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Monthly Archives: November 2016

6 iPhone Apps to Plan Your Workday

Day Planner: Schedule Planner (Free)

Schedule Planner puts the focus squarely on the minutiae of your daily tasks, and then provides the tools you need to see if you’re spending your time wisely. It features an easy-to-use interface to help you quickly plan out your day in the morning, and lets you place items in color-coded categories, such as Work and Free Time. The app then generates charts to help you see, at a glance, where your time is going — a key feature for small business owners who make their own schedules. Like other day-planner apps, Schedule Planner allows users to set custom alerts, repeat tasks and move items around with easy cut-and-paste functionality.

To-Do List: Todoist (Free)

Todoist can help you burn through tasks by adding tons of extra functionality to the traditional to-do list format. In addition to the ability to set up simple checklists, the app lets you set due dates and even rank tasks by priority to help you identify your next action item. It also includes project management features, including the ability to assign individual tasks to a larger project, and designate tasks to a specific team member. And Todoist integrates Google Calendar and Evernote, which makes it easy to collaborate with team members who don’t have the app.

Productivity: Microsoft Word (Free)

You can get real world work done from your iPhone with Microsoft Word. You can view, edit and create documents from anywhere. Your Office documents keep all the correct formatting as on your desktop. And you can share documents by emailing an attachment or a hyperlink. But it does requires an Office 365 subscription.

PDFs: Adobe Reader (Free)

Need to fill out a form on your phone and PDF if back? No problem with Adobe Acrobat Reader. Just as you can on your desktop, the mobile version lets you view, annotate and review documents. You can use your phone’s camera to snap a photo and save it as a PDF. You can fill out forms and sign documents with your finger.

Read It Later: Pocket (Free)

With Pocket, when you find an article or video you want to read, but don’t have time to at the moment, you can save it to pocket. It syncs that content across phones, tablets and computers, and you can access it offline. It offers unlimited storage and you can tag things for searching later. You can even recommend content to others.

Accounting: FreshBooks (Free)

You shouldn’t be tied to your desktop just to handle accounting issues. You can create invoices, receive payments, capture expenses and track billable hours through Freshbooks. It can also create and send estimates to clients, and it backs up your data and syncs it with its desktop version.

Top 8 Workplaces for Women

As gender equality continues to take the spotlight in workplace issues, more women are seeking job opportunities with companies where they’re most likely to receive equal pay and treatment.

InHerSight, a workplace ratings and matching site for women, collected user ratings data on 27,000 U.S. companies across five main categories: equal opportunities for men and women, salary satisfaction, maternity and adoptive leave, top leadership, and management opportunities for women.

While InHerSight used its data to rank the best workplaces in each category on a five-point scale, the top 10 workplaces for women overall include:

  1. Title Source (4.6)
  2. Procore Technologies (4.4)
  3. The Boston Consulting Group (4.2)
  4. The Motley Fool (4.0)
  5. Netflix (4.0)
  6. Facebook (4.0)
  7. NetSuite (3.9)
  8. PayPal (3.9)

According to Ursula Mead, CEO of InHerSight, female representation in leadership and management opportunities for women, as well as equal opportunities and salary satisfaction, are strong predictors of women’s satisfaction at work.

Last year, several high-profile companies announced improvements to their parental leave programs, so maternity and adoptive leave became a highlighted factor for InHerSight. Mead hopes that trend continues in 2017.

“The great news about many of these larger companies is that they’re always hiring, and often hiring for a lot of open positions,” said Mead. “For example, a quick look at the Netflix careers page shows hundreds of open positions right now. Of course, there’s a lot of competition for these jobs, but that shouldn’t stop you from applying.”

While it might be difficult to get a job at many of the bigger-name places on the list, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all those benefits at your current or future company. InHerSight found that reviewing salaries and correcting pay gaps was the policy change women wanted the most at their current employer (more than 31 percent).

“Companies aren’t mind readers – if you want to see changes to benefits or initiatives, you may have to initiate that conversation with your manager or HR team. Most companies want to know how they can better support their employees and will welcome that dialogue,” Mead said.

She also suggested that women hoping to make a change at their company do some initial research on how their company’s policies compare to others and what the options are. “It’s also important to think about your request from the employer’s perspective to demonstrate awareness of what some of their concerns and constraints might be so you can both be solutions oriented.”

Women on the job hunt have access to a lot of information that can help them determine what job or company is right for them. Sometimes all it takes is doing a little research to uncover what could potentially be the perfect match.

“If you know people at the company, talk to them,” Mead advised. “If you don’t, there are a lot of great resources online to help you find the right company and for you to learn more about their culture and benefits. It’s important to keep in mind that a company can have great benefits on paper, but how those policies are implemented matters a lot.”

Mobile Apps for Small Business

Mobile friendly websites and applications have become ever more important among small businesses, and now a mobile strategy is widely regarded as a prerequisite for any successful company. Recent survey results compiled by Clutch, a B2B research company, show that small business mobile apps are the new normal, and those businesses that refuse to implement mobile strategies risk falling behind.

Clutch’s survey found that 42 percent of responding small businesses currently employ a mobile application. However, that number is expected to rise dramatically, with 67 percent of business owners responding that they intend to have a mobile app by the end of 2017.

“Mobile apps for small business is not a mature market yet, but if small businesses haven’t considered building an app yet, they’re behind,” Cameron Banga, project manager and cofounder of app developer 9magnets, told Clutch.

Whether the goal is increasing sales, improving customer service or creating an additional vehicle to drive your brand, the benefits of implementing mobile applications for small businesses are many. But how can you go about developing a mobile application without significant experience?

There are, of course, mobile application creation platforms that enable users to make an app without any background coding knowledge. However, if you want something more specific, you could employ an internal team, contract with an application development company or use a combination of in-house and external resources.

According to Clutch’s research, many industry experts recommend using a blended approach that draws on insights from professionals but doesn’t exclusively rely on their expertise without in-house knowledge of the business and its long-term objectives.

“A mix of the two is most optimal,” Dmitry Pukhtin, chief sales officer for app developer Touch Instinct, told the research group. “The combination does the best to identify the needs of the customers, as external resources can bring the most expertise about needs of the marketplace.”

The data shows small businesses are largely following this multipronged approach. While 49 percent of respondents said they were dedicating mostly internal resources to the development process, 47 percent were also in contact with a freelance developer or consultant, 43 percent partnered with a development company and 40 percent employed app-builder software.

Regardless of the preferred development method, the need for a mobile application is becoming more essential. As mobile becomes the standard in most every industry, small businesses should look to keep up. As the number of mobile users continues to increase – even surpassing the number of desktop users – the demand among consumers for mobile applications will only grow.

Why Humility Matters for Managers

Humility might not be the first quality that comes to mind when you think of leadership skills, but studies are showing that it is one of the most vital characteristics of successful leaders. Leaders who practice humility engender trust, empower their subordinates, look at failures as challenges and develop a team spirit — all of which leads to happier employees and more profits for the company.

Further, humble leadership has the same positive influence regardless of gender or nationality, according to a study by Catalyst: “Humility was one of the most significant indicators, after empowerment, of altruistic leadership in this study.”

Humility may be too easily dismissed as a leadership quality because people associate it with weakness, but according to several leadership experts, humility simply means understanding your strengths and weaknesses and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of others. Angela Sebaly, co-founder and CEO of Personify Leadership and author of “The Courageous Leader” (Wiley, 2017), adds that humble leaders are focused on the big picture of mission and team rather than themselves.

“Humility is about minimizing the self and maximizing the bigger purpose you represent,” Sebaly said. “When you think about humility in that way, it becomes a vital competency in leadership because it takes the focus from the ‘I’ to ‘We.’ Leaders with humility engage us and give us a sense of identity and purpose.”

The Catalyst study supports Sebaly’s assertion. It found that regardless of business or country, humble leaders make their employees feel included, which in turn makes them more comfortable in proposing innovations and helping others.

True humility also requires courage and trust that stem from the leaders’ confidence in themselves and their abilities.

“There’s a balance a leader has to strike between confidence and humility. Confidence is not about swagger but about the ability to project presence in the room, coordinate other people’s actions, and help others take action,” said Susan Bates, founder of leadership development organization Bates.

Bates conducted a four-year study of leading executives around the world to find the 15 most important leadership qualities, which included humility as well as confidence.

“We’re not just guessing. This is grounded in research,” she said. “We include humility in the list of qualities that we know enable leaders to have presence and influence.”

The key to developing humility is as difficult to enact as it is simple to explain. Sebaly says the first step is to accept and love your strengths and talents.

“The more we experience humility, the more we reconcile the part of us that understands that we are important with the part of us that needs further proof,” she said.

The second step is being ready to learn through painful, humbling experiences. Everyone has a time in his or her career when they will mess up or fall short of expectations, and the more a leader pushes himself or herself to grow, the more such experiences they will face. Sebaly likened it to going to the dentist: It will likely be painful and we may get scolded about flossing, but in the end, we are glad we went, and we benefit in the long run.

Even so, many people retreat from potentially painful situations, especially if they expect the discomfort to be severe. Sebaly said that in her experience, most leaders will show courage as long as the pain is at the 1 to 3 level (on a scale of 1 to 10), but truly successful leaders will go into more humbling situations with an open mind and a desire to learn. Those people, in general, break past middle management.

Bates said that to develop your sense of humility, you must learn your strengths and weaknesses. Solicit honest feedback from employees and peers, especially on how well you listen to ideas. (“Do I allow space for people to express ideas before stating my own?” “Do I come across as needing to have all the answers?)

She also suggested that when running a meeting, wait before offering answers to let others weigh in. This letting go can be hard, especially for experienced leaders who may have tackled similar problems earlier in their careers. However, empowering the team members to handle the issue not only gives them a chance to grow, but frees you up to handle higher-level issues.

Finally, Bates suggested acknowledging to yourself that you don’t have all the answers. That simple act can free you to be open to the suggestions of others, she said.

Demonstrating humility means speaking to the higher purpose of accountability to the business or community. As such, it does not rob you of power, but enhances your authority as a leader.

“Leaders that demonstrate humility hold people accountable, have tough conversations, and make difficult choices,” Sebaly said. “They role-model, seeking the bigger purpose above the self-seeking approach. Those are the kinds of leaders that people will jump off a cliff for.”