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Archive: Feb 2018

How to advance your negotiation skills

Posted: February 21, 2018 1:32 pm
Negotiation skills are crucial in business – and crucial in life. Effective negotiation opens the door to promotion and success, as well as improving negotiation outcomes and overcoming challenges. It’s a skill that so many leave it late in life to acquire but one that can provide essential support to career development early on.

Acknowledge that it’s time to make a change

One of the hardest parts of advancing negotiation skills is admitting that you might be in need of some help. If you know that you could do better on the negotiation front then be proactive about finding solutions. Formal courses and training are a very good place to start. Find the one that is right for you and then commit to the process – speak up during the training sessions, ask questions and find ways to contexualise what you’re learning so you can better apply it to your situation.

Commit to better preparation

The most skillful negotiations are usually informed by knowledge. Those who go into negotiations underprepared are often the first to make concessions and aren’t able to call on the necessary information to make the right point at the right time. Research and preparation are as crucial to a positive negotiation outcome as what happens during the negotiation itself. So, if you want to improve the way that you negotiate it all starts with how you prepare.

Accept that you’ll make mistakes

Whether this is during negotiation training or in an actual negotiation, no one is perfect and all of us make mistakes. The key is to find the lesson in the mistake and to learn what you can from a situation that has gone wrong. Feeling threatened or becoming defensive when you make a mistake will only curtail your ability to learn from it or find a more positive outcome. Remember that making mistakes isn’t an indication of problems or shortcomings in you, it’s simply highlighting where improvements could be made to take you forward on your negotiation journey.

Do as much negotiating as you can

If you’re going through a formal negotiation training process then you should have plenty of opportunity to practice. However, when it comes to this kind of practical skill there is simply no such thing as too much practice. So, whenever you are presented with the opportunity to negotiate, step up and practice what you’ve learned so far. Each situation will add something different to the negotiating skills that you already have and will provide an opportunity to grow and develop further.

Find a mentor

Alongside negotiation training it’s often useful to find a mentor to steer you through the process of improving the way that you negotiate. This is usually someone with a proven track record in negotiation who will be able to give you personal insights, offer advice and also provide assistance when it comes to practice and preparation. Our Advanced Negotiation Skills course is specifically designed to help you to update, review and assess the way that you negotiate and to take your skills to the next level. Contact PTP today on 01509889632 to find out more.

Learning to delegate - managing a workload within your team

Posted: February 15, 2018 1:31 pm
Successful delegation is crucial to improving results and critical when it comes to team operation. However, it’s not something that comes easily to many of us. If you’re keen to be a successful manager then learning to delegate is going to be a key skill. Why is delegation important?
  • Fostering team cooperation and sharing responsibility
  • Enabling more work to be completed in less time
  • Keeping team members engaged
  • Building team capacity
  • Avoiding overwork or imbalanced workloads
  • Developing effective management style

Learning how to delegate

There are many different ways to engage with delegation and ensure that your team is functioning effectively. A basic formula for success involves six key steps:

Define what you’re asking for

This is a crucial step in the delegation process, as it’s virtually impossible for anyone to deliver on a task that has been delegated to them if that task hasn’t been properly defined. What is the task, what is required and what results and expectations are involved?

Communicate the task

Once you’ve defined the task then the way it is communicated will also be key. It’s often easier to use the same framework every time, including key features such as budget, timing and task context, as well as when and how updates and progress will be managed.

Make sure that the communication is complete

Does the person you’re delegating the task to understand what is being asked of them? It only requires a short conversation to ensure that the message has been received and the task properly understood but it’s this stage that is so often skipped. You may want to avoid asking staff to repeat back to you what you’ve said – which can feel patronising. It’s often simpler to ask question to test knowledge or ask the person what their next steps will be to ensure that you’ve been understood.

Ensure that there is acceptance

It may be that steps 3 and 4 end up happening together but it’s crucially important to ensure that the person you’re delegating to has accepted the task and aligned their goals and objectives with yours. Are they committed to doing this and do they also understand what the consequences are of getting it wrong i.e. not completing the task on time or doing some or all of it without care and attention?

Once you’ve delegated a task don’t take it back

Delegation has to be a permanent move so once you’ve assigned the task and it has been accepted nothing should trigger its reversal back onto your plate. If someone is struggling with a delegated task then support them through it, help them with suggestions, ideas and resources – but ensure that the responsibility for completion remains firmly with the person it was delegated to.

Communicate throughout the process

Getting to a key date and finding that a delegated task isn’t going to be complete isn’t exactly the ideal scenario. Maintain communicating throughout the process so that the person handling the task is held accountable from start to finish and feels the need to deliver to expectations. We offer a 1 day delegation workshop to help you to hone this most important of management skills. We will cover all the essential delegation skills, cemented by a live practice with feedback. Get in touch today to find out more details.

