Praxis

#Coastersdo the Beach by Drew Stewart

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Over the month of July, we are celebrating all of the fantastic things that the Sunshine Coast has to offer. By using #coastersdo throughout our social media channels, we will recognize all the amazing activities, events and places here on the Sunshine Coast. Having spent most of my life here, I was the logical person to kick things off.

I begrudgingly came back to Gibsons five and a half years ago. I say “begrudgingly” because I had grown to really enjoy life in the Lower Mainland. I had a career, family, lots of entertainment choices and could even find a delicious meal out at 9 pm. That life ended after our youngest was getting close to her first birthday. Faced with a huge childcare cost, we packed up and headed back home where family and friends were ready to support us in any way possible. Looking back at things now, it is hard to imagine my life being anywhere else but here. Not only is the Sunshine Coast a wonderful place to raise a family but having friends, family and a welcoming community has made our transition back so much easier.

What has been a surprise and one of the best parts of being back here, has been the opportunity to see my kids exploring the same places that I did when I was their age. Most notably, exploring the various beaches that we have access to in Gibsons. After all #coastersdo the beach, right? From my house I have a handful of different beaches within walking distance. Each beach offers something a little different, to which my kids picked up immediately. They love climbing rocks and exploring tide pools, so Pebbles and Secret Beach are of interest to them. However, last week I took them to my favourite beach as a kid, Georgia Beach. As a kid, we always called it Musgrove’s Beach, not sure why. Wasn’t until I was an adult and saw the official sign that I got with the program and started calling it Georgia Beach. The beach is very small and tucked away and full of enough rocks that will keep an aspiring Nolan Ryan busy for hours. To most, I am sure there is nothing special about that beach. For me however, there is a swath of childhood memories gathered from the hours spent there week day summer evenings, after my dad got finished from his shift at the pulp mill. We bonded as a family there, skipping rocks and taking turns riding on logs aimlessly floating through the water.  Now my kids do the same things at this unassuming beach. We get to hang out and have fun in the same place I did ages ago, like time standing still.

I urge you to interact with us on social media, using the #coastersdo tag and tell us about your favourite place, activity or what makes living here so unique. We would love to hear from you.  

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. 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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…

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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.

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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.

Branding Yourself for a Job Hunt

It is said that a great cover letter compels a Recruiter to read your resume and a great resume ensures an interview and of course a great interview lands you the job.  But in many cases 100’s of job applicants are vying for one coveted role.  How can you make certain that you move from one step to the next? With the right brand. Branding isn’t just for organizations; we create an image of ourselves that we put forward to the world and this representation of ourselves is never as important as during a job hunt. Below are a few tips to ensure you are presenting the brand that best represents you.

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Cover Letter & Resume

No Errors Allowed

I cannot stress this one enough.  Spelling and grammar mistakes are unforgivable.  Even one small error represents you as someone for whom shoddy work is acceptable. Recruiters are looking for ways to shorten the daunting stack of resumes; this is an easy way to dismiss you. Don’t let them.  Proofread your documents, and then have someone else proofread them and then proof them again.  Also, don’t count on spell check and grammar check to save you.  Two of the most common mistakes I’ve seen are spelling “manger” for “manager” and the improper use of their, there and they’re which won’t necessarily get flagged in your documents.

White Space Please

Please do not cram as much information on your resume as possible.  I assure you; if your resume is hard to read it won’t get read. Leave ample space between sections and keep your margins to the standard size. A clean, clear resume and cover letter in a font large enough to actually read represent you as a professional who is confident in the skills listed.  When you stuff as much on the page as possible you come across as a braggart trying to compensate with quantity over quality.

Short and Snappy

Your cover letter should be three paragraphs; a brief intro, a brief overview of experience and a brief overview of education.  Then close with a brief line such as “I’m looking forward to hearing from you.  Sincerely…” Did you catch that I was stressing you be brief?  Don’t repeat the details that can be found on your resume. That is what your resume is for.  Any more information than a brief (there’s that word again) introduction is too much.  You want to be seen as a crisp communicator not muddled and verbose.

