University of Winchester Psychology 2015

LinkedIn presentation

3 December 2015

Background

There is a lot of guidance on the internet and in publications, on how to do things step-by-step on social media and particularly LinkedIn. However, we explored how we can use it in seeking a first career or finding research opportunities. We also discussed the value of reflecting on our own personalities, and choosing which aspects of them are of interest to other users of the LinkedIn site.

Summary

There is no doubt that asking ‘why?’ before ‘how?’ is better than simply diving in just because everyone else is. As a result, everyone will benefit from reflection and researching which aspects of an individual’s personality will be best received.

Although we talked around the slides as well, the presentation slides (pdf format) are here for those who want them for review.

Make the change from British Summer Time work for you

Picture your ideal working hours and try to introduce them

The Working Hours clock from BVD Design

Because the clocks change in the UK in October, I work my winter “split shift” system.

Using the Clock changes to your advantage

If, like me, you find the darker evenings and the end of British Summer Time (BST) take away your leisure or exercise time (in my case, cycling) in the winter, think about how to split up your working day.

The concept of split shift working

The concept is simple and used in many workplaces – do your day’s work in several chunks, rather than one go (e.g. 9 to 5). Many people could start earlier, take a few hours out mid-morning or mid-afternoon then return work later, providing they plan it.

What about missing calls or customers?

A business cannot flourish unless it satisfies customers. So people need to make plans for dealing with enquiries etc. But remember, this arrangement could actually extend the time a business is available to customers if colleagues take different breaks, or answering systems are used sensibly. There are always times when people are unavailable due to meetings etc, so why not plan them to your advantage?

Run your own business?

If you are your own boss, it can be tempting to keep the traditional routine of ‘office hours’ and more. In winter you can find that sports, gardening or just a walk outside to unwind can get ignored.

So consider taking a break of several hours in daylight then return to running your business as it starts to get dark. The extra focus when you return means that you can still get things done by a reasonable time, and you will not have missed out on stress-reducing down-time and leisure activities – you probably work late anyway!

Employees

The concept of split shifts or different working hours may suit many employees, so before making any decisions, have a discussion about the whole concept of working hours. As long as everyone is in agreement, most arrangements are possible.

Go on – take a few minutes to consider how you could keep your daylight activities when the daylight hours are shorter! Some timetables can’t be changed, but many can with a bit of thought.

Contact me if you want explore how to make time work for you.

Barclays Bank Computer theft

This is one post what I am going to revise as the story unfolds, so keep an eye on it. The interesting part to me is how do you track people on your sites and places of work? BBC article here

Monitoring People on Site

It is so common to visit a workplace (other than as a customer) and follow someone through a pass-protected door, or sign in yet leave by another entrance and drive away with a visitors pass still in your pocket. So although security is a specialism in its own right I though I would jot down a few questions we all need to consider, then act on if we suspect that our answers are weak.

Visitor Security self-assessment

  • in an emergency am I sure that anyone could know who was left in the building?
  • what help can neighbouring businesses be to each other?
  • how important do people really think visitor books and passes are?
  • can all your colleagues challenge a visitor about their identity confidently and politely? How well would they be supported if their challenge was not well-received?
  • what impression does a visitor get from all the areas they might visit?
  • how well do visitors have to be known before scrutiny is relaxed?
  • if my insurance company tested the system with a visit, how would they rate us as a risk?
  • do you use technology effectively and unobtrusively?

Next Actions

I made this post to gather my thoughts and perhaps help a few people with some searching questions. To me, the points above tell me about your approach to business or project planning, safety, theft, sabotage, intellectual property, branding, leadership and employee relations.

If you want someone who can pose those questions in confidence then help you improve your answers, call me.

How to Pay for an Apprentice

Cash Fund to get an Apprentice is Extended

For those who missed the announcement after the New Year break, a cash payment of £1,500 to get an apprentice is extended to the end of 2013.

This quick guide will explain how to benefit from an apprentice. By the end of the page you will appreciate where they save time, and then make you money.

How to Pay for an Apprentice

All you need to do is earn more each month than the apprentice costs you.

Currently these are the principles of apprenticeships:

  • they are your employees*, drawing a regular wage
  • you commit to improving their skills on the job
  • they undergo some formal training, for example at a college, usually at your cost
  • your business gets more work done, so in time the apprentice should earn you more than they cost

Whilst skilled employees and subcontractors need briefing on the task and expected standards, apprentices also need some demonstration or instruction. The key is to build up a mixture of simple tasks that save money by supporting skilled workers, and others where the apprentice takes time to learn but soon becomes competent.

Consider the straightforward jobs that hoover up skilled workers’ time, and resist the desire to get your money back every single day!

* Some schemes do the employment administration, but you still commit to providing work and experience for a regular fee.

