A win for the Blind Date by Lindsay Roberts

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Who knew a blind date could be an instant success? A connection you search for but know you may not ever find. That’s what happened to me when a mutual friend set me up on an interview with Christina and Drew (Praxis). Like any interview I had done my research, laid out my clothes the night before, made sure I didn’t have any toddler breakfast on my top and held my head high as I walked out the door… but this was different. I didn’t know what to expect, there hadn’t been a job opening or a formal recruitment, just one person, setting us up on a quasi-blind date. Yet, from the first conversation rally (often defaulting to sports terms) the spark was evident.

I suppose all interviews are like blind dates. Meeting people for the first time, hoping to impress them while learning more about the prospect, hoping you’ll get a call once the time spent together ends. What set this meeting apart was that spark. I like to think I have only taken jobs where I could see my future; however, this was bigger than that, it was a future I had dreamed about but I wasn’t completely confident existed (yet), especially on the Sunshine Coast (where we were moving our family to). Talking with Christina and Drew felt like talking to myself but in action. Ideas were flowing, pens were moving and I walked away with a huge smile on my face. This was it. They had done it, and I wanted to be a part of it!

Since then, it has been exactly as I hoped, working to put ideas into action just as our namesake eludes, and with another new team member (Erin), who was seemingly our missing link! Writing now, my plan was to contribute a blog about my transition into Praxis, but it wouldn’t be right without starting from the beginning…shedding light on the first day we met, the spark that just continues to grow, the revival of the blind date. With no finish line in sight, I am so grateful to be apart of this super star team. 

Start with Why, by Erin Heeney

Hi, I'm Erin. I'm one of the gals Christina and Drew mentioned in the previous two posts. Like them, I'm overjoyed to be part the Praxis Team. It's quite flattering, actually.  For many reasons.

So, I made a list! Because who doesn't like lists?

5 (of many) Reasons why Praxis is both a Great Company to Work for and with:

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1. Strong Leadership: Christina and Drew enable organizations to thrive by helping them innovate and lead by example. They walk the talk and push best practices to be better. For example, writing my job description was a collaborative effort; I was hired for my skills, not my ability to complete specific tasks. My job description will evolve as I grow. Plus, I got to pick my job title! How cool is that?

2. Shared Values: at the end of the day, we all just want to help people and live our best lives

3. Teamwork: our work is based on collaboration, trust, and most of all fun! What more can you ask for in a team?

4. Flexibility: I can work where I want, when I want. I have choice in the projects I contribute to. The value in my work is in the quality of the hours, not the quantity.

5. Creativity: I get to design presentations and find creative ways to inform, educate, and lead people from idea to action.

As I grow in my role as Program Facilitator, I look forward to discovering more reasons why I'm pumped on the work we do, and I will be sure to continue to share that with you.

Until then, thank you, Drew, Christina, and Lindsay for such a warm welcome to the team!

Welcome Happiness, by Drew Stewart

Ever find that it is sometimes the smallest things in life that can make you happy? Things like an elevator arriving to your floor the moment you push the button. Turning on the tv and finding that your favourite movie just started. Or how about taking that first sip of your favourite drink? All are pretty good things that at the very least crack an inward smile to those of us that experience these events. About a week ago, I found out what my little slice of random happiness was…

Finding a lemon meringue pie on the discount bakery cart at the grocery store.

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Christina had mentioned that she hadn’t seen me smile all day, but damned if I wasn’t grinning like a Cheshire cat when I saw that pie with the 50% off sticker on the top of the packaging. With the kind of laser focus that writers hyperbolize elite athletes of possessing, I lunged forward, grabbed the delicious package and secured it in my cart. I felt like my day was done after that, I had reached the highest of peaks.

Truth is however, I have had a lot to be happy about lately. Some of these things are not even food related either! As a father, I have had the opportunity to watch each of my three children participate in something they are passionate about. For a parent, seeing your kids not only enjoy what they are doing but having a measure of success at it, is overwhelmingly satisfying. I have been happy because we have been fortunate enough to close off a couple of recruitment searches and thereby giving individuals an exciting new opportunity. Being a small part in a life event for someone is an extremely rewarding experience. Contrary to what Christina might think, there is something that even makes me happier than seeing that discounted pie. Our team at Praxis is growing.

Within the context of things that are a “problem”, being busy (as a business owner) is a good one to have. I am happy to say that we are bringing on two wonderful individuals who will make Praxis even stronger and allow us to continue delivering the quality of customer service that we pride ourselves on. Lindsay Roberts and Erin Heeney are joining the team as the Director of HR Services and Program Coordinator/Facilitator, respectively. Aside from also living in one of the most beautiful corners of the country, we all share a passion for helping organizations build their best possible teams. It is rare that you meet someone for the first time and walk away feeling in complete alignment in your vision and values. We had that feeling with both Lindsay and Erin after our initial meetings. They are going to bring enormous value to Praxis and to our clients and I couldn’t be happier to have them onboard…like discounted lemon meringue pie happy.

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And Then There Were Four, by Christina Stewart

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Have you ever run a business, with you and your partner both working 80+ hours per week? Have you ever tried to run a business working all those hours when your partner is also your husband and you have three active kids, two big dogs and a home to run together?

If so, you'll know that it's difficult (understatement!) because you and he are literally everything to everybody at home and everything to everybody with all your clients. So, what do you do?

Hire some help of course!

But what if you found an absolutely ahhh-mazing team member, and she was tied up in a contract for a few more months?  Well, if you are like us, of course you’d wait for her. Because she’s awesome and I mean that in a tremendous, remarkable, splendid kind of way!

