Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Dip Don't Dazzle is the Key to Surviving The Christmas Party says Life Coach Carole Ann Rice

The fog of body spray, the miasma of hair lacquer and the clouds of high anxiety emanating from the Ladies loos can mean only one thing – it’s office party season. The tension and excitement has been building for months; dresses planned, bodies dieted and de-toxed into size 10 submission and strategies devised to pull a real cracker for Christmas.

Fast forward three hours later. You’re on your third pint of Malibu and pineapple, your outfit has turned into a transvestite’s worst nightmare, there’s a hint of the Tim Burton about your make-up and suddenly Kevin from accounts is beginning to turn from duff to buff. Who would’ve thought it?

This wasn’t the high gloss Vogue shoot you imagined this glittering occasion to be and with defences down and spirits up it can also be a place of high voltage danger and regret. You may be in the festive spirit with your colleagues and partying like there’s no tomorrow but you can be sure that your boss will on sober as the day they interviewed you.

Similarly with family and friends it’s wise to beware the potentially toxic cocktail of excess alcohol, heightened emotions and unrealistic expectations that can turn any situation incendiary.

Tempers, tears, tantrums and torrid gropes could lose friends, alienate people and could well end up all over Facebook the next day.

Of course we want to let our hair down and have fun. We want sequins, silks and feathers not hair shirts, sack cloth and ashes. But there’s a fine line to be drawn between riot and ruin. So here are a few tips on how to survive the office party and seasonal gatherings with your respect and reputation intact while still having a good time and happy memories thereafter.

• If it’s the office party decide your drink limit before you go out. Two alcoholic drinks are fun after three there could be loss of control so don’t risk it. Keep topping up with water. There’s no need to tell colleagues what you are doing. They may try to force your hand.

• Don’t wear revealing, trashy or provocative clothes to the office “do”. You need to maintain your professional reputation and you will be remembered for your sequined basque rather than your presentation skill ever more.

• If out with family and friends and you want to razzle dazzle them also consider how your outfit will look when you dance, have had a few drinks, travel on public transport, have a curry etc. Will it hold up to the wear and tear of the evening?

• With colleagues and managers do not get drawn in to gossip. Either change the subject or move away. What is loose talk over drinks could end up with you being implicated by association.

• Similarly don’t say, do or act in any way that you would not do in the workplace. The pictures passed around the office next day could mean the difference between promotion or passed over.

• For legless Lotharios be polite and move out of their way. Giving in for a bit of fun could mean you’re the subject of gossip the next day. Is it worth it?

• Even if you have a secret crush on a colleague don’t let on. Some companies operate a no-fraternisation policy so watch out.

• Everyone’s spirits are high at Christmas so beware the lowered defences, play safe and don’t get carried away with the moment. Allot a friend as protector too.

• Don’t assume colleagues or your manager are friends. Refrain from giving away personal details or grievances about the job in this seemingly relaxed environment. It could boomerang back.

• Do however keep your ear to the ground for information about staff morale and office politics.

• For the office party or family/friends gathering remember you don’t have to stay until the bitter end. Set yourself a time limit and slip away when you are ready. Also it adds to your mystique that you had “better things to do”.

• Use office parties an as opportunity to network, introduce yourself to people from other departments and learn insider knowledge. This can give you a competitive edge.

• It’s very important that you plan upfront how you are going to get home and either book a cab in advance or have a range of licensed cab numbers with you. If your budget doesn’t extend to a taxi then familiarize yourself with local bus/train routes and timetables and find out if you can share the journey with someone trusted. You don’t wand to be left alone, vulnerable and stranded.

Have fun, be safe and enjoy the party season with relish not regret. Happy Christmas

Carole Ann Rice is a life coach. Find out more http://www.realcoachingco.com/

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Coaching For Success - Life Coach Carole Ann Rice looks at the agony of the comfort zone

Ever heard yourself or a colleague or friend sigh “I just sort of drifted into this” when taking a rain check on their career and where they’re headed? Unless you were one of those totally weird kids who at the age of six who knew they wanted to be an accountant, the majority of us strayed from the path of our dreams of being astronauts, vets or famous novelists and, like rudderless ships, “drifted” into our current situations.

