NCPC Empowers Young Entrepreneurs towards Increased Productivity

Information Processing, E-Commerce, Social Media Marketing and Customer Service Will All Be Touched On At The EventThe National Productivity and Competitiveness Council (NCPC) reinforces its commitment towards promoting increased productivity and competitiveness by embarking on actions and activities which educate and encourage a mind-set change amongst the Saint Lucian citizenry.

Continuing on in this vein, the Council is seeking to empower and encourage future success amongst young entrepreneurs to equip them with the tools which will promote increase in innovations and by extension making their businesses more competitive.

To this end, the NCPC will be hosting as part of Productivity Awareness Week 2015 “The Competitiveness Enrichment Seminar” which will be held on October 15, 2015 from 9 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the ICT Centre on Bourbon Street, Castries.

The seminar will feature informative and engaging sessions touching on, amongst others, subjects such as Information Processing, E-Commerce, Social Media Marketing and Customer Service.

Event organiser Marina Suraj of the NCPC states:

‘If you are between the ages of 18-35 years and are an entrepreneur with a micro-business, this opportunity is for you!

The NCPC encourages persons who are interested in attending this one day session to contact their offices between Monday and Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. before September 25, 2015 to indicate your interest. All interested persons are asked to register for this event at the earliest as a limited number of spaces are available.

A short profiling questionnaire has been designed and placed on the NCPC Facebook page for persons who wish to attend.  You are welcome as well to visit our offices located on the Second Floor of the Financial Centre Building, Bridge Street, Castries to obtain and complete the eligibility form.  The form seeks to ascertain the eligibility based on the age requirement which qualifies you the entrepreneur as “youth” and other pre-set features which identify your business as a “micro-enterprise.

For those who maybe working within the day but would still like to attend one of the events, we will be hosting a young entrepreneur’s mixer on the evening of 16th October, at The Blue Coral Mall from 6pm to 9pm. This will be a great networking event where numerous linkages can be made to help anyone along the way in relation to growing their business. Again, numbers are limited so we encourage those interested to get in touch with us at the earliest convenience.”

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How to be a Productive Intern this Summer…

St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association Apprenticeship Scheme Intern Melissa Mondesir

St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association Apprenticeship Scheme Intern Melissa Mondesir

Internships provide real world experience to those looking to explore or gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to enter into a particular career field. Internships are relatively short term in nature with the primary focus on getting some on the job training and taking what’s learned in the classroom and applying it to the real world.

Internships are an excellent way to begin building those all-important connections that are invaluable in developing and maintaining a strong professional network for the future.

Each year, thousands of students gain experience by doing summer internships. In order to be successful at your internship this summer here are seven tips that could help you make your stint productive.

Start your day early

Set your morning alarm earlier than usual and swing by the office ahead of time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this extra time in the morning can be very useful. This allows you the chance to complete a few tasks, check your inbox, and feel less rushed throughout the day.

Write  down  everything

Whether you consider yourself to be an absorbent sponge it never hurts to carry a notebook. When you have to remember important information, you won’t need to waste time racking your brain, but can open up your handy notes instead. Invest in a quality notebook or two and always keep them handy throughout the day for easy access.

Utilize to-do lists     

Keeping a planner or to-do list can be help you keep track of your daily and weekly assignments as an intern. Remember, time management is crucial to becoming more productive. You will be thankful that you have everything scheduled neatly once your tasks and weekly meetings start to pile up.

 Take regular breaks

Taking regular breaks may sound counterproductive however this will increase your performance at work. Studies have shown that breaks can help increase attention span as well as prevent fatigue and eyestrain from sitting at your desk all day. Everyone needs time to unwind and stretch- take a water break, make small talk with staff or take a few minutes to meditate.

Eat snacks
Don’t go hungry during your internship; snack on some healthy treats for extra energy and brain power. Skip the  sugary sweets that can make you feel sluggish and grab something quick for the office for example almonds (a handful is rich in vitamin E, calcium, and potassium), fresh or dried fruits (naturally sweet and also strengthen your immune system), or carrots with hummus (which has protein, calcium, iron, and can improve your eyesight).

Ask for help

Try to avoid being the intern who refreshes their outlook inbox every five seconds waiting for something to do. Ask your supervisor or any other colleague in your department if there are additional tasks that needs to be done. Always ask for guidance if you are unsure of how to complete tasks and bear in mind that you are there to learn and grow. Showing initiative and interest will definitely increase opportunities for growth.

 Meet everyone you can 

You’re an intern in an office filled with industry professionals make use of this opportunity to network. Start by saying “hello” to people in the hallways, and always make sure to introduce yourself. The connections you make at your internship can not only keep you busy at work today, but also land you your dream job five years down the line. Remember to stay connected with everyone you meet (and add them on LinkedIn)!

What is your idea of a productive summer vacation?

Productive Summer Vacations Are The Most MemorableHave you ever asked yourself ‘what makes a good summer vacation’? Some feel that a favourable vacation consists of simply laying back and doing as little as possible.  They see a vacation as a period of time when schedules are banished and deadlines are ignored. There are others however who live life under the premise that every second of every day must be spent in a structured and orderly way. They believe that no period of time should be unregulated and thus wasted. How an individual spends their time off is a personal decision, and no one way should ever be viewed as wrong but for those who would prefer to follow a productively active plan, there are some actions that can be taken to help you do so.

Wake Up Early

Nothing eats away at your summer break like staying beneath the covers for most of the morning.  Decide the previous day when you will get out of bed, then make sure to follow through. During the first few weeks of your vacation, chances are that you will relish the opportunity to sleep in. It’s okay to do this and to give yourself a break but try not to make it a practice throughout the duration of your holiday as you may well end up spending the entire time in bed.

Maintain Good Health and Hygiene

Just because you are not obligated to leave your home every day during your vacation, it does not mean that you have to let yourself go. Take care of your health and hygiene.  You may also consider taking some summer fitness classes to get into shape or to help improve on the great shape that you already have.  If you are not too interested in joining a formal fitness club or group you should still try to get outside and have fun every day.

Study

Research a topic of interest, make some time to find out about something new. Your studying does not have to be limited to a book or the internet however. Go out to a museum, a gallery or a library to find out more about the chosen subject.  If you are a student, remember that studying remains essential throughout the school year. Look over last year’s notes or do some research into what next year’s courses have in store. When school resumes, you`ll be grateful that your academic knowledge and skills have not deteriorated.

Join a Volunteer Group

There are always groups around the community in need of some help. Give up some of your time to help out. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Go To Camp

Camps do not only pertain to children. Adult camps may be in operation under a different name or format.  Ask around, you may be surprised at how many adult community activities are in operation that offer the chance of learning something new.  You could learn to write, draw, bind books, make photo albums, knit and so much more. Try something new and different, something that you know nothing whatsoever about and you will gain a new skill and possibly find a lifelong hobby to love.

As stated, everyone has their own idea of what makes a good summer vacation and no one way is better than another but if you are not travelling abroad or planning anything elaborate for your summer break you can still make it memorable by making it productively active.

Important Productivity Lessons for Children

Productivity Lessons Can be Learnt From A Young Age

Productivity Lessons Can be Learnt From A Young Age

Defining the concept of productivity to a child can prove challenging. The children’s online dictionary ‘kids.net.au’, defines productivity as “the quality of being productive or having the power to produce.”  It is also listed as being “the ratio of the quantity and quality of units produced to the labour per unit of time.”  It is questionable however as to whether either of these definitions could be easily understood by a child. Therefore, to better assist children with a coherent understanding of the concept of productivity, parents must resort to a more practical approach through demonstration of productive practices, explaining the productive elements to be found within each approach. With continuity in the practice of teaching and employing everyday practical productivity practices, a combination of efficiency, good preparation, effective use of learning tools and materials will prove evident in the children’s need always to execute all tasks to the best of their ability.

Simple productive habits to be demonstrated to your children include,

Take Notes to Remember Something Important-

Taking notes eliminates the prospect of your child having to try to recollect information at a later date. Trying to remember important information that has not been written down can prove time consuming. In taking notes, the knowledge needed is always at hand. If your child does not like the prospect of carrying around a pencil and a notepad, get them to use their tablet or smartphone. It is the action of note taking that is important, not the instrument that they use to do so.

Put Things Back Where They Belong-

This action not only prevents the home from becoming cluttered, it actually saves your children from wasting time in the future. By placing items back where they belong, the prospect of having to look for them at a later date is eliminated. This practices teaches a very effective time saving strategy.

Do Not Put Tasks On Hold Until the Last Minute-

Using the time allocated for a certain project properly, will help improve your child’s time management skills. Effective use of the time given to complete a project will also allow your child to carry out the task at hand to the best of their ability.

Pack Your Belongings the Night Before-

By making this simple task into a habit, your child will be able to observe the effects of good preparation. Getting ready for school in the morning takes time. This task illustrates how effectively this can be done once they have packed their school bag the night before. They will also be able to see how this exercise plays a vital role as it pertains to the time they get to school in the morning and how it allows for them to be properly organised in advance.

 

The Better You Communicate, the Better You Will Be Understood-

Children should be taught from a young age that communication is key. The better they are at communicating, the more likely they will be understood by those they are communicating with. Better communication helps to prevent false assumptions. Good communication allows for messages to be received and responded to efficiently. It dispels confusion, eliminating the possibility of time being wasted on a wrong action.

Not all children are keen on learning new lessons, especially when it means that they have to change the way in which things are done. However once a lesson becomes a habit, and the worth of each habit is realized your child will be appreciative of the productivity lessons instilled in them at a young age. It is only right to place children on the correct path which will lead to them becoming productive adults. In this way, they will be better prepared for their lives ahead.

A Productive Job Search

Carry Out A Productive Job Search

Carry Out A Productive Job Search

Productivity is a necessity within all aspects of life. Whether old or young, employed or unemployed, productivity is key. That being said, for those seeking employment productivity plays an exceptionally important role. Having a high level of unemployment means that when a job opening exists, hundreds, if not thousands of individuals will be found applying for the same job. It should therefore be the objective of each applicant to ensure that their respective applications are set apart from all others thus securing them a place in the interview process and ultimately success in landing the job.

In the interim, ensuring positive results begins with a ‘productive’ job search.

A productive job search must be handled like a full time job, with schedules and varying strategies being adopted.  The process may be time consuming and a little stressful, but the end result will be well worth it as the objective is to ensure that the job seeker gets employed.

There are ten basic parts to a successful and productive job search. They include:

  • Networking; Maintaining current contacts and making new ones.
  • Monitoring of Online Presence; Most companies effect online searches on their prospective employees therefore it is important that your online profile exhibits a positive portrayal of yourself.
  • Searching For Jobs; An active effort must be made to constantly check listings and other avenues for employment opportunities and job openings.
  • Researching Companies; Be knowledgeable of the companies for which job openings exist. Ensure that you align yourself with the work of the company and its vision.
  • Updating Resumes; Your resume must be constantly updated to include new and relevant information.
  • Writing Cover Letters; Your resume must be accompanied by an eye-catching, well written cover letter. This document must articulate your potential as the right candidate for the job.
  • Applying To Jobs; Unwavering pursuit of employment must be evident in the approach to writing and dispatching job applications – remain actively engaged in this practice.
  • Following Up on Applications; Never assume that your application was received. Follow up with a short email or a phone call to confirm receipt.
  • Interviewing For Jobs; Be readily available when called upon for job interviews.
  • Following Up on Interviews; Always thank the organisation for having made the time to see you and enquire about the next stage of the hiring process.

Alongside the aforementioned, there are other strategies that aid in making the process of looking for a job more productive. For example, a job seeker should:

  • Make Plans

Allocate certain days for certain activities and stick to the schedule. For example make Mondays, and Wednesdays the days to follow up with networking contacts and Tuesdays and Thursdays the days to research new companies worth applying to. Fridays could then be reserved for following up on any job applications sent off the previous week.

