Month: July 2014

Top Tips for Resolving Conflicts

Being a good project manager involves being excellent at resolving conflicts quickly before they spiral out of control. Stop small quibbles right in their tracks and address the problem quickly, or your entire project may fall apart. The following websites will give you that all essential knowledge to get what you need from your team and have a smooth journey to the finish line!

1) http://www.accenture.com/gb-en/outlook/Pages/outlook-journal-2013-better-way-to-resolve-business-conflicts-outsourcing-bpo.aspx Top of the list has to be advice straight from Accenture itself – better take the advice of the management consultants themselves!

2) http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/11/how-to-manage-conflict-in-virt/ Do you often work in teams that include people not actually present in the room with you? Virtual teams can be even harder to manage – take a look at the Harvard Business Review’s response to this

3) http://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/conflict-resolution/conflict-resolution-and-negotiation-across-cultures/ Misunderstandings can often occur when working with a multicultural team. Make sure communication is open says this Harvard Law School blog

4) http://www.notredameonline.com/resources/negotiations/6-simple-workplace-conflict-resolution-techniques/#.U8j0BvldXD8 The University of Notre Dame gives their top 6 tips for resolving conflicts in the workplace

5) http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/11/dont-send-that-email-pick-up-t/ Having a dispute with colleagues? Don’t do it over email where things can be misconstrued – pick up the phone says the Harvard Business Review

6) http://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-approaches-conflict-resolution-21360.html Some short points here but with links to other related articles

7) http://www.businesslistening.com/conflict_resolution-2.php A step by step approach of how to deal with business clients or partners who disagree in the boardroom

8) http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/feb2011/sb2011024_744270.htm An interesting article in Businessweek with the founder of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.

9) http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/glp/25986/Workplace-Conflict-Resolution.html 10 workplace resolution tips here – and enter your email address for the complete ebook free!

10) http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/resolve.htm 4 ways to a win-win solution to your problems at work

And there you have it…now stop those arguments in their tracks and be a winning negotiator! Now that is an invaluable skill for a consultant.

10 ways to deal with high pressure workloads

Consulting is renowned for demanding a lifestyle that is hectic and busy, with work expected to be completed to deadlines, no matter how much work that may involve. Sometimes it may seem that there just aren’t enough hours in the day and an insurmountable mountain of worry is ahead. As a new graduate to the consulting world, this is probably even more acutely felt. Learning how to deal with stress in a positive way is extremely beneficial for a healthy working life. The following 10 websites give some great advice to calm you down in periods of intense stress.

1) http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/managing-your-career/1254/tips-for-time-management-and-balancing-a-busy-workload/ A great list of tips and advice from jobs.ac.uk on balancing a heavy workload

2) http://www.helpguide.org/mental/work_stress_management.htm A very detailed guide on how to cope with stress at work

3) http://psychcentral.com/lib/6-ways-to-stress-less-at-work/0007478 This psychology website offers several suggestions on ways to stress less at work

4) http://catherinescareercorner.com/2011/02/26/10-tips-to-help-you-deal-with-a-heavy-workload-at-work/ Plenty of tips on this career blog about how to deal with heavy workloads. The blog tagline is ‘Energy and persistence conquer all things’ – a good piece of advice to heed!

5) http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/seasonal-workload-changes.htm An article that talks about how to deal with stress at work when the stress levels fluctuate throughout the year – often a common problem in management consultancy as pressure increases when nearing a project deadline

6) http://www.contentextra.com/publicrelations/files/topicguides/PR_TopicGuide_11_1.pdf A printable document outlining how to effectively plan your workload – a very good way to avoid the build of stress

7) http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/centers/cwf/research/publications/pdf/workload_ebs.pdf Boston College academic document on workloads – but the table on p7 is rather useful

8) http://creativeboom.co.uk/tips/how-to-effectively-manage-your-workload/ A simple blog posts with useful tips to reduce workloads and make them into manageable pieces

9) http://www.pmctraining.com/forms/index.asp?tid=169 Performance consultants offer their top five tips on managing workloads

10) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/20/12-ways-to-eliminate-stress-at-work/ Forbes gives their top 12 tips on eliminating stress

11) http://business.time.com/2014/01/22/5-scientifically-proven-ways-to-reduce-stress-at-work/ Time Magazine’s Business Blog offers 5 ‘scientifically proven ways’ to reduce stress at work here

12) And for those who are looking at interview questions which address this pressing issue, take a look at the Targetjobs answer http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/interview-techniques/320311-how-do-you-manage-your-time-and-prioritise-tasks-tricky-graduate-interview-questi

 

In 10 days master the art of persuasion and influence

In all business, the art of persuasion and influence is extremely important. If you’re selling a product you have to make people want to buy it and if you’re working in any sort of team you have to use these skills to bring everyone together and perhaps to accept your train of thought. Good ideas get nowhere if you can’t explain them and be persuasive in your arguments for why your idea should be used.
In consulting, persuasion is important for the teamwork you will be involved in when on a project and also importantly for presenting your proposals to clients. It can be difficult to deal with anger from a client. Sometimes the results of your research might be damning and as an outside opinion it is easy to be picked on. Your solutions might not suit everyone either and may include job cuts and price reductions. But at the end of the day, positive influence is useful to get any business to achieve its goals and as a consultant trying to help businesses reach such goals, a positive tone and positive persuasive technique will get you far.

Over the next 10 days, take a look at the following articles….and you’ll be a master in no time!

1) http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/12/21/classical-rhetoric-101-the-three-means-of-persuasion/ The ancients knew the best ways to persuade and influence others – their epic speeches preserved by authors who recorded their impact. Learn Aristotle’s three means of persuasion as your persuasion foundation!

2) http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/persuasion-influence-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html The Dummies Cheat Sheet for Persuasion and Influence is, as always, a great concise reference guide. If you want more, get the book ‘Persuasion and Influence for Dummies’ by Elizabeth Kuhnke (read the Part 1 preview here: http://media.johnwiley.com.au/product_data/excerpt/74/04707473/0470747374-128.pdf)

3) http://www.theconnectornetwork.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/21waystopersuade.pdf A printable guide of 21 ways to persuade people, with emphasis on the workplace

4) http://www.influenceatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/E_Brand_principles.pdf Professor Caildini from Arizona State University gives a 6 point guide to increase the profitability of a brand through persuasion and influence

5) http://www.ebscohost.com/uploads/corpLearn/pdf/IncreaseYourInfluenceatWork.pdf A preview of the book ‘How to Increase your influence at work’ by Perry McIntosh and Richard A. Leucke

6) http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/03/the-practical-art-of-persuasio/ An article on the Practical Art of Persuasion from the Harvard Business Review

7) http://www.successful-blog.com/1/influence-how-to-persuade-anyone-in-business-to-do-what-you-want/ A great blog post listing ways in which to get people in business to do whatever you want!

8) http://hbr.org/web/special-collections/insight/communication/the-necessary-art-of-persuasion Harvard Business Review with the four essential steps to take in the ‘Necessary art of Persuasion’

9) http://www.growthink.com/content/getting-others-do-what-you-want A short blog post but no less useful in explaining ways to get people to do what you want

10) http://www.successful-blog.com/1/hierarchy-of-influence-what-achieves-the-results-you-need/ Another great blog post, this time focusing on how to build influence in the workplace

 

Be a better public speaker in 2 weeks!

A major part of a consultant’s job is making presentations. If you are a shy public speaker, it’s time to boost your confidence and your skills – no-one will be persuaded or interested in listening to someone who is offering solutions to a business but doesn’t seem confident in them themselves. Read/watch/listen to one of these a day for 2 weeks and you’ll have all the know-how to go from shy and timid to a rhetorical maestro!

1) http://www.cpsradio.com/show/public-speaking/ A great podcast here on how consultants can hone their public speaking skills. The transcript is written below in an easy to read numbered format in case you don’t want to listen.

