• Benefits of Team-Building

    How do you feel about team-building? Does it make you groan just to consider that question? You’re not alone. Team-building is something that’s got a reputation for being cheesy and lame, but in fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your organization. How can you create experiences that actually allow you to reap the benefits of team-building?

    What are the benefits, anyway? Effective team-building creates engaged employees and a cohesive company culture. It can be fun, adventurous, and enjoyable if it’s done right, and when employees have a good time as a team, they also work better as a team. That’s not just good for morale, it’s good for business.

    The first step in successful team-building is creating events that don’t feel like work. If your focus is on activities that teach your team members something, your team-building won’t be as powerful. Your employees need time to share an experience or work toward a goal together so that they can connect and bond. Do something fun, unique, interesting, and maybe just a little bit outside of the team’s comfort level, whether it’s zip-lining, line dancing, or heading off to a sporting event.

    Don’t be afraid to spend some money. You don’t need to take your team off on a tropical vacation or some other wildly expensive adventure, but don’t skimp, either. The money you spend on team-building isn’t a splurge, it’s an investment. Ultimately, a team that works well together will benefit your bottom line, and you’ll more than recoup your team-building money.

    Finally, take the team-building energy back to work with you. Create opportunities that allow people to interact and connect, in ways that have nothing to do with your regular meetings, tasks, and presentations. Encourage team members to create and share goals for themselves, and carve time into the schedule for people to share and celebrate achievements that happen outside of work. If your team is laughing together, is excited about your team-building before it happens, feels a sense of accomplishment once it’s over, and maintains their bond when they’re back at work, you’re doing it right.

    If you need facilities for team-building or training, look to Texas Training and Conference Centers, for high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just some of the ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you, too. To learn more, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

  • Tips for Overcoming Employee Demotivation

    When your employees are motivated, you can feel it. The office runs like a well-oiled machine, creativity flows, and team members seem happy and inspired. On the other hand, if your team lacks motivation and enthusiasm, even being in the office can feel like drudgery. If you’re the manager, how can you overcome the drag of employee demotivation and get your office humming again?

    • Remember that money is a major motivator. If you’re not paying employees what they’re worth, or your pay structure is inherently unfair, you’re asking for trouble. Employees in similar jobs should have similar paychecks, and you should be willing to honestly address any discrepancies or concerns. If you’re puzzled about demotivation in your office, you might want to start by running a pay audit, to make sure everything is as it should be in relation to salaries. Whether or not you’re looking to hire anyone new, keep abreast of current market rates so that your employees’ pay remains competitive.
    • A hostile atmosphere saps everyone’s motivation. If there’s a bully in your midst, it’s important to flush him or her out if you want a happy, productive workspace. Remember, bullies can be any gender, at any level of the company, in any position. Institute a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and harassment, and do whatever it takes to put an end to this kind of behavior.
    • A disorganized office can quickly become unproductive. This brings down morale and leads to a lack of motivation. It’s a complicated issue to resolve, but when you talk to those employees who are directly affected by the problem, you may gain valuable insight into how to fix it.
    • When expectations and rules are unreasonable, motivation suffers. Of course, in some situations, strict rules may be necessary for safety’s sake and to keep things running smoothly. In most offices, though, it’s not unreasonable for employees to expect a little bit of leeway. Rules that feel unreasonable or arbitrary can lead to demotivated employees, but offering your employees some flexibility gives them a reason to like their jobs and do them well.

    One great way to overcome employee demotivation is to get them off-site for some team building and training.  In a relaxed atmosphere, away from the office, you’ll be able to get to the bottom of the issue and work together to find a solution. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

     

  • Top Interview Tips for Hiring Managers

    Do you want the very best talent on your team? Of course you do. If you’re a hiring manager, you want to know that the people you’re hiring are a good fit with your team, and will do the job they’re hired to do effectively. Are you doing your job effectively? If you’re asking the wrong questions or focusing on the wrong things, you might not be.  Here, we offer some tips to help you make the most of your interviews.

    Why are interviews so important? Once the talent pool has been narrowed through the evaluation of resumes, you’ll be left with a list of qualified applicants to review. Meeting these candidates in person by interviewing them is the best way to get a sense of which one will best fit into the position you’re trying to fill. If you conduct an effective interview, you should come out of it with a sense of the person’s personality, intelligence, enthusiasm, and aptitude for the work at hand. Gleaning this kind of information requires more than just a preset list of questions.

