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  1. I recently met with someone who asked my what inspired me to start Power Hour, and why I charge such a small fee for (in his words) high-end materials. My response was instant: I don't see why people should be denied training due to lack of funds.

    In the current climate, training and marketing budgets are still being squeezed. Marketers have quickly realised that social media offers many of the benefits of traditional marketing for a fraction of the cost. How come training hasn't adapted the same way? Informal learning is taking off with some groups (notably those driven individuals who have a clear career goal), but for the vast majority of people who want 'to do a fair days work for a fair days pay', what is there?

    Much training is still 'ego-led' by those trainers (who I refer to as the shiny-shoe brigade), who can talk for hours about how wonderful they are, and are gracious enough to share a few morsels of their experience for a substantial fee. Other training requires a significant commitment of time (by the employee), money AND time (for qualification-based courses) or technology (by the firm), which even large firms simply can't afford these days.

    The problem is, that you can't just stop training either. Ok, you can put it on hold for a short while, but if you stop, your best people will start looking around for jobs in companies that will invest in them. And we all know that it costs more to recruit than to retain. If your people don't leave, standards will start to slip and your company will begin to look very second-rate compared to your competitors, and soon those 'savings' made on training are translating into loss of business.

    So, Power Hour was designed to fill a need, and provide a choice to companies who thought there might not be one. Think where we would be if the only clothes we could buy were individually designed and tailored clothes from a top fashion designer? Many people whould only have one outfit, and half of us would be going around naked! Thank goodness for Matalan, Primark and George. We can all be clothed, at a reasonable cost, and still 'treat' ourselves to the odd designer outfit when we can justify it.

    Thank goodness for Power Hour, that allows us to keep training in the tough times until we can get that eutopia of bespoke, accredditted, fully-funding training.

  2. This story about the rocks and the jar has been around for many years, and the chances are you have heard it. But it's worth reminding people of it from time to time because the message is powerful. Our lives are being run at an increasingly fast pace, and at work we are all expected to keep doing more with less. To be successful it's more important than ever to plan our time, be clear about priorities and manage the 'monkeys' that land on our backs.

    So, read the story and reflect. If you want more help with planning your time, check out our training session and key points sheet. We even have something to help you to manage your monkeys and retake control of your life!

  3. I've just returned from a short break in the country. Batteries fully recharged, and invigorated by all that fresh-air and exercise. It was nice to have no agenda, and that included what, where and when we would eat.

    One particular evening, we walked to the (only) local pub that served food. We got there at peak time, were greeted pleasantly, and then we asked for a menu. The owner informed us that they were unusually busy, and so waiting times for food were currently about 1 hour. We had our two young children with us, so this wasn't great, but as there was nowhere else nearby, we said OK. So for the next hour, we played eye-spy (probably to the annoyance of the regulars) to pass the time.

    An hour and ten minutes later, our food arrived with an apology for the wait. It was OK. We ate, we paid, we left.

    So what is the point of this blog? Well, its a simple lesson in customer service. Were we delighted with the service? No, of course not. Were we angry/upset/annoyed? No... because the owner managed our expectations. Had he not had the guts to tell us that the wait was so long, we would certainly have been complaining. He delivered against most of the tips on our Key Points sheet.

    So the lesson is: manage expectations. Be open and honest, and tell the customer the 'bad' news as soon as they can. Let THEM make the decision about what they will accept and what they won't. Good customer service isn't always about 'wowing' the customer - sometimes its just about respecting them. 

    If you know a team who would benefit from customer service training, our Power Hour session (which lasts 1-2 hours) provides a great introduction. Why not check it out?

  4. This short but to the point blog by The Latimer Group explains how if you don't prepare to communicate, you are wasting everyone's time (including your own). Indeed, effective communication only occurs when expression = impression. Successful communication requires BOTH parties to play their part.

    Our short training session on Communication Skills explores why communication breaks down, and what we can do to make sure our communication is successful.

  5. This week our blog is inspired by the world of health and fitness. Having recently discovered too many of my clothes were too tight, I have decided to embark on a diet and exercise programme. Now I'm not the first and I surely won't be the last, but I realise that we all approach this in quite a different way.

