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  1. How can you effectively manage your team?

    In most workplaces, progressing up through the ranks involves getting to grips with management. Not all of us are natural managers so this can be a challenge at first. However, there are some simple ways to craft a management style that enables you to lead and inspire the people you’re working with.

    Make good communication a priority

    This applies to everything, from encouraging people to speak up with ideas and responses, to ensuring that constructive feedback is a regular feature of interactions. Make sure that those who are working on the same project are regularly in contact, whether that’s face-to-face or via video calls or email groups. The more interaction there is, the more open the channels of communication will be.

    Be a transparent manager

    If you take an attitude of transparency you’re not only helping your team to see what your values are and what you expect of them but creating an atmosphere of trust and respect too. Transparency helps people to feel more secure and usually means that they are more willing to speak up with suggestions and ideas. It creates a safe space in which employees tend to be more productive and creative.

    Set boundaries for your team

    Even if you have intense deadlines or people working flexibly who could, potentially, be on call 24/7 it’s important to set the example of boundaries. Be clear about when your team should be working and when it’s time to switch off. Ambiguity around this is often used to make people work harder but just tends to lead to situations of stress and burnout instead.

    Don’t micromanage

    Most people respond better when they feel that their manager trusts them to do the task that they have been set – or to get on with their job without being closely monitored. As a manager this means stepping away from micromanaging when the temptation arises and instead creating a system whereby you can keep an eye on productivity and progress from a safe distance. Learning the art of delegation is essential. Not only will this make your team feel more competent and involved but it will also take the pressure off you.

    Teamwork makes the dream work

    If you can do one thing as a manager it should be to get your team collaborating. It’s collaboration that can be the catalyst for business transforming ideas and record breaking productivity. The more collaboration there is the better your team will get on and the more comfortable they will feel with each other – and when it comes to adding value. Collaboration can be encouraged by using digital tools and also by physical processes, such as sitting down together to create solutions to a current problem.

    Don’t underestimate the value of feedback

    Regular constructive feedback allows individuals to understand their progress and to set goals and objectives that are achievable. It will help to avoid a situation where someone feels isolated because they’re not doing that well and can provide a clear path to better performance. It’s also essential for reinforcing achievements and positive behaviours.

    Learning how to manage effectively is essential for anyone who is looking to move up the corporate ladder. Book your place on our Effective Management of Your Team course today.

  2. Top negotiation tips for 2019

    Negotiation lies at the heart of business success. Whether you’re an employee looking to move up the management chain, or about to launch your own enterprise, without strong negotiation skills you won’t get far. If you prioritise one business ability this year, make it negotiation. These are our tips for improving this essential skill in 2019.

    Don’t take it personally

    Effective negotiation means being able to engage and disagree when you’re in the room and then walk out and have a drink together afterwards. The way people behave in negotiations can vary but is rarely personal – to be more effective, avoid getting caught up in the disputes that can arise when people take things personally.

    Stop talking

    Negotiation is as much about listening as it is about speaking. If you take a step back and allow the other person to speak you’ll be able to understand what they want. This is the fastest way to resolve a dispute and is essential information if you’re looking to agree an outcome that benefits everyone.

    Balance assertive and aggressive

    Assertiveness is essential in negotiations – it’s a way of setting your boundaries, standing your ground and being clear about what it is that you want from a specific situation. Aggression tends to be the opposite. In a negotiation situation aggression often arises as a result of anxiety or fear and it tends to reveal weaknesses and reduce leverage. It’s essential to learn how to ask for what you want calmly and to say no without fear.

    Be prepared

    Information is power in a negotiation situation. From lots of statistics to business history or current assets and interests, the more information that you can gather on the people you’re dealing with the better position you will be in. It always pays to do your research before a negotiation so that you have a sound understanding of where the other party is coming from.

    Aim for a mutually beneficial outcome

    Wiping the floor with your opponent is more appropriate to a boxing ring than to the negotiation table. The most successful negotiators know that delivering an outcome that pleases everyone is the best option because it preserves ongoing relationships. So, take the time to understand what the other party wants and then show them how those needs will be met.

    Be patient

    If you’re in a hurry to get to an outcome then you’re instantly at a disadvantage. Patience can be an incredibly powerful tool in negotiation so use it well.

