Here’s your sure guide to being the perfect employee

What boss doesn’t want a perfect employee? You might be saying to yourself that you can never achieve perfection. Well, you’re wrong you can and you will by the end of this piece. Achieving the perfect employee status is not an overnight affair. It’s a combination of small things over a period of time. You need to remember that the main reason your employer hired you in the first place is to make things easier for them, solve their problems. If they could do it by themselves, you wouldn’t be there.

Think of it as a business and you as an asset, if you are an asset that’s not making any profit and still racking up maintenance costs, would you keep you around? So if he’s paying you and you’re not contributing anything then you are more of a liability than an asset, call it an extra expense. You do not want to be replaceable. So to help you out with that, here are a few tips on how to direct the spotlight in your directions.

  1. Go the extra mile.

This might mean doing extra work, coming in an hour earlier or putting in an extra hour after work and the likes. It doesn’t mean that you have to do this every day, it could be a few days a week or when there’s some really heavy workload. And coming in doesn’t translate to you coming in earlier or staying later but getting nothing done, just sitting there surfing the web and doing your own things. That will only serve to waste your time and energy, and by extension the company’s.

Going the extra mile might also be you being proactive, take initiative. When you think of an idea that might solve a problem or improve an area at work, do some research and present it to the boss. This is unsolicited advice so you need to prepare well and be informed so that you don’t waste the boss’ time. It might not be the best at times but if it’s good and your employer sees your point he/she might just take you up on it. You might even get to steer the project since it was your idea.

  1. Take one for the team.

Sometimes at work we need to get our hands dirty, for the lack of a better word. There are those tasks outside our daily routines that need someone to handle and which nobody wants to do. You could be a sport once in a while and offer to do it instead of having the usual, I did it last time, it’s your turn, conversation with the team. Believe me it’s noticed, the boss might not say anything but they will have taken note. It could be that on a certain holiday/weekend there is something that needs to be done so they need someone to come to the office for a few hours. Grab the chance.

  1. Be presentable

Looks speak volumes, you might not say a word but how you dress says a lot about yourself. It might say you are meticulous and pay attention to detail, or that you don’t care. Keeping up with fashion or simply looking sharp might suggest you are well informed and pay attention to detail. It gives the impression that you are well up to date with the industry trends. Now, don’t get me wrong this doesn’t mean you go all out and spend on designer clothes, but if you can afford it hey, just ensure you keep it professional and presentable. It might be a subtle indicator but it’s an important one.

  1. The crowd is not always right

Sometimes being the ugly duckling is actually a good thing. So the team has formed a bad habit that has been inculcated in the company’s culture, it doesn’t mean you have to follow the crowd. Learn to stand your ground. If you feel like it’s not right then you don’t have to go along with it. The boss will appreciate your self-will.

  1. Establish your expertise.

Find one thing that you are good at and work on that. You know that one thing that when people want to get done there’s no question about who will do it? No one even has to say it, it’s just a known fact. In as much as multi-talented people are praised the old saying as cliché as it is it’s still true, the one that talks about being a jack of all trades but a master of none. Granted a few have been able to master and do excel in various fields but if you can’t hack it, don’t force it.

  1. Be flexible

Above I mentioned picking a field and being good at it, don’t mistake the point to mean that you have to be rigid. Once in a while you might need to step out of your comfort zone/job description and do something else. Go at it with an open mind, you might find that you like, and are actually good at the new task.

Here’s where I explain how you become perfect. Now when I said perfect employee I didn’t mean it in the sense that you do not error, but I mean in the sense that you are so good that even when you error those mistakes are easily overlooked, hence the perfection. In your effort to achieve the above you will have magnified your bright spots and thrown shade on your weak ones. Try it.

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If You Want to Improve and Polish Your Grammar for Transcription, Start Here.

For some, grammar comes easy, for others you have to work for it. Some grammar mistakes are so common that at times people often don’t notice that they made a mistake. This is because it has been repeated so many times that it’s almost become a norm, acceptable. Technology hasn’t made it any easier. The need to shorten your words so as to write more words in a given space and period of time, has had people coming up with the most ridiculous acronyms. The repeated use of such words has seen them embedded in our minds and at our fingertips. Transcription needs your grammar to be spot on and that being said clients expect transcribers never to compromise in quality no matter what. Below we are going to look at some of the most common mistakes that people make in grammar during transcription and how to correctly use them.

  1. Homophones

This is a group of words that cannot be exhausted in one sitting. We would need several articles just looking at these. However we are going to look at just a few to help us get the point. First a definition. Homophones are words that sound the same when pronounced but have different meanings and/or spelling.

  • Their, they’re, there

Their: This refers to possession e.g. Their house was robbed last night. When you think of this word think ‘belong to.’

They’re: This is the contracted form of they are e.g. They’re early for the meeting. The apostrophe marks the eliminated letter ‘a’.

There: This refers to a place e.g. She is seated over there. It can also be used in the following context; There are many ways to get to town.

  • There’s, theirs.

There’s: This is the contracted form of there is e.g. There’s a bug on my bed.