  • Maintain a Spreadsheet of Activities

Information spreadsheets are a vital aid for jobseekers. They help by keeping them up to date and on track of where they are within the whole job seeking process. Included should be all information relating to all jobs applied to. Note down the names of the companies contacted, the date applications were sent off, the individuals contacted and the dates when follow up activities should begin. It is also advisable to have a networking spreadsheet which should contain all relevant information pertaining to all networking carried out.

  • Always Rework Resumes and Cover Letters for Specific Jobs

It may not be necessary to rewrite an entire resume and cover letter for every job, but certain keywords, the summary of qualifications, and the letter’s content should be updated for each job. This will take longer than sending out the same standard cover letter and C.V but applications will be much more targeted, making them more effective.

Anyone who has ever been unemployed would agree that when looking for a job, it can be disheartening when applications are continuously sent out with there being little to no positive feedback. However, the key is never to give up! Persistence coupled with a productive action plan will help bring about a productive output. One which will give rise to the right person being hired for the right position, within the right organisation.

Maintaining A Productive Staff

Maintaing A Productive Staff Does Not Have To Be Hard Work

Maintaining A Productive Staff Does Not Have To Be Hard Work

Every good business owner or successful supervisor works hard at giving their staff the encouragement they need for them to be productive.  This creates the right environment needed to support strong individual contributions and full team participation alike. Employees are then able to provide the best in service for clients.

That having been said, a conscientious manager is one who is also aware of the fact that employees fall into varying categories, each needing to be managed and held accountable to high standards. When individuals are not held to the same high standards as their colleagues, team morale is destroyed and productivity is weakened.

In his article ‘Getting The Best From Your Staff’, Ian Ferguson, contributor to the Bahamas Tribune lists the categories that employees fall into as being,

  • The Highly Motivated and Competent Employee
  • The Highly Competent and Discouraged Employee
  • The Hard Working and Dedicated, Yet Low Skilled Employee and
  • The Low Skilled, Low Productivity Employee.

The Highly Competent and Motivated Employee

These individuals are seen as being the prized jewel within any organisations crown. They give 100% effort, are self-starters and have a lot to offer. They enjoy their work and so they give their all when trying to achieve company objectives.

Even though this category of employee contains highly competent individuals, they should still be given the opportunity to grow through new assignments, expanded roles and positive reinforcement.

The Highly Competent but Discouraged Employee

The highest number of employees fall within this category. These individuals have a lot to offer, but their attitude towards work has become jaded. This has resulted in their resolve being to do the bare minimum.

There are many reasons why an employee might find themselves within this category. From disillusionment to boredom, the cases vary. Regardless of the reason, these employees must be identified and communicated with. Quick action can result in them becoming some of the most valued assets to a company. Strides must be taken by those in charge to re-engage them within meaningful tasks, with their efforts being applauded along the way.

The Hard Working yet Low Skilled Employee

Many leaders make the mistake of confusing hard work, commitment and dedication with efficiency and competence. Some would actually argue that it is so rare to find people with good work ethic these days that once found these employees should simply be rewarded for their efforts. This is not always the best approach. A hard working dedicated employee who is low skilled should be encouraged continuously to improve on their competency. An individual such as this is indeed a credit to any organisation, but imagine how productive a worker they would be within the company if they were fully trained within their role. These employees must be inspired to engage in talent development initiatives and supported along the way. This will bring about a proficient and well-rounded employee.

The Low Skilled, Low Productivity Employee

There will always come a point in time when a business owner or supervisor will find this individual under their directive. It often baffles onlookers as to how these employees have been allowed to continue within their role without reprisal. The fact is that their lack of productivity is noted, yet many in a leadership role believe that it is only fair to give them the chance to improve on their performance. Opportunities given are seldom ever taken however.

Ferguson states’

‘Companies must make the sometimes difficult yet necessary decision to release such employees, once every effort has been made to build capacity and provide training and learning opportunities for them.’

