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There's more than one version of you

The 7 faces of managers

There's more than one version of you

There’s more than one version of you

The ability to wear different hats is essential for anyone managing others. You don’t have to have an acting background but you will need to know how to play 7 different roles, which are as follows:

1.  Leader

In industrial sectors and economies a foreman would be making sure everyone adheres to a system, and organise processes and people. In the knowledge economy management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define a purpose: managers must organize workers, not just to maximise efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

 

2. Catalyst

A manager has to make things happen but through other people. They need to motivate in order to be able to delegate. Sometimes, thus feels like pinning down a fish because what propels individuals to action isn’t set in stone. Honing in on what makes individuals tick is a necessary skill that you can develop.

 

3. Coach

Your team members may need your guidance. Sometimes it’s quicker to do it yourself (got children? Then you’ll know what I mean). The problem with that is they’ll be hanging off your Herman Miller chair and no amount of rotating will shake them off since you’ve just developed co-dependants. Put a bit of coaching in upfront and you’ll free up your time later.

 

4. Observer

To make progress, you need to note what’s going on and how people operate in that paradigm. Then decide how to interact in that world. Whether you need to change your leadership style or the way you influence depends on the status quo you observe. Change is a constant so by keeping your eyes and ears open, you’ll find a way to optimise your teams.

 

5. Peer

You could look on and tell your team what to do or roll up your sleeves and collaborate. Looking on develops a ‘them and us’ situation. There are times when professional distance will not win respect but resentment. Collaboration engenders greater respect and shows that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

 

6. Supporter

A supporter provides support. If you already guessed that, well done to you.

Delegation isn’t always just a matter of sending people off to work on a project or task. You may be the one with budget and resources they need. Support can come in the way of feedback, structure, equipment, being a sounding board, providing space and time to your people. Either way, delegation is not a matter of ditching responsibility. Even if you do let go of the reins, you need to know where they are.

 

7. Challenger

To get the best out of people, a certain level of challenge could keep them on their toes.

Without challenge, individuals can coast, sacrificing the resourcefulness that’s necessary in shifting sands. It also reflects a level of faith in people when you encourage them to reach beyond themselves. Do make sure that this aspiration for them, though, matches the one they have for themselves otherwise you’ll need to sell it more.

 

Have you got anything to add to these roles? Is there one I’ve omitted?

Feel free to let me know in the comments…

Blindleadingblindsmall

Do you make these 9 common management mistakes?

 

BlindleadingblindsmallTake any project you’ve worked on and think back.  How could it have been better?

There’s so much you can learn from a job done badly that I’ve compiled a list, which is by no means exhaustive.  There are many ways a project can be dragged out,  botched up,  and overshoot the budget.

My engineering clients chipped in with this compilation and you can apply the following situations across all technical realms.

Let me know below:  what have I missed?

  1. Too many clashing agendas from all the business partners
    The problem is many leaders don’t use their communication skills to sort out conflicting aims before they become a problem.  Negotiating and setting expectations are key.
  2. Too many people at meetings that don’t stick to the point
    It’s pretty unlikely that a 2 hour meeting really does involve 15 people.  Pick out what’s relevant for whom and only have them present.  ‘Meetings’ can be just as effective one a one-to-one basis, while the kettle’s on.
  3. Too many meetings or lack of agenda and actionable outcomes
    Sometimes the outcome of the meetings is….another meeting.  Who’s doing what by when?  Do they have the capability and know-how?  Have you checked they have the resources?  Individuals need varying levels of delegation and nothing’s going to get done if they need more from you and it’s not given or benchmarked.
  4. Mismatching the skill set with the role, e.g., process engineer delivering electrical deliverables.  It’s like hiring a nuclear physicist as a lawyer.  (Of course, they could probably blow up the opposition for you but I’m not sure it’s legal where you are).
  5. Lack of or incomplete scope of work
    I bet you know this one:  Client:  ‘Here’s the job.’  1 month later:  Client ‘I forgot to add this.’  2 weeks later…’There’s this as well.’  Then they get rankled when you mention pricing and delay of completion.  Part of the issue is the way information is extracted from the client / partner.  It comes down to asking the right questions.  Another point is that managers may take little time out to think how lessons learned in the past can be integrated into the current project.
  6. Roles and responsibilities ill -defined
    Team friction is often due do the scope of the project changing (see no.5 above). Roles and responsibilities shift, causing ambivalence and conflict.
  7. Absence of risk mitigation or contingency planning
    Not reflecting on lessons learned from previous projects dulls the foresight you need to spot and mitigate risks.
  8. Exchanging personnel on a regular basis
    Not everyone does hand overs well, and some staff don’t do hand overs at all so subsequent team members have no idea what’s what.  All you can rely on is management being in the know.  They’ll possibly be out of the loop on small details that can make a big difference unless they’re in close proximity to their teams.  If you know you’re going to have to change people round, ensure the right people are involved when the baton’s passed.
  9. Lack of control of work done resulting considerable amounts of rework
    If the hand is off the steering wheel, the car will end up in a ditch (if you’re lucky).  Likewise, letting projects run without a detailed schedule, risk management and a more collaborative approach, results in having to backing up and follow a new road from the beginning. This adds to cost and time.

 

Management is sometimes leading, other times collaborating, and balancing that with knowing when to step back. .

What’s missing?  Add your own experiences below!  Looking forward to seeing them…

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motivation

3 ways to instantly increase your focus

motivation

He’s been listening to waterfalls

Motivation is like catching butterflies. Even if you work out what drives you now, that can change tomorrow.

Are you one of those people who can’t get down to work at your desk but whose focus turns razor sharp in the bustle of a cafe?

Your surroundings can put you into a completely different gear. Here are some ways you can adjust your environment to make you more productive, focussed and creative.

 

Your soundtrack:

Music: Put some music on: it may be Primal Scream or Schubert as long as you can zone out to zone in.

Atmosphere apps:   Some people love apps like Coffitivity that offer listeners the sounds of various coffee shops around the world.  You can enjoy all the benefits of a coffee shop, without having to pay for your ‘dry-skinny-soya-latte’. However, the app doesn’t come with service.  You’ll have to get off your butt and make your own until they come up with an app for that too.

I’ve recently downloaded an app called Nature Sounds that’s improved my own focus 100%.  I have a mind that spans outwards and flies around so this helps me to stay on the task.  I love the sound of the roaring fire but the waterfall may well have you running for the loo.

 

Place

I have a friend who’s just received an advance from a publisher for her 3rd book. The previous 2 written entirely…in bed.  One of my clients, a CIO, finds he works so much more productively in the kitchen at home.

I’d just moved and had to practically burrow in and out or mounds of empty packing boxes, to access my kitchen.  I discovered that my concentration was intensified when surrounded by brown card and in the absence of a huge advance from the publisher, it was just what I needed to finish the book.

Now, I’m not suggesting you live like a rabbit in a cardboard hutch but being aware of the order you need around you can help you knuckle down.

 

Time

So many articles suggest that in order to be productive, you need to get up before the crack of dawn.  It’s got to be before 4am and not a minute later or you’ll spend all day playing catch up.   However, energy is cyclical. While I agree that early mornings can be tremendously energizing, it’s not the be all and end all of a day’s focussed work.

Night owls often feel a rush of ideas or focus at midnight. There are some who even regard the hours of 2pm-6pm as their peak period for productivity.

It’s a case of personal preference. What’s yours?

 

So soundscape, place and time cover the environmental aspects of motivation.

Being aware of these aspects of motivation can have you feeling more in control of your actions and zipping through your ‘to do’ list in no time.

 

What specifically drives you? Let me know below….

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herding cats

10 tips to build terrific virtual teams

herding catsHaving tried and tested principles to guide you through the mire of leading virtual teams- technical and non-technical alike.

You know, the kind of teams that are use to operating within geographical, functional or individual silos,  don’t communicate with each other and so on.  .

This time I’ve bowed out and the left the writing to team turnaround titan, Amit Eitan.

In his roles as CIO, VP Consulting and Global Programme Director, Amit has been working with and leading organisations and teams around the world, creating cats that hit and often, exceed targets, so that less time has to be spent herding them.

Below,  Amit focusses on the 10 top tips that can turn make a difference to how teams relate to others, which is as important as technical savvy if you want to achieve results.

