The Blog

What Should Leaders Know About Cyber Security and Safe Surfing?

If you have a business device connected to the internet, you’ll need to seriously consider your cyber security processes. If not, you’re putting your business at risk.

Thankfully, you can avoid any threats by knowing the cyber essentials. In this blog, we guide you through everything to know – from how cyber security is vital to businesses, to ensuring staff are aware of internet safety practices.

What is cyber security?

Cyber security is the act of protecting computers or devices from damage or theft to their software, hardware or electronic data. It also guards against the disruption of services. It’s important that businesses have at least the very basic cyber essentials in place. This will help any organisation reduce the likelihood of an attack, no matter their size.

The National Cyber Security Centre provides guidance on this. It includes securing your internet connection, device and software, and effectively controlling data access. There’s even a Cyber Essential Certificate available, which not only helps provide visibility of your entire organisation’s cyber security but assures customers too.

Another cyber security principle is considering the potential circumstances where your business could be threatened. For example, maybe all devices have the same password. Instead of leaving the situation be, put an effective password policy in place. Two-factor authentication is another great cyber security technique.

Why cyber security is important?

Without cyber security processes in place, your business is at risk. Unless your data is backed up, one of the most common threats is losing it. This will result in business downtime as well as the associated costs in getting it back up and running. You’ll also lose productivity time, due to having to manage the situation.

Theft counts as a data breach. Customers may lose trust in you, leading to a negative reputation in the market. Some may choose to cease working with you, and new clients may potentially be deterred.

On top of this, you could be fined. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation that came into place in 2018 is cracking down on data breaches. If you’ve not taken the necessary steps to avoid one, then there is a chance of a substantial penalty – potentially 4% of global annual turnover, or €20 million (whichever is higher).

How cyber security affects businesses

Countering the effects of a cyberattack isn’t the only way in which you’ll benefit from security. Cyber threats are increasingly becoming more sophisticated, and even those not especially skilled could threaten your business. If you have software in place that’s continuously updated, you’ll be able to meet these advanced threats with cutting-edge cyber security methods.

You’ll also benefit from maximised productivity. A cyberattack can lead to a standstill: it could be necessary to replace systems or devices. If a virus is installed on any computer, then their functionality may be significantly slowed down. And a cyberattack will be all the worse if you host your own website, and system infection results in it needing to go offline.

Once cyber security practices are implemented, you and your employees can use the internet without fear. Whilst even the top procedures can’t promise 100% protection, they will provide you with peace of mind.

Ensure safe surfing from all staff members

It’s also important to train staff in safe surfing, so they can use the internet without issue. In a work environment, cyberattacks often come in the form of phishing scams. Therefore, staff should be educated on what these typically contain.

Awareness around what constitutes a suspicious email will help. For instance, if they receive a message out of the ordinary, they shouldn’t click any links. Fraudsters often imitate legitimate URL addresses, particularly those of official bodies. There will be an almost unrecognisable difference.

Commonly, phishing emails request login or sensitive information, or urgently ask you to do something. There will be language used which if employees know about, will set alarm bells ringing. Often, they will claim your account has been compromised. It’s best to check with the official company by phoning them on a certified number.

If there is any sort of data breach, as a manager, you’ll need to be able to deal with it in the right manner. Knowing the core leadership and management capabilities can help handle situations like these. And these abilities can be provided by Leadership and Management apprenticeships, which Bright Direction Training offer.

Our apprenticeship qualifications, which are aligned with ILM qualifications, include all the modules to be a successful leader, including effective communication and decision making. To find out more information about what you could achieve with these qualifications, get in touch with our friendly team today. Call us on 01204 859 859, email us at info@brightdirectiontraining.co.uk, or fill out our contact form here.

What Is Effective Performance Management, and How Will It Benefit Your Business

Conduct an annual appraisal with every member of your team, and you’ve ticked off performance management for the year, right? Wrong. You need to do much more than this. And, when carried out correctly, it can provide a whole host of business benefits. So much so, it’s been adopted by the big-names, such as Microsoft and Adobe.

