Monthly Archives: May 2014

Is your English good enough?


  1. For business communication?
  2. For high school?
  3. For college and university?
  4. To study abroad?
  5. To migrate to another country?

Competence and confidence in written and spoken English will directly affect your economic potential.

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(Click for English, Bahasa Indonesia, والعربية, 普通话)

3 Ways to Improve Your Influencing Skills

Influencing people is not about telling people what to do, nor is it about forcing them to do something. Instead, influencing is about affecting people to “operate according to our own guidance without any direct or apparent effort”.

In other words, influencing skills will help you to get people to be more likely to do what you want, of their own accord – whether it be more sales or to get your staff working the way you want.

Here are 3 ways to improve your influencing skills.

influencing tips

1.    Listening is important, but so is acknowledging.

By now you already know that listening is an important skill to have – whether it be in negotiating or leading. To become an influencer, acknowledging what the other party is saying is crucial. People will be more willing to cooperate if they feel understood, appreciated and acknowledged.

Show to them that you understand what they are going through. Acknowledge their opinions. The closer you are to them, the better you know them, and more likely it is for them to be influenced by you.

2.    Real influence comes from the inside.

To influence successfully, you need to actually know the people you want to influence. The better you know them, the higher your influence is towards them.

For example, if you are a manager, get to know your employees better. Get to know their interests and what motivates them. Find a common ground, set a common goal. By knowing each other’s values in personal basis, you will create a great influence on them.

3.    Develop credibility.

One of the most important things that an influencer can have is their reputation. Do you have the reputation of being likeable? How about being credible? People are more likely to be positively influenced by those who have credibility. This means, your influence needs to be built over time, rather than instantaneously.

Want to learn more about being a skilled influencer? The Institute of Management offers a Influencing Skills course. Visit our website to find out more.

Is Investing on Your Employees Worth It?

Top talents help businesses grow. While managers and leaders in a company are sometimes hesitant to invest in their employees in fear of them moving on to another company, here is a more profound question: What if you choose to not invest on them, and they stay?

investing on employee

Investing on your employees

While employers might only do the bare minimum – making sure employees give their best effort for the job and meeting their deadlines, it is important to note that doing further investing in your employees will yield greater results to the company. Perhaps it’s time to make true the sentence of, “Our people are our greatest asset.”

Here are three ways to invest in your employees:

1.    Build their skills

In recruitment, better character can be more valuable than higher skill-set. Skills can be built, but character is a sensitive and personal area which is harder to change. Mentor them; make them learn new things and constantly feel challenged at work.

2.    Give responsibility

Give responsibility to your employees, and they might surprise you. Trusting them with a responsibility is an act of empowering your employees. However, this does not mean that you are letting them ‘do whatever they want’. Guidance still needs to be given until they are perfectly confident to move to the next level.

3.    Establish checkpoints

Those regular feedbacks and reviews are important. Hold your employees accountable, and at the same time hold yourself accountable to them. Spend time with your employees to determine which things work and which don’t. Look at their strengths and weaknesses and focus on the things they could improve on. Enrol them to training programs regularly so they keep developing professionally.

Planning periodical team building activities can also be of great help to maintain team bonding. If the employees’ don’t get along well or know each other well enough, top leaders in the company may need to spend more time, money, and energy due to internal conflicts and high turnover rates.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

Using Social Media in Recruitment Process: How Far is Too Far?

Most companies do a search on their candidates on Google, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn before they decide whether or not they would hire them. However, where is the line to draw between the usual candidate screening and the violation of candidates’ privacy?

social media privacy

Here are some key things you need to remember when using social media in hiring process:

1.    Background checking is good – within a certain limit

Anything that is posted publicly by your candidates is a fair game. Checking their LinkedIn profiles, for example, is good, recommended even. Everyone wants to know if the previous jobs listed in their resume are real. Furthermore, if you’re an online company, you might want to check your candidates’ Twitter profiles and see if they are using these profiles for professional purposes and not just for personal use.

