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THE ART OF ASKING: WHAT DO I DO NEXT…

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“You have to know who you are to grow to your potential. But you have to grow in order to know who you are.” John Maxwell.

As schools in Uganda reopen for the first time in two years (Monitor newspaper, 2020), there is a growing concern of millions of learners, especially from humble families who may never go back to class, opening the lid on the far-reaching consequences of the country’s longest closure of the learning institutions. 
A report by the National Planning Authority (NPA) indicates that 30 percent (4.5 million) of an estimated 15 million learners in the country will drop out of school, stifling literacy levels.

The NPA report that was compiled in August 2021 and released indicates the deteriorating school dropout situation as a result of the effects of the Covid-19 induced lockdown where many girls were impregnated and became mothers while other learners took on menial jobs to earn an income. These categories, together with those with a poor economic background, are the most vulnerable to drop out. 

The NPA recommended a multi-stakeholder approach involving parish chiefs, village churches, and local cultural leaders, be adopted to implement a parish level outreach strategy for engaging families with learners that are at high risk of dropping out of school to ensure such children are re-enrolled in school.

Quality Management Services Ltd (QMS) company is committed to reach as many youth as possible by contacting churches at the grassroots and meeting with church leaders. Every month we aim to carry out free trainings to youth especially in poor communities. Early this month we carried out a training at a local church in Lusanja, a trading center, located a few kilometres from Mpererwe trading centre in Kawempe Division.

We were welcomed by the Anglican church, lay reader, Ms. Mercy Mugabi. The training took place under a tent with over 35 youth inclusive of 8 -year children. The area is not well developed. It is affected by the smell, polluted water and scavenging wildlife including “kalooli” or marabou storks. “The waste attracts pests that have made people’s lives a challenge. St. Apollo Kivebulaya church is located in Lusanja where we held the training and it is an area filled with garbage, a poor road defined by gullies and dirty water flowing in most places with a lot of holes and dust. A noisy man talking on a loudspeaker passed by in a truck as we (the trainers) competed to hold the attention of the youth.

We successfully delivered the soft skills training which majorly focused on positive thinking, positive attitude and importance of a personal vision statement. It was welcomed by all students and the elders who provided the facility. We asked the youth whether they had dreams. They shared their dreams with over 70% claiming they would like to become doctors. This is not surprising given the filthy, and dirty environment where they live.

Before our training the youth said they lacked self- drive, enthusiasm and motivation because of the effects of covid which had caused challenges like broken families with poor and negative mindset of parents towards their children’s future, deaths of family heads and lack of school fees.

After the training students said they were determined to change their negative attitude and thinking, they would share the lessons learnt with other youth, they promised to have the “I can, I will”, positive attitude, they would work hard at school with the aim of excelling in class and they would also persevere and strive to succeed in attaining their goals and their visions. 13-year-old Isaac Mukuye stood and said the training had inspired him to work hard, pass his school exams and become a lawyer.

ENGAGE YOUTH IN PROBLEM-SOLVING

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Emotional intelligence enables youth to have positive interactions with others, to anticipate their feelings and to experience appropriate levels of empathy. So, what then is problem solving in relation to emotional intelligence? According to Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. Problem solving enables you to identify and define problems then get and implement potentially effective solutions. It also includes the ability to understand how emotions affect decision making. This trait is much more about your ability to solve a problem and not let it affect you and the people around you. One needs therefore to work through the problem in a calm and simple manner.

Does it take a lot of emotional effort to solve a problem?

In cases where the problem is complex, one may have to use several emotions like patience, reflection and visualising several solutions before one takes the most logical solution to a problem.

For example, at the just ended leadership training of Makerere University Mastercard Foundation scholars’ program, several student leaders shared that they listen patiently to peer students who pressurise them to solve stress related problems like inadequate finances, relationships or security. Then they counsel them by asking them to reduce stress on themselves through exercise, reading, networking and then go ahead to think through possible solutions. Thereafter you take on the best possible solution in the circumstances.

When Problem Solving is operating well then you will use your emotions to:

  • Take in enough information to make informed conclusions, but not so many details that you are overwhelmed.
  • Keep a clear head on the pertinent issues, without becoming frustrated.
  • Generate motivation for others to act in a way that will achieve goals.
  • Likely to take action.

When Problem Solving is low you:

  • May prefer others to make decisions for you.
  • May struggle to keep a clear focus on the situation at hand.
  • Much of your time and energy maybe spent worrying about decisions rather than trying to solve them.
  • May prefer to deal with impractical problems rather than people.