Here, we explore the topic in more detail…

What is performance management?

Firstly, let’s start with the performance management definition. Rather than being a once-a-year thing and focused solely on the employee, it’s continuous and works to the wider business objectives. Individual goals are still set, but to best improve performance, there are team ones too. These are specifically aligned to the organisation’s strategic aims.

The performance management process explicitly plans performance to reach goals, reviewing and assessing the progress made on an ongoing basis. It also develops the team’s knowledge and capabilities. As the process is constant, it has a revolving nature, creating a cycle for your business.

How the performance management cycle works

In this cycle, there are four stages: plan, review, act and track. The plan stage gives you the opportunity to set SMART goals and create a personal development plan, considering the organisation’s targets and values. During the review stage, achievements are assessed, learnings identified, goals discussed, and actions decided upon.

The ‘act’ part will be performing their role, putting into action the personal development plan, and achieving the targets set. The track phase is what it says on the tin – with progress also receiving continuous constructive feedback and any difficulties worked through with coaching. As it’s a cycle, no specific stage comes first.

learners in the classroom studying Performance management with Bright Direction Training

Effective performance management and the balanced scorecard

You may have also heard of performance management and the balanced scorecard. This scorecard is a strategic planning and management system that allows businesses to understand and communicate what they’re trying to achieve.

Employees are able to prioritise their work and align their tasks with the entire strategy. And, employers can monitor and measure progress towards targets. The balanced scorecard connects the bigger strategy to a business’ mission, vision, core values, strategic focus areas, operational objectives, measures, targets and initiatives.

What’s involved in a performance management system?

The cycle and balanced scorecard aren’t the only features of performance management. It can be applied not just to those already working for you, but also during the recruitment process. The interviewing stage is the ideal time to get to know each applicant’s strengths, weaknesses and abilities. This will prove valuable not just for working out who will perform best, but knowing how to boost their performance later on.

It’s also a good idea to integrate elements of performance management practices into their induction. A key part will be establishing standards, as well as recognition systems so that employees know their contributions are making a significant impact, and feel rewarded.

Can performance management add value to your business?

You might be wondering exactly how performance management will benefit your organisation. In reality, there are endless ways. Praise and recognition will likely boost employee motivation and self-esteem. You will also find that your employees become more engaged and less likely to leave the company.

Managers will be able to easily understand each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they themselves can help. This will also create a level of fairness in the business’ HR system. If disciplinary action of any sort needs to be taken, then the correct steps will have been followed so employees won’t be able to refute claims.

taking a test in the Performance Management with Bright Direction Training course

How can performance management affect organisational culture?

Another key advantage of performance management is that it has a positive impact on business culture. The clear and effective communication required for successful performance allows employees to feel included and valued, creating a collaborative environment. In turn, this can lead to improved physical and mental health, as well as career growth and satisfaction. Ultimately how they work will improve, and this is precisely why performance management matters.

Whilst the benefits are fantastic, implementing the right processes for performance management may prove difficult if you’ve not had any training. Thankfully, at Bright Direction Training we provide Leadership and Management apprenticeships which will ensure you can roll out a system that boosts your business. Building relationships, communication and managing and leading people are just some of the units that will prove useful.

Plus, all of our apprenticeship qualifications are aligned with ILM qualifications. You can find out more information by calling us on 01204 859 859, emailing us at info@brightdirectiontraining.co.uk, or fill out our contact form here.

How To Effectively Implement Constructive Feedback In A Work Environment

Effective communication is key in all paths of business, and an incredibly important part of this is constructive feedback. However, with business life being very busy, this can naturally fall to the bottom of the priority list.

Thankfully, more companies are realising the value it has to both their staff and their business. Here at Bright Direction, we’ve detailed why it’s so worthwhile, along with some proven successful methods of giving feedback.