2) http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/assessment-centres/275423-deliver-a-presentation-thats-worthy-of-a-graduate-job Scared of the presentation at the Assessment Centre for your graduate job? Well read this on how to give an effective speech in front of your peers

3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/speaker/improve/ A recent BBC competition about public speaking gives lots of tips and info on this site

4) http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/PublicSpeaking.htm Lots of links in this article to other pages about public speaking, including interviews with voice coaches

5) http://www.toastmasters.org/mainmenucategories/freeresources/needhelpgivingaspeech/tipstechniques/10tipsforpublicspeaking.aspx Free resources from this public speaking society. Find a toastmasters group near you to test out and improve your skills before the interview!

Toastmasters also have an excellent youtube channel here covering everything from conquering fear to engaging your audience https://www.youtube.com/user/Toastmasters/videos

As a taster, here are 5 top tips:

6) Want to be as powerful a speaker as Obama? Forbes takes a look at 3 of the tricks Barack Obama uses for his incredible speeches:

7) https://www.youtube.com/user/RealMenRealStyle Real Men Real Style is a Youtube channel presented by Antonio Centeno which covers everything a man needs to know about how to present himself – both in fashion and in behaviour. Here Antonio talks about 10 ways to make a speech more powerful, but take a look at some of his other videos too as things such as other things he covers such as dressing well and feeling more confident can help you to deliver a better speech.

8) http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/06/14/becoming-well-spoken-how-to-minimize-your-uhs-and-ums/ Do you have a tendency to fill sentences with ‘uhhh’ and ‘ummm’ when you’re doing a speech? Doesn’t sound very professional. The Art of Manliness explains how to minimise these ‘fillers’ when you’re nervous or ad libbing – your colleagues will sure be impressed!

9) http://www.artofmanliness.com/2011/01/26/classical-rhetoric-101-the-five-canons-of-rhetoric-invention/ The Art of Manliness offers an excellent series on Classical Rhetoric here – the ancients after all did understand the principles of a powerful speech, so better to take their word for it!

10) http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-easy-ways-to-improve-your-public-speaking/ 10 easy ways to improve your public speaking offered by Tech Republic

11) http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2014/01/06/six-ways-to-be-an-amazing-public-speaker/ A great article in Forbes on 6 simple ways to be better at your public speaking, including an acrostic mneumonic to remember the key aspects of an audience.

12) http://socialanxietydisorder.about.com/od/copingwithsad/a/speech.htm About.com offering their general list of help pages, this one to overcome anxiety in public speaking

13) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201305/5-tips-reducing-public-speaking-nervousness Psychology Today offers 5 tips on how to reduce stress and nervousness when speaking

14) http://www.matteventoff.com/fear-of-public-speaking-25-tips.html And to finish off – a list of 25 quick fire tips to improve!

Now go out there and show them what you’re made of!

10 resources to improve your mental maths

Consulting is not just about complex financial modeling in Excel – mental maths is equally important so you can do quick calculations and respond to queries from clients easily. It can also help to ensure the complicated formulas you’ve entered in Excel are working correctly – a tiny mistake could jeopardize the overall results.

The best way to improve mental maths is simply by practice…though if you like to do some reading beforehand ‘Secrets of Mental Math’ by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer comes highly recommended

The following 10 resources will help to improve your mental maths skills:

1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/maths  The BBC offers a good selection of maths skills for adults here, covering calculations to fractions, percentages and graphs. Includes games and videos for easy learning

2) https://www.youtube.com/user/tecmath A great youtube channel full of tips and tricks to get you round the ins and outs of everything mental maths related! As a taster, here is how to calculate sums super fast…

3) http://www.speed-maths.com/ Games and articles with hints on how to improve speed maths. Includes number squares which may be useful if you have a memory that can remember pictures well

4) http://arithmetic.zetamac.com/ A tough 2 minute arithmetic speed drill here!

5) http://www.netagency.co.uk/keyedin2/mental.html Tests hereinclude percentages and decimals – each answer must be given within 15 seconds so keep your eye on the time!