 

1.  Identity:

Establish team identity – be it through the project they are working on or the IT organization they are member of – through a clear and simple mission statement.

Companies often think that the IT teams are so absorbed by the technical world, that they have no interest in what they’re doing it for, when actually they often appreciate being guided.  This can instill a sense of purpose, which, when incorporated into identity and mission can be highly motivational.

 

2. Common goals:

Establish clear and measurable goals, milestones etc. for the team as a whole and the individuals within the team.

 

3. Effective organization:

Define a clear organization, roles & responsibilities that is allows for the individuals to excel and get the best out of themselves, as a team and as individuals.

 

4. Empowerment:

Make team members genuinely feel empowered, focus on the WHAT not the HOW.  I don’t mean an away day with lots of cheering and baseball caps, although I have nothing against joy and tasteful head wear.  This is about allowing your people to follow through on their ideas and manage projects/tasks the way they see fit – within reason and giving a suitable level of guidance, as required.

 

5. Effective Communications culture:

Establish clear and pragmatic team communications plan (status calls/meetings, etc.), foster a culture where team members at all levels openly raise opinions and ideas, and challenge others even if they are more senior. Create a culture of talking rather than writing and walk the talk !

 

6. Be WITH the team:

Lead from the front – be integral part of the team, be with them in the trenches, especially in challenging times. Be approachable beyond the cliché. Make sure you spend sufficient time with ALL team members, not only those in the center (HQ).

 

7.  Recognition:

Continuously and publicly recognize achievements, of the team as a whole and individuals within the team, making sure senior management and stakeholders are informed in also in the presence of the team (be it in writing, phone or meeting).

 

8. Rewards:

Define and implement a fair incentive plan in line with project/team goals.   This is not necessarily about a big fat bonus, (cue ‘sigh of relief’).  There are many ways to incentivize:  a social occasion, vouchers, free membership to an online or offline portal or publication, days off in-lieu etc.

 

9. Performance:  

Regularly review team and individual performance and do NOT hesitate to make necessary changes when required, even if those are not popular in some quarters.

 

10. Fun:

Make sure the fun bit is not forgotten, find the way for the team to have fun too alongside the day to day job !

 

Amit Eitan: 

 

Amit Eitan

 

Amit Eitan’s entrepreneurial stamina and charismatic leadership have always inspired  organisations, peers and partners to peak performance, teamwork and collaboration, while his easy-going sense of humour has always played a defining role in bringing out the best in everyone and mobilising them to achieve stretch goals.  To find out more about Amit’s roles as   CIO, VP Consulting and Global Programme Director, you can look him up and get in touch with him here.

 

 

The poisoned chalice

5 reasons to avoid a promotion

The poisoned chaliceSuch is the reward for being good at your job: the poisoned chalice is all yours.   Going from numbers, codes and mechanisms to the murky world of people is like jumping from being a great Mechanical Engineer to Chief Architect.   The skills needed for one role seem to have no bearing on the other.

As you stare into the screen and bite your lip, you realise 5 reasons that you should have said ‘no’ to the offer of a step up:

 

No. 1

Suddenly I’m managing my peers.  I used to sit and take the p*ss out of management, complaining about stuff with them.  Now I realise that: a) I’m going to have to get rid of Bob/Jo/Mo if they don’t buck up their performance b) they expect me to do something about whatever we were grumbling about.  As some of those concerns were related to difficult people, I’d rather be playing Candy Crush Saga and not making difficult decisions.”

If you avoid a problem, you could risk this becoming a crisis, so it’s important you know what to challenge and when. With a few techniques and help in developing understanding about how your teams work, instead of avoiding challenging conversations, you’ll learn to face them with confidence.   That doesn’t mean you’ll bound out of bed in the morning, elated at the thought of slapping your colleagues down (although I know one or two who rather warm to this idea). However, the dread does subside and a clearer sense of resolve results.  The outcome is greater respect from those around you.

 

No. 2

This leads to my second quandary.  I’m now appearing at Senior Management Meetings and have to prove myself but they’ve an entirely different way of conducting meetings and it’s all so political.  It’s like an episode of The West Wing, and I’m nothing more than the notepad, such is my ability to influence them.”

There are many techniques for influence and persuasion, some of which you’ll find here.  Every situation is different and yours is unique so you may need help in getting clarity on your specific situation.  It’s worth thinking about how you the impression you may be giving others, non-verbally as well as verbally.

 

No. 3

They’re talking to me about Business Development.  What?  Was I trained in a souk?  How the hell am I meant to go from code to drumming up business.  What are Sales and Marketing doing?”

They need you to translate the technolingo to suppliers, distributors, resellers etc.  and you’ll probably be doing 121 and team meetings and presentations, if not already, very soon.  Also, if you were to look at who you’ve already been working with, you’d realise you’re the best person to make the contacts: people know you and trust you.   Building on that secures opportunities for you and your team.  Even if you understand the rationale behind Business Development in your position, one IT Director with whom I was working with was at a loss at to how he could gain from networking.  With a bit of coaching he was able to recoup the £1000s he was spending on a major trade annual networking event in won business and surprised himself by having a lot of fun in the process.

 

No. 4

I’m hiding behind two 22 inch computer screens at the moment but I know they’re going to find me.  I can’t run and I can’t hide.  I’m now accountable to the forces that be for how my team perform.”

Managing up, as well as across and sideways are essential skills for you to develop if you don’t want to be that supplicant, begging to your boss for mercy as you see a metaphorical blade in suspense above your head.  Get good at the managing up and it will help you manage down and across.

 

No. 5

Apparently, my focus needs to shift from detail to ‘big picture’: manageable short term tasks to reach those obscure long term goals.”

Suddenly, you have to be more bi-lingual than you were before, being able to understand the large goals, how they translate into your remit and spread this across to your people.  Motivation is increased when you know why you’re doing something and it’s meaningful.  This also means, a finer grasp of the relationships between departments.

All 5 of the toxins in the poisoned chalice have one characteristic in common:  communicating with others.  It’s not the technical challenges but how you handle others to achieve that’s more important in a new role.

Ella Fitzgerald created a message especially for you but Bananarama’s is the version that I sing to, so here they are (and, oh my, you’ll just love the hair!):

 

 

Click here to see how I’ve worked with different teams to get them back on track in their interpersonal communication.

meetings

2 quick tips for productive meetings

Only too often, we sit in meetings, bored to tears by the tangential conversation, the conversation hoggers and the lack of relevance to the agreed agenda.

I’ve put together two magic tips you can use in your next meetings to save your time, increase engagement and maximise productivity.

graphs

547 confusing graphs – yippee!

graphThe Devil’s in the Detail

It’s so easy to get trapped in the detail when that’s how you earn your money.  So when presenting to an audience, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a financial analyst, engineer or consultant, PowerPoint can easily become an onslaught of bullet points, dry data and confusing graphs: all qualities that muddy your message.

 

When a picture says a thousands words – or numbers

Research has shown that ideas are much more likely to be remembered if they are presented as pictures instead of words or pictures paired with words.

Psychologists call this the Picture Superiority Effect (PSE), the point of which is thus:

 

If information is presented orally, people remember about 10% of the content 72 hours later. That figure goes up to 65% if you add a picture.

 

Visuals that work

A picture saves a thousand words:

rhino

Suzanne, the IT Director of a national retail organisation, knew her audience of in Marketing and Business Development where going to be challenging.  She flashed up her slide of huge white rhino.

 

“So often,” she began, “The IT department are seen like this rhino:  thick-skinned, short-sighted and charging all the time.”.

A barrage of data versus one point

If you’re presenting to those dealing with data every day, seeing more of it in a presentation, can give that audience sort of  data death.  If you’re not there to persuade your audience to act on something, then it’s a report, not a presentation.  Your audience want to see the key message, the one point.

One utilities company that I was training, needed to do a presentation to their investors.  Their point: invest in us: we’re on the up, and you’ll see returns, guarded against risk.

It was a team ‘performance’ to a very financially astute crowd.  They had this brilliantly colourful slide of a ship and lifeboats, a dynamic cartoon, which was a great metaphor for the way they were operating.

We crafted a message around this picture that had such an impact on the audience, that the share prices shot up (so it wasn’t a picture of the Titanic, that’s for sure).

