Colleen Coates

  • Take steps to maintain boundary between work and home

    Being amped-up on technology, from smartphones to tablets, has not only changed the way we work, but the way we live. You only need to walk into a restaurant and count how many dinner patrons have their mobile devices out on the table next to the silverware to see we have difficulty disconnecting from the workday. On average, we are putting in 46 minutes of work before we even set foot in the office to begin what has now turned in to a 12-hour workday. The snowball effect of being voluntarily plugged in around the clock is a growing sense that the boundary between work and home is disappearing.
  • Poor communication a top work complaint

    you ever have felt that no one hears or sees you at work, you're not alone. Poor communication within organizations could easily be the No. 1 complaint that is heard time and time again. You would think that knowing this is a key issue plaguing many organizations that someone would do something about it! Admittedly it can be tough to address something as important as communication when it is difficult to prove the organization's return on investment. That is, if you invest time and even money into resolving the organization's internal communication needs, what is the payback for the organization? Effective internal communication plans can easily translate into solving one of our basic human needs, and that is the need for a sense of belonging. Quite frankly I would suggest it could solve other necessities that Abraham Maslow identified in his hierarchy of needs. For example, poor communication surrounding changes to one's working conditions might lead a person to be uncertain about his or her ability to meet their basic physiological needs due to potential job loss. As we know, the theory is that a person can't move up the hierarchy to reach self-actualization (to realize one's full potential) if they can't even pay the mortgage or put food on the table.
  • First 60 minutes can make your workday

    Mark Twain once said, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." Fortunately, this wasn't meant to be taken literally, but is a colourful metaphor for smart time management: get the most undesirable task out of the way first thing, and the balance of your day will go much smoother. Tackling the least desirable job first may come as a bit of a surprise strategy, especially to slow starters who prefer wading into the workday one toe at a time, but it's one way to ensure you make the most of your first 60 minutes of your day.
  • How much salary is too much?

    We've all seen the media headlines scream CEO earns $250,000 or Head of organization gets $100,000 bonus. Recent Free Press headlines shouted Auditor general questions wages. This headline, like others, raised questions about executive salaries and left us to wonder, "Is it too much? How much is too much? Is there such a thing as too much?" Recently I delivered a report presentation to a board of directors who asked me that very same question. Here's a list of points that was offered to them for consideration:
  • Three questions can change your world

    Well it's March already -- two months since you made those New Year's resolutions and maybe two months into your organization's new fiscal year. Sadly, many of us have either already failed to follow through on what seemed like a reasonable goal (10 pounds should miraculously fall off the hips as long as chocolate does not hit the lips), or even worse, haven't set any goals (I don't know where I'm going, but I'm sure I'll get there). Well, don't worry and don't feel sorry for yourself. There really is no time like the present to get off your chair and get going on whatever is you want to do. What? You're not sure? Don't wait until life happens without you, because it will. Whether you want a vacation, want a loving relationship, want to retire or want a career change, there are three simple questions that can help you to make changes in your world.
  • Conflict intervention, resolution test of effective leadership

    Being able to snuff out the lit fuse of a workplace conflict before it becomes an explosive situation is a true test of leadership. Every workplace has its share of conflict. In any setting where people are engaged, committed and passionate about what they do, disagreements are inevitable. It means people care enough to disagree strongly. Change also brings conflict. Therefore, it's fair to say that the best organizations aren't those without conflict, but those that know how to deal with conflict in a healthy, constructive way. This is where effective leadership comes in.
  • 10 phrases to stall your career

    Your social skills can open doors or slam them shut. Whether dealing with customers, co-workers or your boss, the words you choose and how you frame your message influences the way people perceive you. The difference between being a problem-solver or a problem is as simple as the words you choose. It is not what you intended those words to mean, it really is the words you choose. Proper word usage can be a powerful tool that shapes how people feel about you. Using the correct words also provides the opportunity for people to want to listen to you and hear what you have to say. Too often business communication is filled with extra words that just fill space, mix up the intended message or are negative and unproductive.
  • Team motivation part of day-to-day business

    In order to create and sustain team motivation, it needs to be a matter of constant focus. Think of it like coaching your team for a marathon. This would require training on a daily basis in order to build stamina and reach optimum fitness levels. It's simply not enough to offer short, infrequent spurts of intense training activity and hope it will take them the distance.
  • Make most of job you have

    There's never a better time like right now to make a change at work, not by looking for a new job, but by making the most of the one you have. There's no better place to begin than by assessing your personal attitude. Is what you do for a living just a job and what you're working toward only the next payday and eventually, retirement? That certainly makes for a very long and tedious career. The alternative is coming to appreciate what you have and, even better, finding happiness at work.
  • Mental health key to work productivity

