Sunshine Coast

Do I Really Have to Pay Overtime? By Kyle Reid

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Paying out overtime is a costly but necessary means to immediately addressing staffing issues or unexpected increases in the volume of work. Staffing is often the largest expense for many organizations and having to pay employees one and a half or even two times their regular wages can drastically increase labour costs. Employers can anticipate overtime and it has become such a common practice, you’d be hard pressed to find many organizations that don’t end up paying overtime wages on occasion. So, if overtime is so common then why do many employers and employees not know more about when overtime is due and how it’s calculated?

The basics are fairly straightforward. If an employee works over eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week, they are owed overtime, right? This is usually the case, but every workplace and employment relationship are different, and many factors must be considered when calculating how much, if any, overtime is due. Some of these factors include, but are certainly not limited to: When does the workday actually start, are breaks paid or unpaid, and what about travel? Getting the basics down is key but building a better understanding of what an employer owes or what an employee is owed is incredibly important from a legal and financial standpoint, not to mention ethical.

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“But my employees are salaried so I don’t have to pay them overtime!” is a common misconception that can lead to years of owed retroactive or back pay. The idea that an employee is salaried because an employer says so is really just an agreement in good faith. If an employee is considered management, or is not covered by BC’s ESA, only then does a working relationship exist where no overtime pay is due. When an employee is entitled to overtime an employer can offer time off rather than overtime pay, or other incentives, it is ultimately the employee’s choice whether or not they receive overtime pay.

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So, what can an employer do in a situation where they know they will require employees to work overtime, but cannot afford to be paying such high labour costs? There are a few options in BC to solve this dilemma that ensures employees are compensated fairly. The first option is an Averaging Agreement, which allows employers to average out an employee’s hours worked in a week to satisfy the 40 hours per week requirement. The second option is time banking, which allows an employee to “bank” overtime hours worked to be paid out at a more opportune time by the request of the employee. The third option, which is our personal favorite, is agreements in good faith. Although not technically enforceable, an agreement in good faith allows employers and employees work together to find the appropriate compensation for the hours worked by the employee. Typically, these agreements offer time off in lieu of overtime pay, and should always be in writing and signed by both parties.

Want to know more? Check out the link below to view the BC “Hours of Work and Overtime” Overview:

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/hours

Why I Love Recruitment ~ By Christina Stewart

I absolutely love recruiting! Cheesy? Maybe, but still true.

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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.

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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 the 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!

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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.

#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. 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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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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

 

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

Team building is a comprehensive theory encompassing different types of activities with a clear purpose. True Team Building with Purpose has both intention and determination.

In the final entry of our five part series we explain team building through problem solving.  In Part 2: Team Building through Personality Assessment, we talked about how the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) uses the differences in employee’s preferences to launch a conversation about how to move forward as a team.  In Part 3: Activity Based Team Building and Part 4: Skills-Based Team Building we spoke about how learning can be overt or covert – but both ways can have positive impacts on the team development. In our final installment we’ll discuss tackling a problem head-on.

Team Building through Problem-Solving

This type of team building activity usually takes place in a retreat setting far away from the regular work environment and is led by an outside facilitator; well versed in mediation and conflict reduction and who must be an impartial third party. In problem-solving-based team building, team members come together to first identify and to second solve a key challenge the group is currently facing.  Problem-solving-based team building is a brainstorming experience that brings to light the team’s barriers to success. Once the symptoms have been elicited, the team goes on to examine possible causes, until they reach the root cause of the problem. At this stage, team members are able to develop a concrete action plan to solve the challenge.

This team building approach has great benefits in term of stress relief and positive emotions towards the work environment. Problem-solving-based team building is an outlet for frustrations and a step forward to action. The team building helps the group move beyond inertia, stay motivated and take control over its own destiny. 

Team building is a comprehensive theory encompassing different types of activities with a clear purpose. True team building is certainly fun but also has both intention and determination – Team Building has Purpose!

Team Building with Purpose (Part 4 of 5) by Christina Stewart

In Part four of our five part series we walk through Skills Based team building.  In Part 1 we learned that Team Building has Purpose and that when teams are functioning at their capacity in a productive manner, there is no stopping success.

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.

While Activity Based Team Building is an indirect way of teaching specific skills while brings employees together, skills-based team building means direct learning.

Skills-Based Team Building

In skills-based team building, team members participate in workshops where they learn and practice a specific skill set, such as:

·         Conflict resolution or management

·         Reaching group consensus

·         Give/receive constructive feedback

·         Types of Power, Control and Influence

·         Shifting Perspective

·         Effective Communication

This type of team building focuses on skills that can be applied immediately to the work environment. Human Resource Managers may likewise use this team building approach to develop the leadership potential of members.

Skills Based Team Building is a superb option for developing your employees both for your organization and for themselves.

Next Entry: Team Building through Problem-Solving

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

Misconceptions in Communicating with Introverts

Working within a team can be a fun and rewarding experience. There is something exciting about coming together as a group and delivering the highest performance possible, while utilizing the skills of everyone involved. With that being said, I have been fortunate enough to work together with a variety of fabulous people and on great teams. However, there have also been teams where it was a constant struggle. I would fantasize about days being ripped off a calendar counting down towards the deadline so we could go just all go our separate ways.  Invariably, at the root of the issues of these dreary and underperforming teams is the ineffective way that we communicated with one another. 

When there is a lack of communication on a team, we tend to fall back on assumptions or completely rely on our own instincts when making decisions. These judgements completely dismiss the advantages of teamwork altogether.  Teams are generally made up of a variety of individuals who bring with them varied experiences, personalities and ideas. Getting input and leveraging all that knowledge would seem to be of great value, keeping in mind the old saying of ‘’Two heads are better than one.’’   Assumptions and misconceptions, in place of simple communication, can be especially dangerous when it comes to decision making. 

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) theorizes, in part, that people have preferences in behavior with how they like to operate within their ‘’Favorite World.’’  Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Introversion and Extraversion. These are fairly common words that I believe most people have the understanding on what they generally mean. But how do they help in communicating with one another? And what assumptions do we have about Introverts or Extraverts that get in the way of harmonious team?

Introverts typically like to live in a world where they can think things through thoroughly before making their thoughts public. They tend to be more introspective and do all the refining of their ideas internally. When the idea is presented to the group, it is usually very polished and close to what they feel is a final version.  Where a negative assumption comes into play is the misconception that Introverted personalities are too quiet and not offering anything up in a team meeting or brainstorming session. In reality, they have great ideas but they just have not had the chance to be refined. They are not generally comfortable in throwing those ideas out as an Extravert is. Ever been part of a brainstorming session and wonder why a handful of people are very quiet and don’t seem to be offering anything up? Chances are, they are an Introvert. Again, the misconception is that they have no ideas and sometimes leads one to think they are not valuable and maybe are not simply smart enough to contribute.  In our human nature when we feel someone isn’t contributing, we tend to cut them out of any future thought processes or team decisions because clearly they are not invested in what we are doing. This is not reality.  What would work best would be recognizing someone who might be more introverted and allowing them the time to go back from a meeting and give their thoughts after they have had time to think about it.  Brain storming sessions are a great way to get everyone involved but keep them open ended and allow people to still input after the meeting is over.