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Inspire Success

Providing hints, tips and ideas that help you maintain high performing workplaces that are customer focussed and free of conflict

Our favourite ways to introduce flexible work practices

Rae Phillips - Saturday, April 12, 2014

Improving employee engagement will improve productivity and profit at your place. One of the things we can do to help is to make sure our workplaces provide flexibility. Flexibility at work means different things to different people, so have a look at this list of our favourites:

Job-share: When two or more people share the responsibilities, hours, salary and benefits of one full-time job.

Part-time: When an employee works less than full-time capacity and has reasonably predictable hours of work. They receive the same entitlements as a full-time employee but on a pro rata basis.

Employee-choice rostering: This allows employees to elect or choose shifts on a permanent or rotating basis that best suits their caring responsibilities.

Working from home: Involves employees working away from the office, usually at home. It can occur on a full-time, part-time, temporary or permanent basis.

Flexible working hours: When a set number of hours per week or month are determined with flexibility about when they are achieved.

Hours’ bank: Additional hours may be worked and stored in a ‘bank’ for quieter periods.

Annualised working hours: Involves rearranging the hours that staff work throughout the year to meet seasonal or fluctuating workloads. These hours are paid at a standardised weekly rate, even though the hours actually worked may vary during the year.

Compressed workweek: Usually involves working full-time hours over fewer days. For example, 3 38 hour x 5 day week may be worked over 4 days.

Seasonal start and finish time: Usually applicable to outdoors industries – summer work starts at dawn and finishes early while winter work starts later.

Purchased annual leave: Enables an employee to purchase additional leave during the course of the year. That means an employee would receive an additional 4 weeks’ paid leave per year as the employee’s 48-week salary is paid over 52 weeks. This can also work on 2- or 6-week purchase plan.

Extended unpaid leave: When an employee has exhausted their leave entitlements but still requires more time off. Additional leave days are granted without pay or loss of job and are usually for short periods.

Make up time: Where time away from work is made up at another time, usually within close proximity to the occurrence. No pay changes occur as a result

Change travel and overnight stays: When travel is reduced or timings changed to accommodate employee requirements, e.g. they do not have to travel during school holidays.

Sabbaticals: This is an extended period away from work to pursue study or other development activities. Some employers pay employees while on sabbatical, while others do not pay but allow the time away.

Is this something that could be helpful at your place? Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com            Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. 


Thanks to 

Charles Power of the 

Employment Law Practical Handbook for many of these ideas.

Benefits for Small Businesses of Outsourcing your HR

Rae Phillips - Monday, April 07, 2014
Small business owners might think that outsourcing HR functions only benefits large companies. The perception is that outsourcing is designed to help only these larger operations streamline their business functions and cut down on costs. But in today’s economy, there is an increasing need for small businesses to consider the financial and other potential practical benefits of outsourcing human resource functions to a trusted provider.


Some of the advantages of small business HR outsourcing may include:

1. The ability to focus on business productivity: Instead of spending time handling routine administrative tasks, employers can focus on more strategic functions of the business that can have greater rates of return.

2. An enterprise-class solution: Small businesses may be able to enjoy enterprise-class benefits from HR outsourcing, which can help them save costs and compete more effectively with other small businesses and their larger counterparts.

3. Access to latest technology at a manageable cost: Growing enterprises may have minimal resources to invest in infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment to run their businesses. With an outside expert running some of the functions, businesses may enjoy better technological systems without necessarily having to own them. This may help cut down on their operating costs.

4. Help with compliance: This is one area where many small businesses struggle to keep up, especially with the changing laws pertaining to hiring and firing, insurance and bullying claims, work health and safety and payroll, penalty and overtime requirements. The greatest challenge is that failure to comply can lead to serious financial consequences. Outsourcing HR functions to a trusted provider can help business owners understand and take action to comply with these laws and regulations.

