Cheat Sheet

Business Skills All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Business Skills All-in-One For Dummies

By Consumer Dummies

In a business environment of complexity and uncertainty, excellent decision-making skills are paramount; learn how to make faster and more informed decisions on the fly. Next, discover the common project management pitfalls to avoid in the ever-growing array of huge, complex, and technically challenging projects in today’s world. To open doors to opportunities, use LinkedIn to build your network of professional relationships.

After you’ve completed your LinkedIn profile, make it worthwhile by building your LinkedIn network.

5 Steps to Faster, More Informed Decisions

Can you make decisions swiftly and confidently when vast amounts of data cross your desk and inbox every day? How do you prioritize and rapidly respond in the midst of changing conditions? Well, you use the skills you already possess but may not be tapping into.

Here’s an interesting correlation: The way you process information as you drive a vehicle works for making an informed decision, as well. If you drive well enough to be 98 percent accident-free, chances are you’re already a master of processing tons of data at high speed: You select pertinent information almost automatically and then use the information quickly and accurately. If you apply that innate skill to your decision-making, you can make informed business decisions without second guessing yourself.

To sort from a sea of information, do these things:

  • Focus on the outcome. Being clear about the end point does two things:
    • Provides guidance for your intuition, enabling you to sift through all the available information to select what’s important for the decision you need to make
    • Gives you a solid anchor for your decisions that can accommodate opposing facts and perspectives

If, for example, the end point is to stay under budget, your decision and the data you use to inform your decision will be filtered based on that. If the end point is to produce a product that meets customers’ unstated needs, all the available information will be filtered using that criterion. The outcome anchors your decision making.

  • Stop mentally concentrating on the issues and let your subconscious do the work for you.

Your subconscious is faster than your conscious mind, and it works automatically when your focus is clear. When you turn the issue over to your subconscious, you gain speed and accuracy.

  • Question and expose the beliefs you use to interpret how the world works.

Beliefs, otherwise known as mental models — things you believe to be true but that may not actually reflect a widened view of reality — filter reality to confirm your previous experiences. Questioning your beliefs permits you to improve the accuracy of your analysis, jettison past connotations, and open up new possibilities.

  • Observe your emotions.

Step back to gain perspective and quiet the mental chatter so that you can accurately hear your inner voice. You’ll gain a wider view of the situation and be able to see alternatives.

It’s easy to fall prey to doubt or to rationalize your decision. If you’re feeling fearful, you may think you have only one option or no options. In climates of high fear, when the rational dominates, making an informed decision requires that you achieve a calmer state of mind so that you can access your higher mental and intuitive functioning.

  • After you analyze and review your options, select your decision, but before you commit, check in on how you feel about the option you’ve selected.

Call it a heart check. Even when the solution is a totally new approach, you need to feel at peace with it.

Making an informed decision requires that you work with both facts (actual data) and emotional information, and that you take steps to mitigate the effect of ingrained bias. Doing so requires that you commit to mastering all your senses and intelligences so that, in chaotic decision-making environments, you’ll be able to balance data with open-minded experimentation and stay sensitive to cues that other decision-makers will miss.

How to Avoid Common Project Management Pitfalls

The pressure of having to complete a project with little time and few resources often causes people to cut corners and ignore certain issues that can significantly affect a project’s chances for success. Avoid the following common pitfalls and instead address the issues early in the project to help reduce their possible negative impacts:

Framing vague project objectives: Project objectives are the results that must be achieved if the project is to be successful. The more specific the objectives, the easier it’ll be for you to estimate the time and resources required to achieve them and the easier it’ll be for you and your audiences to confirm they have been met.

Be sure to include measures (the characteristics of an objective you’ll use to decide if it has been achieved) and specifications (the values of the measures that you believe confirm that you have successfully achieved your objectives).

  • Overlooking key audiences: Be sure to determine your project’s drivers (those people who define what your project must achieve to be successful) and its supporters (the people who make it possible for you to accomplish your desired project’s objectives). Important drivers who often get overlooked are the ultimate end users of your project’s products.
  • Failing to document assumptions: People almost always make assumptions regarding their projects; however, they often fail to write them down because they figure everyone else is making the same ones.Documenting your assumptions allows you to confirm that all people are operating under the same set of assumptions and reminds you periodically to check whether project assumptions have been confirmed and new ones have been made.
  • Backing in to project schedules: Backing in to a project schedule entails trying to determine the time and resources you feel would enable you to achieve project success while ignoring the question of how likely it is that you’ll be able to get the required amounts of time and resources.

Instead of backing in, consider the time and resources that you realistically feel you would be able to secure and to explore different ways of using them to increase your chances of being able to successfully complete your project.

  • Not getting key commitments in writing: Not putting commitments in writing increases the chances that what people intended to commit to was different from what you thought they did commit to. In addition to increasing the accuracy of communication, writing down commitments helps those who made them to remember them and encourages people to modify the written statements when necessary.
  • Failing to keep the plan up-to-date: If a project is being run correctly, you and your team members should frequently consult the most current version of the project plan to confirm what each team member hast to do to produce the intended results.Not keeping the plan up-to-date means you have no reference explaining what people should be doing to successfully perform the required project work. It also suggests that adhering to the most recent version of the project plan isn’t really that important, a belief that significantly reduces the chances of project success.

Not having formal change control: Failing to follow a formal process for evaluating the effect of project changes increases the likelihood that important consequences of those requested changes will be overlooked when assessing the potential effects of those changes. In addition, it makes it more likely that some of the people who will be affected by the changes may not receive timely and accurate information about what those effects may be.

  • Not communicating effectively: Problematic communications increase the chances that people will work with different information when performing project tasks, as well as decrease team morale and commitment to overall project success.

10 Steps to Build Your LinkedIn Network

The more you do, the more contacts you could have in your LinkedIn network! If you want to build and expand your LinkedIn network, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out your LinkedIn profile completely.
  2. Check for former colleagues and classmates who are on LinkedIn by using specific LinkedIn searches.
  3. Import your email contacts.
  4. Add former email addresses to your account so past connections can find you more easily.
  5. Check for people who share a group or affiliation with you.
  6. Go through your business cards for potential contacts and search for them on LinkedIn. Send them an invitation or a request to join.
  7. Search through your first-degree network connections.
  8. Advertise yourself by joining and participating in LinkedIn groups.
  9. Use the People You May Know feature.
  10. Meet people on LinkedIn (through LinkedIn groups and jobs as well as your news feed discussions) and then invite them to join your network.