Working With Others – Building Working Relationships

Work Effectively with Others

Working relationships can be fragile- especially in the workplace where they are often built and destroyed by the actions we take. Building healthy, secure and harmonious relationships is important not only to us personally, but also to underpin the success of the organisation we work for. We need to build effective relationships for a number of reasons:

  • The health of people depends on what happens in organisations and what they do. Overwork, stress, being subjected to harassment or bullying all impact on a person’s health and therefore on their ability to fulfil their role within the organisation. Staff who are stressed make mistakes costing the organisation time, effort, money and reputation.
  • Organisations only function with the co-operation of their members – staff are at the coal face of the organisation, fulfilling all the functions necessary to ensure success. If there is disharmony in the workplace, this can impact negatively on the organisation’s success.
  • Organisations can have a profound effect on people that do not work for them but who depend on them for the necessities of life – for example, food, housing and clean water. Well run harmonious organisations are, normally, stable and therefore also offer a stable environment to their staff and all the people who depend on them. Society is a web of relationships, requiring all parties to work together in order to create something that is good. But what makes society work even better are relationships that are positive, co-operative and respectful. In this way everyone works for the good of the whole and towards a common purpose. This demands effective relationships based on mutual understanding. If you understand what people want and why they want it, you can usually find a way to make progress together.

What Is an Effective Relationship?

Building an effective relationship means listening to understand someone else’s positions and feelings. The simplest way to understand what is important to another person or to a group is to ask, then listen to the answer. We all know when someone else is really interested in us; the other person is attentive, does not interrupt, does not fidget and does not speak about him or herself. This gives us time to think and feel accepted, rather than feel we are being judged.

Building an effective relationship means openly expressing your position and feelings. Sometimes we expect people to understand what we want and to give us what we need intuitively. This is not a realistic standpoint. We need to say what we need and to express how we feel. By doing this we are more likely to get what we want, rather than expecting someone to notice what we want, then waiting for that person to give it to us and getting upset when it doesn’t happen.

In order to make relationships more effective, we should treat ourselves and each other with respect. Respect is the core of any good relationship. You can respect people (even if you find their behaviour difficult to understand) by acknowledging that they are doing the best they can when their circumstances and history are taken into account.

Developing Effective Workplace Relationships

Building effective workplace relationships begins with understanding your own role and how it contributes to the organisation’s overall plans and objectives. Your own role is, largely, defined by your job description and information in the organisation’s staff handbook (if available). These documents outline:

  • the organisation’s code of conduct – the behavioural standards and ethics the organisation expects of you
  • the duties and confidentiality issues that relate to your job.
  • the legal obligations you must comply with
  • exactly what tasks your role entails who you report to:
  • levels of supervision and accountability in your role
  • the team structure
  • how your department fits within the rest of the organisation
  • the skills, training & competence you are expected bring with you to the role and what you may be required to learn in terms of ongoing professional development (PD) training

Your Impact on the Organisation

No one in an organisation, works in complete isolation. You will work with colleagues and supervisors in your own department. You may work with other departments as a member of a committee or team. In any case, it is important to understand how your role fits into the departmental and/or organisational picture. The duties you perform may represent an important step in an organisation’s procedures or processes, or, they may be part of a larger task or project working with others – all contributing towards getting a specific task done. You may all be working on the task or project simultaneously or each person may need to complete their part, so that the next person can complete theirs. So you must be aware of who relies on you to get your work done so that they can complete their own tasks.

You will also need to be aware of the timeframes in which you need to complete your tasks. Holding the work up could cost the company its customers, revenue and/or reputation. A successful organisation should run like a well oiled machine with each cog turning in sync with the others so that it meshes with the machinery as a whole. Broken cogs can damage the machinery just as inefficient work practices and team work can damage the organisation.

Working With Others

Dealing with the people you work with is not very different from dealing with customers. We all like to be treated with courtesy and respect and expect cooperation from the people we work with.

When working together in an organisation, one thought should be uppermost at all times; you are all working to achieve the same goal – to serve the customers and make money for your company. To this end, it is desirable to achieve a sense of harmony and team spirit. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you work with, but you can develop a rapport with them and you can create a team spirit. This can be done by developing a trusting relationship with your colleagues. There will be times when you must rely on them (and vice versa) to complete a task for you and you will need to trust them to do this properly. 

To bring about this trust:

  • always carry out the tasks you are assigned to do and follow up on anything that you have outstanding.
  • if a colleague asks you for help, and you are in a position to give it, do so. You may be in need of help yourself at some time and people will remember your assistance to them.
  • don’t leave things undone, particularly if you are going on leave or expect to be away from your workplace on business. Leaving work unfinished could put your colleagues in embarrassing situations when customers request information. If you are unable to complete a task before going away, brief one of your colleagues on its current status and ask them to keep an eye on it, or leave a brief explanation of what is happening in the customer’s file.
  • communicate! Listen to what your colleagues have to say and discuss any problems that crop up. Jointly found solutions tend to last longer and find greater support from all staff.

