Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Baby! Best Managed Leadership

A new baby is in the works!  I'm excited to be launching a new service in July, "Best Managed Leadership".  I will be partnering with companies who are eager to become one of "Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies".

Over the past two years I have worked closely with a client company, Capital Paving Inc., who achieved this prestigious designation in 2010 and re-qualified in 2011.  In 2009, an employee team prepared a strong submission that qualified Capital as a Regional Finalist for South-Western Ontario.  In 2010 the ownership team decided to fully commit to achieving this valued designation.  We identified strategic planning as being a critical first step and then established multiple initiatives to develop the capability of the organization, managers and employees to fulfill this plan.  On February 21, 2010, Capital was thrilled to be announced in the Financial Post as one of Canada's Best Managed.

The ripple effects to Capital's business have been profound.  The recognition helped the organization in making a major acquisition, has enabled the company to secure preferred financial terms with key suppliers and partners and has supported the owners in achieving various other awards of recognition for their leadership.  Employee pride and talent attraction are of course enhanced by the achievement of this award.

I was honored to attend a gala with the owners of Capital and our spouses in March, 2010.  In 2011, we prepared a re-qualification submission and were humbled to re-earn this designation.   At the 2011 Gala I learned that some organizations have made many efforts over the years to achieve the status of "best managed" but have regrettably fallen short of the rigorous selection criteria.   It became clear to me that I am passionate to support other organizations who are committed to this goal. 

So What About You?

Have a look at the criteria below and identify whether it's time for your organization to commit to the path of being named as one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies!

Eligible Companies:
  • Revenues greater than $10M
  • Managing finances effectively, adapting to changing market conditions, over the past three years
  • Canadian-owned public company or income trust with fewer than 50 percent of their shares or units trade
  • Or Canadian-owned closely held* private company meeting certain conditions
The Process:

This exceptional program is sponsored by Deloitte Canada, CIBC, Queen's School of Business and the National Post.  There is a very rigorous process of assessment and selection of the best managed companies in Canada, based on demonstration of various criteria including:  financial excellence, capability, strategy and commitment.  Phase 1 for 2011 is open now until September 28th for companies interested in applying.

Companies who are successful in qualifying in Phase 1 will be assigned a Coach from Deloitte and CIBC who will help advise on the submission preparation for Phase 2.  The timeline is then very tight with approximately one month to prepare an extensive submission in response to specific criteria.

In my experience, in addition to the helpful counsel from Deloitte and CIBC, you will benefit from having a partner to steer your organization through the work that is necessary to demonstrate "best managed" practices.  You may find that some of these practices will take more than a few moths to develop and decide to apply for full submission the subsequent year.  

I would be honoured to work with you on this journey which creates significant return for your business.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Vulnerable 6-Week Mark

When is a good time to "check-in" with new hires? It's a question I often get asked when organizations are designing their Onboarding processes.

Having the luxury of being able to witness the week-by-week progress of the senior leaders that I work with during their Onboarding, I find that a check-in at the end of the first week is very important for the initial "hygiene factors" that can really turn-off a new hire if not in-place (computer access, security passes, phone training, business cards, etc.)

If you are only going to do one mid-term and then a 90-day check-in I would encourage you to consider the 6-week mark. This is when new hires are often their most vulnerable.

The first month seems to be the honeymoon. Lots of adrenalin going on. Lots of meetings with new people lined-up on the calendar for the first month. What happens in many organizations is that they forget to turn the page to the next month's calendar. Onboarding activity should be diligently scheduled through the first 3 months and even beyond for more senior levels.

At about the 6-week mark, cognitive dissonance seems to set-in. Some doubts start to emerge. The warts of the new company, new boss and new colleagues start to show. AND fatigue takes the place of adrenalin.

It may seem an odd analogy but if any of you have recently had a baby or can recall the early days, you might remember that the first few weeks with the baby seemed pretty good. The baby slept. Lots of visitors came and paid attention to you as new parents. There were gifts and flowers.

Seems like somewhere around the 6th week, the demons emerge. The new parents aren't sleeping. The baby starts being more wakeful and cries a lot. It's not as novel anymore. In fact I know many friends who found this a particularly trying time. I vividly recall looking at my husband in absolute dismay when he mentioned having a second child at around 6 weeks and I practically shrieked "but we aren't even coping with this one!!" (Now we have two wonderful kids less than 2 years apart and for the most part, we are coping just fine thanks).