So then, what if while you were waiting for this tremendous, remarkable, splendid Director of all your services to arrive, you launch a whole new line of service?  Well, that’s what we did.  On top of the bucket load of interesting and complex HR advisory work, on top of the challenging recruitment we had underway and on top of the regular learning and development and team building we were doing – we decided to take on a huge new program focused around Diversity, Inclusion & Unconscious Bias.  Why? Because there is significant value in it for us and for our clients.

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And then what if you stopped counting the hours you were working and you found yourselves without a day off ever, like ever ever, and what if your kids started complaining that they didn’t know who you were anymore and what if you started going days between showers? (kidding! Sort of…)

Hire some help of course! So, we found an ahhh-mazing new team member to support all of our new work in Diversity, our Respectful Workplace programs and our Learning & Development / Team Building work.  But like anyone worth their salt, she wanted to give appropriate notice to her employer and then she wanted a little time to her herself in between her old gig and our new gig.  (She went to Mexico! Yay, for her, boo for us!) But of course we were happy to wait because she’s terrific.  Terrific in a “she takes initiative on the very first day” kind of terrific!

But then guess what happened?

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November 8, 2017 happened.  And as luck would have it, our brand new Program Facilitator and our Director of HR Services joined the Praxis Team for real.  For realz. 

So, if you see me smiling around town (with my kids in tow!) you know why.

Welcome to the craziness Lindsay & Erin – we couldn’t be happier to have you!

Huy Chexw. Thanksgiving by Christina Stewart

Those of us at Praxis, like most people, enjoy a long weekend away from work with more time for our families, however, as supporters and advocates for the rights of First Nations people we’ve been hesitant to celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ve been concerned that our celebration of gratitude had roots that came at a cost to the Indigenous population.  It was time for some serious research.

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The first documented “Thanksgiving” in Canada was in 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher celebrated his fleet’s safe return to Newfoundland after attempting to find the Northwest Passage.  (The Northwest Passage wasn’t fully navigated until much, much later in the early 1900’s – Frobisher was merely celebrating that the fleet made it back to Newfoundland safely.) Feasts in Canada continued thereafter to celebrate and give thanks for the land that we call home, the food on our tables and the families that we love.  Explorer Samuel de Champlain is known to have held massive meals with First Nations people to celebrate and give thanks.  Thanksgiving became a national Holiday in 1879.

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However, it is extremely evident that the celebration of Thanksgiving has deep roots in First Nations culture and in fact Thanksgiving is originally an Indigenous ceremony.  In a recent CBC interview Brian Rice, an assistant professor in the department of religion at the University of Winnipeg and a member of the Mohawk nation said, "All of our ceremonies, all of the things that we do, have to do with giving thanks. So it's part of a continuum of something that's been practised for thousands of years." As far as First Nation celebrations of Thanksgiving in Canada go – it’s a divided issue with some celebrating Thanksgiving, others not celebrating anything and some celebrating their own made up holiday – in one family they call it: “You're Welcome Day.” 

So, what to do at Praxis?  By not acknowledging Thanksgiving we feel that we are ignoring the gift that First Nations people gave to us. Building on the idea of “You're Welcome Day” we are absolutely going to celebrate Thanksgiving as way to say thank you to the aboriginal people that can lay claim to the land that we live and work on. It is about gratitude and family ties and doing our best to build relationships.  As an integral part of our Thanksgiving we chose to speak to our family about the gratitude we feel to be living in such a wonderful place with such abundance.  We make sure that our children understand that the land on which we have our home and our office belongs to the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation.) We show our gratitude to First Nations people for the food, the land, the air and the water that feeds and supports us.   So, Huy Chexw (thank you in Squamish) to all of those that came before us and gave us this place to be.

The Benefit of Flexibility by Christina Stewart

Praxis began because Drew and I wanted to be The Boss. We wanted to work for ourselves and have infinitely more flexibility.  I personally was frustrated with asking if I could have an afternoon or an hour away from the office to attend to something for my kids.  I have excellent time management ability and can focus easily, I know how to manage my time with my tasks and saw slipping away from work to watch an assembly or take a child to the dentist as easy and as just part of my day.  Funny, my boss didn’t see it that way. However, I never did ask if I could come in on a Saturday to get ahead of the workload – I just would and of course no one ever challenged me on it. It isn’t that they wouldn’t let me go – if I asked, then I could go – but it was just the fact that I had to ask and that it was tallied up and tracked, used as vacation, or I traded this time at work here for this time at home there and recorded on some spreadsheet and in some database.

As the one in charge of the service we offer now (aka The Boss) I weave what needs attending to at home and at work into my day and my schedule.  It’s the sunny Monday morning of a Long Weekend while I write this – but I was up at 5:30 so I might as well write this blog while the house is quiet and I have the time – right? And come Wednesday afternoon at 12:50 you’ll find me at the school walking my youngest child’s Kindergarten class to the pool for swimming lessons – because it’s important and fun – right? Still trading time but I’m most certainly not tracking it and I’m not asking if I can; I’m simply managing the pieces of my life and my work that matter.

I have a friend in Vancouver who runs his own business with about 20 employees and he doesn’t track lunch hours or what time they roll in each day – and I’ll tell you something crazy - he doesn’t even track vacation.  Not one little bit.  He sets out the expectations and provides plenty of support; guidance and the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. And then: he lets them get to it. If they need a Wednesday afternoon off to walk their kid to a swimming lesson, off they go, without question, without asking.  If they need two weeks in Hawaii, off they go without question, without asking. He hires skilled people with the ability to get the job done without his meddling and then makes sure they know what they are on deck to do.  Then they do it as they see fit, in the times that work best for them. He doesn’t track anything but their final performance and if they are getting the results he needs them to, they are successful.  End of the story.

As Drew and I stare down the barrel of making our first few hires, we’re most definitely thinking about flexibility for our team.  We refuse to make our employees choose between work and family – we aren’t retail, someone does not have to be minding the store in order to get the job done.  Also, as an HR company we fully understand that companies that are willing to offer more flexible job options find that their employees are happier and more committed to their jobs, or even that they get more work done.  So that’s a nice bonus, but in the end we’re offering flexibility because I will trust them and I have better things to do than track and trade my team’s work time with down time – and so will they.