Supporting Colleagues

A willingness to support each other is also important – you should all be working towards the same goal. In many cases today staff pay is based on performance – the more you sell or the better you perform, the more you will be paid. This brings with it a culture of competition with your colleagues and this is not altogether a bad thing. It can be detrimental, however, if it is taken too far and help is denied a colleague due to jealousy and competitiveness. All of us need a helping hand at some time and the good of the whole should always be considered.

Supporting team members can include:

  • explaining or clarifying tasks, procedures and structure to new team members.
  • helping colleagues when they have too much to do or they have special projects to complete and you happen to have some spare time.
  • helping in problem solving – especially if the problem affects your own job or department
  • providing encouragement and positive reinforcement to other colleagues
  • providing feedback about performance or customer comments to other colleagues
  • undertaking extra tasks if necessary to help get task done.

Sharing Information

Sharing information about new trends and recent product or service experiences with other staff members enriches the pool of information the entire staff has to draw from. Customers will never cease to amaze you with the requests and demands they make. You cannot possibly know everything there is to know about everything! Synergy within the workplace can often reveal ‘just the thing’ you need. Synergy, in simple terms, means that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. In a business sense, this means that teamwork will produce an much better result than if each person in the organisation was working toward the same goal individually

Feedback

Sharing information also means giving feedback and discussing opportunities to improve work efficiency. This could be done by way of:

  • formal and/or informal performance appraisals with supervisors and managers
  • formal and/or informal discussions with colleagues about work related issues.
  • These should be of a positive and constructive nature rather than centred around gossip and undermining to the organisation
  • personal reflection – thinking about the way you or a colleague handled a situation or particular work methods and ways of improving.
  • routine organisational methods for monitoring service delivery such as surveys & focus sessions

Working in Teams 

When working for a larger organisation it may sometimes be necessary to form formal working teams. This might be;

  • to achieve a goal
  • to act as a committee
  • to develop a program
  • to complete a large task and so on

Forming a team is not just a simple matter of getting a group of people together and ‘going for it’. Care needs to be exercised, so that the team’s goals can be met properly and on time. Members of the team should be chosen for their strengths, network of contacts and the talents they can bring to the team – qualities that can assist in getting the job done.

Building Team Dynamics

Achieving a goal successfully will depend a great deal on the dynamics of the team; on motivation and willingness to move the project forward. Team building works best when;

  • there is a high level of interdependence among team members. The team is working on important tasks in which each member is committed to the ultimate goal and teamwork is critical in achieving this goal.
  • the team leader has high level communication and interpersonal skills.
  • each team member is capable and willing to contribute information, experience and skills, without thought of personal gratification, in order to achieve the team’s goal.
  • the team generates an atmosphere in which all members feel relaxed and can communicate openly.
  • team members develop a feeling mutual trust and equality.
  • team members are encouraged to develop their abilities and skills.
  • the team has the ability to generate new ideas through group interaction. Good ideas are followed up and people rewarded for their innovation.
  • team members have clearly defined roles and responsibilities as well as expectations of and within the group
  • team members jointly determine the way they are going to work together as a team and what they want to happen. When individuals and the entire team choose to operate in this way and are willing to set petty differences aside, outstanding results become possible.

When individuals adopt this attitude and commit to using their resources, knowledge and skills to contribute to the goals of the team, alignment with the team’s overall purpose comes about. This will not happen unless both the team leader and team members choose to do so.

Team Focus

Having a well defined purpose or vision of what the team will accomplish is a very powerful force for the team leader and members. Goals are aligned with the team purpose, and team members are empowered to accomplish the goals. This process leads to a high level of team productivity. If people learn to focus simultaneously on both the current situation and the desired results, problems that arise will be solved as part of the total process of achieving the desired results. Team members have a strong feeling of control within the team and they are able to establish priorities and then commit time and resources to accomplishing these tasks.

When team resources are fully focused and team members are all working to towards accomplishing the same goal, teamwork can be very rewarding and more importantly very productive. Using a proactive rather than reactive approach to all tasks is a contributing factor. This means that the team looks ahead and finds ideas and creative ways to move forward rather than waiting for something to happen and then reacting to it.