Developing skills around Problem Solving

During Learning Cog’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Masterclass, starting with ‘Self-Perception’, you must assess you own emotional intelligence and how to develop your EQ awareness. Here in this blog I have added some areas to think about when developing Problem Solving.

Question 1:

How did youth manage their finances during the lockdown caused by the pandemic?

During the covid- 109 pandemic, we carried out training sessions to youth and children. The youth had problems such as lack of finances to use during this period. We requested them to identify the problems, write them down and then put down several answers on how they could solve these problems. Juliana a 22-year-old student pursuing her CPA shared that when tackling of financial  problems, she would put herself in a serious, decisive mood and examine at how much finances she had, how much she expected to get after a certain period of time and how she can think outside the box to create opportunities for herself to make some money.

Question 2:

How can parents help their children learn how to manage finance?

During this month of April, youth returned home from school, some from boarding schools others were day scholars. A few tips on how to tackle financial challenges using finances using emotional intelligence at the beginning of holidays include:

  1. Engage your children during these holidays in all types of problem-solving. This week if kids are having trouble handling finances in boarding school train them the best way they can manage them.
    1. Observation as a means to learn how others solve similar problems.
  • Who do you know who is good in their problem solving?
  • What do they actually do to solve problems (list the steps)?
  • How do they go about finding out information about the problem, in order to get a complete picture?
  • When trying to solve the problem, how much time are they talking and how much time do they allow others to talk?
  • Think and Reflect
  • Doing. Actually, go ahead to solve the problem.

The basics of spending and saving

Every parent wants their child to be financially responsible, and one of the best ways to do that is to teach them the basics of spending and saving from a young age. Explain to them how important it is to save up for things they want, and help them set up savings goals. At the same time, teach them about responsible spending – show them how to compare prices and look for the cheapest but durable solution in the circumstances.

The importance of budgeting

A big part of financial responsibility is learning how to budget properly. Help your child set up a budget and track their spending, so they can see where their money is going each month. This will help them make more informed decisions about their spending, and learn to stick to a budget in the future.

The value of investing

Investing is a great way to grow your money over time, and it’s something that everyone should start doing as early as possible. Explain to your child how investing works, and help them set up a simple investment account. This will teach them about the importance of saving for the future, and how to grow their money over time.

The basics of credit and borrowing

Credit and borrowing are a part of life, but it’s important to understand the basics before using them. Teach your child about interest rates, late fees, and other charges that come with borrowing money. And explain to them how important it is to only borrow what they can afford to pay back.

The importance of financial planning

One of the most important lessons you can teach your child is the importance of financial planning. Help them understand the importance of setting goals and creating a plan to reach those goals. This will teach them how to map out their financial future, and make better decisions with their money.

The basics of giving back

Teaching your children the importance of giving back is one of the most important lessons you can teach them. Help them understand how they can use their money to make a difference in the world, and encourage them to give back to causes they care about.

Every parent wants what is best for their children. One of the best ways is to teach them money management from a young age. This ensures they have a great knowledge of budgeting, savings, and finance early on. These lessons on money help them develop financially healthy habits.

Resilience as an emotional intelligence attitude

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What is resilience and why do you need it?

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover easily and quickly from unpleasant and damaging events. It falls under the umbrella of emotional intelligence, the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions.

One way to think of resilience is to compare it with the abilities of a metal spring: Just as like a spring can withstand pressure and return to its original form, resilient people can do the same.

Resilience is synonymous with toughness. It’s an invaluable quality because it can help you deal with repeatedly challenging events, to face pressure more effectively, all while preserving your mental health.

An example of resilience are kids learning to stand, walk, run etc. Or a child learning to ride a bicycle but continues on even after falling several times until they get it.

When this is your situation, follow these steps:

1. Take a break.

Like our story’s characters, we all reach a point where we’re ready to give up.

When that happens, it’s helpful to take a break. Doing so helps you to get your emotions under control, and recharge your “emotional batteries.” This will give you the strength to try again.

2. Embrace your feelings.

When dealing with pressure or repeated failures, you’re likely to feel frustrated, angry, and disappointed.

Don’t ignore those emotions. Instead, accept them.

Voice them out loud.

Talk to a friend–or to yourself.

Have a good cry.

Doing this will help you to recognize that it’s normal to feel the way you do. That it’s all OK.

3. Innovate

Think different. 

Try something new.

You keep falling but then you try again and again.

