3 Skills Every IT Professional Must Have

In this day and age, our clients rely on us more than ever before and have much larger demands. After all, we’re the IT people, the experts. We must provide a one-stop shop for all of our clients. If clients had the technical know-how, we wouldn’t be needed. We must not only possess the technical skills, but the skills to effectively communicate with our clients, both internal and external. Why must we have great communication skills in our arsenal? We didn’t go into IT to deal with customer service concerns. The reality of today’s IT market is that we’re not only expected to be on top of the latest technological advances, but we must also be able to clearly convey the 5 “W’s” for our customers to perceive that we’ve not only addressed their concerns; but to make them feel as if they’ve received some value-added benefit. Let’s face it, while we all have different skill sets and talents, at the end of the day the result is tantamount to any developer.

What sets one IT company apart from another is in the how we present the information to the client, and if they feel that the benefit they’re receiving is worth writing our paycheck. Delivering results is no longer what impresses a client, anyone can do that, it’s the expectation, not a luxury.

This article will reveal several tips that are incredibly easy to implement and will not only earn a client’s business but retain it throughout the years. With little to no expense, you can wow your clients and cut down on unnecessary time spent making corrections.

We hope you enjoy these tips and will consider implementing them into your daily routine to make a positive impact.

How does this affect me?

If you’re not getting great reviews from your clients and repeat business, something’s getting lost in translation.

A Harris Poll of hiring managers shows that 77 percent of employers consider soft skills to be as important as technical skills.

Now that we’ve properly identified the issues it’s time to find a solution. What skills exactly are we needing to work on?

It’s no secret that IT professionals embrace jargon. After all speaking in “code” keeps us relevant and makes us sound intelligent. The problem is that we sometimes forget that we need to put away the jargon. Translate the information into “plain” language. If this seems to be quite a challenge, consider re-evaluating the information as if you were going to teach it to a high school or junior college class. Check for understanding. Ask your client if he or she is following what you’re saying. Another great way to check for understanding is to ask the client what he or she thinks or how it sounds so far. This tip will go a long way. If they don’t understand, they’ll most likely tell you, after all, they’re paying you a generous fee for your services, not to hear the alphabet in incorrect order. “The people who will thrive are the strong technologists who are capable of translating their expertise into terms that nontechnical people can understand.” -Ben Gaucherin, Harvard University

Role play meetings and presentations with co-workers

You wouldn’t state that a project was complete without testing it, right? It’s a great idea to do a “dry run” with co-workers or even your family if permitted. Have them ask questions you may anticipate, or if they have any questions. Choose the most brutally honest co-worker to throw you some questions or concerns, also ask them what they liked about the presentation.

Take a public speaking class and join a meetup group

Chances are you’re not the only person that is interested in personal and professional growth. Classes and groups provide a great opportunity to brainstorm with other professionals groups will often provide you with a wealth of networking opportunities and are localized and even specialized, so you can discuss any matters relevant to the area you work in.

Keep your skills sharp

We’ve established that communication can be a problem in the IT world. Communicating outdated information ineffectively can only lead to impending doom. Be certain to stay ahead of the curve to avoid the pitfall(s) of being (or becoming) irreverent.

Your call to action

Effective communication in the workplace is essential to success. Communication success between whether a client chooses to become a valuable repeat customer, or whether they continue on riding the price wave; giving their loyalty to the lowest bid. Today’s consumers have a far greater advantage than they did even a few years ago. Not only do they expect quantity, but they’re expecting quality as well. You’d probably expect the same if you were in the same boat. Taking simple steps to improve communication will not only provide an immediate benefit in the quality of work performed but in the quantity as well. The productivity factor will most likely increase as a result of not having to fix problems caused by miscommunication. Not only will your clients be happy, but you’ll be making the business climate and revenue charts happier as well.

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Band Promotion and Marketing – How to Promote Your Band and Get More Gigs

I thought about writing this post on band promotion because I often hear new bands and struggling musicians wishing they got more paying gigs. Getting a paying gig is good, I mean… you spend a lot of time, energy and even money on getting your act together.. rehearsing, traveling to rehearsals and gigs (gas can be a pain if you travel by car), buying your gear, etc. But getting paid gigs for new acts can be very difficult.

While I believe it is great to get paid, I don’t mean to say you should think of a band as a business. What I am saying is, it would be practical to at least have your costs covered.