How or why we ended up so carelessly sleepwalking into something that could well keep us shackled and unhappy for over 40 years of our working lives, should be viewed as a wreckless mistake instead of a common norm. Studies have revealed that students with clear set goals of what they wanted in life were more likely to achieve them than those who drifted without focus at the whim of fate.

Little wonder then that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in a survey published last year revealed that only 35% of employees actually engaged with or felt a passion for their work. Great chunks of lives spent biding time, making do and putting in the hours simply to get to retirement with some sort of pension and nest egg to make up for the lost years of youth, energy and passion.

Sorry to depress you but if this sounds like I could be reading your mail then it’s time to wake up and smell the nursing home.

Golden hand cuffs such as pension schemes and private health insurance do go some way to add security. But safety nets soon tie boulders around your dreams if your heart yearns for a high wire act or the trapeze when it comes to your career. Suddenly what was the comfort zone is feeling distinctly uncomfortable.

There are many ways in which coaching can help people re-engage with where they are now even if the position they hold only partially meets their intellectual capabilities. Taking more risks, learning to be more confident, devising and stategising new goals within the organization or within a sales context can breathe new life and new possibilities into an established role.

Often after you have been established within an organization for some years it can seem like the grass elsewhere is always more verdant and the need to move on becomes a burning issue. Sometimes the desire is simply to establish whether or not you would “make the grade” in another set up and this could lead to the out of the frying pan into the fire syndrome.

Coaching can help get to the heart of the discontent whether it is to truly pursue a long held dream and completely re-train and turn your life around or simply make more of where you are now, what you are doing and how to maximize your potential within that established framework. You go from drifting to directional, sleepwalking to nowhere to slip streaming success. You may not remember why you got to where you are but you will definitely know where you’re heading.

Carole Ann Rice is MD of The Real Coaching Co. Book a free 30 minute session now http://www.realcoachingco.com/

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Friday, 12 November 2010

How to Make 2011 YOUR Best Business Year Yet!

What’s your Resolution for 2011?

Eat less? Exercise more?

Can we show YOU one that’s much more enjoyable? How about this for a resolution?.

‘I resolve to attract more clients, make more money and build a business I love, with less effort, more ease and FUN!

Don’t believe it? We can show you how.

Join Susan Tomlinson and Carole Ann Rice, Real Coaching Solutions, at our next Business Building Breakfast. A fresh way to grow your business, meet like-minded people and start your day with energy and enthusiasm.

Why wait until the New Year to plan for success? Find out......

How to Make 2011 YOUR Best Business Year Yet!

By attending this breakfast workshop you will learn....

Simple steps to grow your business in 2011 and beyond.

How to manage your mindset so that you attract more clients and make more money

Ways to remove obstacles and blocks to your ultimate success.

Your ticket price covers tea/coffee and continental pastries, includes the workshop, and the opportunity to mingle and make new contacts with other like-minded business folk, in the sublime surroundings of the elegant St Stephen’s Club.

For further details please contact Sarah Moorhouse sarah@realcoachingsolutions.co.uk
'"I have attended a couple of events organized by Real Coaching Solutions in the recent past. I had a great time meeting like minded people, who share the same passion - healthy and sustainable business.

I believe that Susan and her company have a fantastic package for small business owners - empathy, integrity and hands on advice, which helped me to crystalise my thoughts and ideas related to my relatively new business, quite effortlessly.

I would like to recommend Susan's services to others who are looking for innovative support and fresh ideas for their unique business."

Jana Stanton


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A Case For Coaching by Life and Business Coach Carole Ann Rice

A Case for Coaching - Carole Ann Rice
Why in the world would anyone use a coach? It’s a good question. Still considered a “new” profession here, coaching has its devotees across the world along with a fair degree of cynics who see it as another unnecessary US export.

But just as personal trainers in the 90s were considered a luxury fad for the lucky few, now we all know someone who is using or has used a fitness guru to tone their bones and get them fit. In the near future you too will have used a coach or know someone who has.

Coaching is rapidly becoming the most essential training tool that leaders and individuals use to run successful organizations and to create extraordinary lives.

It is not surprising that many global organisations such as IBM and Dell employ legions of full time coaches to work with managers or teams to increase performance, productivity and profits.

Yet for many coaching still carries therapy/new age connotations despite the fact that coaching principles are based on sound theoretic and academic processes. Unlike mentoring, coaches don’t necessarily have to work within the same sector as the client or have had personal experience of the profession or role they are coaching around. Whether scientist or sales exec the coach seeks to unlock the individual’s potential and unhook them from whatever is preventing them from achieving the success they have within them.

