People First HR Services

First 60 minutes can make your workday

Colleen Coates

Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Fortunately, this wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but is a colourful metaphor for smart time management: get the most undesirable task out of the way first thing, and the balance of your day will go much smoother. Tackling the least desirable job first may come as a bit of a surprise strategy, especially to slow starters who prefer wading into the workday one toe at a time, but it’s one way to ensure you make the most of your first 60 minutes of your day.

Three questions can change your world

Colleen Coates

Well it’s March already — two months since you made those New Year’s resolutions and maybe two months into your organization’s new fiscal year. Sadly, many of us have either already failed to follow through on what seemed like a reasonable goal (10 pounds should miraculously fall off the hips as long as chocolate does not hit the lips), or even worse, haven’t set any goals (I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m sure I’ll get there).

Compassion takes sting out of “You’re fired”

Colleen Coates

Perhaps you have heard the tale about getting a pink slip in with your paycheque as a way of finding out about your employment termination. This tale dates back to the early 1900s and I’ve yet to see an organization actually do this. However, a quick media search finds many stories where employees have been victims of deplorable actions by their employer. One such case was the U.S. convenience store chain owner who held a contest for employees to guess who would be fired next in order to win a cash prize. Another high-profile termination was that of Yahoo’s CEO Carol Bartz who was terminated over the telephone. Then there were the RadioShack Corp. employees who found out they were being let go when they received an email explaining that workforce reduction was being carried out and “unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated.”

The reality is losing your job can be a horrible and even devastating experience, but the good news is most employers are caring and realize terminations don’t have to be a dreadful experience, according to Eileen Kirton, regional vice-president of KWA Partners, leaders in career management services.

Don’t try to direct volunteers, let their efforts find best path

Colleen Coates

During the holiday season, many non-profit organizations and even understaffed companies make use of volunteers to stretch their resources. Whether it is because they want to give back to their community or because of the realities of the job market, more highly skilled workers are available and eager to lend a helping hand.

The idea of co-ordinating volunteers, including student interns and committees, can be an organizational nightmare for some people — one that brings the simplicity of herding cats to mind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Managing volunteers isn’t about directing people as much as it is about allowing their efforts to find the best path.

Strategic planning a map to growth

Colleen Coates

It’s been said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any route will get you there.” This is why organizations need to put such great effort into strategic planning. Without a map to sustainable growth, a business is not likely to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Saying that strategic planning is an important process is an understatement. Not only does it help to define short- and long-term goals and set the direction of the organization, it also provides a means of allocating the necessary resources and capital to achieve the desired outcomes.

You need to prepare for ever-changing world of work

Colleen Coates

While the back-to-school season marks a return to the comfort of a regular routine in most families, for students, it is a time of untried challenges and unfamiliar changes. New schools, new teachers, new classmates, new course loads and new expectations are just the tip of the iceberg — the changes are often overwhelming.

Of course, change does not stop upon graduation and our entrance into the working world; on the contrary. The workplace is a rapidly changing environment, and both employees and employers need to prepare to manage the evolving and sometimes unpredictable, developments that come their way.

Succession planning key priority

Colleen Coates

The baseball term bench strength has become a metaphor for smart succession planning.

To a ball team, bench strength means the skill level and number of quality players available to substitute during any given inning. In business, it’s about the depth, the versatility and the competence of high-potential leaders who are ready to be called up to fill senior-level vacancies in the organization.

For a company to build its bench strength, it needs to incorporate a succession planning process into its talent management efforts. But according to one new report, two-fifths of employers have never used succession planning. Less than one in four organizations (23 per cent) have a formal process for succession planning in place; fewer than one in three (31 per cent) opt for a more informal system.

Fresh leadership can help to revitalize and refocus an organization

John McFerran

According to the Global Health Council, more than 9.5 million people die every year from infectious diseases. Millions more die from secondary causes related to those diseases.

The International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID) in Winnipeg develops solutions that target infectious diseases by improving disease-prevention strategies; enhancing biosafety and biosecurity in labs, hospitals and communities; and commercializing innovative products for public health practice.

“If you take a look at an infectious disease such as HPV (human papillomavirus), that disease has been linked to cervical cancer and other cancers as well,” says John Borody, the non-profit organization’s CEO. “By tackling HPV, the occurrence of cancer can be reduced as well.”

On-the-spot job appreciation goes long way to motivate

Colleen Coates

Last column covered the use of recognition as a strategic advantage to assist in the attraction, retention, engagement and motivation of an organization’s workforce. Today, we will look at how to turn that knowledge into an actionable plan.

Strategic recognition ties sincere appreciation to an organization’s other people management practices (such as recruitment or performance management) and ensures programs are aligned with the organization’s shared values and objectives. Recognizing behaviours that align with the company’s values helps reinforce those values, fostering greater trust and cohesiveness.

The following steps can help you develop a solid recognition strategy: