Fleet News

How partnerships can ensure that training achieves its targets

STAFF training for firms as large as BCA is not something that can always be done entirely in-house. Partnerships need to be formed to take advantage of expertise in specific fields.

As a result, BCA has a number of partnerships with the Institute of the Motor Industry and close links with the Retail Motor Industry Federation, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Institute of Car Fleet Management and Association of Car Fleet Operators, Manchester Business School and learndirect.

It uses senior faculty members at Manchester Business School for high-level management training and executive programmes, which focus on business strategy, problem solving and management techniques, covering what is often known in management-speak as 'thinking out of the box'.

Less senior people can also use Government-funded body learndirect to improve computer and other information technology skills. There are also leadership training courses run by the Army at Sandhurst and Branksome, which take promising future leaders in the company and put them through their paces, featuring many of the techniques the Army uses to teach potential officers to lead troops.

BCA also offers both levels of Modern Apprenticeship: Foundation Modern Apprenticeship (FMAs) and Advanced Modern Apprenticeship (AMAs) with external assessors working with candidates on a structured programme based around their daily work.

The firm is also an IMI Approved Assessment Centre and the IMI benchmark BCA's own in-house Certificate of Auctioneering.

On successful completion of the BCA course, members are formally invited to join the IMI.

Taking the approach that the best auctioneers are made, not born, BCA introduced a structured and integrated scheme that enables the potential within staff to be realised.

Using external trainers alongside in-house expertise, it ensures that its auctioneers gain the knowledge, skills and experience they need to be the very best in the business.

The difference a good auctioneer makes can be seen directly on the values achieved in the auction hall.

BCA is also a keen advocate of the Institute of Car Fleet Management, believing that the institute gives a better understanding of the dynamics of the fleet industry and an empathy with the pressures that fleet managers operate under.

More than 120 staff have studied for the Introductory Certificate in Car Fleet Management.

Are you a procrastinator or a producer?
WE'VE all met the sort of people who seem to live life in a continual state of panic, flying around at speed while yelling into the phone, yet seeming to have achieved little at the end of the day.

Then there are those serene types who are always on time for meetings, have tidy desks and still manage to get things done. What's their secret? How can they make more of the same 24 hours we all get in a day?

Often it comes down to time management. It is about self-discipline and organisation. How effective you are ultimately does not depend so much on the demands of your job as on the way you take charge of your time. An ever-growing industry of time management books and courses has evolved to meet the demands of the modern fleet decision-maker.

Consultant and coach Jean Marc Rommes, of Business Paradigms lists the following basic guiding principles:

  • Calculate: Find out how much your time is worth. This can help you decide on task priorities and what you should or should not be doing (see Putting a Monetary Value on Your Work Time panel below).

  • Prioritise: In The Seven Principles of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey argues convincingly that handling urgent matters first may not always be the best way of managing your time (see Effectiveness Quadrant panel below).

  • Plan: Making a list of your tasks for the following day the night before will give you a head start in the morning. It will bring the added benefit of clearing your mind after work and reduce the likelihood of waking up at 4am, realising you forgot to prepare a vital document.

  • Diarise: Organise important or time-consuming to-do items such as appointments. Block out the appropriate amount of time in your diary for them and only agree to change them for the most pressing of reasons. If you do this long enough in advance, you also reduce the chance of accepting non-essential appointments.

  • Simplify: Cut down on administration time wherever possible. Set up a filing system whereby you touch every piece of paper only once, sorting as you go according to the 'Do, Delegate, Delay, Dump' principle.

  • Reduce: Do fewer things at the same time. Contrary to widespread opinion, for most of us multi-tasking does not work. Multi-tasking reduces the attention you give to each of your activities, thereby increasing the likelihood of error. Talking to someone on the phone while tapping away on the keyboard may give you a sense of efficiency – yet how well are you really listening to the person on the other end? And if you are typing because you are not really interested in the conversation, should you be having it in the first place?

  • Leave on time: Be on time, wherever you go, whoever you meet. Plan some buffer time for unexpected delays or tasks that suddenly take longer. This way you will be on time even if something crops up and helps keep your stress levels down.

  • Relax: Every day, build in some time for doing nothing – have a proper lunch, or a stroll, or just some quiet thinking time. Unmanaged stress is our worst time-waster. Being well rested and ensuring you keep a sense of perspective will make you more productive and enable you to enjoy better relationships with clients and colleagues.

    Top management tips to make the most of your time

  • Don't procrastinate: The longer you put off a task, the more time you are wasting that could be used to do that task or something else.

  • Put a monetary value on your time: Work out how much your time is worth in pounds and pennies and decide on that basis whether things are worth doing.

  • Do the right work at the right time: If you are a morning person, you should save 9am for intellectual tasks and save the routine stuff for your low-energy moments.

  • Judiciously automate: Find ways to do things faster by using technology to decrease the time it takes to get something done. Sometimes automation will seem like a time-saver, but practical experience will show that it's not.

  • Screen calls: An answer-machine will enable you to field non-productive conversations.

  • Change locations: If you have work you need to do and it is not getting done because of constant interruptions, consider spending a day or part of a day doing the job at home. Or consider turning off the phone or screening calls for a couple of hours to get an important project done.

  • Employ a system that suits you: It doesn't matter whether you use a computer diary, a Palm Pilot or a notebook and a pen, but find a system that works for you. Some people like the feeling of crossing items off a paper to-do list, while others prefer to keep things on the computer and use the computer alarms to remind them when to make a call or carry out a task.

  • Arrange to-do lists: Once you have a to-do list, organise it into what needs to be done today, long-term deadlines and future items. Reshuffle the list as needed: Re-evaluate tasks and priorities as your day proceeds to make sure you have enough time for a proper lunch break.

  • Leave time for the unexpected: When planning your working week, allocate a number of hours for tasks you need to get done. Use the remaining unscheduled time for the unexpected.

  • Clean up as you work: Like preparing a meal, cleaning up as you go along is a lot easier than waiting until the meal is cooked and eaten, leaving a monumental clean-up on your hands. So put a file away immediately after you're done with it.

  • Forget useless filing: Instead of spending time filing items you'll never need or forget how to find, decide whether you even need that piece of paper. You might be able to find the information faster and more time efficiently elsewhere. For example, if you read an interesting article online and know you can always go back to the website for a copy, don't bother printing it out and filing it.

    Putting a monetary value on your work time
    Here is a simple way to evaluate how much your time is worth. It can give you a rough indication of which tasks you should do yourself and which you should consider delegating:

    1. Write down your gross annual salary
    2. Add any bonus/commissions
    3. Add 30% of answer (1) for pension, national insurance etc
    4. Add 50% of answer (1) for office space, heating, lighting, telephone, travel, administration help etc
    5. Divide the total (4) by number of annual working days:
    6. Divide the total (5) by average daily hours worked:
    7. Divide the total (6) by 60

    Cost per hour: £
    Cost per minute: £

    Knowing the real value of your time, you can now work out how much the following activities cost:

    A document that takes you 10 minutes to find
    Recovering from a computer crash
    An unexpected job that takes you 45 minutes
    Waiting at a meeting for latecomers, say half an hour
    A two-hour job that your assistant could learn to do
    Dealing with five-minute interruptions
    Over-running a meeting by 15 minutes because of chitchat

    Effectiveness quadrant

    ##Careerdevelop--none##

    THIS time management matrix divides tasks or activities into four quadrants characterised by urgency and importance of activities. Quadrant 1 comprises tasks that are both urgent and important, and that may constitute a drain on energy and composure, including crises and 'fire-fighting', pressing problems and deadline-driven projects.

    Quadrant 2 activities are important but not urgent and are the basis of effective and productive personal management. They include medium and long-term planning and organisation, prevention, relationship-building, discovering new opportunities and recreation.

    Quadrant 3 is urgent but not important, described as 'an endless reactive process' of interruptions, some calls and meetings, reports and activities.

    Quadrant 4 tasks are neither urgent nor important, 'the core of procrastination', and comprise trivia, time-wasting and escapist activities.

    Effective managers spend more time on Quadrant 2 planning-type tasks than on Quadrant 1 problems, though these may be impossible to eliminate completely as they are often a matter of daily survival. The goal for managers should be to focus on Quadrant 2 activities as much as possible, while avoiding wasting time in Quadrants 3 and 4.

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