The Politics of Business

In my role as an Employment Counsellor I got to hear many stories of why people found themselves unemployed.  For some it was simply that the business wasn’t doing well and there was not enough cash flow for them to be employed.  For many, they blamed the culture of the organization.  There was favouritism, employees had to tiptoe around certain people, there was a lack of knowledge on the organization, other employees were taking credit for the things they had done.  In other words, office politics was creating an unhealthy workplace.  The only thing consistent in the organization was the inconsistency.

It is difficult to imagine a politics free organization, but some have managed to come close.  Because people are involved, it is difficult to avoid.  The culture of the organization begins at the top and communication is the key.  By being open and transparent, employees have less to speculate on, reducing the potential elephants in the room.

Politics begin when conversations are underground and caused by a lack of knowledge or conflicting information within an organization.  Whether the message is good or bad, a leader shares it with the employees to minimize the speculation.  Employees also do not know how they can help if they do not know what is going on.

Once politics takes over in an organization it is difficult to gain back the trust of the employees.  Hard work on communication needs to take place.  If you can get buy-in from the employees, programs such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® can be instrumental to understanding change, conflict, communication, and building teams.

The sad thing is many organizations do not have a finger on the pulse and think everything is doing well.  They are surprised when good employees leave and do not believe that their culture has caused the resignation.  Many times, the employee leaving is not given an exit interview, so no insight is gained as to why they are leaving.

If you are a manager, owner, or CEO, be open and consistent with your employees and know who they are and what they do.  They are not your friends, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly!

Keep the politics out or they may ‘elect’ to leave!

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Posted in Assessments, Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people, Human resources, Leadership, Listening, MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did I Hear You?

When we listen, we sometimes let the ‘inner voice’ interfere with the conversation.  We let our mind think about our response rather than respectively waiting for the person to finish.  We may miss out on the important points of the conversation as a consequence.

This past weekend we attended a celebration of life in Vancouver for a friend who passed away recently.  The adult children all recounted stories of life with their father.  He was a highly competitive man who excelled in a variety of sports and shared that enthusiasm with his children.  He took an interest in everyone he came across and was a natural as a salesperson.  A born prankster, his humour could entertain for hours with a myriad of embellished stories.

Although we only crossed paths 2 – 3 times a year, we had know the individual for over 20 years.  Through he and his family we thought we knew everything about him so it came as a complete surprise when we learned he was also a talented jazz musician!  In all of our conversations had we tuned that tidbit out?  How could we have not known?  I suspect our ‘inner voice’ came into play at some point obliterating the opportunity to follow the musical path and, as a result, the conversation did not take place.

While ‘listening to hear’ is important and respectful no matter who you are with, it is crucial for business.  Poor listening skills with customers and clients can be costly for your business.  Mistakes in orders and services can result in unwanted expenses for the business, and in a worse-case scenario, the loss of a customer or client.

Most of us are not good listeners.  We listen at about 25% of our potential, which means we ignore, forget, distort, or misunderstand 75% of what we hear.  Hard to believe perhaps, but none the less, true. Such lazy listening habits can be very costly, both personally and to our business.

Do yourself a favour and silence the ‘inner voice’.  Wait until the other person has finished before creating a response. You may be surprised a what you learn!

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Clients, Coaching, Communication, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Listening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Community Giving

When you open the doors to you new enterprise, more than customers come through the doors.  The many community organizations that do the great volunteer work arrive with their hands out.  This will be continual, and this is how the social work of the community is done.

They will be looking for sponsorships, goods and services, and donations, for golf tournaments, silent auctions, sports teams, charity walks and other ventures.

Before you open the doors, you need to prepare for this challenge.  You need t o decide what you will support and when.  In the start-up of your business you need to have all of the money staying in the business.  You may decide that once your business attains a particular bottom line, you will begin supporting the community.  You may choose to incorporate it into your grand opening.

Whatever you do you need to have a plan.  You need to know what you will support and stick to it.  Much like advertising you need to be consistent.  You may have a particular preference in a charity, or you may have a soft spot for children or seniors and direct your energies there.