 

Unconscious Bias by Drew Stewart

Unconscious bias is a term that came into my vernacular only recently. I was exposed to it through a discussion during a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade presentation and immediately it clicked for me. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, unconscious bias refers to a bias that happens automatically, is outside of our control and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and firsthand experiences.

Now, my awakening to this terminology is not one of an early adopter. The philosophy and neuroscience behind unconscious bias has been around for while, with a considerable number of high performing organizations leading the charge in addressing it within their training programs and filtering into their work culture. Perhaps being an able-bodied, straight, white male, who has not been subjected to the likes of exclusion that the disabled, visible minorities, LBTQ2 and women are subjected to daily, contributed to being unaware of this phenomenon. As part of the GVBOT presentation, we completed a quiz to see how biased we were within our work lives. Thankfully, I didn’t find out that I shove people into subjective boxes all over the place. I did however realize a few blind spots that could be improved on and I found out that I sometimes utilized unconscious bias as a decision-making/time saving process.

For the most part, my biases are innocuous and do not have serious repercussions. For instance, when I am scanning the checkouts at the grocery store, I quickly dismiss ones that I think will take the longest based on who is already in them. Senior? Nope, I know they are going to be overly chatty and maybe even pull out a coin purse. Parents with kids? I know from experience that those kids are not going to leave them alone enough so they can efficiently bag their groceries. Young couple? Bingo! They have other things to do and places to go so they will be tossing things into bags without even thinking about it. This is an extremely trivial example, of course. Unconscious bias can have much more serious outcomes and negatively impact your business and culture. A few of the known unconscious biases that directly impact the workplace include:

· Affinity bias: The tendency to warm up to people like ourselves.

· Halo effect: The tendency to think everything about a person is good because you like that person.

· Perception bias: The tendency to form stereotypes and assumptions about certain groups that make it impossible to make an objective judgement about members of those groups.

· Confirmation bias: The tendency for people to seek information that confirms pre-existing beliefs or assumptions.

· Group think: This bias occurs when people try too hard to fit into a particular group by mimicking others or holding back thoughts and opinions. This causes them to lose part of their identities and causes organizations to lose out on creativity and innovation

As you can imagine, relying on one of the above biases to make objective decisions is fraught with pitfalls. Having a more diverse team opens all kind of new possibilities and ideas that you might not have been exposed to before. Not a single one of us has all of the answers and the key to success. It requires knowledge and experience that can be found within the under represented groups of people. The time is right to stop listening to our own voices and step away from the echo chambers and hear what other people have to say.

 

 

 

 

Blind Hiring by Christina Stewart

The idea of Blind Hiring is that a Hiring Manager looks only at a candidate’s qualifications and abilities – absolutely no personal characteristics are considered. When we consider personal characteristics in hiring it leads to subjectivity and subjectivity means bias – and usually unconscious bias.  Which means that we base whether or not to read a resume/interview/hire someone on our instant gut response to a bit of information about them as a person. Information that we are unaware of and largely has nothing to do with their ability to do the job.   What?!?

Let’s use an example. In a recent study a researcher sent over 300 fake resumes to law firms to see if privilege really got people hired.  Privilege meaning: from a well-connected family, often wealthy, often elite, and of course, white. One of the most interesting tidbits from the research is that when the researcher wrote “Sailing and Polo” in the hobbies and interests section of the resume, it lead to a quadrupled call back rate for the privileged men over women.  So, yes, we can see that privilege leads to jobs – but only for men, women, not so much. (Read more here: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/privilege-helps-men-not-women-get-lucrative-jobs/504497/

If you have a brain you have bias.  We all do it – we make micro decisions about people when we scan a resume – we see the date they graduated (age), we see their name (gender and race), we see the school they attended (good neighbourhood or bad?), we see the clubs they belong to and where they volunteer (sexuality, intelligence, family status, athletics.)  We think we see someone before we actually do.  We have a need for blind hiring – which eliminates all the ways we might be able to identify and judge someone and focuses simply on their ability (12 years of as an Account Manager and $12M in sales year over year, as opposed to Peter Lee from East Vancouver.) 

The process of submitting a resume is an antiquated one, fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. We need a new system and we need it now – Hiring Managers spend about six seconds looking at a resume (http://www.businessinsider.com/hiring-recruiters-read-resumes-2014-5) and in that six seconds they are gathering superfluous information. It isn’t enough that we try to be aware of our biases, they will show up anyway.  I for one would rather hire an Account Manager with a proven track record than a race, gender and status.

 

April Career Spotlight: Executive Operations Administrator

 

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Tsain-Ko Development Corporation (TKDC) is the Economic Development Arm of the shíshálh Nation. We have a proud mandate to create jobs for the community through sustainable and profitable business opportunities. We are currently seeking a talented and creative Executive Operations Administrator (EOA) to join our team of highly motivated professionals. 

Are you passionate about the economic development of your community, customer service and keeping our business organized and functioning smoothly?

Do you want the opportunity to provide your skills, talents and energy to an organization that will allow you to learn, grow, and develop?

Position Summary:

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Executive Operations Administrator (EOA) is crucial in the effective and efficient operations of TKDC.  The EOA oversees the efficient day-to-day functioning of the office, tenant relations and all administrative support services. Essential to the role is coordinating the flow of information through the organization, providing administrative support by prioritizing items and issues as they arise for the attention of the CEO, ensuring accurate and timely delivery of administrative services, following up on issues requiring action, and establishing and maintaining office efficiency.