    It's that time of the year when many people make New Year's resolutions that we know probably won't stick beyond a couple of weeks; however, we go through the same motions each year. For some people, this can lead to unhappy thoughts and unhealthy behaviours as promises to improve are broken and we resort back to our "normal" activities. For some people, these thoughts can become overwhelming and cause severe anxiety and other problematic health issues. In the end, making New Year's resolutions that we know are going to be broken can lead to disappointment leaving a person feeling unhappy and even depressed which can deteriorate a person's state of mental health. Mental health describes a level of psychological well-being and is sometimes referred to as an individual's ability to enjoy life. Those with good mental health have found a way to create a balance between life activities and possess the ability to cope with stress and adversity. Having good mental health can mean different things to different people based on cultural differences, personal beliefs and professional theories.
  • Top challenges for businesses in 2013

    As we ring in the new year, it is often a time to pause and reflect on past successes and maybe some transgressions with hopes of improving in the coming year. I asked three of our resident wise men and women what troubled our clients the most over the past year and how they planned to reduce their woes. Our industry experts provide uniquely valuable insight to help business leaders attract and reward the people who will ensure they continue to succeed by enabling their employees to do well at every stage of their career. Here are the top three common challenges our experts saw in 2012: 1. Developing and maintaining an up-to-date compensation/total rewards strategy.
  • Open your eyes, use your head before raising glass on the job

    It's a sobering reality: alcohol is still present at most work functions, from holiday parties to client lunches. While most of us realize that "liquid lunches" are passé and that getting sloshed at a company event is never (ever!) wise, it's still unclear what is appropriate when it comes to social drinking on the job. A recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that this is a grey area. Respondents were asked how alcohol is perceived by their organizations at a variety of work-related activities. Among the findings, some said drinking is acceptable:
  • 'Benevolent' sexism still common on job

    While catcalls and overt comments aimed at female co-workers may have gone the way of the switchboard and manual typewriter, research shows that there is still sexism in the workplace. And while this brand of sexism is much more difficult to detect than what used to be so prevalent in the workplace, it is just as harmful. It's called benevolent sexism and while most of us do not even recognize it in our everyday lives, we encounter it on a regular basis.
  • Help your firm avoid revolving-door reputation

    No organization wants to have a revolving-door reputation, gaining notoriety as a place where employees tend to enter and leave quickly. Having an alarming rate of traffic move through the office has a negative impact on all areas. Losing good people and then training replacements means productivity slows down. Without continuity, operational flow is interrupted.
  • Treating customers kindly increases loyalty, business

    Remember when a friendly greeting and a genuine smile used to be part of doing business? It may sound old-fashioned, but it wasn't all that long ago that making a customer feel special -- not the lowest price or fastest shipping -- is what won their loyalty and kept them coming back. In these fast-paced, technology-driven times we live in, when most business transactions occur online and not in person, we seem to have lost touch with the importance of being kind to one another. And yet, none of us have lost the desire to be treated kindly, nor has technology changed the value of kindness. Without costing a penny, it is still the most effective way to build greater brand awareness, boost customer loyalty and keep employees happy.
  • Don't plan budget for salaries in isolation

    Now is the time when many human resource practitioners and compensation professionals begin the annual review of their reward programs -- with a particular focus on planning for 2013 salary increases. Questions such as "How competitive are we?" and "How much do we need to spend next year?" are what keep my phone ringing this time of year as clients search for answers.
  • Spell out your company's policy on technology use

    In a world of constant connectivity it can be difficult to manage the work environment where employees have a computer in front of them with easy access to the Internet. Even without a company-supplied computer, how many people do you know who don't have a smart phone or other device to keep them connected to friends, family, personal interests, news, games, social media sites and so on? Where does an employee's personal life stop and work life begin? Well, you would like to think an employee's personal life stops as soon as they begin work; however the reality is, personal "stuff" will always creep into an employee's work life. As an employer, it is in your best interests to consider how to put parameters around the need and desire for constant connectivity.
  • Professional image reflects who you are

    With the flood of new grads entering the workforce this spring, it seems a suitable time to discuss dressing for success. For the rest of us (ahem), a refresher course probably wouldn't hurt, either. Whether you're going for a job interview, going out on a date or going to the bank for a loan, it's important to look the part. Like it or not, appearances definitely matter and people will make instant assumptions about you based on how you dress. While you can't judge a book entirely by its cover, you can't dismiss the power of first impressions.
  • Succession planning key priority

    The baseball term bench strength has become a metaphor for smart succession planning. To a ball team, bench strength means the skill level and number of quality players available to substitute during any given inning. In business, it's about the depth, the versatility and the competence of high-potential leaders who are ready to be called up to fill senior-level vacancies in the organization.

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