Buried Treasure

Make sure you highlight your strengths.  Too often I’ve seen a key piece of information hidden between superfluous details. When you first sit down to write a resume start by listing your proudest achievements and the times when you most felt on top of your game.  When you have completed your resume cross reference that list and make sure those particulars are clearly evident.  There are a few ways of doing this such as a section dedicated to accomplishments, a line outlining highlighted undertakings at each employer or within the objective (for example: I’d like to continue my award winning sales career with an employer that allows me the opportunity for creativity.”

Interview

Speak in Numbers

Whether in the public or private sector, whether in for-profit or non-profit, and whether your role will spend or save money your potential employer is thinking about the bottom line.  Don’t make them do the math for themselves. Which of the following sounds better to you? “With my last employer I was able to be creative with my HR initiatives as a result we saw productivity rise.” Not bad, but how about this? “Using a minimal budget and some ingenuity we created new team based initiatives that resulted in a 25% increase in production.”  Much better.  Arm yourself with these numerical details before the interview so you can present yourself as an asset who sees the bigger picture.

Do your Homework

I open every single interview with “What do you know about my organization?”  How a candidate answers tells me many things such as how much research they did, where they researched, and what information they took away from that research, all of which gives me clues into how they work and how they will fit in with my team. But nothing tells me more about a candidate then when they didn’t do any research at all. The bare minimum should be a visit to your prospective employer’s website but in this case more is best.  Ideas include: looking for employees on Linked In to see what has been said about the company; conducting a simple Google search to lead you to current events, press releases, awards or potential trouble the organization may be in; and my personal favourite, pick up the phone and call a customer to ask about the culture and personality of the organization.

Take your Turn

Ask intelligent questions but at the very least ask questions.  When the interviewers ask you if there is anything you want to know do not say “No, I think you’ve covered everything.” Instead ask a question; any question.  Even if the interviewer has in fact covered everything ask for more details regarding something discussed earlier in the interview, ask about last year’s Christmas party or ask about the interviewer’s tenure with the organization. When you don’t ask a question the interviewer can be left wondering if you were interested and engaged in the organization or if you are just looking for a job. Present yourself as a thoughtful and attentive candidate and you just may find yourself as their newest employee.

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Dull & Dreary? Perhaps; but Still Desirable - ISTJ By Christina Stewart

ISTJ

How they gain energy: Introverted

How they take in information: Sensor

How they make decisions: Thinker

How they deal with the outer world: Judger

On the surface ISTJ’s can seem pretty boring.  They follow the rules (heck, they even make the rules) they think logically, they behave practically, they assess new information based on facts and tangible experiences.  They mull everything over and weigh out their words before even speaking. They organize for fun (yes, for fun!) and they are the epitome of reliable.  Sounds pretty dry to me.

But dig a bit below the surface and you’ll find a dynamic Thinker (T), an excellent friend and a leader who runs calm under fire.  These Introverts (I) carefully plan out what to say and how to say it so when they do speak you know it’s been refined and is likely important.  The most loyal of the personality types these are the folks you can call at 3am without fear of reprisal.  And they are one of the more common leadership types for a reason, they are trustworthy and practical – both ideal traits in your boss.

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But more important than just a friend you can disturb in the wee hours, these Sensors (S) make the world go round.  With nicknames like The Auditor, The Logistician, and The Examiner these are the types that run the infrastructure of economics, accounting, and technology.  These are the systems administrators, the office managers and the probation officers of the world.  These are the guys and gals that make sure the world is spinning as it should – essentially they are taking care of all stuff that you don’t want to.

ISTJ’s dedication to getting it right and following through can lead to some grave consequences for their own sanity.  Their sense of duty and obligation is so strong that they’ll continue to take things on even when they perhaps shouldn’t.  Shifty co-workers and passive partners will gladly flip their responsibilities over to these Judgers (J) and the ISTJ will continue to bear the larger load because for them the work has to get done one way or another. But be careful, eventually they’ll flip, dig in their heels and show those freeloaders just how stubborn they can be. (As an ISTJ myself – let me tell you, I can be stubborn.)

So, yeah, ISTJ’s can be pretty dry, but you still need us and love us – and for very good practical reasons.

INTP - A Tale of Two Detached Perspectives By Christina Stewart

 

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How they gain energy: Introverted

How they take in information: Intuited

How they make decisions: Thinker

How they deal with the outer world: Perceiver

The INTP is the greatest source of Common Sense there is in Myers Briggs terms.  These Perceivers (P) think in rational terms and expect the world around them to connect logically.  They devour facts and information and are incredibly precise.  If experiences or events around them don’t make sense in a practical way – they dismiss it quite quickly as hogwash which can lead to an impression that the INTP is detached and aloof.  

Even though they are grounded in facts, the flip side of an INTP is the world of theoretical possibilities in which they spend a great deal of their time.  INTPs' thought process is on a constant loop, and their minds are alive with ideas from dawn to…well, dawn. This constant thinking can also have the effect of making them look pensive and detached.

So, how can one person be so grounded in common sense and yet so full of dreaming about what could be? Well, I suppose that’s why these Inuit’s (N) are lauded as “Rational Philosophers.” They dip their toes into both the pool of theoretical possibilities and the pool of common sense.  And as for seeming to be detached – at times they are.  With Thinking (T) as one of their main drivers, INTPs are hard pressed to comprehend emotional stresses at all, and their pals won't find much support in them. Folks with the INTP personality type will head straight to logical, tangible, realistic suggestions to problems – whether the buddy has asked for that kind of guidance or not.

The INTP is also one of the least common personality types in the Myers Briggs type table.  With less than 3% of the population self-assessing this way, these Introverts (I) are truly uncommon.  They are also mostly male, as female INTPs make up only about 3% of all INTPs.  They are also the most likely to be self-employed and are the least likely to be a stay at home parent.  With true independence INTPs have no desire to either lead or to follow.  So don’t even try – you’ll get lost if you follow and they’ll get lost if you try to lead.  I say this from the experience of having married an INTP almost a decade ago.  Which is why I can unequivocally say when you add up all of the quirks that make an INTP and INTP, they make for outstanding partners. 





I am Yoda by Drew Stewart

The newest Star Wars is in theaters today, which I know this for several reasons.

1.       Thanks to the permeation of their marketing and dollars that Disney has put behind this movie, one would need to be living under a rock to not know it exists

2.       I have always been a fan of the franchise and enjoyed all of the movies. I am not a ``super fan" per se but have seen them all, owned some merchandise when I was a CHILD and can offer up the odd quote from the movie.

3.       Lastly I know the movie is out today because my son and a host of other kids from his school are making the special field trip to see it. He has been under strict orders not to give plot spoilers when he comes home 

All of this got me to thinking about what character resonates with me most. Thankfully for entertainment purposes, there are a number of ``What Star Wars Character Are You`` tests online. In my search I found a quiz that is related to the MBTI and took it.  For the uninitiated, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely utilized personality test, which we use in some of our team building sessions.

“Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.”                                                      Maybe i am a Jedi

“Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.”                           

                       Maybe i am a Jedi

Now, I already know my personality type to be INTP but took the shortened quiz anyway to see if there was any symmetry and confirmed that not only did it spit out INTP but the character that I am most like is Yoda.  That is pretty good right? He is wise and logical and a pretty chill guy who magically disappears much like I do at a Christmas party. No notice given we just go poof and are gone.

I mean it could be worse; I could be Owen Lars (sorry Christina). The poor ISTJ’s get stuck with the most boring characters. They are not boring people. If you know an ISTJ, tell them you find them interesting and don’t tell them about this quiz.

 If you are looking for a way to entertain family and friends over the holidays, there are many fictional character/MBTI quizzes online. They are fun especially when you know the subject matter fairly well.  I would suggest you just give them a try but Master Yoda and I don’t operate like that.

Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try. 

-Yoda

He Says/She Says - Drew Takes a Look Back at the Sechelt PowHERtalks Event

What is something that everyone has? Well, there are literally quite a number of things we each have in common but for the purpose of this blog, we will go with : An opinion

In the spirit of opinions, Christina and Drew give their own thoughts about the latest PowHERtalks event in Sechelt, finding out that they each had their own different ''lightbulb" moment.  

 

This past weekend, I went to a female focused TED-Style talk series and the words that resonated with me most and changed my day to day mindset, came from a man.  Some would say this is logical given that I am a man and could appreciate the male point of view more easily. Others may think I completely missed the point of the 18 female speakers. Trust me, I definitely didn’t and came out of the event as a bigger champion for women than when I entered.