So, a long-winded way of saying that I notice that my Onboarding clients seem to be at one of their most tired and vulnerable points at about week 6. This is also the time when friends from their old job start calling to ask how it's going. The friends let their former colleague have the first month to settle into their new job and then they start booking lunch dates. This is when you really want to 'show the love" as a new employer.

Show them that you recognize that not everything may be rosy right now and the organization is interested in supporting them through the adjustment. Show your new hires that your company has a plan for their longer-term development and there is much positivity to anticipate.

Better them you are truly invested in their well-being and hire a coach to support their success :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This Development Stuff is Tough!

The professional training of a Coach teaches us not to be too "attached" to the outcomes of our clients. What does this mean for a highly results-focused coach? For me, it's meant that I've needed to lean into the recognition that adult development is not a linear, upward trajectile but rather a path that involves forward-and-back and up-and-down as we acquire new knowledge, test new skills and stretch beyond our perceived limitations. There are times when achievement of the longer-term goal necessitates moving through considerable set-backs to gain the necessary insights to truly fulfill the desired end.

Over time, I've learned that ineed "no pain, no gain" does seem to be an apt mantra for leadership development and professional growth.

Here's an article I wrote for Company magazine that acknowledges this path.

Enjoy the tough stuff!

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Those Pesky Millennials and Their Whiny Demands

This topic seems to have struck a powerful chord for many of you. I recently had an article I'd written published in the HiringSmart newsletter and I've been receiving much heartfelt feedback ever since.

Seems I'm not alone in recognizing that the supposed "unreasonable demands" of Millennials and Gen Y are simply good management practices that ANY generation can benefit from. We just haven't all asked for them and then resigned when we didn't get our demands met. Instead, generations like mine (tail-end Boomer) took the far more mature approach (??) and stayed in our jobs while having horribly low levels of engagement or simply "retired on the job".

Here's feedback from Dorothy Russel, Principal of Essential Futures...When I first began to hear about the Gen-Y ‘issues’ my first thought was, “they’re just demanding good management practices. And they’re willing to vote with their feet if they don’t get the respect and attention they deserve. If organizations did what Gen-Y’s crave they’d be much better places for everyone to work.” I also think they’d be more effective, productive, and profitable. And not just on-boarding practices, but all practices that involve people.

Thank you for a clear, punchy article.

Thank you, Dorothy!

Time to start listening to what this generation has to say.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Onboarding: Millennials Will Make You Do What You Should’ve Been Doing Already

Last week I presented at a conference on Campus Recruitment. My topic was “Welcoming & Engaging Your New Grads”. The participants were representatives from both HR and line positions who were accountable for developing and managing their organizations’ strategies for branding & attraction, recruitment & selection and orientation & onboarding for new grads.

As is the case at many current conferences, generational differences were a hot topic of conversation, with much hand-wringing about what to do to meet the needs of these demanding Gen Y and Millennial new grads.

After all…this generation has the nerve to have an awfully long list of expectations with respect to their new hire experience. Let’s take a peek at some of these demands:

1. They want to “feel connected” when they join the organization. We gave them a job offer… don’t they know they have a place to belong now??
2. They have the nerve to ask how they are going to experience “meaning” in their work. And this is only their first week…the photocopier is over there dude!
3. They want to know how they can get ahead… don’t they know that they have to do their time for goodness sake??
4. They’re asking a lot of questions about when they’ll get to work with a Team. What is this a sports franchise?? Can’t they just buckle down and get to their assigned tasks?
5. They’re constantly looking for feedback. These new grads are like needy puppy dogs!

I am of the belief that there is absolutely an element of truth to each of these “demands”. And at the same time, of course there’s an undertone of sarcasm to my observations.

‘Cause here’s the thing. If we can just take a deep breath and step back for a minute from the frustration we’re experiencing in feeling pressured to accommodate this list, we might be able to see the irony in this list.

What if we were to flip our own resistance on it’s head and look at the very opportunity that is being created by Gen Y and Millennial new hires. How might they be in fact asking us to do what we should have been doing YEARS ago?

Generational “differences” aside… shouldn’t a great onboarding experience do the following?

