Friday, 16 May 2014

Summer Students are a great idea!

Have you thought of bringing these young people into your company in between school years or for a coop term? It’s an extremely valuable and inexpensive way to recruit, train, and maintain talent for employers. These young and motivated students bring fresh new attitudes to the workplace. They are optimistic about their future careers and are eager to make a positive impact for their employers. Introducing enthusiastic guys and girls into your company can have a positive effect on morale and encourage a culture of learning. This will increase your competitiveness in the market as students can bring creativity, innovation, and relevant skills in new technologies to the workplace.  Not to mention they bring youth and fun! Ultimately, it is important for employers to recognize that students are not just a source of inexpensive labour, but an opportunity to develop future professionals.

Ideally, you want to hire students after their second year for a four month work term.  By this time, they’ve gained some maturity and knowledge through academics and are eager to start applying both. You want to build loyalty and enthusiasm with your students by the end of the work term so they are eager to come back to work for you again during their breaks. Eight months of inexpensive training ensures your future employees are not only up to date on your industry trends but also understand the unique values and culture of your workplace. In order to ensure your students remain loyal to your company, pay and treat them like employees. Unpaid students are a no-no and simply take advantage of eager students who want to work hard and gain more experience to leverage future employment opportunities. If you treat these students like part of your company and pay them fairly, they will be on your doorstep at the end of the next year.

These students now become a valuable asset to your company as they have the benefit of education and work experience. Steward your students though their education all the way to graduation, if you’ve done your job they will be anxious to join your team. You will have a new hire that is a step ahead of anyone else.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Performance management systems – to be or not to be….

 A lot of companies are very vocal about the fact that they do not have, nor do they need a performance management system.  I agree – performance management is not a necessary evil in all companies. If you hire and manage well, you may never need this process at all, but now let’s change the name – Feedback moments; Employee feedback meetings; How are you doing meetings, Chat sessions…I could go on about nomenclature.  The title of the meetings doesn’t matter, the purpose and benefit is the same – employees want and need to know how they are doing and where they stand in your eyes. Not to mention, to follow proper HR practice, you should have something documented in case the relationship goes sour.

I am not a big fan of fancy performance management systems, forms or processes.  I personally think it takes away from the purpose of the meeting.  I know of some organizations where the manager and the employee don’t even talk during this process, they each fill out their portion of the review online and send it in electronically where it is gathered at the HR level. Pardon me, but how did this strengthen the relationship between manager and employee?  Did the employee get to ask the question face to face - how can I improve?  Did the manager have the opportunity to thank the employee verbally for the great job they are doing?  This process is simply that - a process for the sake of saying it’s been done and can be crossed off the list.  I much prefer a one-pager that gives the manager some guidance on what to talk about or even a blank piece of paper if that’s all that’s required.  The real benefit to these sessions is the conversation!  That is where the relationship is strengthened and insights gained.  Don’t get bogged down in process but don’t forget that giving face-to-face feedback is important.  My view of best practice in this arena, is meeting quarterly in an informal setting with your employees to have these conversations (using whatever documentation you choose).  Even though you typically work daily with your employees, setting aside the time to talk purely about them will go a long way on its own. It will strengthen your relationship and show the employee that you are invested in their success!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Remember your manners...

I recently read an article on manners and it had an impact on me so here I go piggybacking on that topic.  As an HR professional, I often work with individuals/teams on appropriate professional behavior or team dysfunction.  This is not an everyday occurrence but happens nonetheless – manners on the other hand are a different story.  Good manners should be habit for everyone, especially when interacting in business.  People remember good manners – it isn’t a generational thing either, good and bad manners are apparent in all generations.  I think in today’s society with everyone always face down on their smart phones or running from one a appointment to the other, society as a whole has dropped the ball on manners.  If you want to stand out as an employee, potential candidate, business leader, business owner, etc. good manners are important.  Here are a few things that drive people crazy when they’re not done and also some general ‘be nice’ tips as you walk (or run) through your day:

·        Answer emails promptly, even if it’s just to acknowledge that you received it but don’t have the response ready yet

·        Answer meeting invitations promptly as well

·        If you can’t make a meeting time, try and suggest another time

·        On that note, be on time to meetings – everyone is busy so that is no excuse for being late

·        Say thank you for a meeting

·        Ask how someone’s day is going

·        Don’t text or scroll your phone while in a meeting

·        Make sure you thank someone for a job interview

·        Thank someone if they helped you out in any way

·        If you run in to someone and you’re with someone else, please introduce them

·        Add a salutation before your email message and after

·        Capitalize people’s names in correspondence

·        Don’t interrupt people when they are trying to make a point

·        Be respectful of ‘normal’ work hours – don’t call at 9 PM unless a real emergency

Remember the golden rule…


Friday, 10 January 2014

January blah, blah, blahs.  How can we as HR professionals or business owners help ourselves and our employees through the January blahs. This is a time to focus on positive, creative and fun initiatives within your business.  Here are a few ideas:

*      As with personal goal setting that often happens at the beginning of the year, use this theme to focus on business goals.  Just as with personal goals, these goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). Put on an employee lunch ‘n learn talking about setting goals both personally and professionally. 

*      Fitness resolutions are one of the most common – have a fitness challenge at your office.

*      Have a company New Year’s celebration – use it as a kick off for your 2014 strategy!

*      Sponsor a Financial Planning 101 seminar as we head into tax and RSP time – you’ll be surprised at how many employees are uneducated on financial and income protection basics.

*      Bring outdoor sports indoors – organize a lunch hour indoor mini golf game.

*      Have a board game tournament: chess, Pictionary, charades, Trivial Pursuit, etc.

*      Enjoy a summer style potluck – bar-b-que theme…

There are an infinite number of inexpensive employee engaging activities you can do to fight those January blahs.  You even get to sneak in a team building activity without anyone really knowing it!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Myths About Gen Y's

For those of you who are Gen Y’s or work with them, hopefully you’ll find this article of interest.  I reference 8 myths – and truths – about generation Y (Canadian HR Reporter May 20, 2013 – by Cheryl Cran).  Myth 1 – Gen Y’s are disloyal…truth – Gen Y’s look at company loyalty differently – as opposed to time on the job, they are loyal to both their leaders and their co-workers.  Myth 2 – Gen Y’s  don’t want to work long or hard…truth Gen Y’s believe in using technology to work smarter.  They don’t equate long hours with quality of work.  Myth 3 – Gen Y’s  don’t know how to connect face-to-face…truth Gen Y’s know how to connect but also connect worldwide using technology and don’t see the value of face-to-face connection when it can be done efficiently through technology.  Myth 4 – Gen Y’s don’t care about timeliness and call in sick to do something fun…truth Gen Y’s value a work life balance and have no problem being late or leaving early but will pull ‘all-nighters’ to get a project done.  Myth 5 – Gen Y’s are rude in meetings as they address their smart phones…truth Gen Y’s see this as being efficient.  Myth 6 – Gen Y’s are self-focused…truth Gen Y’s have been raised to believe if they ask they will get and are used to instant reward.  They also have a strong sense of civic duty and community.  Myth 7 – Gen Y’s want to be promoted quickly or they’re out of there…truth Gen Y’s believe they should be rewarded for performance and promotion is one way.  They look for a career path and opportunity.  As a good leader of Gen Y’s it is important to teach them the ‘why’ in what they do and why they need to earn rewards.  Myth 8 – Gen Y’s are high maintenance…truth Gen Y’s are used to ongoing recognition and find annual performance reviews archaic.  They need real time feedback in the form of inspirational feedback rather critical.  In my opinion, Gen Y’s have such a great attitude towards life and work and are a very confident bunch. We need to learn to harness the energy and embrace the different working styles – this is a generation of great ideas and courage and the technology they bring is not going away.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Best Practice - I tweeted an article recently, see link below, about best practices.  I’m frequently asked as a consultant when I'm being interviewed by a potential new client what my ‘best practices’ are and I often surprise them by saying I don’t really believe in that concept especially in the small to mid-size business market.   I think the honesty in that answer surprises a lot of people but the truth is what are best practices and how can you uniformly apply them to all organizations?  It goes without saying that you must adhere to legislation, human rights and the ethical and morally sound way to treat your employees, but beyond that what is best for one company may not be best or good at all in yours.  This is where an experienced consultant who has spent time in organizations of various sizes and industries demonstrates their value.  They bring good, practical, working solutions from various experiences into your company to create what is ‘best’ for your organization. A good consultant will have many practices in their toolbox to tweak to fit your particular situation, culture and organizational practices.  I would say explore carefully what a consultant means when they say they can bring ‘best practices’ into your organization – in today’s business world with all the diversity and individuality in our organizations – I don’t believe one size fits all.



Sunday, 7 April 2013

Putting the Why in Human Resources

A very good friend and mentor of mine gave me the book "Start with Why by Simon Sinek - a good read.  It made me really look at my business and why I do what I do.  Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am about simplifying people processes not complicating them.  My Why is about the people in your business.  There are some HR practitioners that truly believe you need a rock solid process with 100 steps for each aspect of HR Management and there is a place for that.  Certain certifications that companies obtain require certain HR procedures in place and I understand that need. But, I still believe that it is not that easy or fun to process people.  Everyone needs a baseline of how a business operates relating to its people but I think we need to remember we are dealing with human beings who all have a different story and different needs. Company culture is created by allowing people their freedom to be who they are while still performing within the framework of their job and being productive for their company.  My Why is working with companies to allow them to foster the individuality amongst its employees and create a culture of productivity, individuality and mutual respect.  That is what makes what I do fun and rewarding, and why small  and mid-size businesses add me to their team. I suggest giving this book a read and really thinking about your Why...