2.    Don’t let personal prejudices take part

Say that you are about to ask a candidate to come in for an interview, but before making a call, you decide to check their Facebook profile first. You find out that the person has a different religion/race than yours and decide not to offer him/her the interview.

While it is against the law to discriminate candidates over physical disability, culture or religion, some people unconsciously still do it. If you are going to check their social media profiles, make sure that you can be objective and unprejudiced enough that none of these factors will influence your decision.

3.    Never ask for private information

Your candidate must have a good reason why their Facebook profile is on private. Demanding their password or hacking their account to open these profiles is a violation. Not only that it is against their privacy right, but it is also legally forbidden for employers to exploit these types of personal information.

So, how far is too far when it comes to checking candidates’ social media footprints? While it is not wrong to do a background check, there is a limit between doing a healthy background check and violating their rights. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t want those things to be done to you then don’t do these to others.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

How to Fire an Employee the Right Way

When you need to let go of an employee in your company, it is never an easy task to do. Truth is, it doesn’t matter how many times you have done it, it will still be difficult to say to your co-worker or subordinate, “I’m sorry, but we have to let you go.”

fired from job

And if it is not difficult enough, imagine what the other employees will think when one of their colleagues is let go: Will it be my turn to go next? What is happening? If this situation is not handled thoroughly and professionally, it may affect the performance of the employees.

Here are some dos and don’ts when letting go of an employee:

1. DO let them know of the situation.

If you know that your worker’s job performance is declining, set a meeting with them to get the story right. It is not fair for your employees to just be told that, “You’re fired” when all they have been hearing for the last six months is positive feedback from you.

2. DO adhere to company policy.

If the company guideline states that there is a two-week notice policy, don’t fire the person today and expect them to leave tomorrow. Make sure you have talked to the HR Department to discuss their benefits and contracts beforehand.

3. DO be certain.

If you have made your decision to let the person go, don’t offer them the hope of staying, especially out of courtesy or empathy. This would just further confuse your employee while they can make up their mind to move on in the first place.

4. DON’T argue.

Employees who are getting fired can show a diverse range of emotion – from being unusually quiet, sad to explosive. If you have followed the process, the employee should have been left with bits of bread crumbs to follow to get the hint that they will soon be let go. However, if they insist on discussing their work performance, listen, but don’t argue. Sometimes saying less is more.

5. DON’T do it in front of other employees.

Meet with them face-to-face, with a witness from the HR department if you have to. But other than that, don’t just yell at them and say, “You’re fired!” in front of everyone. What is worse than firing an employee is putting them to shame in the process.

6. DON’T just break the news.

Giving your employees the explanation of why they are being fired in the first place is crucial. While you don’t need to go into details such as giving examples or drawing from real life occurrences, you can tell them the gist of why they are being let go. Offer them to talk at length if they are comfortable to. Sometimes your employees want to know what they have done wrong and how they can prevent it from happening again in their next job.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

6 Tips to Improve Your Recruitment Process

Recruitment process is one of the most important aspects in Human Resources management of a company that, if not done right, can do some very serious damage to company performance. It is no longer about hiring someone who can do the job, but about finding the right piece of puzzle to complete the company. Wrong hiring decisions can lead to high turnover rate and in return, loss to the company. Companies can often be rushing just to find someone who can simply do the job, but keep in mind that in this case, patience can really be the highest virtue.

To ensure good recruiting process, here are 6 tips to remember:


1.     Get the most out of social media

Who says social media is just mere entertainment? In this era, social media sites like LinkedIn can be the most useful social media tools for hiring the right candidates. Job seekers are constantly building their network and profiles so that potential employers can find them.

2.     Don’t discredit the referees

While references section in a resume may exist simply because of formality, checking up on those references to get to know your prospective employees past work performance may just be the best thing for you to do. It may even make or break the decision.

