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Technology: If you don't text, start learning

Every kid on the planet texts, consultant Jeffrey Gitomer says, some more than a hundred times a day. As they enter the work force and increase their buying power, your business world will change, he warns.

"They're going to text their bosses and the CEO. They're going to make text sales calls. They're going to text people they purchase from. And they're going to be great at it, and expect instant response from you - so you better be great at texting, too.

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"I am hereby dubbing these young people the 'Gen-Texters.' And I am trade marking that phrase as you read this. Unfortunately I have to e-mail my attorney because he doesn't accept text trademark requests - probably because it would screw up his billing."

Building a strong mentoring relationship

  • Mentoring relations start with an assumption of trust between the two partners, consultant Barry Sweeny notes. But it's important that the two people immediately start to earn trust from each other so that they feel safe enough to share problems, try new strategies, and - above all - be free to make mistakes. To build a trusting relationship with someone you are mentoring, he suggests, in The Peer Bulletin, the following steps:
  • Discuss with your protégé why a trusting relationship is critical to his or her growth. Among the reasons are that without trust and safety, the protégé will have trouble learning and growing.
  • Discuss the elements of a trusting relationship. It starts with confidentiality: What is said between the partners must stay between them. It also includes predictability, that is, that each person can anticipate how the other person will think and act; integrity, that both can be counted on to do what they promise, and not do what they say they won't do; mutuality, with each willing to take risks together; caring support; and forgiveness when mistakes are made.
  • Seek agreement that mentoring is a partnership in which both partners must work for success. It is not up to just one person to make it happen.
  • Discuss what each partner will specifically do to build and maintain trust.
  • Since confidentiality is critical, don't leave it hazy: Define what it means to each partner.
  • Commit to maintain complete confidentiality until the two of you agree differently.
  • Keep the commitments that you make.
  • If mistakes are made by the protégé, assume the best about him or her and extend forgiveness before it is even requested.
  • If you make mistakes, seek the protégé's forgiveness.

Power points

No need to get the last word in e-mail

There's no need to cap off a long exchange with "thank you," says consultant Marci Alboher - and certainly not "you're welcome" if somebody does send a "thank you" e-mail. Working The New Economy blog

Scouts, law students could teach a thing or two

Marina Park, lawyer and chief executive officer for Northern California Girl Scouts, says the buccaneer bankers who nearly brought the economy down - and other business people - could learn from Girl Scouts and first-year law students. The Girl Scouts learn to always leave a place better than they found it. And law students are told they are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.

Chew gum to lessen stress

People who chew gum report feeling less stressed - and when researcher Andrew Smith of Cardiff University controlled for extraneous factors, such as income and education, in the study of 2,000 workers, the link between chewing gum and lower stress held. British Psychological Society Research Digest

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Squeeze margins to save paper and money

IT writer James Gaskin suggests that you can save some paper (and money) for internal copies of reports by setting margins to half an inch - instead of the one-inch default on most word processors - and pack more words in on a page. You might also want to check if there's an easily readable font that will also fit more words in rather than the company standard.

Take advantage of natural churn

Getting bored with your job? See if you can take advantage of the natural churn at your company to try something different, blogger Sherri Kruger suggests, by changing departments. Or make a proposal - it will have to be thorough - on a new position the company could use that you would be adept at. Dumb Little Man

Get that browser tab back

How often have you closed a browser tab only to realize you goofed and need it back? If you have Firefox, rather than having to sort through your browser history to find the link again, you can just click the Undo Closed Tabs Button. It's an add-on that is easy to download, and will offer relief many times. Amanda Stillwagon at

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Project management: Five slides for an update

To pump up your next project management update, slim it down. You should confine yourself to just five PowerPoint slides, as your bosses don't care about minutiae but want to focus on results, says Mississauga-based presentations expert Dave Paradi in his newsletter.

Slide 1: Schedule performance

This is a line graph, with the vertical axis indicating percentage of work completed and the horizontal axis tracking the duration of the project in days, weeks or months. You use two lines, one for planned progress and one for actual progress to date and what's projected. The point where the line hits 100 per cent on the vertical scale is when the project is finished.

The difference between where the planned line and the actual/projected line hit the 100-per-cent mark is the expected difference in planned end date. Instead of confusing executives with numbers, you show any gap visually.

Slide 2: Schedule action plans

List what actions you will take to address the differences shown in the first slide, and discuss.

Slide 3: Budget performance

Present two column graphs, one showing planned expenditure for the work performed to date and actual spending for that work, and the other displaying planned and actual/projected expenditure for all the work required to complete the project.

Slide 4: Budget action plans

Review what you propose to do to get spending back on track, and discuss.

Slide 5: Deliverables/quality issues

Discuss any issues about what is being delivered or the quality of what is being delivered that your boss needs to be alerted to.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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