The event is the PowHERtalks Speaker Series, of which Praxis performance Group is a proud sponsor. The Sechelt event was the second in the series, following up on the inaugural event in Nanaimo. This series features remarkable women lending their stories, voices and experiences in a TED-style speaker series aiming to connect 1,000+ women in six communities across Canada. In addition to being a sponsor for the event, Praxis also had a booth set up where we could interact with a variety of women and emphasize the importance of team building and collaborative working environments.  Go for the speakers but stay for the business connections was my foremost thought.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to get out of listening to the speakers themselves. I think of myself as extremely “progressive” and a supporter of women in all that they do but still this wasn’t going to really resonate with me was it? Truth be told, some did and some didn’t but with the volume and difference of the speakers I’m sure my experience was no different than most in the audience.  At about the halfway point of the speakers and before a break, a representative of Community Futures addressed the audience to talk about their special offer to female driven start-ups and businesses of low interest loans. Part of what motivated him to be there and so proud to offer such a great opportunity was because he has a four year old daughter. At that point, my ears shut off and I was completely in my head. Have you ever had words you read or are said to you that metaphorically slap you right in the face and you cannot believe you missed the importance of them the whole time? That is what happened to me when he spoke about his daughter. He didn’t talk long about her, it was just a brief mention but it inescapably changed my perspective.

I have two daughters, ages three and six. My family (which includes my eight year old son) are absolutely everything in my life. However, until now, I had believed in women’s rights and supported equity in pay and their voices in the boardroom meetings mostly in support of my wife. I had never really even thought about how it impacted my daughters.  This completely changed the lens which I viewed the second half of the speakers. I fast forwarded several years in my mind’s eye imaging them on stage telling the same stories that were being told by these remarkable women and it become much more personal to me. 

What makes this speaker series unique, at least to me, is that each speaker has an ‘’ask.’’ This is something the speaker is asking of each audience member in order to go from being inspired to taking action in their life. Examples of asks range from supporting their business or potentially investing or buying their book.   Others can be more holistic and ask individuals to listen to their heart of life their best selves.  In the spirit of the ‘ask’ I am asking other fathers of daughters out there to attend the next PowHERtalks event in Vancouver on Jan. 30th. Be part of the change to get women to same level of respect, responsibility and authority that men enjoy, especially in the workplace.  Parenting can often be a thankless act but helping change the way the world views women is one thing your daughter will be eternally grateful for.

 

She Says - Christina Looks Back at the PowHERtalks event in Sechelt

He Says/She Says - Christina looks back at the Sechelt PowHERtalks Event

What is something that everyone has? Well, there are literally quite a number of things we each have in common but for the purpose of this blog, we will go with : An opinion

In the spirit of opinions, Christina and Drew give their own thoughts about the latest PowHERtalks event in Sechelt, finding out that they each had their own different ''lightbulb" moment.  

Do you think that one sentence can change your life? I do. In many ways, time and again, one idea or one simple thought that we stumble across can change our behaviour; it can make us think and move in a new direction.

Last Saturday I spent my afternoon in Sechelt, BC at a female focused TED style talk that is heading across Canada called PowHERtalks.  I was a speaker at the inaugural event in Nanaimo a few weeks before (See That Blog Here) but for this one, I had the luxury of only participating as an audience member and with Praxis as a proud sponsor. And what an opportunity it was. 

Eighteen women sharing their perspectives through the lens of their professional and personal selves.  They shared information, inspiration and ideas woven through the stories of their lives.  I learned and grew and was inspired in many ways that day, but ironically it was one simple sentence that may have had the greatest impact.  And it was a sentence that I myself had said aloud many times before, but hearing it come from someone else in that moment and on that day has shaped me.

I was listening with intention but my mind turned to action when I felt that one speaker speak directly to me – Tara Roden, Head Gold Professional at the Blue Ocean Gold Club. 

Tara spoke about the importance of choosing words carefully to write your own story.  “Be aware of the words you use,” she said. When she said this I felt like my head literally snapped up and to attention.  Just that morning I was speaking with my amazing six year old daughter.  I was telling her that when she says “I can’t,” that she won’t, and when she says “I can” that likely, she will.  This wasn’t the first time her and I had had this conversation and it wouldn’t be the last.  My daughter is a very sweet and easy-going girl; she takes life as it comes.  Great, right?  Absolutely and sometimes No – Absolutely, in that she the happiest person I know and she rarely sweats the small stuff, and No in that people in her life often walk right over her.  As her mom, it’s my job to prop her up and give her the tools that she’ll need to navigate life as adult.  That’s my job. My intention in telling her about “I can’t” and “I can” that morning was not to change her (she’s perfect just the way she is, because that’s who she is) but rather to give her an awareness of how the words we use inside and outside of our heads shape our perspective.

