Archive for 2012

What it Takes to Have Top Managerial Skills

September 9th 2012

I have another great article today to add to the management / leadership topics covered recently.  This guest post from Sacha covers her personal discoveries on what it takes to have top managerial skills.

What distinguishes you as a great manager from the good ones is possession of a wide set of skills which range from communication and motivation to planning and delegation. Often times, the top management skills are so many, and some managers think they should concentrate on the management areas they understand most.  However, to be considered as having top management skills, I needed to analyze my expertise in all areas and then set out to improve on areas where I was most wanting. You will only be complete when you have the most diverse of skills, which sharpen your problem solving skills.

Base Skills

There are skills that a manager need have, and if I were to talk about all of them, then it would probably take weeks, if not months. One of the most important skills that a manager need have is the ability to understand the dynamics of the team and encourage good relationship between the team members. This simply means that you need to understand exactly how teams operate.  Normally, teams will follow a certain definitive pattern of development, and experts have listed them thus: forming, norming, storming and finally performing. When encouraging and supporting those under you, it is important to do it through this process, and this has the effect of helping your team become effective in the shortest possible time.

It is important that, as a manager, I must consider the aspect of balance when creating teams, so that I end up with a team comprising different sets of skills, people and perspectives. It is never easy to manage a group of people who seem to be able to get along, but teams that will be effective in the long run appreciate different points of view, and using their dissimilarities to be not only creative but also highly innovative. As a manager, you will be tasked to have skills needed to direct the said differences in a positive manner.  Thus you will need to introduce a team charter. Your knowledge of team conflict will be particularly important if your team is to be managed effectively.

As a team leader, my ability to choose and nurture the right people is not just necessary, it is mandatory. I always need to find the great team members, and have the skills needed for the success of the team developed. When recruiting new members, I usually focus on the various specific skills that I need for the success of my team, balance different personalities so that I have variety in my team.

You would be mistaken to think that just by having the right people with the right skills does the trick, but this is usually not the case. It is important that as a manager, you know just how to get a task completed effectively. Delegation is the catchphrase here. Some managers, having earned their promotion purely on the grounds of their technical superiority, try to accomplish most tasks all by themselves. They believe that, being the accountable officers, they ought to do the tasks by themselves to be sure that the task is successfully completed.

Motivation

For teams to accomplish a lot more, great managers will assign the task to the right people, and not necessarily the people with the most time. You will need to clearly outline what you expect to be achieved. However, it is not easy to trust other people to accomplish some tasks. But it still boils down to your team having not only the right people but also those with the right skills, who you can easily rely on to get the job done and dusted.

Motivating people under you is yet another great piece of skill that all managers ought to have. Motivating oneself is easier but motivating another person needs careful thought. People are motivated by totally different things, a factor that managers have to keep in mind. You will need to understand your team members at a personal level which helps you to motivate them better. You can stay informed about each of your team member’s information by providing regular feedback.

Handling Conflict

 Instilling a sense of discipline and dealing with conflict between your team members is something that contributes your management prowess. If, despite your efforts, there are still problems with your employee’s individual performances, you are required to deal with it promptly. Failing to discipline erring employees will impact negatively on the whole team and also on your customers, given that poor performance of employees will impact on customer service. Working alongside team members who regularly fail to meet expectations is very demotivating for other team members, and if tolerated, it leads to suffering of other team members.

You should not allow dissimilarities between individual team members to progress to conflict, as this would also influence negatively on performance. You as a team manager ought to facilitate a speedy resolution to the conflict, by being impartial and objective, so that members do not have the idea you are taking sides. You should also note that some conflicts are positive in that they can help unearth deep-seated underlying structural problems. Efficient conflict resolution means that you recognize conflict and stem it from the roots, rather than giving it a palliative approach where you try to suppress it or avoid it completely.

Communication

Effective communication is an important managerial skill, which you need to pay close attention to. Keeping your team informed on all that is going on, as well keeping them as informed as possible is something that you should endeavor to do always. Managers should specifically improve on their team briefing skills.