As a company we have been positive in all the challenges that we have met. The COVID pandemic that has and continues to be a global problem, has affected Quality Management Services Ltd as well. Instead of giving up because our core business in organizing corporate events has been largely affected with the lock downs, we have pivoted into life skills training of youth. Our 20-year experience of hiring part time youth during events enabled us to identify their challenges that hinder them in achieving their vision. This time as business owners, resilience has been a major attribute in keeping us going. We cannot and will not give up despite the slowing down of business, in Uganda and the world in general.

EMPATHY FOR THE OTHER PERSON

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EMPATHY

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”—Fred Rogers

In times such as these, providing empathy, kindness and compassion to our fellow citizens is the single most important factor in surviving the times of the CORONA pandemic.

What Is Empathy?

In its simplest form, empathy is the ability to recognize emotions in others, and to understand other people’s perspectives on a situation. At its most developed, empathy enables you to use that insight to improve someone else’s mood and to support them through challenging situations.

According to influential psychologist Daniel Goleman, empathy is one of the five key components of emotional intelligence – a vital leadership skill. It develops through three stages: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy and compassionate empathy. We discuss each stage in turn, below.

Cognitive Empathy

Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand what another person might be thinking or feeling. It need not involve any emotional engagement by the observer.

Managers may find cognitive empathy useful in understanding how their team members are feeling, and therefore what style of leadership would get the best from them today. Similarly, sales executives can use it to gauge the mood of a customer, helping them to choose the most effective tone for a conversation.

Cognitive empathy is a mostly rational, intellectual, and emotionally neutral ability. This means that some people use it for negative purposes. For example, those with a Machiavellian personality trait

may use cognitive empathy to manipulate people who are emotionally vulnerable.

Emotional Empathy

Emotional empathy is the ability to share the feelings of another person, and so to understand that person on a deeper level. It’s sometimes called “affective empathy” because it affects or changes you. It’s not just a matter of knowing how someone feels, but of creating genuine rapport with them.

This kind of empathy can be overwhelming. People with strong empathic tendencies can become immersed in other people’s problems or pain, sometimes damaging their own emotional well-being. This is particularly true if they don’t feel able to resolve the situation.

Anyone leading a team will benefit from developing at least some emotional empathy. It helps to build trust between managers and team members, and to develop honesty and openness. But empathy is most valuable when it’s combined with action.

Compassionate Empathy

Compassionate empathy is the most active form of empathy. It involves not only having concern for another person, and sharing their emotional pain, but also taking practical steps to reduce it.

For example, imagine that one of your team members is upset and angry because he or she delivered an important presentation badly. Acknowledging their hurt is valuable, and affirming their reaction by showing signs of those feelings yourself even more so. But best of all is putting aside some time for them, and offering practical support or guidance on getting through the situation and preparing for next time.

We would like to applaud Martha Osiru the proprietor of Enlight a vocational institute located in Matugga. Her vision is to help the under privileged youth from upcountry attain skills that will turn them into leaders as they pursue their goals to achieve their visions. Her passion has led her to areas in Eastern Uganda where she has identified youth from Kamuli, Iganga, Mayuge, Busia and even as far as Western Kenya. All the youth we have trained in soft skills have poor backgrounds and she has provided technical skills for them in a healthy environment where they have access to better facilities. THIS IS COMPASSIONATE EMPATHY.

We need more people to give out empathy to the less privileged.

Martha Osiru, proprietor of Enlight Vocational Institute excited as she gives out certificates

HOW TO HANDLE CRITICISM

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DEALING WITH CRITICISM POSITIVELY IS AN IMPORTANT LIFE SKILL.

At some point in your life you will be criticised, perhaps in a professional way. Sometimes it will be difficult to accept – but that all depends on your reaction. 

You can either use criticism in a positive way to improve, or in a negative way that can lower your self-W esteem and cause stress, anger or even aggression.

TIPS:

How to handle criticism as a teenager

  1. Listen honestly for a critic’s intention. …
  2. Decide if feedback is constructive or destructive. …
  3. Thank those who offer constructive criticism. …
  4. Avoid exploding in the face of constructive criticism. …
  5. Minimize encounters with harmful people. …
  6. Make plans to act on constructive criticism.

How to handle criticism at work

  1. Control your reaction. …
  2. Try not to take it personally. …
  3. Process the criticism. …
  4. Give yourself some grace. …
  5. Show appreciation. …
  6. Show humility. …
  7. Apologize conservatively. …
  8. Do not dwell on the criticism.

Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ

  1. Stop Your First Reaction. At the first sign of criticism, before you do anything—stop. At first it hurts. Make a quick move away
  2. Remember the Benefit of Getting Feedback. So ask questions how you can improve…
  3. Listen for Understanding. …
  4. Say Thank You for the feedback. As they save you from appreciation of their input as not many do.
  5. Use this to distinguish is it constructive. Ask Questions to Deconstruct the Feedback. So smile to show you have taken it positively and you are appreciative.
  6. Request Time to Follow Up. Ask for time to address their concerns.