    Walk away if you have to

    It’s essential to let go of the idea that you have to make a deal, any deal – this can result in a less than favourable outcome. Give yourself a benchmark, below which you’re willing to walk away. Before you go into a negotiation make sure you have this clear in your mind and identify your other options so that you don’t end up being forced into a situation you’re not happy with.

    The art of negotiation is a powerful skill set to have – and one that can take you a long way in life.

    Book your place on our Negotiation Skills Course today or get in touch with PTP on 01509 889632 for more information.

  3. Top 5 business skills needed in negotiation

    We may now live in a tech-driven, fast paced digital business environment but the ability to negotiate is an art that continues to add great value. Negotiation has an impact on everything, from the employment deal that you get as an individual through to what you can achieve for the business or a specific client. One study found that UK businesses lose £9 million per hour from poor negotiating skills, so being an effective negotiator is something that most employers value highly.

    Essential negotiation skills

    1. Confidence

    If you understand what you’re trying to achieve – and why – then it’s much easier to walk into a negotiation and be confident. With a confident approach you’ll be more persuasive, less easily swayed and more able to get the results that you’re hoping for. A confident negotiator is far more likely to be successful than someone who isn’t quite sure what their end goal is or whether it’s really worth achieving.

    1. Being able to create a mutually beneficial situation

    The very best negotiators know how to come out of a discussion making all parties feel like they have won something. Although the popular idea of being effective at negotiation is to wipe the floor with an opponent, in reality this can shut down the potential for future ongoing relationships. Aggression and a refusal to compromise are not effective negotiation tools – it’s the ability to make everyone happy while a achieving a goal that is so prized.

    1. Looking beyond traditional negotiation situations

    While there are some obvious scenarios in which negotiation is essential – in deals on behalf of clients, for example – the true art of negotiation is to be able to apply it to a much wider range of situations. Great negotiation involves clear communication, which is essential in many workplace situations, whether you’re carrying out a management role or helping to set the ground rules for what is expected of a new hire. Listening is another key negotiation skill that goes beyond the boardroom, as is the ability to find resolution where two views are at loggerheads.

    1. Applying the impact of negotiation to the bottom line

    Negotiation does not happen in isolation – if you’re able to strike a great deal with suppliers or new clients it’s important to understand how this will directly impact the financials of the business. Part of being a great negotiator is being able to see how what you achieve in discussions will have a wider ranging financial impact.

    1. Respect

    It may be easy to lose sight of the need for respect in the heat of the moment at the negotiating table. However, remember that it’s important those you’re speaking to walk away with a positive impression of you or they won’t want to deal with you again. Be firm, stand your ground when necessary but don’t add bullying and aggression to your negotiation skill set if you want to be really effective.

    Being a great negotiator is a key skill that can be learned. Once you’ve mastered it you’ll be an invaluable asset to any employer. Sign up for our Negotiation Skills Course today to find out more.

  4. Understanding discipline and grievance in the workplace

    When problems arise with employees in the workplace this can lead to complex situations that are difficult to resolve. It’s rarely, if ever, simply a case of saying “you’re fired.” In fact, doing that can end up being costly for the business if an employee has not been fairly treated during a disciplinary and, consequently, dismissal process. Whatever the sector, every organisation needs to ensure that key people understand discipline and grievance in the workplace.

    Discipline vs. grievance – what’s the difference?

    Disciplinary procedures in businesses are essentially there to provide a roadmap if something goes wrong in the relationship between employer and employee. That could be poor performance or bad behaviour. Grievance procedures give employees the opportunity to raise issues that they are experiencing, whether that’s a feeling that they are being bullied or a lack of support.

    Why are discipline and grievance procedures so important?

    They provide a structured way in which problems can be aired and discussed and (hopefully) a resolution found. With a disciplinary procedure, in the worst case scenario, the process will also set out clear steps that lead to dismissal. Given the pressures and the wide range of different people in any workplace, issues are likely to arise at some point. What is crucial is to ensure that there is a process in place for these issues to be dealt with fairly and objectively before bigger problems arise.

    Why have disciplinary and grievance procedures?