When you’re ready to outsource HR functions, consider a company’s experience, “How long have they provided these services, and for how many businesses?”, their financial stability, “Is their financial information a matter of public record?”, and do they offer personal service, “Can I work with an HR professional on-site?”, "Can I call them only when I need them?"

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com 

Making your place a Great Place to Work

Rae Phillips - Sunday, September 01, 2013

What is a Great Workplace? 

What the employee wants

Having a list of special deals, discounts or benefits for your employees is not going to make a great workplace. We believe that it is the daily experiences and relationships that guide the employee perspective. 

Without doubt though, the key to the relationships is TRUST. So the employees need to trust the people they work for, be proud of the work they do and like the people they work with each day.

Our experience and many many years of employee engagement surveys show that trust is the defining principle of great workplaces — created by the credibility of the Leaders, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly. Pride and a real connection other team mates are also important.

What the employer is looking for


It isn't rocket science is it? As employers, we want to meet the goals we have for our business. We want to do this with our employees who are focussed on giving their very best and who work together as a team to deliver great service to our customers. 

Great workplaces achieve organisational goals by listening to their people, inspiring them and by keeping in contact. They have employees who give their personal best because they are recognised individually and as part of a team, they grow in their roles and as people. And they work together as a team because they feel part of the business, celebrating and commiserating together.

Is this an issue at your place? Contact Inspire Success for a no obligation chat about the situation

7 Key Elements to Measuring Performance and Setting Targets

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As your business grows, the number of people you employ is likely to increase. To keep on top of how your employees are doing, you need formal ways of measuring their performance and setting the targets they have been set. If you dont - how do they (or you) know if they are doing a good job?

Informal meetings and appraisals provide a very practical and direct way of monitoring and encouraging the progress of your people. The formal appraisal allows you to monitor employees’ development and get their feedback, set targets and plan their development needs. Many of our customers do this quarterly or bi-monthly and they find that while it takes planning, the meeting is a lot shorter than when they did them annually.

Appraisals can assist in driving up productivity and performance through setting employee targets and measuring progress towards achieving them. Regular staff meetings can also be a very useful way of keeping tabs on wider developments across your business. These meetings often give an early indicator of important concerns or developments that might otherwise take some time to come to your attention.

Here are the Seven Tips to remember when setting performance targets with employees;

1. Goals must align with your organization’s mission and strategy
2. They must be clear and easy to understand
3. They must be accepted and recognized as important by everyone who will have to implement them
4. Progress towards goals must be measurable
5. Goals must be framed in time, with clear beginning and ending points
6. They should be supported by rewards
7. They should be challenging, but achievable.

Progress

By evaluating an employee’s progress in terms of performance and development you are able to set new objectives and plan tasks effectively. First, examine the employee’s job description to ascertain whether roles or responsibilities have changed since the last appraisal. If you are making changes, ensure that these are in the best interests of the company and not just the employee.

Allow the employee to self assess. Let them know in advance that you will be talking about their progress and to review their position description against how they feel they have gone. This process makes it so much easier to have the conversation on the day - you are both on the same page.

Praise Successful Employees 

Bring up aspects of an employee’s performance that are worthy of praise. Encourage the employee to keep up their high standards and check that the employee has been rewarded sufficiently. Remember rewards are different to everyone - it could be as easy as a thank you or providing time off for a special family event. 

If an employee’s performance has fallen short of what is expected, consider the possible reasons for this. Constructive feedback is much better than ignoring the issue - don't leave it to get worse, that conversation is a lot harder!

Development

The next step in performance management is to check whether staff have the time to focus on development. It is important to ensure continuous development, so it may be worth shuffling resources if necessary. If development targets set at the last appraisal have been met, it shows you that the time and money spent developing staff is worthwhile. 

Its very important to ensure that the goals you set for your employees align with those of your Company. And you must make sure that your employees understand, accept and commit to those goals. The more you can involve your employees in setting goals for themselves and the group, the more committed to those goals they are likely to be. Write down the goals for your employees, and then revisit those goals on a regular basis – perhaps every three or six months, but at least once a year. 

The key to success is ensuring your employees recognize that achievement of their individual objectives advance the company’s overall objectives.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com

The Employee Handbook

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is an employee handbook?

Starting a new job in a new company can be daunting for anyone. The induction and on-boarding process ensures the detailed introduction of a new employee to their new work environment and job and is a very important process. Good processes at this time will result in staff retention, job satisfaction, productivity and a reduction of any costs of staff turnover. 

Effective Induction processes means that new employees understand how your business works and start to feel welcome and comfortable early on in their new job, which results in them becoming a productive employee sooner. 

A lot of information can and should be provided during the new employee’s induction. This can be a little overwhelming and therefore a comprehensive and well-structured employee handbook is an excellent idea. 

It is particularly important for small and medium businesses, who may not have a human resources department to handle queries. An employee handbook is also a good way of helping new employees understand the values, key policies, benefits and expectations of your business.

What is in an employee handbook?

The handbook is a great way to communicate to your new employees and inform them about the policies within your business. It can then be used by employees as a reference (encourage employees to keep their handbook with them) and will help them on a number of topics -  in knowing the conditions of their employment, what is expected of them, where to find things, and who to ask if they have any further questions. 

A good employee handbook should contain the following:-

  • Introduction and welcome note from the Leader /s;
  • Company background;
  • Information on your corporate culture and approach to business;
  • Hours and conditions of work;
  • Training expected and opportunities;
  • Expectations around dress code, email/internet/mobile phone etc usage;
  • HR policies around bullying, sexual harassment, health, safety and the environment; holidays and leave; performance management; privacy; code of conduct, discipline and grievance procedures.

Why have an employee handbook?

The policies of your business should be discussed and distributed widely throughout the company and your employees well informed of them. Discuss them in your induction training and include them in your handbook to ensure they understand the policies of your business. 

It is an excellent way of documenting the expectations and obligations of both management and staff. 

Not only is the handbook used to share the policies and information of the company, it is a great way to advise on information your business is legally obligated to provide. This results in the boundaries, rules, expectations, rights and responsibilities of your company being known and understood by your team.

Finally, when you give a new employee a copy of the handbook make sure they sign an employee handbook declaration and acknowledgement form. This receipt acknowledges that the employee has read and understands the policies and guidelines presented in the handbook and how it applies to them in their work. This statement should contain a disclaimer that the employee understands that the contents are policies and guidelines, not a contract or implied contract with employees. 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com

Significant dates for new employees

Rae Phillips - Monday, July 29, 2013

Significant dates for new employees

Now you have selected your new employee and provided them with their letter of offer, it is important to manage some critical dates. These include induction, probation and confirmation of the new employee. 

1. The induction should always include a standard check-list to ensure that everything is covered. It also helps in the case that it is not the same person conducting the induction each time - you can be sure that the same information is being imparted.

2. The very important probation period (generally the same as the relevant qualifying period) is a time for both the new employee and for you to see if things will likely work out. The length of time and the process that will be followed should be very clear to them.

3. Prior to the confirmation date, there should be a formal conversation with the employee and their supervisor to check that they are meeting the requirements of the role. Stepping outside of the probation period means moving into tighter workplace legislation, so we recommend using this time wisely.


1. An Effective Induction

Important date 1 is always the start date right? Not necessarily - before that the prospective employees are judging you and your business. It is critical that you get the process right during recruitment and selection because this will help you win them over, get a positive answer to your offer and have them arriving in a positive state of mind on day 1.

Before they start they should receive their letter of offer. On acceptance (and generally on day 1) they receive their starter pack with the signed letter, position description, employee details form, Fair Work Information Statement, taxation declaration form, super choice form, employee handbook and any company collateral. Give them a week to get the paperwork back to you completed fully and signed. 

Use the induction check-list to work through the safety, policy and service elements of your business that are important. Their employee handbook should be with them always to write notes and refer to people and details. At the end of each day and each week, meet with them to talk about their progress so far. Help them feel good about their progress, but also remind them where there is room for improvement.

2. Getting the Probation/Qualifying Period Right

The length of the probation period and the terms around it will be set out in the terms and conditions of employment and then be managed carefully. A ‘probation period’ is usually a three or six month period from their start date, where you assess the suitability of the employee for the role and the employee has the opportunity to settle in and to determine if the role meets their needs. 

A key thing to remember is the probationary period must be set in advance and must be reasonable. Three months can be suitable for some roles but for a more senior role you could have a probationary period of six months (as long as there are reasonable grounds for this). For a ‘small business’, i.e. less than 15 employees by head count and including associated entities (see s.383 of the Fair Work Act), the period can be increased to twelve months.  

During this period you should be validating your selection decision and making sure there is a good fit between the new employee and the role. There should be open communication between you and the new employee and some assistance given to them to settle in.  In essence, an employee on probation has been appointed but not yet confirmed in a permanent role. The purpose of a probationary period is to provide:

  • Time for induction / onboarding and training
  • An opportunity to assess the employee and their ability to perform in the job
  • Time to assess fit into your business

The benefits of a well managed probation period include;
  • allows the new employee settle into the workplace
  • provides a focus for you and the new employee on what knowledge and skills are required to be developed during probation for them to succeed in the job
  • provides some structure for the new employee on the key aspects of their job and the key people they will be interacting with
  • allows you to give and receive feedback on a new employee’s progress during probation.

If you are generally happy with the performance of your new employee but continue to have a few concerns at the end of their probationary period, then you can extend the probation via a review on or before the end of it. You will also need to provide information in writing, detailing the period of the extension and the areas which require improvement. Provided you act sensibly, you can let the person go if they are not working out without having to carry out the usual disciplinary procedures once an employee is confirmed.  

Review the new employee’s progress regularly and provide them with feedback so they know how they are progressing – either with praise or with explanations as to where improvement is required.  We think it is a good idea to do a Probation Review at the mid point of the probation period so that you can document progress and your plans for rectifying any issues.

Overall, the probationary period is an excellent tool to ensure that the new employee is performing in the way you want and is motivated, committed and happy working with you and your organisation. It allows you to be fair and highlight areas which require improvement, and it provides time and scope for the new employee to improve in those areas. The result should be that at the end of the period, the decision to continue or not is easy and clear for both parties.

2. Confirmation of appointment

As the probationary period nears its conclusion, you need to decide whether you wish to retain the new employee or not. If you do, then confirmation of appointment is the process used to end a probation period and appoint an employee permanently. 

Ideally, a letter is given to the employee confirming the date their probation period ended and affirming the details / conditions previously agreed upon of their employment. The letter states that the employee's performance has been satisfactory and it confirms the employee's appointment to the job. It is good practice to give your new employees a confirmation letter when they successfully complete their probation but it also provides affirmation to the employee that they are doing well in their role and have peace of mind that their job is now confirmed.

Alternately, if your decision is not to keep the employee, you will arrange a meeting and provide the details in writing. 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information - hr@inspire-success.com

Providing a Fair Work Information Statement is not good enough!

Terri Blakesley - Friday, July 26, 2013
Providing a Fair Work Information Statement is not Enough - You need PROOF you did it!

From 1 January 2010 it became mandatory for an employer to provide an employee with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS). The statement needs to be provided before employment or as soon as practicable after commencement of employment. Providing the FWIS is one the 10 National Employment Standards (NES) - and there is no way around it! 

Don't do it and you risk fines of $33,000 per breach! 

In audits conducted by the Fair Work Ombudsman since the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009, businesses have been asked to provide proof that an employee has received a copy of the FWIS from their employer. So not only must we provide it, we must show proof that we have.

Additionally, as provision of the FWIS is one of the NES, employees are able to make a claim against their employer for a breach of the NES if they have not received one. Keep this in mind when you are inducting your new employees!

It may also be worthwhile reviewing your standard induction processes to ensure you have a system in place to record the provision of the Fair Work Information Statement to your employees when they join your business. We recommend several things:

1. Make sure the FWIS is included with the starter pack on the first day AND that it is on the checklist;

2. Add a declaration to the bottom of the FWIS which your new starters sign, AND then copy it and place a copy on file;

3. Create a declaration which is an attachment to the FWIS which is signed AND kept on file;

4. And just to check that all existing employees have one - do a personnel file check and issue retrospectively IMMEDIATELY!

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information - hr@inspire-success.com

How do you introduce a Mentoring Program?

Rae Phillips - Thursday, July 19, 2012

The process of mentoring involves a more experienced or more knowledgeable employee guiding a less experienced or less knowledgeable employee. It is not about answering questions on occasion but it is an ongoing relationship around learning and discussion. It involves regular communication, passing on of knowledge and supporting of the employees in their work, career and development. The communication is usually face-to-face and while it involves passing on of knowledge it is also important for the mentor to be encouraging and to share ideas and experiences. For mentoring to be successful it is important to create a structured mentoring plan. Both parties, the mentor and the mentee, need to think and plan for what they hope to achieve from the mentoring process and the actions they will take to accomplish this.

The mentor must listen to a mentee’s needs in order to respond appropriately and a mentee should listen to what the mentor is saying to them to learn from them. Mentors very often have their own mentors, and in turn their mentees might wish to become mentors themselves -  over time the benefits can be widely spread. Mentoring can be a short-term arrangement for a set reason (learning of a skill for example) or it can last many years.

Benefits include:-

  • Mentoring is more than advising a more junior employee, its about motivating the other employee to know their own goals, their strengths, their weaknesses and helping them to achieve or resolve each
  • Building a network of expertise to draw on can benefit your business greatly
  • Mentors can find the process very rewarding and it can help employees develop into more senior positions/managerial positions
  • Mentoring can improve employee satisfaction and retention
  • It can make your company more appealing to new employees
  • It is a great learning incentive and utilises your company’s resources

Considerations before you set up a mentoring program:-

  • Choosing the mentors carefully is essential. You want to ensure your mentors are those who want others to succeed and that they have a supportive type personality.
  • Clearly define what your objective is in starting a mentoring program so you structure the program to meet this objective eg developing leaders, teaching a new skill.
  • One factor that is vital to developing a program that fits with your company is to align the structure of your program with the culture of your company. If your company is formal, it might be best to have a formal process including set durations, formal application process etc. Process. If your company is informal, it might be better to match people up and provide them with some guidelines but run with it themselves after this
  • Ensure those involved in the mentoring program know what is involved and what is expected of them so they have a clear understanding
  • Show employees that those at the top believe in the mentoring program. Have the senior management involved and make it known that they think the program is important, encourage them to participate as mentors
  • Have a format in place so that those involved get the most out of the program and have realistic expectations.

 At the end of the mentoring program celebrate its success. Have those involved reflect on their learning. Make sure everyone in your organization knows that mentoring is taking place. Mentoring can be very beneficial for the development of employees and skills enhancement but it can also help your business in the induction of employees, with minority groups to help overcome barriers blocking their progress, in times of organisation change and to motivate better customer service (help with right attitude and motivate quality service).

We are all learning from others, it happens every day....setting up a structured mentoring program can only enhance this learning when its well set up with the right attitudes. It can help development leadership for your business’ future survival and prosperity.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

eLearning - Can this work at your place?

Rae Phillips - Thursday, July 19, 2012

E-learning refers to a wide range of applications and processes designed to deliver instruction, material and training through electronic means. Usually this means over the Web, however it also can include CD-ROM, video-conferencing, webinars, interactive simulations, case studies and collaborative learning. Terms you could hear when e-learning is being discussed are "online learning," "web-based training," and "computer-based training." E - Learning is continuing to develop and change to better meet the needs of tech-savvy generations.  Most people think of E-learning relating to computers and the Internet, but with technology continuously evolving electronic devices now also include phones and other hand-held communication devices.

