial literacy and as bad debt rockets, retrenchments rise and companies collapse leading to a predicted R70bn shortfall in tax collection. Most companies found 2009 painful. At first they followed tried and failed remedies of cutting back on staff and skills but now we are seeing more sending executives, managers and administration staff on skills and executive training courses to improve financial skills," Van Wyk said.

    "There is a realisation here that endless staff cutting starts impeding the ability of companies to recover and grow. What is needed is highly skilled, motivated staff to steer a company through troubled waters."

    Van Wyk said that there was particular interest in their course on the National Credit Act. "The National Credit Act since inception in 2006, has stopped many consumers from getting into the vicious cycle of debt. Initially companies complained that the Act was eroding their capacity to give loans and get new clients and now many are relieved that it has actually cut their bad debt and so they are seeking new ways of using the Act to ensure their staff know how to use it most appropriately to prevent client bad debt, but to also promote financial wellness in the workplace. The BizTech course ensures that delegates attending leave with an understanding of the Act, its purpose, how companies comply with the Act and how to apply the Act in their everyday life. There are too many cases of people signing away their cars or waiting too long before they seek help."

    Van Wyk gave the case of Stella Coetzee, a debt counsellor for debt counselling organisation ConsumerAssist in Cape Town. "She tells of a recent case of a single parent, a 35-year-old nursing sister from Wynberg Hospital who was too embarrassed to discuss her financial problems and was not aware that a debt counsellor could help her. The result is that her car was repossessed," Van Wyk said, "People do not know that their assets are protected due to the National Credit Act if they seek assistance from a debt counsellor. If that woman had gone for debt counselling she would have still had a car. The negative impact of people being hounded by creditors or losing their vehicles or homes is that productivity in the workplace collapses and so many companies send key staff onto the National Credit Act course to help inform other staff members on measures to protect them. Major companies like Woolworths, BMW, Absa and others have significant programmes to assist staff and clients avoid the negative consequences of bad debts."

    The National Consumer Forum made the following statement: "After years of promoting and profiting from excessive consumer borrowing and buying on credit, all players in the financial services sector... must ensure that those now trapped in a debt cycle are not simply abandoned."

    "BizTech stands by The National Consumer Forum’s plea for all parties concerned, including government, to channel more resources into educating consumers on financial matters," said Van Wyk. "The National Credit Act is there to protect companies and consumers and ultimately economic growth."

    She alluded to a speech by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan who noted:" Our financial institutions have not had to endure the same kind of corrective process that banks in the other countries have had to undertake. The combination of prudential regulations, banking regulations and the introduction of the National Credit Act served to moderate the desire to indulge in risky business practices."

    Van Wyk said she was encouraged by more companies, "paying closer attention to well-drafted legislation and using it to begin their own economic turn-around which ultimately will have a positive impact on the economy. Nothing will advance growth more than a stronger skills base and more productive staff."

    Book now for BizTech's National Credit Act course. All delegates receive a training manual,
    CD and one month telephonic support relating to the course content.

    Facebook is not your friend

    In South Africa, Duane Brady lost his job and faced criminal charges after posting allegedly defamatory messages on Facebook. In Canada, a woman off work for depression had her sick benefits suspended after she posted pictures showing her out, about and happy.

    “Social networking gives a false sense of camaraderie and family,” Liza van Wyk, CEO of BizTech says. “Many feel that their 1 000 new best friends on Facebook are a safe community and so they type information or post pics that are often ill-advised. We’re seeing increasing numbers of companies coming to courses trying to navigate their way around rapid changes in information technology law or those laws that apply to it. And how Facebook is used is a real concern.”

    Duane Brady was the first South African charged for posting defamatory messages on Facebook about his boss. Brady was charged with crimen injuria, a criminal offence committed when a person deliberately injures another’s dignity.

    Other charges that relate to Facebook cases have been around defamation or libel which essentially relates to publication, in any medium, to two or more people something that demeans another in the estimation of his or her peers.

    But there are other ways Facebook and social networking aids cyber-cops. Natalie Blanchard an IBM employee in Quebec, Canada was off work with depression and then noted her sick benefits stopped. When she asked why, her medical aid, Manulife Insurer, said they had seen photos posted since she had taken time off work at a party, a Chippendale’s show and a beach holiday and she looked happy. Manulife confirmed that it regularly trawled social networking sites looking for those who abused benefits.

    Warren Weertman who is one of South Africa’s top IT lawyers (he has also been involved in helping draft legislation), facilitates AstroTech’s “IT and the Law” course. He says a wide range of laws can apply to social networking. “If you are in an employer, employee relationship, not just Facebook but blogging, you have to remember to always act in the employer’s best interest, that is a common law compulsion.”

    You should also take into account the Regulation of Communications Act, he says, which allows employers to intercept and monitor communications, this includes what you post on your blog, emails, telephone calls, internet activity and faxes. “Copyright laws also apply. Employees should not disclose company information it can be subject to the Copyright Act. And disclosing other company information could be a breach of an employee’s fiduciary duties.

    “If you post: ‘my boss is an idiot’ or write something criticising the policies of the company you work for, you are bringing them into disrepute and that is unlawful.”

    Weertman says, “What I normally advise employees and employers to do is to have clear policies and procedures around blogging and social network pages. Establish guidelines around what you can do and what you can’t. We need to make employees aware that if they infringe policy there will be consequences and those must be spelt out. It is very important that companies put their policies and procedures around social networking on the company intranet site to ensure employees are aware of them.”

    Examples of aspects corporate social networking policies should consider having include:

    You may not divulge company sensitive information.

    You may only access Facebook before work, after and during lunch (unless an individual is involved in marketing or networking the company through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MXit, or blogs).

    If people want to blog they must have a manager’s written authorisation where it is related to work.

    Employees need to be aware of the fact that if they have something on a private blog it does not reduce their liabilities. If their conduct is considered inappropriate for their status, they may find their employer taking action against them, for example, a company involved in selling products to a primarily black market would not be happy if a key employee or one in the public eye revealed he or she was a Ku Klux Klan member.

    Although many companies have banned Facebook, as an example, there is a growing body that advise controlled access to social networking, especially for marketers. Van Wyk says, “companies need to assess what their needs are. Some might encourage client relationship managers and key executives to use LinkedIn, as an example, because its focus is on business networking.

    “The other thing companies are concerned about is that Facebook uses considerable bandwidth with lots of photographs and videos. Extensive use of videos as an example eats into bandwidth and could bring the company to a halt.” Van Wyk advises that companies explain to staff why they do not want them to use Facebook, or limit its use. “Tell staff why you are limiting Facebook, that productivity at work is important, but too that there are bandwidth considerations.”

    Weertman said a growing trend was among companies to start internal faux-Facebook sites to encourage departments to communicate better and to build team and staff loyalty.

    Become money wise

    Nothing provokes more lies than money and little tempts more shameless bragging. We all use money all the time and forget how hard it is to understand its workings. But a failure to understand finances also gets individuals, companies and governments into serious trouble.

    What we see in the training field is a fall-off in soft skills. There is a growing demand for training courses on financial management as companies realise more than ever the dangers of financially illiterate staff. Even those educated about finance are finding it difficult to assess today’s economic barometers.

    In South Africa at the beginning of 2009 economists were crowing about how this country was beating the global economic slump, but even as they spoke the economy was haemorrhaging jobs (we lost half a million jobs this year), exports fell 55% including vehicle exports, food prices continue to rise and strikes were high this year. What we can anticipate is that government too is going to take harsher steps against those that fail to deliver on VAT and tax returns. Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan has already warned that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is increasing its focus on tax compliance. Gordhan said: "At the moment, we are about R70-billion below our benchmark target for revenue.” This is a huge loss considering South Africa needs about R10bn over the next three years to create millions of job opportunities according to Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. The costs of salary increases for doctors alone will exceed R10bn and a National Health Insurance system when introduced, will cost a further R100bn a year.

    It has never been more important for companies to ensure their staff understand financial information and to market the fact that not only are they trying to comply with the National Credit Act to protect consumers, as an example, but as a caring corporate they are working to protect their staff and enhance their knowledge.

    Our courses on Graphs, Statistics and Numerical Reporting for PAs and Administrators and Finance 101 for PAs & Administrators answer the need for those who are in any way responsible for ensuring income generation or cash flow management, it helps understand the basis of financial reporting and how to display outcomes in superior ways. Our project management course teaches the art of getting things done on time and within budgets.

    When one considers that SARS issued 7 000 letters of penalties to businesses for not providing adequate staff information and there were a further 4 000 cases where employers had failed to submit their tax which have now been referred for criminal investigation and prosecution it underscores the importance of staff at senior levels being adept at financial management.

    The time to build competitive advantage is now – those companies swimming up through the financial whirlpool need to use it as a marketing tool. South Africans want to be more informed about their own financial affairs, those of their company and of the nation. But too, it is no longer understandable to confess that one is ‘a dunce when it comes to finance’ such cavalier attitudes are frowned upon. What is needed, however, is not merely more financial literacy but clever marketing about how clever companies know how to balance their books and build tomorrow.

    Managing HIV and AIDS in the workplace

    World Aids Day is on the 1 December 2009 and the World Aids Campaign has come up with the following slogans to try create an understanding between HIV and AIDS from a human rights perspective:

    I am accepted.

    I am safe.

    I am getting treatment.

    I am well.

    I am living my rights.

    Everyone deserves to live their rights.

    Right to Live.

    Right to Health.

    Access for all to HIV prevention treatment care and support is a critical part of human rights.

    Best practices in a workplace environment is to promote a non discriminatory work environment which can be achieved through the development of policies and programmes; awareness, education and training on the rights of all persons with regards to HIV and AIDS; support for employees infected or affected.

    The objectives of an HIV Programme are:

    Risk management.

    Creating awareness to prevent employees being infected or re-infected.

