All posts by Ali Jackowski

Earn Free Training Deal in July

Free training deal - Summer learningIced tea is brewing; suntans are getting darker; barbecue grills heating up. Summer is here! While the kids are heading off to summer camp (or at least the local pool), why not take some time to focus on yourself?  Mission Critical Training is offering a hot summer training deal, to get you inspired and moving ahead in your career.

Summer Savings Deal

For every class you take during the month of July, we will send you a voucher for another class of your choice, of equal duration, gratis! Vouchers are good for classes through the end of the year. This deal doubles you learning power, dollar for dollar. Take a half day class, get a voucher for another half day class; take a full day course, get a full-day voucher. There is no limit on the number of vouchers you can earn: Take more classes in July, get more vouchers for use later in the year.

Here is the fine print:
  • Registrations must be for classes on our public class calendar, scheduled to run in July 2019.
  • Registrations must be at the full retail rate. No additional discounts apply.
  • Cannot use existing vouchers towards July registrations to qualify for the deal.
  • Payment is required at time of registration.
  • If a class is postponed, the buyer will still receive their reward voucher(s).
  • Vouchers are valid through December 31, 2019.
  • Vouchers will be sent via email on August 1, 2019.

To receive the offer, you must register by contacting our registration department at Simply list the classes you’d like to register for, as well as your contact information, and our registration team will connect with you to get you set up.

Get the computer skills you need to refresh your passion for your career, or even get the professional development knowledge you need to step into a new position. Summer is a great time to work on yourself, not just your tan lines.

Using Word Templates

Word Templates

When you were in school, you probably had to write according to standards set forth by the your school, such as the APA or MLA stylebooks. In Word, you can preset a template that meets those standards, and not have to remember it again. Every time you open your Word template, the document format is ready to go, waiting for you to start writing.

The nice thing about a template is that it is very hard to overwrite it, as a template will force you to do a Save As, saving your work as a Word document, rather than a template. To overwrite your template, you would need to change the file type, save the new template in the same place as the old template, and name the template you are trying to save wi8th the exact  same name as  the original template. Plus, you would still need to confirm the overwrite. It is just the opposite for a regular document, as a regular document can be overwritten just be clicking save.

To create a template, you need to first create a regular Word document with all the correct formatting. Once you have done this, follow these steps to turn it into a template:

  1. Click the File tab to go to the backstage area. Word Templates - File
  2. Click the Save As section on the left. Word Templates - Save As
  3. Click Browse. Word Templates - Browse
  4. A dialog box will appear that will allow you to name the template ans store it where it is convenient for you.
  5. Click the Save as type drop-down menu and select Word Template. Word Templates - File Type
  6. Choose where you would like to store the document and click Save.
  7. You can close the file and your template is saved.

It can be easy to think you are using a template, when you are actually mistaenky working within a regular document.  There is one sure way to know, which is to check the document icon. If it has a blue stripe across the top, it is a template; if not, it is a regular Word document.

Word Templates - Template Icon
Template Icon
Word Template - Document Icon
Regular Document Icon
Learn all the ways to make Word work harder for you by taking a training class from MCT.

Engaging PowerPoint Presentations – Art of Expansion

Engagibng PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint Presentations that Keep Them Listening

Have you sometimes noticed that your audience is not fully engaged with your presentation? Maybe they pay attention for a minute or two, but then they redirect their attention to their phone. Do you notice that fellow employees would prefer talking to each other or taking a nap, instead of following your presentation? How do you make sure you are giving engaging PowerPoint presentations?

One thing to check is your presentation layout. PowerPoint slides are meant to be a placeholder, not a read-a-long. It is very easy to fall into the trap of giving your audience all the relevant information on the slide, leaving no reason to listen to your spoken words. If they know what you are going to say, before you say it, then it is the have no reason to pay attention; they already have gotten everything you have to offer.