What are the most effective approaches to employee appraisals?

Posted: February 9, 2018 4:26 pm
The process of employee appraisals differs from one organisation to another and will depend, to a certain extent, on the culture of the business. However, there are some key tactics that provide a solid foundation for any enterprise looking to get this essential element of employee engagement right.

Goal setting is key

Providing an employee with goals lays the foundation for performance by clearly setting out exactly what is required between now and the next appraisal. Such a transparent approach to progress gives employees the best possible chance of meeting the objectives that have been set for them and progressing in their careers. It also offers a method for measuring what has been achieved with more objectivity.

Employee evaluation needs to be unambiguous

Issues can arise with an appraisals process that is opaque and difficult for employees to understand. How does your organisation carry out appraisal and performance review – is there an element of self-appraisal, are employees also expected to review other staff on a 360-degree basis? Managing employee expectations over appraisals means providing full information so that there are no issues that arise over how the process is managed and what employees need to do in order to do well.

Setting standards requires clarity

What does it take to be an “outstanding” employee within your organisation? What kind of behaviour would put an employee in a difficult position at the other end of the scale? As well as individual goal setting and clarity on the appraisals process it’s also important that every employee understands what steps will take them to a very positive place, as well as the types of behaviour or performance that could be problematic. This kind of clarity not only ensures employees are well informed but provides considerable motivation too.

Feedback should be gathered broadly

Appraisals have more impact when a wider number of individuals have had input into them. Broad feedback also helps to avoid accusations of bias or a lack of objectivity – and is essential if you want to get a really clear picture of achievement, performance and personal engagement with the business culture. So, the best appraisal processes tend to be set up to draw feedback from multiple sources, as opposed to a single manager.

The positive and the negative require balance

In most situations there will always be something positive to say about an employee in an appraisal – very few are likely to be entirely negative. Focusing the appraisal on the positive and spending more time discussing these aspects of performance and behaviour can be more constructive than an appraisal designed purely to highlight problems or issues.

Appraisals should be a conversation

Gone are the days when appraisals were a tick box exercise during which the employee remained largely silent. Today, the most constructive appraisals are more of a conversation that includes discussion of the employee’s goals, career hopes, what more they feel they need from the business and how they can better develop at the company. For organisations looking to improve their approach to Managing Appraisals we offer a course designed to help businesses see the benefits of refining this process. Contact PTP today to find out more.

Bullying at work: A growing issue

Posted: February 5, 2018 4:23 pm
The problem of bullying at work has become a hot topic recently. And it is an issue that workplaces all across the country are struggling with. Newspaper reports at the end of 2017 indicated that even our best-established and most high profile institutions have not escaped the workplace bullying phenomenon, as one in five Westminster staff say they have been bullied.

What is bullying at work?

Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work. However, offices and work environments can be stressful and high pressure and sometimes the way that relationships unfold can be difficult for one of the parties involved. Bullying at work can take many different forms – unfortunately, it is not something that we leave behind in the school playground. Bullying could be many things, from name calling to physical abuse or even cyber bullying via social media.

Why is bullying sometimes easy to miss?

Many workplaces have a tendency to just look for ways in which to force everyone to “get on.” Sometimes problems between individuals may be written off as “a clash of personalities” or bullying behaviour attributed to a particular kind of management or leadership style. Victims are often blamed or regarded as provoking the bullying behaviour. Finally, many workplaces are still stuck in the idea that rough treatment is somehow “character building.” The reality is that negative remarks, intimidation, belittling or overly aggressive management don’t have any positive impact on the individual it is directed at – or on the broader workplace, particularly if it is allowed to continue. Where there is bullying at work it is important to have some kind of system in place to help prevent this from escalating or becoming an ingrained part of the business culture.

Taking steps to deal with bullying at work

Although bullying is not illegal, if the behaviour amounts to harassment then this could lead to a claim under the Equality Act 2010. This, plus the negative impact that bullying tends to have on an entire team, even those who are not the target, means that it’s important for every business to ensure that there is a process in place to deal with bullying at work. There are multiple elements to handling workplace bullying, including understanding why bullying happens and what motivates someone to bully. For those businesses looking to get to grips with workplace bullying it is important to look at the following:
  • Defining and dealing with difficult behaviour – being able to identify bullying behaviour is the first step towards dealing with the issue
  • Management and leadership styles – where might these cross the line into bullying?
  • Communication styles – changing communication styles can lead to better understanding between individuals
  • Organisational culture – bullying can become endemic in the business culture, even by accident
  • Organisational policy and strategy – policies are key to ensuring that bullying is dealt with quickly and does not escalate to harassment levels
The PTP Managing Bullying at Work course deals with all of the above, helping organisations to recognise and deal with workplace bullying and find constructive ways to move forward where problems have arisen.