Destructive criticism is negative. It can cause you to feel bad about yourself. You need to be aware of it so that you can create boundaries. The tone of negative criticism can increase stress, anger and hurt in you. A negative person can constantly throw the past at you. So still it is never really about you. tone in it. It brings out the desire to manipulate envy, unhappiness of the other person. They could be used to negativity. It can be a habitual habit of the other person or because they just want to hurt you.

7 Tips That’ll Help You Stop Taking Criticism So Personally (and Make it Easier to Move On)

  1. Embrace the Opportunity. …
  2. Remind Yourself You Don’t Have the Full Picture. …
  3. Pause for a Moment. …
  4. Choose to Hear Feedback Differently. …
  5. Plan In-Process Time. …
  6. Distract Yourself. …
  7. Remember—It’s Just Not About You. And thank them for the criticism which will make you better.

Learning to cope with criticism

Learning to cope with criticism is a key part of professional (and personal) growth, and when processed productively, can actually boost your confidence and be extremely valuable for advancing your career.

However, in the class of youth we trained this module, we asked them to share, if on the other hand, they were the ones required to give positive criticism. These are some of their suggestions:

  1. Be calm. Advise them to be receptive to criticism as no one is perfect and mistakes are done by everyone.
  1. Be frank and advise when one is in the wrong and give a solution to how it should be handled.
  2. Show empathy and go ahead and point out the wrong action in the other person.

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SUCCESS AND MINDSET CHANGE

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DITCH THE FIXED MINDSET AND TAKE ON GROWTH MINDSET

Carol Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success-but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability don’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals-personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, Chief Executive Officers, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.

One of our team members goes out confidently and talks to the boda boda man to wear a mask despite the harsh conditions of public ridicule.

TIPS:

1.   STOP FEARING FAILURE: Embrace your mistakes. Part of taking risks is being able to learn from your mistakes. A blunder can also be an amazing blessing because you can use your misstep as a jumping-off point toward something new.

2.   GET A LONGTERM VISION

3.   LISTEN TO YOUR GUT

Change the way you think

WHAT WORDS TO AVOID: 

I AM worried, frightened, upset, tired, bored, not, never, can’t.

Have you ever heard: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?

This is a lie. Words hurt.

Words such as stupid, dumb, loser, failure, and hate can hurt. Even words as simple as and, unassuming as can’tand quit can have a harmful impact on your life. They can paralyze you.

Words drive your Mindset.

4.   DEVELOP GROWTH MINDSET

Gain the ability to critically evaluate yourself- short comings and progress.

Those who have a natural growth mind set do better in life, and work smarter across challenging situations.

So teach yourself to love learning even for the youth teach them that that can do better, be smarter and succeed in whatever you set your mind to achieve. This makes you more empowered and you feel valued when you are appreciated for your growth mind set, encouraged to achieve more and hence your achievements.

5.CURIOSITY WILL KEEP YOU THIRSTING FOR MORE

You should never stop learning. According to Zimmerman, a thirst for knowledge is something that can never be quenched, and should be a lifelong quest.

“I can honestly say that no amount of knowledge is ever enough to quell my thirst in life to know, have and be more than I am today,” Zimmerman.

No risk, no reward. Push yourself to new heights

6.Find gratitude, celebrate others’ successes.

“Cultivate gratitude by celebrating and sincerely be happy for other people’s successes,” Zimmerman said.

When you acknowledge and delight in others’ successes, this helps you shirk feelings of bitterness or resentment, allows you to focus on the positive things you have accomplished as well.

6.Shun the negative, feed the positive.

As a rule, you reflect the characteristics of the people with whom you surround yourself. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn has said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”

7. Be healthy in mind and body.

Don’t discount the importance of both physical and mental agility. For example, intelligence with a growth mindset use this mental attitude positively for teenagers shows potential growth. They gain as they work hard and take on the challenges they face in their line of work or school assignments.

Zimmerman recommends embracing both, since they work together to keep you alert and focused.

8.Keep your energy high.

When you are feeling low on energy and neglect to work out for a little while, your enthusiasm and positivity wanes, which in turn allows negative thoughts to take hold. 

Zimmerman likened those negative thoughts to a river of energy running out of your body. “You lose your vitality and you are far less likely to attract all the positive things, people and opportunities that you want from life,” she said.