So, Tara and I were on the same page – but with one major difference. I was telling my daughter everything I thought she needed to know on the subject – but was I walking my talk? Was I setting the best example? Was I living up to the expectation I placed on my child? Not always.  Those doubts and self-depreciating comments creep into my brain more often that I’d care to admit. Sitting there listening to Tara, I wondered how good I was at batting those limiting thoughts away before speaking them out loud?  I wasn’t sure of the answer, but I did resolve myself to paying attention to my own “I cant’s” and “I cans” going forward.  In fact, given Tara’s golfing focus, I imagined myself grabbing my nine iron and smacking every “Can’t” that creeps into my head into oblivion. 

I went home that day full of ideas and with an expanded network or strong women but the most impactful lesson was one I already knew but needed to hear out loud that day. 

 

He Says - Drew Takes a Look Back at the Sechelt PowHERtalks Event

 

Praxis in Nanaimo by Christina Stewart

I had the most amazing opportunity to speak at a Women’s Lifestyle and Leadership Event in Nanaimo last weekend called PowHERtalks. 18 women each spoke for nine minutes on a variety of lifestyle and leadership topics.  

 

Given that I feel so strongly about the power of individual people to build strong teams, strong businesses and healthy communities, I spoke about the Power of Team. I had lots of great info to share about building employee teams and the speech I gave seemed to be quite well received.  But this blog is about two different kind of teams.  It’s about my awesome family and the amazing group of women I had the fortunate windfall to become one of.

 

Given the talk was on a Saturday smack dab in the middle of a three day weekend for my kiddos, it was a no brainier that we were all going together. Gibsons (where we live) is less than 100 km from Nanaimo across the Strait of Georgia but we weren’t going ‘as the crow flies’ so they say, but rather taking two ferries to get there and two more to get home.  That’s code for two full days of travel to deliver a talk lasting nine minutes.  So, bringing my family along and turning it into a weekend getaway made even more sense.  Also, the main point in starting our own business and what leads us in all directions is for us to be a family first and this weekend was no exception.

 

Praxis decided to do some advertising and promotions so we put a booth in the event. Drew and the kids helped me set up before heading off to have some family time seeing a movie and Halloween shopping (see Drew’s blog about Halloween here.) We arrived early, got all set up and away they went.  I’ll admit watching them walk away made my nerves flare up. Up until then, we’d simply been on a little family get away but then the realization that I’d be speaking in front of I don’t know how many people made the butterflies bubble up to the surface.

 

In the end I had no reason to be nervous.  As I sat there listening to woman after woman speak, waiting for my turn to share my story, and then listening to those that came after, I felt more and more connected to each of them.  We were all there to tell our own story and to add a page or two to it.  There was no reason to be nervous because there wasn’t anything to win or lose, there was no competition, there was only support and collaboration.  This was an amazing collective effort from all of us to be inspired, to engage and to share.

 

The women sitting in the audience and the women on stage with me were all looking to be connected, to share together and grow. We lifted each other up and there’s no need for nervousness in that.  We created a powerful team that day and the power continues to surge as we stay connected and look for ways to continue the story.     

Team Building with Purpose (part 3 of 5) by Christina Stewart

We know from reading in part one and part two Team Building with Purpose that team building is a lot more than a frivolous experience; team building is not just a socializing event, team building isn’t just a way to get out of the office for the afternoon. Many people think of team building as fun and games, risk taking adventures, or merely play time. Although there’s more to team building than just that, team building can actually be a ton of fun!

One option is to Team build through Personality Assessment using something like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator to develop a deeper understanding of why we and our colleagues do things the way we do.  And from understanding often comes conflict reduction. 

In Part three of our five part series we walk through activity based team building.  Often, when people think of team building, this is the kind of session they think of.

