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10 Ingredients of a Master Manager

“Great leaders create more leaders, not followers.”

– Roy T. Bennett

Being a good business leader boils down to two key skills – managing yourself and managing your employees. Neither is a cakewalk, but with the right ingredients you can whip up a top-notch team that gets the job done.

Richard Branson (you know that guy who’s worth $5 billion?) once said that “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

As a rule, great managers are not those who rule their teams with an iron fist or do whatever it takes to get results. They’re the ones who make sure the break room is stocked with doughnuts and remember to ask how their employee’s mum is doing after her knee surgery. 

While your ultimate goals as a manager should be to produce good work, bring in more revenue and satisfy clients, the best way to get there is to make sure that your team members are happy, motivated and passionate. This works best when they can see that you have the same qualities! The aim is to turn your followers into leaders, creating a well-oiled machine that can confidently approach and overcome challenges, while you act as a guide and motivator.

Here are a few tips to get the best out of your team and yourself:

1.     Look Towards Strengths 

It can be easy to point out a person’s flaws, but your employees will be far more encouraged if you focus on their strengths and work to capitalise on them. Sit down with each of your team members and tell them what you admire about them, then ask them what they see as their strengths and weaknesses. Assign their position and responsibilities with this in mind, and create a plan with them to grow their strengths and address their weaknesses. 

2.     Become Head Cheerleader

Sometimes it seems like second nature to complain about work, but when you’re leading a team it doesn’t lead anywhere good. You will have moments of frustration and exhaustion, and it’s okay to explain these feelings to your team but try to keep this to a minimum. Your team will work best when they are genuinely excited about the work that they are doing, and the best way to make that happen is to be the biggest cheerleader for your job. If your employees see that you are passionate and enthusiastic about your job then they will feed off of that energy and hopefully develop the same fervour. 

3.     Open the Dialogue About Mistakes

In life, and especially in business, people are going to mess up. No matter how good of an employee you are, things are going to go wrong and sometimes they will be your fault. As a manager, you might feel that you need to seem invincible and you may be tempted to hide your mistakes. However, your employees can benefit from seeing your fallibility, as it reminds them that it’s normal to mess up. Furthermore, it will make it easier for them to admit when they have made a mistake, which means that it can be fixed more quickly and easily.

4.     Lay Down Ground Rules

One of the most important traits of a good leader is fairness. Even though you may connect with some employees more than others, you have to ensure that you are treating everybody equally. A great way to do this is to lay down a set of ground rules that everyone needs to keep to – especially you! Address issues such as running late, taking leave, calling in sick, lunch breaks and general office etiquette. You need to be extra strict with yourself to lead by example and show employees that these rules need to be respected.

5.     Keep in Shape

Industries are constantly changing and evolving, especially in the digital age. You may find that you have been left behind and that people working under you are more in touch than you! Use this as an opportunity to engage with your employees and ask them to teach you some things – if you are not comfortable with this, you can educate yourself in your own time! At the end of the day, you just have to make sure that you are keeping up with changing technologies, procedures and practices in your field.

6.     Prepare for Battle

Your team can’t do their job properly if they are not properly briefed and equipped. Ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done before the team takes on a task, and clarify responsibilities and deadlines. Additionally, ensure that your team has access to all of the resources that they need, and ask about this beforehand.

7.     Accept Your Role

If you are a new manager, it is likely that you have been promoted above your former peers. This can complicate your pre-established relationships and dynamics with your office mates. You have to come to terms with the fact that you are now a superior, and it’s inappropriate to spend lunch breaks bashing the boss over a coffee. This can be difficult, but if you and your co-workers address this openly and respect each other and your respective roles then the adjustment will be smoother. A great tip is to allow your team to socialise without you – for instance, you can join for Friday happy hour but leave early so that your employees can spend time bonding without stressing that the boss is across the table.

8.     Engage and Praise

A positive employer-employee relationship is a must for a motivated and efficient team. You can build these connections with your team members in two easy ways. Firstly, take an interest in them as a person – find out if they have a partner and children, ask about their hobbies and find out a little bit about their personal history. This can be as easy as asking them which city they’re from and what they’re doing over the weekend. The second step is to ensure that you are acknowledging good work when an employee is performing well. This is not only motivating, but it will paint you in a positive light. Very importantly, keep praise and criticism in separate conversations so that one doesn’t outweigh the other. 