By being prepared, you won’t be taken advantage of and compromise your bottom line.  It is wise to look at what your customers support and do the same.  In the end, you are the one who has to decide where you want to focus your energies.

Community support is not just giving your merchandise or money, it can also be your time.  If you are a sole proprietor, time is not plentiful, so you need to be careful.  Being visual in the community is equally important as money so don’t discount the value of committing.  Although you may really want to support the cause, remember that your business needs recognition of some kind as well.

Be aware that it will happen soon after your opening day.  You need to be in control so make it part of your business plan.

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Entrepreneurs, Marketing, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Road Rage

Today I witnessed Road Rage first hand.  It ended without physical contact and, while it did not involve me, I quite easily could have been a casualty.

The light changed and the car to my right and myself began to move through the intersection.  The car beside me accelerated faster and when the woman was about a car-length ahead I heard the screaming of an engine and a white Mustang accelerated and stopped about a foot from the back of the Lady’s car.

Sensing that something was about to happen, I slowed down and as I did the Mustang cut me off and sped ahead swerving in front of the Lady and braking hard.  The lady also braked hard and luckily stayed in her lane as, by this time, I was alongside her.  The driver of the Mustang then accelerated up a side street waving a one-finger salute.

Obviously, the woman did something that displeased the driver of the Mustang, but nothing is worth endangering others.  It also points out that there are people out there with unresolved anger issues that are dangerously close to doing something serious that will hurt themselves and others.

We read about those who go into workplaces and kill fellow employees and it seems distant and not something we can relate to.  Road rage is no different.  This Mustang driver had a weapon, a high- powered car, that in the right situation could have disastrous results.  He also appeared intent to ‘get even’ by his actions.

I don’t have the answer as to what causes a person to become unhinged to the point of being potentially destructive.  Could it be drugs, alcohol, lack of maturity, a mental issue perhaps, but why?  To what end?  What will it prove?  Maybe I’m just an old guy, tired of spitting into the wind, but I just walk away.  There are no winners here.

Just because of attitude, I can imagine how much fun the guy in the Mustang is going to be to work with today.

Be careful out there.

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Managing stress, Relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Worker Shortage

While the majority of employers chose to ignore David Foote’s book, ‘Boom, Bust, and Echo’, many are regretting their lack of planning as they scramble to fill the empty positions in their organizations.  It is now a regular occurrence to see ‘Help Wanted’ signs in the store windows.

Construction projects are springing up everywhere in the communities on Vancouver Island, some being delayed by the lack of workers.  It is not only labour positions that are in short supply, but right throughout all areas with skilled workers.

As the unemployment percent dips, those who are unemployed tend to be the more disadvantaged.  Persons with a disability tend to be overlooked by employers and as a result, the workforce is missing out on extremely good employees.  The unemployment rate for persons with a disability is many times higher and needlessly so.

There are many myths about hiring employees with disabilities. These myths and realities were published by the Province of Alberta’s Human Services.  Below is an excerpt from their article.  To view the complete article visit: www.humanservices,Alberta.ca/disability-services/myths-of-hiring-people-with-disabilities.html

  1. Employees with disabilities require expensive specialized equipment.

Not everyone with a disability requires specialized equipment and where it is necessary, most job accommodations are simple and inexpensive.

  1. Employees with disabilities are frequently absent from work.

Workers with disabilities have the same or better attendance records as other employees according to studies by organizations like DuPont.  Workers with disabilities also tend to stay longer on the job.

  1. My Worker’s Compensation premiums will rise if I hire someone with a disability.

Worker’s Compensation rates are based on the hazards of the operation and the organization’s accident record, not on how many employees have disabilities.

  1. If they don’t work out, I can’t discipline or fire them.

Employing a person with a disability is the same as any other worker.  You must establish clear performance expectations from the start.  If they are unable or unwilling to do the job, you can discipline or terminate their employment.

  1. People with disabilities are more likely to have accidents.

A study by DuPont found that people with disabilities actually have a lower risk of injury at work.