Numbers were mentioned in a way they got remembered but there wasn’t a bar graph or pie chart in sight and the investors loved the refreshing and memorable way this team conveyed a message clearly, with humour and the evidence to prove their success.

There’s nothing to prove so put it away!

If you feel that you need to put so much data on your slides, ask yourself if there’s perhaps a little urge to prove that you’ve done your homework as an analyst/number cruncher?

By shoving so much detail in your audience’s face, they are not only more likely to forget what you’re talking about but why.  The information you give to your audience needs to make a difference to the world in which they function.

If people want more detail, wave your report at them, but don’t give it out until the end.  That way, they’ll know you’ve done your homework, and that they can get to the nitty gritty when they want, but you won’t be hearing the rustling of pages while you present your message.

When you give the facts that your audiences need to make the changes that will impact their world, you’ll be seen as an expert and a trusted advisor.

 

What’s the best use of visuals you’ve seen?  Comment below and we’ll swop tips!

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Steamfromears

Does this make steam come out your ears?


Ah, the joys of email communication.

So many times, communication between people can break down simply because of how they’re using emails.

Ignoring how we use virtual communication when we look at relating to others, is like trying to run a car with a flat tyre: it’ll go but not very efficiently.

These three tips will keep that car away from the relationship breakdown garage, helping smooth the communication.

1. Irritation One: the words ‘should’:
For example, ‘You should let me know when you have authorisation for this and then I will action the request’. Similarly, replacing that with ‘have to’, which is even stronger, may start to annoy your recipient.

It could be seen as: patronising.

The Recommendation: replace ‘should’ and ‘have to’ with ‘You’ll need to’ or I’d strongly recommend that…’   This is easier to hear and act upon. It means the same without sounding like a finger-wagging parent.

 

2. Irritation Two: presumptuous wording such as ‘As you know…’ then adding totally new information that is unknown to everyone, but should have been known.

It could be seen as: someone covering their back

Recommendation: writing, ‘As you may know…’ and sticking to possibilities unless you can be certain.

 

3. Irritation Three: cc’ing in the boss, because you can’t get what you want from a colleague.
It could be seen as: trouble-making

Recommendation: if the communication is breaking down, go and see someone to get their advice. Usually, two adults should – excuse me – need – to be able to work it out between each other by saying:

a) what needs to be done and, perhaps, why the current situation could be problemetic

b) who will do it

c) finish with ‘As soon as you have this, I’ll be happy to help you’.

If the tone is constructive and respectful, there is less chance of being cold shouldered off line or email mud-slinging.

 

To know how direct you can be in English, without being rude or weak, look here:

http://www.switchvision.co.uk/your-emails-just-kill-me/

Go here for three magic ways to get people off your back or…not, if you really want to annoy them:

http://www.switchvision.co.uk/how-to-piss-people-off-in-emails/

Click on this link below, if you want to get requests acted upon quicker:

http://www.switchvision.co.uk/three-small-ways-to-write-emails-that-people-act-on/

Got any email pains you want to get out there? Share and get them out your hair!

See you in the comments below!

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showmemoney

Punchy Persuasion in a Tick!

 

Forget the money!  Show me your PROEP!

Forget the money! Show me your PROEP!

Question:

I’ve got to persuade my boss to follow a strategy in a meeting that’s coming up.  How can I persuade him quickly that what we need to do is a good idea?

Answer:

Go for the PROEP Model of persuasion

Proposal (Outline):  We need to bring in more Sales people alongside the Tech teams for Calypso.

Reasons (3 max!):  We’ll have easier access to a large market.

Objections (inc. cost, time, effort.  Remember to build in a way of countering those objections):  I understand that the upfront costs may seem off-putting.  Although many of our teams are great on-site, they’re not up-selling and cross-selling at the rate we’d like.  We’d get more business with less hassle with a specialist or two.  

I know that many Sales people brush the IT teams up the wrong way but with someone who’s got a proven record at winning business in our sector and sells our skills accurately, we’d see profits without the pain.  I can get in touch with xxxx Recruitment that could find just the right people for us.

Evidence: [Our Competitor] has had a dedicated team just selling Murex services to the finance sector.  Although they started 8 months ago, they’ve seen xxxx% profit in the last 6 months.

Proposal: So, in my view, taking on more Business Development expertise could potentially double our profits within half a year.