How can constructive feedback improve performance?

If your assessment of staff isn’t communicated to them, then they won’t truly know whether the work they’re carrying out is being done so in the correct manner. By discussing it, they will be aware of their performance and how they can improve.

In turn, this will allow them to feel much more confident in their work. The constructive feedback will provide them with resources to achieve goals set, as well as the belief that they can do so too. Such feedback helps employees to make the necessary changes to accelerate them towards accomplishing their targets.

How does it improve performance?

Once constructive feedback has been provided, staff will have the power to reach their full potential. This will encourage productivity as they will recognise how to effectively reach goals, deal with any challenges and feel motivated at the same time.

Having the ability to complete their work to a better level will raise both individual and team morale as efficiency will be increased, and workplace stress reduced. Their morale will also be elevated as constructive feedback isn’t only associated with employee motivation, but satisfaction, career development and retention as well.

The assessment will prove valuable providing there’s a feedback loop created. The feedback should be part of a specific process, just like other aspects of your business. Without it, staff could become disheartened, especially if they have previously been told their performance wasn’t up to standard. Even if it’s positive, a lack of feedback could discourage them. Ideally, it will be an everyday part of your organisation culture.

constructive feedback bolton bright direction training

The difference between constructive feedback and destructive feedback

The main difference between constructive and destructive feedback is the way in which it is communicated to employees. Destructive assessments include feedback that belittles or embarrasses the employee, or comments on ideas that cause them to be ceased, rather than improved.

Often destructive feedback occurs because the person delivering it hasn’t thoroughly thought out how to do so. Because it can be incredibly easy to toe the line between constructive and destructive feedback, you should plan what to say beforehand. As a basic rule of thumb, valuable opinions are intended to help the receiver. They will be educational and allow them to better themselves. On top of these things, constructive comments are based on valid facts – but don’t necessarily have to be positive.

What are the elements of valuable feedback?

By knowing the effective methods of giving feedback, you can be a manager who provides constructive rather than destructive assessments. Firstly, ensure the comments are precise and aren’t associated with judgment. It’s key to clearly distinguish between individuals, actions and outcomes. Whilst it’s important that any feedback doesn’t come across as a personal attack, it still needs to be individual. If the assessment is only collective, it can’t truly be effective – the person won’t know what exactly they are doing that’s right or how to improve upon their own actions.

The feedback may not necessarily be positive, but it can still be constructed in this way. Knowing how to give constructive criticism is to offer feedback that’s prescriptive and actionable. It should show that you have trust in your team and their abilities.

Lastly, guarantee a two-sided conversation. Give them room for input, particularly if you’re providing constructive criticism. Allow them the opportunity to offer any reasoning behind a lack of performance, as well as their own thoughts to you.

Constructive feedback isn’t the easiest thing to get to grips with, especially if you’ve not received any training in it. That’s why we here at Bright Direction Training offer Leadership and Management apprenticeships that enable managers to effectively communicate with their team. With units such as building relationships and problem-solving in addition to communication, managers will have all the tools they need to succeed.

All the apprenticeship courses we offer are aligned with ILM qualifications. To find out more information about them, give us a call on 01204 859 859, email us at info@brightdirectiontraining.co.uk, or fill out our contact form here.

Thinking About Welfare At Work: A Look At Workplace Stress

Workplace stress is a prominent matter. With 61% of employees having suffered mental health issues due to it, businesses simply can’t neglect the issue.

But how do you actually deal with it? Thankfully there are a variety of techniques to ensure staff can effectively cope with pressure.

Here at Bright Direction Training, we’re helping to take the weight off by providing you with ways that will boost the wellbeing of employees experiencing stress at work.

How to recognise workplace stress

A key reason that this issue has become so prevalent is that people are often too busy to notice their colleagues are struggling. Plus, some indicators may not appear as excessive stress on the surface.

Regular periods of absence or sickness can be a sign of anxiety. Perhaps the reasons are symptoms which could be explained as the effects of another illness, but they might actually be triggered by workplace stress.

High staff turnover and complaints can also be a result of not tackling stress in the workplace. When stress affects your team, it affects your business and, as a result, could cause an increase in complaints from both colleagues and customers. Even if the grievances aren’t carried out formally, they can still be a signal.

In addition to this, workplace conflict can stimulate (or be provoked by) stress. Also, if you’ve noticed that a staff member’s performance has declined recently, then tension with others or pressure at work might have played a part in it.

bright direction training workplace stress

Symptoms of stress at work

Unfortunately, those experiencing workplace stress might not actually realise it. We’ve all experienced moments of strain, making it difficult to distinguish when it becomes an actual issue.

Behavioural signs can indicate that someone is struggling. If you’ve noticed a staff member is acting aggressive, frustrated or is being unreasonably impatient, then stress may be the underlying cause.

Employees suffering may also appear to have less motivation, so lack their usual creativity and come across as disinterested in their work. They may isolate themselves from the team too.

Physical symptoms of workplace stress include fatigue, muscular tension, headaches, heart palpitations and sleeping difficulties. Gastrointestinal issues can be another one, as can dermatological disorders.

As well as this, psychological signals can point to stress. Examples are feeling overwhelmed or being unable to cope, depression, anxiety, irritability or suffering cognitive issues (such as struggling to concentrate or make decisions).

How to reduce stress and conflict

Whether you’re a manager who’s become aware of a team member suffering workplace stress, or you’re experiencing it yourself, there are ways it can be lessened. Drawing on years of experience, here at Bright Direction Training, the team have identified some of the best resolutions:

Workload management can reduce pressure on your employees. This could be achieved by temporarily assigning tasks to another colleague. Goal-setting and giving clearer objectives can also help, as well as the promotion of wellbeing techniques, such as practising mindfulness.

If external factors are contributing to workplace stress, flexible working is a solution.  

For example, if someone has family commitments and their workload is putting strain on them, you could give them the chance to leave early or start late so that they will be more able to achieve a work-life balance.

Addressing conflict will achieve a harmonious environment. In these circumstances, you may need to ensure that staff are aware of what is defined as unacceptable behaviour. Make sure that each conflicting party commits to a solution and is conscious of what will happen if they don’t follow through on this. It may also require the situation to be revisited later to guarantee that it’s been resolved for all involved.

Finally, employees can reduce their own workplace stress with effective communication. Maintaining an open dialogue and reinforcing the fact that employees can approach another team member with their concerns should make this process easier.

managing workplace stress bright direction training

Managing stress in the workplace

Whether someone has had to leave a role or take a period of absence due to pressure, returning to work can be daunting.

Here at Bright Direction Training, we have a number of courses that focus on welfare at work and help get people back onto a career path by improving wellbeing. Our employability training covers many areas that help those held back in returning to work, including boosting self-esteem and developing confidence. Carried out in a relaxed atmosphere, learners benefit from our process without feeling under pressure. It’s a gentle reintroduction to the world of work and can make it easier to manage workplace stress should it arise again.

We provide training that puts the personal growth of each individual learner first, at a pace that truly suits them. And it couldn’t be easier to find out more about our courses – simply give us a call on 01204 859 859, email us at info@brightdirectiontraining.co.uk, or fill out our contact form. We’re always up for a brew at our HQ too.

Understanding organisational communication in the workplace

Everyone’s talking about it. But what is organisational communication, and why is it so important?

Put simply, it’s all the communication that takes place within a business or organisation. Emails, meetings, phone calls, discussions, presentations and everything else that makes up the day to day business of the workplace.

So here at Bright Direction Training, we’ve taken an in-depth look at organisational communication and its role in effective leadership and management.

The importance of organisational communication

Because we’re all engaging in organisational communication all the time (the meetings, the emails… see above), it’s something many of us may not give a great deal of thought to.