    Both employees and management understand the process of dealing with issues<
    Problems can be dealt with swiftly and aren’t given the opportunity to escalate

    • Employees feel like their voice is being heard where there is a grievance procedure in place to tackle problems
    • When employees are encouraged to speak up early they are less likely to sit on issues that could later become much larger and more complex
    • Employees know that they will all be treated the same in specific disciplinary situations
    • Law or regulation may require that the business has disciplinary and grievance procedures in place
    • Both employees and managers know where they stand and what the process is to bring a situation to a resolution
    • Using a structured process can lead to a quick and effective resolution via a series of transparent steps that ensure legal compliance
    • Without the right procedures in place, the business could end up paying out compensation to employees who have not been fairly dealt with

    Working with disciplinary and grievance procedures

    It’s crucial to ensure that both disciplinary and grievance procedures are clearly laid out and easy to follow. Employees should be able to access the relevant information easily and know where to find it for reference. Training may be necessary, both for employees and for management. This will not only make it easier for everyone to use the procedures in place but will ensure that they are properly followed so that time consuming and costly mistakes can be avoided.

    Disciplinary and grievance procedures are an essential part of managing the relationship between employer and employees. Find out more by booking your place on our Understanding Discipline and Grievance course today.

  5. How to train the trainer

    Unfortunately, a bad training session is something that almost everyone has experienced at one time or another. Whether the issue was a lack of engagement, poor subject knowledge or boring content, ineffective training achieves very little. However, for those responsible for delivering training of any kind to a team or group, there are ways to ensure everyone gets more from the experience.

    Start afresh every time

    Managers/trainers should begin from a blank page, assuming nothing about the recipients of the training. You might know their names and positions within the business but the more important information to establish through the session will be what they actually do day-to-day, what skills they want to acquire and what issues the training needs to address.

    Create some ground rules

    Training sessions work better when they have a structured approach so ground rules are essential. Scheduled breaks, required participation and whether mobile phones need to be switched off – this is all essential information that is better delivered before training gets under way so that everyone there knows what is expected of them.

    Focus on content that will get attention

    What this requires often depends on the time of day that you’re training people. For example, if the session takes place after lunch when everyone is experiencing a post-food slump, it may be preferable to focus on tasks that involve movement and interaction than training that is based around looking at a screen. It’s always important to consider the audience and what medium they are most likely to engage with, whether that’s group working, question and answer sessions or watching video content.

    Know the topic

    In a professional environment, gaps in the knowledge of the trainer are not only embarrassing to deal with but can demotivate the entire group – especially if you’re their manager. So, it’s crucial that the trainer has a comprehensive grasp of the subject matter before the training takes place. It’s important to be prepared for participants who might have an unexpectedly in-depth knowledge of a topic – have back up material ready in case the initial stages of the training are completed faster than expected.

    Checking in is important

    Good training is delivered responsively – are the participants engaged, are they enjoying it, or do they look ready to walk out at the next break? It’s key to check in regularly to establish whether the pacing of the session is right for the group, the level of difficulty is well suited and that what has been delivered so far has been absorbed.

    Be prepared for reluctant learners

    Especially in a professional environment, participants may often feel that they have better things to do with their time. Others may have already decided that they know everything before the session even begins. It’s a challenge to deal with reluctant learners but a little humour and helping them to identify the relevance of the training can often create that essential engagement.

    Being able to design and deliver training is an essential component in great management. Our Train the Trainer course is designed to empower managers to assist and guide their team to their stated targets and beyond.

  6. How to generate more business by telephone

    Generating business over the phone can be challenging. Many people lack the confidence or the understanding to do this effectively and negative responses to cold calls and pitches can be difficult to deal with. However, this remains a very effective way to generate positive results and drive a business towards growth, so it’s a skill worth acquiring.

    Target your efforts

    No matter how good a salesperson you are, or how much of an engaging speaker, you will struggle to connect with those who are clearly not interested – at all – in what you’re offering. So, the first step is always to refine your contact lists to ensure that the people you call are genuine prospects.

    Step back from the selling

    If you take a hard sell line from the very first conversation you could lose your prospect early on. The first conversation(s) should be less about selling and more about establishing a relationship and opening up the conversation. What do they need to know about what you’re offering and where could you add value to their experience right now? If you try to sell without establishing this essential context first then you will find it difficult to generate enthusiasm.

