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HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Steps to HR Success by Christina Stewart ~ Post 6

RESTRUCTURING STRATEGIES

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Integrating human resource management strategies and systems into your overarching organizational strategy will help you achieve the overall mission, strategies, and success of the firm while meeting the needs of employees and other stakeholders. Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about HR Strategic Planning, we’ve introduced it and we’ve talked about assessing where you are now, and we’ve looked at forecasting your HR requirements. In this post number six we’ll discuss using a Restructuring Strategy.

This strategy includes:

  • Reducing staff either by termination or attrition

  • Regrouping tasks to create well designed jobs

  • Reorganizing work units to be more efficient


If your assessment indicates that there is an oversupply of skills, there are a variety of options open to assist in the adjustment. Termination of workers gives immediate results. Generally, there will be costs associated with this approach depending on your employment agreements. Notice periods are guaranteed in all provinces. Be sure to review the employment and labour standards in your province or territory to ensure that you are compliant with the legislation.

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Attrition (not replacing employees when they leave) is another way to reduce staff. The viability of this option depends on how urgently you need to reduce staff. It will mean that jobs performed in the organization will have to be reorganized so that essential work of the departing employee is covered. Careful assessment of the reorganized workloads of remaining employees should include an analysis of whether or not their new workloads will result in improved outcomes.


It is important to consider current labour market trends (e.g. the looming skills shortage as baby boomers begin to retire) because there may be longer-term consequences if you let staff go.
Sometimes existing workers may be willing to voluntarily reduce their hours, especially if the situation is temporary. Job sharing may be another option. The key to success is to ensure that employees are satisfied with the arrangement, that they confirm agreement to the new arrangement in writing, and that it meets the needs of the employer. Excellent communication is a prerequisite for success.

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Your analysis may tell you that your organization may have more resources in some areas of the organization than others. This calls for a redeployment of workers to the area of shortage. The training needs of the transferred workers needs to be taken into account.

Come back next week to check out Training & Development Strategies.




HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action, Post #5 ~ Christina Stewart

Strategies, Strategies, Strategies

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As you’ve seen over the past few weeks of posts, HR Strategic Planning is no small undertaking. From assessing where you are now, to forecasting your HR requirements, assessing that gap and then determining a strategy to get there – there’s a lot of work and, well, planning involved!
Developing HR strategies to support organizational strategies is a big job in and of itself. There are five HR strategies for meeting your organization's needs in the future:
Restructuring strategies: Reducing, regrouping and/or reorganizing your team or certain departments within it.
Training and development strategies: Providing your current team or certain departments or skill sets with additional training or the opportunity for learning and development.
Recruitment strategies: Taking an active approach to filling vacancies and promoting your business as a stellar place to work.
Outsourcing strategies: Taking the approach of utilizing contractors or consultants who hold certain skill sets to complete fill the gap.
Collaboration strategies: Finding partner organizations who have what you need and where you can offer something back.
Over the coming weeks we’ll run through each of these strategies outlining what each is and when that particular strategy is best used. Stay tuned!

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HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action, Post #3

Forecasting HR Requirements

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Over the past two weeks we’ve been talking about HR Strategic Planning, we’ve introduced it and we’ve talked about assessing where you are now. Today, let’s dive into looking ahead.

The next step is to forecast HR needs for the future based on the strategic goals of the organization. Realistic forecasting of human resources involves estimating both demand and supply. Questions to be answered include:

·        How many staff will be required to achieve the strategic goals of the organization?

·        What jobs will need to be filled?

·        What skill sets will people need?

When forecasting demands for HR, you must also assess the challenges that you will have in meeting your staffing need based on the external environment. To determine external impacts, you may want to consider some of the following factors:

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·        How does the current economy affect our work and our ability to attract new employees?

·        How do current technological or cultural shifts impact the way we work and the skilled labour we require?

·        What changes are occurring in the Canadian labour market?

·        How is our community changing or expected to change in the near future?

Come back next week when we take a look at the space in between when you are now and where you want to be: aka: “The Gap”.

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Steps to HR Success by Christina Stewart ~ Post #2

Post #2: Assessing Current HR Capacity

Last week we introduced the topic of Strategic HR Planning so this week let’s look at the first phase: Assessing where you are today.

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The first step in the strategic HR planning process is to assess the current HR capacity of the organization. The knowledge, skills and abilities of your current staff need to be identified. This can be done by developing a skills inventory for each employee.