Keeping this type of employee on as part of any working team often leads to a drop in morale amongst other more productive and committed members of staff. It would be wrong to ever let this happen.

Differing personalities make up the staff of any given company or organisation. Each has within them their own level of dedication to the organisation and as such they each deliver a varied level of service. By knowing the staff that work alongside them on a day to day basis, their personalities and their skills, a good manager is able to motivate each individual in the right way. This in turn bringing about a high level of productivity from all in employ.

TEAM DIVERSITY AND YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE

Are you a planner, prioritizer, visualizer or aranger

Are you a planner, prioritizer, visualizer or an arranger

It takes a lot to be a competitive company within the global marketplace. From focussing on customer values, to being innovative with new processes, services and products. It is hard work maintaining a competitive edge! To remain ahead of the competition, supervisors must be attentive to all aspects involved in making the company a success; continuously assessing how each facet functions.

An element that continuously needs to be assessed is that of the company’s staff. The presence of a variable, competent and capable staff can at times make or break an institution.  Many a time, it is the way in which staff carry out their day to day tasks and implement innovative ideas that guarantees success. However, not all staff members are the same. Individuals often have their own work style and it is an amicable mix of these work styles that often gives a business its distinct competitive edge.

Within her article ‘Your Team May Have Too Many Prioritizers and Planners’ in the Harvard Business Review, author Carson Tate lists the four types of workers needed in a successful company. They are planners, prioritizers, arrangers and visualizers.  Planners and prioritizers can be described as individuals who are analytical, linear and data and detail orientated. They pride themselves on their ability to be undoubtedly organized, precise and committed to honouring deadlines. Whilst arrangers and visualizers are supportive, expressive, and emotionally intelligent big-picture thinkers. They generate ideas and take risks.

In a recent assessment conducted by the Harvard Business Review over 46,000 people were evaluated to identify their personal productivity style. Specific questions were asked to help people to self-analyse and recognise how they think, learn and communicate best. On evaluating the results certain trends were found. Forty-seven percent (47%) of participants were recognised as Prioritizers, whilst thirty-seven percent (37%) illustrated the traits of Planners. These work styles align with the expectations and key drivers of performance in many of today’s leaner, more streamlined organisations, therefore they are a necessity. Easily recognisable for their abilities, prioritizers and planners are usually the most likely to get promoted.

Only 19% of those assessed turned out to be Arrangers, whilst 18% demonstrated Visualizer tendencies. However, companies need people of all types. Due to this Arrangers and Visualizers also have their importance. Think about it, if companies are unable to connect with their customers offering break through products and services, no amount of prioritizing and planning will ensure the long term viability of the company.

Managers and supervisors as leaders need to know and understand their own work style and those of their employees ensuring a balance of thinking and approaches. Realistically, most organisations probably won’t have a team in which Prioritizers, Planners, Arrangers, and Visualizers are all equally represented. However, new people or outside experts can be brought in to bridge the gaps. In preparation for this it is important to find out what work styles the workers in the workplace presently exhibit. By giving each person a new project to work on, their work style can be determined. On receiving information about the new task each staff member will have questions of their own pertaining to it. The questions asked will give some indication as to what category they fall under.

Faced with a new project, for example, Prioritizers would ask:

  • What is the goal?
  • What is the deadline?
  • What data or facts are necessary?
  • What metrics will be used to evaluate success?

Planners would ask:

  • How will the project be delivered?
  • How will the project be completed? Is a project plan necessary?
  • How will information about the project be communicated?

Arrangers would ask:

  • Who are the project stakeholders?
  • Who else needs to be involved?
  • Who can support you in achieving the goals of the project?

Visualizers would ask:

  • What are the gaps between where you are today and where you want to be at the end of the project?
  • Why does this project matter to the team and the organization?
  • What barriers can you foresee that will need to be addressed as you implement this project?

If you’re leading a team that is heavily weighted toward one or two work styles, recognize the value in rebalancing it. Work style diversity is the making of a productive team that will focus on all aspects – the big picture and the details, ideas and execution and purpose and profits.