    • A good interview requires planning. Reserve a quiet space for the interview, and make a list of questions you plan to ask. Think about the information you want to take away from the interview, and what you want to understand about the candidate. This will help you to structure questions that will get to the point and garner the information you need. You may find it helpful to conduct a job analysis prior to setting any interviews, enlisting the help of someone who really understands the area in which you are hiring in order to develop your strategy. Write down your questions, so that you can be sure each candidate has the opportunity to answer the same ones. Share your list of questions with other people at your company, so that they can give their feedback before you get started.
    • Do your homework before the candidate arrives. It’s important to have a basic understanding of the person you’re interviewing before you begin. Go online and do a little bit of research, looking at personal and professional social media profiles and checking out the candidate’s LinkedIn profile before he or she arrives. Before you head into the interview, review both the job description and the person’s resume one more time, so that you have a fresh idea of your objectives.
    • Make each candidate feel comfortable. Interviewing for a job can be a nerve-wracking experience, and for some people, nerves can keep them from showing who they really are. Try to establish a rapport with your candidates, asking easy questions to begin the interview, about their current positions, where they went to school, and traffic on the way over. Once you’ve put them at ease, you can gradually get into the deeper questions.
    • Be flexible during the interview. You want the conversation to flow, so don’t be too strict about sticking to your prescribed list of questions. While you do want to make sure you keep an eye on the time, not veering too far off course and making sure all of your questions get answered, you do also want to give your candidates some leeway so that you can better understand who they really are. Build time into your interview to allow for these deviations from the plan.
    • Don’t try to go it alone. Who needs to be present at this interview? Having an interview partner or two will help you gain a more well-rounded impression of the candidate, because each interviewer will bring a separate perspective.
    • Test the candidate’s problem-solving capabilities. Present problems during the interview, so that you can hear the solutions that each person would present. This gives you the opportunity to see how quick the candidates are on their feet, and understand whether or not they’re well-suited to the position.
    • Be a brand evangelist. The interview serves two purposes: it helps you learn about the candidate and it helps the candidate learn about your company. When you promote your brand in a positive light, it helps candidates understand your corporate culture and whether or not they personally align with your company’s values.
    • Ask the right questions. Don’t ask too many questions that can be answered with yes or no answers. Instead, keep your questions open-ended, yet focused. You want to understand the candidate’s perspective, but you don’t want to create confusion about your own objectives. Keep your questions professional, and if you do make small talk, be careful about any discussion of sensitive topics.

    Knowing how to interview effectively helps you build a solid team. Making that team a cohesive unit requires some time away from the office, focusing on training and team-building. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

  • Tips for Managing Different Work Styles

    If you’ve been in a management position for any length of time, you know that each of your employees has a different work style. The way people think, structure, organize, and complete their work is tied up in their personalities, and when you understand this and know how to work with it, you can begin to be a more effective manager. Understanding different work styles is more than just a matter of assessing strengths and weaknesses. It requires a willingness to look at your employees as people, embrace their diversity, and meet them where they are.

    There are many different models for assessing employees’ strengths, work style, and behavioral tendencies, but whichever you use, it’s important to acknowledge that people are not just one way or another. This makes management challenging, but by observing the workflow of your colleagues and team members and noticing how they work, you’ll be able to leverage their strengths to improve the efficiency and productivity of your organization. Because each team member is multifaceted, it’s, to make sure that many different work styles are represented in every project. The four basic work styles found in any office are:

    • Logical, analytical, linear and data-oriented: This person focuses on achieving a stated goal or outcome, and is good at analyzing data, processing information logically, and solving complex problems. This is the colleague to put in charge of keeping the project on budget.
    • Organized, sequential, planned, and detail-oriented: Strong in establishing order, structuring projects and tasks, and accuracy, this team member is the one who will make sure your work is completed on time and without typos.
    • Supportive, expressive, and emotionally oriented: This team member is good at building relationships, facilitating team interaction, and selling ideas. This is the person to put in charge of keeping everyone up to date on the project and effectively communicating your ideas throughout the organization.
    • Big-picture, integrative, and ideation-oriented: Skilled in serving as a catalyst for change, finding solutions to problems, and integrating and synthesizing ideas, this team member will bring variety to your team’s thought and execution and won’t allow you to stagnate.