3.     Look for character, not just skills and qualifications

Skills can be taught, qualifications can be gained, but character is hard to mould. Always search for a candidate who has good character. Even if their skills are not as great as the candidate next door, remember, it’s easier to build skills rather than good character.

4.     Take into account their ‘online identity’

We don’t have a shortage of cases where employees use their personal social media accounts to do acts that may defame their companies. When everything is now an open book, it is better to Google them and look at their online identities before you make the call.

5.     Be open about your company culture

An employee will strive to bring out his best in an environment where they feel most at home. If he or she is not a great fit towards the culture that the company has, it may be true that he or she will have trouble fitting in. Asking a candidate to meet with existing employees is also important to see if they are all on the same wave length.

6.     Don’t settle

It’s harder to let go and start the hiring process all over again rather than to settle for what’s in front of you. If your gut feeling tells you that it isn’t right, it probably isn’t. Be open-minded and be flexible. Don’t settle for a candidate just because you have a desk to fill.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

Dealing With Conflicts at Work

Conflicts at work can take many forms: it may be two employees who are not getting along with each other, a worker filing complaints to his manager or an emerging rivalry between departments. While some conflicts may go away when given some time, at times they need to be dealt with immediately to be resolved.


Causes of conflicts

There are many causes of conflicts at work, some include:

  • Poor management
  • Unfair treatment
  • Bullying
  • Unclear job description
  • Lack of communication
  • Increase in workload
  • Different needs and expectations at work
  • Personality clashes
  • Cultural difference

Resolving conflicts

While resolving conflicts between two employees may be as simple as sitting down and talking it through over a cup of coffee, others may require following company guidelines of filing complaints. No matter what it is, here are five different ways to resolve conflicts at work:

1.    Avoidance

This may work for smaller conflicts, such as an employee avoiding to work near a colleague’s desk because the person always turns on music during working hours. Sometimes it’s best not to offend a co-worker when you can afford to.

2.    Accommodation

Accommodation refers to focusing on immediate needs for the individuals who have conflicts. Therefore, instead of focusing on the problem or differences, accommodation method puts emphasis on both individuals’ common grounds in such ways that the conflict simmers down, for example by focusing on the greater goal.

3.    Compromise

This way of managing conflict requires both parties to voice their displeasure and make compromises – it’s not enough for one party to do it, both parties must work together in order to synergize. Compromising requires trust and respect.

4.    Competition

While competition is not really the perfect way to resolve conflict, this method is referred to as the better way of resolving the issue instead of fighting or arguing. Both parties who argue on a certain topic may need to prove to ‘win’ the contests to have his or her demands met. This method is often saved as a last resort.

5.    Collaboration

Collaboration is the best way to manage conflicts. This method emphasises on both parties setting aside their differences and work together to accomplish the objective in a way that satisfies everyone. While two employees may have different views on how to get the client, they can collaborate on their strategies. This method encourages teamwork and cooperation.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

How to Manage Culture Clash at Work

Living in this globalised world means wherever you work, you may be faced with colleagues or managers with different cultures than yours. While these differences in culture encourage diversity, which may lead to being able to generate better ideas, more creative suggestions and so on, they can also lead into culture clash in workplace.

A company whose employees are not getting along with each other is not healthy. Thus, a culture clash can turn into a costly problem.

Here are some ways to avoid culture clash at work:

culture clash

1.    Respect each other

While different cultures may prevent us from liking each other, it should not be stopping people to lose respect with each other. In the workplace, respect and trust go a long way, and respecting your Western manager or Asian colleague even when they have different habits, religions or work habits is the key to avoid culture clash.

2.    Encourage open communication

Working with different people from different countries may not be enjoyable at first, as the old saying say, the birds of a feather flock together. However, this should not be a barrier for you to not communicate with each other. Even very different cultures have some common grounds. Talk to each other and find out your similar interests – perhaps in music, movies or food. This will make you be more collaborative in working together as a team as well.