    Your list is key

    As well as rooting out those on your list who have zero interest in what you’re offering, it will also be important to refine the list as much as possible so that it is both suitable and high quality in terms of the potential leads it contains. It’s worth noting that the GDPR doesn’t prohibit cold calling but does impact the way that it is done. Essentially, you will need to have permission to call the people on your list now that the GDPR is in play.

    You’ll also need to be calling those people about the products and services you originally requested permission to contact them about. The new GDPR rules actually represent an opportunity to refine the list you’re using and ensure that the people you speak with want to speak to you.

    Follow up after the call

    It’s essential to ensure that you make contact by email after a successful phone call, as this will help to lay the ground for next steps. You may do this using CRM automation or you may be working with a smaller list that you can follow up with manually. If you’ve put in the effort of initial contact don’t waste it by failing to follow up.

    Accept the numbers

    It may take you 100 calls to reach just 20 people, only a few of whom will be ready to be converted. There is effort involved in generating business by phone – the number of people you need to reach out to will be high. However, more often than not, that effort put into the numbers will pay off in the results.

    Our Generating New Business by Telephone course is designed to help build confidence to make calls professionally – and to use them to achieve great results.

  7. Learn how to recruit good candidates in the new year

    There is an art to recruitment – those businesses that tend to recruit the best people understand how it works. If you’re looking to find great candidates for your business in the new year then you might have to rethink in terms of the process that you use.

    The trick is to start recruiting before you need to

    Mistakes in recruitment tend to happen if you’re forced into going through the process under pressure. You may not have the resources in place to find the best people and you might feel that you have to make a decision using a basis that you’re not entirely clear on. You don’t have to wait until you’re hiring to start building relationships with great candidates. or to work on the perception of your business that future employees are likely to encounter. The more you establish relationships and systems, the easier it will be to activate them when the time comes.

    The key components in recruiting good candidates

    When you embark on the recruitment process make sure that you have the following in place:

    A useful job description

    This should “speak” to the right potential candidate, informing them not just about the job itself but the type of person who would excel at it and the business culture that exists in your organisation.

    The time to dedicate to the recruitment process

    Particularly at the initial screening stage it can be time consuming to go through CVs – but it’s important to do it thoroughly.

    A strong interview structure

    It’s key to develop interview questions in advance – avoid any with a “yes” or “no” answer and focus on the questions that will give you insight into the characteristics of the candidate, not just skills and experience.

    Where to find your ideal candidates

    Many organisations make the mistake of looking in a limited number of places for candidates – which effectively restricts the talent available. In fact, there are lots of places where you can seek out new people for your business.

    Word-of-mouth and employee networks

    If your employees love working for you they are the best brand ambassadors when it comes to recruiting other top talent.

    Industry groups and memberships

    Your own networks and organisations and events (such as conferences) that regularly take place within the sector can be fertile recruitment ground for any business.

    Your website

    Dedicate a section of the website to “jobs” or “work for us” and provide any potential candidates with the information they might need to get in touch about making an application. Many of the best candidates are proactive in their job search and will find you first online, so ensure that your website shows the business off in its best light, including what the perks are for employees.

    Open communications

    You may have a pool of fantastic candidates but only be able to recruit one – that doesn’t mean you need to let the others escape you. Stay in touch with those who are interested in working for your business, from giving them the chance to sign up for the newsletter to sending out regular recruitment briefings.

    There are lots of options out there to help support every aspect of your recruitment process. From agencies and headhunters through to online recruitment websites and social recruiting experts, you don’t have to do it all alone.

    Our Recruiting the Best People course is designed to help you find and recruit the best possible people for your business. Book your place today.

  8. How can you implement great performance management techniques?

    Performance management is about so much more than just individual reviews and assessments. It’s an ongoing process that involves identifying goals, tracing the steps to take towards those goals and monitoring the progress that is made. Rather than something that happens once, maybe twice, a year, performance management is an ongoing process of guiding employees in the direction of progress. Although essential, performance management is often not a skill that many managers have – but it’s something that every great manager needs to learn.

    Performance management skills and techniques

    The ability to use SMART goal setting

    Guiding employees onward with SMART goals is a very useful technique for performance management. Those goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They should integrate the overall values and vision of the business but also be broken down into achievable steps for the employee to follow.