Theirs: This refers to the third person plural possessive pronoun e.g. The books that were on the table were theirs.

  • This and these.

This: Is singular. This book is mine.

These: Plural. These books are mine.

  • Here and hear.

Here: This is an adverb referring to a place or position. e.g. I want you to sit here.

Hear: This is a verb referring to the act of perceiving a sound e.g. I hear my neighbors singing every morning.

  • Who’s, whose

Who’s: This is the contracted form of who is e.g. Who’s in the shower?

Whose: This refers to possession, e.g. Whose book is this?

  • To, too, two

To: This is a preposition e.g. I went to bed at 9.

Too: Refers to ‘also’ e.g. I too have such a bag.

Two: Refers to a sequence/number as in one, two

  • Weather, whether

Weather: This is a noun to climate. How is the weather today?

It can also be used as a verb to mean endurance e.g. He will weather the storm.

Whether: This a conjunction and a synonym of ‘if’. E.g. I’m not sure whether to attend the conference or not.

  • Lose and loose

Lose: In relation to suffering a loss, the past tense form of it.

E.g. I did lose my shoe in the riot.

Loose: This is the opposite of tight.

E.g. The knot is loose, it might not hold.

  1. Punctuation

Apostrophe: This can change the meaning of a word entirely when it is added or removed, for instance on the words ‘it’s’ and ‘its’. The first one is a contraction of the words it is and the latter refers to possession. E.g. It’s sad that the cat bit its own tail.

Comma: These can bring out a variety of meanings depending on how they are used. For instance let’s look at this same sentence punctuated differently.

Let’s eat, mother.

Let’s eat mother.

  1. Nouns

The rule of thumb dictates that one should capitalize the first letter of proper nouns, e.g. names of people, institutions and the likes. But for someone whose grammar is a bit off they might get some things mixed up.

For instance when talking about say a library or an airport, when the name of the library/airport is mentioned you capitalize the first letters but when it’s not, don’t. What do I mean? Let’s try out a few examples.

I passed by the library on my way home.

I’m on my way to the airport.

And now…

I passed by Margaret Thatcher Library on my way home.

I’m on my way to Heathrow Airport.

  1. Commonly Confused Words
  • A lot vs. a lot: A lot (two separate words) is the correct grammar. Avoid using alot.

E.g. A lot of students don’t like exams.

  • All together vs. altogether: All together means collectively while altogether means completely.

E.g.      Put the plates all together in the sink.

I’m altogether worn out.

  • All right vs. alright: All right means okay, safe, good etc while alright is the informal version of all right. Avoid using alright in your formal grammar.

E.g. His writing is all right.

  • I’m vs. am: I’m, which is the contracted version of ‘I am’, is the correct spelling.

E.g. I’m going to bed.

  • Ok vs. okay: Okay is the most preferred in formal editing works.

E.g. In regards to the meeting Wednesday would be okay for me.

  • Yeah vs. yah: Yeah is the accepted version.

E.g. Yeah, I saw him yesterday.

  • All over sudden: These are three different words not one.

E.g. All of a sudden the clouds turned dark.

  • Favor/favour, color/colour and neighbor/neighbour: The Difference is the additional ‘u’. The words without the ‘u’ are American spelling and the one with is British spelling.
  • Maybe, maybe: Maybe means perhaps, whereas when you think of may be think of ‘might be’.

E.g.      Maybe I should skip the party.

It may be that she fell sick that’s why she didn’t come.

  • Already, all ready: Already refers to time i.e. previously while all ready means being prepared.

E.g.      They already cleaned the house.

We are all ready to go now.

  • Everyone every one: Everyone refers to everybody every one on the other hand refers to each one in a group.

E.g.      Everyone must have breakfast.

The principle thanked every one of the parents who came to the general meeting.

These are just but a few, as mentioned before the list is endless and cannot be exhausted in one post but more post will follow up with more. Feel free to give your suggestion/comments below on the same.

9 Sure Ways to Cultivate Trust Between Employees and Management

Image: Source
Image: Source

Trust is a key ingredient in the success of a company and many a times companies that lack trust between its employees and management often do not succeed. Why is that? Well, first of all for it to function, teamwork is needed. What happens when there is no trust between teams looking to work together? Everybody will be on the lookout for themselves meaning that their focus will be dived and directed towards their welfare and nothing else. Everybody has different goals so if everyone is focused on their personal goals they will be working towards different end goals. That being said a company cannot succeed when its employees are not working towards the same goal. How will you coordinate tasks? So are you wondering how to get your employees to trust you? Here are a few key tips that will guide you towards achieving that.

  1. Tone down on the scolding a notch.

As a boss once in a while you will find yourself reprimanding your employees when they error in their ways but try not to overdo it. This is because overdoing it will in the end result in them either disliking you or affecting their self worth. They will tend to feel like they are not good enough or that they can’t live up to your expectations apart from making them defensive. They will eventually give up trying. Disliking you will be due to the fact that they think you never see the good in them. So to be fair scold and give credit where it’s due in the same measure. When they error have a sit down with them and find out why they made the mistake in the first place instead of going straight for their head.