3.    Compromise

While you can’t get everything you want – you can learn to compromise. If both parties insist on doing things their ways, job performance may suffer and this may lead to job dissatisfaction as well, which is very costly to both the individuals and the company. Connecting and compromising with each other may create the foundation and the understanding that they need not strangle each other over cultural differences.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

What Really Motivates Employees?

It is no secret that motivated and thriving employees are the key to an organisation’s success. Given that they are equally qualified, one passionate worker can secure more clients than three unmotivated ones.

motivating employees

Knowing this, it should be one of the company’s priorities to motivate their own employees. Contrary to popular belief, monetary compensation is not the best motivator, although it does significantly affect an employee’s level of motivation. While low compensation leads to job dissatisfaction, using money as a drive may prevent the person’s ability to provide return of investment. The same thing goes with motivating employees through the fear of losing their jobs. This fear will create stress and hinder their creativity in doing their projects.

Here are three things that really motivate your employees to go the extramile:

1.    Connect their job description with a sense of purpose

Rewards in monetary or even praise may go dry, but when an employee’s vision is aligned with the company’s, it will act as the perfect fuel to keep the level of motivation high. The joy they feel in creating new things, overcoming challenges or helping their clients go a long way. In short, don’t just tell them ‘what’ to do, but explain ‘why’ they are doing this in the first place.

2.    Really care about your employees – including their future career paths

Listen to your employees’ complaints and suggestions. Don’t overwork them. Be considerate of their illness, family problems or other commitments. Provide interest in developing success for their future careers, even when their future is not with your company – the right people will stay.

3.    Treat your employees the way you would like to be treated

This means giving positive feedback when they are doing things right, respecting your employees as individuals and not work machines and believing in them even when they mess things up – mistakes happen but most employees lose their confidence after that first failure if their bosses are not considerate enough.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

How to Prevent Job Burnout

There will come a time in our career when we feel totally burnt out. We may lose our passion, or simply surrender by succumbing to the routines we’ve been doing for many years – or even decades for some people.

Experts have also stated that workplace burnout affects health. Therefore, it is important to be able to detect the symptoms early to be able to combat it.

job burnout

Job burnout symptoms

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you started to not care about work anymore?
  • Do you find it difficult to stay motivated?
  • Are you constantly finding mistakes of your colleagues, bosses or employees?
  • Have you lost your passion?
  • Do you feel tired all the time?
  • Are you having unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?

If you find that your answers to these following questions are somewhat negative, you might actually be experiencing job burnout at the moment. The signs include experiencing fatigue, depression, and declining work efficiency, frustration, loss of motivation, resentfulness, and feelings of helplessness.

Left untreated, job burnout will affect your physical and mental health.

Preventing burnout

While you are not going to quit every job straightaway after having a burnout, there are ways to prevent it.

1.    Recognise when your passion has turned into poison

Doing work that aligns with your passion is great, but when that very same work has left you feeling irritated every day, you might want to consider doings things differently. The first step is to identify the burnout early.

2.    Assess your situation and determine what must be done

Are you burnt out due to workload stress? You may want to talk to your boss about the job expectation once again. Are you required to work overtime everyday and as a result, do not have enough time to sleep? Are you feeling agitated? You can also start changing your lifestyle – such as eating healthier food, setting aside time to do your hobby and exercising regularly.

3.    Make time for yourself

You can take a five-minute walk to the park, read a book for thirty minutes before bed, or cook your favourite meal. The important thing is to give time for yourself – and not thinking of deadlines, projects or even the chaos at home.

4.    Seek for support

When things get overwhelming, perhaps it’s time to talk to someone – your family member, trusted colleague or even your boss about the situation you are in right now.

5.    Take action

Nothing will happen if you pretend that the job burnout isn’t there or if you leave it alone with the assumption that it will go away by itself. It won’t. It’s up to you whether to wake up with excitement or stress out before going to work.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.