    Protect the ability of those who are living with HIV to fulfil their duties.

    Be prepared for those who may die.

    Care for those who are already ill and have resources or contacts available to assist with

    opportunistic diseases; hospice care and support for families of the employees.

    People with HIV and AIDS find it very difficult to accept their status and then to disclose to family, friends or work colleagues and therefore disclosure must be treated with dignity, respect and confidentially. Although HIV and AIDS is a medical condition, society has turned it into a social disease which results in stigma’s and discrimination. It is therefore up to you and your businesses to change this and allow those infected to manage their condition and then we can all live positively.

    Can you sell ice to eskimos?

    This is a phrase often used to refer to a good sales person. In our current times with global warming this will become an increasingly difficult task.

    Sales is a skill to create a demand and deliver value therefore your target market and clients need to be identified up front. Sales people are not there to trick a customer into buying something that they want you to buy. Yes there are some of those so called sales people out there but their working career will be short lived as their new Eskimo friend walks outside and realises that they have been “had”. The Eskimo will either go back inside and cancel the sale and or spread the word and tell all their friends and family about your shady business tactics and make it tougher for you (if not downright impossible) to sell ice in that neighbourhood.

    The days of the over-talkative, over-eager and over-bearing sales person are indeed over! Today’s salesperson is an outstanding communicator who understands how to make a difference in customers’ lives , while building long term relationships and achieving enthusiastic referrals.

    Sales can be conducted face to face, over the internet and telephonically. BizTech has some great tips for attention getting telephone techniques:

    Set the tone of the call

    Build rapport and ease tension

    Sell the idea of the product or service

    Find out more about your customer with specific and leading questions

    BizTech offers a variety of practical courses that can enhance your selling and sales techniques. Recently BizTech received a photograph of a beautiful brand new shiny silver Porsche with a big red bow on it. Alongside the Porsche, there was a guy standing and the guy had a really, really big smile on his face. Contrary to what you might think, No, this was not the proud new owner of the Porsche. So who was the smiley guy and why did our client send us a photo of him? The person in the photo was Saul Marks, a sales executive from Porsche Centre South Africa who had just sold the car, and the reason that it was a special Kodak moment, was that this was Saul’s very first sale of a Porsche. We received the photograph from David McCann from the training department of Porsche Centre South Africa, who wanted to share the good news with us since Saul had recently attended our training programme “Becoming the Most Successful Sales Person”.

    Service at its best

    Customers have more power and knowledge due to resources like the internet, media, access to customer reviews of a company or product and after sale discussions with friends and family.

    Customer Service is how you interact with your clients and how you portray yourself and the company even before the consumer is your client. In a customer service business it is important to have a positive attitude, be rational, and willing to help. If you are dealing with a client over the phone you need to ensure you are calm and friendly to set the tone for an open, honest and productive conversation.

    Dealing with customers on the phone is not easy as you have about a 70% communication gap because there is no body language or facial expressions for you to read. Therefore always be professional and have the following tools handy:

    Pen and notebook - taking notes of what your clients request is helps you to concentrate and listen effectively.

    Forms or documentation the client may request you to send or explain to them.

    Accessibility to the correct screens or system to assist you with the query.

    Sit upright

    And most importantly SMILE!

    Don’t be afraid to ask a client questions. Questions are asked to gather information; to determine the customer’s needs; to check understanding or to determine if the client is happy with your proposal. There are two types of questioning: Open ended or closed questions.

    Open ended questions help to gather information and often start with: how, what , when, who, where and which. ‘Why’ can also be used but may not be appropriate in a service environment, so rather use ‘what’.

    Closed questions are usually short and to the point with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. These are confirming questions.

    BizTech is a top training organisation in South Africa that offers a variety of courses to address customer service and personal development. Becoming the Best Customer Service Professional is a practical training course which assists delegates in understanding the global importance of service and the impact that individuals can make to ensure the company stays ahead of their competitors.

    Some of the tools and techniques that are covered in the course:


    Time Management

    Creating a better You

    Handling challenging encounters professionally

    Becoming the Best Customer Service Professional will be held from 12 to 13 October 2009 at the AstroTech Conference Centre in Parktown, Johannesburg. To book contact Hajira Asmal on 011 582 3300 or email training@biztech.co.za.

    Managing your time

    “A man who dares to waste one hour of his life has not discovered the value of life.” - Charles Darwin

    Time should be spent to work out how best to manage your time, what you want to achieve and what the benefits are for you. Time management is about putting systems in place that will assist you in spending more time on important goals and being productive.

    Benefits of good time management skills:

    You manage to free up time to focus on important goals.

    You will be more efficient and effective in getting the work done.

    You can make time for activities that will help you reach personal goals like going to the gym.

    You can have more time for the family.

    You will be successful in your personal and work life.

    You can reduce stress levels.

    There are several things we do that keep us from managing our time effectively. Take note of any that may apply to you:

    Trying to remember everything you need to do and all the places you need to go to.

    Doing what grabs your attention which might not be as important.

    Spending time on unnecessary tasks.

    Not spending enough time on top priorities.

    Fail to plan your activities for the day.

    Trying to work in a disorganised environment.

    Unable to say ‘no’ can result in you doing too much.

    Managing the vast mediums of communication like emails, sms, phones, fax or skype.

    The classic mistake in time management is the realisation that you may be very busy but it does not mean that you are productive or making a significant contribution.

    BizTech is a training organisation that recognises that in today’s time, time is valuable and there are many South Africans that are not coping and better time management can have huge positive impacts to their health. Mastering time and self management: become a high achiever is a popular practical training course which assists delegates in taking back control of their time.

    Some of the tools and techniques that are covered in the course:

    Daily planning

    Simple project management

    Techniques for decisiveness

    Developing an effective task list

    Using MS Outlook to increase productivity

    Mastering time and self management: become a high achiever will be held from 28 to 29 September 2009 at the AstroTech Conference Centre in Parktown, Johannesburg. To book contact Hajira Asmal on 011 582 3300 or email training@biztech.co.za

    Masterminding the perfect business function or event

    In June, President Jacob Zuma had a party after his state of the nation address. His event catered for 30 000 people. If he asked you to arrange a similar event, could you? So much goes into organising a business function or event whether it is for 10 people or 30 000 people.

    “When organising a function try under-promise and over-deliver,” advises Tracy Botha , events organiser at the AstroTech Conference Centre in Parktown Johannesburg. “Plan, organise and communicate to everyone all the time. Always double-check the finer details. For example, if you need to have a translator present or ensure the venue can accommodate those that may be physically challenged.” She continues to explain that it is important to draw up a project plan with the sequence of events and anticipate possible challenges and include a backup plan. “We saw with President Zuma’s state of the nation address the organisers had to think quick when it began raining and for the first time a President could not make a grand outdoor entrance he had to walk down the corridors of parliament to avoid being soaked.”

    When organising an event you should be able to provide the following details to a provider:
    Date, function type (meeting; training or cocktail event), number of delegates, seating arrangements, IT requirements, contact person, dietary preferences and lastly budget.

    BizTech offers a practical training course called Masterminding the perfect business function or event which will next be held at the AstroTech Conference Centre from 21 to 22 September 2009. The course will provide you with time management skills to plan correctly; how to communicate effectively internally and externally; and how to clearly outline what you want to achieve. “Effective planning will mean less stress and try keep the planning team small. Too many cooks spoil the broth,” cautions Botha.

    Tips for a successful function:

    Know what your boss or client expects and wants

    If you don’t get enough information at first, ask leading questions

    Know your budget

    Know your time frames

    Draw up a project plan

    Communicate, communicate and communicate (internally and externally)

    Get more than just a pat on the back or a thank you email. Attend this BizTech course and then organise the next business presentation or cocktail event and your guests will leave raving about every aspect from flower arrangements; to the venue; the service; the food; the sound and technology; the ambience. Success will be yours.

    Stand out of the crowd

    The University of Cape Town’s Dr Mike Herrington, director of the University of Cape Town Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the UCT Graduate School of Business who compiles the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor says too many young people give up before they have really begun – a lack of self confidence and assertiveness cripples them.

    BizTech's skills training course, Mastering Confidence, Influence and Assertiveness Skills helps individuals develop the confidence and social skills to manage others properly, to place orders confidently and to interact with co-workers or customers in an effective manner.
    These are a few of the very simple remedies found in the course that can boost your confidence:

    If you fear someone, visualise being pleasant and getting along well.

    Praise yourself to yourself.

    Allow time for thinking and planning – make a list, measure progress.

    Learn to empathise – look at situations from the point of view of others and try to understand why they behave the way they do.

    Bestow compliments generously.

    Begin the day positively think about the things that make you happy.

    Do nice things for others – it surprises them and makes you feel good.

    Learn new things, keep developing skills and acquiring new interests – and meeting new people.

    BizTech’s Mastering Confidence, Influence and Assertiveness Skills course provides more detailed hints and workshops within the course where delegates can begin trying out a range of new techniques. Liza van Wyk, CEO of BizTech loves to see the transformation of the delegates : “The course normally starts with a room full of nervous, desperately shy people and by the end of day two they are animated, open and actively involved in learning new techniques and applying them. It’s heartening to see how quickly people become uplifted, motivated and confident. It’s really easy once you know the techniques.”

    Good newsletters

    In a world where reputation is developed, maintained and enhanced by communication, especially written information, the newsletter is an essential tool to communicate with staff, clients, shareholders and investors.

    Too often the company newsletter is left to a junior staff member with no skills in gathering information, nor writing, editing or layout experience and so the company image is left in the hands of someone who may watch Survivor as an intellectual exercise.

    Serious companies understand that nothing quite beats the authenticity of paper and while an email gets scanned and deleted, the printed word lingers.

    The BizTech skills training course, “Key Elements of Successful Newsletters” sees mid-level support staff assigned to this exciting challenge go through two days where they learn everything from design to typography, text devices, size, texture, colour, value, space, rhythm and movement, balance, writing, editing and proofing, planning your schedule and budget, developing ideas and sources, printing and distribution, as well as e-newsletters among others.

    Good newsletters are those that deliver a fast read in crisp English and deliver pertinent information. They usually have high credibility because most don’t carry advertising and are targeted at a very tightly niched community, for example, the clients of a retail outlet, contractors for an under floor heating company or insurance brokers.

    E-newsletters have gained in popularity but still tend to have lower readership than printed newsletters reliant as they are on bandwidth, server speed, capacity of individuals to read, a lower capacity for graphic material and reluctance by many individuals to read screeds of material on the web or emails. PDF files, if used, may take longer to download and be seen as an extra click nuisance by some.

    The best newsletters are timely, engaging especially at a personal level, they carry important information perhaps statistics or new research which ensures people read each new edition and file them. People respond to the views of respected peers and news about people they may know, newsletters often offer a personal glimpse at an organisation or people within it.

    Encourage feedback, readers like to know that their views are respected.

    Transparency, being prepared to consult, engaging with criticism in a positive manner and in keeping your workforce and clients abreast of new developments and challenges are key to reputation development and management and little is better to begin with than an effective newsletter.

    Business etiquette

    We’ve all met them, those incredible female icons of business who not only look enviably stylish, but crack the hardest business deals with a gentle grace that belies a will of steel.

    Who would we nominate as the women who best combine style and business etiquette to leave an image that lingers long after their subtle perfume has left the room? Jane Raphaely who built up a publishing empire and conveys the grace of a Jane Austen heroine. Jenna Clifford, South Africa’s top jewellery designer, who can make jeans and a t-shirt look like couturier. Tshidi Mokgabudi, director at KPMG whose soft voice and impeccable grooming does not detract from a woman who makes things happen at work and in the wider community.

    How can you be like these enviable women? BizTech’s Managing your Image and Business Etiquette trainer Tanya Welling gives some of her top tips:

    Business Etiquette

    Today’s business environment is gender neutral, men and women are treated equally, however, studies show it is women who most often demean other women. Don’t get a reputation as the boardroom bitch, be professional to all colleagues.

    If you are communicating with someone in the office give them your undivided attention whether it is the chief executive officer or the cleaner. Respect is earned.

    Speak slower, all of us speak extremely fast and in a country with 11 official languages this often leads to miscommunication. There is an old saying that says, if you want someone to listen to you whisper; shout if you want aggression.

    The best way to leave a conversation is to summarise what has been said, then pause in case the individual wants to respond, after that say thank you and leave. Do not say ‘have you understood me’, or ‘are you clear’, you are not dealing with children. The original communicator has to end the conversation, if you phone someone it is you who has to end the conversation.

    When you join a firm a senior staff member must introduce you to people in the office. If the senior does not do this (and it is rude for him or her not to), you should introduce yourself to people. Always give a handshake and your full name and surname and the reason why you are introducing yourself eg, I am the new marketing manager. If you make a telephone call or receive a visitor, give your name, surname and reason for the call or visit.
    Five hot tips for etiquette:

      Be respectful of cultural preferences. For example, Muslims and Jews do not eat pork, while some Chinese love pork and also consider dogs edible. Americans love beef but Hindu’s consider cows sacred and do not eat beef.

      At an office function or business lunch, drink alcohol in moderation or none at all. Don’t talk loudly and avoid smutty jokes.

      “Please” and “thank you” are the most important words in the vocabulary of business etiquette.

      Avoid showing inappropriate physical affection to others – it could be construed as sexual harassment. Remember that cross-gender superficial intimacy remains a cultural taboo for most Muslims and many Hindus.

      Criticising or reprimanding someone in front of others is hurtful and shows insensitivity. Give praise where praise is due.

    Emotional intelligence

    If we are to beat low wage, high impact economies at their game, the old mantra of ‘work faster’ becomes meaningless. China and India have people power, we need to use brain power.

    Or as, Larry Page, one of the founders of emotionally intelligent corporation, Google, said in the book of the same name: “There is a phrase I learned in college called ‘having a healthy disregard for the impossible.’ This is a really good phrase. You should try to do things that most people would not.”

    Within less than a decade of helping found Google and barely past his 30th birthday he was personally worth $10bn. At Google they have five star chefs churning out organic, healthy meals for staff and 20 percent of your paid work time has to be spent, each week, on doing a project that has nothing to do with your job – it can be anything from skydiving to art lessons.

    More companies are closely looking at what first seemed to be 1990s psycho-babble: emotional intelligence.

    Emotional intelligence comes from work on brain potential. If one sees the brain as an onion, it has a small inner core, the R-complex, surrounded by a larger limbic system, and an outer skin called the neocortex.
    The R-complex regulates reflex survival behaviour: flight or fight, social rituals (it’s the part that gives you sweaty palms) and body language (tightly crossed arms during conflict).

    The limbic system generates and controls emotions and motivation. If you pay attention to the limbic and R-complex elements of a situation your ability to make good decisions will be enhanced, especially if the mediating neocortex expresses its gentle pressure. If you ignore them, you’re more likely to shout back at the boss and storm out.

    BizTech’s sister company , AstroTech has it on their training schedule, because CEO Liza van Wyk says, “more companies have a holistic approach to management. Development of the individual is as important as developing the brand, and teamwork in today’s high stress environments is critical.”

    Mvelaphanda, Discovery Health and game resort emperors, CC South Africa, have emotional intelligence as core operating beliefs.

    Samantha Burns, head: employer brand management at Discovery said most managers tend to be “results oriented, but if there is not enough balance to the human element they get poorer results. Emotional intelligence from a manager improves focus and the results of a team and liberates the potential of people to get better results. Some managers feel uncomfortable in the beginning, because instead of just making demands they have to sit and discuss with staff. Once they realise the power of those conversations and too, the way their body language can shut people up and stop people hearing, and change that, they get much better results.”

    Emotional intelligence is the preserve of the super confident manager.

    A natural at EQ is Tokyo Sexwale head of Mvelaphanda, a multi billionaire, his operations include South Africa’s biggest producers of gold, second biggest exporters from South Africa of diamonds, world’s fourth biggest platinum producers, and yet every Friday he sits down to lunch with his staff.

    “EQ,” he makes clear, “has nothing to do with IQ.” He says EQ often fails when bosses, “demand outcomes on those who are wrongly deployed, this person may be a navigator, not a pilot.

    “Emotional intelligence means I find time. Time to sit among my people and enjoy their company. I take time to listen.” It is in listening that an effective manager best discovers the passions of his or her team members and is better able to direct and influence them.

    Bev Riemer, an EQ consultant and BizTech trainer has been teaching emotional intelligence for years. She says emotional intelligence is tapping into the primeval power of our instinct.

    Instinct is the thing that tells you not to cross the road. But, you look and the road is empty, your rational mind thinks, ‘I’m being silly’, you step off the pavement and get knocked over by a bus.

    The primary issues Riemer focuses on are emotional honesty, literacy, debt, emotional fitness. For example, with emotional fitness, your instinct might be to give your boss a piece of your mind, “but that may get you no further in business. Emotional intelligence guides you to the right approach. Many people don’t like emotional honesty because it makes them feel uncomfortable, it may have something to do with the way in which you speak to a person, or the way in which the person receiving that information may pick it up.”

    Your negative filters; your perceptions that you will be discriminated against because you are black, a woman, Jewish, Muslim, disabled, can lead to your own fears realizing themselves, not because of the discrimination of others, but because of your own negative preprogramming.

    Because of this, emotional debt is an important part of emotional intelligence, Riemer says it is “recognising your own weaknesses, where is my potential, how do I overcome obstacles?” Riemer says that in those companies that implement EQ, “the levels of trust and energy are incredible. Heirarchy is not important, ability is.” She says the greater sense of personal acknowledgement a person has in an organization, the harder they will work for it.

    Trouble free travel planning for PA’s

    One of BizTech’s most popular courses helps personal assistants and administrators deal with the nightmare of multiple airline, car hire, accommodation, subway tickets and other challenges of booking corporate travel.

    In 2007, 44% or 12.7 million South Africans took 39 million trips in South Africa and spent R22.2 billion. Globally trans-continental travel increased by 6,6% from 846 million people catching trains, busses and planes to go to new destinations to 903m in 2007 and during their travels they spent $856bn according to United Nations statistics. Business travellers accounted for 12,2% of these travellers in 2007, compared to 11,6% in 2006 and despite better telecommunications more people are travelling to seek new markets, find work and strike deals.

    “Business travel is a huge market and on average has the highest expenditure of any other type of traveller,” Liza van Wyk, CEO of business support training organisation, BizTech said. “If you take as two examples: the Institute of Travel Management of Southern Africa represents around a fifth of business travellers in the region, and they say their average member company spends anything from less than R1m a year on travel expenses to R450m plus a year.”

    In 2007, 9m foreigners visited South Africa of which 6,6m came from the rest of Africa and 1,4m from Europe contributing R159,6bn or 8,1% to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product.”

    Travel planning has become a highly skilled operation for the average business, the people who book need to know how to source the best deals and schedule optimal timing to get the business passenger from destination to destination quickly, efficiently and inexpensively

    BizTech’s course, Trouble Free Travel Planning for PA’s is consistently well-attended. These are some of the tips you will learn on the course:

    Never assume someone else is going to do something, do it yourself or double-check.

    Compile a master itinerary of airline data, contact telephone numbers, names and addresses, driver’s details and the like.

    Confirm everything in writing.

    Ensure the person travelling has briefing notes about his or her company and any relevant data about those he or she will meet and tourist information about the city or cities they are visiting especially recommended restaurants.

    Allow adequate transit time between meetings.

    It’s advisable for those who travel often to have an emergency case packed and in the office, ensure it has in it regular medication, spare glasses or contact lenses and the like.

    Keep a record of credit card details in case they get lost.

    Find out if there is special social etiquette for the country being visited and inform the traveller.

    Ensure he or she has enough stationery for the trip including spare pens, a notebook, memory stick, letterheads, business cards and adaptors.

    Make sure the traveller’s passport always has sufficient spare pages, he or she is up to date with vaccinations or carries travel meds for example, anti-diarrhoea medication or malaria tablets and has travel and medical insurance to cover them while they are away and any necessary visas.

    BizTech’s Trouble Free Travel Planning for PA’s helps the busy personal assistant think beyond merely booking a ticket for a colleague or executive to accommodation for a client, to interrogating how best he or she can function effectively and efficiently in a foreign country and have time available to relax and unwind. Book for the next course from 20 to 21 April.

    Never lie on your cv

    It’s the end of the year, you have your bonus, have submitted your resignation, and it’s time to move on and so now is the time to brush up your CV. Be careful, don’t lie, employers either know it or will find out or will send your CV to organisations that do nothing else but look for lies in CVs – don’t get listed among recruiters as a liar, you’ll never find a job.

    Frequent lies are those who claim to have degrees and don’t, or have stupidly bought a fake degree on the internet, a simple phone call to the registrar of the university you claim to have studied at is enough to get you found out.

    Other frequent lies are people claiming they studied at places that don’t exist, others CNN listed include:

    Job seeker submitted a résumé with someone else's photo inserted into the document

    Candidate claimed to be a member of Mensa (organisation of very clever people)

    Applicant claimed to have worked for the hiring manager before, but never had

    Job seeker claimed to be the CEO of a company when he was an hourly employee

    Job seeker included samples of work, which were actually those of the interviewer

    Most companies won’t employ a liar.

    How do you make a CV stand out without resorting to dishonesty?

    Be the first in line. The skills crisis means that employers are inundated with applications. A good way to break out from the crowd is to be the first one in line. Sign up for e-mail alerts and perform daily searches for jobs in a specific field or industry.

    Use keywords. Many HR departments are using new technology to review job candidates on the internet. Applicant tracking systems scan CVs and provide the managers with a ranking based on keywords in the document. Among the terms employers searched for most often: "problem-solving and decision making skills," "oral and written communication," "customer service," "retention," "performance" and "productivity improvement," "leadership," "technology," "team-building," "project management" and "bilingual."

    Stand out. Most hiring managers spend a minute or less looking at résumés. Think of your CV as a written audition. You have a limited window of opportunity to have the attention of the hiring manager, so make the most of it. Focus on specific accomplishments and tangible, positive results that you achieved at previous jobs. Don’t have a page that has nothing but your name on it. Put the most recent information first with your best achievements. Mention all the BizTech courses you have been on, keep the certificates.

    Be honest. If you have a gap in employment periods, explain why. Mention volunteer work or classes to show that your skill set is still current and highlight what you have accomplished. People often forget to include volunteer work; part-time jobs and freelance work in a CV, even though that work is often relevant to your career path.

    Use simple language. Lots of people think big words count and then use them incorrectly. Use simple language, short sentences and spell and grammar check your CV before posting or sending it out.

    If you did not complete a degree, do not claim that you did; college and university attendance is easy to verify. List graduation date and the time frame you attended any institutions.

    Year-end office party - don't risk your career

    Tough, tough, tough! That is what many are saying about 2006. Now, the festivities are here and we look forward to winding down, reflecting on what we achieved and also on what the future holds in 2007.

    Let’s face it; our thoughts are on the beach and, of course, on the year-end office party! Whether the party is a highlight or a necessity, remember, what you see as a simple get-together with colleagues, could greatly improve your image or see your career crashing with that last drink that turns you from salesman of the year to office clown.

    Gina Meintjes, Marketing Executive of Kelly, SA’s largest people organisation, says, “It is crucial that you view office parties as business events. Your behaviour is in the spotlight and it is largely your conduct in a social environment that impresses your boss giving the reassurance that you are the right person for the job. Leaving the party with your reputation intact makes a statement about your professionalism, social skills and ability to handle any situation with the interest of your career in mind, not to mention the company’s best interests as well.”

    But don’t think you cannot enjoy the party. It is a time to have fun, build on those vital internal relationships and enjoy the company of your colleagues in a more relaxed environment.

    Meintjes says that this is a vital part of developing your career and impressing your boss. “There are ways to have fun while your career progress remains on track. Use the function to your best career advantage.”

    Here are some career-enhancing party tips from Kelly:

    Should I go or should I stay. Make sure you do attend; not attending could leave the impression that you are not part of the team. And when you attend, arrive on time and don’t party until breakfast the following day.

    Who’s invited? Don’t assume your spouse has been invited. Check first to avoid embarrassment.

    Social or business. Remember, office parties are social events to reward employees, but they remain strictly business events. Act like your behaviour is being watched every minute; it probably is.

    Behaviour. Be professional at all times. This is not the time to blow off steam. It’s a company function; proper etiquette matters.

    What do I wear? Again, remember you are in the spotlight. Inappropriate and revealing outfits are best left for clubbing with your friends. This is a business function; you can express your individuality, but remember in this instance less is NOT more. Rather err on the side of caution.

    Keep shop talk for the shop floor. Don’t spend all evening talking business. You are in a different environment that is not conducive for quick meetings. And don’t complain or trash colleagues and save the silly pranks.

    What do I talk about? Certainly not politics, religion or controversial subjects. Show interest in other topics. Keep conversations upbeat. Never gossip.

    Flirting with colleagues. As they say; there is a time and a place for everything. The year-end office function is definitely not the place to start flirting with colleagues. Keep your behaviour light-hearted, yet professional.

    Courtesy. Stand up to greet people as they come around. Remember to always introduce your spouse; nothing spoils an evening for a spouse more than standing aside while you share inside jokes and comments with work mates.

    Eat, drink and be merry, but all in moderation. Don’t abuse the open bar facility. Moderation is key to ensure you are not noticed for the wrong reasons.

    Network. Take the time to speak to those people you do not get the chance to during the year. Pay special attention to those who can enhance your career, like top management and people from other departments who are often taken for granted. Build business relationships, but keep it tactful. Remember your colleagues and bosses are also there to unwind and don’t want to be tagged all party long.

    Be culturally savvy. While it may be Christmas time for you, don’t assume everyone celebrates the same holiday. This is a year-end function. Stay away from traditional Christmas celebrations and greetings like “Merry Christmas”.

    Be gracious. Make sure you thank the organisers. It is often a thankless task and to get the event to the point where all staff can relax and enjoy it, has taken a lot of painstaking preparation. Do send a thank you note to top management for hosting the party afterwards.

    Never drink and drive. Make sure you arrange a lift or a designated driver, even if you only have two or three drinks. That second drink can take you over the limit and being a responsible citizen, you should not be driving!

    Meintjes concludes. “No matter how festive the event, office parties are still about business. While letting down your hair after a long and exhausting year, keep in mind that one night of unintended slip-ups can seriously impact your career. And, as they say; prevention is always better than cure!”

    Watch your language in emails

    We take email communications for granted, but the way you write and respond to emails says a lot about you and if you communicate badly by email it could lose your work.

    Because business writing (and personal communications) is so important, BizTech has a number of courses to help you hone your skills, they include: Key Elements of Successful Newsletters and Business Writing: The Unwritten Rules but in a number of other courses facilitators stress the importance of how you communicate verbally and in writing.

    Some simple rules:

    Keep your language simple, big words often show small minds, especially if the words are used incorrectly.

    Never use sms language when sending an email or any other form of written communication.

    Have a gracious beginning ‘Dear John’ or ‘Dear Ms Dhlomo’ (do not use a first name unless you know the person and know they are comfortable with that) and end ‘yours sincerely’, ‘best wishes’, ‘regards’ and sign off with your full name if it is a business communication.

    Do a spell and grammar check – UK or South African English, never US – before sending.

    Exclamation marks ! are considered bad writing style, avoid them.

    Never have multiple punctuation marks together eg ????

    Type using proper punctuation, all caps MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO READ AND CAN BE CONSIDERED AS SHOUTING; on the other hand all lower case makes you look poorly educated.

    If any email states to forward it all your friends, or just 5 people -- do everyone a favour: hit delete

    Don't forward emails that say to do so. Regardless of how noble the cause appears to be, most are hoaxes. Don't just forward it without investigating its authenticity at www.snopes.com

    Judith Kallos, who is the author of ‘Because netiquette matters!’ - a comprehensive reference guide to email etiquette and proper technology use says we judge others based on:

    What they do

    How they look

    What they say

    How they say it

    Judgements about how you communicate include:

    What kind of human being you are (or are not)

    Your level of professionalism

    How credible you are

    How ethical you are

    If you want to brush up on your email manners try the following sites:

    Judith Kallos’ email etiquette website, books and free Tools @ Netm@nners.com

    To brush up on the etiquette for basically anything ranging from business and email to dating and tipping etiquette, visit 123etiquette.com

    Take the Netmanners.com netiquette quiz.

    Living a life of value

    How well do you manage your life? You have the job you always dreamed of, great car, nice house – but sometimes you get a niggling feeling, is this all there is?

    You aren’t successful unless you are living a well rounded life. This poem from a Wall Street stockbroker is something we should all return to regularly and reflect: how well am I managing my life?

    I Have Arrived.

    I have not seen the plays in town
          only the computer printouts
    I have not read the latest books
          only the wall Street Journal
    I have not heard the birds sing this year
          only the ringing of phones
    I have not taken a walk anywhere
          but from the parking lot to my office
    I have not shared a feeling in years
          but my thoughts are known to all
    I have not listened to my own needs
          but what I want I get
    I have not shed a tear in ages
          I have arrived
    Is this where I was going?