Engaging PowerPoint Presentations - Too much text

If you want a presentation that does not put people to sleep, it is important to learn the art of expansion.  When people are not sure what is going to be said, but have an idea of the subject matter, they are more likely to pay attention. Less is more, when it comes to PowerPoint.Engaginbg PowerPoint Presentations - Less is More

The art of expansion is being able to take a word or phrase and expand on the idea for two to ten minutes. For example, if you take the word ball, you can probably think of a story from your childhood that involved a ball, and spend 5 minutes talking about the experience. You could probably make up a story, or use a story from something you witnessed, and no one would be the wiser. It is no different for work-related information, except that you do not want to make stuff up to get your point across.

For example, take the slide below, and notice there are only three words listed.

Engaging PowerPoint Presentations - Few Words

The presenter, of well-prepared, will be ale to discuss each of the topics listed on the slide, giving the presentation substance. This technique allows the audience to understand the general ideas of this portion of the presentation, but demands that they continue to pay attention to get the full picture.

Of course, not everyone can remember two to ten minutes of details on each main concept of their presentation. Such notes can be saved in Presenter’s Mode of PowerPoint, keeping the presenter on track, and not putting their audience to sleep.

Learn all the ways to keep your audience riveted to your PowerPoint presentations, with a class from Mission Critical Training.

Effectively manage remote employees

Manage remote employees

Quickly disappearing are the days of companies where all employees are based in one office.  In our globally shrinking competitive landscape, drivers for this change include: speed to service, less travel cost with clients being spread out, and improved customer service.   This creates challenges in company expectations of remote employees, and in effectively managing a remote workforce.

Managing remote employees can prove rewarding, liberating and fulfilling . . . or you can feel like an empty nest parent whose kids don’t stay in touch.  You can’t manage a team of remotely dispersed employees with all of the same techniques, which used in the past, for supervising a group based in the same office.  There are some specific skills and techniques you need to use as a manager to make sure you have a strong team that doesn’t feel disconnected by the miles.

Get the right skills to manage remote employees

MCT’s online Remote Employee Management course teaches you the techniques you can employee to make sure you have a strong team, including:

  • Keeping Remote Employees on Track – Remote employees are more apt to stray off course, by focusing on what they think is important, rather than what you think is important.  Its not that they are being malicious; they can just become easily disconnected with the overall objectives of the team and company when they are teleworking.  In this module, you will learn how to keep them on the right path, by setting clear visions and expectations, so there is no confusion about how they can be a successful part of the team.
  • Increase and Don’t Delay Communication – With a virtual team, how can you make sure that they are getting the information they need without information overload? How do you insure that you are using the correct communication tools?  What is the appropriate way to communicate with a virtual team?  In this module, we will cover the different communication tools and channels to use, how to make your meetings run efficiently, and how to ensure you are engaged in accurate communication with your team, ensuring that they are getting the info they need to work just as if all in one office.
  • Building Team Strength and Developing Trust – If not managed correctly, remote and teleworking teams are really not teams.  Instead they become a bunch of individuals working alone in silos that happen to report to the same manager.   However, that doesn’t have to be the case.  If managed correctly, remote teams can be strong, closer, and work better together than those based in the same office.  In this module you will learn how to create dynamic and interactive teams that have a closely woven team community, and strong trust, with mutual respect.  You will also learn how you can insure that your communication with them is clear and credible.
  • Creating Accountability – One of the biggest company fears about a teleworking teams is that they will not be working when you can’t see them.  Unfortunately, this fear can lead to a micro-management style that gets you the opposite results of what you want.  So how can you hold your team accountable without becoming an micro-manager?  This module shows you how to empower your employees to manage themselves and how to create an accountability tracking system so YOU don’t have to be that system.
  • Coaching Remote Employees – How can you effectively coach and develop your team of virtual employees when they are not based in the same office with you?
  • Motivating Remote Employees – A team of dispersed working employees need a self-charged motivation technique.  How do you keep them excited and engaged in their work and with the team?  This module will show you techniques to create that self-charged motivation.  Also you will learn how to get your team as excited about work as they are about playing.