When working toward a goal in a team environment there are a number of things that need to happen to ensure success. Once the team members have been chosen and goal to be achieved has been defined in detail the next steps are to;

  1. Identify the individual tasks that need to be completed. These will be the steps you need to take to complete the overall goal. Some goals are too big to handle all at once. By breaking the overall goal down into individual, easy to manage tasks, it will be easier to achieve. This is often referred to as “chunking”. There may be a number of tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve a specific goal. It is important to prioritise tasks early in the project so that things are done in the correct order. For example when producing a national advertising campaign there is no point in producing a proposal for the client until all advertising components have been sourced, costed and put into place. The order in which things are done is very important as, often, one task cannot be started or completed until the previous one is in place.
  2. Determine the time frame and the standard in which these tasks need to be completed. There will always be a deadline by which the overall goal needs to be completed. So each individual task also needs a timeframe in order for all the pieces to fall in to place correctly and on time. Once again the order tasks are completed in is important. If step one in the process is not completed on time it will hold up the next steps and the whole project is then in jeopardy of not being completed on time.
  3. Designate tasks to individual members of the team according to their strengths. Each member of the team was chosen for their strengths and talents – make use of them and delegate tasks that they have experience and expertise in.
  4. Monitor the work progress. This is very important. Timeframes need to be kept to, so that the project doesn’t fall behind schedule. To avoid this, the team should meet at regular intervals to check on progress.
  5. Seek and offer assistance when required. If a member of the team is having difficulty, help them! Equally if you, as a team member, recognise that you are having difficulty – ask for help. The team goal is to complete the project as quickly, efficiently and as cost effectively as possible and assistance should be given where needed. Often other team members will have personal knowledge that can help you or, alternatively, they may have within their network of contacts someone who can assist with the task. Where necessary negotiate a change in tasks with individual team members who are not able to complete their assigned tasks.
  6. Feedback information on the task progress. Meetings should be held at regular intervals to let other team members know how the work is progressing;
    • Is the work on track?
    • Does anyone need assistance?
    • Are there any problems that need to be dealt with?
    • How are the individual tasks or components fitting together?
    • What, if any, adjustments need to be made?

Team Leadership

Even though a team may have been formed, much of the actual work will be done on an individual basis. So how is the project controlled and its overall progress monitored?

A team leader is needed. Leadership is a process by which a person influences others in the team to accomplish an objective. A team leader’s aim is to direct the group in a way that makes it more effective and efficient. This process is carried applying leadership attributes -beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge and skills.

Often this person will be appointed by the employer or is sometimes elected by the team. However the leader is chosen, this person is usually responsible for keeping things moving. The team leader is not necessarily the ‘boss’, but does have a greater responsibility to:

  • make sure tasks are completed properly
  • make sure tasks are completed on time
  • deal with problems
  • deal with personality clashes and conflicts.

One thing a good leader typically does is to communicate the big picture so that each member of the team can see how their particular role makes a contribution to the final result. When a team member understands why a job that might be considered menial is important, that person is likely to be more committed and more productive.

Principles of Leadership

Here are some of the principles involved in developing good leadership skills.

  • Be technically proficient – as a leader you must know your own job very well and be familiar with other team members roles so that you are in a position to offer advice and recommend action.
  • Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions – look for ways to guide your team to new heights. When things go wrong, don’t put the blame on others: look at the situation, take corrective action and move on to the next task.
  • Make sound and timely decisions – use good problem-solving, decision-making and planning skills.
  • Set an example for the people in your team – be a good role model. They must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see how they are expected to behave.
  • Keep the team informed – know how to communicate with them.
  • Develop a sense of responsibility in your team – help them to develop good character traits that will enable them to carry out their task with professionalism.
  • Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished – if the team are fully informed about what they are supposed to do, they are more likely to do the work efficiently and quickly, knowing the importance of the task to the organisation’s overall objectives.

Dealing With Personalities in a Team

No two people are the same. No two people will look at a task and see the same solution. When dealing with people in a team or group environment, we need to keep this in mind and accept people as they are.

Have you ever been to a meeting that lasted for hours and, at the very end, when the chairperson asks for any last comments (everyone is already packing up) one little voice says ‘Yes, I have one more thing… ‘ (groan). Or what about a team project – everyone is totally enthusiastic, comments and ideas are flowing freely but there is the one voice that says, ‘Yes, but… ‘ or ‘I don’t think that will work… ‘

Who needs people like this on a team?

