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Working Smarter – Planting Seeds to Earn Employee of the Year To be awarded with the employee of the year and maybe even having your own plaque posted on the wall is the highest of rewards for some employees. With all the competition in the workplace, becoming the employee of the year is not an easy task. One of the first steps to becoming employee of the year is to be a good worker. Being a good worker actually includes lots of different strategies. A good worker is always on time and never leaves early without permission. Of great benefit to you as well as to others is to make sure that you have a pleasant attitude and lots of motivation. The lack of motivation in a workplace can slow down productivity immensely and if your boss sees that you are one major motivator in your department, a small seed towards that plaque is already planted. A good worker is also very well organized and works in an efficient manner. Efficiency with high quality results is a great combination to add more seeds to sprout your career and reach your goal of being the employee of the year. In some companies there is an employee awarded every month. The employee of the month gets awarded for his outstanding work and contribution to the company over the course of the month. Sometimes to become the employee of the year, you need to get several or the most of the employee of the month awards. But since you are trying to be the employee of the year, you must already try to be the best employee every month. You should have a chance for one or more of the monthly awards. Becoming employee of the months is one important seed to harvest your crop, the employee of the year award. Often times, it also helps to have a good relationship to your boss. A relationship of mutual respect, somebody your boss can rely on, likes to exchange ideas and just plain small talk with, are all important. Become his ally and best worker, but do not over do it. Sometimes in the effort to become employee of the year, you try too hard to be somebody you are not in order to show off in front of everybody and forget that working in a businesslike or industrial setting also means teamwork. Try to be a leader and show respect for others at your workplace. If you are just trying to take away work and glory from others, you will soon be the person nobody wants to go to. To become the employee of the year, you need to be a resource for others, help with their daily problems and most of all, respect them and recognize their accomplishments. If you are working in the team, everybody needs to feel welcome and feel like he or she is contributing. As you can see, just doing the most work will not get you the employee of the year reward. Accomplishing many other things at the same time is just as important as the amount of work you correctly and timely deliver. That is why the process of getting awarded is more like planting seeds in the field and seeing them sprout. It is not just one action; it takes many different actions to become the employee of the year. Possibly one of the most important facts at the end of the year-- do not expect that it is you that gets the award. Be humble, think of others that did also tremendous amounts of work and tried to be motivated throughout the year. Do not be disappointed if it is not you.

Communication Key to a Better Work Environment Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carole. On Christmas Eve, poor Bob Cratchit, who is working late again, spends his day working up the courage to ask his boss, Mr. Scrooge, if he can have Christmas Day off from work to spend with his family. When he finally does get up the nerve to ask, Mr. Scrooge lets forth a tirade over lazy people using Christmas as an excuse to have a day a off from work. This fictional story unfortunately rings true for a lot of people who have to work up the courage to ask for things from their employers. An employee who has to feel about their employer the way Bob Cratchit felt about Mr. Scrooge is not a very happy and productive employee. To get the most of out of your workers, you have to create a much more hospitable working environment. To create a better working environment, keeping the lines of communication open is absolutely crucial. How does communication work in your office? Do you get the impression that everyone is walking around on eggshells around you? While this kind of fear from your employees may be good for your ego in some senses, it is really bad for your business. When your employees don’t feel like they can talk to you, you will lose control over what is going on with your business. You may be the boss, but your employees are the ones who are actually on the front lines. To know what is really going on out there, you need your employees to communicate honestly with you. If they feel that you are unapproachable, they will hide problems and concerns from you, and you won’t be able to act to fix them. You can’t expect to run your business with half of the information about what is actually going on, and so your business will suffer for your “mean boss” routine. There are still other problems with creating an office environment in which your employees feel like you are unapproachable. In general, there will be a dark cloud over the office when you are around. The stress will keep employee morale low, and employees with low morale are employees with low productivity. Besides, who wants to work hard for someone they cannot approach or who doesn’t show they any respect? Shutting down those lines of communication will definitely affect your bottom line as employees “phone it in” because they don’t feel invested in making your business a success. If you want a better working environment, you have to improve the lines of communication. If there has been a communication breakdown in the past, take the time to address it with your staff. If you staff is small, talk to them each one on one, letting them know that your door is always open and that you want more regular communication with them. If you have a larger staff, schedule a meeting to address the issue. Weekly office meetings are a great way to keep communication channels open and swap ideas in the office environment. If weekly meetings are not feasible, find some way of touching base with your staff on a regular basis, either through weekly emails or a weekly newsletter. Also, you should encourage your staff to communicate with each other. Sharing information among the staff is a great way to generate fresh ideas and fresh approaches to problems. If your office is suffering from a communication problem, make nipping it in the bud a priority. The pay off will be more productive workers and a whole lot less stress. Who knew work could actually be a pleasant place to be?