Decisions

Many managers are quite equipped with planning, decision-making and problem solving skills because they are skilled professionals whose promotions are based on knowledge and analytical efficacy. Therefore, most managers tend to focus too much on these skills, thereby failing to concentrate on their other skills, such as people and management skills. Being narrowly proficient on these skills alone cannot make you to be touted as having top management skills.

About Sacha

I have been a team player in many organizations and I understand the frustration people go through because of inadequate leadership skills. Some of the people claimed to possess reputable leadership skills are lacking them in zeal and I find it worth that they should undertake some leadership quality classes. As an owner and runner of pharmacytechnicianinfo.net, I always meet with so many people and effective use of my managerial skills brings many clients, students and customers my way.

 

Posted by Mike King under Business | 11 Comments »

Improve Your Management with Effective Leadership Strategies

August 31st 2012

I have a guest post today on my favorite topic, Leadership.  Thanks Jessica for sending this one to me and for your patience in getting it posted.  Please add your feedback and comments once you’ve read this.

leadership - ducks exampleThe manager has been a fixture of the workplace since the Industrial Revolution and the resultant factory- and goods-based economy; it was in that context that the primary role of management—distribution of labor, enforcement of deadlines, and insurance of set production outputs—developed. The economy and the workplace have changed dramatically since, but the concept of management has changed little.

Leadership, on the other hand, isn’t traceable to any particular economy or sociopolitical environment, and its principles remain as relevant today as they were 1,000 years ago. Human beings have always been drawn to leaders, whether in the personal, political, or professional spheres. Leaders have always inspired trust, secured loyalty, optimized output and radicalized entrenched procedure within their chosen fields.

Even though leaders don’t necessarily make good managers and not all good managers make good leaders, it’s not difficult to integrate the principles of leadership into those of good management, improving your management skills along the way.  This improvement process is important in any mid to large business and having a human resources management plan or strategy to help people develop those skills is crucial.

Five Tips on Improving Management through Leadership

1-      Lead By Example

Model your expectations of employee conduct and output at all times. Remember that your employees are always watching. Want to see more timeliness and efficiency from your employees? Get to work 5 minutes early every single day and stay 5 minutes late. Analyze your own routine for time spent on non-work related activity, such as web-surfing, chit-chatting, or procrastinating. Eliminating these things from your own routine will set a strong and lasting example for your employees.

Also, keep in mind that you are one of your company’s influential representatives. At work and in public, your behavior should embody your employer’s mission statement and core values. Avoid doing or saying anything that could discredit the company’s image. Never go against ethical procedure, and keep in mind that just because you make rules doesn’t mean you can break them. That is the quickest way to lose the respect of your employees, your most valuable asset.

Quick and Dirty: Managers tell their employees what to do; leaders show their employees how to be.

2-      Admit Your Mistakes

Never assume that passing blame for a mistake onto someone else, whether that person is above or below you on the corporate ladder, gets you off the hook, especially with your employees. When mistakes happen, the fastest and easiest way to fix them is always to focus on the solution and not the problem. The time and effort it takes to shuffle blame is always better spent on resolving the issue. Once that’s done, it’s important to figure out what went wrong and establish measures to prevent future occurrences. You won’t be able to do that if you’ve lost your employees’ respect.

Quick and Dirty: Managers fix mistakes; leaders prevent them.

3-      Be Loved, Not Feared

The personal qualities that attract us to leaders—trustworthiness, sensitivity, and enthusiasm—seem obvious, but they’re also some of the most elusive, as they may require an ongoing conscious effort. Don’t be ashamed of yourself if they don’t come naturally. In fact, they rarely do. That’s why leaders are so appealing in the first place.

Start earning the trust of your employees by trusting them first. Don’t micro-manage unless absolutely necessary and even then, take steps to insure that it doesn’t become a long-term practice. Remain cognizant of the fact that for most people, genuine praise is a better motivator than a reprimand or a warning. Find an aspect of your professional life that inspires your passion, whether it’s the opportunity to improve company output, the satisfaction of working in your field, or the basic fact that you are learning how to perform your job well, and let it inform your behavior at work. Your enthusiasm will prove infectious.

Quick and Dirty: Managers keep employees in line; leaders make them happy.