But if we told you poor organisational communication can cost you money or, on the flip side, that improving it can enhance personal and organisational performance, perhaps you’d think about it a little more.

Well, one survey of 400 companies with a total of 100,000 employees found that each company lost an average of $62.4 million each year because of poor communication. (Grace College, December 2017). So it’s not surprising many organisational communication theories and models have emerged to help managers create better communication networks and processes.

Types of organisational communication

One of the things we emphasise to learners at Bright Direction Training is the importance of understanding the different types of communication within an organisation.

Most organisational communication models recognise two broad categories, namely formal and informal communication.

Formal communication is best thought of as ‘official business’ communications. Contracts from HR, emails from head office, performance review reports… anything that leaves a clear paper trail (or more usually these days, a pixel trail) and which can be considered as ‘on the record’ information or opinion.

Informal communication, on the other hand,  is the much less structured, day-to-day exchanges we have with co-workers. Also known as ‘the grapevine’, ‘water-cooler moments’ and, yes, even ‘office gossip’, informal organisational communication is happening all the time in the workplace, often without us being aware of it.

The other important concept in organisational communication theory is the direction that information travels in. Downward communication comes from senior management and flows to those below them in an organisation. As you’d expect, 99% of the time it consists of formal messages dealing with company policy or personal matters like promotions or disciplinary actions.

Upward communication moves in the opposite direction and usually comes in the form of reports, suggestions and responses to requests from management. Again, because of the relationship between those who send and receive such information, it is mostly formal in nature.

Horizontal communication is largely between people on the same level within an organisation, or between members of the same team. It often has more of an informal element to it as shared tasks are managed and progressed.

two members of Bright Direction Training showing organisational communication in action in a board room

Organisational barriers to communication and how to overcome them

As we’ve seen, not all organisations communicate as well as they should, with serious implications for their performance. Drawing on their many years’ experience in leadership and management, the Bright Direction Training team have identified some of the main reasons why:

Sometimes, communication can be hampered by structural factors such as a dispersed office network or complex hierarchies and chains of command. That’s why it’s a good idea to review communication channels and practices periodically – with the help of an outside consultant if necessary – in order to identify any problems.

While technology has revolutionised organisational communication, it can have its drawbacks too. Hasty emails can easily be misconstrued without the non-verbal cues that come with a face to face conversation and all good managers know the value of a ‘one-to-one’ for getting their message across.

Other barriers to effective communication include managers assuming too much knowledge among those they are talking to or overcomplicating communication with irrelevant detail. Trainers and teachers are often advised to ‘check learning’ and tailor the content of their sessions accordingly, and that’s equally good advice for anyone looking to improve communication in their organisation.

Effective communication in meetings

We’ve all been in meetings that leave us more confused at the end then when we started. That’s usually because they’re poorly planned and their objectives poorly communicated.

There are techniques you can follow to make communications in a meeting clearer and more effective, such as encouraging open discussion to involve all participants and ‘wrapping up’ one topic before moving on to the next so everyone is clear about what is being discussed.

It also helps to review any conclusions and assign ‘next step’ actions at the end of your meeting and to circulate accurate meeting minutes within 24 hours.

organisational communication in action at the Bright direction training offices

Learning to improve communication effectiveness

As we’ve seen, communication is crucial to how well or how poorly an organisation performs.

Both our Level 3 Team Leader Apprenticeship and Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager Apprenticeship involve a structured approach to the theory and practice of effective interpersonal and organisational communication. All our apprenticeship courses are aligned with ILM qualifications

For more information, give us a call on 01204 859 859, email us at info@brightdirectiontraining.co.ukor fill out our contact form here.

Looking for training but not sure which courses are right for you or your business?

Call 01204 859859 or email info@brightdirectiontraining.co.uk

Or click here to visit our contact page

Education & Skills Funding Agency
Eu Social Fund
Disability Confidence
Matrix QM

Menu

European Union Social Fund