Take the online course, or have us come to your location for a private group training for your management team.

Management 101 – The Basics

Management basics

Have you recently stepped into a Management role, or are you planning to in the near future?  Management is both a very rewarding and challenging job all, if it is done right.  You must be a leader, coach, and motivator for your team. Ultimately, you work for your employees.  You are the person who removes obstacles for them, helps them succeed, you are their representative to the company, ensure they get needed company information, get them needed training and feedback, lead them by example, show them how to reach the vision through defining expectations and goals.  Basically, your job is to help them reach the finish line.  Whew!  And all of this has to happen while doing other job tasks for your company.

So how do you know if you are doing all of that successfully?  Here are the 6 keys to successfully managing a team of employees:

  1. Lay a Clear Foundation – No one wants to do a bad job. But employees often fail because they have a misunderstanding of what doing a good job looks like.  It is important as a manager to lay  very clear groundwork for what is expected of employees to be successful.  This will help keep your team on track toward the same purpose and results.
  2. Create Accountability Systems – If you don’t create an accountability system for your employees, then YOU will have to be that system, meaning you will always have to micro-manage all of their tasks to see if they are completing them. Instead, create an accountability system where they report their progress to you, therefore holding themselves accountable and managing themselves at task level.  This will give them the responsibility of meeting their goals, with less headache for you, and generate a more collaborative and engaged work environment.
  3. Engage in Active Listening and Empathy – You have to care about your employees as individuals and you have to let them know you do, if you want to have a high level of respect and trust within your team. Two important ways to do this are to engage in active listening when interacting with them, as well as demonstrating empathy.  It is also important to find ways to foster this practice among team members as well.
  4. Pro-Active, Candid, and Ongoing Coaching – Good coaches coach before, during, and after the game. So make sure you are always finding opportunities to coach your employees, on good as well as not so good behaviors.  The moment we stop developing our employees (even our best of the bunch) is the moment we are telling them we don’t care about them.
  5. Develop a Team Culture – Team cohesion and strength doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes some fostering on your part, as a manager.  You need to find opportunities for your team members to work together on projects, as well as to learn who each of their team mates are as individuals outside of what they just do as a work role.
  6. Ask Questions – Too often as managers, we can fall into the “fix-it” role, where we are always in problem solving mode. Although it is true that we need to be there for our teams to help solve issues, we can be better at it if we learn to stop and ask questions first, before we jump in.  If we jump in to solve issues right away, we become part of the chaos.  Instead, it’s important to always be in analysis mode first, and gather as much information as possible before we offer solutions or opinions.  Better yet, guide your employees down the path of solving issues themselves, by engaging them in discussions around solutions, by asking questions rather than providing answers.
Want to learn how to incorporate each of these keys into your management style?  MCT’s Management 101 class will give you all these tools and more to get you on your way to having a productive and engaged team of employees.

Summer School is calling you and your staff!

Summer School

Summer is nearly here. Is your staff ready for Summer School?

Mission Critical Training wants to help you maximize your staff’s learning potential this summer. We are offering a special bonus for private half- and whole-day training classes scheduled for this July.

Schedule a half-day of private training to run in the month of July, and we will include a 2-hour Open-house Workshop, at no additional cost. Schedule a full-day of private training, and we will include a 4-hour Workshop, at no additional cost. There is no limit on the offer, meaning you can schedule as many private training days (or half-days) as your organization would like, but the classes must run in July to receive the bonus workshops.

Our workshops offer an excellent opportunity for your staff to pit their newly-learned skills to work on their real-world projects, all under the helpful eye of our excellent trainers. This means they can get help answering question they didn’t even know they had, until their put their new skills to work.