Core Job Responsibilities:

  • Provides administrative support that respects confidentiality and ensures that administrative matters are organized and dealt with in a professional manner
  • Coordinates meetings ensuring well-defined and timely agendas, identification of and notification to interested parties, compilation of background information and supporting materials, and preparation of packages/summary documents to assist in decision making and meeting facilitation
  • Produces well-designed and accurate reports, correspondence, presentation materials, spreadsheets, memos, etc.  Creates, maintains, and updates various computer databases and files as appropriate
  • Undertakes the duties of a Corporate Secretary for Board and Committee meetings, including minute taking under Robert’s Rules of Order
  • Responsible for property management duties, with the expectation for on-call availability

Preferred Skills and Experience:

  • Senior secondary graduation, formal courses in computers and writing skills, a minimum typing speed of 60 w.p.m., three year’s administrative experience and a sound knowledge of MS Office
  • Desired traits and qualities include: a team player, analytic and organizational abilities, a customer service focus, diplomacy, good listening skills, initiative and flexibility vis-à-vis shifting priorities
  • Possess cultural awareness and sensitivity and an understanding of the strong community ties and values that respect the shíshálh culture, tradition, and beliefs
  • Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to work well with all levels of internal management and staff as well as clients, partners, and outside vendors
  • Exemplary oral and written communication skills
  • Use of own reliable vehicle and safe driving record.

If this sounds like the job for you, we would love to hear from you. Please respond with a résumé and covering letter, which outlines your interest in the role, to jobs@praxisgroup.ca before April 24, 2017.

 

 

My Unplanned Plan by Christina Stewart

It’s no secret that I’m a planner.  I’m organized and thoughtful about the future and I set goals regularly. So, of course, I take care to plan accordingly.  In my own business we have business plans from each year, strategic plans, marketing plans and goals written down on several whiteboards dotted around the office. I have to-do lists and to-day lists. I have lists for each kid (colour coded of course!) and lists for the house, for groceries, for our dogs and for my husband and me. I have notebooks filled with goals and plans and ideas stashed in each vehicle, each room of our office and home and I’m sure there are a few under couch cushions too.  I’m a big fan of planning.

I tell my clients that planning is a tool that serves both themselves and their businesses.  It is a path to follow that allows for the energy, resources and time of your business and your employees to be in alignment. A good plan will not only tell you where you are going but how you are going to get there.  This is a maxim that I live by in my work and in my entire life. This is what my clients pay us to do for them, and we do it very well.

And yet, we’re about to enter the spring of 2017 and I have no idea where Praxis is going this year.   Seriously. Even typing that sentence gives me chills.  But it’s true.  In November last year, my partner, Drew and I took off to Vegas for a few days to do some 2017 strategic planning.  Except, we were in Vegas and away from the kids and our regular life for the first time in years.  So, we slept and ate and didn’t do any planning.  Then around came December and January – our biggest and busiest months in the life of our business. Followed by a productive February, filled with sick kids, sick adults and playing catch up on all the stuff we didn’t get done in December and January.  You get the idea. Life is busy.  A good busy – a great busy, but still busy.

Week after week, I write down that our priority for that week is “strategy development.”  I write down “we need to define who needs us this year” and I write down “How are we going to let business who need us know we exist?” and I write down “how are we going to best help our clients reach their goals.”  And yet, here we are with no plan.  But here’s the fun part: That has become my plan.

Starting my own business has pushed me in ways I could never ever have foreseen.  I am challenged in a new way almost daily to be creative and put myself out into the world in interesting ways. This whole “no plan” has become part of this adventure for me.  I’m understanding what it’s like to live by an organic system. I’m learning to let the flow of my business dictate where I expend my energy.  It’s a fascinating, unique and developing feeling for me.  It makes me uncomfortable – but there is a huge part of me that is learning to live with discomfort and to actually flourish from what I discover while I am uncomfortable.

I’m not sure how long this departure from my normal will last for me – at the core of who I am, I am a planner and I know that will surface and win out again. Plus, I know that setting goals is actually a sound business practice, but for now, I’m going to let it ride and see where we end up.

March Career Spotlight - Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Our client is a family-owned home care organization who focuses on the dignity and quality of life of every individual served. They are looking for a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) to join their team of compassionate, dedicated care providers in Powell River, BC.

Are you looking for a company that cares about you and values your contribution?

Are you looking for a stable work environment?  

Do you want competitive compensation and an excellent benefits package?

In this role you will have the opportunity to establish, monitor and deliver nursing care to clients in a home and community care setting.  Using your previous experience in the acute care sector, demonstrated clinical competencies, and positive interpersonal skills, you will serve your clients well.  You offer the ability to make sound decisions, have excellent interpersonal and possess effective communication skills demonstrated through the ability to analyze, and resolve issues and you have a strong sense of personal integrity and ethical practices.

This position is 40 hours per week over 5 days at 8 hours per day.  Previous experience with tracheotomy care and quadriplegic care is a definite asset.

If this sounds like the job for you, we would love to hear from you. Please respond with a résumé and covering letter to jobs@praxisgroup.ca as soon as possible. Please ensure that your letter outlines your previous experience and why you are interested in this role. We thank all applicants for their submissions; however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Praxis Performance Group is a Human Resource and Recruitment Firm located on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful British Columbia. With our depth of experience and our belief in the unlimited potential of a well formed team, we take the time to get to know our clients and candidates. Focused on fit, we work with organizations who know that their people come first and who know that their greatest resource is their team.

Why I love Recruitment by Christina Stewart

I can remember the “HR Lady” at my first office job.  I was working as an Administrative Assistant at a Brokerage in my very early 20’s and until that point, I had never heard of HR or Recruitment.  As I watched her move from project to project and from a senior level meeting to a training session to interviewing for a vacant role in the office I thought she must have the coolest job ever.  She got to know everything about everybody.  She was the keeper of secrets – all things confidential were in her grasp.