The answer is very simple – you do! Imagine how it would be if a team consisted solely of enthusiastic ‘ideas’ people – what do you suppose would happen? You would end up with a fabulous project that had every possible refinement and you would be thousands of dollars over budget. We need to have the ‘Yes, but… ‘ people to keep the team’s feet firmly on the ground, to keep it realistic, to point out potential problems and pitfalls and to make the team think. People work in different ways and a great deal of research has been done on ‘personality types’ that influence the way they behave. Some examples of these are discussed in Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, or the DISC Personality Profiles. The DISC personality system is considered to be a ‘universal’ language of behaviour. These behavioural characteristics are grouped together into for major divisions called personality styles. They are:

  • Dominance: Direct and Decisive. These people tend to be independent and results driven. They are strong-willed people who enjoy challenges, taking action, and immediate results. The bottom line is their focus tends to be on the bottom line and results.
  • Influence: Outgoing and Optimistic. These individuals tend to be very social and out going. They prefer participating on teams, sharing thoughts, and entertaining and energizing others.
  • Steadiness: Stability and Status Quo. These people tend to be your team players and are supportive, cooperative and helpful to others. They prefer being behind the scene, working in consistent and predictable ways. They are often good listeners and avoid change and conflict
  • Conscientiousness: Cautious. These people are often focused on details and quality. They plan ahead, constantly check for accuracy, and what to know “how” and “why”.

Dealing With Issues, Problems and Conflict

Conflict between colleagues has the potential to completely disrupt the workplace and the team spirit. Conflict in the workplace is corrosive and if left unchecked it can weaken an organisation and perhaps even destroy it. To prevent what may start out to be a relatively minor issue from escalating into a major one, conflict situations need to be identified and dealt with.

Good conflict resolution skills include a willingness to meet the needs of others.. The issues involved in the situation must certainly be discussed and addressed but what about a person’s human needs – the need, for example, to be a recognised and valued member of the team. These are important aspects of dealing with conflict situations and require good communication skills.

Causes of workplace conflict may include:

  • poor communication
  • lack of information
  • changes to practices and procedures
  • cultural misunderstandings
  • colleagues vying for power
  • staff dissatisfied with management
  • weak leadership or change of leadership
  • lack of empathy from colleagues or supervisors
  • general complaints that are not dealt with

All of these issues can cause dissatisfaction and a lowering of staff morale. If acted upon sensitively and quickly they can be resolved without any disruption to work.

As mentioned above, if they are ignored then what may have started out as minor problems have the ability to completely break down the harmony within the work force. This in turn can affect an organisation’s productivity as staff de-motivated. Poor productivity affects the organisations revenue earnings and this could result, in the extreme cases, in the downfall of the business.

Dealing With Workplace Conflict

Should you find yourself in conflict with a colleague, or you are aware of general dissatisfaction, here are some steps to help calm and resolve the situation;

  • Avoid jumping to conclusions. Let the other person have their say, without interrupting or imposing your own thoughts or ideas on them.
  • Find some common ground with the other person. Look for something you can agree on. This will keep the process on a positive footing.
  • Make sure you keep only to the facts and don’t let your emotions get in the way. Allowing emotions to surface can often breakdown the communications process, as tempers heat up and become agitated.
  • Avoid placing blame. During a conflict resolution, determining who’s right or wrong or who’s at fault is not what you’re trying to do. A problem exists, what you are trying to do is to find a solution to the problem that will be satisfactory to all persons concerned. Finding someone to blame is not going to resolve the situation.
  • Consider cultural differences. Perhaps the conflict has arisen due to a misunderstanding over different beliefs or customs. In this case an effort could be made to gain this understanding and perhaps even learn something new.
  • Check to see if anything has been left unsaid. Issues, even minor ones, that have not been dealt with, or that have not been resolved satisfactorily can fester and spring up again without warning. A situation that you thought was resolved – is therefore not! Ask questions to be sure. For example: ‘From what I have heard, I believe that the main issue of your concern is based on what we have just discussed. Having gone over this issue with you, how do you feel about the situation now?’ In doing this, we check to make sure that the other person is satisfied with the resolution, or if there are still issues that need to be addressed.
  • Show the other person courtesy and respect – allowing them to state their case without interruption or interference.
  • If you cannot resolve the situation then a third party like a supervisor or manager might need to be consulted.

In any situation, but particularly in the workplace, it is important to respect differences in other people, to learn from each other and to recognise that everyone entitled to their own thoughts and opinions and that they all have something to contribute.

For more information on this, and other subjects, visit www.lptraining.com.au 

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Disadvantages of Parents Working Overseas

Working in other countries is not a simple task. Moreover, apart from the heavy work and the dangers they face every day is that they must work away from their homes. This is one of the options of working away from home that is difficult to bear for both the parents and children.

No matter how overseas workers enjoy their company when they are giving jokes and sharing funny stories, laughing and screaming with delight in their togetherness, when the sun goes down and they return to their respective rooms, they cannot prevent themselves from becoming lonely.

They always think of their families, especially their children, and they always look forward to the day when they would go on vacation and be reunited with family members. They cannot just talk to anybody about issues related to the family. Apart from some who have adjusted and established friendship in the workplace, many have to keep family issues to themselves.