There are many benefits of E-Learning and these include:-

  • Lower costs - e-learning can be more cost effective to deliver than classroom based training
  • Faster delivery and attendees can stop and start as they need to
  • More effective learning in a number of cases
  • Learners can go at their own pace, there is no slowing down in pace to suit different members of a group
  • It takes less time to start and wind up a learning session
  • There is less travel time to and from a training event
  • Learners learn what they need to learn, they can skip elements of a program they don’t need
  • E-learning is more environmentally friendly. Many e-learning courses present all learning content online, using non paper forms of communication such as email and web based tools
  • Employees who are offered continuing education classes may be more loyal to the company where they work. They see the company is interested in their personal growth and advancement and they will be more prone to want to utilize their additional skills to the benefit of the company.

If you decide that E-learning could benefit your company choose the subject of training carefully. E-learning is very suitable when delivering knowledge where as classroom training and on-the-job training is more suitable when that knowledge is being turned into a skill. Your employees’ computer competency is a hugely important factor – having strong enough skills to be able to use this type of training comfortably is a must. Employees must have good self-discipline for E-learning to be effective. While being able to work at your own pace can be an advantage for some employees, for others it could be a disadvantage.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

360 Degree Feedback

Kate Cahill - Friday, November 11, 2011

What is 360 degree feedback

360 degree respondents can be the employee’s peers, supervisors, managers, team members, other staff members, customers, suppliers – anyone who can provide objective feedback on the employee. Sources should be chosen on factors such as their knowledge of the employee’s performance, the importance of their relationship with the employee and their ability to provide objective feedback and use examples to back up their opinions.  The process for identifying respondents should be clearly set out with employees having some opportunity to input. The feedback is typically provided on a form (paper or online) showing job skills/abilities/attitudinal/behavioural criteria and some sort of scoring or value judgement system. The employee should also assess themselves using the same feedback form. In order for the 360-degree feedback process to be effective, it is important that it be designed and used correctly. The confidentiality of everyone involved should be respected at all times and the feedback should be summarised and delivered to the employee by individuals trained in feedback techniques. Employees should always be offered support to act on feedback.

Why use 360 feedback:

360 feedback can help to identify strengths and development needs for the employee and also help managers by providing insights into their management and leadership role. 360 feedback can open up communications about performance because the process involves giving and receiving feedback from all directions in the organization. Understanding ourselves and how we interact with others helps us understand the impact we have on those around us. 

Companies typically use a 360 feedback system in one of two ways:

1. 360 feedback as a development tool to help employees recognize strengths and weaknesses and become more effective
When done properly, 360 feedback is highly effective as a development tool. Employees can gain insight into how others perceive them and have an opportunity to adjust behaviours and develop skills that will enable them to improve / excel at their jobs. It can tell you where the development is needed for your employees so you don’t end up wasting a huge amount of money on training that people don’t need.

2. 360 Feedback as a Performance Appraisal Tool
360 feedback focuses on behaviours and competencies more than on basic skills, job requirements, and performance objectives. These things are most appropriately addressed by an employee and his/her manager as part of the annual review and performance appraisal process. The 360 feedback can enhance your performance management system, by incorporating 360 feedback into a larger performance management process, but only with clear communication on how the 360 feedback will be used.

What does 360 Feedback measure

  • 360 feedback measures competencies – for example leadership, decision making, problem solving, customer service, motivation etc
  • 360 feedback can identify underlying attitudes and thinking patterns that drive behaviour  and even help resolve what is causing counter-productive actions
  • 360 reviews provide feedback on how others perceive an employee
  • 360 feedback addresses skills such as listening, planning, and goal-setting
  • A 360 evaluation can identify and measure areas such as customer service, teamwork, training needs, work environment and leadership effectiveness. The feedback can then be used to create development plans to increase capabilities and performance.
Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

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