Of course, that would depend on you and your reasons why you are in a band in the first place.

Some bands want to play; love to play; feel that playing and getting their music out there is the best compensation there is… and the return of their investment in effort, time and money is that opportunity to get up there and PLAY. There are also others who work towards a long-term goal like building their own following and getting their music across to them.

The reasons why you do it, pretty much sums it up.

But, if you wanted to get paying gigs, here are a few things you can do.

1. Work on Your Product

Once in a while I come across a client who struggles with promoting their product or service, and put in a lot of effort only to get minimal results. The main reason is, they have not been able to accurately develop, define and refine their product, which is why aggressively promoting something mediocre will always yield mediocre results.

So what is your product? The band, and your music. The key question is how do you set yourself apart from the rest. What is it you do that is unique, or what is it that you can do better than everybody else?

“What do you want people to remember and LIKE you for?”

2. Define Your Music/Repertoire

Repertoire defines what type of band you are. It also defines who your audience is. I believe writing and recording original material is great because by having your own music you create an asset that others do not have. It is that final sum of a collaborative creative effort that brands your band. BUT, does not guarantee success, since for your band to be successfully recognized for your music, you would first need to attract an audience that gets to hear and appreciate it.

On the same note, being a cover band does not mean you cannot get paying gigs. There are a lot of cover bands that get paid well for small bar gigs or even major events.

What it comes down to is the novelty of the band, and your draw. Novelty is that something about you that people will want to come see; and your draw is the size of the crowd you can gather at your gigs.

3. Market Yourself

You would need to sell yourself to people who you believe would appreciate your band and what you have to offer. There are basically two types of people you want to market to; there are the people who you want coming to your gigs and appreciating your music, and the people who are in a position to hire you for gigs.

This can actually be the classic “the chicken or the egg scenario”, where you actually grow your audience and get more exposure by being playing more gigs, but to get more gigs you got to get invited or hired by people who have a hand in making gigs happen.

But it need not be complicated. You just have to do both at the same time.

Networking is key. The more people you get to meet, the more contacts you establish, the closer you get to your goal.

Ways to Network.

a. Use the Internet, put up a website that tells people about you and your music. Use social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace to build a network. Use media sites like YouTube, MetaCafe and DailyMotion to spread your music and build a list of followers/subscribers.

Always mention these sites during gigs; when you talk to other people about your gigs, during shows, and include them on printed materials such as stage back drops, fliers, calling cards, etc.

Make people WANT to go to your site by offering them some sort of benefit they get by going, for instance.. you can tell them that they can listen to a live-stream of your music on your site, download your music from your site (if you allow), or tell them you give away free merchandise like shirts on occasion and mechanics on how to get free stuff are on your website.

b. Print business cards, or calling cards. That way you are able to hand people you meet something that they can refer to when they need to contact you or if they refer you to other people who might need you for gigs. A business card says a lot of things about you, it pretty much says, you mean business, you got it together, and your can be relied upon to deliver if contacted for a gig. It creates a good impression about your band.

c. Do quick sets at small parties that you are already there to attend in the first place. Parties or gatherings are a great way to build up a following. This grassroots approach can lead to viral promotion. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. If you know that a friend is putting together a party, offer to do a few songs. Let’s face it, being in a band is cool, that may be one of the top reasons you even started one.. so don’t wait for an opportunity to play fall right on your lap, you create your opportunities.

d. If you are not that established, volunteer to front for other bands who are friends of yours AND are established. Established bands typically have a huge following, grab the chance to get yourself in front of that audience, their audience. You might not get paid for this, but it is an investment that will yield long-term benefits. Through this opportunity, you show people what you can do, tell people about your website or where you are online, you can hand out business cards and talk with people in the audience or show promoters.

e. Find radio stations that play material from unsigned bands. Getting your music played on a radio station is one of the most difficult things to get done. You will be turned down by a few, but you cannot let that setback stop you from being persistent and trying them again later or trying to find other stations that will play your music. If you are in college, get your music on your campus radio station, if your university has one. That said, I personally found it a lot easier to market your band and network when in college, it was so easy because in college you meet a lot of new people all the time, and get invited to a lot of parties and events.

If your music does get airplay and attention, your band WILL get attention.

4. Management / Representation

You have to have a manager. An authority figure who you trust and count on to work for nothing less than the success and well-being of the band.

A manager should be a tenacious businessman. He is a negotiator, understands marketing, and most importantly he believes in the product he is entrusted with. His main goal is to sustain and develop further the product he manages.

Having a manager can have many advantages, and one of the things I see managers being able to do that bands that manage themselves cannot, is be objective. The manager sees something that individual members in a band do not see, this is especially true when some members of the band develop egos that cloud their judgment. Members have a tendency to get tunnel vision and might not respond well to other people’s opinions that may not be flattering, a manager knows if criticisms are valid and take these not emotionally but objectively.

A manager is both a member of the group and outsider; a member because he works with the group to achieve their goals. He is an outsider who can make rational decisions and even be critical of the group if it fails to deliver what their audience expects.

Musicians can sometimes be the most stubborn of people, and the least receptive to criticism, and a trusted opinion from an authority figure can help the band work to better the product. Remember that the manager is above all a businessman, and he runs the band because it is “profitable”… the easier to market a band, the more money it makes, the more money the manager makes as well.

Managers should also be very aggressive and persistent, a friend of mine (a manager for a huge act) once told me a story about how she approached bar after bar only to get denied each and every time and was given all sorts of reasons and excuses. She never gave up, and did not give up on her band… today that band is a major recording artist… and actually they have been big for some time now.

So, if you are a new band that needs to promote yourself and get more gigs, and hopefully paying gigs…

– you have to be a band that can draw an audience

– you have the ability to make people who catch your gigs, like you or your music enough to want to be in touch with you so they know where to go for your next gig

– you have to build your reputation and brand yourself and your music

– you have to be aggressive and get gigs and not simply wait for them, and if you are able to successfully do this and your band becomes successful, the offers will actually start coming to you

– you have to have someone.. a manager, who takes care of business and does this well, so that you are left to do what you do best which is put on a good show or create music that your audience appreciates.. as a performer it might be best to not worry about anything and let the manager do that worrying.. all you need to think about or focus on is having a good show or having a good time on stage.

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Business Branding – How Character Affects Customers and Your Business Image

The public buys far more than just your products, services and so-called image promotions. Whenever they interact with anyone or anything associated with your business, they are automatically branded emotionally, good or bad, by the totality of your business character.

Whether you are a small business or a large operation, it is immaterial. If that brand is found lacking at any time in the customer-relation scenario, their return to you as a future-paying customer will be highly unlikely, not to mention all of their word-of-mouth associations. If that doesn’t get your attention, then you and your business are in trouble already.

Brand marketing and brand character are certainly familiar business terms, but they are business-school jargon, nonetheless. All of those buzz words may sound great at board-rooom presentations and seminars, but often mean something else to customers.

While the highly-paid marketing gurus tell you to concentrate on presenting your product or service imagery, they fail to warn you that it is your organizational brand that does the real imprinting. What’s most notable is that the total character of your particular business imprints that brand on your customers’ emotions, a realm far beyond typical business education. That’s why I believe you should expect every business consultant to possess this kind of perspective.

As every interaction with your public is a so-called “moment of truth” or, better yet, “moment of judgment”, the public knows when they’re being burned by a hot poker; and they judge accordingly. A form of business branding is, therefore, created by you and your organization at every turn. It’s both an active and passive event. The customer merely views it, experiences its presence, engages his or her emotions, and then determines YOUR fate.

So, it’s time to make yourself aware of the quality of your business trademark as much as your products and services. It’s the only way to really distinguish your organization from the crowded and competitive business arena we call world markets!

Obviously every company promotes its products and services to gain market share for the purpose of profit. That’s no sin. Without realizing it, though, a poor organizational brand quality can scuttle that endeavor, especially when it is exposed as an integral part of the market-to-purchase-service process.

You can’t hide it. Emotional branding of your customers is especially created or dessecrated with every interaction at every level, whether that interaction is direct or indirect.

So, realization that business-branding occurs all the time is your first step, but a most-important one. While typical brand marketing of a product focuses mainly on product imagery, it is your public interactions that can force all of the expenses associated with marketing that imagery to crumble in a single moment. Point: As your organizational character is reflected, so goes your future success or failure!

In other words, dealing with the public especially exposes your organizational brand for what it really is. In total, every talk and every walk that your company engages in, regardless of size and business sector, refines or tarnishes your business-brand image. Here’s where the true corporate or business character, as displayed by your people in the form or disposition and attitudes, sets you up for profits and losses.

Lose the heart of the customer and all of that development, testing, marketing and expected profits will go literally up in smoke. The key here is learning how to recognize your business brand and keep it shining from within, not just on the surface.

Surprisingly, many highly educated organizations don’t realize WHY their business brand is broken. It’s pitiful to watch. Assuming it’s production or process related, management know-it-all vanity seems to get in the way from seeing the simple truth.

The Power of People and Emotions

Every business has managers TALK about the importance of people, but actually focus or WALK away from the people factors like character; and people define the totality of your business brand far more than any tool in your marketing arsenal.

It’s true that many CEOs and managers realize the importance of appealing to emotion. However, the branding tool that they usually choose to do the job is their product or service itself. They even attempt smiles and free coffee mugs which are not enough, because that’s not what customers want or need. Well, there’s much more!

First of all, assuming that values touted in mission and philosophy statements are sufficient for success can be a dangerous assumption in today’s competitive arenas. Character needs to be perfected at every turn, internally and externally.

For example, your programs may be internally late, not due to the inabilities of your people, but due to internal cutting politics, indecisions and a constant state of change induced by managers like a form of rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship. I know this first hand.

In my 36 years of associating with various product development and product marketing teams, including 12 years with the successful Saturn Corporation, I have personally witnessed just how brand-marketing strategies have caused many fine organizations to lose focus. How? They have been led to conform to the lopsided thinking that branding applies more to a form of product and service imagery that induces lust more than warm emotions.

Externally, a business truly has to focus on product, price and marketing imagery, but directing all of it toward customer lust to buy is certainly a double-edged sword. For one, lust is the wrong emotion to appeal.

By its nature, lust is a sentiment that is never satisfied, and never enough to keep customers always buying from you. Here’s why: Those who lust are also fickle! Eventually the truth about your pricing, fair value, reliability, service and care can cause YOU to be judged by them walking with their feet and their wallets.

Price gouging especially personifies negative-emotion branding, and occurs when a company prices their products or services so that managers can make salaries and benefits beyond their true worth. I guess that’s supposed to be just too bad for the public. That’s capitalism, many say. In reality, gouging then becomes the business brand; and attempting to save the business face by donating to charities and politicians is viewed merely as an attempt to gain absolution. Some rebates kind of fit into that category, in my opiniion. The prices were a gouge to begin with!

A more sinister brand occurs when business allows itself to use manipulatable accounting practices like RONA (return on net assets) as the main benchmark for management bonuses. First, it allows accounting trickery through postponing of programs and reducing of head count to fake its financial health so that bonuses can kick in. That makes the company books manipulatable at the expense of the customers, the stock holders as well as employees. In essence, their manipulation put off the day when prices would naturally reflect fairness.

Well, the public is not stupid. They have a long memory when it comes to someone taking their money and delivering poor value, disrespecting them at the time of purchase or service. They even recognize when you route your employees. And they certainly know when they’re being gouged or manipulated just to sustain a business’ plan that is intended to win at all costs, namely theirs.

How many times have you paid full price for a quality product, but it still failed? How many times have you paid a high price while the company cut its employees to shreds with downsizing everything except upper management’s perks? That brands you as a nasty hot poker, because they know they’re paying for those perks.

Like I said, the customer is not stupid. As a result of their awareness, you are now expected to deliver quality products, quality services, and quality in their total buying experience; and that now includes quality pricing; hence, value pricing at employee discounts. After all, the public knows they’re overpaying for literally everything.

Failure to comply to customer expectations in any way brands you as an abuser, but brands them as being gullible, disrespected and undignified. Talk about negative emotions!

This concept of business or organizational branding is an image niche untouched by many business books. Now, don’t get me wrong. Plenty of training is going on, but not about total business branding, especially ethics and fairness in pricing for value rendered.

Yes, we have mission statements, philosophy statements and just a touch of team-oriented, feel-good training sessions. Yet, many businesses still seem to miss the mark, maybe not in every corner, but enough to make many CEOs cringe at market-share and earnings-reporting time; which only proves that customers have the last say, further proving that higher education does not always guarantee business success.

Few managers and business owners really take the TOTALITY of their business brand to heart, including personal communications and relations. Emphasis is so heavy on trying to make a profit that they overlook the one element in the formula that might assure that profit.

As products, processes and quality increasingly take the center stage, more and more companies have become oblivious as to why they are losing market share, and will risk being blown out of business entirely.