1. Foster connectivity for all new hires
2. Identify ways for new hires (even new grads) to have a sense of meaning in their work or of contribution to the organization
3. Articulate the ways that “people get ahead around here” by making the unwritten rules as transparent as possible.
4. Provide opportunities to work with and learn from other great people in the organization through cross-functional teams, project teams, CSR initiatives etc.
5. Offer feedback—on strengths, capabilities, opportunities and developmental needs as early and as often as possible.

So, rather than railing against the vocal expression of these expectations, what if we were to be thankful that our “customers” for the onboarding experience are finally speaking their minds and creating enough of a burning platform for us to simply get on with all the great things we’ve long wanted to do to foster an enviable Onboarding experience for new hires at all levels and stages of their careers?

Isn’t the list of “unreasonable demands” in fact a prescription for a developing a successful onboarding program?

I'd love you to share your comments.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Your New Job & Your Personal Brand

Congratulations, you've landed that amazing new job! In the interviews, you shone a spotlight on your strengths and you candidly addressed your development needs. They loved what they heard!

Now that you're hired, you can relax and let things unfold. Can't you???

In my work with people who are moving into a new role, particularly those joining a new employer, we often spend time prior to "day 1" focusing on how they want to be seen.

You see, "branding" will happen with or without your deliberate efforts. From the first time you shake hands or introduce yourself, others will make assumptions about you and begin to shape their interactions with you accordingly. They'll decide whether to share information with you because you seem collaborative and trustworthy. Or, they'll decide to block your efforts to gain organizational knowledge because they see you as arrogant and competitive in a negative way. It's just human nature to try to simplify our surroundings.

So, when I link "personal branding" with onboarding (the timeframe of ramping up in a new job), what I'm referring to is having a clear picture in your own mind of the impression you want others to gain about you.

What 3 words or phrases do you want to immediately come to mind when people meet you?
Which of your strengths do you want to clearly project?
What do you want others to know and believe about you?

I recommend focusing on 3 words for a reason... being a walking laundry list of 20 personal competencies will not only be impossible for others to's a quick way to get your colleagues' backs-up. Think in sound bites. What 3 qualities are most important for you to be well-received? And I mean geunine qualities that are authentically yours...not some manufactured image that belies the real you.

Use these 3 qualities as your personal affirmation in morning when you jump out of bed, when you look in the mirror and when you are focusing on bolstering your confidence for that next important meeting. Such as, "I am an attentive listener. I am an insightful analyst. I get things done."

I also approach this exercise by encouraging my clients not to think in terms of what message they want to send about themselves, but what message do they want others to receive. It's a subtle shift that makes a world of difference. Focus on how you hope to have others perceive you. What do they need to hear (or not hear) from you? If you know yourself to be an "attentive listener"...what do others need to see you doing when they first meet you to conclude that you are in fact a great listener. Telling them you have this quality sure won't cut it!

Moving into a new role is a challenging and overwhelming time. Keep your self-talk focused and manage your personal brand. It will pave the way to successful relationships and a great future!

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Top Tips For Entrepreneurial Success

On June 16th, I attended a fabulous conference hosted by The Company of Women called Journey to Success.

One part of the program was LESSONS LEARNED from Canada's Top Women Entrepreneurs, which was a panel of 3 women recognized by PROFIT magazine in its annual list of Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs in Canada.

They had many great insights to offer the over 220 participants. At the end of the panel discussion each woman offered her “top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success”.

NANCY ADAMO, President and Owner of Hockley Valley Resort in Orangeville, Ontario

1. Believe in you
2. No business is easy- perseverance is key
3. Learn to let go to grow
4. Love what you are doing
5. Find balance

JILL ANDERSON, President of Aecometric Corporation

1. You have no idea what your abilities are until you test them
2. Never give up
3. Be truthful—tell your team about the problems
4. Have good people
5. Some customers you don’t want; they simply aren’t worth it

MARG HACHEY, the Executive Vice-President of Duocom Canada Inc., offered her “Joy of 6”

1. Have a compelling business model
2. Have a strong management team
3. Listen to your customers
4. Have a profitable financial model
5. Have a powerful marketing strategy
6. Have robust technology

I’m curious, which of these tips resonate for you? What are your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

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