Myths about Apprentices

  1. They cost money. True – you have to pay the wages and training costs. But, like any other employee, they will only cost you money overall if you don’t make good use of their skills
  2. They leave when they are trained. Again, like any employee, your apprentice will be loyal to you if you are worth staying with. Employees don’t leave when they are happy and valued
  3. They are a liability and slow the work down. For the first few days, possibly. As with any person you employ or subcontract, you should line up tasks which are within their skills. Training someone takes time initially but soon they become more independent. Frankly, if you can’t delegate you do not yet have the skill to grow your business, but you can learn to gain from an apprentice
  4. Apprentices are slave labour. True – if you only give them basic tasks in order to be ‘useful’ from day 1. But you will be saving a few pounds per day rather than profiting from a skilled employee. And of course myth 2 will kick in – why should they stay with you?

What now?

You grow a business by getting more income, not saving costs.

Firstly decide what manpower you need (whatever the skill level) to help you do more business.

Secondly, calculate what type of manpower will work best for you (e.g. recruiting, sub-contracting, apprenticeship).

Contact me to discuss expansion and assess your options. My job is to help you make business decisions, not sell you an apprentice.

Employers’ pension obligations – September 2012 update

Employer pension duties

September 2012 introduces new duties for employers regarding pensions. This summary (prepared by Active Solutions HR Consultants) gives you the basics so that you can consider what professional help you need.

UK Pensions Situation

As the UK population is living longer and the pension pot is becoming more stretched, the government is encouraging people to take more personal responsibility for saving. From September 2012 large employers are expected to automatically enrol certain employees into a pension scheme and make a contribution. Over the next few years all businesses will be required to comply with this change in law.

When the 2012 pension changes affect you

This depends on how many people you employed on 1st April 2012. Employers with fewer than 30 staff will be affected between September 2016 and April 2017; those with 62-89 staff 1st May 2014; and those with 62 to 89 staff will be affected on 1st July 2014. The Pensions Regulator will contact you between 6 and 12 months before the date your business will be affected.

What employer pension duties will be

You must:

  • Provide a qualifying pension scheme
  • automatically enrol all eligible employees
  • make a contribution
  • tell all eligible employees scheme details
  • register certain details of the scheme with the Pensions Regulator

You must NOT:

  • encourage staff to opt out
  • bias your recruitment so potential staff agree to opt out
  • treat workers unfairly or put them at a disadvantage because of automatic enrolment

Who this applies to (eligible workers)

Workers who:

  • Earn more than the minimum earnings threshold (currently £5,564)
  • Are aged between 22 and state pensions age and
  • Work in the UK

What contributions will be expected

Ultimately you will be expected to contribute at least 3% of their earnings and you can pay more if you wish. The worker will also be expected to contribute a total minimum contribution of 8%. Initially employer contributions will be 1%. The time scale for increases will be confirmed nearer the time.

If you already have a pension scheme

Your current pension scheme may already qualify. Find further details here

If your current scheme does not qualify then the advice of a financial adviser is recommended.

Useful links:

Active Solutions HR Consultants

The Pensions Advisory Service: www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk

Financial Services Authority: www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk

Department for Work and Pensions: www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/pensions-reform

Hello to Barcamp Berkshire

Hi Everyone, thanks for using the QR code.
Like you, I am keen on having fun with IT, making sure that the good ideas get shouted about and the poor ones get improved or dropped.
I’d like to keep in touch to discuss things like simple setups for smaller businesses (preferably open source); making the most of wordpress (especially freelance theme design) and making the most of learning platforms like Moodle.

If you’re a contractor or run a small business, my day job is helping you make everything work for you – from finance to marketing and keeping a quality of life. Feel free to drop me a line with absolutely no obligation.

If you work with larger organisations, I’d love referrals or introductions to anyone who would benefit from developing their ideas better and improving communication between users and project teams (so that the implementation gives the benefits it is meant to and impossible requests are not resorted to). Because I understand business and some of the technical terms, I can help break down any barriers without appearing to take sides.

Here’s the presentation on the Disney Creativity Strategy as described by Robert Dilts. Thanks to those of you who came along and added so much context and enthusiasm to apply it in your situations.

Thanks for reading and for your companionship. I hope you enjoyed Barcamp as well.
Ed

Making use of the Festive Break

This is the time of year when you are likely to receive two phases of emails, tweets and blog postings. Phase one (roundabout now) provides a handy list of the business tasks you can do whilst relatively undisturbed or less hectic with meetings. Phase two happens throughout January, and it includes 101 benefits and uses of setting goals and targets for the forthcoming year.

I would like to suggest an alternative to lining up these recommendations, lists and tasks – PAUSE AND LOOK AROUND YOU.

But I love my business

Most of us who run a business do. We have all heard some people in business saying “it’s not really a job, I would do it anyway”, and that may apply to you.

My invitation is to be really honest with yourself and become very aware of the things that you would love to do if your business disappeared for a month without any harm. If you need a help starting your awareness, try exploring the headings of leisure, sport, health, family, friends, your community.

What do I do?

Carry a notebook and pen (electronic stuff tends to have close work links so can be distracting), and as you spend more time thinking about non-business life, jot down the new things that you start to notice. Maybe “call old frinds2, “take a walk”, “read a book”, “try a new recipe”. You will gradually rediscover the activities you used to enjoy when you spent less time on the business.

Even better, instead of writing notes just get up and enjoy the reading, chatting, running or tasting.

What if I have a good business idea?

Well, make a note of it but resist the temptation to dash to the computer and act further. The idea will not get lost – just dealt with after your break.

What will the result be?

Strangely enough, this may take you back to the times of a junior employee – when a day off was a day off, a holiday was just that.

You may not start 2012 with goals or marketing plans, but you may just rediscover the reasons you do what you do and remind yourself what success actually means. That is worth quite a lot.


Whatever your faith or traditions, enjoy the festive break!

Dealing with failure

The word ‘failure’ can be very emotive, and in a business context can be quite debilitating. I was recently asked to do a short workshop of about 45 minutes on the subject of failure and thought that I would share it with you.

Aims of the ‘failure’ workshop

  • to explore what the word means to you
  • to discover your current strategy for failing
  • to leave with a modified strategy that may be more effective

The workshop runs in two sections – the ‘process’ part and the emotional / human part.

Take a minute and to yourself what the subject of failure triggers in your mind, and what failure means to you. Is it ever useful? Is it emotional? Is it alien as a concept? Our group came up with a board full of words, almost all related to emotion rather than pure fact or logic. The factual words we got were ‘outcome’ and ‘goals’.

Perhaps if we had to come up with an emotion-free definition of failure it may be:

‘something that results in an outcome that you did not want, and / or does not result in the outcome that you wanted.’

Setting good outcomes or goals

We discussed a number of formulae for setting good outcomes or goals and, without exploring each one in detail, wondered if we could emphasise two components and also add two more steps to most of the models.

It’s worth emphasising:

  • evidence – make sure that you know what success will look like to avoid a false perception of lack of success
  • control – be very aware of what you have control over before setting a definite goal. If there is something significant that you cannot control, it is unrealistic to expect success all of the time.

What we could add:

  • acceptable tolerances – they exist in engineering, so why do other business settings get encouraged to pin everything down to a specific value rather than an acceptable range?
  • potential side-effects or by-products. Often if an outcome is not achieved there is consolation in the form of lessons learned or other benefits. Why not consider there in advance so that their existence is seen more as  as benefit than spin for something going wrong?

The overall recommendation is to avoid being so specific in your original aims that success or failure balances on a knife edge. This reduces underlying stress and the burst of disappointment, which dissipates as the events fit into perspective.

Reflecting on how we would approach something which could go wrong, we noticed what a more flexible and realistic approach to setting goals could be like.

This ended the ‘process’ part of the workshop.

Emotional reaction to failure

We started the part of the workshop that deals with individual reactions by considering how we would coach a colleague or client through a setback or failure. With that in mind, we contrasted it with the way that we reflect on our own setbacks, and in general found that we offered others more understanding and tolerance than ourselves – even though we were not being insincere or condescending to them.

One of the most common emotions expressed was fear about what might happen, and we will probably follow-up with a workshop on this, because fear of the new or unknown can definitely rectrict business growth and personal development.

For now, the lesson was to treat ourselves at least as well as we do our colleagues to get a more useful reaction to setbacks.

The new strategy

Having gained an appreciation of some practical elements of our processes and some more helpful insights into our own reactions it was time to consider an amended way of approaching important tasks. The steps we considered follow – you can of course expand and fill in stages that you personally find useful:

  • set appropriate goals that you have control over and which make it clear what will have been achieved
    • add acceptable tolerances to some of the figures
    • add a ‘bail-out’ condition, i.e. if things are not working, when is it wise and acceptable to stop
    • be aware of any useful side-effects (including learning and improving) that add to the overall value of the experience
  • monitor your progress
  • review both planned and unplanned benefits and setbacks
  • reconsider your tolerances in the light of your experience – you can probably tighten them a little for next time

Summary

The concept of failure is such a personal that I can’t give a definitive guide in a manageable blog post or even a group workshop. However, here are some of the key points that people found useful:

  • with practise you can replace the word ‘failure’ with more useful ones or focus only on the learning points. This can be useful as long as you appreciate that for many people failure is a real word that triggers real emotions which need to be considered. The well-worn phrase ‘there is no failure, only feedback’ is valid only if it is sincere and acknowledges personal disappointment or frustrations
  • there is a scale between ‘success’ and ‘failure’, with many useful outcomes in between
  • setting useful goals is vital – both to know when you have achieved something and to be aware of what lies along the scale towards total success. Goals can include tolerances, acceptable lessons and the odd surprise
  • the concept of tolerance is not a cop-out. Sometimes second and third place are OK when they lead to first
  • business involves people and people have emotions. It takes skill and practice to work with both emotion and logic, and it is key to recognise which one is influencing the decision process at any one time

So, enjoy tweaking the way that you go about things in order to recognise how far towards the success line your actions are. Failure will still exist, but it may be a place that you are aware of rather than frightened of, and one which you rarely visit.

Succeeding in demonstrations and events

A couple of times I have recently got involved in helping people make the most of their opportunities at events or exhibitions, and someone suggested that I put up a few hints for anyone planning to do a demonstration or have a stand. The notes below are just a short taster of the thought process that can really give you results.

How do I choose the right exhibition to attend?

It can be so tempting and flattering when you are invited to attend or exhibit at a show – with privilege tickets, a guaranteed audience, early discount or other carrot. So always do a bit of research to find out and decide:

  • who typically attends
  • what competition will be there
  • do people visit the event to sell or buy
  • what do you expect your time and money to get you?

What resources do I need?

To some extent, that depends on the answer above – what your aim is. Do you want people to take a sample, book an appointment, experience your product or style of presentation?

If you want people to stop to talk with you then make sure that you have some refreshments ready and space where you can talk undisturbed. All too often people are geared up to give away leaflets and samples but have not planned to help anyone who is really interested. Always have a diary and plenty of business cards, but avoid thinking that success means how many cards you have given out.

Who should be on a stand?

If you are just attending an event, then people on the stand need not necessarily be the subject experts, but they should know what your business or organisation does and does not do. As a minimum they should be able to:

  • make a visitor at ease
  • enquire what the visitor wants and be able to understand their answer
  • explain what your organisation does WITH RESPECT TO the visitor’s needs
  • be able to get them time with the ‘expert’ e.g. book a time for them to chat now or later
  • be able to take detail and make an appointment for a follow-up discussion
  • know when to stop talking and let the visitor think!

Be very aware of the keen helper, who loves what you do but cannot explain it in simple terms or relate it to a visitor’s needs. Equally, a keen helper who is not an expert can provide a good welcome and act as a very good triage system to make you as effective as you can be.

What should I give away?

Basically, something that will remind people of you and which they will not take purely for the sake of it. For example, sweets and pens disappear rapidly but have little benefit to you. Ensure that anything you give out is asked for rather than thrust into people’s hands, and it must contain your contact details and ideally a hint of what you do.

What about doing a demonstration?

In crude terms, do a demo or presentation either when people would not understand what you do from a description, or if they need to see you do it in order to spot the difference from your competition. So a presentation should fit the audience needs, not be a sales pitch. And a free taster session should educate the recipient about you, not just give them something for nothing.

A golden rule is that when you want to demonstrate your skills and not all of the audience can interact, you must have helpers on hand to give people some sort of commentary. Very often an expert can be doing great things and getting a lot of interest, but their helpers cannot capitalise on it by highlighting some of the special bits that they have done to the visitor standing next to them.

Keep your demonstration relatively short (it is not a free training session after all), so that people who found it engaging can speak to you within a very short time and take it forwards. If your slot is too long, they may hang on until you stop but then dash to look at the rest of the show.

Summary

  • know what you want to achieve
  • aim to provide a useful and memorable experience, not a sale to every visitor
  • give away things for a reason
  • have enough help on hand
  • ensure your help is fully briefed
  • even if your aims are low key, be prepared for a flood of enquiries
  • make sure that ‘experts’ are regularly on hand to deal with the post-demo interest
  • make the demo useful, and leave them wanting more!

I hope that you have found a few pointers, and remember that each bullet point is a subject in itself. Have fun!

Opening of Camping Pods at Two Hoots campsite

Today I had one of the occasions which anyone in the coaching world loves – an invitation to the opening of a new business, them launching a new product or a new product or service.

This time the invite came form Caz and Dave, who run the Two Hoots campsite near Alresford in Hampshire. They were opening their new camping pods, washing block and kitchen area.

Having had the vision when they acquired the campsite, they have been working on the plans for well over a year. I helped them with their business planning and finances, which benefited hugely from the support of a LEADER grant from the Fieldfare area. All credit to the Fieldfare team, especially Ken Brown and Eloise Appleby for their support in making this happen.

What now? Well, with bookings ahead of the budget and superb facilities, Caz and Dave will be working on the presence of Two Hoots campsite in a many places as possible, and of course making sure that their visitors get the best experience from their stay. I wish them the very best in building on their success so far.


Find the site at www.twohootscampsite.co.uk.