    - I Have Arrived, Natasha Josefowitz

    How to fire someone

    Firing people is one of the worst parts of being a leader, and there are countless ways to botch the job. We've all heard the horror stories: the retail electronics chain that retrenched hundreds of workers via text message; the middle manager who brought his daughter to work only to discover a security guard standing at his desk ready to escort him out of the building. They exemplify what not to do when you have to let people go: demean them. When you fail to treat even the most wayward employees with dignity on their way out the door, you run the risk of courting bad karma - or even a lawsuit. Remember too to follow the law to the letter, in South Africa know Section 8 of the Labour Relations Law off by heart, give the staff member three warnings, have a disciplinary and ensure you follow your company’s disciplinary procedures to the letter. Career coach Cynthia Shapiro's advises:

    Don't let it come as a surprise. Employees can't be expected to conform to your expectations if you don't tell them what they are. If a staffer is flouting company policy or behaving badly, be clear about what needs to change and what will happen if the behaviour persists. Then, you can fire them with a clear conscience.

    Don't avoid conflict. Many managers are so uncomfortable delivering the final blow that they delegate the job to HR or an underling, but this will only enflame the situation, Shapiro warns. Show your employees the respect of giving them the news yourself.

    Don't deviate from company protocol. If you're preparing to fire a worker, take the time to sit down with HR and familiarise yourself with company guidelines. You may leave the company open to being sued if an employee doesn't receive the requisite number of warnings, or these warnings go undocumented.

    Don't make promises you can't keep. In the heat of the moment, you may be tempted to volunteer to help a distraught employee find a new job. But don't do this unless you're prepared to follow through.

    Do exercise empathy. Following company protocol is important, but so is demonstrating humanity - so be kind. "Company policy dictates parameters," says Shapiro, "Within them, you need to exercise as much care and integrity as you can."

    Do give them constructive feedback. Because of the ever-increasing risk of lawsuits, many companies have a policy against telling people why they're being fired. But do whatever you can to let people know what behaviours may get them into trouble at their next job.

    Do have their money ready for them. Being fired sends many people into an immediate financial panic. You can help alleviate their worries by making sure that you have a pay cheque ready for them to take home that day. (Marshall Loeb - Dow Jones, with some amendments to conform to South African laws and conditions by BizTech)

    Knowing what those challenging interview questions really mean

    Understanding the hidden meaning behind key questions can give you a vital edge in winning interviews. BizTech’s course, Let’s Talk Business: Verbal Communication for the Business World from 29 to 30 September will teach you the importance of language in advancing your career and developing your business skills, here are a few more tips:

    Employers look for specific examples of your competence in a range of job related areas.

    Highlight positive examples where you have proven success or expertise and show how you can add value to the business.

    Tell me about yourself
    MEANS – Can you sell yourself.
    - Give a quick snapshot of your career history, skills and personality to show you in the most positive light. Do not waffle and do not reveal intimate information.

    Why did you apply for the job?
    MEANS - How motivated are you?
    APPROACH - Research the job beforehand, state the benefits you expect to gain and also those you offer. Explain why you want this job, why you like the company and how you believe you can grow with them. DO NOT go on about why you hate your existing job.

    What do you do in your spare time?
    MEANS - Are you a rounded person. However, be wary as it could also mean would your hobbies interfere with work?
    APPROACH - Go over your outside interests quickly, emphasising any work-related skills they give you.

    When have you been involved in teams?
    MEANS - Are you a team player?
    APPROACH - Highlight any work related team roles but you can also add out of work activities.

    What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
    MEANS: Are you self-aware and capable of developing?
    APPROACH - Link your strengths to the job. Choose positive weaknesses and turn them into strengths e.g. ‘I sometimes get frustrated when people don’t work to my standards because I take great pride in my work’!

    Why should we employ you?
    MEANS- Can you add value to the company?
    APPROACH - Make brief but compelling comparisons between the job description and your skills and again use specific examples and facts to reinforce your answer.

    When did you last work under pressure or deal with conflict and how did you cope?

    MEANS - Can you cope with problems efficiently?
    APPROACH - Give an example and how you dealt with it successfully.

    Where would you like to be in five years time?
    MEANS - How committed and motivated will you be?
    APPROACH – They want to see that you are ambitious and goal oriented. Think of some of the functions and responsibilities you would hope to have within that company – if you are applying for a desk job in a city and you say you hope to be waitressing on a cruise liner, you won’t get the job, it shows scant commitment to the job at hand.

    Sell me this product
    MEANS -
    Can you think on your feet?
    APPROACH – Be prepared and practice for such a question, do your homework on the company and the products they sell and confidently demonstrate your skills.

    What salary do you expect?
    MEANS - How do you rate yourself?
    APPROACH – Say you rate yourself highly. Research the market rate for similar roles and either give a salary you consider appropriate or a range to show you’re prepared to be flexible. OR say you’d prefer to know how much they pay and then say whether it is what you expect.

    Before you give up on your present job

    Changing jobs can be traumatic. Before you look for a new job, consider ways that you could make yourself happier and more successful where you are. Overcoming obstacles is the gateway to real power, so try these tips first:

    Communicate with your supervisor better.

    Ask for more money if you think you deserve it.

    Ask to take on projects that interest you.

    Ask for help if you need it.

    Don't get bogged down by personal issues beyond your control.

    Sign up for a new course to boost your skills or keep an eye out for public discussion forums at training centres, business schools or universities so you can hear innovative ideas and expand your knowledge.

    Communicate with your supervisor.
    As hard as it may be to bring up issues with your boss, open and honest communication is the only way to resolve that which may affect your performance or happiness at work. Most supervisors will do what they can to remove difficulties but are probably not aware of them unless you bring it up. When you talk to your boss, be professional and positive. Don't blame and have ideas for solutions.
    It's time for a new job if: Your boss is defensive and not interested in helping find solutions.

    Ask for more money if you think you deserve it.
    If you believe you are being paid unfairly compared to other employees or compared to the market then ask for a raise or a bonus. Supervisors would rather have the chance to keep a good employee before they start looking for a better paying job. But bear in mind too that these are hard economic times, any raise is unlikely to be big. Make a list of contributions you've made throughout the year that prove you are making a difference to the company's bottom line. Find out what the fair market value for your position is. If they can't or won't give you what you're asking for, ask what you can do to move up the pay scale.
    It's time for a new job if: There doesn't seem to be an adequate and fair pay structure or review process.

    Ask to take on projects that interest you.
    You may be getting bored with the same tasks and projects day after day, or year after year. Why not volunteer to take on new things as well? Yes, that means more work, but it also gives you more experience in areas that interest you and can break up the monotony of your usual tasks. It will show your boss too, that you are committed to the company and want to advance.
    It's time for a new job if: There are no opportunities for you to grow and learn new things.

    Request help if you need it.
    If you're unhappy because you have too much work and not enough support, tell your boss! He or she may not realize how swamped you are. There may be an easy solution.
    It's time for a new job if: You're asked to keep working extra hours even after you address the problem with your boss.

    Don't get bogged down by personal issues.
    Work environments often cause tension. There may be real or perceived favouritism or someone who isn't carrying their weight. Letting this affect your job and your happiness is not productive. Focus on projects and your goals and let the personal issues go.
    It's time for a new job if: You're just not comfortable with the corporate culture in general. Find a workplace that suits your personality and you'll be happier.

    Study further
    The more degrees, diplomas or certificates you can show on your CV the more interested employers will be in you. In today’s globalised world lifelong learning is essential. The company you work for now will value you more if you take the initiative to study or draw their attention to quick courses like those at BizTech where you can learn valuable information fast and at a relatively low cost. Never underestimate the importance of networking, the people you meet on courses or when attending public discussions could give you introductions to a new career. Stop sitting back, take yourself and your career seriously.

    And if you feel it is time to move on then post your resume on internet sites or with recruitment agencies and let employers do the searching.


    Managing change

    When people are confronted with change, especially when it's 'enforced', as they see it, they can become emotional. Coping is part of a learning process.BizTech’s training courses and business support techniques are filled with an array of courses that build the emotional intelligence of an organisation. These administrative and management tools ensure that change, new procedures, diversity management, the development of new strategies are easier to accept.

    Diffusing emotional feelings and encouraging objectivity are important to enabling sensible and constructive dialogue.

    Be wary of expressions like 'mindset change', and 'changing people's mindsets' or 'changing attitudes', because this language often indicates a tendency towards imposed or enforced change. It implies that the organization believes that its people have the 'wrong' mindset, which is not the case. Change such as new structures, policies, targets, acquisitions, disposals or re-locations create new systems and environments, which need to be explained to people as early as possible, so that their involvement in validating and refining changes can be obtained. Two day business support courses through BizTech can provide some of the problem solving techniques you need.

    Whenever an organization imposes new things on people there will be difficulties. Participation, involvement and open, early, full communication are important.

    People and teams need to be empowered to find their own solutions and responses, with facilitation and support from managers, and tolerance and compassion from leaders and executives. Management and leadership style and behaviour is more important than clever process and policy. Employees need to be able to trust the organization.

    The team leader or corporate executive must agree and work with these ideas, so change is less likely to be painful.

    John Kotter's highly regarded books 'Leading Change' (1995) and the follow-up 'The Heart Of Change' (2002) give models to understand and manage change. Each stage acknowledges a key principle identified by Kotter relating to people's response and approach to change, in which people see, feel and then change. The steps are:

    Increase urgency - inspire people to move, make objectives real and relevant.

    Build the guiding team - get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment and the right mix of skills and levels.

    Get the vision right - get the team to establish a simple vision and strategy, with the emotional and creative aspects necessary to drive service and efficiency.

    Communicate for buy-in - Involve as many people as possible, to communicate the essentials and respond to people's needs.

    Empower action - Remove obstacles, enable constructive feedback and lots of support from leaders - reward and recognise progress and achievements.

    Create short-term wins - Set aims that are easy to achieve.

    Don't let up - Foster and encourage determination and persistence. Highlight achieved and future milestones.

