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WHAT MAKES A GREAT MANAGER

The first steps to becoming a really great manager are simply common sense; but common sense is not very common. This article suggests some common-sense ideas on the subject of great management. 
 
The major problem when you start to manage is that you do not actually think about management issues because you do not recognize them.

 Put simply, things normally go wrong not because you are stupid but only because you have never thought about it. 

Management is about pausing to ask yourself the right questions so that your common sense can provide the answers. 


When you gain managerial responsibility, your first option is the easy option: do what is expected of you. You are new at the job, so people will understand. 

You can learn (slowly) by your mistakes and probably you will try to devote as much time as possible to the rest of your work (which is what your were good at anyway).

 Those extra little "management" problems are just common sense, so try to deal with them when they come up. 
Your second option is far more exciting: find an empty telephone box, put on a cape and bright-red underpants, and become a Super Manager. 

When you become a manager, you gain control over your own work; not all of it, but some of it. You can change things. You can do things differently. You actually have the authority to make a huge impact upon the way in which your staff work.

 You can shape your own work environment.
In a large company, your options may be limited by the existing corporate culture - and my advice to you is to act like a crab: face directly into the main thrust of corporate policy, and make changes sideways.

 You do not want to fight the system, but rather to work better within it. In a small company, your options are possibly much wider (since custom is often less rigid) and the impact that you and your team has upon the company's success is proportionately much greater.

 Thus once you start working well, this will be quickly recognized and nothing gains faster approval than success. 

But wherever you work, do not be put off by the surprise colleagues will show when you first get serious about managing well. 

STARTING A REVOLUTION

The idea of starting alone, however, may be daunting to you; you may not see yourself as a David against the Goliath of other peoples' (low) expectations. The bad news is that you will meet resistance to change. 

Your salvation lies in convincing your team (who are most effected) that what you are doing can only do them good, and in convincing everyone else that it can do them no harm. The good news is that soon others might follow you. 

There is precedent for this. For instance, when a British firm called Unipart wanted to introduce Japanese methods (Honda's to be precise) into their Oxford plan (The Economist - 11th April 1992 - page 89) they sent a small team to Japan to learn what exactly this meant.

 On their return, they were mocked by their workmates who saw them as management pawns. So instead they were formed into their own team and sent to work in a corner of the plant where they applied their new knowledge in isolation. 

Slowly, but surely, their example (and missionary zeal) spread through the factory and changes followed. 

Now Unipart have opened a new factory and the general manger of the first factory attributes the success to "releasing talent already on the shop floor". 

Of course one can always find case studies to support any management idea, but it does exemplify the potential of a small cell of dedicated zealots - led by you. 

Source: WHAT MAKES A GREAT MANAGER  by Gerard M Blair 

Can You Really Use Articles To Build Your List?

Getting customers in your site should always be ranked as high as the importance of the quality and the excellence of the product and the services you provide. 

They should go hand in hand in providing your customers the satisfaction they get in exchange for the money they have paid for them.

 Customer service should as well be as fantastic so that the customers are provided with the same satisfaction.

One of the ways you can combine marketing and customer service is through opt-in marketing. With an opt-in list you get the opportunity to introduce your site and products on a good time basis. 


Opt-in marketing strategy is a marketing strategy that is virtually low cost and not time consuming. Here, you get the consent of your website visitors to subscribe to your newsletters and other promotional materials such as catalogs and free promotions.

Opt-in marketing uses your list of subscribers to send e-mail to. These e-mails will contain the materials you will send to your subscribers. 


It is essential that you present your promotional items in a manner that will catch the interest and the eye of your subscribers to keep them wanting for more. The best way to do this is to provide fun, entertaining and informational articles.

Well written articles full of content and useful information will help in building your list as more subscribers will be enticed your list. 


When they have read the samples of your contents in your sites, they will be intrigued as to what will come next. Subscribing to your newsletter will offer them a glimpse of what you have to offer next.

Many sites and companies have captured the importance of articles and this also aids in search engine optimization. 


As more people are heading towards the internet for their information needs, serving the right information to them via articles in your site will increase the flow of your website traffic.  With more traffic, the percentage of your sales will grow. More sales turn into more profit.

There have been the rise for the importance of well written, information enriched and keyword packed articles for the content of their site as well as for newsletters.



 These articles provide the information many are seeking in the internet. If your site has them, more people will be going to your site for information and research.

Well written articles would also boost your sites reputation. If they are filled with many information you will be regarded as well informed and an expert on the subjects that you tackle.  


Your articles must be well researched so that the people will trust you. When you have gained their trust, they will always come for you for their needs on that subject.

In connection, you must write articles or commission them to tackle subjects that are closely connected with your type of business. If you have a site for a medicine tackling a certain disease, your articles must be about the diseases. Or if you sell materials for home improvements provide articles with those themes. 


Most articles searched for are tips, guidelines, methods, manuals and such. If you provide these articles to your customers and you have their trust, they will always go to your site for help and advice as well as for your products.

With the loyalty of these customers, they may subscribe to your opt-in list to receive all the information you have.


 If you provide them with the answers for that need, they will be happy to be receiving your newsletters as well as other promotional materials to keep them well informed.

 Others may even forward your newsletters to other people when they find a certain article interesting.

