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Be your own management consultant: Courses can help

Management training means time away from the office but done well it can be a great way of improving how people work and making your business run more efficiently.

There are many courses out there including free or inexpensive ones.

Free advice:

  • The British Library runs workshops and talks at its Business and IP Centre. Many are free while some have a small fee. Recent topics have included essential market research, controlling costs to boost business and marketing strategies for SMEs. www.bl.uk/bipc
  • Business Link runs free advice days around England, run by experts. They cover every stage of running a business from start-up, through growth and expansion, to pension arrangements and government regulations and how to fund it. www.businessadviceday.gov.ukfor more information
  • The Chartered Management Institute runs a series of free and low-cost courses covering leadership, time management, and winning sales in a recession. www.managers.org.uk for more information.

And these are ones you will pay for:

  • The London Business Forum runs a range of events in London, the North West and Scotland on crisis management, productivity and leadership. Events cost from £40 + VAT. www.londonbusinessforum.com
  • CECA runs its course ‘Managing the Future’ for SMEs. Business managers can learn to improve cash flow, increase profit and understand customers’ needs for one day a month for four months. More details from www.ceca.co.uk
  • Ashridge is an international business school near Berkhamsted which runs short courses, qualifications, tailored training and coaching. For example, it runs a senior executive programme on leading strategy and change in three lots of three-day modules over the course of several months. It includes how to make the most of your organisation and how to turn big objectives into systems that drive performance. £10,950 + VAT. www.ashridge.org.uk

A different way of working

While many firms may be reverting to a ‘command and control’ culture to keep the business together, construction consultant John Rowan and Partners introduced a new way of working last year.

Work is based on setting tasks and essentially letting the employee get on with it however they wish. This could mean working from home, coming into the office at 10am or working around doing internet shopping. It also means that those giving out the tasks give more responsibility to staff and trust them to get it done.

JRP’s managing partner Stephen Gee says: “Hopefully we’ve got it right and we’ve been able to achieve what we wanted to which was more empowerment of staff. We agree tasks once a week or once a fortnight and discuss timescale and best practise and ideas, and that there may be a better way to do the task. It’s not an abandonment, it is that they are trusted to do the tasks with management support.”

While it is difficult to measure any direct effect on productivity, the firm hopes the new way of doing things will be reflected in staff surveys, such as Sunday Times Best Companies. It has meant to become more efficient and have happier, more productive staff.

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