The skills inventory should go beyond the skills needed for the particular position. List all skills each employee has demonstrated. For example, recreational or volunteer activities may involve special skills that could be relevant to the organization. Education levels and certificates or additional training should also be included.

An employee's performance assessment form can be reviewed to determine if the person is ready and willing to take on more responsibility and take a look at the employee's current development plans. Take a look at resumes and references are there any skills your team members have that may be dusty but potentially applicable?

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Based on the organization's strategic plan, you’ll soon be reviewing if the current skills match what’s needed to achieve your goals. Be thorough and take your time here. Once you have a strong repository of skills listed for your entire organization, be sure to add new team members to the data as they arrive and review the list every year or so (after performance reviews is a logical time) to ensure that your current skills inventory remains current.

Check in net week when we move on to Step 2: Forecasting HR Requirements (no crystal ball needed because you’ll rely on sound analysis!)

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Steps to HR Success by Christina Stewart ~ Post 1

Introduction to Strategic HR Planning

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Integrating human resource management strategies and systems into your overarching organizational strategy will help you achieve the overall mission, ideas, and create the success of the business while meeting the needs of employees and other stakeholders.

The overall purpose of strategic HR planning is to:

  • Ensure adequate human resources to meet the strategic goals and operational plans of your organization - the right people with the right skills at the right time

  • Keep up with social, economic, legislative and technological trends that impact on human resources in your area and in the sector

  • Remain flexible so that your organization can manage change if the future is different than anticipated

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Strategic HR planning predicts the future HR management needs of the organization after analyzing the organization's current human resources, the external labour market and the future HR environment that the organization will be operating in. The analysis of HR management issues external to the organization and developing scenarios about the future are what distinguishes strategic planning from operational planning. The basic questions to be answered for strategic planning are:

  • Where are we going?

  • How will we develop HR strategies to successfully get there, given the circumstances?

  • What skill sets do we need?

The strategic HR planning process

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The strategic HR planning process has four steps:

1. Assessing the current HR capacity

2. Forecasting HR requirements

3. Undertaking a Gap analysis

4. Developing HR strategies to support organizational strategies

Check in next week when we break down Step 1: Assessing the Current HR Capacity, and of course, reach out anytime to admin@praxisgroup.ca to get some help in setting your own HR Strategy.

Why I Love Recruitment by Drew Stewart

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We heard from Christina about why she loves recruitment, now let’s hear from Drew: 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 breakup 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?

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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 everyday life. Being a small part of it is extremely satisfying.

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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.



Employees Keeping You Up At Night? Read on:

HR Audits Work! By Christina Stewart, CPHR

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A healthcare company leader had employees keeping her up at night. Her main concern was entitlement: tardiness, absenteeism, a spike in peer to peer conflict, giving rewards and additional pay and getting a non-response – or an outright complaint that it wasn’t enough. Basically, she was seeing employees take and take and take and an overall sentiment that the company should simply be happy that the employees showed up to work each day; these team members were lacking in self-awareness and taking no accountability for their actions. The culture was flat at best and the negativity was taking over – people just seemed miserable – especially the CEO and she was worried that it was leeching out to her clients. She had done an employee survey a year before, but the results simply confirmed what she already knew and mistakenly, she didn’t do anything about the mediocre results. She didn’t undertake any changes or take any further action other than simply conducting the survey.

She reached out to us to see if there were a way, we could help in turning this collection of individuals into a true team. Before we could do that, we needed to understand why theses behaviours were happening.

We undertook an audit – interviewed a variety of employees (different roles, departments, tenure, and levels of responsibility) reviewed all the HR documentation (policies, procedures for hiring, promoting, terminating, training, benefits – everything related to HR). In doing so we quickly came to see a few patterns emerge:

  • The first and largest was concerning unclear expectations provided from leadership. Employees weren’t sure what success looked like for their role and they were not connected to the greater goal of the organization. They just didn’t see the value in the work they were doing.

  • There were further themes identified around how the rewards and recognition of good behaviour and reaching milestones were handed out

  • How the policy was interpreted and executed (often inconsistently), and

  • How poor performance was mostly ignored.

We were able to provide specific tactics to take to implement address the above list:

Expectations By setting very clear expectations on how, when and where the work is to be done and by whom, conflicts were immediately reduced, leaving leadership with more time to motivate the team instead of simply running interference. The other outcome of clear expectations was increased productivity. When a leader says “bring in clients” an employee will be creative in determining what that means (Only bringing in one is still an increase, right?) but when the leader says “your job this month is to bring in 10 clients” the employee works directly toward that goal until it’s met – no creative interpretation required. Through this process with us the employer lost two employees who were at the heart of most of the conflict – all turnover is not bad!