Activity-Based Team Building:

Activity-based team building is used to provide teams with challenging tasks that often take place in the outdoors:

·         Ropes Course

·         Rafting

·         Mountain Climbing

·         Orienteering

·         Kayaking

·         Survival Events

·         Boot Camp

But there are lots of indoor activities too:

·         Iron Chef Competitions

·         Trivia Battles

·         Scavenger Hunts

·         Video Game Competitions

These kind of activities address specific development needs of teams such as problem solving, risk-taking, trust-building and paradigm breaking.  The idea is not just to have fun together, bond well and learn new skills, but to actually understand how these teamwork lessons can be applied to a work situation. The experience of success in an outdoor challenge can be a great booster for the team’s morale and productivity in the workplace.   

Team Building through Activity can be a tremendous opportunity to bring employees together, see colleagues in a different light and get people working together. Next Entry: Skill Based Team Building

Team Building with a Purpose (Part 2 of 5) by Christina Stewart

Team Building through Personality Assessment – Part 2 of 5

We learned in part one Team Building with Purpose that team building is one of the best investments that an organization can make, but what are some of the options?  What can a company actually do with their team?   In Part two of our five part series we walk through one of those options: Team Building by Personality Assessment. 

Team Building through Personality Assessment:

In personality-based team building, individuals fill out a psychometric test – MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), for example – where they can learn more about their own personalities and those of their teammates as well. The results of the self-assessment are shared with the team and used as a tool for communication and understanding. Personality-based team building is an effective development tool which helps team members gain better self-understanding, become aware of the differences between each other and adjust their behavior to match their teammates’. Different individuals have different motivational needs and different reactions to work situations, stress or change. This can lead people to misinterpret each other’s intentions and actions. Understanding and accepting individual differences will greatly enhance conflict resolution, collaboration and team effectiveness. 

What You Can Expect After a Session – After completion of the MBTI organizations report that they experience:

Improved Communication: A greater understanding of the preferences of others leads to more open and collaborative dialogue throughout teams, between leadership and employees as well as across separate teams of employees.

Improved Team Performance: The insight gained into the preferences of those around you can aid in decision making, training, project management and other workplace initiatives. Also, by understanding the sources of stress for your colleagues team members are better able to aid and avoid pitfalls.

Conflict Resolution: With increased communication and understanding of differences comes a reduction in the nature and severity of usual conflicts within a work environment.  Employees become better at being empathetic colleagues.

Selecting Better Employees and Increased Building of Effective teams: If you understand the underlying dynamics of your teams it becomes easier to hire the right fit as well as to put your teams together.

Team Building through Personality Assessment can be a fabulous way to bring employees together and keep those connections going long after the session ends.

Next Entry: Activity Based Team Building

Team Building with Purpose (part 1 of 5) by Christina Stewart

The words “team building” are bandied about in business and industry – but what does it actually mean?

We know that when teams are functioning at their capacity in a productive manner, there is no stopping success.  We also know the opposite to be true. A team with issues, conflicts or uncertainties, will plod along with success as a far off concept.

Whether in athletics, business, education, government, or a group of people trying to plan a birthday party, things are done smoother and with greater success when people work together towards a common goal. The more effective they are at working as a team, the more fruitful the task they set out to accomplish and additionally, as an added bonus, the greater each team members’ sense of satisfaction.  Provided team members can communicate freely and share confidence in each other’s abilities and judgment, working in a team is the way to go.  Team building is a way to boost confidence in colleagues and ensure that free communication flows. 

Coming together as a group may come naturally for some people, but positive intentions are not enough to turn a group into a team – and a successful, high-performing team at that. HR Leaders know that exceptional teams are built not born. Teams need building and team building is one of the best investments an organization can make. Team building is about creating connections and bringing out the cooperative intellect within the team.

Team Building is an Intervention that:

Solves – Task/Problems

Clarifies – Rules

Solves – Interpersonal Challenges

Enhances – Social Relations

All of which affect team functioning

So, then what is an “Intervention???”

There are four kinds:

·         Team Building through Personality Assessment 

·         Activity-based team building

·         Skills-based team building

·         Team building through problem-solving

Check back soon where we’ll go through each in detail. Next Entry: Team Building through Personality Assessment

Why Praxis? by Drew Stewart

Not unlike many people I know, I didn’t have a professional career path picked out for myself that enabled me to seamlessly transition through High School, Post Secondary and right into the workforce.  My best laid plan was to roll out of bed one day, and magically throw a baseball 100 mph.  Scouts would clamour to sign me and the lineup of teams looking for a lefty flamethrower would rival the headcount for the first McDonalds cheeseburger in Moscow’s Red Square.  Alas, that magic never came. 