    So how can you effectively manage all these disparate work styles and personalities? First, take a look at your own management style. You might be an authoritarian manager, direct and in control, asserting strong authority and expecting complete obedience. On the other hand, you may be more of a visionary, leading through motivation and allowing your employees to handle the day-to-day details. Some managers are transactional, focusing on motivating employees using rewards and incentives, while others are servant leaders, supporting their employees through coaching and mentoring. A pacesetting management style means you lead from the front, providing instructions and pace, and expecting your employees to keep up, while laissez-faire managers give their employees freedom with very little oversight. On the other hand, you might have a democratic management style, based on the philosophy that everyone deserves to have a say. Democratic managers encourage team members to share their thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and potential solutions, to help each other and benefit the company.

    Which style is right for you? It depends largely on your own strengths, personality, and experience, and the needs of your team. The culture of your company should also impact your style because different companies need different types of management, and even within one company the management style may need to shift over time. To be an effective manager, you need to be flexible.

    Whatever kind of manager you are, it’s also important to promote diversity in your work environment. You can do that by meeting your employees where they are, adapting your style to meet their needs and help them develop their strengths. Effective management also means understanding what motivates your employees and where each of them fit best into any given project. Give people jobs that maximize their strengths and will keep them productive and happy, and you’ll have an effective team. Make sure you set a clear vision for your team and welcome the various styles and perspectives that will move it forward. Taking time to understand your employees’ work styles, focus your energy into developing their strengths and putting them in positions that will best utilize those strengths.

    One way to gain a better understanding of your employees and what motivates them is through off-site training. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

  • Enneagrams at the Workplace

    How much do you know about Enneagrams? An innovative approach to leadership development, analyzing the way people think, feel, act, and relate to others, it can be an important tool in today’s business environment. It’s used in corporations, small businesses, and nonprofits across the globe, as a way to boost professional skills and self-awareness to develop high functioning teams. Integrating enneagrams into your management may be the strategy you need to take your team to the next level, embracing diversity by tapping into the deeper resources of your employees, building an organization that rises to the challenges of today’s rapidly changing business world.

    So what, exactly, is an Enneagram?  It’s a typology system that describes nine different ways of seeing the world, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing and understanding these different points of view helps us appreciate other people’s styles of working and relating and their different points of view. The nine different types are:

    1. The Perfectionist: Responsible, thorough, hardworking, with high standards, they know how to focus on doing things the right way. The challenge Perfectionists face is knowing how to balance critical thinking with acceptance, and know when getting something “exactly right” is not as productive as going with what’s “good enough.”
    2. The Giver: Positive and people-oriented, Givers are excellent communicators who will support the best interests of the organization. They’re empathetic and understand what people feel and need, but have trouble with establishing personal boundaries and choosing when and how much they help others.
    3. The Performer: Tremendously productive, Performers are enthusiastic, highly motivated, and good at accomplishing results by springing into action. They struggle with listening to others, building good relationships, and developing long-term strategies, and are prone to “workaholism” and personal burnout.
    4. The Romantic: Focused on authenticity, meaning, and aesthetics, Romantics value excellence and want to make personal connections with their work and the people around them. They have trouble tolerating the mundane aspects of work and struggle to reduce their emotional reactions and not take things too personally.
    5. The Observer: Seeking to develop technical expertise and accumulate knowledge, Observers are excellent at thinking and strategizing. They need privacy and autonomy, and their challenge is to communicate warmth, recognize that there are more human assets besides mental intelligence, and be available to other people.
    6. The Loyal/Skeptic: Loyal and dependable, this personality type is good at anticipating problems and creating solutions. They focus on creating safety and structure, and struggle with managing suspicion and doubt and de-motivating themselves and others.
    7. The Epicure: This type is quick thinking and adaptable, with a positive outlook and the ability to see opportunities where others see problems. Epicures enjoy multiple interests and multiple options, and their challenge is to acknowledge problems and limitations and focus on the task at hand.
    8. The Protector: Good at taking charge of their environment, Protectors are good leaders who know how to mobilize and get things done. They’ll stand up for the positions and people important to them, but they struggle with moderating their forcefulness, being adaptable, and avoiding creating conflict.
    9. The Mediator: Steady and balanced in both work and relationships, Mediators see all sides of an issue and are good at bringing people together in a spirit of harmony and cooperation. The challenge for this personality type is to focus on priorities and defend their own position, even in the face of discomfort or conflict.