You should provide links in your newsletter so that when other people are reading it and wants to read more, they may click on the link and go to your site. 


With the articles you have in your site that are good, they may decide to sign up as well for your opt-in list. This will build your list and make it bigger.

Make sure to keep your subscribers happy and interested in your newsletters and promotional materials. Keep on posting and writing good articles for your site and newsletter. 


If you are not interested in writing them or if you just don’t have the time, there are many available well experienced and knowledgeable writers available to help you out.

 This is an investment that will pay for itself in time.

Build Your Self Esteem, A Starter Guide To Self Improvement

So how do you stay calm, composed and maintain self esteem in a tough environment?
Here are some tips you may to consider as a starter guide to self improvement.

Imagine yourself as a Dart Board. Everything and everyone else around you may become Dart Pins,
 at one point or another. These dart pins will destroy your self esteem and pull you
down in ways you won’t even remember. Don’t let them destroy you, or get the best of you.
 So which dart pins should you avoid?

Dart Pin #1 : Negative Work Environment


Beware of “dog eat dog” theory where everyone else is fighting just to get ahead.
This is where non-appreciative people usually thrive. No one will appreciate your contributions even if you miss lunch and dinner, and stay up late. 



Most of the time you get to work too much without getting help from people concerned.
 Stay out of this, it will ruin your self esteem. Competition is at stake anywhere.


 Be healthy enough to compete, but in a healthy competition that is.

Dart Pin #2: Other People’s Behavior


Bulldozers, brown nosers, gossip mongers, whiners, backstabbers, snipers, people walking wounded, controllers, naggers, complainers, exploders, patronizers, sluffers… all these kinds of people will pose bad vibes for your self esteem, as well as to your self improvement scheme.

Dart Pin #3: Changing Environment


You can’t be a green bug on a brown field. Changes challenge our paradigms. It tests our flexibility, adaptability and alters the way we think. 


Changes will make life difficult for awhile, it may cause stress but it will help us find ways to improve our selves.
 


 Change will be there forever, we must be susceptible to it.

Dart Pin #4: Past Experience


It’s okay to cry and say “ouch!” when we experience pain. But don’t let pain transform itself into fear. 


It might grab you by the tail and swing you around. Treat each failure and mistake as a lesson.

Dart Pin #5: Negative World View
Look at what you’re looking at. Don’t wrap yourself up with all the negativeness of the world.
In building self esteem, we must learn how to make the best out of worst situations.

Dart Pin #6: Determination Theory


The way you are and your behavioral traits is said to be a mixed end product of your
inherited traits (genetics), your upbringing (psychic), and your environmental surroundings
such as your spouse, the company, the economy or your circle of friends. You have your own identity.


 If your father is a failure, it doesn’t mean you have to be a failure too.
Learn from other people’s experience, so you’ll never have to encounter the same mistakes.

Sometimes, you may want to wonder if some people are born leaders or positive thinkers.
NO. Being positive, and staying positive is a choice. Building self esteem and drawing lines
for self improvement is a choice, not a rule or a talent. 


God wouldn’t come down from heaven and tell you – “George,
you may now have the permission to build self esteem and improve your self.”  

In life, its hard to stay tough specially when things and people around you keep pulling you down.
 

 When we get to the battle field, we should choose the right luggage to bring and armors to use,
 and pick those that are bullet proof. Life’s options give us arrays of more options.


 Along the battle, we will get hit and bruised. And wearing a bullet proof armor ideally means ‘self change’. 


The kind of change which comes from within. Voluntarily.
 Armor or Self Change  changes 3 things: our attitude, our behavior and our way of thinking.

Building self esteem will eventually lead to self improvement if we start to become responsible for who we are, what we have and what we do. Its like a flame that should gradually spread
like a brush fire from inside and out.


 When we develop self esteem, we take control of our mission, values and discipline. Self esteem brings about self improvement, true assessment, and determination. 

So how do you start putting up the building blocks of self esteem? Be positive. Be contented and happy. 


Be appreciative. Never miss an opportunity to compliment.


 A positive way of living will help you build self esteem, your starter guide to self improvement.

Vision, Prescience and Flexibility

Vision in that the future must be seen and communicated to the team; Values in that the team needs a unifying code of practice which supports and enhances co-operation; Verve in that positive enthusiasm is the best way of making the work exciting and fun. 

If you do not think your work is exciting, then we have found a problem. A better word than Verve might be Chutzpah (except that it does not begin with a "V") which means "shameless audacity". 

Is that not refreshing? Inspiring even? A manager should dare to do what he/she has decided to do and to do it with confidence and pride.

VISION

One of the most cited characteristics of successful managers is that of vision. Of all the concepts in modern management, this is the one about which the most has been written. 

Of course different writers use it in different ways. One usage brings it to mean clairvoyance as in: "she had great vision in foreseeing the demise of that market".

 This meaning is of no use to you since crystal balls are only validated by hindsight and this article is concerned with your future. 

The meaning of vision which concerns you as a manager is: a vivid idea of what the future should be. This has nothing to do with prediction but everything to do with hope.

 It is a focus for the team's activity, which provides sustained long-term motivation and which unites your team. A vision has to be something sufficiently exciting to bind your team with you in common purpose. This implies two things:
  • you need to decide where your team is headed
  • you have to communicate that vision to them
Communicating a vision is not simply a case of painting it in large red letters across your office wall (although, as a stunt, this actually might be quite effective), but rather bringing the whole team to perceive your vision and to begin to share it with you.

 A vision, to be worthy, must become a guiding principle for the decision and actions of your group. 

Now, this vision thing, it is still a rather nebulous concept, hard to pin down, hard to define usefully; a vision may even be impractical (like "zero defects").

 And so there is an extra stage which assists in its communication: once you have identified your vision, you can illustrate it with a concrete goal, a mission


Which leads to the creation of the famous "mission statement". Let us consider first what is a mission, and then return to a vision.
A mission has two important qualities:
  • it should be tough, but achievable given sufficient effort
  • it must be possible to tell when it has been achieved
To maintain an impetus, it might also have a time limit so that people can pace their activity rather than getting winded in the initial push. The scope of your vision depends upon how high you have risen in the management structure, and so also does the time limit on your mission statement. 


Heads of multinational corporations must take a longer view of the future than the project leader in divisional recruitment; the former may be looking at a strategy for the next twenty-five years, the latter may be concerned with attracting the current crop of senior school children for employment in two-three years. Thus a new manager will want a mission which can be achieved within one or two years. 

If you are stuck for a mission, think about using Quality as a focus since this is something on which you can build. Similarly, any aspects of great management which are not habitual in your team at the moment could be exemplified in a mission statement. 

For instance, if your team is in product design, your mission might be to fully automate the test procedures by the next product release; or more generally, your team mission might be to reduce the time spent in meetings by half within six months. 

Once you have established a few possible mission statements, you can try to communicate (or decide upon) your vision.

 This articulates your underlying philosophy in wanting the outcomes you desire. Not, please note, the ones you think you should desire but an honest statement of personal motivation; for it is only the latter which you will follow with conviction and so of which you will convince others.

 In general, your vision should be unfinishable, with no time limit, and inspirational; it is the driving force which continues even when the mission statement has been achieved. 

Even so, it can be quite simple: Walt Disney's vision was "to make people happy". As a manager, yours might be something a little closer to your own team: mine is "to make working here exciting". 

There is no real call to make a public announcement of your vision or to place it on the notice board. Such affairs are quite common now, and normally attract mirth and disdain.

 If your vision is not communicated to your team by what you say and do, then you are not applying it yourself. It is your driving motivation - once you have identified it, act on it in every decision you make. 

PRESCIENCE

Prescience is something for which you really have to work at. Prescience is having foreknowledge of the future. Particularly as a Protector, you have to know in advance the external events which impact upon your team. The key is information and there are three type:
  • information you hear (tit-bits about travel, meetings, etc)
  • information you gather (minutes of meetings, financial figure, etc)
  • information you infer (if this happens then my team will need ...)
Information is absolutely vital. Surveys of decision making in companies reveal that the rapid and decisive decisions normally stem not from intuitive and extraordinary leadership but rather from the existence of an established information system covering the relevant data. Managers who know the full information can quickly reach an informed decision. 

The influences upon you and your team stem mostly from within the company and this is where you must establish an active interest.

 Let us put that another way: if you do not keep your eyes open you are failing in your role as Protector to you team. Thus if your manager comes back from an important meeting, sit down with him/her afterwards and have a chat.


 There is no need to employ subterfuge, merely ask questions. If there are answers, you hear them; if there are none, you know to investigate elsewhere.

 If you can provide your manager with suggestions/ideas then you will benefit from his/her gratitude and future confidence(s). You should also talk to people in other departments; and never forget the secretaries who are normally the first to know everything.

Now some people love this aspect of the job, it makes them feel like politicians or espionage agents; others hate it, for exactly the same reasons. The point is that it must be done or you will be unprepared; but do not let it become a obsession. 

Gathering information is not enough on its own: you have to process it and be aware of implications. The trick is to try to predict the next logical step from any changes you see. This can get very complicated, so try to restrict yourself to guessing one step only.

 Thus if the sales figures show a tailing off for the current product (and there are mutterings about the competition) then if you are in development, you might expect to be pressured for tighter schedules; if you are in publicity, then there may soon be a request for launch material; if you are in sales, you might be asked to establish potential demand and practical pricing levels. 


Since you know this, you can have the information ready (or a schedule defence prepared) for when it is first requested, and you and your team will shine. 

Another way of generating information is to play "what if" games. There are dreadfully scientific ways of performing this sort of analysis, but reasonably you do not have the time. The sort of work this article is suggesting is that you, with your team or other managers (or both), play "what if" over coffee now and then. 

All you have to do is to postulate a novel question and see how it runs.
A productive variation on the "what if" game is to ask: "what can go wrong?"

 By deliberately trying to identify potential problems at the onset, you will prevent many and compensate for many more. Set aside specific time to do this type of thinking. Call it contingency planning and put in in your diary as a regular appointment.

FLEXIBILITY

One of the main challenges in management is in avoiding pat answers to everyday questions. There is nothing so dull, for you and your team, as you pulling out the same answer to every situation. It is also wrong.

 Each situation, and each person, is unique and no text-book answer will be able to embrace that uniqueness - except one: you are the manager, you have to judge each situation with a fresh eye, and you have to create the response. 