9.     Perk It Up

There are certain perks that are standard with a job, depending on what business you’re in, such as retirement benefits or flexible working hours. Try to add in a few extra little goodies like free snacks in the break room, half-days on Fridays or the occasional free lunch. Extend this to incentivising by using items such as gift cards or a nice bottle of wine as a reward for the employee that has performed the best over the month. 

10.  Invest in Your Team

At the end of the day, you’re building your team into the best employees that they can be. By following the above advice you’ll be investing your time and energy, which shows people that you believe in them and that you’re committed to quality. Take it a step further by enrolling your employees in an online course that will not only expand their skillset, but will amp up their qualifications. MasterStart offers a choice of 11 short courses in business, marketing and more, allowing you to give your employees the best toolkit for tackling whatever challenges they may face. If you’re really committed to being the best manager that you can be, you can always join the team and register for one of our management courses!

Being a good manager comes with time, hard work and a whole lot of learning, but by applying some of these simple strategies you can make management work for you. 

Master Management Today!

An Introduction: Meet Our Courses

It can be hard to find the perfect match, especially when you’re looking for the best way to advance your career. The world is full of self-help books, networking events and workshops, and it can be overwhelming to try and figure out which will garner the most success and fit your individual needs and interests. One of the best ways to grow your skillset and expand your business is to enrol for one of our online courses – but which one? Check out these short and sweet profiles of each of our options so that you can find the one.

1. Project Management

Duration: 8 weeks

Weekly commitment: 4 – 6 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     With me, you’ll learn all the relevant theory, backed up by examples, exercises and case studies (all up to date and aligned with industry standards!).

2.     I’ll guide you through the development and execution of a project plan, complete with supervision from a mentor. You’ll learn how to use a Gantt chart, work out a budget and evaluate the project’s success. 

3.     I’ll help you expand your skillset and gain essential portfolio evidence necessary for earning an official Project Manager designation from Project Management South Africa (PMSA).

Are We a Match?

I’m the perfect course for those who are new to project management, or even seasoned professionals looking to brush up on their skills and learn more about current industry standards.

2. Operations Management

Duration: 8 weeks

Weekly commitment: 4 – 6 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     Learn everything you need to know about being a top-notch operations manager with me, including how to streamline any organisation’s goals and practices to maximise success.

2.     I’ll school you on the fundamentals of supply chain management, inventory management, risk assessment and control, and project management protocols.

3.     I’ll help you become an expert on efficiency and management, and sell yourself as an asset for any business.

Are We a Match?

I’m the perfect course for junior and mid-level operations managers, as well as those who want to get into the field. 

3. Business Management

Duration: 8 weeks

Weekly commitment: 4 – 6 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     I’m a comprehensive course that will give you all the necessary knowledge and skills to run a prosperous business in today’s fast-paced world.

2.     Figure out how to analyse your business and assess its marketing, financial management and budgeting.

3.     Learn to adopt the key values and attitudes necessary for effective business management and make every venture a success.

Are We a Match?

I’m the perfect course for anyone managing a small or medium business who wants to brush up on their skills and boost their success, or for those who are looking to start and manage a prosperous business. 

4. Strategic Leadership

Duration: 7 weeks

Weekly commitment: 4 – 6 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     You’ll learn to tap into your own leadership style and grow your skills to become the best leader you can be with me. 

2.     You’ll also learn how to grow the leaders in your business and equip them with the skills they need to run an efficient, motivated and successful team.

3.     I’ll help you gain the skills you need to build a strategic and effective leadership culture and propel your business to the top. 

Are We a Match?

I’m the perfect course for new, aspiring and seasoned managers alike, and will allow you to perfect and grow your unique leadership strengths. I’m also a great option if you’d like to equip your employees with essential leadership skills.

5. Supply Chain Management

Duration: 10 weeks

Weekly commitment: 6 – 8 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     I’m a great and accessible way to master the theory, concepts and implementation of effective supply chain management practices to streamline your business.

2.     You’ll learn how to design a planning process and strategy to adapt and grow your business’ inventory processes and procedures so that you can best serve a customer-centric market.

3.     I’ll also help you nail down fundamental histories, theories, technologies and principles through expert guidance and frequent exercises.

Are We a Match?

I’m the perfect course for senior or mid-level professionals who are looking for technical knowledge of supply chain management and key administrative procedures. I’ll also equip you with the skills needed to ensure quality across the board and maximise productivity.

6. Digital Marketing

Duration: 7 weeks

Weekly commitment: 15 – 18 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     Learn how to build a bulletproof marketing strategy and how and when to best implement it to suit the modern digital age.

2.     I’ll equip you with fundamental marketing theory and insights so that you can maximise your business’ success.

3.     Figure out how to develop a strong brand and master your understanding of market segments and targeting.

Are We a Match?

I’m the perfect course if you’re looking to keep your business relevant and cutting-edge. I’ll help you to become an innovative and efficient marketing expert who can propel any business to success. 

7. Risk Management

Duration: 12 weeks

Weekly commitment: 8 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     Learn the fundamentals of risk management and figure out how to assess and address the risks that your business may be facing. 

2.     Expand your skillset so that you can engage with legislation and reporting structures to effectively address issues.

3.     Figure out how to consistently tackle problems and maintain growth.

Are We a Match?

I’m the perfect fit for risk management professionals and business leaders who are looking to gain the skills needed to protect and grow their businesses. 

8. Human Resource Management

Duration: 10 weeks

Weekly commitment: 6 – 8 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     I’ll teach you how to effectively manage your business’ employees to maximise efficiency and workplace satisfaction.

2.     Learn how to identify where you can make improvements in your workforce, and how to implement change effectively.

3.     Learn about labour relations and practices, as well as compulsory safety protocols.

Are We a Match?

I’m a great course for current and aspiring human resource managers who want to learn about industry requirements and optimise their team to achieve motivation, innovation and success.

9. Financial Analysis for Investment

Duration: 6 weeks

Weekly commitment: 4 – 6 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     I’ll equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to help you advance your career and your business.

2.     You’ll learn how to work with capital budgeting, the analysis of financial statements and cash flow so that you can identify weaknesses and optimise your business.

3.     You’ll also gain an understanding of essential financial pillars and terminology, as well as strategies for project and budget analysis so that you can ensure the success of business ventures.

Are We a Match?

I’m a great option for business leaders, managers and those looking to enter the business field. Equip yourself with essential financial processes, practices and knowledge, and you’ll be an asset to any company.  

10. Business and Systems Analysis

Duration: 9 weeks

Weekly commitment: 4 – 6 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     Learn the essential principles of business and business analysis so that you can effectively identify problems and implement solutions.

2.     I’ll teach you to accurately evaluate your competition and ensure that you are staying ahead of the game. 

3.     I’ll also equip you with the necessary skills to develop strategies for long-term growth and success.

Are We a Match?

I’m a perfect fit for any business and systems analyst, as well as any business professional who wants to maximise business efficiency, productivity and profit.

11. Customer Centric Management Strategy

Duration: 6 weeks

Weekly commitment: 5 – 6 hours

A Little Bit About Me:

1.     With me, you’ll learn to identify and address the needs and wants of your target market and build a customer-focused business.

2.     You’ll also build happy and healthy relationships with your customers thanks to my tried-and-tested strategies.

Are We a Match?        

I’m a great course for any business professional who wants to gain a better understanding of the market and learn how to build successful and profitable client relationships.

Check out the full details for each course and take the leap!

The Styles of Leadership

“To be a great leader, one must …”

How you finish this sentence could uncover a great deal about your leadership style. 

Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.

Vince Lombardi

The meaning of leadership is evolving rapidly. A leader is no longer regarded as an omnipotent individual who tells others what to do. He/she is someone who is able to guide members in a team in the right direction – from within rather than above.

In order to be better leaders tomorrow, we have to know where we stand today. To help you understand the effect each type of leader has on an organisation, here are the most well-known types of leadership styles at play today…

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Running contrary to the autocratic leadership style, this type of leader concentrates for the most part on appointing numerous tasks to team members and offering very little supervision. Since a laissez-faire leader doesn’t invest much energy into overseeing employees, he or she will often have more time to commit to other projects. 

Managers may embrace this leadership style when all team members are exceptionally experienced, well prepared and require little supervision. It can cause a plunge in productivity if employees are confused about their leader’s expectations, or if their fellow team members need consistent motivation and boundaries to work well.

Autocratic Leadership

Also referred to as the authoritative style of leadership, this sees leaders being focused entirely on proficiency and results. 

This leadership style can be helpful in organisations with strict rules, or compliance-heavy industries. It can also be valuable when used with employees who need a lot of supervision, for example, those with little to no experience. 