    Make change stick - Reinforce the value of successful change via recruitment, promotion, new change leaders. Weave change into organizational culture.

    Beating inflation & avoiding debt

    Start with your short-term debt. Make use of your 13th cheque to reduce debt.

    Pay a bit extra into your bond each month. Just an extra R100 a month on a bond of R500 000 will save you R46 000 in interest payments.

    Take this time to shop around for better mortgage rates especially if your salary has increased or your property has increased in value. Cutting 50 basis points off your current bond rate will give you breathing space should there be another rate hike. At some point the cycle will turn and interest rates will start to come down. Maintain your current payments and you will not only reduce the period of your bond repayments but be able to weather future interest-rate storms.

    Make your credit-card issuer work for you:
    If you really want to make your credit-card issuer work hard for your business, Virgin Money suggests you ask the following questions:

    What is the interest rate that it levies for negative balances?

    What interest rate does it offer for positive balances?

    Are these positive interest rates tiered based on the amount of money deposited?

    If the repo rate changes, does it pass on the full benefits of a higher interest rate for a positive balance?

    How many times has it increased its negative-balance interest rate when the repo rate increased, but never bothered to increase the interest rate by the same amount for positive balances?

    When you apply for a credit card, can you easily find all the information on its website or through its call centre that you require to make an informed decision?

    How much are you paying in bank charges?
    South African bank charges are the highest in the world. Shop around for cheaper rates. FNB as an example has made all cellphone banking and telephone banking transactions free, along with the purchase of prepaid airtime and electricity, ATM balance enquiries and ATM cash deposits.
    But it has increased fees on cash deposits and withdrawals at branches by 2,2%. FNB has also reduced its annual card fee. The potshots Virgin Money has recently taken at their competitors may have prompted FNB to rethink its strategy. FNB has standardised the annual card fee across all cards, so you won’t pay more for a gold card, which Virgin Money pointed out provided little additional value. The flat annual fee across all cards is now R155, but customers who sign up for the electronic service offering will only pay an annual card fee of R99.

    Negotiating a pay increase

    Prepare before making an appointment to see your boss.

    Know your worth in the marketplace, research in newspaper ads and through recruitment agencies how much on average, people in your profession or job category earn.
    Next, write a list of your accomplishments since the last evaluation. Be specific, use numbers to show increased revenue, higher sales or new clients for the company to make a business case for the raise you want. Give an idea of the hours you work and any special benefits you bring to the job. Show him or her work that you do over and above your normal duties that show your commitment and dedication to the company.

    Then put yourself in the boss’s shoes and consider how he or she likes to receive information — whether it’s in the form of data-heavy bullet points, a written document or a verbal presentation and present your case. It’s always a good idea to have a written document (spell and grammar checked) to present to him or her so they can reflect on your demands afterward.

    Prepare yourself psychologically. Focus on what you’ve earned, not what you believe you deserve.

    Then set up a specific time to meet with your boss, ensure it is not at a time of day or during the month when he or she is either exceptionally busy or stressed and will have scant time to give your application the thought it deserves.

    Negotiating is the process of making mutually beneficial exchanges; persuasion is trying to change someone’s attitude or values. People often confuse the two and wind up undermining their own effectiveness. If your meeting will focus on the amount of your compensation, it’s a negotiation, with you stating the benchmarks you’ve hit and using that to justify what you want.

    You will need to use persuasion if someone higher-ranking than your immediate supervisor has control over compensation decisions. In that situation, you must enlist your boss as your ally. Your goal then is attitudinal, not transactional: go into that discussion having thought through this first: ‘What are your beliefs about my contribution to the last project I did? What can I do to change your beliefs?’ Have the answers already worked out in your head and anticipate any disagreements or questions your superior might have – have thoughtful answers for those too, be prepared to admit failures, but have a longer list of successes to present.

    It’s likely, however, that your boss has barely been thinking about you at all, which usually means that you’re doing a good job. In that case, your meeting is all about raising awareness, of precisely how exceptional your performance is.

    Trying to argue for a raise based on what is happening in your personal life is generally considered bad form. It’s not your boss’ problem that your wife is pregnant, or your kid’s school fees are high. Don’t whine. This is about your performance, not about your life outside of work. A manager might be sympathetic to you, but those aren’t strong arguments.

    Let the boss make the first suggestion about a raise - that sets the lower limit. If your boss intended to give you an 8 percent raise and you suggest 6 percent, you can’t change your mind and say, ‘No, I meant 8 percent.’

    If you’re forced to make the first move, always ask for more than you think you can get.

    If the company’s stock price is way down and people are being laid off, asking for a raise could make it appear that you are blind to what’s going on around you. You will be unlikely to get an increase in these circumstances, be grateful for the job.

    If it looks as if pay increases will be low or won’t happen, you can always ask for something other than money, like a larger office, a better title, flex-time or more overtime or holiday time.

    Understanding body language

    Body language can tell you a lot about what a person thinks of you or the message you are conveying. Understanding these silent hints can help a lot in the workplace, especially during interviews or when trying to sell items to people. A way to learn the secrets of body language is to watch television with the sound turned off and try to interpret what is being said by reading body language. Humans say a lot with their mouth which is contradicted by their body, gestures and other channels of communication. Messages are ambiguous.

    But take care, cultural differences can also influence body language and meaning in one culture can mean something else in another. For example, in Greece, you nod your head for 'no', and shake your head for 'yes'.

    Tilting your head signals that you are friendly or empathetic. This is claimed to be a consequence of your mother tilting her head when she listened to you as a child. It showed she wanted to comfort you. We continue to do this even after we've grown up and don't have our mother there to do so anymore. We pat ourselves on the cheek, on the arm, or rub our hands together.

    Perhaps you hold your hands close to your face when you talk - generally, this is a sign of insecurity. The same is true if you roll a beard or moustache with your hands or fix your hair, perhaps pushing or curling it behind an ear.

    The way that people sit in chairs is not coincidental. If you are lounging with arms and legs dangling, it is probably a sign that you are relaxed and feeling comfortable. If you are positioned on the edge of the chair with your legs stretched before you and your feet crossed it can signal indifference. Someone going to the dentist or waiting for a job interview might be seated on the edge of the chair with his or her feet together. Body tension spreads to the respiratory system, making you sound short of breath. When you are in such a position it is easy to lose your head and simply run away if things take a turn for the worse.

    Cheeks turn red in women who are angry or embarrassed while men's ears often turn red under similar circumstances.

    When you try to interpret body language, you must interpret in relation to what is being said with words; otherwise misunderstandings can easily arise. It must be judged as a whole.

    To reach your conclusion you must also pay attention to facial expression, the mouth's position, eye movements and pupil dilation and retraction. To ascertain the mood of the speaker you must observe facial muscles… How they are tightened and loosened. How the lines around the mouth are softened. How the wrinkles around the eyes can make them shine with happiness when that is the feeling the face has to express. The same features express anger and contempt, while softer features are taken to express kindness and friendliness - but note: only if the feelings also extend to the eyes. A mouth that smiles without the eyes smiling as well sends signals of falseness and unreliability.

    Eyebrows that rise up and down rapidly signal acceptance of social contact. If you raise your eyebrows and keep them raised for a while it signals surprise and astonishment - perhaps even indignation.

    Laughter can be a sign of happiness and friendliness, but also of contempt and sarcasm. Sometimes we also laugh if we are scared, or if we experience something very horrifying.

    Making your pitch in 15 seconds or less

    (Taken from an article by Paul B. Brown, New York Times, 2007 (abridged))
    If you have a pitch the odds are that it is (a) too long, and (b) not properly focused according to an article in Inc. magazine.

    It makes four solid points.
    1. The pitch must be focused on what you can do for a customer, not on how wonderful your firm is.
    2. It needs to be internalized companywide. Every employee needs to give the same explanation when asked by a prospective prospect what it is your firm does.
    3. The message needs to be clear. The potential customer must be able to “get it” immediately. And
    4. Short. Aim for 15 seconds (or less.)

    You can conduct extensive, expense market research into what your customers think but you can get a pretty good initial handle on how they feel about you by asking seven simple questions:

    1. How would you rate your overall satisfaction with us?
    Very satisfied
    Very dissatisfied

    2. How likely are you to recommend our products or service to others?
    Very likely
    Very unlikely

    3. When was the last time you purchased a product or service from us?
    Within the last month
    Between one month and 3 months
    Between 3 and 6 months
    Between 6 months and one year
    More than one year

    4. Please rate us on the following:
    (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor)
    Customer service/support
    Quality of products/service
    Sales staff

    5. How likely are you to continue doing business with us?
    Very likely
    Very unlikely

    6. How long have you used our products/service?
    Fewer than 6 months
    Between 6 months and 1 year
    Between one year and 3 years
    Between 3 and 5 years
    More than 5 years
    Have not used

    7. Please suggest how we can improve our products or services to better serve you.

    Brown wrote that among business owners, more women (90 percent) than men (84 percent) use the Internet for work. Fewer women (65 percent vs. 73 percent) say they make sacrifices in their personal life in order to run a business. American Express Small Business Monitor, which talked to a nationally representative sample of 626 small-business owners and managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees asked whether being an entrepreneur contributes to a “happy relationship” with their significant other, some 85 percent of women said yes, compared with 77 percent of male small-business owners.

    Making a speech

    The first thirty seconds of your speech are probably the most important. In that period of time you must grab the attention of the audience, and engage their interest in what you have to say in your speech.

    This can be achieved in several ways: you could raise a thought-provoking question, make an interesting or controversial statement, recite a relevant quotation or even recount a joke.
    Once you have won the attention of the audience, your speech should move seamlessly to the middle of your speech.

    Reading your speech from a script may give you confidence and ensure that nothing is forgotten or omitted. If you do this, read the speech several times before, so you know it well and can make frequent eye contact with your audience. Ensure you NEVER drone, do not say ‘um’ or ‘er’, smile, look relaxed, and speak as though this is someone you want to employ you – sound convincing and interesting.

    If you are not confident enough to recite your speech from memory, then use notes which are keywords or points of your speech - a skeleton of thoughts or words around which you can build your speech. You may refer to your notes occasionally to maintain the thread of your speech, while for the most part of you will be able to speak directly to the audience.

    In any speech, have the pages well marked, ensure you don’t have too many little notes, which can become annoying for the audience if it looks as though you are fidgeting.

    Speech Delivery Tips:

    Make sure that your appearance is well presented

    Walk with confidence to the podium. Smile and greet your audience as if you are
    really happy to be speaking with them – you should be, being invited to speak is an

    Speak clearly and project your voice.

    It is common to speak rapidly when nervous, try to take your time speaking

    Effectively used, a pause in your speech can be used to emphasise a point, or to
    allow the audience to react to a fact, anecdote or joke

    Make eye contact with your audience. This helps to build trust.

    Do not fidget or make other nervous gestures with your hands. - Do not keep
    your hands in your pockets. Do use hand gestures to indicate subtle emphasis.

    Be yourself, allow your own personality to come across in your speech

    Managing your finances

    Bad debt not only gives you headaches, many recruitment officers will research your credit history and if you are in debt or do not know how to manage your finances, you may not get the job. In this season where the flash of a credit card is brighter than festive lights – think before you spend and if you are heading into financial problems heed this wise advice from Financial Mail writer, Ian Fife, earlier this year.

    He wrote:

    Typically, borrowers who have overstretched their finances tend to behave in the following way: First, they ignore the problem, believing they have enough equity in their homes, and that high interest rates won't go up further or last long. They start spreading their income between their car, home and credit card debt, falling behind a little in each. They soon realise they can't keep this up and decide to withdraw some of their home equity by increasing their bonds. If the bank agrees, they use this equity to pay their monthly shortfalls. If further bond advances are refused, they call in estate agents and ask an unrealistic price for their house to expunge their debt, leaving them with enough to buy another home. The overpriced house sits on the market for months. They start serious defaults on their debt and spend much of their time avoiding creditors or making excuses for the default. Finally, they reach the end of the line, often within sight of the market about to turn up again. But it's too late. Their houses are auctioned at rock-bottom prices and all they are left with is residual debt. Absa home-loan chief Gavin Opperman says banks are usually keen to avoid this. "We are eager to work with clients in difficulty. "People who come to us early and take drastic action are usually the ones who bounce back quickest," says Opperman. "We can, for example, give them payment breaks to help deal with necessities. If the situation warrants it, we can consider extending their payment term, or consolidate high-interest debt like credit cards into the bond to reduce the instalment. If a quick recovery is unlikely, we can help them sell their properties in a controlled way to get the maximum price."

    But it's best to avoid the debt crisis altogether by:

    1. Paying off your home loan as quickly as possible. It's the equivalent of saving at an after-tax interest rate of about 11%. Get it down to 40% of value first. Put any spare cash in your bond.

    2. Withdrawing equity only in emergencies or to invest in other properties, shares or a business. These build your wealth further and your interest payments will be tax deductible. Don't use it to buy depreciating assets.

    3. Always keeping a cushion of 30% of house value. This will allow you to sell your property quickly if you run into trouble, leaving about 20% after paying sales commission to get you started again.

    4. Sharing your problems with your lender. He will worry about them at least as much as you and could come up with a solution.

    Keeping the customer satisfied
    (These invaluable tips are from Astro Tech’s Little Book of Big Business Secrets available now at R55 a copy from training@astrotech.co.za)

    Customer management
    Listen - Respond - Resolve

    The values of a company are most evident when it has to deal with problems. When everything is running smoothly, you seldom hear much from customers - it is when something goes wrong that you get the opportunity to really show what you are made of and what you can do.

    All processes and procedures should be invisible to a customer. It is how these processes can be adapted to resolve crises that put a company under the service spotlight. Never hide behind red tape as an excuse, use each customer encounter as an opportunity to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and streamline processes.

    Customer complaints are the ultimate opportunity: there is nothing worse than an unhappy client who does not complain but takes their business elsewhere. The complainer is actually looking for a resolution and wants to communicate with you, even if their tone indicates otherwise.

    Establish empathy; it is important to find common ground, imagine how you would like to be dealt with in the customer's situation. What would make you calm down and what would make you angrier? You need to make the customer feel 'listened to' and acknowledged, even if their points are not necessarily valid.
    Save arguments and defensiveness for letting off steam around the water cooler - they have no place in providing outstanding customer service.

    Customers appreciate the concept of ownership from sales staff. If you take personal responsibility for sorting out their problem, and follow up with appropriate communication, you can make a friend for life and turn a really cross customer into someone who gives you years of repeat business.

    There is nothing more valuable to a company than feedback from its clients - are they happy with us, what could we do better, where can we improve? These are the questions to be sensitive toward at every customer interaction.

    Develop frontline attitudes that strive for excellence with clear, unambiguous communication. Misunderstandings are often the cause of customer dissatisfaction. Managing expectations around delivery is the way to ensure that customers are never silently disappointed. Turn the furiously vocal customer into a praise-singing advocate. Lindy Bobrow


    Customer service
    ”Selling takes place with words; buying takes place in silence,” Mark Kaminsky, Astro Tech facilitator.

    Start any communication with a big, warm smile, people will smile back at you. This sets the scene for the rest of your communication with that person.

    Everybody wants to be treated as somebody. The more important you make people feel, the better they respond to you. Use their name. Listen attentively, look them in the eye and ask questions. Give sincere compliments. Pay attention to everyone in a group, and acknowledge that people are waiting to see you.

    You can change your life, by changing your attitude. Negative thoughts create negative outcomes. A positive attitude results in greater positive recognition and you will handle challenges more successfully. Celeste Allen

    At work have someone professional and friendly answer the phone promptly.

    Do the staff that interact with clients speak clearly? Do they remember to say please, thank you and to apologise for errors? Do they make each customer, especially difficult clients; feel special and valued every time?

    Be respectful of cultural differences.


    What to wear

    The clothing you wear says a lot about how seriously you take yourself and your future career. When in doubt, err on the side of conservatism. Smart is always good, even if you are going for a job at a company where they wear jeans, make sure yours are top class jeans, good cut, neat, not baggy, hems evenly stitched.

    For Men

    Traditional business attire means a dark, conservative suit and a white or pale coloured long-sleeved (even in summer), pressed dress shirt. A plain, good quality tie, ideally silk, should coordinate well with the suit and shirt.

    If you wear an earring (or several), remove before the interview. Conceal tattoos; remove the nose ring, eyebrow ring, tongue ring...

    For Women

    Wear a corporate suit, skirts must be knee length, pantsuits must be beautifully cut, ideally plain colours with a plain shirt or polo neck jersey.

    Do not show cleavage, or wear a short skirt, or have a skirt with a slit. Do not wear clothes that are too tight.

    Either wear no jewellery or a very discreet pair of earrings, ideally only one simple ring, a simple chain or pearls around the neck.

    Makeup must be low key and conservative, avoid eyeliner and lip liner, as well as excessive lip gloss.

    Nails must be short and well manicured (ideally professionally) with either a French manicure or pale colours.

    Carry a discreet handbag that matches your shoes.

    For Everyone

    Avoid wearing too much cologne or perfume.

    Hair should be clean and well-groomed, regularly have a hair cut or blow wave.

    Shoes should be polished and coordinate with your suit or dress.

    Your dress sense and overall appearance says a lot about you – keep it simple.

    Clothes must be clean and well-pressed.

    Improving your chances of promotion

    Know your employer:

    Most companies have a website; use it to research your company. The more you know about it, what they do and how well they do it, the better chance you have of understanding how best to manage your career to ensure advancement. Some things you need to know:

    Major products or services

    Size in terms of sales and employees

    Locations (local, one or two branches – national – or a multi national?)

    The name of the CEO and his or her major achievements?

    Major competitors

    What sort of image do they try and project – is this a computer-geek organization; a high fashion outfit or a conservative business? How well do you fit in with that image?

    Latest news reports on the company.

    Telephone Skills

    Your voice and your personality – or lack of – conveyed over the phone indicates whether or not you are the right person for the post.

    Answer the phone with your full name eg Pasha Moodley, never just your first name.

    Learn how to speak slowly, with authority in your voice. If you smile as you speak it conveys confidence and friendliness.

    Be courteous and professional.

    Always have a pen and paper next to the phone so you can note messages.

    Check the spelling of people’s names and read back phone numbers to ensure accuracy.

    Don't eat, drink, chew gum or type on your computer when you are on the phone.

    Ensure you have a professional sounding message on your voice mail.


    If you write anything make sure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes

    Always be punctual.

    Ensure your hands are clean and your hair is neat.

    Introduce yourself courteously.

    Have a firm handshake.


    Remember the name of the person/s you are introduced too.

    Use body language to show interest.

    Do not chew gum or smoke at work.

    Do not discuss politics or religion.

    Thank-you is an important word; never forget it whether to the tea lady, your boss or anyone who shows you kindness.

    Business etiquette

    Business etiquette aims to make people feel comfortable and important.

    Five hot tips for etiquette:

    Be respectful of cultural preferences. For example, Muslims and Jews do not eat pork, while some Chinese love pork and also consider dogs edible. Americans love beef but Hindu’s consider cows sacred and do not eat beef.

    At an office function or business lunch, drink alcohol in moderation or none at all. Don’t talk loudly and avoid smutty jokes.

    “Please” and “thank you” are the most important words in the vocabulary of business etiquette.

    Avoid showing inappropriate physical affection to others – it could be construed as sexual harassment. Remember that cross-gender superficial intimacy remains a cultural taboo for most Muslims and many Hindus.