Web Hosting - Databases, What Are They and Do You Need One? 'Database' is one of the most commonly used terms that one encounters in web site design. Yet, what they really are and whether they're essential is often not clear to novices. A database is a collection of organized data, stored in files that have a specific structure. It's that organization and structure that allows for easy and rapid storage and retrieval. The need for a database generally only arises when you have a certain amount of information and that information needs to have some structure. If you have a half-dozen names and addresses to store, a database is usually overkill. If you have a blob of data with no relationships between any of the items in that blob, maintaining a database is usually more trouble than it's worth. Maintain a database? Yes, like other complex systems a database, to be effective, needs to be designed properly at the outset then kept 'tuned' for good performance. The alternative is to gradually allow the database to become more and more disorganized. That leads to difficulty in use, poor speed of retrieval and more frequent failures. With MySQL, Access or MS SQL Server, the three most common choices of database product for web sites today, setting up a database is relatively simple. Even those with limited technical skill can get one up and running just by following some simple instructions. But some thought should be given to how you want the information organized, and to maintaining the system during its lifetime. Suppose you have a set of names, addresses, email addresses, products purchased, date purchased and amount. If you have only a few dozen records it matters very little how these pieces are arranged and related. A database usually isn't even warranted in this scenario. Once you have several thousand or more records, it matters a lot. Speed, the ease of expanding the set of attributes (like adding, say, product category), and other issues come into play. Even those with little technical expertise, but a willingness to exert logical thought and invest some time, can build a very robust database. Think about how you would organize a set of data (called 'tables'). Should Name, Address, and Product be in the same table? Or should the personal information be stored in one table and any product information (product, price, ...) in another? Some experimentation may be needed to get it right, but the choices have an impact on how easy the tables are to maintain. It also affects the speed with which programs can fetch old data and store the new. Having a database also introduces new maintenance issues for the server administrator, since backups usually need to be done differently. Recovering a failed database is usually more complicated than simply re-copying files from yesterday. Ask your hosting company what tools and skills they have for dealing with any database system you consider. It's true that introducing a database creates more complexity and the need for additional thought and administrative effort. At a certain level, professional expertise will be needed. But clearly the advantages outweigh the costs in many cases. Companies large and small eventually use databases to store and organize data. At some point, you may be fortunate enough to be one of them.

Extra! Extra! Getting into the Newspaper Business (writing news articles) The news is now and those who write it know the stories first. Getting into the newspaper business can be difficult because of the competitive nature of the news. The successful reporter needs to be organized, efficient and able to work under extreme pressure. The flip side is that a newspaper writer is almost always a celebrity. If he or she works for a large newspaper, his name may be known all over the country. If he only works for a small town paper, that town will recognize his name. Writing news articles involves ups and downs, so read on to learn more about it. Newspaper Overview A newspaper office is an interesting place to be. Bright and early at eight o’clock in the morning, the office is quiet and dark. As the rest of the world is counting down the minutes to quitting time, the reporters’ desks start to fill up with hurried typing and flipping through notes. Well after dark, the last stories get wrapped up and put to bed. They may have been changed a couple of time as new developments occurred. Some stories written will make it to the front page. Some stories though will get significantly cut or cut from the paper all together. Writing news articles may be very rewarding, but it also requires a different kind of lifestyle than most careers. Becoming a Reporter If you are interested in writing news articles, you may also be interested in learning a little bit more about what is involved in becoming a reporter. Writing is a very important piece of being a successful reporter. Writing news articles involves close attention to journalistic style. Most full time reporters have journalism degrees. Those that don’t have learned to imitate the style with precision. A good journalist must learn the art of interviewing a subject. Freelancing If the full time reporting job is not for you, look into writing news articles on a freelance basis. It will help if you develop a relationship with the editor of the newspaper you intend to write for. Since so many people want to see their names in print, it can be hard to break into the freelance newspaper business. Writing news articles on a freelance basis requires a good eye for newsworthy topics as well as a thorough and fair representation of the facts. Freelancing takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if the editor doesn’t like your work initially. If you keep trying, you’re bound to stumble onto something great. Once you are in and an editor likes you, you’ll be able to work more freely. What’s News? Before you are ready for writing news articles, you should be ready to judge for yourself what news is and what it is not. Regular reporters are assigned stories to write, so they rarely have to come up with topics on their own. Freelancers write their stories and then try to sell them. The first rule about deciding what is news is that if someone asks you to write about it, it’s not news. You should have to dig up the good stories. If you need inspiration, just start talking to people. Get to know a few of the prominent people in your community. Build relationships and keep asking questions. The stories will come out eventually. You can also take a tour of your community with your eyes wide open. Look for anything suspicious, dangerous or exceedingly beautiful. Take your camera wherever you go just in case you happen to be an eyewitness to something newsworthy. Writing news articles can be done as a career or as a freelance pursuit. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to lead a life with some adventure. The news is always happening and it’s always something new.