I struggled finding something that clicked. Something I could identify as a passion or pursuant interest that would potentially last a lifetime.  Like anyone else without a plan, I tried a wide variety of different things but nothing really stuck. It wasn’t until I started working within the software field, for a video game publisher, that something really clicked for me. Now I know it might seem obvious on the surface, ‘’Young male enjoys working for a video game studio’’ but it was much deeper than that for me. Truth be told, I am not a real avid video game player or enthusiast, only playing casually and sticking to the sports simulation genre. However, what I really loved about working there, was being part of a team.  Being part of a team was tapping into those long held dreams of being an athlete. In fact ‘’ex-athlete” (pick a sport) was a very common part of someone’s CV at the studio.  This wasn’t by accident I’m sure. There is something about the late nights, long days and tight deadlines with members of the same team that creates camaraderie, not unlike a professional locker room. The “we’re are all in this together” mentality. 

At the end of any given project it was always amazing to look back at where we started and how it looked at the end. It made me realize the power of people. In my time there, thankfully there were very few projects that were abysmal failures. It was much more common to come out of the process viewing it as a success.  What I came to learn was that there was a common thread that helped distinguish what made a project successful and want didn’t.  Team Composition.  I found it fascinating with the technology and tools that we had at our disposal, the human element was really the factor that could make or break whether we were successful or not. It was also interesting to see individuals who were utter superstars on one project, struggle on another with a different team. They were after all the same person with the same attributes right? 

It is my interest in human interaction and the power of team that evolved into the formation of PraxisPerformance Group.  We want to open up eyes that your own success can be as simple as optimizing the people that are already onboard with you. Not to mention, opening the eyes of the individuals who work within your company into realizing that varying styles and preferences can become your greatest strength as a team.  

The magic that could have made me part of a World Series Champion never came for me but it’s absence made me able to contribute to making a number of teams stronger.   

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” 
― Phil Jackson

Ditch the “Trust Fall” and Just Follow Through

Have you ever been depended on for the immediate well being of someone standing directly in front of you?  Have you ever been armed with the knowledge that you are tasked with keeping that person from feeling immediate pain and embarrassment? Knowing that failure to do so will not only result in excruciating pain for the individual but also damage any relationship you might have had with that person, at least for the time being?  Sounds like the description could apply to something life altering and dangerous. However, in this case I am more trying to paint a symbolic picture that is representative of an age old team building trust exercise.  That technique is called the “Trust Fall.” 

For the uninitiated, a Trust Fall is a trust-building game often setup within a group exercise in which a person deliberately allows themselves to fall, relying on another team member to catch the person. As one of 4 siblings we used to do it for fun; to feel the rush of not knowing if (or when) someone was going to catch you.  Of course with family members or close friends, it isn’t long until someone finds it kind of funny to just let the unsuspecting person meet the floor with a thud.  Now the real question is, does it actually develop trust and is it a valuable tool to use in your team building? While there is no scientific evidence that it fosters any elements of trust, it can be used as a metaphor or ice breaking exercise.  So what does help build trust within a team?  The answer is simple; Accountability and Follow Through.

As the saying goes, ‘’trust isn’t given, it is earned.’’ So first we need to allow our fellow team members the opportunity to gain that trust.  As Ernest Hemmingway famously said, ‘’the best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.’’ This is surprisingly difficult for some people. I think we have all worked for or with someone who is considered a micromanager, needing to be involved in everything.  How did that make you feel? For most of us, we feel frustrated, angry and wondering why they can’t just trust us to do our job. Given the opportunity to deliver results, we become motivated to do a good job and not let our team down. Delivering on the results and following through on our commitments, deadlines or deliverables is what builds trust within the team.   It is the commitment we make to one another and following through on those commitments, that really builds trust within a team. 

While I appreciate the symbolism of the Trust Fall and the little anticipatory adrenaline rush it gives, I’d rather put my faith into the hands of a team member who follows through and does exactly what they say they will.

‘’Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.’’  - Vince Lombardi