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The ability to plan effectively for the future is crucial for any business if they want a competitive advantage. Strategic thinking helps participants understand the need for long term planning, setting goals and priorities, and identify potential risks and opportunities.

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20 Things Every Trainer Ought to Know Before Going Freelance

Article Overview:
Here's an article I wish I'd seen 10 years ago - it might have help me avoid some of the pitfalls I fell into!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a lot of fluidity within the training industry at the moment, with many people considering becoming self-employed consultants at the same time (and conversely many returning to 'regular' employment).

If you've ever wondered about becoming a freelance trainer, this article really does provide some great advice and tips.

About

Article Overview:
Here's an article I wish I'd seen 10 years ago - it might have help me avoid some of the pitfalls I fell into!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a lot of fluidity within the training industry at the moment, with many people considering becoming self-employed consultants at the same time (and conversely many returning to 'regular' employment).

If you've ever wondered about becoming a freelance trainer, this article really does provide some great advice and tips.

Opening Words:
1. The importance of having a business model.
For example, do you want to work as an associate only, direct only or a mixture of both? How much money do you need to earn to pay the bills? How many delivery days are realistically available once you take out time for holidays, marketing, networking, admin, self development, planning and preparation of course materials? What do you need to charge to ensure you get this? And is it realistic?

Knowing the answers to these questions right from the start saves a lot of heartache later on.

2. It is incredibly easy to waste money when you first start out.
Business cards, graphics, website, search engine ranking expert, brochures, networking events, business coaching – must haves or nice-to-haves?

It can be very easy to get carried away by everything, yet not everything needs deciding upon and investing in right at the beginning. For example, although a website is an incredibly effective way of marketing yourself, some of the most successful training consultants we know don’t even have a website! So, only buy the essentials you need to run your business – and save the rest for when you have more cash.

Suitable Reading For:
Anyone considering becoming a freelance trainer.

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Coaching and Mentoring in Learning Organisations

Article Overview:
In this lengthy article, Graham Guest looks at the need for learning organisations in the modern world, and what defines a learning organisation. He goes on to look at the importance of mentoring and learning in learning organisations and provides a clear and interesting distinction between the two.

About

Article Overview:
In this lengthy article, Graham Guest looks at the need for learning organisations in the modern world, and what defines a learning organisation. He goes on to look at the importance of mentoring and learning in learning organisations and provides a clear and interesting distinction between the two.

Opening Words:
The world is witnessing rapid changes in the way we work and learn. The effectiveness of traditional organisational structures is being questioned and new ‘buzz-words’ are entering our vocabulary. We talk about the global economy, the knowledge-society, and the networked company.

One approach to dealing with change is that of the learning organisation, where learning holds the key to both economic prosperity for the organisation and personal well-being for the individual. The traditional, and somewhat mechanistic, techniques of management and supervision are being supplemented with, and in many cases replaced by, a more holistic approach involving the processes of coaching and mentoring.

In this paper I describe the features and benefits of a learning organisation and explore how coaching and mentoring form an integral part of the model.

Useful Reading For:
Trainers and anyone interested in developing a learning organisation.

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Coaching, Mentoring and the Sibling Organisation

Article Overview:
This article from Mike Bagshaw, considers the changing business culture. He argues that the paternalistic approach has gone, replaced by a sibling stage in organisational development - a sort of half-way house to full alignment between individual and organisation needs.

About

Article Overview:
This article from Mike Bagshaw, considers the changing business culture. He argues that the paternalistic approach has gone, replaced by a sibling stage in organisational development - a sort of half-way house to full alignment between individual and organisation needs.

Opening Words:
The sibling organisation is a stage in the development of organisations following the uncertainty created by downsizing and restructuring. People feel the need to invest in self-preservation, perhaps at the expense of collaborative effort, risk-taking and shared learning. Organisational defensive routines limit growth and creativity. Morale is depressed, job satisfaction is reduced and performance goes down. To counter this post-change depressive effect, a new contract of mutual investment and respect needs to be created between the employee and the organisation. A coaching style of management combined with independent mentoring support can provide the vehicle for a climate of two stranded development where both the needs of the individual and the needs of the organisation are aligned.

The concept of the sibling organisation is a new one. It's a stage of evolution in business ethos, and it seems to me it's the stage we're at now. We have moved past the old paternalistic ethos, where we were looked after in exchange for loyalty. That move has been forced on us by the changing market demands and shareholder power. The drive has been to cut costs. The highest cost is people, so it has been uneconomic for the bosses to go on looking after people. There has had to be downsizing. "Lean and Mean" has become the cry. All too soon that has meant "Sad and Mad".