We could just imagine how one would react and feel when there is an accident or emergency at home. Worse, when a family member becomes ill and hospitalized, he may not be there right away to attend to his sick child or spouse. The irony is that there are times when, despite how workers miss their families and worrying about them every day, they could not have enough time to talk with their loved ones through phone because the work is so busy at times.

One of the difficult situations is when the father or the mother who has been working abroad for quite a long time, their little child can’t recognize them and treats them like a stranger. This usually happens with little children who in their young minds could not understand why their father or mother has to be absent for a month or more from home.

No one can replace the presence of a father or mother at home. Children who grew up with a parent or both parents working abroad somehow have that feeling that there is a gap to fill. Resentments could spark misunderstanding between children and parents despite sincere efforts from parents to create better relationships. These are some of the downsides of families, which parent or both are working abroad.

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Working Principle of Dimmable LED Floor Lamps

LED floor lamps with dimmable features have transformed spaces, bringing in a dash of contemporary styling. In combination with other lighting, they help to improve the décor of living spaces. Dimmable LED floor lamps greatly help to tone down the intensity of the light. LEDs are some of the most energy efficient lighting units. Here is a closer look at the workings of a dimmable LED floor lamp.

Pulse width modulation dimming method

It is important to understand that despite the appearance of dim light, LEDs do not actually emit dimmer light. LEDs function in two modes – ON and OFF. So effectively, what is observed as dim light is actually light being emitted in pulses at alternating intervals. This pulsing of the light is controlled by the dimmer, which determines the intervals and the intensity of the pulsing.

Frequency of pulses designed to create the effect of continuous light to the naked eye

Pulsing light, should ideally appear as pulses of light broken up with intervals of darkness in between; more like a flickering lamp or wick. However, a flickering light is definitely not the ideal light for floor lamps. A floor lamp requires continuous light, therefore, PWM LEDs are designed to emit light in pulses at a high rate, which will create the effect of continuous light.

New look – Dimmable LED floor lamp

A perfect dimmable LED floor lamp offers a warm amber glow to transform the ambience of your room. The dimmable feature enables light to be adjusted to emit at levels ranging from bright task lighting to dim, soft, cosy tones. The exciting designs of dimmable floor lamps help to improve the aesthetics of interiors. The sleek and compact designs help to create wonderful lighting from stunning light accessories.

Working principle incorporates the Analog technique

Analog dimming technique is the underlying principle used to dim LED floor lamps. The forward current supplied to the LED bulb is controlled, and the linear power supply to the bulb causes the dimming effect. Due to the changes in temperature, the light emitted from low quality dimmable LED bulbs may lack the intensity, therefore it is important to choose dimmable LED bulbs of high quality.

Challenges for dimmable LEDs to flourish

Demands exist for LED manufacturers to develop dimmable LED bulbs. However, it needs to be borne in mind that users generally like to retain their fitments, and it becomes necessary for manufacturers to develop LED bulbs that can be retro fitted. Though the technology is relatively new, it has time and again been demonstrated to work with utmost efficiency. The demand for dimmable LED bulbs is increasing and the day is not far off when LED bulbs will reign over the lighting world with their designs, features, durability and savings in cost.

The digital age has also rendered in exciting possibilities for network controlled lighting and wireless controls. The main dimming methods are TRIAC dimming, PWM dimming, and linear dimming. It is time to illuminate in style and take the style to levels that exist in the most creative minds.

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A Focussed Approach to Working Out

The fitness world is like a world filled with different sorts of candy for a little kid, so obviously this little kid will be distracted by all the fancy colours and designs, and the kid will want to try out all the candy at the same time. This will create a problem, one is that the kid will have a very difficult time finding their favourite candy, two the kid will be eating so much candy at the same time that by the time he is tasting the 10th candy, he has already forgotten about the first candy which he might have also enjoyed eating, and given more time and consumption that candy would have been the kids favourite. How is this connected to working out or fitness in general? Worry not for I will tell you below.

Spoilt for Choice in Fitness

Just like in the land of candy you have many choices in the fitness world. There are many methods to get in shape, there are many that work and many that do not work in the promised period of time. Getting fit and in shape is about finding the perfect candy for yourself. Let us look at your options in fitness land. You could hire a personal trainer, who can then design a workout program and diet specifically for you, that is if you can afford a personal trainer. Alternatively you could train from home using bodyweight training, but you would have to do some research into the best bodyweight exercises for each of your body parts such as legs, arms, chest, back, shoulders and abs. If you are the type of person that needs to be told what to do and how to do it, if you need that push you would get from a personal trainer but you cannot afford one then your best option would be to buy one of those home workout DVD’s.