Approach the problem from a different angle, from an angle of concern and wanting to help. Once you identify why the mistake happened help them rectify it and actually let them do it over. This shows that you have faith in them and trust them to get it right. Once that is done be sure to let them know that they got it right next time they do it correctly. This is a sure way of giving their confidence a boost. For some it might take a while to correct their mistakes, be patient. However also learn to recognize your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. If they cannot do it , try their talents on other things.

It is entirely possible that you are trusting the wrong employee with the wrong task. Also avoid throwing blame around. Sometimes while in the process of holding a member of your staff accountable for one thing can turn into you blaming them for something larger. For example blaming the failure of an entire project on an employee’s mistake.

  1. Do more listening than talking.

Listening to your employees can tell you a lot of things you might otherwise have missed. And when talking about listening I’m not only referring to you listening to the actual words but also the subtle non-verbal communication. This could be their body language, their tone of voice, their facial expressions and so on. When you master the ability to listen and read your employees you will be more understanding, meaning you will be able to value their feelings more. This will open doors to open and honest communication. Granted you will be able to communicate more effectively with your team.

Personal opinions tend to cloud judgment so put aside your pre-formed opinions as you are communicating with them and try to look at things from both your end as well as theirs. The best approach to such an issue is trying to answer the question what and why. What happened and why. If you approach a situation looking to find out what happened and why, you will be more inclined to listen because you want to find out something. You are not looking to blame anyone or reprimand so as you will be listening, you will not be busy coming up with how you are going to scold them.

Avoid interrupting them as they are trying to make a point as it makes them feel like you are not interested in what they have to say. Make sure they know that you are always willing to listen. You might be surprised how open they will be with you. And don’t be mistaken listening does not always mean that you are in agreement. It only means that you are willing to get all the facts in order for you to be in a position to make an informed decision.

  1. Delegate tasks

Delegation of duties is vital if you want to win the trust of your employees. It communicates the message that you have faith in their ability. Bosses who always do things by themselves indirectly say to their employees that they don’t have faith in their abilities. Giving your employees responsibilities not only shows you believe in them but provides an opportunity for them to advance their skills. They might not be good from the get go but you have to recognize that growth is achieved in stages. They first of all learn the skill, practice it and then polish it. The reason that you are there is to guide them through this process. However don’t mistake micromanagement for guidance. Hovering over them and fussing over every little detail and task that they do will not do any good. You might as well have done it yourself.

Give them room to take charge with your supervision of course, empower them and once in a while let them learn through their mistakes. Set up incentives for them to perform well. This will make them want to improve on their performance next time. Remember positive reinforcement works much better than criticism and blame. Focus on what they are able to do rather than what they are not. For the areas that need work on, lend a helping hand. For example you can ask, “You are very meticulous but what can I do to help you finish your projects on time?” Rather than, “You can never finish anything on time.” The first approach compliments and points out an area that needs work at the same time. On the other hand the second approach just points out the weakness.

What the first approach will do is it will encourage the employee to continue with the good work and make them open to asking for help where it’s needed. The second option will only serve to make them defensive. All they will be doing so trying to come up with reasons as to why they did not perform in an attempt to defend themselves. You will be surprised at what a little pat on the back and encouragement can do. Sometimes it’s all your employee needs to unleash the great potential in them.

  1. Maintain consistency.

You have to realize that they listen and see what you do. Your staff notices everything that goes on in the office. Even that quiet one that rarely talks and almost never leaves their cubicle. The same way they notice things is the same way they remember almost everything. You should therefore maintain consistency, be it the message that you are giving them or the way that you act. Do you act nice towards them when the company performs and suddenly get mean when it doesn’t? Are you polite to them when you are having a good day and turn mean when you are having a bad one? Do you come into work early when you are feeling like it and late or don’t come in at all when you don’t feel like it? They may not let you know but they notice these things. You are communicating one thing today and another tomorrow. Soon enough they will start to mirror your behavior.

  1. Live up to your word.

When you promise your employees things make sure to deliver on them. Even when the situation changes try to keep to your word otherwise who will trust someone who fails to keep their promises? Make a commitment and follow up on it so that even when it seems impossible during hard times they will not have a problem trusting you to come through for them.

  1. Take responsibility.

Everyone makes mistakes and bosses are not immune to this. When you make a mistake instead of thinking about how they will see you as a failure own up to the mistake. Show them that you are no different and that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Trying to look perfect in the eyes of your employees does not work. A day will come when you will not be able to cover your mistake and they will see right through the lie. They will see you as a fake, instead you want them to relate to you, see that you are no different and that at some point you were right where they were. So acknowledge it when you go wrong, they will respect you more.

  1. Lead by example.

Ever heard of that saying, the best leaders don’t tell you how it’s done, they show you how it’s done? Well, it’s true. You want your staff to do something start by doing it yourself. If it’s time keeping, make sure you come in early. What would employees think of a boss that talks of timekeeping but comes into work at 11 a.m.? Live what you preach they will follow suit.