Now, for the Summer School Bonus’s Fine Print (you knew there would be some):

  • MCT requires a minimum of three weeks to schedule training.
  • Private training is subject to availability.
  • Classes that are rescheduled to outside of July will lose the free Workshop.
  • All normal policies pertaining to MCT classes and pricing still apply.
  • For half-day classes, the free Workshop must run the same day as the class.
  • For full-day classes, the Workshop will be scheduled for another day, and the Workshop itself may be scheduled any available time between July 1 and December 31, 2019.

Contact our sales office for more information, and to schedule private group training for your staff at (303) 900-0850 in Colorado, (602) 955-7787 in Arizona, or



Corporate Partnerships

Corporate Partnerships

We all know that we are not able to do everything on our own. We cannot know everything, carry every burden, nor accomplish every task without help, support, and good partners. As in life, success in business often requires strong partnerships to get you where you want to be.

Mission Critical Training offers a Corporate Partnership program that makes all the benefits of our unique computer training and professional development programs available to your staff and your clients or members, plus much more. Our corporate partnerships can be tailored to the specifics of your organization, meaning you can see not only the advancement of your staff’s skills and confidence, but also your company’s bottom line.

Partnership benefits can include:

  • Discounted rates on private and public training classes
  • Free access to MCT’s Lunch and Learn program
  • Revenue stream for your organization, based on member participation
  • Training voucher discounts
  • In-house newsletter content
  • And more!

To learn more about the ways our Corporate Partnerships can benefit your organization, contact our sales office at (303) 900-0850 in Colorado, (602) 955-7787 in Arizona, or

Developing your Organization’s Training Program

Developing your Organization's Training Program

Anyone who has tried it knows that employee development and training is not as easy as just bringing in an SME to ramble on and on about what they know. There are quite a few hurdles to get over just to get something on the schedule, not to mention to ensure a quality learning experience.

You may work with training providers (or in-house instructors) regularly, or on an as-needed basis; or, possibly, you have not had to work through what your organization’s training needs are yet. In any case, here are a few things to consider when planning an employee-training event:

  1. Subject Matter Experts are NOT the same as professional instructors.

Would you want to learn piano from Beethoven? While it is obvious that an instructor needs to know their course, they also need to understand and practice adult learning principles, or none of that lovely content will be retained after class lets out. A good instructor can simultaneously wrangle the distracted student (cell phones?), the heckler, the know-it-all, and the daydreamer, all while keeping the class interesting and on pace.

Look for a training provider that has true, professional instructors who understand adult learning theories, and have experience actually teaching.

  1. Course content matters.

There are plenty of books out there that offer insight into the topic you are interested in. Many read like instructions for assembling furniture. Some try to cover every single bit of minutia related to the topic, while others are too vague to be useful. The best content does several things at once. It brings the student into the topic and keeps them engaged. It changes pace and delivery, keeping people interested and active. It covers material that is important to the student, their role and function, and their personal life. It is information dense, while not requiring a PhD to understand.

Ask potential training providers about their courses. Where do they get their content? How often is it updated? How long have they been using it? Can it be tailored to fit your specific situation, needs, and goals? The best providers will develop courses in-house (Instructional design).

  1. Logistics.

With most training companies offering virtual, on-line classes, there are a wealth of show times to be had. But what if you want good, old fashioned in-person instruction? Where do you go? How do you know if it is what you need? Will it be a conference room at the hotel by the airport, or an actual classroom? In addition, what comes with the class?

A solid training company will offer live, in-person, hands-on instruction, not as a special arrangement this one time, but as their default method. They will have an actual classroom, and they will also be able to teach on-site. Logistics are very different for one or two people than they are for a larger group; so look for policies that take different scenarios into account, and not a one-size-fits-all philosophy.

  1. Support.

All right, you have planned your party. So, will anyone show up? The biggest fear training planners (OD, HR, and managers) have is going through the work to schedule training, and then no one shows. Also, what happens after class? Will your folks be left alone in the cold?

If you really want to be assured that your training provider understands ALL facets of employee development, ask them if they help drive attendance to your classes. How do they help pack a room once the training is scheduled? Then, after training, is there any additional support? What can they do to help people use what they just learned? If they do not offer these support services, why not?