Your common sense and experience are your best guide in analyzing the problem and in evolving your response.

Even if the established response seems suitable, you might still try something different. This is simple Darwinism. By trying variations upon standard models, you evolve new and potentially fitter models. 

If they do not work, you do not repeat them (although they might be tried in other circumstances); if they work better, then you have adapted and evolved.

This deliberate flexibility is not just an academic exercise to find the best answer. The point is that the situation and the environment are continually changing; and the rate of change is generally increasing with advancing technology.


 If you do not continually adapt (through experimentation) to accommodate these changes, then the solution which used to work (and which you still habitually apply) will no longer be appropriate. You will become the dodo.

 A lack of flexibility will cause stagnation and inertia. Not only do you not adapt, but the whole excitement of your work and your team diminish as fresh ideas are lacking or lost.


Without detracting from the main work, you can stimulate your team with changes of focus. This includes drives for specific quality improvements, mission statements, team building activities, delegated authority, and so on. 

You have to decide how often to "raise excitement" about new issues. On the one hand, too many focuses may distract or prevent the attainment of any one; on the other hand, changes in focus keep them fresh and maintain the excitement. 

By practising this philosophy yourself, you also stimulate fresh ideas from your team because they see that it is a normal part of the team practice to adopt and experiment with innovation. Thus not only are you relieved of the task of generating the new ideas, but also your team acquire ownership in the whole creative process.


The really good news is that even a lousy choice of focus can have a beneficial effect. The most famous experiments in management studies were conducted between 1927 and 1932 by E Mayo and others at the Hawthorne works of the Western Electric Company in Chicago. 

The study was originally motivated by a failed experiment to determine the effect of lighting conditions on the production rates of factory workers. This experiment "failed" because when the lighting conditions were changed for the experimental group, production also increased in the control group where no changes had been made.


 Essentially, Mayo took a small group of workers and varied different conditions (number and duration of breaks, shorter hours, refreshments, etc) to see how these actually affected production. 

The problem was not that production was unaffected but rather that whatever Mayo did, production increased; even when conditions were returned to the original ones, production increased. 

After many one-to-one interviews, Mayo deduced that the principal effect of his investigations had been to establish a team spirit amongst the group of workers. 

The girls (sic) who had formally worked with large numbers of others were now a small team, they were consulted on the experiments, and the researchers displayed a keen interest in the way the girls were working and feeling about their work. 

Thus their own involvement and the interest shown in them were the reasons for the girl's increased productivity.

By providing changes of focus you build and motivate your team. For if you show in these changes that you are actively working to help them work, then they will feel that their efforts are recognized. If you also include their ideas in the changes, then they will feel themselves to be a valued part of the team.

 If you pace these changes correctly, you can stimulate "multiple Hawthorne effects" and continually increase productivity. And notice, this is not slave driving. The increased productivity of a Hawthorne effect comes from the enthusiasm of the workforce; they actually want to work better.

A GUIDE ON RSS TOOL

RSS is an abbreviation that has evolved into the following, depending on their versions:

·    RDF Site Summary (also known as RSS 0.9; the first version of RSS)

·    Rich Site Summary (also known as RSS 0.91; a prototype)

·    Really Simple Syndication (also known as RSS 2.0)

Today, RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication', and it has the following 7 existing formats or versions:

·    0.90
·    0.91
·    0.92
·    0.93
·    0.94
·    1.0
·    2.0

RSS tools refer to a group of file formats that are designed to share headlines and other web content (this may be a summary or simply 1 to 2 lines of the article), links to the full versions of the content (the full article or post), and even file attachments such as multimedia files. 



All of these data is delivered in the form of an XML file (XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language), which has the following common names:

·    RSS feed
·    Webfeed
·    RSS stream
·    RSS channel


They are typically shown on web pages as an orange rectangle that usually has the letters XML or RSS in it.

RSS feeds can be used to deliver any kind of information. Some of these 'feeds' include:

·    Blogs feed - each blog entry is summarized as a feed item. This makes blog posts easier to scan, enabling 'visitors' to zoom in on their items of interest.

·    Article feed - this alerts readers whenever there are new articles and web contents available.

·    Forum feed - this allows users to receive forum posts and latest discussion topics.

·    Schedule feed - this allows users (such as schools, clubs, and other organizations) to broadcast events and announce schedule changes or meeting agendas.

·    Discounts or Special feed - this is used to enable users (such as retail and online stores) to 'deliver' latest specials and discounted offers.

·    Ego or News Monitoring - this enables users to receive 'filtered' headlines or news that are based on a specific phrase or keyword.

·    Industry-specific feed - used by technical professionals in order to market, promote, or communicate with current (and prospective) customers and clients within their specific industries.

RSS feeds enable people to track numerous blogs and news sources at the same time. 


To produce an RSS feed, all you need is the content or the article that you want to publicize and a validated RSS text file. 

Once your text file is registered at various aggregators (or 'news readers'), any external site can then capture and display your RSS feed, automatically updating them whenever you update your RSS file.

RSS tools are useful for sites that add or modify their contents on a regular basis. They are especially used for 'web syndication' or activities that involve regular updates and/or publications, such as the following:

·    News websites - as used by major news organizations such as Reuters, CNN, and the BBC.
·    Marketing
·    Bug reports
·    Personal weblogs

There are many benefits to using RSS feeds. Aside from being a great supplemental communication method that streamlines the communication needs of various sectors, RSS tools and feeds can also have tremendous benefits in your business, particularly in the field of internet marketing.

RSS tools and feeds provide Internet users with a free (or cheap) and easy advertising or online marketing opportunity for their businesses. Below are some of the RSS features that can help make your internet marketing strategies more effective.

1. Ease in content distribution services. With RSS, your business can be captured and displayed by virtually any external site, giving you an easy way to 'spread out' and advertise them.

2. Ease in regular content updates. With RSS, web contents concerning your business can now be automatically updated on a daily (and even hourly) basis.


 Internet users will be able to experience 'real time' updates as information in your own file (such as new products and other business-related releases) is changed and modified simultaneously with that of the RSS feeds that people are subscribed to.

3. Custom-made content services. With RSS, visitors can have personalized content services, allowing them total control of the flow and type of information that they receive. 


Depending on their interests and needs, visitors can subscribe to only those contents that they are looking for (such as real estate or job listings).

4. Increase in (and targeted) traffic. With RSS, traffic will be directed to your site as readers of your content summary (or 1 to 2 lines of your article) who find them interesting are 'forced' to click on a link back to your site.

These are just several of the many things that you can do with RSS. The possibilities are endless, and they are all aimed at providing you with an effective internet marketing strategy for your business.

The Three Faces Of A Good Manager

The manger of a small team has three major roles to play:  

Planner
A Manager has to take a long-term view; indeed, the higher you rise, the further you will have to look. 

While a team member will be working towards known and established goals, the manager must look further ahead so that these goals are selected wisely. 

By thinking about the eventual consequences of different plans, the manager selects the optimal plan for the team and implements it.

 By taking account of the needs not only of the next project but the project after that, the manager ensures that work is not repeated nor problems tackled too late, and that the necessary resources are allocated and arranged.
Provider

The Manager has access to information and materials which the team needs. Often he/she has the authority or influence to acquire things which no one else in the team could. 

This role for the manager is important simply because no one else can do the job; there is some authority which the manager holds uniquely within the team, and the manager must exercise this to help the team to work.

Protector

The team needs security from the vagaries of less enlightened managers. In any company, there are short-term excitements which can deflect the work-force from the important issues. 

The manager should be there to guard against these and to protect the team.

 If a new project emerges which is to be given to your team, you are responsible for costing it (especially in terms of time) so that your team is not given an impossible deadline. 

If someone in your team brings forward a good plan, you must ensure that it receives a fair hearing and that your team knows and understands the outcome.

 If someone is in your team has a problem at work, you have to deal with it.

A General Approach To Management Skills

In management there is always a distant tune playing in the background. Once you hear this tune, you will start humming it to yourself: in the shower, in the boardroom, on the way to work, when watching the sunrise. 

It is a simple tune which repeats again and again in every aspect of your managerial life; if goes: 

 
PLAN - MONITOR - REVIEW 
Before you start any activity you must STOP and THINK about it: what is the objective, how can it be achieved, what are the alternatives, who needs to be involved, what will it cost, is it worth doing? When you have a plan you should STOP and THINK about how to ensure that your plan is working. 


You must find ways of monitoring your progress, even if it is just setting deadlines for intermediate stages, or counting customer replies, or tracking the number of soggy biscuits which have to be thrown away, whatever: choose something which displays progress and establish a procedure to ensure that happens.

 But before you start, set a date on which you will STOP again and reTHINK your plan in the light of the evidence gathered from the monitoring. 

Whenever you have something to do, consider not only the task but first the method. 

Thus if there is a meeting to decide the marketing slogan for the new product you should initially ignore anything to do with marketing slogans and decide: 

1) how should the meeting be held, 

2) who can usefully contribute,

 3) how will ideas be best generated, 

4) what criteria are involved in the decision,

 5) is there a better way of achieving the same end,

 6) etc. If you resolve these points first, all will be achieved far more smoothly. 


Many of these decisions do not have a single "right" answer, the point is that they need to have "an" answer so that the task is accomplished efficiently. It is the posing of the questions in the first place which will mark you out as a really great manager - the solutions are available to you through common sense. 

Once the questions are posed, you can be creative. For instance, "is there a better way of producing a new slogan?" could be answered by a quick internal competition within the company (answers on a postcard by tomorrow at noon) asking everybody in the company to contribute an idea first.

 This takes three minutes and a secretary to organise, it provides a quick buzz of excitement throughout the whole company, it refocuses everyone's mind on the new product and so celebrates its success, all staff feel some ownership of the project, and you start the meeting with several ideas either from which to select a winner or to use as triggers for further brainstorming. 

Thus with a simple -- pause -- from the helter-skelter of getting the next job done, and a moment's reflection, you can expedite the task and build team spirit throughout the entire company.


It is worth stressing the relative importance of the REVIEW. In an ideal world where managers are wise, information is unambiguous and always available, and the changes in life are never abrupt or large; it would be possible for you to sit down and to plan the strategy for your group. 


Unfortunately, managers are mortals, information is seldom complete and always inaccurate (or too much to assimilate), and the unexpected always arrives inconveniently. The situation is never seen in black and white but merely in a fog of various shades of grey. 

Your planning thus represents no more than the best guess you can make in the current situation; the review is when you interpret the results to deduce the emerging, successful strategy (which might not be the one you had expected). 

The review is not merely to fine-tune your plan, it is to evaluate the experiment and to incorporate the new, practical information which you have gathered into the creation of the next step forward; you should be prepared for radical changes. 

LEADERSHIP
There is a basic problem with the style of leadership advocated in this article in that nearly every historic "Leader" one can name has had a completely different approach; Machiavelli did not advocate being a caring Protector as a means of becoming a great leader but rather that a Prince ought to be happy with "a reputation for being cruel in order to keep his subjects unified and loyal".

 Your situation, however, is a little different. You do not have the power to execute, nor even to banish. The workforce is rapidly gaining in sophistication as the world grows more complex. You cannot effectively control through fear, so you must try another route. 


You could possibly gain compliance and rule your team through edict; but you would lose their input and experience, and gain only the burdens of greater decision making. You do not have the right environment to be a despot; you gain advantage by being a team leader. 

A common mistake about the image of a manager is that they must be loud, flamboyant, and a great drinker or golfer or racket player or a great something social to draw people to them. This is wrong.


 In any company, if you look hard enough, you will find quiet modest people who manager teams with great personal success. If you are quiet and modest, fear not; all you need is to talk clearly to the people who matter (your team) and they will hear you.


The great managers are the ones who challenge the existing complacency and who are prepared to lead their teams forward towards a personal vision. They are the ones who recognise problems, seize opportunities, and create their own future. 

Ultimately, they are the ones who stop to think where they want to go and then have the shameless audacity to set out.

Gerard M Blair is a Senior Lecturer in VLSI Design at the Department of Electrical Engineering, The University of Edinburgh. 

His book Starting to Manage: the essential skills is published by Chartwell-Bratt (UK) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (USA). He welcomes feedback either by email (gerard@ee.ed.ac.uk) or by any other method found here

Reading RSS Feeds with an RSS Aggregator

RSS Meaning Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary is the latest information management tool that is gradually earning popularity among web users and website owners. 

With RSS technology, it is possible to get the latest postings from your favorite websites. 


But clicking on the RSS or XML button in a homepage is not enough to give you the service you need. 

An RSS feed or code displayed in the pop-up screen if not on the main page is composed of symbols and words that would only make sense to advanced RSS users and computer programmers and software enthusiasts. Another software tool called an RSS aggregator or reader is needed.

An aggregator works by scanning the worldwide web with latest postings based on the RSS code (containing the website’s URL) provided or added by the user. 




When it finds a new posting, news, or update, it will publish the RSS feed on your home page containing the title of the posting, which also serves as a clickable link to the website source.


 This RSS feed may or may not contain the whole article, a summary, and photos, depending on what RSS aggregator you are using.

Aggregators come in two types: the downloadable program or desktop-type and the online or web-based type. The desktop aggregator usually charges a certain amount for its services; this would include regular updating in the form of upgrades or patches to the original version. 



This type of RSS reader allows more customization of RSS feeds as well as page format or design over its on-line counterparts. But of course, price can be a drawback.

On-line or web-based aggregators are free of charge. All you need to do is register an account with them then you can start enjoying their services. 



Depending on the “brand” of the aggregator, customization is more limited. Some even do not allow you to customize at all.

Product and service advertisers are realizing the potential of RSS aggregators in internet marketing. In fact, several submit RSS codes to several popular web-based aggregators to reach the growing technophile and internet-based market. My Yahoo has been instrumental in popularizing RSS technology to both users and website owners and advertisers.

At present, there are many aggregators to choose from and newer versions of the same aggregator are constantly developed by its programmers.

Below are some of these desktop and online aggregators:


Desktop Aggregators
 

1.    AmphetaDesk
 

Advantages:
-    free
-    supports Linux, Mac, and Windows
-    easy addition of RSS feeds

Disadvantages:
-    not maximized use of screen display
-    few options for customizing

2.    FeedDemon
 

Advantages:
-    user friendly
-    free trial version
-    contains prepared popular feeds
-    allows filtering of RSS feeds
-    configurable “watch list” to manage junk RSS feeds
-    search channel feature that incorporates other RSS services e.g. Feedster
-    allows feed storage for future use
-    tabbed browsers for channel navigation
-    built-in podcast receiver

Disadvantages:
-    supports only Internet Explorer (embedded)
-    paid software (`$29.95)


Online Aggregators
 

1.    Bloglines
 

Advantages:
-    all major browsers supported (e.g. Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, Firefox)
-    user-friendly especially for beginners
-    free, web-based aggregator
-    easy registration
-    no advertisements
-    contains its own directory of RSS feeds of thousands of websites
-    personal email account for subscribing to newsletter emails (optional)
-    allows privacy adjustments for personal blogs
-    allows saved searches
-    mobile version available
-    10 languages supported
-    Additional add-on tools for automated blogrolls and subscription buttons

 

2.    NewsGator
 

Advantages:
-    free (consumer-standard version)
-    provides personalized news channel
-    allows translation of RSS articles into email format
-    synchronization of feeds in several devices possible
-    browse and search feed capabilities save time on surfing
-    allows keyword filtering
-    blog headlines
-    button-click automatic subscription to news feeds

Disadvantage:
-    Outlook-based thus limited to Windows

3.    My Yahoo
 


Advantages:
-    Free web-based aggregator
-    user-friendly
-    customizable home page design
-    button-click subscription to RSS feeds
-    built-in directory and search tool for feeds
-    wide variety of feeds e.g. news (science, technology, local), weather
-    connects to all Yahoo features and services

Disadvantage
-    banner advertisements


There are also lightweight RSS aggregator extensions which are actually plug-ins to existing internet browsers. An example of which is Sage aggregator.