Democratic Leadership

The participative leadership style depends on common regard, requiring a coordinated effort among leaders and the individuals they manage. It’s valid for all organisations, from private enterprises and government offices to educational institutions and NGOs.

Transactional Leadership

A transactional leader is somebody who is laser-centred on performance, like a pacesetter. Under this leadership style, the manager creates predetermined incentives — usually by way of a money-related prize for progress, and disciplinary action for disappointment. Transactional leaders are also centred around mentorship, guidance and preparing to accomplish objectives and enjoy rewards.

Transformational Leadership

The transformational leadership style is similar to the mentoring model in that it centres around clear communication, goal setting and employee motivation. Rather than putting most of the energy into every employee’s individual goals, the transformational leader is driven by a commitment to organisational targets. 

Since these kinds of leaders invest quite a bit of their energy in the bigger picture, this style of leading is best for teams that can deal with many delegated tasks without frequent supervision.

We Need to Be Efficient About Our Learning Opportunities

Did I hear right?

According to the public State of the Nation Address:

  • 2.4 million children are in Early Childhood Development and pre-school.
  • 81% of learners passed matric in 2019.
  • 720 000 students received state funding for Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges and universities in 2019.
  • 550 schools provide various technical vocational specialisations.
  • 67 schools are currently piloting the occupational stream.
  • 9 new Technical and Vocational Education and Training college campuses are being built this year.
  • 200 schools are to receive coding and robotics in Grades R to 3 by 2022.
  • 10 is the age of children to be able to read for meaning.

Nelson Mandela was right: education is arguably the most important driver of growth and development for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and indeed South Africa. This I understand and agree with, but I don’t understand why the government wants to spend R64 billion on student accommodation.

Instead, I feel that the money could be better spent on digitally optimising the course material presented by public universities and TVET colleges. There is a very real opportunity to reduce capital and operating costs by leveraging technology in delivery.

I would argue that this is particularly relevant for working professionals, as blended and online degrees and short courses provide a convenient and affordable way to study.

Distance education institutions such as UNISA are the best positioned to capitalise on this reality. A wonderful example of this is OneUni in Kenya. We need to look at what we already have in place and make these better.

The importance of early childhood development combined with good nutrition will remain the cornerstone of the South African education journey. And while the 81% pass rate is commendable, the overall throughput rate from Grade 1 to Matric should be the real measure.

Communicating the pathways to a successful career with learners will require careful alignment of the skills our country actually needs with those a learner would like to acquire. The role of private and public education providers will be critical in helping learners navigate this myriad of choices. In the end, we don’t want to graduate students with skills that are simply not in demand and aligned with industry.

Simply put, we need doctors, lawyers, accountants – but we also need a skilled workforce that will drive our economy.  A culture of lifelong learning needs to be supported and encouraged.

So…what to do?

How we get there is NOT by building more institutions. Instead, we should look to enhance and optimise what we already have by working smarter: using technology-enabled teaching to deliver meaningful education, including short online courses, full online qualifications, microlearning, work readiness and entrepreneurship programmes.

Change Your Life in Two Minutes

Do you procrastinate often? Is making a work routine an issue for you? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these, you’re like many working professionals around the globe.

A typical work routine is filled to the brim with errands and tasks and littered with easy-to-completes as well as easy-to-procrastinates. Knowing where to begin or which job to pick first can be difficult at times, especially when your to-do list is overwhelming. 

This is where The Two-Minute Rule enters the scene.

The Two-Minute Rule is a famous achievement hack that states that if any important assignment will take under two minutes to finish, you should drop everything and do it immediately. 

“If you determine an action can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it’ll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it. If you don’t avoid the question about what’s the next step, lots of two-minute items could be done right then. Now, there are many times that you have a next step that’s going to take a longer amount of time, like drafting some big new spreadsheet. You wouldn’t want to do that in two minutes. ” 

– David Alen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

The idea is to make your habits as simple as possible to start. Anybody can meditate for five minutes, read a page of a book, or set one item of clothing aside.  Once you’ve started making small good decisions, it’s a lot simpler to keep doing so. A new habit should not feel like a test. What you need is a ‘gateway habit’ that sets you down a progressively beneficial path.