The other route is to use the internet to find great websites and videos to help you get in shape for free, you could spend hours looking for great website with good information for you to use and search YouTube for some great YouTube channels that share home workouts and workouts you can do at the gym to best achieve your fitness goals. And finally in fitness land there is always the fitness magazines which are updated monthly with different workouts and diets for readers to try out. As you can see there are way too many options to try out in fitness land just like in candy land, this could leave one confused and not knowing what to do, but I can definitely tell you this much, trying out all the flashy new workouts is definitely not the way to go.

How to have a Focused Approach to Working Out

As I have just proven above, you are spoilt for choice in the fitness world so the first thing you do is figure out what sort of a workout program will suit you the best. You have to figure out what your fitness goals are which will help you choose the kind of program you need, by this I mean you must figure out if you want to be really big and muscular like the guys and girls at the Olympian, or you want to be Hollywood fit with a lean muscular physique or maybe you just want to lose weight. Once you have got your fitness goal figured out, it is easier to choose a fitness program or fitness blog to follow, you just choose one blog or fitness video program to follow that promises what you are after, for example if you are just looking to lose weight you could but yourself one of those dance based DVD programs to do at home.

The other thing you must do is to choose one program to do and stick with it for a certain period of time then at a later stage assess how far you have come with that program. Like I said the fitness world has a lot of distractions, every month there is a hot new workout, if you got a certain workout from a magazine in June then the same magazine shared another workout in July, it does not mean you stop doing the workout you started in June. To see results sometimes you have to stick with your workout program for more than a month before you move on to the next thing that magazines promise will give you fast results, magazines have to change their workouts each month because they have to sell copies, if they shared the same thing every month you would not buy it anymore.

Be patient and work hard, there are no easy and quick results, if you stick with one workout for long enough it eventually works, but there is no quick fix. You will not lose lots of pounds in a short period of time unless you are obese and even then it is usually water weight, the more muscular and leaner you are, the harder it gets to lose more weight to get to the shredded zone, so patience and hard consistent work are your best bet.

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7 Reasons Why it is Important to Take Breaks at Work

Do you ever find yourself working for hours on end sitting in an office chair without getting up to take a break? This is not uncommon, in fact most people either do not know or forget to take breaks when working long hours sitting in one position. Whether you work full time or part-time from home or in a traditional workplace setting, it is still important to take breaks. Taking breaks while working long hours is essential and crucial to your health.

Employers may need to think about the environment in which their work takes place in order to develop an adequate plan for allowing time for breaks. For jobs which are full time, two shorter breaks is often adequate. People who work behind a computer all day should take a break every hour or so and be able to get up and move round. This enables them from being in a seated posture all day staring at the screen. People who work in highly repetitive jobs should be offered more frequent shorter breaks in order to prevent boredom which can result in a decrease in productivity, a decrease in proficiency, and less mistakes. There are many reasons why regular breaks are important; here are just a few.

  1. Circulation is impaired by prolonged sitting: When you sit in static postures where you are not moving, circulation can be impeded. When blood flow to an active muscle is impaired, the oxygen supply is diminished, which over time can impair muscle function. The feeling of fatigue often is related to circulation and blood supply.
  2. Working on the computer distorts the awareness of time: When working for long hours on the computer most people do not take breaks frequently enough, nor do they realize how much time has passed since they began working. An easy way to eliminate this problem is to make sure people take regular breaks by using time reminders.
  3. Burnout: People who work continually face complete burnout and what good is a burnt out employee? Physical exhaustion can lead to problems such as chronic headaches, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and trouble sleeping at night. Even if all you take is 15 minutes during an 8 hour work day, you can use that time to refresh yourself and feel more energized the rest of the work day.
  4. Productivity: Many studies have revealed that workers who take breaks are dramatically more productive during the day as opposed to those who do not. After a break, your performance levels increase dramatically so that you can tackle tasks again with renewed vigor and finish them accurately. Mistakes are also made more when you do not refresh your mind and body.
  5. Heart Risks: After researchers in Finland conducted a study on a group of nearly 800 workers over the span of 28 years, they found that subjects who failed to find time to recover from their workweek were more likely to eventually die of cardiovascular disease. If people are not able to relax periodically, plaques can build up in their arteries which contribute to potential heart attacks and or strokes.
  6. Stress: Focusing on a tedious task for too long can easily lead to physical and mental stress. Stress as most know, can lead to serious implications for our health. Common consequences of stress include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor fitness, low resistance to viruses, and serious illnesses. If something that is being worked on becomes too stressful, it is best to take a break from it and resume the work once calm and collected.
  7. Repetitive Stress Injuries: Especially for those that sit at a desk all day staring at a computer, it is easy to develop repetitive stress injuries such as eyestrain from staring at a computer screen too long. Carpal Tunnel is also another injury which can develop from spending too much time typing and not typing in the proper position. Sitting in an office chair too long generally leads to wanting to fidget and move posture, most of the time into improper posture. By not sitting correctly and having adequate lumbar support, back and neck pain is sure to develop.