Naturally as a highly curious person myself, I was intrigued by all that she knew about our company, our office, the people who worked there and our future as an organization. It seemed to me that she had her hand in it all – she was part of the big picture strategy and culture along with every other step down to the minutia of how the office functions; she knew it all and her opinion mattered.  I wanted her job.

I started taking HR classes and luckily one of my first was recruitment.  I was hooked.  The importance of recruitment became very evident very quickly.  Hire the wrong person and your workplace could suffer serious implications. The impact could be felt by unhappy employees, high turnover, low productivity, managers spending too much time on management and not leadership, disgruntled customers – the ripples could turn to waves pretty quickly.  Conversely, hire the right person and the opposite can happen: happy colleagues, increased retention, increased productivity, managers spending time leading, and satisfied clients.

Beyond how pivotal it is for a company to have the right complement of people I simply like the duties and responsibilities of being a Recruiter.  I like speaking with the client to find out what they are looking for and helping them to refine the ideal person with the ideal skills and experience.  At the beginning it can feel as daunting as looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, however, by crafting the right job ads and putting them in the right places along with picking up the phone and talking with people, people and more people, it ends up being more like putting a really fun puzzle together.  I feel the joy of putting someone in a role that same as if I were to find the last piece of that puzzle on the floor under my chair. I couldn’t see it right away, but it was there all along ~ Eureka!

Add to all of that, that I simply enjoy talking with people – I love hearing their stories and learning about why they took this job or how they landed what that company.  Everyone has a career story and if you ask the right questions you can often learn a tremendous amount about someone in a fairly short time. I have interviewed hundreds, maybe even a thousand people, in my HR and Recruitment career and every single one of them has something of interest to say.  I learn and I grow with each and every interaction.

Telling people that they aren’t successful is hands down the hardest part of this gig, but I see it as an opportunity to provide feedback when someone asks for it, and as an opportunity to treat others with grace. I hope if you were to ask the people I’ve interviewed over the years that they will tell you that I treated them with class and respect throughout the process.  I’ve never left anyone hanging, not one of the people I have ever interviewed will tell you that I didn’t speak to them directly to let them know that they didn’t get the job.  My attitude is of understanding – I know how hard job hunting can be and how frustrating and arduous to be looking for work but through that process every person has a right to be listened to and treated with dignity. 

We do a wide variety of things at Praxis, all of them feed me in some way, but Recruitment really hits home for me with the significance of my contribution, my ability to meet and work with a huge variety of people and how in the end, my perseverance pays off. 

Why I love Recruitment by Drew Stewart

I came by my interest in Recruitment organically. I was exposed to it through my job as a manager working for a well-established video game publisher. When I would tell people where I worked, the majority of the time I’d get a response such as:

“Oh wow, must be fun to play video games all day.” 

I wish! Now that would be a fantastic job! Unfortunately, when you got to the heart of what I did there, it was not much different then most companies. I spent most my time in spreadsheets, developing reports and managing external relationships with outsourced partners. However, there was one thing that I always looked forward to break up the monotony of a project cycle. That “thing” was recruiting. I took an active role in evaluating my teams and going through skill set inventory to see where we needed to supplement existing attributes. I particularly enjoyed interviewing and getting to know individuals on a bit more of a personal level. I came away from interviews feeling re-energized and infected with the enthusiasm that came from the candidates who wanted to work for this company and be a part of making a video game that they have personally enjoyed. The process gave me tremendous perspective, in two very different and conflicting ways.

1. Seeing people come into an interview and discuss at length about how a product you are a part of has influenced their life, is a very powerful thing. Now, I fully realized that we were not solving the worlds problems within those walls, we were providing entertainment for people. Nonetheless, what we made impacted individuals and motivated them to pursue a career in our industry. It made me feel proud and excited about the future to eventually have even more influence over decision that could make our products even more entertaining and fun. 

2. If I loved this one facet of my job so much, why am I not doing more of it?

 I like to simplify my life and the world around me, as much as possible. I find that getting into too many details can paralyze me into a state of inaction. Paralysis by analysis, if you will. So, when I weighed the two different pieces of perspective, one just seemed too simple to ignore. That question of why not do the thing I enjoy, was too simple to ignore and ultimately it is what gave me the motivation to leave a wonderful organization and enviable place to work.

So, what is it about Recruiting that pushed me to making it a bigger part of my professional life? In my simplified way at looking things, I came up with my top three things that I love about recruiting.    

 Research

I am a natural introvert. Thankfully, like a lot of introverts, I am a genuinely curious person. I love finding out the “why” or the “how” behind how things work or how people think. Through recruitment, I spend a lot of time researching best practices within different industries and searching for the individuals who have the skills that are desired by our clients. I get the time to work independently doing this, which feeds my natural introversion personality.

 Chance to be Extroverted

I wouldn’t be a well-rounded individual if all I did was seek out opportunities to stay in my introverted lane. Doing interviews and talking to candidates on the phone allows me to connect with people and flex my extroverted self. A misconception about introverts is that they appear aloof and disinterested in conversation at times. What I find, is that introverts can become extremely connected to people when getting to a deeper meaningful level. Not so good at small talk but we can build a relationship and stay connected as good as anyone else.  

 Impact someone in positive way

When one takes inventory of their life and lists out important milestones, they do not get very far down the list before thinking about a job they loved or hopefully getting the opportunity to work somewhere they always dreamed of. Giving good news to candidates that they secured such an opportunity if a definite highlight of my job. I help people get the job they want, which impacts their every day life. Being a small part of it is extremely satisfying.

 I have found that recruiting suits me. I have not regretted leaving that tech job, not for one minute. I feel like I have grown and learned a lot about a number of different industries and the people who drive them. I feel that I am helping to make an impact in a community where I grew up. I still don’t get to play games all day but when the opportunity arises, I do so as a fan and not a job.