You can, for the most part, make sense of the gateway habits that will prompt your ideal result by mapping out your objectives on a scale from ‘simple’ to ‘exceptionally difficult’. For example, running a marathon is hard. Running 5 km is hard. Taking 10 000 steps is a little difficult. Going for a 10-minute walk is doable. Putting on your running shoes is extremely easy. Your objective may be to run a long-distance race, but your gateway habit is to put on your running shoes and get moving. 

It all comes down to habit.

And once you have it, you’ll see the success from the Two-Minute Rule in all aspects of your professional – and personal – life adding up quickly.

The Trend of Omnichannel Learning

In a nutshell, the concept of omnichannel refers to a cross-channel approach to learning and development that offers a consistent experience. This type of learning is unique in its flexibility, offering education across a range of platforms, from your PC or cellphone to call-in and in-person experiences.

Omnichannel learning offers fully integrated support to provide a continuous and consistent customer experience through social and mobile channels.

Every business has its own unique learning and operational style, which is continually being driven by transformation, speed, complexity and globalisation.

In order to survive the rapid transformations of the global industry, businesses need to be able to react quickly and be flexible enough to deliver to rapidly changing markets. Integral to this is the ability of teams to adjust to continually evolving strategies. 

Successful organisations are embracing learning as the most significant way to empower this progress. 

Exciting emerging trends include: 

Learning Ecosystems

Learning ecosystems are centred around the best way to support a student in accomplishing his or her educational goals.  

By gathering and coordinating little bits of software into your design, you can make a learning ecosystem that will best accommodate the student experience. 

Personalisation

There is a perception that creating an online learning portal is tedious and costly, but this is simply no longer true. It’s easier now than ever to create remarkable data-based personalisation (including predictive personalisation) of the learning experience.

Social Learning

Naturally, people learn through shared meaning. We learn from one another, sense-checking each other and thoroughly considering thoughts together. Your team may create a goal or strategy cooperatively and broaden the learning experience so that the journey is undertaken as a collective, whether online or in-person. 

Why Should I Consider a Digital Programme While Working?

Digital Programmes allow you to acquire knowledge through the internet, from anywhere in the world. Notes in PDFs, Word documents, pre-recorded webinars and assessments are available as a package for a streamlined learning experience. 

Here are a few more advantages of online programmes:

Flexibility

As technology continues to evolve, one needs continual learning and training. Working a 9 to 5 job and pursuing a course may seem like something that could lead to burnout, especially if you need to attend classes. Online programmes can be taken anytime, anywhere. All you require is an internet connection. Making time during your tea break at work, sitting on your couch and familiarising yourself with the course content while waiting for the next episode of your favourite series, or watching the video files while commuting are some of the ways online learning can be integrated into your life. This allows for flexibility in terms of time and effort.

Mobility

With easy access via cellphone and tablet, online courses are no longer restricted to desktops or even laptops. 

Easy On The Pocket

Online courses are emerging as a cost-effective, affordable and viable alternative to attending a traditional university or college.

Easy Accessibility

With downloadable learning content, online support, online interaction and pre-recorded webinars, online programmes can be taken anywhere, anytime.

Information Retention

Digital programmes allow you to retain information by making use of attractive visuals, videos, easy-to-read fonts and more. Real-life scenarios are also presented in order to better explain concepts. The well-designed display of information means that the content is more understandable and easier to retain. 

Simplifying the Styles of Leadership

“To be a great leader, one must …”

How you finish this sentence could uncover a great deal about your leadership style. 

Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.

Vince Lombardi

The meaning of leadership is evolving rapidly. A leader is no longer regarded as an omnipotent individual who tells others what to do. He/she is someone who is able to guide members in a team in the right direction – from within rather than above.

In order to be better leaders tomorrow, we have to know where we stand today. To help you understand the effect each type of leader has on an organisation, here are the most well-known types of leadership styles at play today…

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Running contrary to the autocratic leadership style, this type of leader concentrates for the most part on appointing numerous tasks to team members and offering very little supervision. Since a laissez-faire leader doesn’t invest much energy into overseeing employees, he or she will often have more time to commit to other projects. 

Managers may embrace this leadership style when all team members are exceptionally experienced, well prepared and require little supervision. It can cause a plunge in productivity if employees are confused about their leader’s expectations, or if their fellow team members need consistent motivation and boundaries to work well.

Autocratic Leadership

Also referred to as the authoritative style of leadership, this sees leaders being focused entirely on proficiency and results. 

This leadership style can be helpful in organisations with strict rules, or compliance-heavy industries. It can also be valuable when used with employees who need a lot of supervision, for example, those with little to no experience. 

