Friday, August 1, 2008
Being a Young Manager,
July Consumer Confidence: Unexpected Gains,
Understanding Your Credit Score
Being a Young Manager
Your time in the military served you well, and you’ve been promoted to a leadership position generally reserved for those with MBAs and a decade of experience. Will you command the respect you deserve? Will you be able to lead your team? Indeed, you will face many new challenges, but they will not be insurmountable.
First, remember that senior management has recognized your success and talent. Understand that these are men and women with years of corporate experience and have learned how to spot and develop key talent. When jokes are made at the expense of your age, smile politely, and prove your worth over time. Do not underestimate yourself, and trust that your supervisors have made the correct decision.
Perhaps the best advice for young managers is to foster a sense of teamwork for employees of all ages. Let them know that you are there to collaborate and come up with the best solutions, not just dictate. Giving your subordinates a sense of fear or unease will only contribute to their disrespect. Creating a sense of ownership and accomplishment will allow employees to feel appreciated and, in return, give respect to those who were there to lead them to victory.
It is definitely a wise idea not to suddenly become a know-it-all. It is always better to maintain a humble attitude. If you do not know the answer to something, suggest that you will get back to the person at a later time with the information.
Finally, it is important to coach, not direct your employees. This will allow them to see your value, as well as gain a competitive edge in your market. According to the The American Management Association (AMA), a world leader in professional development, coaching is defined as “a short- to medium-term relationship between a manager or senior leader and a consultant (internal or external) with the purpose of improving work performance."
The AMA released a study in May 2008 detailing global best practices in coaching employees. The report, titled Coaching: A Global Study of Successful Practices, found that coaching allowed for a competitive edge. Organizations that trained their managers to use coaching to manage their employees found they were doing better in their competitive market versus similar organizations that did not employ coaching as a method of managing employees.
In order to be a successful younger manager, remember to be patient. You should also remember to employ coaching. Understand that it may take a little longer to gain respect than it would if you were ten years older or had more corporate experience, but that you were hired for the position for a reason.
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July Consumer Confidence: Unexpected Gains
The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers are monthly surveys of consumer attitudes and expectations about the U.S. economy. They are important because they provide a gauge of how consumers view anticipated changes in the economy. Perhaps the most important portion of the survey is the Index of Consumer Expectations, which is an official part of the U.S. Index of Leading Economic Indicators.
Consumer confidence unexpectedly rose during the month of July after a 28-year low. The majority of the country does, however, believe that the U.S. is in a deepening recession. Consumers complained of higher gas and food prices and smaller income gains.
The preliminary July reading for the index of consumer confidence rose slightly to 56.6% from June’s 56.4%. The small increase was primarily due to retail discounts, but, overall, the consumer sentiment remained depressed. More than nine out of ten consumers believed that the economy is in a recession and that it will deepen in the coming year. The question remains will the Federal Reserve decide to keep interest rates low in order to support growth or raise interest rates to soften price increases.
Understanding Your Credit Score
Perhaps one of the most asked questions at the nation’s top credit reporting agencies is the following, “What can I do to clean up my credit?” Before this question can be answered, however, a basic understanding of credit reporting is needed.
Credit scoring ranges from 300 (very low) to 800 (very high). A score below 620 is generally considered “not good.” Credit scores greater than 720 are considered excellent.
Financial guru Suze Orman says that up to 35% of your credit report is determined by paying your bills on time. It is the single biggest factor in your credit score. Also, pay attention to your debt-to-credit ratio. This is the amount you owe on your cards as a percentage of your outstanding credit limit. This ratio accounts for 30% of your score. The best way to keep it low is to keep your balances low.
How long you have had an account makes up 15% of your score. So, it is important to have a good credit history with one or more companies over a long period of time. Keep in mind if you cancel an open card, the history is erased.
Finally, you want to keep the amount of cards you have open to a minimum. Applying for a lot of credit will also keep your credit score down. Your pattern of opening and applying for new accounts determines 10% of your credit score. Your mix of cards; retail, credit cards and installment loans accounts for another 10% of your credit score. The smaller the number of credit cards, the better.
Steve Ely of Equifax, one of the largest sources of consumer and commercial credit data, explains that there are steps that can be taken when a credit score drops below 720.
Most importantly, pay your bills on time.
Set a goal of keeping at least 50% of your available credit open on each of your credit cards.
Do not open too many new lines of credit at one time.
Always keep a watchful eye on your credit, and report any discrepancies.
Applying these simple rules can keep credit scores high and avoid messy application processes. More information can be obtained by visiting www.equifax.com or www.ftc.gov.