There is always a cause for every effect. Don’t let the negative-branding syndrome happen to your business or your company, even if you just work there. Make a commitment to improve the business brand. Don’t forget that every internal issue will come to light in some way that you may not now even imagine.

You can help yourself and your business by first paying attention. Accept the reality that the public fully recognizes when another product or service is better, and that they always vote with their pocket books. It is their right as much as it is their duty for economic self preservation.

Your product may be innovative, but a greedy price mark-up, for example, can dry out their emotions quite readily. That is just as much a brand failure as a recalled tire.

Yes, a failure to keep the customers’ emotions positive can be deadly to your bottom line. So, the time to be more alert is now!

And speaking of emotion, why do some products fail to sell, while others prosper? Simple: Contrary to today’s business doctrines, product quality is no longer enough! Content is no longer enough. The only way you can segregate yourself from your competition in this new century is to better the totality of your customers’ business experience; as that summarizes your business brand and appeals to your customers’ hearts where their buying and staying emotions originate.

So, the next time some market guru challenges you to brand market your products and services, make sure to include your total business brand. And make darn sure it isn’t just any old hot iron.

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Management Theory – A Brief History

The work of management theorists over the last hundred and fifty years can be used to argue the case for an in depth theoretical, as well as practical knowledge of many management styles, including the positive and negative attributes of each. It is also important to examine the ‘structure’ of different organisations to consider how it affects, and is affected by the management style of that organisation. Organisational Structure is essentially concerned with the allocation of authority and power. Managers need to make decisions and need to have the authority to do so. A ‘hierarchical organisation’ will have the greatest power at the top of the organisation, and the command structure will be in a downward direction. In a ‘flat organisation’ power is distributed more evenly, but there will still be major differences in the level of power and authority between different members of the company. Some organisations such as the armed forces or police have many tiers (or levels) and are tall in their hierarchy. Universities, however would have few levels between those at the bottom and those at the top and would be considered a ‘flat hierarchy.’ The ‘span of control’ (number of people an individual manages or supervises directly) is closely linked to the type of organisational hierarchy that exists. Many of the new ‘buzzwords’ and ‘flavour of the month theories’ that Mr. Whitehead mentions are no more than a current evaluation of the theories of yesteryear. The re-visiting of these theories will provide conclusive evidence that management theory is central to the modern manager’s education.

The Work of Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915)

Frederick Taylor, whilst working as a gang boss in a lathe department in Midvale, USA became determined to eradicate ‘systematic soldiering’; an attempt by workers to do no more than was necessary. Taylor developed a strategy where particular jobs were studied, then broken down into individual tasks, which had to be completed exactly as stated. Each task was allocated a time, based on the timed work of the quickest worker. Workers were then allocated specific tasks, and were not allowed to deviate from that task at all. As Taylor believed that money was the main motivator, a payment was made for each completed unit of output (piece rate)

Many organisations and work methods are still influenced by Taylor’s concept of ‘Scientific Management Methods’ This can be seen on factory assembly lines, and even in the commercial kitchen, where each member of staff is allocated a small but specific task in making up a completed gourmet meal. Piece rates may not be prevalent, but the allocation of boring, repetitive tasks is common. An article in The Sunday Times, 3rd April 1983 tells of one worker’s plight, assembling the Maestro car at the Cowley Plant. He had just one hundred seconds to screw on two rubber buffers and fit three small plates to the rear wheel arch. He had been given one night’s training, completed his task on exactly 246 vehicles per day, and had 46 minutes per shift of ‘relaxation time’.

Some of Taylor’s early followers achieved spectacular results in increasing output. However, the stringent and oppressive tactics that were employed often led to industrial unrest. After ‘Scientific Management Methods’ were employed at the Watertown Arsenal, immediate strikes ensued. The American Congress eventually banned Taylor’s time and motion studies in its defense industry.

The use of such methods in the modern workplace can produce useful results in the short term, but for longer-term rewards they must be balanced against the effects on workforce morale. To assume that everybody can work at the same rate as the fastest worker, and that money is the only real motivator may not be borne out. Today’s workers want to be empowered, and to take an active role in their organisations, not be treated like machines where only the end product is important.