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By connecting the team to the significance of the company we were able to increase engagement and of course increased engagement means increased productivity. As leaders we know that productivity equals profitability and of course profitability equals increased rewards for the team. Round and round it goes.

The best part of the story: The Leader finally got some much needed sleep!

If you have any questions about how we can help your organization get to the heart of what’s happening for your team – let us know. We offer free consultations and free HR Pulse Checks to help guide you in creating your best HR strategy.

Potential Changes to the BC Employment Legislation by Kyle Reid

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BC Employment Standards Act – Summary of Major Amendments

British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) lays out the legal framework for minimum workplace standards to ensure employees are treated fairly and ethically across the province. Provincially regulated employers are required by law to run their organization in accordance with the rules laid out in the ESA. Although small amendments to the act are fairly common, significant alterations are quite rare.

In June of 2018 the “Employment Standards Act Reform Project Committee” finished their review of the ESA and made 78 tentative recommendations. Since these recommendations have been made, the Labour Minister of British Columbia has introduced in the Legislative Assembly of BC for the first reading of “Bill 8. The Employment Standards Amendment Act. 2019”. Of these recommendations, significant amendments were proposed to address: Stronger child employment protections, Expanded job-protected leaves, Improved wage recovery, Modernized Employment Standards Branch services.

Listed below are some of the major amendments proposed under Bill 8:

Stronger child employment protections

· This legislation will broadly raise the age a child may work to 16 (from 12 currently) and better protect the safety of 16 to 18-year-olds by putting restrictions on the type of hazardous work they can be asked to perform.

· Additionally, the legislation does provide exemptions that allow 14 year-olds and 15 year-olds to perform “light work” as prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (aka regulation via Cabinet) that is safe for their health and development (an example given is stocking shelves at a grocery store) with parental consent. To perform “any other work” will requires permission from the Director of Employment Standards.

· The legislation maintains existing regulations that allow children to work in recorded and live entertainment with parental consent.

Expanded job-protected leaves

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· Currently, workers who are trying to escape from domestic violence have no ability to take time from their jobs to find the solutions they need to make life safer for themselves and their kids.

· Changes in the new legislation will provide up to 10 non-consecutive days of unpaid job-protected leaves for those workers, so they can look for a new home, go to medical appointments, etc.

· Additionally, workers will have a second option that will see them receive up to 15 weeks of consecutive unpaid leave.

· Government will carry out an engagement process to determine next steps in making improvements to leave for workers escaping domestic violence.

· The legislation also creates a new unpaid job-protected leave for those caring for critically-ill family members that will align with federal employment insurance benefits — allowing workers to take up to 36 weeks to care for a critically ill child and up to 16 weeks to care for an adult.

Improved wage recovery

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· The legislation establishes a legal framework for regulating tips and tip pooling and protecting workers’ rights with respect to tips and gratuities.

· It prohibits employers from withholding tips or other gratuities from workers, deducting amounts from them, or requiring them to be turned over to the employer.

· It permits tip pooling but specifies that the employer may not share in the tip pool except when the employer performs the same work as workers who share in the pool.

· The legislation also extends the recovery period for which workers can recover owed wages from their employer from six months to 12 months — with the possibility of extending the period to 24 months under some circumstances, such as in cases involving wilful or severe contraventions of the act.

· It also makes collective agreement provisions subject to the minimum requirements of the Employment Standards Act.

Modernized Employment Standards Branch services

· Under the new legislation, the self-help kit is being eliminated as a required step before filing a complaint.

· The legislation will require the Director of the Employment Standards Branch to investigate all complaints accepted for resolution by the branch — improving on the current process of forgoing needed investigations in favour of speedy resolutions.

· It modernizes several other areas related to services provided by the Employment Standards Branch — including allowing the branch to waive or raise penalties, requiring employers to inform workers of their rights and requiring licensing for temporary help agencies.

· Government will also augment with non-legislative improvements to the branch, including increased education and outreach, adding multilingual capacity and providing enhanced service delivery to workers and employers with visual and hearing impairments.

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It is important to keep in mind that Bill 8 is still subject to revision prior to being passed into law by the legislative assembly of BC. However, if passed this will be the first major revision to BC’s ESA in almost 15 years. For more information on the proposed changes, click on the link below to view the proposed bill as it currently stands in the first reading in parliament.