Praxis Career Spotlight

Chief Financial Officer

Our client is a passionate and cooperative organization engaged in governance and civic responsibility on the Sunshine Coast. The organization of about 110 team members is seeking a Chief Financial Officer to oversee financial leadership and strategic responsibilities in their Sechelt, BC office.

As a member of the senior management team, you will provide sound, progressive and engaging leadership while you contribute to the effective corporate management of the organization. Reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer, your Key Accountabilities Include:

Leadership and Strategy: Leading the development and implementation of short, medium and long-term financial strategies, including financial planning, reporting and monitoring systems, and ensuring alignment with the organization’s strategic direction.

Influence: Providing professional advice and objective financial analyses which enable decision makers to make timely and informed business decisions. Ensuring that opportunities and risks are fully considered and that decisions are aligned with the overall financial strategies.

Financial Management and Control: Leading the promotion and delivery of solid financial management practices so that moneys and assets are safeguarded at all times and are used appropriately, economically, efficiently, and effectively.

Direct Finance: Determining the resources, expertise and systems for the finance function that are sufficient to meet business needs and negotiate these within the overall financial framework

You possess First Nation’s cultural awareness and sensitivity well as a Professional Accounting Designation (CPA,) and a thorough knowledge of Canadian Public Sector Accounting Standards. You also have a minimum of five years of progressive financial leadership and business experience. Experience within a First Nations or local government setting would be considered an asset, as navigation and interpretation of legislative laws, agreements and policy is a requirement. You offer the ability to make good strategic decisions, to manage projects, and possess a strong sense of personal integrity and ethical practices. You provide excellent change management, interpersonal and communication skills demonstrated through the ability to facilitate, network, motivate, and lead.  

This is a fantastic opportunity to serve as a role model in a respected organization with strong community ties and values that honour the shíshálh culture, tradition, and beliefs. Our client offers a value driven work environment, the opportunity make an impact, competitive compensation, and the chance to make this role your own. You will also live in a spectacular community with abundant natural beauty, water and mountain activities, cultural events, and community services.

If this sounds like the position for you, we would love to hear from you. Please respond with a résumé and covering letter to: jobs@praxisgroup.ca no later than January 7, 2017.

Praxis Performance Group is a Human Resource and Recruitment Firm located on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful British Columbia. With our depth of experience and our belief in the unlimited potential of a well formed team, we take the time to get to know our clients and candidates. Focused on fit, we work with organizations who know that their people come first and that their greatest resource is their team.

 

 

December Career Spotlight

Our highlighted job for December is an exciting leadership opportunity here on the Sunshine Coast. 

Our client is an innovative, collaborative and passionate organization engaged in the economic development of the Sechelt and Sunshine Coast areas. The organization is growing quickly and embarking on a number of new business opportunities. They are seeking a Chief Executive Officer to oversee their Sechelt, BC office.

 You will provide leadership to current and future economic entities through joint strategic planning initiatives with the Board of Directors as well as the development of operational plans to support the directions set.  The major focuses are on effective management of existing business and an aggressive growth strategy for acquiring new opportunities. Your Key Accountabilities Include:

 Board Administration and Support: You support the operation and administration of the Board by advising and informing the BoD Members with up-to-date information or reasonably anticipated future events that may affect operations

 Business, Program, Product and Service Development and Delivery: You oversee the operations of the entire organization, set and achieve goals as well as oversee all design, marketing, promotion, delivery and quality of businesses

 Human Resource Management: You develop policy, manage the HR for the organization, including staffing levels, recruiting, personnel issues, discipline and the setting of goals and performance measures for all staff.

 Community, Governmental and Public Relations: You are the interface between the Board and the Community. You assure the entire organization and its mission, business, programs, products and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive image to stakeholders and you will develop strong business relationships with local governments and financing sources

 Financial Responsibilities: You are responsible at the executive level for the budgeting, proposal and implementation process and ensure that all funds are managed as authorized with the most efficient use being made of the resources.

You possess cultural awareness and sensitivity well as a Degree in Business, Economics, Finance, or similar. Equivalencies will be considered. You also have a minimum of seven to ten years of progressive leadership experience. You offer the ability to make good strategic decisions and execute on them, excellent interpersonal and communication skills demonstrated through the ability to facilitate, network, motivate, lead, research, negotiate, analyze, and resolve issues, and you possess a strong sense of personal integrity and ethical practices.  

 Our client offers a value driven work environment, very competitive compensation, the opportunity to make this role your own and to live in a spectacular community with abundant natural beauty. This is a great opportunity to join a developing organization with strong community ties and values that respect the shishalh culture, tradition, and beliefs while you build economic opportunities, aid in developing businesses and creating local employment. 

 If this sounds like the position for you, we would love to hear from you. Please respond with a résumé and covering letter to: jobs@praxisgroup.ca no later than December 31, 2016.

 

Praxis Performance Group is a Human Resource and Recruitment Firm located on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful British Columbia. With our depth of experience and our belief in the unlimited potential of a well formed team, we take the time to get to know our clients and candidates. Focused on fit, we work with organizations who know that their people come first and that their greatest resource is their team. 

Job Spotlight from Praxis Performance Group

Thank you for your interest in this opportunity. This posting is now closed

The Sunshine Coast is no longer the best kept secret in B.C. People are beginning to come around to this beautiful area of the province and realizing that it offers so much beyond the obvious natural scenery. The area is growing and excellent career opportunities are available for people who want to put down some roots in the area. We are excited to share our latest opportunity available with one of our local clients.

Our client is an innovative, collaborative and passionate organization engaged in the economic development of the Sechelt and Sunshine Coast areas. The organization is growing quickly and embarking on a number of new business opportunities. They are seeking an Economic Development Officer to join their Sechelt, BC office.

