Category Archives: Uncategorized

Education & Employment

A rather hot educational topic of late is Accounting and bookkeeping. I theorize that part of this trend is due in part to the fact that there are many more people going into business for themselves than ever before. These SOHO operations are popping up everywhere and they really need skilled accounting and bookkeeping professionals to help them grow and manage their business. Businesses that are growing need to have skilled workers like bookkeepers to keep the up to date and fiscally responsible. Often the employees that inherit these responsibilities are expected to learn as they work. Personally as a tutor, I receive a large percentage of business from such a scenario. They tend to have little to no accounting knowledge and need to learn a software program like QuickBooks or Simply Accounting.

As a result, I adjusted the way I teach these types of courses. The curriculum was deepened in terms of the features taught and the participants performed a series of tasks designed to promote experience with the software. This was a radical shift from teaching based on levels 1-3 or Beginner, intermediate, Advanced. The shift was about giving the student a deep experience in the shortest amount of time possible. Business owners don’t want to an employee committing to a course that takes weeks even months to finish.

Our Office Training courses which include MS Office, Accounting Basics, and MS Project cover the essential concepts needed to be successful in the workplace. participants are provided with a broad range of exercises that promote both experience and confidants. Beyond the software, skills such as critical thinking give the participant an opportunity to apply the knowledge they just learned. Applying what you learn means they develop the essential building blocks of problem solving.

There are optional assessments and projects that businesses can choose to use to gauge how well the their employees have picked up on the concepts.

If interested in our training courses, call us today at 416-550-2487 and ask for Gus.

Good luck everyone

Gus Chouli
http://www.softwarelearning.net

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Training Seminars vs. One on One Coaching

Being a trainer, tutor and mentor for over 15 years I have learned a lot about the human condition. So many times I came across people that were virtually un-trainable simply because they were too busy fighting the process of learning; instead of using that energy to learn. The type that you have to drag there kicking and screaming. More often than not they are sales people that are being asked to adhere to a new set of compliance rules or in some cases their employer wants them to better leverage the software they use. Training sales people is always challenging at best and in some cases downright impossible. I have had quite a different experience with the administrative and financial employees as they tend to believe in concise methodology and don’t really need to be convinced that there are better ways to do things.

One other factor in determining whether training or tutoring would be the better option is knowing the audience that you are dealing with. In a scenario with a group of sales people it is rare that you arrive to setup and find that the class is waiting and ready. Sales people are notoriously late and their lack of focus proves disruptive as many tend to have attention deficit disorder (ADD); makes it very difficult for the instructor to follow a pre-defined agenda. They tend to be very independent in their thinking and cannot adjust to formal methods that force them to redefine their natural tendencies.

 Experience has taught me that training sales people, executives and business owners in an instructor lead class in liable to be an exercise in frustration. Other office staff like accounting professionals, office administrators and other logistics workers tend to logically accept methodology that has been tried and proven to be effective. The term I use is “methodical workers”. The can see the benefit of using and practicing pre-defined business processes. The other type I refer to as the “nonconformist.” Sometimes referred to as “Mavericks” they are non-conformists and they like to do things their way and they relish in their independence. 

What you will find is that methodical worker types are usually perfect for instructor lead seminars; you must train mavericks in one-on-one coaching sessions that can be tailored specifically to their needs. The most crucial part is that you consult the client first and make sure that their needs are met during the session. Tutoring as a teaching method is also great for those that might not learn as quickly in a group situation and might fall behind. Since coaching is focused specifically on the student, the speed of which the training takes place and the topics is guaranteed to be ideal and relevant. 

Another aspect of training that tends to be true but is often overlooked is that some adults have trouble sitting and learning for more than 2 hours without taking a break. I usually run my one on one sessions so that we take a 15 minute break once every two hours. We take a half an hour lunch and a follow it up with an mid afternoon break before ending the session. These sessions are usually cost a flat fee for a set amount of hours. However some adults cannot absorb more than a couple of hours of training a day. I bill those sessions by the hour as opposed to a flat rate for a certain amount of hours. Often the determination is budget. Since most adults tend to be task oriented they tend to want to be doing something that achieves a result. This is where I have learned to modify my teaching to include far more interactive exercises that allows the participant to experience the learning first hand. The more that participants do, regardless of which method you use, the more they tend to retain.

 So what about cost considerations? I am asked that question all the time. The cost effectiveness of one on one training versus instructor lead training can very hard to quantify depending on the precise circumstances. However, in most cases people tend to be looking at the situation from the cost of the class or instructor/coach. The flipside is there is a cost to the student as well. Anyone that is employed and is taken away from their daily responsibility is getting paid but not working. If the participant is a sales person or business owner that usually makes money during normal business hours, then tying them up in an all day training session has an opportunity cost associated with it. It could be argued that once you take into consideration the greater value received from one on one training as opposed to more generic instructor lead training, the cost advantage shifts dramatically.

The Difference Between Working Hard & Working Smart

Over the years what has become abundantly clear to me is that there is a distinction between working hard and working smart. It is not simply a play on words. One of the indicators of working too hard is when a certain task in your day take up so much of the day that you are scrambling to get other important tasks done.  By the end of your work day you are over tired and drained. 

Without doubt there is always a better way; the question where to find the answer. Now you can research online there are plenty of online communities out there. There are “Ask an Expert” networks where you can submit your problems and for a negotiable price someone will take on the problem for you. You might decided to do a Google search and see if the problem has been solved by others; which usually takes time. First you research the problem then as you find the answer you usually will find difference as no two problems are the same. Now you will need to add to the discussion thread and wait around for more answers. Which sometimes leads nowhere. 

Depending on the scenario, you might in fact find an answer in some cases. However, that is only half the battle. What you really need is to learn how to leverage your skills better so that you can solve your own problems. Like so many these days, if you work for yourself and your time is limited; you are probably concerned about managing your expenses. You need a solution that you can implment yourself. One that will pay off beyond the initial cost. This is where I make the argument for training and consulting services. You want someone that will do more than just solve the issue. You need to know how to solve the issue yourself. The next time you have an issue that needs resolving; think about finding a trainer that also has consulting skills to help you learn to think on your own feet. There are some basic skills that a trainer/consultant can help you master. Then future bottlenecks can be dealt with without calling in someone outside your organization for help; unless the scope of the problem is outside your knowlege. In which case calling someone in would be both cost effective and necessary. 

In conclusion the difference between working hard and working smart is knowing how to solve your own bottlenecks, identifying which situations require you to call in an expert for help. You must be ready to constantly adapt to the changing technology picture and have the courage to make changes when needed.