4-      Communicate Effectively

Be aware of what you say and how you say it, at all times. Never gossip, denigrate, or humiliate another person in the workplace, and be particularly sensitive in your delivery of constructive criticism, making sure to do it in a private setting.

Remain equally conscious of your listening skills. Your employees are all experts on their own duties and experience in your workplace. If an employee approaches you with a question, complaint, concern, or suggestion, hear that person out. If you can’t offer your full attention in the moment, schedule the conversation for the near future, and listen carefully for a set period of time, depending on the depth and complexity of the issue, before responding. Try not to interrupt unless absolutely necessary.

Finally, be sure to communicate in the medium most appropriate for what you have to say. All major issues with employee performance or deliverables should be addressed in-person whenever possible; use email, memos, and other written documentation to preserve vital instructions and policies; and reserve use of the phone for times when you can actually converse, not multi-task.

Quick and Dirty: Managers instruct; leaders communicate.

5-      Innovate

As a manager, you’re in a unique position in the workplace. Unlike your employers, you don’t just have responsibilities, you also have (at least some) flexibility in how you meet them. Your employer shares your long-term goals: improving employee efficiency, growing the consumer base, and saving the company money; your employees share your daily experience and practices. The resultant perspective is an ideal one from which to innovate.

So always keep your employees’ experiences and observations in mind when brainstorming long-term solutions. Don’t forget that you have the power to advocate for your employees’ good ideas, as well as your own. Never hesitate to bring an employee’s innovation to an employer out of fear he or she will wonder why you didn’t think of it first. It’s your job to apply your employees’ ideas to your employer’s concerns so that your employer doesn’t have to.

Quick and Dirty: Managers maintain good practices; leaders create them.

The Bottom Line

While there’s some debate around the finer points, the essential difference between a manager and a leader is simple: managers—whether good, bad, or mediocre—are all cast from the same mold; every leader is different. Your personality, experience, and priorities will play a large part in the leader you become. Take pride in your performance, treat yourself and others with respect, and don’t try to change who you are. The manager who knows how to lead maximizes employee and employer satisfaction, and that makes everyone happy.

This guest post was provided by Brad F. who is a contributor on taxreliefnow.co

Posted by Mike King under Success | 8 Comments »

50 Ways to Get Smarter

August 6th 2012

There are a lot of things people often seek and knowledge is one of them.  The traditional sense of knowledge however, is not strictly learned by traditional methods such as schooling, there are so many methods to learn and get smarter, I thought I’d start a list of the ones I know to help break the barrier that going back to school is the only way to get smarter.

  1. Use free class material often online at various schools
  2. Find and study the text books from classes without actually attending (old text books are very cheap or even free as an added bonus)
  3. Read online blogs on topics of interest
  4. Have discussions online in forums or as comments about a topicget smarter
  5. Start writing your own content on a subject
  6. Start your own blog and commit to writing on a regular basis on subjects of interest
  7. Video a short documentary on a subject
  8. Create a link page or resource list that you learn from and refer back to
  9. Read books from experts on a subject and a wide variety of books (fiction AND non-fiction)
  10. Read books from those who oppose a particular subject to broaden your knowledge
  11. Look up and remember classic sayings so you know its origins
  12. Study a new word in your native language to expand your vocabulary
  13. Study with online courses or take up a new skill through self learning or by classes
  14. Listen to your spouse (or significant other)
  15. Share experiences with others and find lessons in those experiences
  16. Tell stories and listen to stories from others
  17. Take your hobbies more seriously and join hobbyist clubs / organizations to learn from others
  18. Compete in a hobby to force yourself to learn more about it
  19. Take up a trade or craft and become more skilled in that area through practice
  20. Teach something you know to others and gain insight through their questions and methods of learning it
  21. Sit down with your elder relatives and ask them for words of wisdom they have found in life
  22. Ask professionals in your industry of work about the most important things they have learned
  23. Don’t believe everything you hear or read the first time, verify it and check a second source
  24. Learn some brief biographies of famous people from your famous quotes or sayings, you might be surprised at how much they knew you can learn from
  25. Read biographies, sometimes these books share more insight about life then the best instructional books or courses
  26. Take courses on topics you don’t know a lot about yet.
  27. Attend and participate in community groups that share and teach new topics
  28. Find associations that help organize like-minded people together for discussions
  29. Join a book club or study group
  30. Join toastmasters or other public speaking group, as they continuing teach and help you learn new topics
  31. Get a mentor to help ask you questions about self-discovery
  32. Use a life coach to learn more about your self
  33. get smarterWatch TED videos online
  34. Subscribe to various technical feeds or technology newscasts to keep up with technology
  35. Use podcasts to learn new subjects or news
  36. Listen to audio books while you commute to always learn more
  37. Learn a second language (or third)
  38. Travel to experience and learn more about other cultures
  39. Stop watching television or be more selective to only watch education content
  40. Add some documentaries to your movie selection
  41. Do some volunteering or community service to learn about local problems
  42. Look up tutorials or learning topics with online video such as at YouTube
  43. Take on a project yourself instead of hiring it out, to learn how to do it
  44. Pay or hire out work you ‘could’ do yourself, so you have time to learn more new things
  45. Dedicate some fixed time every day to learning, at the same time since the brain works best repeating new actions
  46. Learn to gain a better quality sleep so you are well rested without losing more time to sleeping
  47. Eat healthy foods and a diet that promotes good brain activity and body functions
  48. Get daily exercise as blood flow and metabolism help activate the brains memory
  49. Practise memory improvements as it can help you learn all things easier and faster
  50. Know and emphasize your own learning patterns, whether they be audible, visual or kinesthetic

 

Posted by Mike King under Learning | 7 Comments »

Product Review: BassBuds Earbud

July 31st 2012

bassbuds classics

Review Review Review Review Review

I listen to a LOT of music and I prefer earbuds for much of my listening since I use them when I commute to work by bicycle and often wear earbuds when out in the mountains enjoying a hike or mountain unicycle adventure.  Anyway, when I first was offered the opportunity to review a set of bassbuds, I thought I would pass up since I hadn’t started any product reviews here at LearnThis.ca before.  However, at second thought, since I do so enjoy my music, and also listen to a LOT of audio books while commuting, I think earbuds are essential as a learning tool for me so would be worth reviewing here.  Having quality earbuds is crucial to enjoy a good audio book without being distracted and struggling to hear it and the bonus of great audio for music as well I think any of my readers can relate to so I hope you enjoy my review here the free pair of bassbuds earbuds I received.

Initial Impressions

I was impressed right from the start of opening the box for the classic bassbuds I received.  First of all, they were well packaged in a box that presented well, not some cheap plastic tough to tear open container.  The box is a simple flip lid and there was minimal plastic in the materials, mainly paper and cardboard, which I am always happy to see, as this world uses far too much plastic for packaging.  I was also happy to see the extra replaceable foam pads and silicon ear cushions of different sizes.  There are several sets of these at different sizes so you are sure to have a couple spare options and a perfect fit for your ear size.  Many ear buds come with with one or two options and don’t actually fit that well, so I was impressed to have the selection of ear pieces.

The headphones themselves were as easily impressive and presented well with their bright color, quality aluminum shell and impressive cut crystal on the back of each earbud.  My wife actually said, “Wow, those are sparkly!” if that adds to their appeal at all. The connectors look solid and the cable feels strong, not like many flimsy thin cables on ear buds.  I expect these to last longer than most will.

On the cable, the left and right side split off from a small button on the wire.  This button is for controlling the track, mute and mic options by pressing different sequences.  On the right earbud, there is also another small inwire cylinder with a mic in it for using it with a headset on your smartphone. Due to having stereo sound and the microphone options in one connector, it uses a 3.5mm 4 conductor jack common on most smartphones now.  To use it with a PC, you will need an adapter cable to split the mic and stereo audio to separate jacks as most computer sound cards use.  Some DAC (digital audio converters) devices will have support for this directly. There packaging also contains a bag with extra foam and silicon ear pads, a card for the microphone button sequence options and a booklet showing the various styles/colors available from bassbuds, which I don’t see much point in including once you buy from the selection anyway.