  1. Get to know your staff.

Learn about your employees either by watching them or better yet by having a face to face with them. Learn where they live, what they like and even the names of one or two of their family members. This reflects as concern to your employees, they will feel that you care about them, about their welfare and that you are not all about having them make money for you. Knowing them will even enable you to notice when something’s wrong with one of them. Maybe someone is having personal problems that are now affecting their work performance. Catching that before it spirals out of control will go a long way to help both you and your employee.

  1. Act on employee feedback.

After cultivating trust between you and your team it is very likely that they will be open to communication, this means feedback. Feedback could be positive feedback or criticism and you need to find a way to act on it. If they give a suggestion about wanting something improved that will make their productivity improve find a way of implementing that. Just be aware that it doesn’t mean that you have to implement all their suggestions. If they ask for something that you cannot give, have a sit down with them and explain why it cannot be so then propose an alternative.

The most important thing to note here is that creating trust between you and your employees will not only make them more productive but also help towards retaining employees. There is nothing worse than spending resources on training employees only for them to take that training elsewhere. With trust, communication both upstream and downstream will definitely improve and so will productivity. Your employees will be more willing to share their thoughts with you including new ideas and potential threats facing the company. You want to make them respect and trust you not fear you.

What they didn’t tell you about transcription.

Image: Source
Image: Source

So all I’m doing is listening to an audio and typing it out? That’s it? Sounds simple right? Wrong. In as much as it sounds all easy as A, B, C it’s not that simple. It can be for some people but for some, well, it’s not. Many confuse it with typing. In as much as transcription requires you to have spot on typing skills the two are very different. Transcription is more of an art that follows a given set of rules. Here are a few things you should know before delving into matters regarding transcription.

  1. Takes Time.

It takes time to master the art of transcription. You have different clients with different rules. Even those whose rules you have mastered will at one time have special instructions for certain transcripts. Some of these special instructions will definitely be out of your routine not to mention comfort zone. Imagine time stamping at every change of speaker or every 15 seconds or every time they say a certain word. Putting certain words in Italics every time the speaker mentions it or having to work with very technical terms. It can be tedious but if you are doing transcription you had better be ready to take on the challenge.

  1. Grammar skills.

Your grammar skills have to be absolutely on point. Why you might ask? Here’s why.

1. Homophones

You remember homophones? Those two or more words that have the same pronunciation but different meaning and/or spelling? Yes. You will get a lot of those in transcription. You might have probably thought that your English is spot on until you had to decide whether the speaker said there, they’re or their, this or these, healed or heeled and so on. The list is endless.

2. Contraction or possession.

These probably get the best of just about everyone the difference is a person whose grammar is good will probably catch the mistakes during the proofreading session. Did the mean its or it’s? Your or you’re.

3. Punctuation

Punctuation can completely change the meaning of a sentence. How about we use the most common example. A woman without her man is nothing. Now let’s punctuate that.

  1. A woman: without her, man is nothing.
  2. A woman, without her man, is nothing.

The punctuation made a great difference in the meaning of the sentence depending on how it was used. Another reason why your punctuation is important is the fact that some speakers do not have a lot of pauses in their speech. What happens then is that you end up having run-on sentences. The rule of thumb is, if a sentence is longer than three lines that is considered to be a run-on. If you are not careful you will end up with a paragraph that has two or three very long sentences.

Now, if your grammar is good you will be able to punctuate that long sentence and end up having shorter sentences without having changed the meaning of what was said. Place a comma here and a full stop there but again be careful not to have too many commas though. Yes it is possible to overuse and underuse punctuation marks. Mix it up  a little, one long sentence here and a short one there.

4. Autocorrect

The way MS Word’s spell checker is structured it can sometimes highlight grammatical errors that aren’t really grammatical error. If you do not know your English well you will correct the ‘mistake’ that really wasn’t a mistake in the first place. These can include anything from the spelling of names to the structure of a sentence. Also there will come a time where you will have to use your common sense when dealing with some grammatical rules. The best example is with how to shorten long sentences without changing the meaning. Where do you break off the sentence? Where do you put a comma, use a full stop or a colon?

Another place would be when you have to use the article ‘an’ which is normally used before a word that begins with a vowel. However there are those abbreviations like HR (for Human Resource) that when pronounced will sound like a vowel and thus require you to have the ‘an’ before the abbreviation HR. The MS Word program is not likely to catch this error but you should be in a position to.

  1. It is repetitive.

Transcription tends to be repetitive; you are seated for long periods of time doing the same thing over and over. Remember sitting in one position for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health. Also if your ergonomics are not right you might cause harm to your body maybe not now but later you will. So sit in the right position, use the right kind of desk and chair, take frequent breaks and stretch out. Check out a previous article titled work egronomics for more on.

  1. Quality of audio.

So you have only dealt with clear files so far and it’s been a smooth sail. Don’t be so quick to celebrate. Once in a while you will get one of those dreaded files. An interview that was recorded in a noisy restaurant, a recorded phone conversation with very poor reception or a Skype interview. Such audios take longer than usual to transcribe and it takes time to perfect the art of handling them.