Advantages:
 

-    free of charge
-    beginner-friendly
-    reeds both RSS and Atom feeds
-    allows feed discovery
-    can be assimilated to Firefox bookmark (storage and live)
-    allows OPML feed lists imports and exports
-    customizable style sheets
-    supports a wide range of locales e.g. Catalan, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Polish, Slovenian, etc.
-    easy installation

Disadvantages:
-    good for about 12 RSS feeds
-    limited use to Mozilla-Firefox and Mozilla-Firefox supported browsers


RSS developers promise better features in future versions of their aggregators. Microsoft is planning to include a built-in aggregator in their next Windows version. 


These developments are definitely something to look forward to by all internet aficionados.

New Education Loan Repayment Scheme in the US

In a sign that education is highly prioritized by the United States government, it has been offering for quite some time student loans for college and graduate students who need assistance. 

The goal of the program is very obvious: to help students get on to earn degrees despite continuously rising costs.


 It is a common knowledge to everyone that US students are quite independent. That is why they are left to make ends meet and finance their own endeavors.
Thousands of college and graduate students across the country are benefiting from the program. Many are earning their degrees with much financial hassle.

 The catch is that those students are mandated and required to repay their student loans after they graduate. This scheme is a welcome note to most students, who really are in dire need to pay for their education. But repaying loan amounts for a number of years (average about 10 years) could be a daunting task to most.

There is good news amid the current financial crisis and the pressured job market. The federal government’s Income Based Repayment program recently allowed that it would finally allow student borrowers to cap monthly loan repayments at just about 15% of total annual income. 


This move is expected to particularly benefit new graduates who are faced with big loan repayments amid a tough employment market these days. Graduates with lower income and with children would be required to pay much lower repayments monthly, or in specific cases, none at all.

This scheme would encompass federal loans, which account for around 66% of total student debts. Private loans made by students are not covered, though private lenders may always offer their own incentives. 


This is obviously and logically a welcome note to all student borrowers. However, student borrowers who have already been on defaults would not enjoy the program. 


It is estimated that about 60% of US students with bachelor’s degree have student loans. On the average, such students accumulate $23,000 in student borrowings. 


For a typical 10-year loan repayment program, the amount would require them to pay about $260 monthly. Medical students on the average have bigger student loans at about $106,000 each. This translates to higher monthly repayments after graduation.

Because of the new student loan repayment scheme, graduates who earn about $30,000 annually would only be required to pay just up to $172 monthly. 


Those who earn up to $40,000 annually would pay $297 monthly. The scheme is set to help those borrowers feel some ease in repaying monthly student loan dues. It is a welcome note especially these days, when the economic crisis is still very much felt across the US.

Graduates who are employed by public service offices are entitled to more perks. For 25-year student loans, remaining loan balances would be written off. The scheme would lower repayments by up to 10 years.

The US education system has always been a role model for many countries. The country is really a nation valuing education at most. The student loan programs are indeed proof that the government is bent on helping the youth solidify their potential for the future.


 If only other countries could also offer the same program, many teenagers would earn degrees that would qualify them to better jobs and of course, better sources of income.

Who Said Being Fired Was The End Of The Road.