When starting your new routine of taking breaks, start small with 5 minute breaks and work your way up in about a week or two. Taking breaks at work cannot be considered being lazy, especially when you take short meaningful ones. There is no harm in trying, but there is harm in not trying.

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Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

  • It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
  • Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
  • Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
  • It may provide the business with access to more capital.
  • It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.

It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

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5 Ways To Get Your Blog Posts Working Harder

Sometimes, coming up with new content ideas is difficult. You know Google and the other search engines reward consistently delivered, fresh content. This can be a tough situation when the old noggin is not cranking out ideas for new content.

Fortunately, you are probably sitting on a goldmine of new traffic right now… your old blog posts.

You can simply repurpose your current posts to make them fresh, giving you new traffic bait without a lot of time and trouble. One huge benefit here is speed. It takes nowhere near the time to rework your old blog posts that it does to create new ones.

The following 5 practices are methods that successful bloggers use to create more traffic, without creating totally new content.

1. Link To Other Posts and Pages On Your Blog

Google’s spiders love internal links. This is when you link from one page or post of content on your site to another. This simple trick can keep readers on your site longer, alerts your readers to relevant content and also increases the average amount of time each visitor spends on your blog. All of those things are great for SEO, meaning more free organic traffic.

2. Rework Your Titles

You may look over an old blog post and think it is pretty fabulous. It might not need any changing. You may have keywords and related words and phrases, your sub-headers move the reader down the page, and you have a strong call to action. Why not just change the title? This is only recommended on posts that you think may be under-performing. There is no need to change something if it isn’t broken.

3. Share Your Popular Blog Posts On Social Media

It doesn’t matter how old they are. Your most popular blog posts are popular for a reason. Each month, get them back out there in the social media trenches where they can go to battle for you.

4. Lengthen Short Posts

Did you know that posts of 1,500 words or more drive more traffic than shorter posts? This is free, generic traffic you don’t have to pay for. Beef up the length of your current shorter posts, making them value-rich as you do so.

5. Improve The Readability of Your Posts

No one likes to read a huge block of text. Break up your content. Add sub-headers. Use underlining, italics, bulleted lists, images and video to make an old, stale blog post fresh and enjoyable.

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Working with Royalty Free Music

When creating Multi-Media Content, Flash or Video Clips for a client’s web site or CD Rom Project, the last thing you want is to get him in trouble with the law. If there’s a need for music in a project, using royalty free music is essential.

Here are some general music tips that you may find useful:

1) Finding the right kind of music

There are hundreds of choices when it comes to royalty free music and making the right decision can be hard. After all, most TV production companies have music supervisors on staff whose only job it is to select appropriate music for projects. Selecting music is an art in itself. In general, you will find that your clients would prefer to use something they heard on the radio, something from their favorite album etc. Unfortunately, that’s copyrighted stuff and licensing an N Sync song for your next ‘how to’ video or CD-Rom may cost you a fortune. What you want to do is find buyout music that sounds similar to today’s popular music. It’s a little harder to find than your typical ‘canned’ music. A lot royalty free music may sound like music from a 70’s sitcom or worse, a cheap porno flick.

A good place to check out is http://www.buyoutmusictracks.com All their tracks are created by established record producers with grammy and gold record credits so you get music that sounds as up-to-date as what you may hear on the radio.

Our tip: Always use music that sounds just a little more energetic than you think you may need. You may listen to the music over and over while you’re putting together your project while the end user may only hear it a few times.

2) Less is not more in production music

When you are looking for background music for a project, choose music with some impact. I know it is supposed to be background music but if you choose high energy tracks, your whole project will leave more of an impression. Listen to a sampling of today’s TV commercials and you’ll find that most of them use very powerful music. You want your work to create an impact and keep viewer’s attention and a strong, powerful soundtrack can do that.

3) When ‘legal’ music is not legal

The usage license on your buyout music CD may be very liberal but it is not a license to steal. You can use royalty free music on all of your projects and as you have the legal right to use the music, your customers can be assured not to get into legal troubles.

However, that license is only extended to you, the purchaser. You cannot transfer that license by copying your CD and giving it to somebody else or by selling the CD. This may be news to you but there’s no such thing as a ‘used buyout music CD’ If you don’t purchase the music from the producers of the music, it won’t be legal still. So, next time you browse eBay for royalty free music, make sure you are buying a new CD, not a used one or it will be useless to you.