Henry Laurence Gantt

Henry Gantt worked for Taylor at the Bethlehem Steel Works. His ideas were broadly supportive of Taylor’s ideas, but he added a more humanizing approach. He believed that scientific management was used in an oppressive way by the unscrupulous. Gantt moved away from the strict piece rate system of pay, instead offering a set wage plus 20% – 50% bonuses. If workers achieved the set objectives within the day a bonus would be paid. Supervisors were introduced who also received bonuses if targets were met by his team.

Gantt’s less oppressive regime can be seen today in many organisations. In factories around the globe workers receive bonuses for achieving daily, weekly or monthly targets.

The Work of Henri Fayol (1841-1925)

Henri Fayol, the ‘Father of Modern Management Theory’ was interested in how management worked, and could be applied on a universal basis. His theories focused on Rules, Roles and Procedures.

Fayol’s ‘Five Elements of Management’ are:

* Planning Setting objectives, and strategies, policies and procedures to achieve them.

* Organising Setting tasks to achieve the objectives. Allocating the tasks to groups or individuals, and empowering those responsible for that task.

* Commanding Instructing those carrying out the given task.

* Coordinating Ensuring a common approach by groups to meet the objectives of the organisation.

* Controlling Ensuring the performance of individuals and groups fits with the plans, and correcting as necessary.

Fayol’s theories are as relevant today as they ever were, and most, if not all managers use his ‘elements of management’.

The Work of Peter Drucker

Drucker’s work in the 1950’s followed on from that of Fayol. He had five categories of ‘Management Operations’

* Setting Objectives Senior Managers organise objectives into targets. This is cascaded down to more Junior Managers.

* Organising The workload is divided into manageable activities and jobs.

* Motivating This involves communicating and creating the right conditions for targets to be achieved.

* Measurement Comparing performance against targets.

* Development Enabling people to use their talents.

Fayol and Drucker had very different views on the role of workers within their theories. Fayol’s work has a distinct leaning towards worker’s having to be told what to do, their work checked and corrected, with managers delegating tasks and overseeing from a high level (a Tall Hierarchy?). Conversely, Drucker’s ethos is about the empowerment of workers, giving them the opportunity to utilise their talents, with managers occupying a role that is more about assisting and coaching workers.

Fayol’s ideas fail to take into account the people within the workplace, whereas Drucker takes a somewhat more humanist approach.

Elton Mayo – The Human Relations Approach

By the 1930’s there was evidence emerging that production could be raised by applying motivational methods within a workforce. These ideas were very different to the techniques of F.W Taylor and, although concerned with profit, the ‘human relations approach’ to management was also concerned with social relations in the organisation. The approach assumed that workers were genuinely committed to their companies and that they had a desire to work towards achieving its goals.

Elton Mayo had carried out experiments at the Hawthorne Plant, and these sought to find ways to improve production by changing workers conditions and pay structures. Mayo worsened conditions for workers, then returning them to how they were. The rise in output was due to workers communicating more and working as a tighter team unit. It was also found that the effect of taking an interest in workers made them feel important and that their opinions were valued.

Volvo and Honda have seen the development of work team in recent years, with the differences between workers and managers being far from obvious. People wear the same uniforms, and the emphasis on communication is high. Developing cohesive teams who work well together and share the same goals ensures a high level of motivation for the tasks required. The structure of this type of organisation could be considered a ‘flat hierarchy’ with a wide span of control for managers working over a skilled and competent workforce. Subordinates are well trained and a good level of trust between managers and workers exists.

The ‘Human Relations Approach’ is definitely a positive way of management for the 21st Century, where personal empowerment and self-esteem should not be in question.

Mr Whitehead’s view that “Haven’t generations of managers done perfectly well by learning on the job and applying a bit of common sense” cannot accurately be quantified. Within the Fire Service, promotion to managerial roles is based on internal qualifications and interview alone. Virtually all managers have based their management style on exactly what Mr. Whitehead advises in his letter. Some are very good and are respected as such; however there are a large number who cannot manage people or their responsibilities within the organisation. Respect for leadership within the fire service is essential, but often rare in modern times. Managers who had an in depth knowledge of management strategy may well motivate the workforce to new heights. This type of ‘tall hierarchical’ organisation has many tiers of command with spans of control for senior managers being relatively small, with the widest spans of control being at junior management level.