Physical exercise and positive thoughts assist with that, and give you a constant boost of ‘feel-good’ endorphins,” Zimmerman explained. “It all works to make it easier to attract positive circumstances into your life.”

CLEARLY TAKE ON A GROWTH MINDSET IN YOUR JOURNEY TO SUCCESS BY LEARNING POSITIVELY THROUGH YOUR CHALLENGES AND BRINGING OUT YOUR POTENTIAL.

WAKE UP AND LISTEN TO YOUR TEENAGER

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Improving self -esteem of your teenager will build their confidence

  • Do not become too busy for your teenager.
  • Get family time with your teenager and spend a few minutes daily talking to him or her and asking them what they have been up to that day. Show interest and find out who they have communicated with and about what. This gets you to find out their interests and shows them you are interested in their life. 
  • That hour should be a time to talk together about their body changes, fears and peer pressure they may be facing. Today the world through social media and peer groups seems to okay sex before marriage and teenagers laugh at those who try to tell them about the importance of purity. 

These issues all need to be talked about freely by parents and similarly the teenager must be able to trust their parents and talk about anything they face or hear about.

USE THIS TIME OF THE LOCK DOWN TO BOND WITH YOUR TEENAGER.

SOFT SKILLS IN THE MIDST OF CORONA VIRUS

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Leaders in institutions and companies must realize that soft skills inspire those around them and those they lead. These are key characteristics:

  1. Empathy: It should guide the way we do business today. You should be polite to all you meet in the organization, in all departments. Share, listen, find common ground and connect. Try to understand where and what people you are working with are going through and how they feel.
  2. Vulnerability: To make an impact, understand what it feels like to be hurt, feel pride, be exhausted angry and heartbroken all in the last six months. The current global climate is stressful, to say the least, so allow your team to see that you are human- this will make them work harder than you.
  3. Patience: Being patient with your co- workers, your bosses and those working under you, is key during this pandemic. Remember love is kind and patient. So exhibit both.
  4. Humility: It is said that the best leaders are those who praise others especially if they don’t have to. Give credit where it is due. Leaders who take a table spoon of humility in service of bonding with the people around them are the ones that continually come out ahead.
  5.  Generosity: For example give your colleagues time –a few extra minutes after a video call for clarifications. Be generous with your time and knowledge. Generosity circulates intelligence from generation to generation.

However the core competencies of great leaders are still the same. Drive, stamina and a keen eye for the right strategies. Though in these changing unpredictable times a leader must have good interpersonal skills to lead his team, and his company because he or she must be able to understand each member’s strengths and have the key to unlock each one’s potential while being able to connect with them.

HOW TO OVERCOME PROCASTINATION

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STRATEGY:

  • Recognize that you have a problem.
  • Figure out why you are procrastinating. 

So then:

  1. Change your thinking. Pull yourself into acting on your goals. Say, “Do it NOW” over and over again.
  2. Think positively and tell yourself you can do it.Stop telling yourself that you cannot do it.
  3. Eat your ugliest frog first without delay. Take action and get it out of the way.

TIME MANAGEMENT

This is the sequence of events in your life. i.e. what to do first, second, third etc.

What is the best way to use your time?

  1. Focus on things that will have the most immediate and beneficial impact.
  2. Ask yourself what are the priorities.
  3. Plan each day in advance.

Brian Tracy says, “If you do the right thing in the right way you will get whatever results you desire.”

Techniques to improve your time management

  1. Positive attitude. Repeatedly say aloud with emotion for example: I am excellent at time management. In a spirit of faith and commitment you will live it if you accept it in your subconscious mind. You will become what you say about yourself.
  2. Reprogram your subconscious mind through visualization. For example picture yourself as being efficient over and over again in your mind.
  3. Take quiet time to mentally visualize your perfect scenario. For example keep calm, in perfect control, happy and have a positive attitude.
  4. Imagine you are already excellent at time management.

WHAT EVERY CHILD NEEDS IS LOVE

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“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances”–Benjamin Franklin 

You know, money and material things don’t make your children or you happy for any length of time. I have met a number of children ask their parents to make time for them. 

Today, as millions of people, are forced to stay home, we need to ask ourselves how to add value to our children and help them become their full potential. So:

  1. Tell your child, “You are my child and I love you and I am happy you are mine.
  2. Tell your child, “You are special and a delight in my life.

This will build your child’s confidence; confidence to face difficult situations and people, confidence to seek you out and voice their challenges and joys. 

So appreciate your child as this will give him a sense of belonging .It will save your child the urge to be naughty or persuaded to do wrong, due to peer pressure. Show your child love. They will grow to show love to others too.