NTCA offers a wide variety of educational seminars and conferences each year. Most of the programs described in this section are a part of a series of certificate programs for the Directors Core Curriculum (DCC), General Managers Series Certificate (GMC), and Key Employee Certificate (KEC) recommend courses of study. The seminars are rotated periodically through NTCA's annual and regional meetings.
It is the board's responsibility to monitor and control the telco's business. Among the most important tools that directors have to evaluate fiscal performance are the financial indicators. They enable the board to track the system's progress and plan its future. This seminar helps directors read and interpret financial statements, understand key indicators and ratios, and improve the board's communications with lenders, accountants, auditors, cost consultants and the general manager.
The board and manager must function as a team, with each side keeping its commitments and fulfilling its obligations. This program reviews the roles and responsibilities of the board and manager, policy guidelines, appropriate delegation of authority, evaluation techniques, goals setting and the importance of establishing a mutually satisfying consultative climate.
This seminar provides directors with the tools for effective financial and strategic planning and will help them understand the components of a workable business plan. The course highlights the differences between board planning and managerial planning while showing how the two complement each other.
The Board Sets Policy
Setting policy is not only an important part of the board's planning and decision-making role, it is the "primary" responsibility. Policy development involves mediation, discussion and compromise between those who make policy and those who must abide by it. This seminar helps directors update outmoded policies, revise ineffective policies, develop new guidelines that contribute to harmonious relations and promote the telco's mission.
Coaching and Counseling
Good coaching skills are an important part of every manager's and supervisor's job. These skills are needed to lead, direct, counsel, communicate, encourage and motivate employees. This seminar teaches managers and supervisors how to mentor with success, motivate their staff and encourage stubborn subordinates.
This seminar will update managers on the latest trends in compensation and benefits and help them develop a fair and equitable compensation package. Topics include the use of compensation surveys to establish salary schedules, trends in benefit packages and administration, merit pay and bonuses, and nonmonetary performance incentives and reward systems.
This seminar focuses on tax and related issues of specific significance to rural, independent telecommunications cooperatives. It includes an overview and update of important Internal Revenue Service rulings and regulations affecting cooperative local exchange carriers and features practical strategies based on actual experiences and case studies.
Corporate Structure and Strategies
This seminar discusses corporate legal principles, as well as organization and operations issues to consider and resolve when examining mergers, acquisitions or buyout options. Issues addressed include developing and evaluating a business plan and how to value telco operations.
Costs and Separations Update
This seminar discusses changes in cost allocations, separations and cost recovery, and the access charge arena affecting the future revenue streams of rural, independent telecommunications companies. Seminar topics include the relevant dockets and sections of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, universal service, the Federal-State Joint Board's recommendations, separations rules changes, non-regulated activities, accounting changes and interconnection issues.
Customer Service: Strategies for Success
This seminar explores telco customer service functions, communication skills and ways to enhance the telco's customer service reputation. Topics include telco policies and slogans, customer needs and expectations, and communication tools to improve employee customer interactions.
Dealing With Difficult Employees
This seminar discusses ways to successfully handle negative employee behavior. Topics include conflict resolution, documentation, discipline and creating a positive action plan to return the employee to full productivity.
Director Legal Liabilities
This seminar deals with the legal responsibilities and liabilities of a telco director. Seminar topics include bylaws and articles of incorporation, state and federal laws, compliance with regulatory rulings, financial responsibilities, conflict of interest and contracts. Case studies are used to illustrate the topics.
This seminar examines communications styles and principles that will help the management team effectively communicate with employees and customers. Topics include the basic principles of written, electronic and verbal business communication tools; choosing effective words and phrases to achieve the desired outcome and methodologies for resolving conflict.
Employee Performance Programs
This seminar explores the strengths and limitations of performance evaluation systems. Topics include the characteristics of successful evaluation systems, including pay-for-performance systems; performance standard development and measurement; the evaluation meeting; and post-evaluation follow up.
This seminar reviews the fundamental tenets of employment labor law. It uses federal regulations and recent court decisions to show how laws are being interpreted in the current environment.
Finance and Accounting Conference
The conference includes a variety of general sessions, roundtable discussions and concurrent breakout sessions about telecommunications accounting, financing, telco financial policies, business planning principles and regulatory trends. The program qualifies for continuing professional education (CPE) credits under the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).
Financial Issues and Strategies
In a competitive market, it is imperative that telcos understand the economic and market conditions influencing the telecommunications industry. This seminar focuses on the tools, practices and procedures required to assess the current and future financial viability of the industry.
Fundamentals of Telecommunications
This session provides a broad overview of the industry for nontechnical people. The technologies shaping today's telecommunications industry are explored and basic terminology is defined.
Hiring, Managing and Rightful Termination Practices
This seminar provides practical steps for avoiding common hiring and firing pitfalls. It discusses ways to avoid hiring mistakes, questions to ask before hiring, tips on finding the most qualified applicants and how to conduct the best interview. The program also covers management techniques used to correct defective behavior and how to terminate legally and sensitively.
Human Resources Conference
This conference promotes the development and "professionalization" of the telco's human resources functions. Program topics include employment law updates, personnel policies, telco compliance issues, compensation theory and application, performance incentives and rewards, performance evaluations and employee training.
Industry and Regulatory Issues and Strategies
The 1996 Telecommunications Act mandated competition at the local level and set in motion a series of federal and state regulatory decisions affecting the way telcos conduct business. Industry and regulatory updates address these changes and help telcos identify competitive business strategies for rural, independent markets. Typical topics include evolving wireless issues, access reform, advanced services, universal service reform and other revenue issues.
This seminar illustrates the difference between leading and managing. Topics include: developing the traits of an executive leader, identifying and breaking poor work habits, developing positive leadership behaviors, creating a winning team by reducing conflict and defining and using effective strategies to deploy staff resources and spread excellence throughout the telco.
This seminar reviews the latest developments in telecommunications law and regulatory proceedings and applies this information to rural, independent telecom providers. It also addresses corporate structure issues and business strategies; employment law, including relevant court decisions; legal issues relating to emerging technologies; and business opportunities and professional ethics. The program complies with state mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) requirements.
Employees with management or supervisory responsibilities will gain the skills they need to improve staff performance and efficiency. Topics will include identifying the responsibilities of the manager or supervisor, setting and reaching goals, managing time efficiently, communicating clearly, motivating staff, delegating effectively, appraising performance and disciplining fairly.
Marketing Issues and Strategies
The program discusses telecommunication marketing strategies and the planning, research, implementation and evaluation process that contributes to their success. Topics include competitor analysis and differentiation, industry trends, customer perceptions, acquisition and retention, demographics, sales and advertising, interdepartmental communications, superior customer service and the internal side of creating a successful marketing campaign.
This seminar focuses on how to prepare for successful negotiation, getting the negotiations off to a strong start, communicating demands effectively, making concessions work for you, breaking a deadlock, avoiding the major pitfalls in negotiating, dealing ethically with the other side and resolving disagreements amicably.
This seminar addresses initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing phases of project management. It also reviews the expertise needed to complete a successful project. Topics include project scope, cost controls, timelines, resource procurement, risk management and communications
The conference offers a variety of general sessions, roundtable discussions and concurrent breakout sessions to enhance the telco's public relations functions and to develop and improve telco marketing strategies. Sample topics include crafting the corporate vision, communicating the telco's mission to the subscriber, industry trends, successful campaigns, newsletters and media/press relations.
Reviewing and Updating Telco Bylaws
This seminar helps participants understand the underlying principles of telco bylaws and the importance of a periodic review to determine if changes are needed. Topics include membership, rights and liabilities, board and annual meetings, board elections, nonprofit operation, indemnification of officers, financial transactions and amendments to the telco's bylaws.
The Role of a Director
This seminar reviews the five key areas of director responsibility: acting as a trustee, adhering to legal standards, providing for effective company management, determining company objectives, and monitoring and controlling company business.
This seminar addresses the strategic planning process from both an operational and strategic perspective. It uses a practical tested process for responding to a changing environment and explores ways to formulate goals and action plans, build a strategic framework, take action on new initiatives, create a management action agenda, and create strategies for implementing the process.
This seminar focuses on the physical, mental and social dynamics of stress and how they interact. Also discussed are ways to recognize the signs of good stress and stress overload, how to cope with stress, how to find a healthy balance between work and personal life, and how to manage or eliminate stressors before they become destructive and do permanent damage.
This seminar helps managers fill future openings in an orderly, systematic fashion, recognizing demographic, technical and economic trends that will determine the make-up and size of the board and staff. The seminar also will delineate manager and board responsibilities and help to analyze and evaluate the telco's current situation, contrast it with future trends, review model succession plans, and create short- and long-term strategies for effective company management.
This seminar focuses on the fundamentals of team building, from recruiting the right team members to empowering them with the authority and responsibility needed for their decision-making and performance. The seminar also discusses how to build trust, monitor performance, communicate desires, listen effectively, deal with conflict, motivate team members to maximum effect and reward outstanding performance.
TechNet Business Briefings
GMC and KEC
The TechNet Business Briefings explore telecom business opportunities and technology trends for small, independent rural telcos that will ensure their place in emerging markets. These sessions include the development of business models and the factors to be considered when putting together a successful model.
Technology Development and Strategies
These programs include in-depth discussions of emerging technologies and their applications in the rural, independent environment. Technologies such as wireless, fiber to the home, Ethernet, digital subscriber line (DSL), and satellite delivery of broadband are discussed, as are the business and operational strategies to deliver advanced services with these technologies.
Telco Executive Forum
This program focuses on the challenges of managing telcos in a dynamic telecommunications industry. A variety of general sessions, open forums, concurrent breakout sessions and roundtables offer executives numerous opportunities to learn successful business strategies that address financing, evolving technologies, human resources, and regulatory and legislative challenges.
Telecom Operations Overview
This survey course is an overview of the telecommunications industry. Topics include history and structure of the industry, regulatory considerations, legal and legislative issues and revenue streams.
More than a traditional time management seminar that focuses only on timesaving techniques, this program also incorporates attitude and behavior patterns. It explores the management and mismanagement of your time, your workload and yourself. Understanding these processes and how you contribute to the efficient or wasteful management of time and resources will help you be more productive. This seminar discusses how to overcome procrastination, increase motivation, overcome the fear of failure or success, and use effective time-management techniques.
Understanding Capital Credits
DCC, GMC, KEC
Capital credits are fundamental to the cooperative form of business. Understanding the allocation and retirement process is critical to successful cooperative operations as it relates to members and tax concerns. This seminar teaches the fundamentals of capital credits, as well as different allocation approaches and alternative capital credit retirement strategies. In addition, membership classes and bylaw provisions regarding membership are reviewed.
Understanding Telco Revenues
Directors need to know the source of revenue that supports the telco as well as the factors that influence the access charge environment. This session discusses the basis of toll compensation and how it affects the short- and long-term growth of the telco. The seminar also explains the separations and settlements process in laymen's language.