There is also the matter of accents. You will definitely come across a number of accents ranging from the American accent to the British, Chinese, Canadian, Indian, Australian and Jamaican to mention but a few. For some like the American accent you will also find other accents such as the Texas accent, you might have to deal with slang mostly used by African-Americans and the likes. That being said you need to familiarize yourself with such. Watching a variety of movies to familiarize yourself with the different accents does a lot of good.

  1. Setbacks

Be prepared for setbacks. These can manifest themselves in many ways, power outages, internet hang-ups, a client requesting you to finish the audio earlier than agreed, your computer crashing. There are a lot of things that might possibly go wrong, so just to be prepared factor them all in before committing to a deadline to avoid disappointing your client. Sometimes you won’t be so lucky.

  1. Keyboard skills.

Ensure that your keyboard skills are polished starting from your typing speed to your mastery of the keyboard shortcuts. This will enable you to do more work in less time seeing as transcription pays per audio minute with the exception of medical and legal transcription that pays per line and page respectively.

Beyond the aforementioned factors you need discipline. Discipline in terms of time management, consistent production of good quality transcripts and maintaining open lines of communication with clients. If you are not able to deliver on time, let your client know why and when you would be delivering. If you do not understand the instructions, ask and get clarity. Get these right from the start and you are on your way to mastering the art of transcription.

Why Are Your Employees Dissatisfied?

How-Happy-Are-Your-Employees-Blog

Not everyone is satisfied with their jobs, some find it easier to just quit and look for other jobs others simply quit while others choose to stay for one reason or another. Dissatisfied employees are rarely productive, actually they are counter-productive and as such it’s important that the issue be addressed with care. The answer to issues regarding the resolutions of resolving employee dissatisfactions most of the time lies in the reasons as to why they are dissatisfied in the first place. On that note this post will serve to highlight and explain some of the main causes of employee dissatisfaction.

Underpayment.

This is the number one cause in employee dissatisfaction. One of the main reasons for working is so that we can earn money and in as much as some work for the love of what they do many are there simply because of the check at the end of the month. For many, money is a very big motivator. That being said when an employee is being underpaid chances are they are very unhappy. This will result to them underperforming or simply not performing at all. Some quit and some ‘hang around’ until they get a better job and instead of working they may choose to spend their time and the company’s resources looking for that other job. You know make extra cash on the side on the company’s dime.

disengaged-employee

Some just show up in the morning and decide to do their own things and leave at the end of the day having not done anything. They just want to make sure that they were seen at work. This routine might continue until either; the problem is resolved, they have enough and decide to quite or they are relieved of their duties. Others might even decide to sabotage the company. It could be by taking some of the company’s biggest clients when they leave or leaking sensitive information about the company that ends up being a PR nightmare.

Micromanagement

Micromanagement is a management style in which bosses or employers monitor and closely control the activities of the employees. It might result from the need to monitor the employees’ performance or from the lack of trust. In some businesses the intent to micromanage might have been good but the end products might be negative. This is because the employees may end up feeling like you don’t trust them. In some cases it might be true that the employer does not trust the employee thus the micromanagement but in others it might be a completely different thing. Now, the feeling of mistrust between employer and employee will most likely result to a buildup of animosity. They become unhappy, some suffer quietly but in some cases others choose to lash out.

If it feels very necessary for a manager to micromanager, in most cases it is not, then it is advisable to do it without it being too obvious. Make the employee feel like they have some wiggle room, that they can to do their work and make independent decisions without round the clock supervision. They should feel like they are important and that the management believes in their ability to deliver in their capacity. Isn’t that why you hired them in the first place? Why hire an employee only to tell them what to do? Granted some guidance and monitoring is necessary from time to time but for the most part the mode of delivery and the frequency is very crucial. Give the employee some freedom to make decisions too.

Limited career growth

Nobody wants to remain in the same place year in year out. Every employee wants to grow in their career. If an employee gets the feeling that they are stuck in the same place for a very long time and still the chances of growing in their career is limited you are going to have a very unhappy employee. And it is even worse if they feel that they are the only ones who are stagnant. If they have seen new employees coming and getting promoted and they are still in the same place that is a sure sign of trouble. Managers should make sure to make employees feel that they are learning and moving up the ladder. It might not even be a promotion but the employer could try having the employee take on more responsibilities.

Job insecurity

Job security is another important factor that contributes to the satisfaction of an employee. If an employee is feeling insecure they will not be productive because they will end up spending time being worried and preparing for the worst and very little time working. A company may use tactics such as investing in the employees through training and the likes in a bid to reassure the employees of their job security.

Poor working conditions

When employees are subjected to poor working conditions you can bet they will be unhappy. Such conditions can be anything from crowded offices, bad air conditioning, unsecure locations to limited office supplies. When the working conditions are not very suitable of course the workers will not be happy. In as much as not all companies are in a position to provide luxuries to their employees like all-paid-for meals, company cars and a corner office for everyone they should at least strive to make it comfortable and safe. The company should be able to provide the necessary resources to do the work. Something like the lack of simple office stationary is enough to have your employees grumbling.