    A system of ongoing feedback

    Giving constructive feedback can be essential to employee progress. However, so many organisations wait to provide this feedback at a single performance review. More effective is an approach by which feedback is given as soon as the event or experience that triggered it has happened. Finding ways to instantly feed back to employees will make it much easier to manage performance on an ongoing basis.

    Balancing analysing the past with looking to the future

    Performance reviews often get too bogged down by what an employee has already done. Whether these are achievements or moments that left room for improvement, it’s never particularly constructive to dwell on them for too long. It’s essential to be able to balance this assessment with a forward-looking approach to achieve great performance management.

    Reflections on the past are always best positioned in the context of what could be done better in the future. Identify obstacles, issues, slow progress, as well as wider situations that may be affecting the team and then look for solutions, as opposed to getting stuck in too much analysis of historical events.

    Keep it simple

    It often seems that the less frequent a performance review is, the more complex it tends to be. Steer clear of extensive questionnaires, lists or forms to fill in and instead have regular face-to-face performance management sessions that require little or no preparation.

    These meetings can highlight issues, deal with areas where the employee needs help, identify achievements that can be built on and shift priorities appropriately. Most importantly of all, these regular management meetings ensure that communication is positive and frequent.

    Give the process credit

    Perhaps the most important part of performance management is gaining an understanding of just how important it really is. Managers who are doing it simply to tick the right box are unlikely to see – or reap – the full potential of successful performance management. It’s crucial to get behind the process and the vision to see real results.

    Our Performance Management course gives managers practical ways to help employees set and achieve realistic objectives. It’s ideal for those who are looking to improve performance management techniques.

  9. How can you improve the way that you manage credit control?

    Credit control is an important part of financial management for any business. It not only allows an organisation to build strong relationships with customers and accelerate sales but also helps to avoid potential problems that can arise from non-payment and bad debts. Improving the way that credit control is managed can be transformative.

    The consequences of poor credit control

    Credit control starts the moment that an order is placed. It’s a function that needs to be integrated throughout the rest of the business to ensure that it provides maximum input. Without effective credit control it’s easy for late payments to spiral into non-payments and bad debts. The consequences of this can range from a lack of cash flow in the business to the company being unable to pay its own debts. If credit control is currently poor then it’s crucial to take steps to improve the way that this is being managed.

    Improving credit control management

     

    Establish a clear credit control process

    It’s all too easy to overlook the need to have a clearly defined credit control process in place. This should cover all the stages involved, from the moment the order is placed to the point at which polite phone calls chasing invoices become more formal action.

    State your terms and conditions clearly up front

    It’s important to ensure that your customers know how long they have to pay. Equally crucial is making clear the steps that you will take where payments are late, including applying interest and fees.

    Carry out customer research

    It really pays to take the time to establish the viability of your customer before extending credit to them. Make sure you have key data such as name, address, company details and registration, as well as who is responsible for making the payments. You may even want to look into whether it’s worth getting a credit expert to carry out a credit check on your behalf (with the customer’s consent).

    Make sure your invoicing process is sound

    Be efficient when it comes to invoicing and make sure customers get theirs as soon as possible. Ensure that the invoice is correct, clear and addressed to the right person. It can be useful to include your payment terms on the invoice too.

    Give customers plenty of payment options

    The easier you make it for customers to pay (e.g. cheque, bank transfer, standing order, PayPal), the less likely you are to run into issues of non-payment.

    Keep a note of problem customers

    Maintain a regularly updated list of businesses or customers who have proven problematic in the past so that you don’t end up overextending credit to them in the future.

    Take action as soon as credit terms are exceeded

    Credit control requires swift action to avoid a late payment situation escalating. Don’t be afraid to take action – it is usually possible to preserve a positive relationship with a client by politely but firmly setting out what is required in terms of action on their part.

    Our Credit Control course is ideal for anyone looking to have a better understanding of credit control and how to manage it. Get in touch to find out more today.

  10. The importance of facilitation in the workplace and how to achieve this

    Facilitation is essentially a process by which consensus can be achieved. It is a method that enables more productive outcomes and so has significant value to any business. Managers with facilitation skills can help to ensure that outcomes are positive and group sessions or meetings remain focused and efficient. But what does facilitation look like in the workplace and what kind of skills does it require?