Useful Reading For:
Anyone involved in coaching and mentoring.

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Creating a Climate for Vision in Organisations

Article Overview:
In this superb article, George Edwards looks at the importance of vision to an organisation and considers seven strands that could form part of a HR specialist's strategy for enhancing a climate of vision.

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Article Overview:
In this superb article, George Edwards looks at the importance of vision to an organisation and considers seven strands that could form part of a HR specialist's strategy for enhancing a climate of vision.

Opening Words:
I believe it was President Bush's Dad who referred to vision as "That V word," a gloss over its importance that is no doubt still shared by many in public and corporate life today. It is anathema to the pragmatist, a diversion to the activist, and inconvenient to the theorist. Only the reflector perhaps, revels in vision. As Tom Peters once put it, "Developing a vision .... is a messy artistic process."

But it is widely accepted that vision is one of the key capabilities that enable the excellent companies to innovate and develop. A lack of it ultimately results in stagnation and crisis, as current products end their useful lives, creating peaks and troughs of development, which in turn cause major tactical changes under pressure. I say "tactical", for strategy is inexorably linked to vision; lose one, lose the other.

Useful Reading For:
Managers and HR specialists.

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Creating a Training and Development Strategy

Article Overview:
In this article Sheila looks at the repercussions of not having an effective training and development strategy. She uses a nine point component plan to highlight areas that should be covered within a strategy, and suggests some of the questions that need to be explored as part of its development.

About

Article Overview:
In this article Sheila looks at the repercussions of not having an effective training and development strategy. She uses a nine point component plan to highlight areas that should be covered within a strategy, and suggests some of the questions that need to be explored as part of its development.

Opening Words:
The purpose of a training and development strategy is to co-ordinate all aspects of the function in such a way as to ensure that the purpose, goals and targets of an organisation are given an appropriate level of training and development support, by the appropriate part of the organisation.

A useful way of defining such a strategy is that:
• It describes the actions to be taken,
• Over a period of time,
• To ensure maximum effectiveness from the appropriate level of training activity,
• And to set that training activity within the context of clearly stated organisational goals.

Suitable Reading For:
Anyone involved in training and development.

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Culture - Help or Hindrance?

Article Overview:
Joe Espana explores the importance of organisational cultures, and their impact on all aspects of business life; especially change programmes. Joe looks at the difficulties in defining culture, and therefore identifying a 'right' culture, and asks ultimately how can we ensure the organisation's culture is having a positive impact?

About

Article Overview:
Joe Espana explores the importance of organisational cultures, and their impact on all aspects of business life; especially change programmes. Joe looks at the difficulties in defining culture, and therefore identifying a 'right' culture, and asks ultimately how can we ensure the organisation's culture is having a positive impact?

Opening Words:
There are a number of inter-related performance factors in a company's operating style/culture (the way things are done) that can significantly influence its organisational effectiveness. Poor execution caused by organisational issues is held responsible for over 50% of corporate failures to fully deliver business strategy.

Moreover, at least 60% of company mergers fail to realise their anticipated pre-acquisition values, and approximately 75% of all change programmes are unsuccessful. Why? Because organisational culture can secretly conspire against these efforts.

Useful Reading For:
Managers.

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Customer Service - Ten Quality Statements

Article Overview:
This article from Martin Haworth looks at the importance of measuring where you are as an organisation, and the importance of asking meaningful questions that look beneath the service of customer service.

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Article Overview:
This article from Martin Haworth looks at the importance of measuring where you are as an organisation, and the importance of asking meaningful questions that look beneath the service of customer service.

Opening Words:
It might sound quick and simple to say how well your business does in satisfying its customers. Hearing such as:

"We're increasing our turnover by 14% year to date"

"Our customer complaints are now less than 4% of our transactions"

...might sound like music to your ears, but that's just the time you need to be very careful.

A regular measurement of where you are as an organisation, not depending on some of the easy-to-fake figures, might just make the difference in how well you are doing now, and into the future.

Useful Reading For:
Managers involved in measuring customer service.

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Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Freelance Trainer?

Article Overview:
This useful article is aimed at anyone who is considering taking the step into self-employment as a freelance trainer. It looks at the pros and cons of being a freelance trainer and gives the reader a useful summary of things to consider before making the move.

About

Article Overview:
This useful article is aimed at anyone who is considering taking the step into self-employment as a freelance trainer. It looks at the pros and cons of being a freelance trainer and gives the reader a useful summary of things to consider before making the move.