Just a note about ‘Evidence’:  This depends on how any one individual tends to be persuaded.  Consider that any of the following points could be evidence:

  1. Something similar you’ve achieved before;
  2. Something someone else has achieved before;
  3. Statistics: projected or otherwise.
  4. The sight of something – a picture/walkabout etc
  5. Pointing out what can be avoided or what can be gained by following a particular course of action.

There are more but this will cover most persuasive arguments.

Making a suggestion which shows recognition of any objections and how you could counter them will fend off much of the hesitation to proceed and allow you to put a plan into action quicker.

Do you have any specific objections to a proposal, which you can’t think how to counter? 

Let me see if I can help you. 

Just add the query (or comment) below…

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mind

Could you change your mind, please?

“These conversation are driving me nuts:  we ‘ve got major business opportunities in France and Turkey and no-there to to get it going.  I speak Spanish, Turkish and French but my boss only wants to send me to Spanish speaking countries,” remarked Liz.

“What’s his reasoning?” I enquire.

“Wants me to concentrate on Spain. That’s as much as I get from him.  I wouldn’t care, but all the other projects are now being managed by someone else.  It’s just so frustrating.  Boring, in fact.  There’s no sense in it.”

So how can Liz break through such resistance?

According to a survey of Fortune 500 executives, resistance is the primary reason that changes fail in organizations. In a similar survey conducted by Deloitte Consulting, 80 percent of the CIOs surveyed said that resistance was the main reason why technology projects failed. Not lack of skill or resources, but that soft touchy-feely human reaction of resistance.                                                  
Is meeting resistance with resistance the answer?

Is meeting resistance with resistance the answer?

This resistance can be grouped into three levels:

Level 1 – Based on Lack of Information

This is low-grade resistance where there is no hidden agenda. People are opposed to the idea for any number of reasons: lack of information, disagreement with the idea itself, lack of exposure, or confusion.

What this could mean for Liz: Maybe Liz’s boss doesn’t have enough information about the opportunities in these other countries.

Level 2 – Based on personality and vested interests

Level 2 is an emotional reaction to the change. Even given the right information, vested interests or dislike can be difficult to shift.

What this could mean for Liz: does the boss feel that Liz’s progression could undermine him? Does he just dislike her and would rather give the opportunity to someone else?

Level 3 – Based on Environmental issues

This level concerns external factors such as the economy, the company structure, process, climate.

What this could mean for Liz: the economy doesn’t bode well for development in certain areas. 

None of these levels are insurmountable.  Not even Level 2, where there’s a personality clash.  There are four channels of influence that work independently or in combinations.  These channels are:

1. Direct Influence:

You have direct contact with the person you’re influencing

What to be aware of: how assertive you have to be will depend on the characters and contexts involved. Body language, facial expression, intonation and verbal language will have an impact on how your message is received.

2. Indirect Influence:

Here, the influence is through someone else.

What to be aware of:  who has the ear and trust of the person you’re influencing? Can you trust them? You don’t want your messages twisted by anyone else.

3. Syndicated Influence:

This is similar to Indirect Influence, except you have different people/groups affecting the decisions.

Ensure they’re all giving the same message, even if it’s in different ways.

4. Collaborative Influence:

You team up with others to get the message from different angles.

Again, trust is an issue here. You want to make sure the person with whom you’re collaborating is genuinely supportive of your message.  If they’ve a different approach from you, that could well work in your favour: the different packaging of the point could cause the penny to drop.

5. Remote Influence:

You need do nothing.  The situation changes because of external factors that impact on the actions of others.

The proof of the pudding is in the…seeing. When environmental changes become obvious, you need say nothing.  The press, the demise or rise of a project, the fact that a product is flying off the shelves are all tools for influence.  

Don’t expect influence to be an axe through the wall though: it could happen in a minute or over days, weeks, months or years (political movements being an example, or getting someone to make up their mind…)

Comment below to let me know or email me at alison@switchvision.co.uk

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Close up and Personal

If you think you’re better with face to face training, Switchvision can run courses for you – whether as a one to one or in a group. Communication and Transformational Creativity for Technical Experts combining the best in Performance and Business. ‘Be seen, be heard, be understood’