Lack of appreciation.

An employee should be able to feel like their efforts at work are appreciated. If they do something worth a pat on the back make sure to let them know. It gives them a sense of accomplishments. Give credit where it’s due. At times some companies focus more on rewarding seniority instead of performance. A low level employee had a great idea that ended up saving the business a lot of money but instead of giving them credit the management decided to reward the head of the said department. In such a scenario the employee will feel unappreciated. They worked hard to contribute positively but the manager ends up getting the credit simply because they are the head of department and have been there longer.

At times the feeling of being unappreciated comes from not being consulted. If there are major decisions to be made it is not enough just to have top management make the decisions. They should consult all the employees. Consulting does not mean that the management has to implement what the employees want. It simply serves to A, let top management know what the employees think or want and B, make them feel that they are part of the team.

Overburdened/Overworked

In an effort to give employees more responsibilities the managers often times end up overburdening the workers. The worker then gets to a point where they have a lot of things to do that are either halfway done or not done at all. Maybe the manager was looking to give extra duties to get more out of the employee or exploit their potential but in the process they ended over burdening the employee. The employee then finds themselves in a position where they are taking on the new duties and neglecting the ones they were hired to do in the first place. When it comes to the review part it then feels like they are not delivering at all. While it is advisable to make your employees more responsible an employer should make sure not to overburden their employee.

Overworking an employee can also be seen in having them always putting in extra hours. Once in a while some situations call for employees to put in extra hours but this should not always be the case. Compensating for overtime is a good idea but keep in mind that your employees also have a life outside of work that might be suffering as a result of them working overtime.

Miscommunication

Miscommunication can present itself in many forms. It could be that there are no clear instructions in terms of what to do and how to do it. It could also be in terms of infrequency of communication or an employee having different messages communicated to them by multiple people. This happens when there are no clear channels of communication or chain of command. Miscommunication can also manifest in the form of limited information. Employees need to know what is going on in the company as such employers should make it their duty to keep them up to date at least on the most important happenings. New mergers, acquisitions, changes in management, company performance, profits or losses and the likes.

Keeping employees happy and satisfied is no mean fete but there are things that one can do to at least mitigate some of the common causes of employee dissatisfaction. From time to time try and evaluate your employees’ level of satisfaction. How? Ask them. This way the management will be in a position to catch the issues as they arise otherwise they risk a full blow out when the employees get to their breaking point. Have an open door policy or other ways of collecting feedback. Things like suggestions boxes might be considered old fashioned but you would be surprised how helpful they can be. Have incentives in place to motivate your employees and rewards to give credit where it’s due. Invest in your employees and to show them that they are in for the long term and that you are not looking to replace them. Remember it’s always the little things that count.

Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

5 tips to help you handle difficult transcription audios.

Just about every transcriber I know has encountered one of these audios. They drive you crazy and take longer than usual to finish. An unclear audio could be as a result of many factors. There might have been a lot of background noise, there is some interference with the recording material e.g. static, the connection was bad (the likes of phone and Skype interviews), audios with heavy industry-specific terminology, the speakers have heavy accents or the speakers were not loud enough etc. These can be really tricky to transcribe. For the experienced transcribers you may have realized that these ‘bad’ audios seem to pay a lot (it’s because they know how tough it will be for you to get these transcripts right thus the incentive). Good news is there are a few things you can do to handle such audios.

  1. Clear up the background noise. Some transcription softwares such as Express Scribe have the option of clearing out background noise. Go to the Express tool bar, click file go to special audio processes and click on background noise reduction. For some files you will have to do this more than once to clear it up (not that it will be super clear now) but it helps.
  1. Boost the volume. If the volume is too low and increasing the volume to max on the Express software does not help follow the same process as above but now click on the second option that reads extra volume boost, right below background noise reduction. You can repeat this as many times as you would like to get the desired volume.
  1. Speed up the audio. Sometimes the speaker is inaudible but if you speed up the audio you might actually get to hear what they are saying. Do this after you are done typing out the audio and you are doing a once over. You might actually get to hear some of the words you missed before.
  1. DO NOT slow down the audio. As crazy as this might seem slowing down the audio might actually make it harder for you to hear the speaker. Imagine this, the speaker was talking at normal speed (normal is not so normal to everyone some actually sound like they are rapping) so when you slow down the audio it might sound like they are slurring. Keep it at 100 or speed it up.
  1. Pay attention to what they are saying. If you are actually following the conversation in the audio you are more likely to get it right. This is because when you are paying attention there are those words or phrases that you might have misheard but since you know the topic of discussion you have a clue as to what might have been said. Now don’t get me wrong that does not mean that you type out what you think you heard but paying attention to a conversation helps you know where the conversation is going.

All in all if you are not able to handle such audios I would advise against doing them just because they pay a lot. You would rather reject such than take them up do shoddy work and end up with bad reviews/reputations. Reputation is of utmost importance in this field and nothing speaks more to it than your previous work.