The plug itself is quite small which is great, however it is also very tight in every jack I used which sometimes made it too hard to unplug.  I’m sure that will smoothen out with use, but it would have been nice if the bassbuds had a slight texture or ridge on the back of the plug to make it easier to pull out, as its easy to slip off the jack and pull the wire when you are trying to unplug them, so you have to be careful.  The wire seems very strong though and doesn’t easily knot up, so I’m sure it can handle some wear and tear, as you toss these in your pocket or backpack if you don’t use the bag to store them.

Sound Quality (Music and AudioBooks)

Sound quality right from first use has been impressive and very good!  These earbuds sound very very nice with smooth bass, good crisp tones, and not too sharp fatiguing the ears.  The isolation of the silicon flaps is really excellent and they block out most outside sound very well, leaving you to listen at lower volume levels protecting the ears, with all the tonal quality and music quality as at higher levels.  Even in a noisy environment, I found I could hear these better than all my other earbuds with foam pads.  I have found that foam pads have good isolation, but surprisingly the silicon buds work easily as well, and leave far less wire noise and friction noise from turning your head, bumping the wire or moving your clothing around than do the foam inserts I’ve used a lot from other earbuds.  This was a nice improvement from what I am used to and make them much easier to enjoy for a longer period of time.

Music quality is very good in a wide range of music.  I listen primarily to electronic genres of many types, dance, trance, goa, electro house, dubstep and deep house; all of which rely on solid bass and wide high ranges.  These bassbuds performed beautifully in all of these genres and testing them with some hard rock, smooth vocals and a bit of blues and jazz, they continue to surprise me at the sound quality they deliver.  I put these up against my Grado SR-80 headphones I love the sound from and the bassbuds easily compare in overall sound quality and smoothness.  They are certainly a little heavier bass than the Grado’s even with a headphone amplifier for them, however, the sound on the bassbuds is a little smoother without the crisp midrange, but the difference is minor.  The upper frequencies on the bass buds I have to say do suffer a bit with lower output, and a bit of tone variance with simulated frequency ramping, but only compared to the higher quality Grados, not against any stock earbuds or additional earbuds I compared to, which they easily outperformed.  The nice advantage of the earbuds is they do deliver much more bass and dynamic range at lower volume levels and certainly better in a noisy environment.

Similarly for voice and audiobooks, they provide great sound quality and again the isolation allow you keep volumes lower without as many distracting background noises as you would otherwise be distracted by when listening to audio books.  As a bike commuter, I also tested these compared to some of my other foam earbuds.  The isolation from wind is still a big problem and these earbud don’t seem much different than most for riding at speed, however, the isolation of outside noise I did find was better, so you hear less traffic, engines and other vehicles, even if you do hear lots of wind noise.  I have only tested them with the silicon pads, not the foam inserts so far on the bassbuds.

The inwire button for microphone control is also very convenient for commuting and using with your phone while listening to music.  The button can be pressed once to simple pause or unpause your music on most mp3 players (I used it on my ipod nano with full mute/next/prev track controls).  It also worked on my blackberry bold to answer calls, do voice dialing with the built in microphone and to answer/hangup during music playback.  The blackberry didn’t seem to work for next/prev track control however, like the ipod did which is very convenient to use while cycling.

Comfort

Overall, these earbuds are very comfortable to wear for extended period of time and they never seem to push hard in my ears and cause any discomfort.  They stayed in place quite well and were a bit forgiving in how much bass you would get even as they started to loosen out of place a bit.  I found that it stayed in my left ear perfectly and I had to push it back in a bit more often in my right ear however, this was still better than my other foam only earbuds.  The silicon feels a lot softer  than foam so I had longer tolerance wearing these than some I’ve used. The different options you get with the bassbuds should easily give you a great fit and something comfortable can be found using the different insert sizes and styles.

As I said above, the sound quality being smooth and even a smooth bass response leaves you with a comfortable sound for heavy bass tracks, classic rock, house, blues, or audio books.

Conclusions

Overall, these bassbuds are great earbuds and I think the sound quality puts them at a good price mark, decent value and the build quality of them make them a great product.  You will enjoy all kinds of music with them, especially anything with good bass beats and the microphone and smart phone options for voice, answering/muting/track control, make these a great earbud to use everyday.  I highly recommend these and know I’ll be using them on my daily commute now until they wear out, as they are the best earbuds I’ve heard for all around use.

Posted by Mike King under Personal | 11 Comments »

Insights into Consciousness

July 25th 2012

Today I add a new guest post from Samara Brown, on a subject I’ve not explored here at LearnThis before, all about thinking about consciousness.  I hope you enjoy the questions, insight and quotes that Samara has written.  You can see a bit more about her at the end of her article.

The most easily accessible quote that I have ever read about consciousness would have to be this one from the German theologian and philosopher Albert Schweitzer:

“True philosophy must start from the most immediate and comprehensive fact of consciousness: ‘I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live.’ ”

It is a very beautiful and simple explanation that I think even a child would be able to understand and appreciate. It leads my mind on to thinking about the intrinsic nature of life itself: the instinct of survival; and how all forms of matter have a tendency to integrate and thus develop greater and greater levels of complexity and order. Many theories or elaborations on the subject of consciousness are so ethereal or convoluted that I often find it very difficult to grasp the meaning intended by the writer. But if you are patient and search carefully enough you can find some very interesting insights, such as this one from Daniel C. Dennett:

“Human consciousness is just about the last surviving mystery. A mystery is a phenomenon that people don’t know how to think about – yet….. We do not yet have all the answers to any of the questions of cosmology and particle physics, molecular genetics and evolutionary theory, but we do know how to think about them… With consciousness, however, we are still in a terrible muddle. Consciousness stands alone today as a topic that often leaves even the most sophisticated thinkers tongue-tied and confused. And, as with all of the earlier mysteries, there are many who insist – and hope – that there will never be a demystification of consciousness.”

It is interesting that Dennett points out the fact that often a sophisticated mind will struggle with mysteries such as the meaning of consciousness. History shows us that often with a great insoluble problem the answer is actually quite simple and that it will not necessarily be someone with a high intelligence quotient (I.Q.) that will be able to solve it. There is a new theory emerging recently that goes further by suggesting that what the world requires today are in fact people with a high soundness quotient (S.Q.) Soul soundness, a less corrupt or alienated person. Dennett also suggests in this quote that many people prefer mystery, superstition and dogma over knowledge-based understanding and scientific enquiry. This point is reinforced by this last insight by Terence McKenna:

“You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.”

McKenna stresses the point of the importance that humanity should be placing on science to provide answers to our most pressing and critical issues. We need to quickly become more conscious of ourselves, our place in the world, and to find solutions to the problems which threaten our very existence.

In terms of addressing these issues that are threatening our society, I would say that one of the most amazing thinkers that I have come across is a biologist called Jeremy Griffith. He seems to me to explain and deal with human consciousness and the problems associated with by far better than anybody else that I have come across. Although, I must admit that I am not particularly widely read or knowledgeable. Griffith says that:

“We humans suffer from a consciousness-derived, psychological human condition, not an instinct- derived, stimulus-and-response-driven animal condition—it is unique to us.”

Our fully conscious brain is very obviously unique on this planet, and we are clearly the only animal that can fully understand cause and effect in our lives and can make conscious adjustments according to what we learn from different events and outcomes. So it would seem to me to make perfect sense that that is where our problems stem from. Sure any animal you like to make an example of in the world around us is carrying out all kinds of behaviors and actions, but they are not conscious of why they are doing them, they are ruled by their instincts. A lion cannot explain why he needs to kill the zebra, he just does it and doesn’t have the ability to understand why or to think about carrying out an alternative action. It is only a conscious brain that has the ability to assess outcomes of behaviors—and more importantly asses or wonder whether the action they carried out were right or wrong? Goodness!, now I’ve said it—right and wrong? Good or bad? Are humans fundamentally good, and more specifically, am I? Am I good or bad? According to Griffith, you have come to the question of questions or in other words the human condition. Griffith describes the human condition as:

“The human condition arises from the existence of so-called ‘good and evil’ in our make-up. We humans are capable of shocking acts of inhumanity like rape, murder and torture and our agonizing predicament or ‘condition’ has been that we have never been able to explain and thus understand why. And even in our everyday behavior, why are we competitive, aggressive and selfish when clearly the ideals are to be the complete opposite, namely cooperative, loving and selfless?”

I am going to leave it there for people to make of Griffith’s work what they will, but surely Griffith has got one thing right at least that our issues as humans are psychological based ones, they are based on our conscious brains needing to understand what is going on within and around us. Surely he is right in the sense that biology does need to find understanding of our conscious behaviors to make this planet a better place for us all?

BIO

Samara is primarily a thinker… hence the title of her post! Thankful to be raised in a Christian household and trusts in her faith however determined to never stop wondering and questioning the world around her.  Her email if you want to contact her is thinksandlearns at gmail dot com.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 5 Comments »

An Online MBA Degree Isn’t for Everyone. Is it Right for You?

July 6th 2012

A recent book review of mine for the Personal MBA is one that is typical at creating some disagreement (which the author writes about as well) and whether you agree or not with gaining a personal MBA, other options are the classic school program and of course an online program.  This week I have a guest post considering some of the factors you should know about online degree programs and so I hope you find it useful and leave comments with your own thoughts, questions or opinions.

Following on the heels of this recent book review concerning concepts you’d learn in an MBA program, perhaps you’re considering actually enrolling in such a program. You’ve probably read dozens of articles stating that traditional MBA degrees aren’t for everyone. If this is true of a standard MBA, then it’s doubly true for online MBA degrees. If you’ve considered getting an MBA degree to strengthen your business acumen and broaden the reach of your professional network, then it’s worth considering if an online alternative may be a better choice. Here are a few things to consider:

1.      There’s still a stigma attached to online programs.

Completely notwithstanding the increasingly improving quality of online programs across different fields, many employers still don’t value online degrees, especially employers who work for long-established traditional companies. It’s really that simple. A quick glance through a Business Week forum, “Do Employers Value Online MBA Graduates?,” proves my point. Of course, not all employers see it that way, but before even considering pursuing an online business degree program or course, check with leaders of different companies you could envision yourself working for and ask. Do it now.

2.      Online MBAs are worth it if you choose the right program.

Now that you’ve gotten a feel for which employers would look favorably toward an online MBA degree, there’s a whole lot more research involved. To be quite honest, for-profit online MBA degrees, such as those offered by University of Phoenix and Kaplan, can be just as expensive as traditional degrees and offer half the brand recognition and support. The best option for those seeking an online MBA degree is looking at “brick-and-mortar” programs which offer online degrees in additional to the traditional MBA. Some examples of schools offering online programs like this include University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Illinois’ Kelley School of Business.

3.     An online MBA degree is more favorable under very specific conditions.

If we could all afford the tuition and time off from work and family responsibilities, then I’d enjoin everyone in business to go out there, take a few years off, and get an MBA degree from the most competitive school that they can get into. But time and money are precious. For those of you whose time and money are indispensable—perhaps you have several kids or you can’t afford to be out of the job market for a couple of years—then an online MBA from a good, accredited school may be exactly what you need. After all, the greatest benefit of pursuing an online MBA versus a traditional MBA is that A), it’s often much cheaper, B) you can still work while pursuing the degree, and C) you don’t have to be in-residence the whole time, meaning you can still spend quality time with your family without having to relocate them elsewhere.

4.     Sometimes an MBA degree makes a difference in your job search. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Whatever you do, don’t be hypnotized by those who are trying to sell you an MBA, whether it’s an online degree, fake college diplomas or a traditional one. Those who do best in MBA programs are those who understand what an MBA can do for you, and, more importantly, what an MBA can’t do for you. For many positions, an employer values work experience over a degree. For other employers, sometimes having an MBA listed on your resume is what keeps you from being thrown in the “rejects” pile, as blogger DJ Drummond notes in his personal online MBA story.

Whatever you end up deciding, don’t make impulse decisions. Do the research. Ask employers what they’re looking for. Go over all decisions with family members and trusted friends. An online MBA degree may be the right thing for you, but you’ll have to put some time in first to find out. Good luck!

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses and welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

Posted by Mike King under Business | 5 Comments »

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