You will secure funding for economic development activities and programs, assist local organizations, businesses and individuals with establishing economic development plans and projects and help to define the character and trajectory of the economic growth of the organization. By promoting the community you will expand economic development opportunities, build relationships with potential partners, the business community, surrounding municipalities and governments as well as develop sustainable local jobs matching to local employment needs and opportunities.

You offer the ability to make good strategic decisions, excellent interpersonal and communication skills demonstrated through the ability to facilitate, network, lead, research, negotiate, analyze, and resolve issues and you possess a strong sense of personal integrity and ethical practices.

You have a firm understanding of:

Economic development theories and practices;
Business planning and business expansion/marketing strategies;
Financial management and analysis
Statistical methods, principles and trends in social and economic fields
The relevant First Nation legislation framework, legal environment and relevant court decisions, policies and procedures

 

You possess cultural awareness and sensitivity and a Diploma or Degree in Business, Economics, Community Economic Development, Finance, Accounting, or similar. A Professional economic development designation is preferred, however, equivalencies will be considered. You also have a minimum of five years of extensive experience and knowledge in dealing with accounting systems, budgets, internal controls, business planning and asset management.

Our client offers a value driven work environment, very competitive compensation, the opportunity to make this role your own and to live in a spectacular community with abundant natural beauty. This is a great opportunity to join a developing organization with strong community ties and values that respect the Shishalh culture, tradition, and beliefs while you build economic opportunities, aid in developing businesses and creating local employment. 

If this sounds like the job for you, we would love to hear from you. Please respond with a résumé and covering letter, in Word format, to: jobs@praxisgroup.ca no later than November 24, 2016. We thank all applicants for their submissions; however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Praxis Performance Group is a Human Resource and Recruitment Firm located on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful British Columbia. With our depth of experience and our belief in the unlimited potential of a well formed team, we take the time to get to know our clients and candidates. Focused on fit, we work with organizations who know that their people come first and who know that their greatest resource is their team.

 

Good-Bye Morning Ninja by Drew Stewart

It is 5 am. I wake up at this time not by choice, but out of habit. I have recently wrapped up a contract at a company in Vancouver that required me to commute daily into the city from my home on the Sunshine Coast. As most would agree, 5 am is much too early to be waking up and being a fully functioning person. However, necessity is the mother of invention and I needed to develop a morning routine that best balanced optimal sleep and getting out of the door on time. In order to achieve this, I needed to become The Morning Ninja.

I had a routine that was refined and perfected over several months. The morning started by slipping out of bed quietly, careful not to disturb my wife or our two dogs, with the latter having permanently set up residence at the foot of our bed. As quietly as possible, I would traverse through the darkness on my way to the bathroom, guided by cell phone light and the mental blueprint I have of every nook, cranny and misplaced toy on the floor.  Not to brag, but I got to be pretty good getting up and going every morning. I especially took pride in seeing the fruition of my planning the previous night.  Little know fact about being a successful morning ninja is that at least 90% of your success is due to thinking ahead and anticipating. I would have a mental checklist that I’d run every night before my head ever hit the pillow. Not until all of these had been satisfied, did I feel confident that I could get  out the door and on my way to work undetected.

‰        Set out the clothes I want to wear in the morning

‰        Plan route from bed to bathroom

‰        Ensure all doors along the route are cracked slightly

‰        Leave bus fare by the door

‰        Pack portable food for breakfast to eat once out of the house

‰        Continue to abstain from any morning coffee dependency

 

Once out of the house, my whole body would relax and my mind could get lost into whatever podcast I had queued up. I was no longer The Morning Ninja. I was now The Commuter.

I went from the faux excitement of sneaking around my own house, constantly fluid yet economical in movement to doing a whole lot of standing around and waiting. I waited for the bus. I waited for the ferry. I waited on the ferry. I waited to get off the ferry and finally, I waited in traffic on the way to work.  8 hours later, I would do it all in reverse.  

This morning I slept until 7am, brazenly flipped on lights, made noise and got the chance to set my eyes on everyone in the family and it was absolutely glorious. Good-bye Morning Ninja. Good-bye fellow morning commuters. Good-bye alarm clock.

Hello family. 

Overcoming Unconscious Bias by Christina Stewart

I recruit for a living; I assess candidates and determine if they would be a good fit for an organization. I have reviewed 1,000’s of resumes and conducted 100’s and 100’s of interviews.  One particular interview stands out.  I was looking to fill a sales role in a “blue collar” manufacturing organization in Vancouver.  The client wanted competitive, motivated, and hungry sales people who would flourish with little to no supervision, direction or meddling. They had a large team of all men who were killing it and they needed to add one more self-directed person to the mix.  In my experience, some of the best people for roles like this have a background in competitive sports or are still athletes.  When a resume of an experienced sales professional landed in my applicant file with a lengthy list of hockey accomplishments on it, I was excited.  I emailed “Alex” right away and we made swift plans for an interview. 

So, if you’re familiar with what Unconscious Bias is (making snap decisions based on stereotypes) you can probably guess where this is going. When Alex walked into the interview I am certain I was visibly thrown. Alex was, of course, female. I tried to recover without comment and we carried on with the discussion.  Unconscious Bias at it’s finest.

There are a few factors that led to the Bias.  First within the role itself, the team was all men, my clients never outright said “Only men allowed” but the word “she” was never uttered when discussing the ideal candidate, it was a blue collar industry predominately made up of typical male things, and the role involved almost entirely interacting with men – bosses, peers and customers. Therefore deep in my mind, I was already looking for a man.  Then add to that Alex’s hockey history, I further thought male and of course her name, deep in my unconscious Alex must have equalled Alexander and not Alexandria. 

What is Unconscious Bias Anyway?