4) You get what you pay for

While we’re on the topic of Ebay: You may find offers for entire 4 or 6 CD libraries for $75 or other ridiculously low prices on Ebay. The truth is, these CDs may not even be worth that low price.

One good quality royalty free music CD will cost you between $29 and $69 (some even more) If it’s less than that, here’s what you are likely to get:

  1. Discontinued titles that have been around for 10, 20 or more and not only sound dated but may also have already found its way unto hundreds or thousands of other projects during the years to make your own project sound dated.
  2. Homegrown CDs that are created in somebody’s bedroom studio. You can easily recognize these CDs as they usually don’t have any ‘real’ instruments on it, only synthesized stuff. You can clearly hear the difference between those CDs and something produced in a real studio with real musicians. Our tip: Check out http://www.buyoutmusictracks.com for music. Each of their CDs is only $29.95 and each title contains between 30 and 48 real studio recorded tracks.

5) CD or Download?

With the event of high speed internet, you don’t really have to wait anymore to receive your Royalty Free Music CD in the mail. If you need tracks fast, you can now download buyout music from the net. You can choose only the tracks you need and get to use them within minutes. Single downloadable tracks usually cost a little more money per track than buying a whole CD. On the other hand, you don’t have to buy a whole CD if you only need one or two tracks.

My advice, if you are buying music to ‘keep on the shelf’ for future projects and for your customers to choose from, buy physical CDs. If you need just one or two ‘perfect’ tracks or if you are on a deadline, downloadable purchases may be perfect for you. I don’t know if I have to mention it, but purchasing a Mariah Carey track from Itunes or Napster for a buck does not entitle you to use the music. You have to download your music from a buyout music company so the track is licensed to you.

6) Make your own

You may think, ‘are you crazy? I’m not a musician’ You don’t have to be a music genius anymore these days. Programs like Acid and Apple’s Garageband allow you to create original music by using ‘loops’ Loops are pre-made musical chunks of drums, bass, guitar, strings, whatever, that you can put together like a mosaic to create your own music soundtrack.

The advantage is clear. By creating your own music with a loops program you can make absolutely sure that nobody else is using the exact same music on their project. This will give you ‘original’ music at Buyout Music Prices. All you need is a good musical ear and a couple of loops CDs to get you started. You can find lots of loops CDs and more info at http://www.acidmusicloops.com Their Groove Construction Kits are a great way to get started with music loops. And here’s the best news, you can download the Acid program for free. Just visit http://www.musicleads.net/articles/freestuff.html for free (and legal) downloads of Acid, Protools and many other great music and sound tools.

I hope that these tips were useful to you. You are free to use or re-print this article in your newsletter, ezine, or on your web site.

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Illinois State Tax Lien Auctions Working for the People Again

County tax lien auctions are never pretty, but one Madison County, Illinois auction has become messier than normal. Republican members of the Madison County board have claimed that the auctions themselves were set up to undermine honest homeowners who, due to unfortunate circumstances, ended up paying their property taxes a bit later than normal. It’s not so much the concept of the auction that is feeding the fury of GOP board members, but the way in which the auction was conducted.

Citing one newspaper article that specifically stated the format contributed to much higher interest rates than normal, many board members have now requested access to records and documentation associated with the sales.

In some cases, interest rates were said to have shot up to eighteen percent, leaving open the possibility of real harm to residents, fraudulent acts by the new lien holders, and even loan sharking against homeowners. In addition to records access, GOP board members have also requested a formal investigation by the Illinois Attorney General as well as the US Attorney’s office.

Illinois state law may have led to some of the confusion. Tax buyers are actually allowed to bid up to eighteen percent interest for paying the tax debt to the government, and the laws are not entirely clear as to how the auctions themselves should be conducted. Board members, however, suggest that auctions under former county treasurer Fred Bathon were less than fair.

Rather than a standard auction, the property would simply be announced and the first to yell out a response at the lowest interest rate would have first rights to buy. This did not allow for further bidding, which likely would have lowered the interest rate to be paid by the homeowner. The concern here is that when homeowners are already having difficulty stabilizing their financial status, hitting them with the outrageous interest rates only serves to push them further under.

Already, however, things are beginning to change within the county. A new treasurer has been appointed, and he’s worked to overhaul the entire auction process, including the behavior during sales. Now a true auction takes place until the lowest interest rate is called out and the “winner” of the individual sale is named. He or she buys the debt, then takes rights to the tax lien and is able to collect on it.

Fred Bathon, the former treasurer, has taken much slack for the corrupt way that auctions were handled during his reign, but he still defends the eighteen percent penalty, even in cases where taxes are just a few days late.

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