    How does this apply to the workplace? When we understand each other better, it builds a sense of connectedness that reduces conflict and helps us cooperate more effectively. While no one is all one thing or another, the Enneagram gives us a way of creating an environment in which each member of the team can optimize his or her particular strengths and challenges. When you know your personality type, you can focus on what’s most relevant to you and look at how you can become more flexible and creative. As team members, it helps us develop professional skills and self-awareness, in order to make better choices and more intelligent decisions. As a manager, it empowers us to tap greater resources in others.

    If you’re looking for a place to hold an Enneagram workshop for your team, we have the place for you. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

  • Top Tips for Dealing with Workplace Bullies

    Did you deal with bullies when you were in school? From the playground bullies of elementary school to the cliques of high school, kids who pick on other kids are a frustrating reality. If you were excited to leave that all behind when you graduated, you might want to hold off on celebrating. Bullies are nearly as prevalent in the workplace as they are in the schoolyard. In fact, it’s estimated that 60 million Americans deal with bullying each year, and 61 percent of those bullies are bosses. How you deal with workplace bullies can make all the difference in your work environment.

    Workplace bullies come in many different varieties. There’s the aggressive communicator, expressing displeasure loudly all the time, whether it’s by yelling, sending angry emails, or using aggressive body language. Some bullies take their power by disparaging and humiliating others, constantly criticizing and insulting their targets, whether verbally or through email. This type of bully socially isolates people, pointing out their mistakes to others, but taking credit for their work. Some of the most frustrating bullies are those who manipulate others and withhold resources, setting their targets up for failure. There’s also the behind-the-scenes meddler, who pretends to be on a person’s side and yet undermines that person behind his or her back.

    No matter what type of bully you’re encountering, it can make you dread going to work. In fact, nearly half of the people who are targeted by a bully at work experience stress-related problems including anxiety, panic attacks, and clinical depression. Workplace bullying has been defined as “repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees, abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating or intimidating, work sabotage or verbal abuse,” according to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute. An estimated 81 percent of employers are perceived as doing nothing to combat bullying, and in fact, 71 percent of employer reactions and 60 percent of coworkers’ reactions are harmful to the targets of bullies. Considering that bullying isn’t illegal if your boss and coworkers are unlikely to help, what can you do about a bully?

    It’s going to take personal courage, but it’s worth it if you’re able to improve the environment of your workplace.

    • Nip it in the bud. If you’re going to stop bullying at your workplace, you need to speak up as soon as possible after it starts. As soon as you feel you’re being mistreated, call the problem to the attention of the person creating it. Explain why it’s a problem, and call to the bully’s values to cast your request for a change in behavior in a positive light. Use assertive body language, and say the person’s name frequently during your exchange. Establish clear expectations, setting limits on what you will tolerate, describing the behavior and offering suggestions for a different way to handle things.
    • Document what’s happening. Keep a journal of what’s happening, and save emails or any other evidence of this bullying behavior, printing things so you have a hard copy as well as digital. If there were any witnesses to an incident, make a note of that, too. Pay attention to how the bully treats your coworkers, and ask them to document things as well. Bullying has a negative impact not just on the person being bullied, but also on the business as a whole, so it’s important to be ready to report it to HR if it doesn’t stop.
    • Practice self-care. Bullying is hard on a person, and if you’re being bullied it can take its toll. Find ways to take care of yourself, spending time with family and friends and participating in activities that make you happy. If you are having trouble handling things, talk to a therapist or counselor, preferably one well-versed in trauma-informed counseling.
    • Familiarize yourself with your company’s policies. Many companies don’t have a formal policy on bullying, but by reading the employee handbook you can find language that explains your organization’s values, as well as what is expected of employees. You might also consider seeking legal advice, especially if your situation qualifies as harassment.
    • Talk to someone with power. Sometimes, ending bullying behavior is as simple as speaking to the boss about it. Unfortunately, sometimes the boss is the bully, in which case you’ll need to go higher. Talk to management and HR, bringing documentation and explaining what you’ve already tried. Plan what you’ll say ahead of time, being specific about actions you’d like management or HR to take.
    • Don’t be afraid to find greener pastures. Unfortunately, most bullying situations lead to the target leaving the job. If you don’t see any resolution forthcoming, it’s smart to polish your resume and start looking at what else is out there, in case things don’t improve.