Being Kenyan; Trying to earn that extra cash.

transcription

Now if you ask most people in Kenya what transcription is the answer would be, “I don’t know.” This is because transcription is not very popular in Kenya although in the recent years, say the last three to five years, its popularity has slightly increased. The spark in interest has emerged from the fact that quite a number of Kenyans have turned to working online given the busy schedules and of course the need to make that extra cash (9 to 5 jobs alone don’t cut it anymore with this economy).  As companies are realizing the benefits of outsourcing transcription services many Kenyans have taken that opportunity to make some cash. Some do it as a full-time job but many are still going about it as a part-time job. Reason? Transcription is not as easy as one would think. Listening to an audio while typing it out is not an easy task more so when faced with audios with a lot of background noise or speakers with heavy accents.

Another factor that has contributed to many Kenyans taking transcription jobs as a part-time job is because there are high and low seasons. Transcription jobs are not always available throughout the year. There comes a point when the demand goes down thus the need to have a back-up plan (read 9 to 5 job). Some have perfected the art of transcription; they are fast and good with just about any accent. We will call them transcription gurus. Of these some are kind enough to offer training services to newbies free of charge, while others do it at a fee (again, that extra cash does come in handy). Not many landlords would accept your kind gestures in lieu of the rent or are there any who would? No? Didn’t think so.

For those who are not lucky enough to be taken under the wings of the gurus fret not. This is the era of the internet. What is that popular motto doing rounds in campus again? What Google has I have. There are uncounted number of free eBooks and guides on how to go about perfecting the art of transcription online. All you have to do is have internet access, a computer, headphones and transcription software you are good to go. Then you can proceed to pray to God that you don’t experience a power blackout in the middle of your transcription.

If you  put in time and efforts it does not take long to master the art of transcription. The key is to have good grammar skills and get into the audio, really get into it. Follow what is being said, don’t just type passively. You are more likely to make mistakes this way.

Several pages have been formed on Facebook  bringing Kenyan transcribers together to form somewhat a community to offer support and advice to fellow transcribers. Such pages include Awesome Transcribers in Kenya a closed group with 11,725 members and counting, Transcribers Kenya: Working Online from Home and Creating Wealth another closed group with 2, 743, Reach Transcribers in Kenya also a closed group with 1313 members to mention but a few.

In as much as these groups are set up to provide support not all the members in these groups are here for genuine reasons. Some are out to make money by conning others. The admins of the group might try as much as possible to weed out such members but trust me there are always more of them lurking somewhere waiting for an opportunity. It could be through offering non-existent training services or bogus study materials at a fee or selling ‘imaginary’ data bundles or modems at dirt cheap prices. Always be weary.

For those not brave enough to go the DIY way there are well-established and reputable companies like Adept Technologies Ltd who are willing to hire inexperienced transcribers and even offer free training. Many have chosen to go the company way as it is ‘less risky’. They provide you not only with the training but also the computer, headphones and did I mention the internet. No spending money on data, just make sure you show up and be ready to learn. Yeah, nothing comes for free you have to put in the effort to learn and actually learn.

Workstation Ergonomics

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Photo credit: By Vanessa Day in her article http://www.victoriamassagetherapy.ca/ergonomics.html

Prolonged use of computers usually involve awkward postures, repetitive and forceful action that can lead to muscle injuries and nerve damage. The injuries may develop overtime and one might not notice until it’s too late. Therefore if you have to use a computer extensively be sure to adjust your workstation and posture while working to avoid occupational injuries.

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of computer-related injuries to watch out for include sore wrists, numb/painful fingers, lower back pain, blurry vision and headaches. Other areas that may also be affected include neck, shoulder, thighs and legs.

The best way to understand how to set up your working station is to first understand the natural positioning of the body. This is a position in which your body joints are naturally aligned. Below are some ergonomic tips that one can incorporate to reduce the chances of developing injuries.

Workstation layout

  1. Chair and desk

Maintaining a good posture while working at a computer is extremely vital for everyone. Though there is no single defined position try as much as possible to maintain a natural posture to make sure that you are not straining your body. To do this:

  • Use a fully adjustable chair. You should be able to adjust your seat height, backrest, pan and tilt. Your chair should also have a well-formed lower back support.
  • Regularly adjust your tilt to maintain a comfortable posture. It can be horizontal although others prefer to tilt their seats either forward or backwards a bit.
  • Adjust the height of the chair so that your elbows are bent at 900 and are parallel with the floor. Your wrists should be straight and your shoulders relaxed.
  • Adjust the backrest such that you are sitting upright and your lower back is supported. You can use a pillow if necessary.
  • The height of your seat should allow your feet to rest flat on the floor and your knees to be the same height as or slightly lower than your hips. You can use a footrest to support your feet more so if your feet don’t reach the floor.
  1. Keyboard and Mouse

When using the keyboard and mouse your wrists should be in a neutral position. A good keyboard should accommodate the mouse and have you should be able to adjust its height and tilt.