Democratic Leadership

The participative leadership style depends on common regard, requiring a coordinated effort among leaders and the individuals they manage. It’s valid for all organisations, from private enterprises and government offices to educational institutions and NGOs.

Transactional Leadership

A transactional leader is somebody who is laser-centred on performance, like a pacesetter. Under this leadership style, the manager creates predetermined incentives — usually by way of a money-related prize for progress, and disciplinary action for disappointment. Transactional leaders are also centred around mentorship, guidance and preparing to accomplish objectives and enjoy rewards.

Transformational Leadership

The transformational leadership style is similar to the mentoring model in that it centres around clear communication, goal setting and employee motivation. Rather than putting most of the energy into every employee’s individual goals, the transformational leader is driven by a commitment to organisational targets. 

Since these kinds of leaders invest quite a bit of their energy in the bigger picture, this style of leading is best for teams that can deal with many delegated tasks without frequent supervision.

2020: What to Expect in Money and Markets

If you are still trying to wrap your head around the notion that you can buy anything – even your groceries – with just one click, then prepare yourself for the radical changes that are coming your way. Here are a few financial technology (fintech) trends that will impact everything in the financial world from making payments to the way you do your banking.

Mobile Payment Innovations

A recent fintech trend is the development of the versatile installments industry. Customers need payments to be quick and free. Portable payment developments may even replace conventional wallets as worldwide shoppers are less and less dependent on cash. Google, Apple, Tencent and Alibaba have their very own payment services and continue to turn out new features such as biometric access control through fingerprints and facial recognition.

Conversational Interfaces

According to Gartner, 2020 will see chatbots interacting with clients in 85% of banks and businesses. By taking out human involvement, efficiency and speed should improve. In fact, one report indicates that financial chatbots save over four minutes per interaction. The field is booming thanks to the growth taking place in natural language processing and speech generation. Clients of financial organisations have come to depend on conversational interfaces to give around-the-clock administration, immediate responses to inquiries, and fast objection resolution. They also provide a simple and prudent route for businesses in the financial sector, making it easier to receive feedback from clients.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPAs will continue to have a powerful impact on financial organisations, helping them to be progressively proficient and powerful, and ensuring that they meet government and state compliance necessities. Existing RPAs don’t require significant modification as they can monitor employees and computerize processes or recommend upgrades. RPAs can handle a variety of tasks including client onboarding, verification, hazard evaluations, security checks, information examination, compliance, and repetitive authoritative exercises.

Financial establishments continue to adapt and improve day-to-day operations and client service. These fintech trends provide new and exciting opportunities for growth and development. Organisations should take note of these trends and figure out how to utilise fintech to gain the upper hand.

How Do I Ask Someone to Be a Mentor?

A mentor can be invaluable in your working life. A person a little further down the career line offering guidance can help you cultivate the professional path you want to take. Mentorship helps with positive, productive feedback, insight into the industry, and great networking contacts. But it doesn’t often happen by mistake.

Seeking out a mentor is intentional, and requires steps to find – and ask – the right person for active counsel.

Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living — if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”

Denzel Washington

First steps, first:

Step 1: Make Sure You Have The Right Person for You

Like any relationship, it’s important to consider before committing. Make sure you have chosen someone who you think is well equipped – both personally and professionally – to mentor you. The ideal mentor should be a few levels ahead in their career, in order to be able to show you what to avoid in your own profession. 

If there’s a person who springs to mind, that’s a good gut feeling to go with. Follow it to… 

Step 2: Make Your Request for Mentorship

Once you’ve got your perfect mentor in mind, reach out to them to ask for mentorship. If you know the person well already, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal request. 

Go in prepared and lay down the groundwork and your rationale. Say something like “I really appreciate your advice” or “I would love to learn more from you” and then open up the request for mentorship. Lead the conversation, offering what you might expect from them while bearing in mind their time and capacity. Actively communicate what areas you would like guidance in, whether it’s building a strategy, choosing a career trajectory, or learning more profession-based knowledge. 

It’s important to consider how often you’d like to meet with them, to give your agenda a specific focus, and to remember that they are not obliged to say yes. 

It’s advised that you offer something in return. See if there’s anything you can help them with. This will show your interest in making it a mutually beneficial relationship, as well as provide you with more of a platform to learn from them.