    If you’re a boss looking to help your team bond and stave off workplace bullying, you might consider holding off-site training sessions. Away from familiar surroundings, in a more relaxed atmosphere, team members can learn together and connect. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

     

  • How to Multi-Task: Training an Employee

    Training An Employee

    As a manager, you’ve got plenty of responsibilities. You’ve got so many, in fact, that when it’s time to train a new employee it may feel like an annoyance, adding one more thing to your plate. However, since the right training can produce a valuable team member, it’s worth taking the time to do it correctly. The good news? You can do that without having to stop doing your job. Here’s how.

    • Take the time ahead of time to make a plan. First, look at your current workload, and determine your priorities at the moment. What are some of the less important things you’re doing, that you can set aside to give yourself time to focus on training the new employee? Next, create a document that details what you expect from the new employee. Make a copy of this document for yourself, and one for your new hire. Think about:
      • Your goals for the new employee’s first 30, 60, and 90 days
      • Which tasks you expect to delegate to this person
      • Meetings the person will be expected to attend in their first few weeks
      • Information the person needs, including links, calendars, logins, and details about team members and colleagues.
      • Necessary details about projects perhaps gathered from other teammates with whom the new employee will be working.
      • Questions and ideas that you have for the new employee
    • Carve out some space in your calendar. Training a new employee is a time-consuming endeavor, so you should be proactive about setting aside time to do it. Schedule a one-on-one meeting every day during the first week, but also set aside time for training sessions in which you’ll need to be involved. Time management is an essential skill when you’re adding a new responsibility like training, and it pays to use your calendar wisely, putting everything down so that nothing slips between the cracks.
    • Connect with your new hire digitally. Send the person a message on LinkedIn, welcoming him or her to the team. This is also a great way to help get your new employee connected to your professional network. Send an email, too, conveying how happy you are to have a new team member. You can use that email to address important details of the first couple of days, request any necessary information, offer to answer questions, and generally help your new hire be more comfortable in the new office on the very first day.
    • Delegate training tasks and assign a mentor. Your team is an invaluable resource when you’re training someone new. Delegate some of the new hire’s training to people who are comfortable in stepping into a leadership role, because this helps each of your employees develop professionally. In particular, it’s good to assign a mentor or buddy to show your new employee the ropes.
    • Don’t hover. It’s important to check in frequently during the first couple of weeks, but after that, your meetings should taper off. Your employees need to know that you trust them to handle things on their own, so emphasize that you are confident in their problem-solving skills. When you give them space to solve their own problems, you’ll be helping them to become confident, independent professionals.
    • Involve the rest of your team. Getting your new hire up to speed on projects so that he or she can hit the ground running is important, but it’s also important for your team to be Schedule in time for your new employee to get to know his or her colleagues, planning an outing or two like lunch, coffee, or drinks together. Put it on everyone’s calendar ahead of time to make sure everyone’s on board. If you’re hiring more than one employee at once, you might plan a larger event, to help your employees bond and learn to function as a team. You can work in some training sessions, but keep team building the focus, making sure to provide plenty of time that’s free from any discussion of work-related topics.

    If you follow these steps, you can help your new employee adjust to his or her new job without taking time away from yours. The goal, of course, is to have an employee who is a valuable and productive member of the team, quickly jumping in and getting up to speed. When you properly train your new employees, it helps your group to become an effective and unified team.

    One way to strengthen the unity of your group is to hold training sessions off-site, where team members, both established and new, can learn together and form bonds. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

  • What You Need to Know About Attending Your First Conference

    Attending Your First Conference

    You’re about to attend your very first conference? How exciting! You’ll want to make the most of it, learning everything you can, and networking to your best advantage. If the prospect seems overwhelming, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with these helpful tips on maximizing the benefits of your first conference.