    Many people join a gym, get a personal trainer, and join Weight Watchers or Slimming World. They have set their mind to a goal and are giving it 100%. I truly admire these people. Unfortunately, if I joined a gym I would hardly ever go. I just find it difficult to find the time... It's not just the time in the gym, but is the time taken to get there and back, and the time in the shower. When I then start to take into account the restrictions of days and times I could actually go, I'd be lucky if I could get their once a week... Not a good use of my money!

    So, being a realist I have instead invested in "Just Dance 2" for the Wii. It cost me around £25, and I am able to do anywhere between 20 and 40 min every day. It doesn't matter if my kids are in bed, my husband is at work, or I'm waiting for conference call to begin. Exercising little and often just fits better into my life. And yes, I am seeing results. Okay I may not be seeing them quite as quickly as someone who has joined a gym and got a personal trainer, but I am slowly but surely reaching my goal.

    I think this is one of the reasons that I developed Power Hour. I'm not suggesting that you can condense a full day's training course into one hour – of course you can't. But some people find it hard to fit formal training into their lives. They prefer to drip feed their development and make improvements little and often.

    So if you are responsible for running training courses, and find that people often drop out at the last minute, it may be that other demands are being made of their time. Power Hour offers an alternative to traditional training, and may be a way to achieve your goals (possibly not as quickly) but as long as we get there, it shouldn't matter how we do it.

  6. I belong to an informal networking group, the Junction 7 Network. I've tried a few out (and will continue to do so), but I like the friendliness of this one. It is full of people who run small businesses in my local area. Not a likely place for me to find new clients, but life is all about connections, and you never know where a conversation will lead.

    But, the purpose of this blog is not to talk about Power Hour. It's to talk about those small businesses who consistently don't come (despite numerous invitations) because "people know we are here". These days I don't think having a presence on the high street is enough. Where is your internet presence? How are you making yourself more attractive to those people who walk past your shop or office every day? Business is about relationships, and networking is a great way to make new ones and strengthen existing ones.

    A real example from Junction 7: We have a quality butcher in our village. I have always known he was there, but I rarely used him. However, since he has made the effort to come to the networking events, I have gotten to know HIM, and I want to support him. So guess what? I now visit the village butcher more frequently.

    So to get 'power from an hour' this month - why not go networking? Find a format that you like (some are very formal, some very informal. Some are industry-based, others very 'open'. Some meet weekly, some meet quarterly) You never know where it will lead.

  7. I recently came across a very intersting study that showed that 57% of new managers had to learn their leadership and management skills through 'trial and error'. You can view the detailed study here. OK, the study was American, but based on almost 20 years of working in corporate Britain, I doubt the figures would be very different in the UK. But 57%, with no formal management training in their first year? That is truly shocking.

    In my humble opinion, first-line managers are the most crucial population in any organisation. They are the ones that make sure the work gets done. They are the ones delivering the day to day services that are required to keep the company going. They are under pressure from above and below, are often overworked and overlooked and now it seems, given the least amount of training and development: The senior team are all engaged in leadership programmes, and the employees are fully trained in technical aspects. Poor forgotten line managers.

    Line managers are often promoted for their success in operational/technical roles. It is meant to be seen as a reward. But management skills are completely differently different to technical skills, and it shouldn't be assumed that success in one will lead to success in the other.

    I understand that line managers are a large population and are often dispersed. I understand that it is costly to comprehensively train a large number of people in so many skills. I also understand that they come to the role with vastly different skills and experiences, so one size doesn't necessarily fit all. But PLEASE, for the sake of those people, your buisness and our economy, provide them with SOMETHING!

    A properly designed, flexible new manager's programme should be priority training for every organisation. But that takes time to put in place. Power Hour is not designed to be comprehensive (see our blog about canapes!), but the Power Hour New Managers' Programme CAN be useful as a 'stop gap': It can give managers an idea about what they are supposed to do and how to do it, taking away that fear and uncertainty, until that comprehensive training can kick in.