Your life may well have just begun! In 40 points:
  1. Go for a walk A long walk. Preferably barefoot on a very long strip of beach. Imagine you're leaving the past job and past life behind you with every step you take. Throwing pebbles and large stones into the ocean optional. Avoid swimmers even if they resemble old colleagues.
  2. Get your finances in order Make sure you are on a sustainable budget and that your savings are invested at the optimal risk/ reward ratio given your age, state of unemployment and expenditures.
  3. Post your CV on the best regional internet job site Then lie back while the site's Saved Search does all the work.
  4. Make a list of everything you hated about your job Keep referring to it when you feel like screaming.
  5. Make a list of everything you hate about yourself Burn that list in a little bonfire in a midnight ritual - you are now ready to resume life as a new, improved YOU.
  6. Go to your favourite restaurant Order everything you've ever wanted to eat there and eat it all at once. Then order some more.
  7. Go for a long swim in the ocean Pretend you're never coming back - but make sure you can. Alert lifeguard on duty before you embark on this exercise.
  8. Go for a cruise in your car blasting your favorite song at full volume Then sing along at the top of your voice and don't mind the stares you get from scared or concerned motorists. If your boss sees you, all the better...
  9. Take up kickboxing in the evenings A great way to vent your anger and frustration and at the same time network with other angry overworked, underpaid or unemployed professionals.
  10. Go somewhere you've always wanted to go Whether it be that 5-bedroom motel in a neighbouring village, a riverside shack in Thailand or a 5* hotel in Switzerland now is the time to indulge. Make sure you stay long enough to unwind without depleting your hard-earned savings.
  11. Buy a trashy novel and read it all in one go Comfy pillow and assorted junk food items need to be at hand.
  12. Call your best childhood friend Cry to her/him about the injustice and degradation of it all.
  13. Go window-shopping in the most expensive part of town Make a mental inventory of all those items you will buy when you land the next job.
  14. Open a cook book and make a lavish dinner for 20 Invite everyone you can locate at short notice. Tell them all when they come that you're looking for a job.
  15. Go for a manicure/pedicure Whine to the manicurist about the perils and boredom of unemployment.
  16. Go for a long massage Then have them remove you supine, on a stretcher.
  17. Go through your old photographs Remember what it was like when you had your whole life ahead of you and the world seemed plush with opportunities. Stay in that mind-frame.
  18. Buy all the flavours of your favorite ice-cream brand Then invite one friend to a comedy movie night.
  19. Organize all the cupboards in your house Purchase fragranced tissue lining paper, line your clothes closets and put one fragranced tissue paper on top of each meticulously folded item of clothing. Colour code your closets and tissue paper for an added sense of achievement.
  20. Put fresh flowers in every corner and crevice of your house Nothing like that fresh scent and the sight of live blooms to lift your spirits.
  21. Take up a new hobby Now is the time to discover and nurture the nascent Botticcelli or Tchaikovsky in you. Make sure to offend. Practice musical overtures on anyone who will listen (or won't) and make sure your artistic endeavours grace everything from the milk bottles you hand back to the milkman every morning to the t-shirt your best friend lent you, the window that most overlooks the neighbours' living room and the dining room ceiling your husband took pains to plaster.
  22. Go to Disneyworld Regress to that time in your life when only the important things mattered. Local variation on Disneyland will do if finances/ visa requirements/ state of nervous breakdown don't permit travel.
  23. Learn a Language Buy a beret and enroll in an intensive French course or pick up German to go with your newly found infatuation with Beethoven. Make sure the course is a daily one and that you take pains to immerse yourself in the language and the culture.
  24. Buy a Goldfish Name him after the manager who fired you. That way when the goldfish is deceased - and they have a horrible habit of doing that - your grief will be short-lived. In the meantime, admire the miraculous peace and serenity of this life form in your house. This is NOT a recipe for sushi.
  25. Enrol in a Charity Nothing like doing good things for other people to lift the spirit and give you a sense of achievement and fulfillment. You don't need to feel very strongly about the charity - just do something that unselfishly puts you out on a limb for someone else's sake.
  26. Open a stock trading account and try to beat the indices Move aside back issues of Cosmopolitan and Archie and start collecting finance and trade literature. You will also need spectacles (rectangular brown tortoise shell), a coffee maker and a computer in the bedroom. Can be done in your Tintin pajamas but make sure you only put your bowling money on the line at this stage.
  27. Take up Photography Then redecorate your hallway with a series of bleached wood framed black-and-white photographs of your favorite person or scene.
  28. Find a Friend with a Baby Nothing like spending time with a candy-wrapped bundle of innocence and laughs to recharge your batteries and remind you of what matters most.
  29. Read Proust's Remembrances of Things Past And console yourself with dreams of buying a French chateau, complete with bubbles, when you succeed in your next job.
  30. Do a thorough self-analysis Who are you really? What makes you tick? What do you really like and enjoy? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where would you like to be? Put this self-analysis down on paper and use it to plan your next career move.
  31. Take a Course Hone your skills whether they be business, finance, marketing or other by enrolling in the best course available, in or out of town, and giving it your all.
  32. Start polishing your Job Search Skills Sift through job hunting articles on a major site's Career Center and read everything you can get a hold of on job hunting skills.
  33. Learn to bake bread An endangered skill and one that is a conversation-stopper in cocktail parties and a sure winner if you are inviting your other half to an intimate dinner for two at home.
  34. Exercise your body back into shape Who says you can't look like you did when you were twenty? Join a gym and attend daily for an hour; you should see results within 3 weeks.
  35. Practice your interviewing skills on anyone who will listen Read Interview Tips and Interview Don'ts in Bayt.com's career center.
  36. Don't waste time No time like the present to network, research companies you want to work for and apply to all the positions you find attractive on a regional job site.
  37. Spread the grief Join a Workstyle Community Forum where you can share your experiences, ideas, hopes and aspirations with other professionals.
  38. Plan for Success Repeat 100 times:- You WILL succeed in your next job, you WILL succeed in your next job, you WILL succeed in your next job... envisioning yourself as a high flyer in your field. Then pick up a pen and paper and plan in intricate detail for that success.
  39. Read industry literature Now is the time to catch up on all those trade magazines and periodicals you haven't had time to read on your job. Bringing yourself up to speed on the latest developments in your industry is sure to impress in your next interview.
  40. Remember, the sky's the limit You will work hard, play fair and be good to those around you. In short, you will SUCCEED wildly, extravagantly and beyond your wildest dreams. You just need to get started...
Source: From The career experts at the Middle East's #1 job site www.bayt.com

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