Opening Words:
One of the consequences of the current economic downturn is that many companies are making staff redundant. When times are tough, training is often one of the first things that organisations cut back on (even though we know this is misguided). However, this may be a blessing in disguise for corporate trainers who have been toying with the idea of going freelance for years, but have never quite got round to it. Being made redundant and forced to step out of your comfort zone could be the kick-start needed to take your first serious steps towards self-employment.

As a freelance trainer of 5 years I can testify to the many advantages of this way of life:

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who has ever considered becoming a freelance trainer.

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Help, I am the New HR Director. Now what?

Article Overview:
This excellent article from Joe Espana, considers the difficulties faced when someone is appointed to the role of HR Director. Joe argues that they have approximately 90 days in which to make an impact, and suggests different strategies for dealing with three different scenarios that might exist within the organisation.

About

Article Overview:
This excellent article from Joe Espana, considers the difficulties faced when someone is appointed to the role of HR Director. Joe argues that they have approximately 90 days in which to make an impact, and suggests different strategies for dealing with three different scenarios that might exist within the organisation.

Opening Words:
You've made it. What you always wanted to achieve; a senior HR role with a seemingly dynamic company, a CEO who gives every indication that he is on your side and will listen, and a real challenge that will allow you to make full use of your talents. And then the realisation of what you've taken on really hits. A friend of mine once describe getting his new HR Director role like this: His challenges felt at first like having to climb Mount Everest and being at base camp. Two months into the job he was beginning to realise that what he had taken on was definitely the summit of Mount Everest, but he now realised that far from being at base camp he was actually at Heathrow waiting for his delayed flight to Kathmandu - and, oh by the way, he'd forgotten to pack the oxygen needed for the climb.

The issue for many senior appointees in these sorts of circumstances is knowing exactly where to start. The requirements of an organisation in which everything seems important and urgent needs careful balancing. And on top of that, there is the added pressure of having to demonstrate value and contribution as soon as possible. By any measure, the new HR Director has approximately 90 days to show that he or she was a sound recruitment decision. The key issue, therefore, is to work out where the biggest return for effort exists.

Useful Reading For:
Management involved in HR.

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Inside Quality Service

Article Overview
In this article, Diane Bailey looks at the importance of Internal Customer Care and looks at the benefits of an internal service culture to the organisation, its employees and its customers.

About

Article Overview
In this article, Diane Bailey looks at the importance of Internal Customer Care and looks at the benefits of an internal service culture to the organisation, its employees and its customers.

Opening Words:
In the late 1980s, management specialist John Humble worked in conjunction with Management Centre Europe on a survey of how managers in Europe viewed the 'service' ethic. In his introduction to the report, Humble stressed that ‘service', in fact, was not something which referred only to external customers. 'Service' is something which is also relevant to colleagues within the organisation – the internal customers. The detail of the service will obviously differ, the report suggested, but the need is the same.

Of the senior managers who took part in the survey (1055, biased towards larger, more forward-thinking companies), 78% saw improving quality and service as the way to competitive success; 85% felt that providing a superior service was one of their key responsibilities.

Where British Managers differ from Europe perhaps is that, in general, much less work has been done in the UK to improve the level of service and care offered to the 'internal' customer, i.e., the people who work within an organisation in other departments or sections, or in branches and units geographically dispersed from the centre...

Useful Reading For:
Anyone attending training related to internal customer care or involved in creating a service culture within an organisation.

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Lean Thinking - What Is It?

Article Overview:
This provocative article from Italian-born Carlo Scodanibbio looks at the history of business since the industrial revolution and suggests that few of today's businesses are truly Lean; instead carrying the burden of principles that were developed for the 20th Century and which no longer apply. This one will really get you thinking and will provoke lots of discussion.

About

Article Overview:
This provocative article from Italian-born Carlo Scodanibbio looks at the history of business since the industrial revolution and suggests that few of today's businesses are truly Lean; instead carrying the burden of principles that were developed for the 20th Century and which no longer apply. This one will really get you thinking and will provoke lots of discussion.

Opening Words:
There is a problem in industry: We have gone into the 21st century with enterprises, organisations and business structures conceived and designed in the 18th and 19th centuries to perform well in the 20th.

The principles that gave origin to industry were conceived back in 1776, when the British economist Adam Smith published his famous book entitled "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations". Considering that in those times there was practically no industry, some very excellent principles, conceived by a real genius, were laid out. Smith visualised that the future wealth of the world would be founded and based on industry. Smith also went a step further, engineering practical principles for the future would-be industry, including his famous principle of "Division of Labour" (the whole job to be sub-divided into a number of elementary tasks, each assigned to a dedicated, single-skill worker).

Useful Reading For:
Managers, including senior managers to board level, and anyone who wants to examine strategic thinking and customer focus at a high level.