  1. They will always need help.

People with disabilities are more independent than you might think. They have learned to live their lives and complete a myriad of daily tasks despite any challenges they may have.

  1. It’s risky to interview someone with a disability, because it’s so easy to break human rights laws.

Interviewing someone with a disability isn’t any different than interviewing anyone else – just focus on the requirements of the job and their ability to do the job.  Tell them about the job and ask if they are able to complete all of the required tasks.

  1. People with disabilities don’t have the skills or education that I require.

The majority of people with disabilities have a high school diploma, over half have some post-secondary education, and more than one in three have a post-secondary diploma.

  1. People with disabilities are unable to meet performance standards.

A DuPont study which involved 2,745 employees with disabilities found that 92 percent of employees with disabilities rated average or better on their performance.

  1. Individuals with disabilities are not as productive or don’t work as hard as employees without disabilities.

In a study by Louis Harris and Associates nearly 80% of the managers said that their employees with a disability work as hard or harder than their employees without a disability.

The workforce shortage is going to continue and increase.  We have people who want to work and can fill many of the available positions if we change our lenses to see ability rather than disability.

“The greatest disability is the inability to take advantage of your abilities.”

                                                                                Khang Kijarro Nguyen

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Career development, Coaching, Communication, Diversity, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people, Entrepreneurs, Life coaching, organizational change, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corporate/Community Culture

We all know of individuals who give back to the community, those who give of their time and ability to help those less fortunate or the arts and education, but what about the businesses who continually are helping to create a strong and vibrant community.

I’m not referring to the business that once a year donates a prize to a charity golf tournament, I’m talking about the business whose culture and philosophy is that giving back is an essential part of the social license to be in business.

These businesses have created a culture in their organization that attracts employees who are of like mind and are also drawn to serving their community.  These are businesses of all sizes and descriptions.  Recently there have been businesses starting out that have a not-for-profit as part of their business model so there is a focus on serving the community built-in.

We see local business owners who are sitting on charity boards, arts and culture boards, and getting involved in the hands-on projects that make a difference in people’s lives.  It isn’t always about giving money.  The donation of time is huge, and many give it every day to some purpose.

While these businesses don’t do it for accolades, please take the time to thank them for what they do.  Many times, they are the catalyst for projects that individuals can then become involved in supporting with their volunteer efforts.

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Communication, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Empowering people, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, self-employment, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Interview

There are few things that spark the sweat glands in the hands more than a job interview.  The anticipation of the questions or the ‘behavioural interview’ process where the interviewer expects the applicant to have instant recall of how they did something in the past strikes terror for many job-seekers.

What many don’t realize is the apprehension of the employer.  Making a mistake in a hire can be costly, not just dollars, but time as well.  They have to decide what the position will consist of.  If it is new position, what are the duties.  If it is an existing position, it is an opportunity to make changes.  An advertisement should run for a week giving another week for the resumes to arrive.  Then comes the task of short-listing the applicants.  A friend just advertised two positions and received 87 applicants for one and 71 for the other so shortlisting is not an easy or quick process.

After shortlisting comes the invitation to an interview, which probably gives the applicant a week’s notice.  The interview process may be decisive, but more than likely is will result in a second interview.  Again, more time.  When the final decision has been made it is usually followed by a reference check.  These can be useful, but more and more employers are reluctant to say anything negative about a former employee for fear of litigation.  I prefer only one question, “Would you hire this person again?”

Once satisfied, the offer can be made, and negotiation may or may not take place.  If the lucky candidate is currently working, they will have to give notice to their employer.  This whole process can take one to two months and eat up a great deal of time for the employer who is hiring.

For the applicant it is more than just answering a few choreographed questions.  It is their opportunity to determine whether or not they want to work for this employer.  They need to do detailed research into who this employer is and what the business is.  Use the internet to see how they appear on the web.  Visit their website or Facebook page.  The most important part of the interview for the applicant is their opportunity to ask questions.

There is sweat on both sides of the ‘position vacancy’ posting!

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Coaching, Employees, Employment, Human resources, Managing stress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment