Faster Meetings Mean Better Meetings

37072Who among us loves long, drawn-out meetings? No one. Yet somehow the people managing meetings seem to think that longer must mean more productive. I am on the side of less is more.  Here are my tips on how to make meetings shorter and get better results, and they center around the planning process.

Have a specific agenda that includes key discussion points.

•  Send out the agenda in advance so attendees know what to expect.

• Start on time, end on time. It’s really just another discipline.

• Anything off topic is discussed later.

• Anything that is does not involve all meeting attendees is discussed later.

• If appropriate, ask subject experts to provide necessary information to the group.

• Set a timeframe for each discussion point.

• Allow a specific time for Q&A. Any topics that cannot be answered are passed on to whoever can give the answer.

This article offers 6 Ways to Make Meetings Go Faster. Personnally, I like the last way: don’t schedule a meeting at all!  Time is so valuable that without a specific purpose, meetings can be more habit than productive.

 

 

 

Soft Skills Training Improves Results

The-Value-of-Soft-Skills-in-a-Hard-World-1100x400Recently I read an article in Speaker Magazine, The Value of Soft Skills in a Hard World by David Ryback.  I am a big advocate of soft skills training, so I found this article particularly interesting.

Especially important for firms are the documented results other companies have experienced, results they credit to soft skills improvement after investing in training:

• Sanofi-Aventis, an Australian pharmaceutical firm, enjoyed a 12 percent increase in sales after training its sales force in soft skills. • According to the Hay/McBer Group, insurance agents trained in soft skills sold policies averaging $114,000 compared to less trained associates who sold policies averaging $54,000.

• At L’Oreal, sales agents with soft skills training sold $91,370 more than their less trained counterparts, resulting in increased revenue of $2,558,360.

• Recruiters trained in soft skills save the U.S. Air Force $3 million per year, according to a General Accounting Office report. What soft skills account for these successes? Soft skills deal with three main factors: awareness, performance and outcome.

While the term “soft skills” may sound lightweight, the impact on your business and the results derived are anything but light! I’d be happy to talk with you about soft skills training, the courses I offer and how we can customize a program to best benefit your firm.

Busy Season Stress Buster: Laughter!

images-1They say laughter is the best medicine. Not sure who “they” are, but I do know why this is true. When you can see things in a humorous way you will be able to lighten up, have fun, release the endolphins* – those crazy fish that swim through your blood stream and help you deal with stress, anxiety, and depression.  Your day will be brighter and you’ll have a positive impact on those around you.

Researchers have studied the effects that laughter has on the body and have turned up some interesting information on how it affects us.  One thing is that laughter helps to increase our blood flow because the blood vessels expand and contract easily there by sending the appropriate amount of blood to our brains and organs.  Those who are under stress, their blood vessels tense up thereby restricting blood flow to the brain which creates costly mistakes and errors.

Researchers have also found that laughter helps to boost our levels of immune cells where stress does just the opposite.  We get sicker quicker, come to work sick because of our workload, get others in our office sick because of their low levels of immune cells, and the next thing you know – productivity is in the Kleenex box.

Researchers have also found that laughter helps in the fight against diabetes.  Laughter helps in reducing the blood sugar in your body, and I should know because I am a diabetic.

Studies have found that children laugh over a 100 times a day but when they matriculate into the workforce that laughter rate drops to about 5 times a day. Not surprisingly, once we retire laughter rates increase.

Laughter also helps to boost office morale. So when was the last time people in your office were laughing…and it wasn’t at your expense?  Why aren’t we laughing at work when we see that laughter has a lot of health benefits?

For many of us, this busy season can bring stressful situations at home and at work. Find the humor in situations, be silly, share a harmless joke. Let the endolphins swim around.

*Full disclosure: I know that it is the endorphins, but I really prefer thinking of the endolphins. It makes me smile, and that’s a good thing! Oh, and I know that dolphins are mammals not fish but they are great swimmers. Besides, it’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

Networking Tools

social_networkingBuilding a productive network of friends, colleagues and associates doesn’t just happen. It takes a bit of planning and effort. For years I’ve used two simple forms to help me Identify, build and expand my network. You may want to read my blog post, Networking: Even Accountants Can Mingle first, then feel free to use my forms as is or revise to fit your needs. With a little work, you can grow a strong network. Let me know it goes for you – I’d love to hear your success stories.

Here are my tools, hope they help you:    Identify / Build Network            Expand Network