    • Pack light, but remember the essentials. If it’s an established event, you can easily stalk the website to see what people are wearing. If not, bring some professional-looking basics that can be dressed up or down, as the occasion warrants. Don’t bother bringing notebooks and pens, as they’ll be provided for you, but do bring a large collapsible bag, into which you’ll put all the papers, freebies, and general swag you accumulate during the conference. One absolute “must” on your packing list is business cards, and it’s also smart to download the LinkedIn mobile app. If you’re going to pitch your product to anyone while you’re there, bring demo materials to make your presentation more effective. Don’t forget your chargers, and keep your devices charged during the event, so that you don’t have to be tethered to an outlet when you should be interacting.
    • Know before you go. Study the agenda so you’ll be able to set goals for yourself at the conference and devise a plan to meet them. Attend all the conference-wide events, then carefully consider the smaller sessions, determining which ones will be most useful to you. If you can walk around the space ahead of time to get oriented, that can be helpful. If not, make sure to study a map so you’ll know how to get around. Find out who will be attending, perhaps by finding the event’s Facebook page or Twitter hashtag. That way you can make plans to touch base with peers and customers, and maybe even book some time with prospects so that you can have their full attention for a few minutes. Plan to get to the event early, so you maximize your time by registering before it starts.
    • Have a strategy, so you can learn as much as possible. There will be a ton of information, packed into a short amount of time. By staying organized, you can retain most of what you’ve learned and keep yourself on track. Write notes on the back of business cards to remind you of conversations you had with the people whose names are on the cards. For sessions, consider digital note-taking, or at least make sure your notes are organized so that they’ll make sense once you’re home from the conference. Sit as close to the front as you can in the sessions you attend, and attend as many sessions as you can.
    • Plan to interact. Remember, conferences are about more than just presentations. Networking is an important part of the opportunity you’re afforded at a conference. Make sure that you don’t just hang around with people you know; you’ll learn more by interacting with your competition, colleagues, and the thought leaders in your industry. Make sure to briefly meet each speaker you listen to, as well as the conference organizers. Strategize even your meal times: don’t eat lunch with your friends, choosing instead to make new acquaintances at the conference lunches, then choose people you’d like to know better to invite out to dinner. Try to connect with both existing customers and potential prospects, focusing on providing information rather than closing deals. Make sure to take the time to walk the exhibition floor, because you may be able to get free products and services for your business, as well as interesting swag. The after-parties, too, can be a wealth of information, as long as you stay sober, get to know people, and don’t leave the party early. Don’t neglect the social media aspect of conferences, tagging your tweets and Instagram posts to further connect you with the event.
    • Don’t stop thinking about the conference as soon as it ends. Review the information you’ve collected while it’s still fresh in your mind, and share it with colleagues to whom it will be relevant. Immediately after the conference is also the best time to follow up with the people you met at the conference, while you’re all still fresh in each other’s minds.

    If you’re in a position to weigh on the place where your conference will be held, it’s important to find a location that’s equipped with the right technology and tools to facilitate learning. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on the high-quality equipment and exceptional service you’ll find at our training facilities. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

  • Team Building Activities Your Team Will Actually Enjoy

    Team Enjoying Team Building Activities

    What do you think of when you hear the phrase “team building?” Trust falls and sharing? Time with your coworkers that makes you want to run for the hills? As important as team building is for fostering camaraderie between coworkers and reminding them that working together is the key to success, it can be a real drag in practice. Fortunately, team building doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. In fact, we’ve got a few suggestions that will make your team want to come back for more team building.