Link: https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/41st-parliament/4th-session/bills/first-reading/gov08-1

What Exactly is a Human Resource Audit? By Christina Stewart

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Hearing the word ‘audit’ is often enough to cause most of us to break out in a cold sweat. Visions of Governmental officials in dark suits with calculators and grim expressions searching through the deep dark corners of your finances and your life come to mind. And I’m sure that can be true in some cases – but not in the case of an HR Audit. Or at least not in an audit with Praxis.

When we think about the word audit – we get excited! We think of problem solving and we think of answers and we think of executing on your visions – we think of solutions. The whole point to undertaking an audit is to get an objective assessment of your people practices so you can exact some positive change.

An HR Audit is a thorough review of your current human resources function. An audit will review your HR policies, procedures, documentation and systems as well as interview your people. Areas will often be identified that require some kind of enhancement (or possibly outright revamp) – when the HR function is enhanced you’re that much closer to executing on your overall company strategy and your vision.

Call it an audit, an assessment, an analysis, an examination, an evaluation or a review – it all means the same thing: understanding your HR function. A properly executed audit can tell you why your turnover is so high, why you’re having trouble recruiting, why you have so much overtime, sick time or disciplinary situations. An audit can provide your company with insight as to how your Human Resources behaviour is impacting your goals, objectives and bottom line.

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But knowing why is only half of it.

A comprehensive audit will also tell you what to do about it. And reputable audit companies will also lay out all the options for undertaking change. The really good ones will even help you execute on your new HR plan.

If you truly want to know where you stand with your people and want to know how to get from here to where you want to be, then an audit is exactly what you need. No governmental suits or sweating required.

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.

Good-Bye Morning Ninja by Drew Stewart

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

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

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

‰        Plan route from bed to bathroom

‰        Ensure all doors along the route are cracked slightly

‰        Leave bus fare by the door

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

‰        Continue to abstain from any morning coffee dependency

 

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

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

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

Hello family. 

Overcoming Unconscious Bias by Christina Stewart

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

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

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

What is Unconscious Bias Anyway?

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

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

Three Quick Tips to Uncovering Unconscious Bias

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

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

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

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

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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Onboarding is Essential - By Christina Stewart

You have spent time, energy, money and other resources finding the right person to fill your vacancy; the last situation you want is for that new team member to leave your firm early and have all those resources go to waste.  Plus you’d be stuck doing it all over again.  But how do you bridge the gap between recruitment and retention?  Onboarding.

Make your new employee feel welcome, wanted and engaged before the first day.  Often there is a lag between signing the offer letter and the first day of employment, so a week before the start date call your new team member and say how much you are looking forward to having them onboard.   If it is an executive position call again on the afternoon of the day before they start.  This will warm any cold feet and calm any nerves.

It is imperative that when the new hire arrives on day one that they have a work space completely set up, everything from a computer with a working e-mail, e-mail signature, and any other necessary programs to pens, notebooks and business cards printed and sitting on their desk.  Plan in advance what the orientation and initial training will look like.  Know exactly who is teaching what and when.  Show a commitment to having prepped for them and they will feel important and valued from the start, thus increasing their chance of making it through the critical first three months.

One idea is to have new employees start on a Friday – this gives them the weekend to process the new environment and then they can hit the ground running on Monday.  The Friday is essentially a meet and greet anyway.  Make sure your entire team knows they are starting – send out an announcement e-mail with a brief overview of the new hire’s background and always set up their name in the phone system and on the phone directory.

The key to effective onboarding is to always appear organized and to always appear enthusiastic.  Make a commitment to your new team member before they even start and you’ll be rewarded with a team member that makes a speedy commitment to you.

 

 

 

 

PowHERtalks Vancouver - Authenticity By Drew Stewart

This past Saturday we attended the Vancouver PowHERtalks event, where Christina was one of the featured speakers.  The speakers at this event surpassed my expectations and really delivered their message in a way that has stuck with me in these following days. There were eighteen different speakers, with each bringing a different story/topic to the stage. However, all of the talks were connected in that they had an undercurrent theme of authenticity. As pointed out by the MC of the event, @JYCFinancial(who did an amazing job entertaining the audience and adding further depth to the speakers) this commonality within their message was subtle and done without the speakers discussing it ahead of time.