“An endless supply of new gurus spin off new batches of buzzwords which help successive generations of whiz kids to get promoted on the basis of slogans” is not an accurate depiction of the modern manager. It’s certainly true that there are managers who, even with the background of a management related education are ineffectual in their roles. This is not a reflection on management theory. Studies of management styles allow one to make informed decisions, and to have an array of options at your disposal, and to adapt to the ever-changing pressures on the organisation, both internal and external.

“Meanwhile real managers just do what they have always done, maintaining discipline and telling people what to do” The idea of a ‘one style fits all’ manager is unrealistic, and one that has a proven track record of leading to unrest. Even within one organisation the manager or managers need to be flexible within their roles. Leadership is vital, but a leader who is flexible, approachable, and has the interest and aspirations of both workers and organisation at the forefront of their strategy will flourish. Conversely, the manager who’s only interest is the level of output and profit will not be supported by those producing that output. Respect is most certainly a two-way avenue.

My review of the theories of ‘management gurus’ of the past is designed to show that these ideas are not new. One can look at any organisation and see many of these ideas working in parallel. As far as organisational structure is concerned, one cannot make stereotypical assumptions based purely on the size of the organisation or the number of employees. The style of management and the systems of work employed all help to define the structure. Most organisations employ many of the characteristics discussed above, in different ways, and at different times dependent on the dynamics of the situation. Most businesses are constantly evolving and redefining themselves to meet the requirements of the modern marketplace. There is no correct answer, or one style which is superior to others. Each has its positive and negative points, but without fundamental knowledge of them all, how can one possibly manage effectively?

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Benefits of Online MBA Programs

In recent years MBA has become one of the most widely watched-after degree the world over. This is because the master's degree equips learners with the business skills necessary to become business managers or entrepreneurs. It is this arsenal of skills that makes the MBA graduates valuable to potential employers.

Most of the people desiring to go back to school to earn MBA are already working on full time basis and this makes them opt for online classes. Earning an MBA degree online is far cheaper compared to obtaining the same from conventional institutions due to factors such flexibility and overhead costs. It is also less time consuming since there is no time spent commuting to classes.

Online MBA programs offer courses similar to those provided by conventional institutions. The beauty of these programs lies in the ability to complete studies in the comfort of their own homes, instead of brick and mortar classes. Beside – thanks to the power of the Internet, students can interact with their peers and lecturers in real time.

The convenience of learning an MBA degree online still requires effort and dedication similar to the conventional classroom based programs. However, an online degree may take less time to complete than a traditional program due to the ability and options available, which will enable you to learn at your own pace from the comfort of your own home.

An MBA program is ideal for those who want to take leadership positions in their companies or those who want to establish their own business. The program offers a variety of benefits to the student obtaining the design. These include:

1. Career advancement – Due to the general perception that an MBA increases management skill sets of the graduate, the degree can increase the career opportunities for individuals with a variety of backgrounds or experience levels.

2. Business management skills – MBA programs offer students valuable skills about day to day business operations. This not only helps to set them apart from the crowd, but it also makes them leaders in their chosen fields.

3. Networking – The networks created among MBA classmates are deemed as one of the most valuable benefits of an MBA program. In fact, most MBA graduates know that the networks are valuable resources that can be drawn upon for many years after graduation.

Before choosing an online college or university that offers MBA online, carefully check the reputation and accreditation status of that institution. This is because there are quite a number of bogus institutions (degree or diploma mills) out there offering fake degrees and certificates that are not recognized by employers and legitimate universities. You should avoid such institutions, unless you want a degree that will be frowned upon by prospective employers.

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Restaurant Labor Control

What is referred to as a “raw labor percentage, is an adequate view of actual dollars you’re spending however, a sales-per-man-hour can provide a better picture of how effective your schedule is.

Commonly used in quick service restaurants Sales Per Man Hour can be a valuable tool when used in any segment of our industry.  As owners-operators and managers we need to assemble an arsenal of analytical “weapons” to combat rising costs.

It’s simple to figure your daily sales-per-man-hour (SPMH) and is accomplished by dividing the total number of hours by the gross sales.  A higher SPMH results in a lower labor percentage without regard to individual rates of pay.  It’s a good idea to calculate the SPMH for each department as well as a total number of hours.

Example:

Labor Hours

  • Front of House (dining room) = 35 hrs
  • Bar =  24 hrs
  • Back of House (kit / dish) = 26 hrs 
  • Total = 85 hrs

Sales by Dept.