    Why is facilitation important?

    Having a facilitator in a meeting can completely change the experience of that meeting. Not only will the facilitator ensure everyone remains focused on the issues, saving time and resources often wasted on distracted discussion, but they will also be able to keep the momentum of the meeting moving. Facilitators can resolve disputes, manage difficulties and find a consensus that might otherwise have been out of reach.

    Achieving facilitation in the workplace

    Individual facilitation

    This type of facilitation is usually required where two people have found themselves at odds with each other. Being a facilitator here requires standing as an arbitrating figure, setting mutual goals or providing a debrief on a project or experience. It’s about finding consensus and a way to move forward past a dispute, as well as helping the individuals concerned to develop.

    Group facilitation

    The challenge in group facilitation is dealing with all the parties involved and keeping multiple minds focused on the same topic. This can be achieved in a number of ways:

    • Creating a structure for the meeting beforehand, designed to help achieve specific objectives and maintain momentum.
    • Ensuring that information or data is being presented simply and in a way that everyone at the meeting understands.
    • Getting everyone invested in the outcome of the meeting so that there is a sense of shared responsibility.
    • Establishing a process that will engage participants in achieving objectives before the meeting has even begun.

    Facilitation skills

    A number of key skills and characteristics are required for a good facilitator, including:

    • Being empathetic and developing strong listening and communication skills
    • A good understanding of interpersonal dynamics and how to manage them, for example creating a group signal that any of the participants can use to indicate the need for a
    change of pace, such as taking a time out or intervening to make a point.
    • Effective group leadership
    • Being able to structure training and team building so that everyone feels the desire to participate
    • Developing an understanding of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, such as using signals (e.g. a wave or eyebrow raise) to indicate that it’s time for someone else to speak or the topic needs further discussion.
    • Comprehension of group dynamics and not being afraid to intervene where necessary to preserve the flow of the meeting or session
    • A sound understanding of the infrastructure and processes of the workplace.

    Our Introduction to Facilitation Skills course is designed for those looking to use facilitation as a means to engage, enroll and enthuse people to adopt a change in working practices.

In-House Training with PTP

PTP stands for Practical Training for Professionals and our aim is to make our training as practical as possible so delegates can return to the workplace with skills they can implement immediately. PTP now delivers training to over 40% of the FTSE 100.

What you get for your money

What is 1-to-1 training?

1-to-1 training can be based on any of the 100 plus courses that PTP provides, it includes an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site one to one training session at your premises with one of PTP's expert trainers and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

You have the option of a line manager being involved in both telephone conferences, the second telephone conference which can be for feedback and action planning is generally scheduled during the on-site visit.

Who does 1-to-1 training suit?

Individuals taking on a new challenge or responsibilities. Professionals who want a trusted "sounding board" and thinking partner. Executives or managers who want to enhance their leadership effectiveness to achieve organizational and career success. Executives and professionals wanting to compete successfully but still retain balance in their life. Individuals who want to understand their blind spots so that they don't stand in their own way on their path to success. Executives and Professionals who want to improve their interpersonal skills so as to be more effective with bosses, peers, subordinates, or people in general. How much does 1-to-1 training cost?

A 1-to-1 training session costs from as little as £400 + VAT and will include an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site training at your premises and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

What is U-Choose?

Choose from any of the 150 plus courses that PTP provides, and choose from 1 of our 50 plus UK wide training venues. You must book for 2 or more delegates and at least 4 weeks in advance, but that’s it, the course you want where you want it. The reason we ask for a minimum of 4 weeks notice is to enable us to market the course you have scheduled to other companies and organisations. However, if we fail to sell any additional places we guarantee to run the course just for you.

How much does U-Choose Training cost?

U-choose costs the same as our normal open courses i.e. the normal delegate rate. This includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day, framed certification and comprehensive training notes. A U-Choose booking can only be confirmed once we receive payment which can be made via credit/debit card, BACS or cheque. Payment is due at least 4 weeks before the date you request. Please note to be eligible for U-Choose you must book a minimum of 2 delegates on the same course & date.