At the end of the day, there is more to it than just sitting someone in front of a monitor to watch a video. Look for effective instructors, meaningful course content and class materials, and expect support throughout the training, and beyond. Most important of all, there is no training quite as effective as live, in-person, hands-on training.

Need more help developing an effective training program for your organization? Mission Critical Training has the expertise you need.  Contact our sales office for more information, including private group training, at (303) 900-0850 in Colorado, (602) 955-7787 in Arizona, or

Scroll to a Task in Project

Scroll to a Task in Project

Project can be used for small projects, large projects, and connected projects (two or more Project files). Regardless of the size, it can be annoying to try to find the exact position of a task in the task views. You know what task you are looking for, since you see it in the Task Name column.  When you start scrolling to it, though, it seems to take forever to actually reach. Since Project does not have a Name Box like Excel, how do we get where we are going quickly? We get there by using the Scroll to Task command.

Check out how easy this command is to use:

  1. For our example, we are going to use the Ghantt Chart view in a template Project file. This particular file has 93 tasks. As you can see below, none of the bottom tasks are showing in the Ghantt Chart area. Scroll to a Task in Project - Task List
  2. To use the Scroll to Task command, you must select the task you want by clicking the number of the task in the numbering column.Scroll to a Task in Project - Select Task
  3. Click the Task tab of the ribbon, and find the Scroll to Task command on the far right of the ribbon, in the Editing group.Scroll to a Task in Project - Task Tab
  4. Click the command, and Project will take you instantly to the task in the Ghantt side of the view.Scroll to a Task in Project - Click the Command

This will get where you want to be, very fast – No more searching or manually scrolling to find your place.

For more Project tips and tricks, check out Mission Critical Training’s Project Basic and Project Advanced classes.

Adding Data Labels to Charts/Graphs in Excel

Adding Data Labels

After adding a chart or graph to your Excel workbook, some items may need labeling, in order for management to see details about the data. This is different than a Legend, as that can be added differently to the chart or graph. There are three ways to add or change Data Labels in Excel, and Data Labels can be added to individual data pieces or to the whole chart or graph. We are going to use a Pie Chart for our examples, but the same process can be used for any chart, graph, or PivotChart.

With your chart or graph created, you will need to click the chart or graph once, so that it is selected and Excel knows where to add the labels. Once this is done, follow these steps to add the Data Labels:

First Method
  1. In the Design tab of the Chart Tools contextual tab, go to the Chart Layouts group on the far left side of the ribbon, and click Add Chart Element. In the drop-down menu, hover on Data Labels. - Chart Elements
  2. This will cause a second drop-down menu to appear. Choose Outside End for now and note how it adds labels to the end of each pie portion.Adding Data Labels in Excel - Outside End
Second Method
  1. Right-clicking on the Pie Chart itself will open a menu (shown below), where you can hover on the Add Data Labels arrow to get options.Adding Data Labels in Excel - Add Data Label arrow
  2. The options are the same as in the first option. Once you click on the option, it will add the labels.Adding Data Labels in Excel - Options
  3. The default position is Inside End, but this can be changed once the labels populate.
Third Method
  1. Click the plus symbol in the top-right corner of the Chart Area.Adding Data Labels in Excel - Chart Area
  2. When the menu appears, click the pop out arrow and the options for the Data Labels will be listed.Adding Data Labels in Excel - Pop out menu
  3. Select the option you want, and the labels will appear on your chart or graph.Adding Data Labels in Excel - Select option

Labels can be added to just one section of your chart or graph as well. This is what it looks like with only one piece of the pie labeled:Adding Data Labels in Excel - Single section label

Labels can be extremely helpful in making your point during a presentation, and there are options for the different pieces of information that a label can display.

For more on charts and graphs, Mission Critical offers Excel Pivot Tables and Charts class every quarter. We also have other Excel classes running year-round.