    Criticising or reprimanding someone in front of others is hurtful and shows insensitivity. Give praise where praise is due.

    The cornerstone of image is impact:

    Integrity – act in an honest and truthful way
    Manners – never be selfish or undisciplined
    Personality – your values, attitudes and beliefs
    Appearance – present yourself to best advantage
    Consideration – put yourself in another’s shoes
    Tact – think before you speak.

    Five hot tips for image:

    Ensure your clothes fit well, are made of good fabrics and are neat and pressed, with no marks, holes, dandruff, loose hair or animal fur, missing buttons, fallen hems or frayed cuffs.

    Wear polished shoes that show no sign of wear and tear such as worn heels or scuff marks and ensure that your handbag or briefcase, and purse or wallet are of excellent quality.

    A good posture whether sitting or standing creates a good impression.

    There is no such thing as washing your hands too often, ensure that nails are manicured and nail polish is not chipped.

    Use make-up sparingly and maintain a natural-looking complexion, use blusher sparingly and use natural-looking lipsticks that match your clothing and complexion.


    Colours and image

    Image is important in any company. The colours of the clothes you wear project a certain image so be sensitive to the messages you are conveying with colour:

    Black: power, modernity, sophistication, formality
    Grey: respect, humility, elegance, reverence
    Blue: peace, confidence, coolness, loyalty
    Purple: wealth, creativity, spirituality, royalty
    Yellow: happiness, joy, idealism, hope
    Red: strength, confidence, energy, passion, love
    Orange: energy, heat, enthusiasm, playfulness
    Green: youth, fertility, wealth, masculinity, healing
    Brown: depth, natural, richness, calm
    White: purity, peace, cleanliness, reverence.

    Employers want you to

    - Have a positive attitude toward learning, growth and change >- Energy, persistence and influence
    - The ability to be self motivated
    - Reliable
    - Consultative
    - Ability to set goals and priorities
    - Be accountable, honest, ethical and sense of values
    - Respectful toward yourself and others
    - Critical thinking = logical actions
    - Strong communication skills
    - Passionate

    They also want to know how good your knowledge is:

    • generic information technology and numeracy skills
    • team work and communication skills
    • knowledge of how organizations work
    • personal attributes like flexibility, adaptability and self-reliance

    Experience counts

    You probably have more skills than you realise, sit down and evaluate your skills and how they can best enhance your workplace performance, you may just need to go on one or two courses to make that talent or skill something that can transform your productivity and prospects for promotion.

    Start now – make a list of your:

    - Skills
    - Communication skills (verbal)
    - Communication skills (written)
    - Honesty/integrity
    - Interpersonal skills (relate well to others)
    - Strong work ethic
    - Teamwork skills (work well with others)
    - Analytical skills
    - Motivation/initiative
    - Flexibility/adaptability
    - Computer skills
    - Detail oriented

    Remember a job is about more than just the certificate in your hand. Think of all the ways in your life you have shown determination and the ability to succeed, it may be something you now take for granted: did you walk 10km every day to school and back? Did you work nights and weekends to put for your studies? If you did those sorts of things it says important, positive things about you, keep developing that determination and honing your ambition, the top may not be as far away as you think.

    Do you have what it takes to land a top job?

    Anne Short, director of the Career Development Programme at the University of Cape Town says that, “in the contemporary world of work there is an emphasis on communication skills, teamwork, leadership, time management and project management skills, as well as the capacity to innovate, lean and adapt in a constantly changing environment.” She says there are four types of career development skills:

    self awareness
    know your values, what you are good at, weaknesses
    opportunity awareness
    knowing what is available and how to secure it
    decision learning
    setting realistic goals, informed decisions
    transitional learning
    negotiating change, dealing with set backs, choosing new courses to upgrade skills
    marketable skills
    develop these through study, extramural activities and work experience. How you look and how you speak are also key aspects of marketability

    Mark Young of Procter and Gamble says that, “Today’s job market is riskier than ever. Your job search won’t be successful simply because you’ve chosen where you want to be. Employers also have to choose to employ you!”

    He advises that you choose courses that will keep career options open. “Don’t make the mistake of believing that degree = career.” Indeed StatsSA reported in 2004 that 60 000 unemployed were university graduates.

    Nono Moshesh, founder of Kopano Placements in Johannesburg says she would urge young people puzzling over a career to consider, “architecture, finance, building science, tourism, engineering, financial services, actuarial science, information technology, customer service (call centre) or support services (secretarial skills).”

    If you scan your environment you’ll have a pretty good idea of which jobs pay well, and which seem to have great job satisfaction. High salaries and job satisfaction aren’t always the same thing, remember you will spend most of your life at work. But remember too, that many people change careers several times over the course of their lifetimes.

    Covering letter for C.V

    Keep your covering letter simple and brief, no more than 300 to 400 words – unless you are applying for a job overseas, in that instance your CV should never be more than two pages, but your covering letter can then be longer (no more than two pages).

    In the covering letter highlight those areas of your CV that show how you can add value to the job on offer.

    In the letter say something along the lines of: “It is with pleasure that I respond to your advertisement in (publication/internet site/other) of (date)

    I believe I meet the job criteria. You will note in my curriculum vitae the following areas in which I believe I can add value to the job on offer, these include (list no more than 5)

    “I am a highly motivated, responsible individual who works well in a team and on my own. I add value to any task I undertake."
    “Please do not hesitate to call or email me if you require further information or for an interview."
    “I look forward to hearing from you soon."
    “Yours sincerely"

    (Name with phone and email details below your name – even if contained at the top of the letter)”

    Enclose or attach the curriculum vitae. Do a spell and grammar check in British or South African English before you send!

    Internet job applications

    Hiring with the aid of technology is a time- and money-saving proposition for businesses. It has maximised efficiency in the candidate selection process. Employers say they can advertise to a wider, more diverse candidate pool, find matches for hard-to-fill positions, easily share resumes of qualified candidates with hiring managers, streamline the hiring process, and tighten the timeline between the need for a new employee and the date the employee starts the job.

    Applications submitted online go directly into the employer's applicant data base. A hiring manager who needs to fill a position enters keywords to search the data base and find the applications of the best people for the job.

    Follow directions.

    Enter the correct data in the correct field.

    Tailor your application information to the position. Don't copy and paste text from your generic resume.

    Use key words, buzz words, and words in the job ad as your model. Employers search on key words when they're looking for people to fill specific positions.

    Complete all fields—even those that aren't required. If the company offers an optional assessment test online, take it.

    Fancy bullets, text, italics, and bold do not convert well in an electronic application.

    Spell and grammar check your application before submission.

    Use the comment section to demonstrate that you've done research on the company and the industry. You may say, as an example, “I have noted that your company is making significant inroads into energy research in Africa, as part of my degree I studied environment law and alternative energy sources.”

    Use quotes from letters of recommendation in your resume or cover letter. Not more than two and not more than one or two sentences from each.

    Follow up your electronic application with a personal e-mail to the recruiter. A follow-up phone call is acceptable unless the ad specifies that they do not want phone calls.

    Curriculum Vitae template

    contact information

    Telephone (Home and work if you already have a job)
    Cell Phone

    personal information

    Date of Birth
    Place of Birth
    Citizenship (If not South African. If you are not a citizen take your passport so the employer can see your valid work permit)
    Because of employment equity legislation in South Africa your disability, gender and race are important to mention
    Your marital status is irrelevant
    Whether or not you have a driver’s license is also irrelevant unless it is a specification of the job eg. busdriver, taxi driver, truck driver.

    employment history

    List from most recent to first ever
    Where you worked and when.
    The reason for leaving is not relevant. If you can give reference names and contact details under the most recent three that always helps.
    Demonstrate significant progress or remarkable accomplishments due directly to your work. Do not list day to day mundane activities as achievements, eg filing if you are a personal assistant, they are what is expected.


    Start with most recent tertiary achievements and the institutions at which you obtained degrees, diplomas or certificates and the year in which you attained that qualification
    Below that list any SETA or other qualifications
    Dates, majors, and details of degrees, training and certification
    Post-Doctoral Training
    Graduate School
    High School - only mention the name of the high school you graduated from if it is a very good school eg Bishops, Roedean or the ilk.


    If you served on a student representative body, or on the executive of any organization while at school or while doing tertiary education mention it, and the years in which you served in that capacity
    If you were a prefect, or attained honours in your final years at school, eg colours, or won a Science Olympiad or national drama award, or some such – mention it, and the year in which this was achieved.
    If you are involved in outside leadership activities eg serving on the council or executive of an NGO, community organization or similar group – mention it and the years served.

    professional qualifications

    Certifications and Accreditations
    Computer Skills




    professional memberships

    Curriculum Vitae

    The more seriously you present yourself and your achievements, the better a future employer will regard you.

    Use simple, clear English.

    Keep the tone straightforward, positive and professional.

    Do a spell and grammar check on your computer before sending (use South African or British English, not American) any communication to a potential future employer.

    If you are referring to a person by name or their position, ensure you spell their name correctly and have the right title. Never, ever spell
    anyone’s name incorrectly, if you are unsure, ask.

    Do not use slang, jargon or abbreviations, write United Nations instead of UN, write technical instead of techie, say that you are a computer
    specialist and not a computer nerd.

    Never have more than five pages of curriculum vitae and even then you should have five pages only toward the end of a highly distinguished
    career, don’t have five pages listing every single task you perform from pouring the tea to filing correspondence. If you have little experience
    keep your CV to no more than two pages of tightly compiled information.

    Always type and print a CV, leave smiley faces and interesting colours for notes to your friends.

    Why your C.V got thrown in the bin

    Research shows the most common reasons why your CV won’t even get read:

    Typos or grammatical errors - 34 percent

    Too long, too much information - 22 percent

    Not listing achievements in former roles - 17 percent

    Poor layout and/or design - 17 percent

    Too little information - 7 percent