6) http://www.momonix.com/calc/ A great simple maths generator that gives you sums that you must enter the answer to.

7) http://www.quizfactor.com/quiz/mental-arithmetic/80 20 question maths quiz that races against the clock!

8) http://www.fibonicci.com/math/mental-arithmetic-test/ Easy, medium and hard tests here – the hard section includes squared roots and powers! That’s pretty nifty to do that in your head!

9) http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2012/05/09/everyday-ways-to-improve-your-mental-math-skills/ An interesting article here on how looking at the world with a maths focus in your everyday life will improve your mental maths

10) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/math-workout/id497620537?mt=8 Why not download the ‘Math Workout’ App? Perfect to keep your brain ticking over the essential mental maths know how when you’re on the go, rather than only doing the sudoku in the paper…!

Now after you’ve completed all these exercises, take the Telegraph’s primary school maths test comparison http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/primaryeducation/9820408/Can-you-pass-the-primary-school-maths-test.html

And the Guardian’s GCSE one next…! http://www.theguardian.com/education/quiz/2013/aug/22/are-you-smarter-than-a-16-year-old-gcse-maths-quiz

See – all that stuff you did at school sometimes does come back to bite you! So keep the mental maths practice fresh!

Top Tips for Consultants on the go!

One of the major draws for people wanting to get into management consulting is the potential for a lot of travel. Getting to see some of the world whilst working seems like an ideal job – but you must remember that travelling for business is very different to travelling for fun. The following websites give tips and advice for consultants living life on the planes, trains and automobiles of the world out there…

 http://managementconsulted.com/consulting-life/top-5-myths-about-travel-as-a-management-consultant/ A run down of the good and bad myths that surround management consulting travelling

http://ignacioescribano.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/travel-tips-for-consultants.html General travel advice blog but this is a good informative article on the challenges faced by management consultants as they spend their life on the road.

http://www.myconsultinglife.com/travel-tips-every-new-road-warrior-needs-to-know/ 11 top tips from a consultant on what to do to make your journeying that bit more pleasant and less of a chore.

http://www.base36.com/2013/02/11-traveling-tips-for-technical-consultants/ A blog post from Base 36 with 11 tips for travelling consultants

http://freshpatrol.com/confessions-of-a-traveling-consultant/ Confessions straight from the mouth of a travelling consultant!

http://roshanga.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/my-travel-tips.html  Another blog from a travelling consultant who has been on the road for 10 years

http://www.carolroth.com/blog/traveling-great-business-travel-tips/ Carol Roth offers business travelling tips on her blog

http://www.businessinsider.com/experienced-business-travelers-reveal-their-favorite-travel-tips-2013-10?op=1 Business Insider describes the most important things to consider when business travelling

http://www.fastcompany.com/3001663/10-practical-tips-make-business-travel-less-miserable A great post with 10 practical tips to make business travel less miserable

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234459 Dorie Clark’s top 5 tips for business travel

http://www.womenontheirway.com/wyndham-wisdom/business-travel/ A website aimed at high flying business women, this website gives plenty of advice for the jet setting woman of the skies

http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/slideshows/10-tips-for-efficient-business-travel US News Money section has a good post here on preventing business travelling from overwhelming you

http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2012/04/27/how-to-travel-for-business-if-you-travel-a-lot/ 5 tips for those who conduct business travel often

http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/my-top-10-business-travel-tips/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 NY Times offers 10 business travel tips from someone who has been there and done it!

http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-tips-for-a-traveling-consultant  Sign up for free on Quora to read this useful forum post on tips from consultants themselves

Oh and also, the film Up In The Air is a good film with George Clooney flying all over the world on his AA gold card as a type of consultant that is flown in to fire people from companies. Sometimes making redundancies is one of the recommendations which consultants have to offer in order for a firm to save money or to streamline the work force.

The film comes with the sad message of travelling being pretty lonesome….so remember that being a management consultant is a lifestyle as well as a career.