Step 3: Accept the Answer 

If the person does not have the capacity, be gracious and understanding about it. Respect their decision and reflect that the timing might not be right.

If the person is able to mentor you, congratulations! Accept that too, along with the advice you are given. Learn from them and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

It’s important to consider how often you’d like to meet with them, to give your agenda a specific focus, and to remember that they are not obliged to say yes. 

10 Ways to Clean Up Your Budget this Financial February

The time has come for businesses around South Africa to take a look at their finances and budget for the upcoming year. Take this opportunity to have a look at what and where you’re spending, and plan ahead by crafting your own financial plan.

If you’re serious about becoming a pro in financial management, check out our online short course in Financial Analysis for Investment

For those simply wanting to finesse their personal finances, here are 10 easy ways to draw up a killer budget, make the right choices with your money, and enjoy more financial freedom than ever before.

1.    Make a Budget 

This is a pretty obvious first step. In order to adjust and monitor the way you spend, you have to have a plan. In the most basic terms, a budget is an account of your funds and a strategy for where you intend to use them. This will not only structure the way forward, but it will also give you control over your money and allow you to achieve your financial goals. 

2.    Track Your Spending

The first step in drawing up a budget is going over your past finances to figure out where you are spending money and if there are any changes that you could make. It is a good idea to keep all of your receipts for a month and use that as a starting point. Once you have got a budget, make sure to note every transaction diligently so that you can get an accurate picture of your habits.

3.    Get a Helping Hand 

There are numerous apps on the market that can help you design a bulletproof budget. Most of them even link to your bank accounts, and some automatically categorise your spending so that you can get a clear idea of where your money is going. Not only does it simplify the process, but it cuts down the work so that you can track your money without the hassle.

Check out these awesome options.

4.    Write Out Financial Goals

It’s really important that you know what outcomes you would like to achieve before you decide on your final budget. 

You may want to go on holiday or save up for a car or buy some stocks – whatever your goals, make sure that they are clearly defined and that you are using your budget to work towards them. 

5.    Factor Savings into Your Budget

It’s no good planning your spending if you don’t allocate some money to go into your savings. Even if you are not saving up for something at the moment, it’s a good idea to put some money aside each month in case of an emergency, or in the event that one day you decide that you would like to make a big purchase. 

6.    Get an Accountability Buddy

Even if you have drawn up a thorough and effective budget, it can be difficult to stick to it if you are only answering to yourself. The temptation to spend a little extra on eating out or going away for the weekend is often really hard to resist. It will really make a difference if you pick a friend or family member to keep you in check.

7.    Use Cash 

There is a strategy known as envelope budgeting, where you withdraw and set aside cash for problem categories. For example, if you often overspend on groceries then you can decide on a set amount that you are allowed to spend for the week or month. Once the cash in that envelope has been used up, you’re not allowed to spend any more on groceries. 

It’s almost too easy to just swipe and spend, so limiting yourself to cash might help to curb those spontaneous splurges.

8.    Needs vs Wants

We often have trouble distinguishing between our needs and our wants. In the moment, you may think that spending some extra money on yourself will be good for your mental health, but often it just makes for stress and disappointment down the line. Your basic needs are food, clothing, shelter, and some social activities – your wants are fast food, expensive clothing, pricey accommodation or décor and a party every week. Take a good look at yourself and what you do and don’t need, and let that guide your spending.

9.    Eat at Home

This point is particularly close to my heart because I have a near addiction to Uber Eats, but I know that it cost me way too much – especially considering I have shelves of veggies in the fridge that are expiring. The taste and convenience of take-out food are difficult to resist, but you will save so much money if you stick to buying reasonably priced groceries and then actually eating them. Plus, you’ll probably be eating healthier! If you are going out to eat with friends, you can always eat a little bit at home first so that you won’t have to pay for a big dish at a restaurant. 

10. Make Long-Term Investments 

This is probably the best thing that you can do for your budget and your long-term financial success because you are using money to make more money. 

Savings are great, but they don’t usually end up generating more money. Using your money to set up lucrative financial strategies or expand your skillset is a great way to be smart with your budget.

One of the best ways to invest in yourself is to sign up for an online course. You will be receiving an education at an affordable price, and you will be setting yourself up for success. 

MasterStart offers different courses in business, finance, leadership and marketing, allowing you to have a better understanding of how money moves around and how you can achieve success.

Check out the courses on offer and start making the right choices today!

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