    • Give them something to figure out. Present your team with a word problem or a jigsaw puzzle- the task itself is not as important as doing it. Give them a certain amount of time to solve the problem or assemble the puzzle together, making it clear that everyone must participate, and then take some time to talk about strategy, roles played by different team members, and why people made the decisions they did. This kind of exercise can be enlightening, revealing interesting information about how your team members think and how they can work together.
    • Complete an escape room together. These are becoming ever more popular, and it’s no wonder. They’re a fun way to work together as a team and accomplish something. If there are escape rooms in your city, checking one out can be a fun excursion. If not, you can create your own escape room, either on your own or by picking Escape Room in a Box.
    • Brainstorm together. Sometimes, the best team-building exercise involves solving a problem you’re actually facing as a business. Take some time to hash out new ideas together, cluing your team in on the problem ahead of time, and asking everyone to come up with a few suggestions. Throw everyone’s ideas up on a board, and discuss amongst yourselves to come up with some great solutions.
    • Learn about your personalities. Take a personality test together, and discuss the results. This is a fun way to get to know your coworkers, discovering commonalities as well as learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You may also learn something new about yourself in the process.
    • Host an old-fashioned “Show and Tell”. Get together over snacks and talk about what’s going on in your lives, both professionally and personally. Give people the opportunity to brag about accomplishments, talk about hobbies, and discuss projects they’re working on, welcoming feedback.
    • Do something that inspires healthy competition. There are many different ways to have fun competing with your coworkers. Maybe you’ll hold a desk decorating contest on a holiday, a cook-off or bake-off, or some other in-office contest. You might also take your team out for trivia night to let them show off their knowledge and work together. For that matter, you can invite a trivia host to your office and divide into teams to compete against each other. Board games are another way to loosen up and learn to work together as a team.
    • Do something worthwhile. Look for ways that your team can have an impact on the larger community. Hold a can drive, volunteer, participate in a charity walk or fun run, do some community service work, or collect money for a worthy cause. Make participation voluntary, so that your team feels they’re doing something meaningful.
    • Do something outside. Maybe it’s a ropes course, maybe a scavenger hunt, or perhaps participation in an intramural league. There’s something about being together in the fresh air that makes it easy to work as a team. It doesn’t have to be a physical event, either. If your team is more artistic than sporty, consider splitting into teams and making movies on a common theme, to be screened and judged on a particular date.
    • Tell each other some stories. Talk about work experiences, using trigger words to get everyone started. Alternately, you can talk about things that have nothing to do with work, perhaps sharing your bucket lists and explaining why each thing on your list has meaning. The purpose of this kind of exercise is to get people to open up and share stories, in order to better understand each other.

    One way to strengthen the unity of your group is to hold training sessions off-site, where team members can learn together and form bonds. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.

  • How to Excel as an Introvert in the Workplace

    Introvert In The Workplace

    Employees in office settings are commonly expected to intermingle with those around them, sharing cubicles and making small talk on their lunch breaks. As an introvert, you might prefer one-on-one communication or, quite frankly, to avoid social interactions altogether sometimes. Unlike your extroverted friends, you need alone time to recharge and help you make it through a busy work week. Here are some techniques you can use to excel as an introvert in the workplace.

    • Flex your creative muscles. Contrary to popular belief, being introverted isn’t a weakness. You simply need to find a job that maximizes your strengths. For instance, fields such as marketing, graphic design, writing, and editing require creativity and attention to detail, skills that introverts often have.
    • Consider freelance work. Many introverts are self-starters who don’t need the external motivation that extroverts require. This means you might excel in a freelance position working as a social media analyst, event coordinator, editorial assistant, graphic designer, copywriter, or proofreader. Freelancers tend to work independently for long periods without a supervisor breathing down their neck. This is just what many introverts need.
    • Look for a technical job. Do you enjoy thinking things over and taking a thorough approach to your work? If you’re this type of introvert, you may excel in engineering or science, fields that require research and problem-solving skills.
    • Find a company that communicates asynchronously. As an introvert, group meetings might turn you off. You may wonder why emails and group chat can’t get the job done. Many companies utilize such asynchronous communication methods to avoid breaking people away from their work while still providing channels for support and feedback. Find a company that uses technology to the fullest so you can benefit in this way.
    • Request a private area to work. If you’re already looking for a job where you can work independently, there should be no reason to share your workspace with someone else. Whether it’s a private cubicle or an entire office to yourself, having a quiet place to work is invaluable as an introvert.
    • Plan your tasks ahead of time. While extroverts tend to fly by the seat of their pants, introverts often prefer a higher level of organization and predictability. If your job allows for it, schedule the tasks you plan to perform at least a few days in advance. This may be critical to remain on schedule if there are multiple tight deadlines you must adhere to.

    If you’re a leader in your company, you can help all members of your team—introverts and extroverts alike—interact and get to know one another at training and team-building events. Texas Training and Conference Centers is the ideal place to hold such events. With our fully equipped, soundproof conference rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches, you have everything you need to have a successful event. To learn more about our services, or to reserve a training facility in Houston, please contact us at 832.982.1708 today.