  • Position your keyboard such that your hands will be in line with your forearm.
  • Maintain your arms above the keyboard (and wrist rest if using one) when typing.
  • Avoid resting your wrists on the table’s hard surface as you will end up bending your wrists (either up or down).
  • If you prefer to use a wrist rest to support your wrists also avoid bending your wrists on them. Avoid resting on the wrist rest when typing, they should be used to rest your hands between keystrokes. Wrist rests should not be higher than your keyboard space bar.
  • Use a protective pad to protect your elbows if you need to.
  • The keyboard should be directly in front of your body and make sure to pull up to it. Make sure to leave enough space to use the mouse though.
  • Have your elbows at approximately 1000-1100. Tilt your keyboard slightly if you need to. When you are in an upright position slightly tilt the keyboard away from you (negative tilt) or vice versa (positive tilt) when you are reclined. The key is to maintain a relaxed posture.
  • Use a sizeable mouse as a large one may cause you wrists to bend uncomfortably.
  • Position the mouse close to the keyboard.
  • Release your grip on the mouse every once in a while to release pressure.
  • If you do not have an adjustable keyboard you can adjust the height of your workstation instead or your chair.
mousing ergonomics
Photo credit: By Vanessa Day in her article http://www.victoriamassagetherapy.ca/ergonomics.html
  1. Monitor

The monitor should be positioned in a way such that it is centered directly in front of you to avoid awkward postures. You should be able to keep your neck in a neutral position while viewing it.

  • Place it at an arm’s length so that you can easily focus on the screen. Those who wear bifocal or multi-focal need to adjust it to their most comfortable distance.
  • It should be placed at a height that allows your neck to be straight while viewing it. The top of the screen should be at or below eye level and the bottom can be viewed without distinct head inclination. Tip; your eyes should be leveled with the tool bar.
  • Avoid placing the screen near light sources. Try as much as possible to make sure that neither the operator nor the screen is facing the light source. If this cannot be avoided try tilting the screen so that the reflection is directed below the eye level. Also adjust blinds as needed.
  • Adjust the brightness of the screen so that it is neither too bright nor too dark.
  1. Document holder

Computer work means that once in a while you will need to refer to source documents. Use a copy stand to position source documents them directly in front of you between the screen and the keyboard. If there is not enough space use a document holder adjacent to the screen.

  • Position the document such that there is minimized the head and eye movements between the screen and the source document.
  • Ensure that the adjustable document holder is at the same height and distance as the screen. Consider the side and thickness of your source documents when buying the document holder.
  • Avoid excessive reaching. Frequently used items should be within your reach preferably within the reach of both hands.
  • Certain copy holders can double up as writing surfaces if positioned correctly.
  1. Phone

A number of times an operator will need to use the computer and the phone at the same time. Consequently they end up positioning their heads, necks and back awkwardly trying to use both devices at the same time. This is done when they cradle the phone between the shoulder and the neck in order to free their hands to use the computer.

  • Use a headset or put the phone on loud speaker to avoid cradling it.
  • The phone should be placed within easy reach to avoid over reaching.
cradling-phone-bad
Photo credit: By Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in their article http://www.techlifemag.ca/1431.htm

talking-on-phone-good

Additional working techniques

No matter how well your workstation has been set up or how good your posture is keeping the body in one prolonged posture will wear the body out. Try making slight movements from time to time.

  • Adjust the position of your neck, shoulder, back and legs. You can do this by reclining your chair or sitting upright. Flex your wrist, hands, neck, shoulder and legs.
  • Take short breaks every now and then. After every 30 minutes you can take two minute poses and after every hour take 5 minute breaks. Get up from your chair and move around. Try stretching your hands over your head.
  • Switch up tasks to avoid doing repetitive movements for long periods of time.
  • Keep your fingers relaxed when keying in and hit the keys gently.
  • Avoid holding a pen or objects when using the keyboard as it puts your hands in an awkward position.
  • Hold the mouse lightly and from time to time, remove your hand from the mouse and flex it.
  • About every 20 minutes remove your eyes and focus on an object away from the computer, approximately 20 feet.
  • Avoid hunt and peck typing techniques, mostly seen in unskilled users. This is because it tends to exert pressure on particular finger therefore chances of developing occupational injuries are high. It also strains the neck muscles in the ‘hunting’ movement.
  • Ensure your head and neck are in line with your torso.
  • Ensure your shoulders are relaxed and your arms hung normally at the side of your body.
  • Ensure your elbows are close to your body and are supported. They should be bent at around 900.
  • Ensure your lower back (lumbar) should is supported. Use a pillow if necessary.
  • Ensure your wrists, hands and forearms are in line and approximately parallel to the floor. Use wrist rest if necessary.
  • Ensure your feet are flat on the floor. Use a footrest if necessary.
  • Ensure your thighs and hips are parallel to the floor. Use a footrest if necessary.
  • Ensure your knees are about the same height as your hips. Use a foot rest if necessary.

Remember you are most productive and efficient at work when you are comfortable.