Essentially, it’s labels, both negative and positive, that exist in our subconscious and affect our behavior.  They aren’t just about men and women, but race, socio-economics, sexuality, weight, age and family status – you name it, it exists.  Some argue that the bias is so deep that it’s beyond our control.  But I disagree.  Let’s take my example above.  When that happened, I could have just moved on with my life and career but I choose to analyse what happened.  I learned and grew from the incident and therefore brought my unconscious bias surrounding all of those factors to the surface.  I use that incident to check myself and ensure that I’m not letting my brain make any quick decisions about roles or candidates.  It makes me a better recruiter and really, just a better person.

But like most of us – I still have a long way to go.  Most of us think we’re pretty good at being fair and that we assign job tasks, promotions, training and other advantages based on merit alone. But if that’s the case, why are there 100 men promoted into entry level leadership roles for every 30 women? (https://womenintheworkplace.com/) That’s the bad news, the good news is that we can start to train our brains to stop making these decisions based on our biases. 

Three Quick Tips to Uncovering Unconscious Bias

1.       Look Inward – What are some of the stories that make up your decisions?  Are they true and accurate or was there something else at play? 

2.       Speak Up – Call out someone on their bias at work (privately and respectfully of course) will help people see the decisions they are making for what they are.  Promoting open discussion at work is essential to exacting change.

3.       Focus on Skills – The number of women in orchestras has gone from 5% in the early 1970’s to 25% today.  This rise is largely due to applicants auditioning behind screens so the judges can’t ascertain gender; they can only ascertain how poorly or how well they play.  Are there any changes like this you can make in your workplace?

By paying attention to our own stereotypes, we can start to see people for who they really are and uncover what value and contribution they can make to our teams.

Three Rules for Team Building By Christina Stewart

Team Building has a really bad rap.  The thought of even communicating with some colleagues outside of the office can send shivers down a spine or two.  The thought of being forced into uncomfortable and foolish situations with workmates is enough to bring on an actual stomach flu for many employees.

But here’s the deal: Team Building shouldn’t be uncomfortable, goofy or embarrassing – but it does require communicating. When an employer is putting together a team building session there are a few rules for ensuring your investment pays off.

Rule #1 Team Building is a Reward

At the end of it your people should feel like you appreciate them and the work they do in the office.  When planning a session, channel your inner Stephen Covey

https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit2.php  and begin with the end in mind.  Ask yourself: Why am I doing this? What message am I sending to my team?  The answers should be related to gratitude and appreciation.  If you are doing this on the heels of any kind of breakdown or conflict within the team – your timing is all wrong.  Conflicts and disagreements need to be dealt with in the office not covered up in high ropes courses and ice cream. If you are doing it to say thanks, then carry on to Rule #2.

Rule #2 Don’t Make it Corporate

If your Team Building feels like a day at the office, your team might as well be at the office. Adding in an option for Learning and Development is fabulous – getting out of the office to learn a new skill or develop in areas like conflict management and communication is a good use of time but making it all work and no play makes for a very big waste of an opportunity.  Adding a healthy chunk of pizzazz and fun is an effective way to, well, build a team.  Sharing an experience, hanging out together, or working thru a group challenge allows connections to happen more spontaneously and far more successfully.

Rule #3 No One Should be Forced to Be Silly

I’m a big believer in developing teams through activities; dinners out, bowling, taking in a concert, ball games, playing pool, go karting, kayaking, even catching a flick – notice nowhere in that list do I mention anything that would require contortion, charades, rolling on the floor, or having any employee step waaaay outside of their comfort zone.  Weird tricks and crazy antics should be left for people to engage in on their own time with their own friends. There’s a slim percentage of the public who actually enjoy that stuff, why force it on your team? Suggesting that if only your team engaged in trust falls thy would miraculously work better together is insulting.   

Taking your team someplace fun, away from the office in order to say thank you makes for a team that feels appreciated and has fun in the office.

Are Personality Tests Valuable? By Christina Stewart

We think so.  But there is a catch… The Results Must Always Be Used For Good!  Let me explain…

personality test funny.jpg

Personality tests, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI for those in the biz,) can give folks a super strong sense of who they are and why they behave the way they do. They can also give employers a strong sense of who the employee is, where they may naturally be adept and show the ways that someone may contribute to the team. The problem lies in taking the results at face value, and using those results as a basis for either hiring or not, because there is always more under the surface.  

A great example is with the MBTI.  I am an ISTJ – and I am an ISTJ – I like structure and order and I’m also incredibly reliable.  The risk comes in when, let’s say, an employer may be interested in hiring me to facilitate training. They may see the ISTJ, and assume that I’m too introverted to speak up and move on to another candidate who shows a stronger preference for extroversion.  But what you don’t know about me by only seeing the “I” or the Introvert in ISTJ, is that I actually love public speaking. I adore standing up in front of a group of people and sharing knowledge and having great conversations.  ISTJs can actually be extremely adept at delivering training sessions because they are always incredibly prepared and they’re also information junkies – both attributes would be positive assets to an employer’s training department.

puzzle head.jpg

The lesson here is to use personality assessments to prove what you already and know about someone “Look there is an ISTJ – I knew she seemed like he would be reliable,” and to use it as a way to allow a person a vaster contribution once you do hire someone.  They can provide tremendous value for self-discovery, team building, coaching, enhancing communication, and numerous other developmental applications. But due to limited predictive validity (does this test show how an employer will perform in the future?), low test-retest reliability (will this person answer the test exactly the same each and every time?), lack of norming (can this test be held up against another person’s and show the truth?) and an internal consistency (lie detector) measure, etc., they are not ideal for use in hiring.

Employers with a role to fill who only look at a certain type of person take a big risk in missing out on someone who would be outstanding in a particular role.  Personality Tests can be very valuable when used for good – to build people up, but not to exclude potential employees from their workforce.  They may just miss out on a shining star.