We look at the limiting beliefs the individual may be holding “I’m not management material”/ “I feel like a fraud” and see what lies behind them.
We also analyse what is currently standing in their way whether it’s a communications or confidence issue or perhaps a past grievance that has them stuck. Taking a holistic view of how the person is leading their lives; diet, relationships, work/life balance and five year plan, we have found also has an impact on how they perform in the workplace.

Unlike therapy coaches don’t want to wallow in the painful past but focus on the here and now and set achievable goals to teleport them into a powerful future.
For organizations this means greater awareness and understanding, which creates cohesive and directional teams; where the talent is nurtured and the weak points exposed and managed.
Corporations are also beginning to believe that coaching helps retain employees and that the financial investment is far less than replacing a key player.

Just as some large city firms may offer “perk” coaching to valuable employees, who voice dissatisfaction despite hefty bonuses, to prevent them from leaving, similarly some find it equally beneficial if staff head happily for the door post coaching too.
Increasingly organizations are opting to develop in-house coaches out of their own teams where managers are taught coaching skills in order to effectively manage their workforce.

Tanya Clemons, Vice President of Global Executive and Organizational Development at IBM said: “We’ve done lots of research over the past three years and have found that those leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results.”

We rest our case.

Carole Ann Rice of The Real Coaching Company www.realcoachingco.com

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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Carole Ann Rice Imparts the Esoteric Secrets of Nifty Networking

It’s Not All Business Cards and Sell, Sell Sell.

It takes both nerve and verve to network well. To work a room with the oiled ease of consummate pro takes some practice. I have known top CEOs bolt for the door as soon as they see the crowds, the business cards and an atmosphere about as welcoming as Colditz; such is its scare factor.

The “roar behind the door” is the nightmare scenario networking novices face when standing outside a conference hall hearing the deafening chatter and wondering how to penetrate this cold front of possible rejection.

But networking can be easy and exciting as long as you know what you’re doing. Remember your ears will never get you into trouble so decide to listen and learn about other people; let them do all the work as you pick up clues as to how you can help them or they help you or connect them to a strategic alliance.

Sounds good but how do you break the ice when all you’re armed with is a cocktail sausage?

Here are some tried and tested openers that you can use once you’ve smiled broadly, introduced yourself and prepare to dazzle with your ardent interest. Have one or two of these up your sleeve and pay attention

• What do you love about your business/what you do? (See their passion)

People will warm to you for asking this and you will find out who they are.

• How did you get started in that line of work? (Their life story)

Learn about their history, maybe shared experiences and why they do what they do now.

• What separates your business from your competitors? (Their USP)

Let them brag and reveal what they excel at. Nod, smile and look impressed. You’re learning useful things.

• What’s changed in your industry over the last few years and what do you see happening in the future? (Their challenges)

This allows the person to show their knowledge and expertise. Could you use this information for follow up?
• So what’s next for you? (Their Big Dream)

World domination, beach or boardroom or simply a “nice little living” – whatever they want now you are privy to their big goal. How could you help get them there?

• How would you like to be described by the people you work with? (Who they are)

Again allow the person to feel good about themselves. Is there anyone you could introduce them to?

• What is the most satisfying and successful way you win business/influence? (Pick up their tricks)

Learn from their processes. Could you and your business become part of this process?
And finally ask

• What’s your ideal type of customer/client?(Who they are looking for)

Now you know if you can help them, pass on leads or offer referrals.

Swap cards, email them the next day to say how nice it was to meet them and suggest follow up. If you are stuck with a crushing bore, say you’re looking for someone, smile and glide on.

Carole Ann Rice is a coach and author. Find out more by visiting http://www.realcoachingco.com/

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Monday, 30 August 2010

Away Day or No-Way Day Carole Ann Rice looks at the Pitfalls of Team Development.

For the singleton it’s an opportunity for romance or expense account booze up and for those with kids it’s a nightmare of childcare arrangements and disgruntled partners. The team away day or residential development event can build morale and create an inclusive, motivated workforces or it can simply divide, disengage or downright disillusion the reluctant team player.

From solving faux business dilemmas to psychometric testing, where individuals are divined as either Earth Mothers or Warriors, the away day can be a minefield of bruised egos and battered expense budgets. When a team is pulling in different directions, blame and scapegoating is the culture and there seems to be an issue around shared goals and outcomes, time out and training can solve the issue.
But how many times have you seen folk return from these events flying high and geared up for change to find it dissolves into the same old routine?

Donna from sales may have been the high wire heroine abseiling her way to team glory in the badlands of Shropshire last week, but is back to being as obstructive as ever as soon as her heels hit the office Axminster. Something appears to have been lost in translation from away day to work day.
To ensure that a team away day really does do more than bond a disparate group of people but have real and sustainable effects it might be worth considering these pointers.

• Be very clear from the outset what the desired intention of the event is. What exactly is it you want to achieve? How will that be done? What needs to be in place? What benchmark with you use to know you’ve got there?
• Make sure you will be able to measure results and take away accumulated data (contributed by the teams) that you can use effectively thereafter.
• Don’t assume everyone wants sporting terminology and Will Carling-esque motivation exercises; that people like to be physical, extrovert or do things that get them out of a comfort zone and straight into the psychiatrist’s chair.
• Inform the team what you would like them to get out of the event and invite them to make suggestions to as to what they would like to achieve, learn and contribute to the exercise.

• Use psychometric tests from the outset so that they can identify theirs own strengths and weaknesses and learn about the qualities of their colleagues too and how best to work and interact with them.

• Work, rest and play – make sure the event has its highs and lows and at the end there is a social time in the bar or restaurant to socialize, de-brief and consolidate what has been learned.

• Check in with the team a week later to see if what they have learned has been useful and put into practice.
• Avoid death by away day. Too many psychometric tests and physical challenges could lead to confusion and burn out. Remember, this is training and development not the Apprentice.

Find out more about Carole Ann Rice http://www.realcoachingco.com/

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Coach Carole Ann Rice looks at how to get unstuck from PVA – Pre Vacation Panic

You’ve made those guilty impulse buys in the soar away sales; packed a suitcase the size of the Empire State and triple checked the tickets, passport and money situation that it’s almost become pathology. So why are you feeling stuck in PVA – that’s Pre Vacation Panic?

Preparing to leave the workplace for a fortnight in a palm-fringed nirvana should have you kicking back and living in margherita time up until the departure lounge.  But instead a dread-like fear has entered the equation making you even question why you booked a holiday in the first place.

There’s so much to prepare, loose ends to tie up, people to inform and work to complete before you leave, and you just know you’re working yourself towards a fortnight on a drip in a foreign hospital.

Will they cope without you?  What if they cope too well in your absence?  Will or wont you be missed?   Will your clients move to a competitor?

 And what about that Machiavellian newcomer waiting in the shadows for the ideal time to “cover” for you while you’re away?  What if said wanna-be does a better job at it too, become the blue eyed Next Big Thing and you’re out of the picture before you can say P45?

No wonder we have to pay a king’s ransom to throw yourself to the furthest corner of the world to get away from it all.  We live and work in environments dominated by emails, voice mails, deadlines and targets and all with demands on our time that expect a five minute response and turnaround. 

Lunches are for working through, commuting is catch up on the laptop time and evenings are for preparing for the next day.   Weekends? What weekends?

 The idea of taking the Blackberry to the beach and a few work files to glance through on the plane is becoming increasingly attractive but that way madness lies.

Coaches often work with executives close to burn out working to the mistaken belief that they are indispensable.

 They are perhaps failing to trust their own value, have forgotten the meaning and purpose of what they’re doing and think that work/life balance means having a half a day at the weekend in which to sort the laundry.

Some self coaching questions at this time could include:

•    What can I do, dump or delegate in the time remaining?
•    What do I need to believe in order to leave work happy and contented for my holiday?
•    How have I created this situation of ……….
•    What unhelpful thoughts do I need to let go of here?
•    Is the fear real or my imagination?

None of us can ever truly predict the future and trusting that all will be well in our absence takes a leap of faith.  But with the right amount of preparation, trust and a reasonable assumption that the world wont come crashing down as soon as you wave “adios” to your colleagues, you can have the holiday you deserve and return refreshed to the situation you left a fortnight before.

Carole Ann Rice is MD of The Real Coaching Co.  Find out more at www.realcoachingco.com

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