Notes:
The author has confirmed that trainers can download this article and use it in their courses to provoke discussion and thought, as long as the 'about the author' bit remains intact.

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Organisational Maturity

Article Overview:
In this article, Paul Ackerley discusses the need to work more efficiently and effectively in the current global climate.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Paul Ackerley discusses the need to work more efficiently and effectively in the current global climate.

Opening Words:
At the time of writing (April 2011), a major topic of conversation here in the UK, particularly for those working in the public sector are the cuts being implemented as a result of last year’s Spending Review. There is understandably much concern and trepidation around due to the potential impact of the spending cuts.

As you will have seen from the news, many public sector organisations started to make cuts in spending and people resources even before the results of the Spending Review were known, in anticipation of the reduction in finances. Many private sector organisations had been going through a similar process for some months, or indeed, years already.

Useful Reading For:
Managers

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The Home Improver - Understanding Kaizen

Article Overview:
In this interesting article, Carlo Scodanibbio explains the concept of Kaizen, the process of continuous improvement that originated in Japan.

About

Article Overview:
In this interesting article, Carlo Scodanibbio explains the concept of Kaizen, the process of continuous improvement that originated in Japan.

Opening Words:
If you consider your house more than just a shelter and a place in which you eat and sleep, in other words if you consider your house a "home", a cosy, warm nest for you and your family, you will probably take great care of it and will gladly dedicate time, effort and money to making it even warmer, cosier, more functional and better looking. You will not just maintain it in its present state but you will try to render it better and better. You will renew plumbing and electrics in due time, paint or polish doors and windows regularly, add new pieces of furniture or replace some unsuited ones. You will shop around to find some nice pieces of soft furnishing, or wall pictures, or antiques. You will place flowerpots and ornamental plants here and there. If you really love your home, this will be an endless process.

The process you are following with your house is a Kaizen process. The Japanese word Kaizen means "step-by-step, continuous improvement”.

Useful Reading For:
Managers and those responsible for continuous improvement.

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Vital Leadership in the Twenty-First Century

Article Overview:
To succeed in today’s world, Mike and Caroline Baghsaw argue that an organisation has to become a complex adaptive system, operating through core principles that nurture flexibility and innovation.

About

Article Overview:
To succeed in today’s world, Mike and Caroline Baghsaw argue that an organisation has to become a complex adaptive system, operating through core principles that nurture flexibility and innovation.

Opening Words:
At the dawn of the twentieth century, most organisations relied on large numbers of people working together in the same building. The young started at the bottom, and the most able would, with experience, become the leaders. It worked well in the context of stable technology. The bosses could predict future needs well enough to make quite detailed plans, including the duties of employees. These could be structured into career ladders, plus a pension, to reward good workers. "Good" meant co-operative. They didn't want bright ideas from low down the ladder. The boss looked after good workers, and the workers obeyed the bosses.

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, all this has metamorphosed. Constant innovation makes experience, not irrelevant, but in need of constant adjustment. The good workers are no longer the quiet, co-operative ones, but those who look ahead, spot what's coming, and adapt. This applies to organisations as well as individuals. The static ones will be left behind. To succeed, an organisation has to become a complex adaptive system, operating through core principles that nurture flexibility and innovation.

Useful Reading For:
Managers and trainers.

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What is It You Do Exactly?

Article Overview:
Ever wondered what a ‘Business Coach’ actually does? This article from Sheila Williams will help you understand what they do and what they can do for you.

About

Article Overview:
Ever wondered what a ‘Business Coach’ actually does? This article from Sheila Williams will help you understand what they do and what they can do for you.

Opening Words:
There I am, sitting around a table at a breakfast networking meeting for owners of small businesses. The other seven are looking earnestly at me.

“So, Sheila, what’s your line of business then?”

“I’m a business coach.”

There’s a pause.

“Is that like you give advice to people, tell them how to run the business better?”

“Er no…” I start to say.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who'd like to have a better understanding of the role of a business coach.

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When Change Really Hurts

Article Overview:
In this article, Sheila Williams looks at how we feel when faced with imposed change and suggests five ways for helping us work through such changes.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Sheila Williams looks at how we feel when faced with imposed change and suggests five ways for helping us work through such changes.

Opening Words:
When imposed change – change we have not chosen ourselves – hits us, it can really hurt. We often experience feelings of loss, hopelessness, being powerless, worried that we can’t count on anything and overwhelmed by the need to adapt to new demands.

The Change Curve is a model that illustrates the emotional stages we may go through when experiencing this type of change and not only helps us to make sense of our emotions but allows us to recognise that what we are feeling is entirely normal.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone responsible for managing change or faced with change.

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