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While I enjoyed all of the speakers, I would like to give a special shout out to @Maggiwoo@WhisperYVR, @Heather2020 , @Victoria_BPP and @ginaknowsbest. Their talks were engaging, personal and resonated with me despite me as a man, not being the target audience.  Lucky for the people who could not attend, videos of all eighteen women will be available on the PowHERtalks YouTube channel soon.

In the tradition of saving the best for last, I wanted to reflect on Christina’s talk regarding conflict. What makes this topic so great is that it is truly universal and for most of us, unavoidable. We all encounter conflict. Whether it be in the workplace or in our personal lives, it is something that we all have to deal with and how we deal with it can have very serious effects on our lives. Christina did a wonderful job articulating how conflict can be a great opportunity for something better. She’s creating a Conflict “Revolution.” Let’s change the way we see conflict as something negative and head running for the hills to avoid. So often, avoidance leaves us with all those same terrible feelings and awkwardness we experience when we actually confront conflict but it doesn’t give us any of the benefits. It generally ends up with us hating the outcomes because on the other side of that avoided conflict we didn’t get what we wanted. We were not authentic and we simply rolled over and convalesced. Christina does a much better job articulating the benefit of conflict with her PowHERtalk and we will post it on our website as soon as it is available, I strongly urge you to check it out and be part of the Conflict Revolution.

Lastly, another special shout out to @sanjenko  for putting on another great event that we are proud to sponsor and be a small part of. For more information regarding PowHERtalks, please visit www.powherhouse.com

Group Photo Credit to Laura Grizzlypaws and Christina’s photo courtesy of Krysten Merriman

How Do You Handle Conflict? By Christina Stewart

In my 20’s I used to do one of two things: ignore it and tell myself it didn’t matter or steamroll right over the other person to get my way – there was no in-between.  In my 30’s as I came into myself I began to mellow. I had also landed in Human Resources as a career by then and was all about compromise and coming together.  Now that I’m in my 40’s I’m looking at conflict a little differently - I now see it as an opportunity.  A chance to see a different perspective and to learn something new.  It isn’t so black and white or cut and dry for me anymore.

There are five avenues that we can choose when it comes to conflict:

We can COMPETE or fight it out.  This is us being uncooperative and pursuing only our own concerns. This is what I call the Braveheart Model “I refuse to lose this battle!” If you use this then you manage the conflict in your work and life by persuading or controlling others.  This works in situations that are a matter of principles, values or ethics, when safety is at stake or in an emergency and it works in some business or sports contexts.

We can COMPROMISE which usually means finding some sort of quick solution just to put it to bed.  This is the “I guess so” model.  In these situations you aren’t fully ignoring the issue but you aren’t fully struggling with it either – it’s a half way version of working through conflict.  This model works when you need a fast, easy solution or when the issue isn’t really important, perhaps during minor disagreements.

We can AVOID or pretend it isn’t there. We might staying away from the other person, we might refusing to discuss the issue, we might make jokes or we may change the subject. This is the “Ostrich” model (head in the sand…) This model can be helpful when the emotional level is running high, when there is danger, when it’s not important, when you don’t think that you or the other person is capable of having a productive conversation or when it’s not your conflict.  But all too often we use avoiding when we want to be seen as nice, when we put the other’s needs ahead of our own or when we place the value on the relationship over our own selves.

We can ACCOMMODATE or give over to the other person. This is what I refer to as “You’re right, you’re right – yes, let’s do it your way even though that makes no sense to me and is actually much more work for me, so, just forget I said anything” model.  We will often find ourselves using this when we are looking for approval from the other person or when we are afraid the relationship may get damaged if we assert our needs.  By using this method too often and not addressing our own needs – resentment builds and the relationship is damaged. 

We can COLLABORATE which is still assertive but tries to dissect the issue and look at it from all party’s sides.  “How we can all solve this problem?” We use this model when both the relationship and the issues are important to us. Often, we think the biggest impediment to using this style is time. But it’s actually fear – fear of putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable.  Fear of even admitting that there is conflict. None of us use this as often as we should.

Right now, I want you to think about a conflict in your work or your life – ask yourself:

  • —  How’s it working for you? Are you getting your needs met most of the time?
  • —  What about the long term impact on your relationship? 
  • —  How do you think this person feels towards you after you have a disagreement or dispute?
  • —  How would you describe the level of trust that exists between you?

Now I want you to imagine what would happen if you went to that person, with an open mind and said with genuine warmth:

“How are we going to work together?”

Take the conflict in your life that is – the avoiding, the fear, the accommodating to others and flip the switch to a new bliss – take it to what could be and give collaboration a shot.

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.