When we set up the Reading Club we wanted it to be all inclusive, covering more than just hardcopy books, so I’m happy to write about businessballs.com. I use it as a sort of online reference work which I dip into as and when I need it – most recently when we went through our annual round of staff appraisals.
businessballs.com is a website set up by Alan Chapman and covers organisational and personal development. The businessballs name was something Alan originally created for the juggling balls which he used in his training and development. The site’s stated philosophy is to be ethical, practical, innovative, compassionate and enjoyable.
It provides masses of “free materials, articles, and ideas for ethical personal and organizational development, compassionate leadership, self-help and self-fulfilment”. It’s been going for about ten years now and is used by about a million people a month – so I’m clearly not the only person who finds it useful!
It’s very wide-ranging, covering topics from human resources to lifestyle and environment and from leadership and management to writing and communication. There are straightforward articles on topics such as business process modelling, McClelland’s motivational needs theory, and neuro-linguistic programming, and there’s a great collection of tools, templates, team-building exercises, surveys, motivational posters and much, much more. Everything is completely free without any need to log in or register and all materials are free for you to use in your own training, displays, etc providing you include the copyright and disclaimer details provided.
There’s some solid, serious material, such as contract negotiation or quality management, but there’s also some fun stuff including explanations of cockney rhyming slang and advice on speed dating. I guess that last one come under self-fulfilment.
As I said, I’ve just used it as an aid when dealing with appraisal. businessballs.com has a useful article on this which I gave to a staff member who had never before been through the appraisal process. It showed her that appraisal is a two-way tool for the benefit for both the employee and the employer. And it gave her some background on the theories behind it all (e.g. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and SMART task setting). There are lots of checklists for the appraiser and the appraisee which we both used to make life easier all round. Also relevant here was the training, learning and development advice which talks about developing people, not just their skills and knowledge, and focusing on learning, not just training. My organization has its own performance appraisal forms but anyone who doesn’t have these can download a perfectly adequate one from the businessballs.com website.
At first glance it’s not the most beautiful website in the world and it does have a UK bias, especially noticeable when citing employment law, but the general content has something useful for everyone. Have a look and see what it can help you with. As a group we could certainly find lots to keep us occupied in the Recommended Reading section.