  • Front of House  (food & bev)  =  $1,800
  • Bar  (bev only)  =  $1,000
  • Back of House  (food sales)  =  $1,500

Sales Per Man Hour

  • Front of House = $51.43
  • Bar  =  $41.66
  • Back of House  =  $57.69

Totals Gross Sales = $2,500

Overall SPMH = $29.41

Of course each type of restaurant operation is different and has different expectations when it comes to staff productivity.  A fast food operation may be able to achieve a much higher SPMH than say a restaurant offering table service.

You can be as specific as you care to.  You can calculate the SPMH for each sub-dept (bussers, diswashers, bar-backs, etc.).  After doing this for a few weeks you’ll begin to see patterns emerge within each department.  Going one step further and calculating figures for day-parts (bfst, lunch, etc) will provide some very precise information.  For most operations a simple overall SPMH is sufficient.

SPMH is a great tool and can be used to help you write more effective schedules.  The written schedule is your most effective method of controlling labor.  Constant evaluation of productivity is crucial to an effective written schedule.

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The Fall And Fall Of Serie A

For him to start this game with players like Michael Silverstre, who had not played for over 6 months, Rio Ferdinand, who got injured against Middlesboro on Sunday, leave out Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo showed the contempt he had for Roma’s chances and they did not let him down.

Frankly Italian football has been an embarrassment for 2 seasons now and it is time they take stock of how far they have fallen from grace. All they do is bicker about refereeing decisions and constantly gripe about the success of Inter Milan saying they are being favoured by referees, that they have stopped getting world class talent into their league.

AC Milan are actually thinking of bringing back Andriy Shevchenko back to their team. It is bad enough that they have the oldest squad in the world but instead of trying to reduce the average age, they keep buying players that are past it.

Managers are sacked and rehired on a constant basis showing that the people that are running the clubs do not have a clue. What is the point in sacking a manager if you are going to bring in someone worse, only to sack him and then rehire the previous manager?

This is not something that happens once in a long while, it happens very often with different clubs.

It says a lot that Juventus that was relegated last season are 3rd in the league with what is at best an average manager and average bunch of players but unlike Roma they have the will to win. They might not have the quality that Roma possesses but in players like Gigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, Pavel Nedved, Mauro Camonaresi and David Trezeguet they have players that would always make a difference to any team in the world.

There is not a chance that with the team Ferguson put out that Juventus would not have scored against United because Fergie took a huge chance and he possibly thought and quite rightly that Luciano Spaletti is nowhere near the level required to win the champions league.

How else would you explain his putting out 1 striker against an injured Ferdinand and Gerard Pique or his playing Cassetti instead of Max Tonnetto? To be fair he did not anything that would have changed my beliefs that his relative success in seriea is due to the lack of good football teams and managers currently as 5-10 years ago he would not have been in charge of a team in mid-table never mind a team challenging for the championship.

AC Milan could quite conceivably come 4th with a side shown up to be also-rans by Arsenal in the San Siro as they are far too old to be challenging for the championship. Teams like Fiorentina and Udinese would be totally embarrassed by foreign teams if they did qualify for champions league next season as they are not good enough to represent Italy.

Inter Milan for all their faults are the only team in Italy that can compete with the other powerhouses in Europe as they have the money and personnel, they just lack the manager. Juventus would have to overhaul what they have and change managers as well to stand a chance as they can only be competitive in a second rate championship that SerieA has sadly become but not in Europe.

Back to the Roma versus Manchester United match, it was cringe worthy to see players like Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Park Ji-Sung just penetrate through Roma so easily when there is nothing penetrative about them. It just makes you wonder why the manager would persist with a player like David Pizarro and when was the last time that Taddei put in a good performance to warrant a starting place?

It was just too easy for United yesterday and I was shocked to read that some people thought Roma were not an embarrassment just because they were not trounced 7-1 again this season. There were even awarded a non-existent penalty but such is their fragile ego that Daniele De Rossi blasted it well over the bar.

It is just very sad to see a league that was once great degenerate into what it is nowadays with fans just talking about Inter Milan allegedly being favoured with sinister connotations as the standard of football so bad that watching Bundesliga seems more palatable.

I would like for them to get their act together and stop concentrating on conspiracies and start building teams worth watching with character and verve. Unfortunately the mentality is not like that, Roma for instance would actually think it is a step in the right direction that they got beat 2-0 and 1-0 and count the extremely marginal chances that they created.

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