Barbara Bowes

  • Decisions, decisions

    You probably don't realize it, but from a personal perspective, you make decisions about life every day. You determine whether or not you want to continue with advanced education or apply for a job instead. You apply for a job, but then make a decision it wasn't for you and subsequently decide to move on to something else. Most of you will at some time decide to buy a house, purchase a car, get married, have children or get divorced. Others willingly or are forced to make the tough decision to leave their birth country and start a new life elsewhere. In other words, people make decisions at every stage of their life. But, let's face it, some decisions are simply tougher than others. And, when decisions are tough and more challenging, greater care and attention must be brought to the issue at hand.
  • See how others see you

    Have you ever thought about whether you correctly understand your public image? Have you ever considered there might be a difference between how you see your strengths and challenges versus how others -- your boss, colleagues, friends and even your spouse -- see them?
  • Exploring new management structures

    I've often written about leadership trends and the skills new leaders will need for future success. But what isn't talked about much is the issue of organization design or the how and why organizations are structured. Most organizations are structured with a fairly steep hierarchy and central authority. The larger the organization, the larger the hierarchy and bureaucracy. Jobs are narrowly defined and slotted into specific pay grades.
  • Smile! You're on camera

    Human resources and talent management has always been an evolving industry sector. Today, word is our baby boomers are finally leaving the workplace while Generation X and the millennials are taking over. Yet, at the same time, there are just as many baby boomers who are either staying or returning to the workplace.
  • The motivation equation

    Valentine's Day has come and gone for another year. Cards have been exchanged, special dinners were arranged and perhaps a nice bouquet of flowers arrived on your doorstep. I'm sure a great deal of personal pleasure and happiness arose from these exchanges and hopefully, the pleasant feelings helped to cement your relationships over the long term. However, it made me think about the status of employee rewards and recognition. Are today's employees motivated by a one-time reward or bonus for good work? How long does the pleasant effect of an annual financial bonus last versus recognition in front of one's peers? Then again, are in-kind rewards, such as guest tickets at a hockey game or special event, considered more valuable? Then again, do employees feel valued when they are selected as employee of the month? Or, do all of these efforts simply leave employees, especially millennials, feeling manipulated and lacking motivation?
  • The self-employment challenge

    Frankly, I never did think of myself as being self-employed and/or being an entrepreneur, but here I am, all these years later. To be honest, I simply needed a new challenge, and the only way I could get it was to go out on my own.
  • Asking all the right questions

    I've always been someone who has asked a lot of questions. I'm a curious person, and I want to know why things are as they are. I want to understand the way the world works so I know how to fit into it. Interestingly enough, when I was a young student, I caused a lot of trouble for myself by asking too many questions and challenging the teachers. But it didn't end there; I also got into trouble at work for asking too many questions.
  • Gauging the gouging

    For the past few years, our local world has been abuzz about the issue of perceived conflict of interest in government agencies. The issue is complicated, convoluted, hard for the general public to understand and hard to track.
  • Do the right thing

    Citizens and stakeholders in the community as well as the corporate world are saying loud and clear, "We won't stand for it anymore! No, no, no!" That's the powerful message you heard last week as some of the details of unethical behaviour by a former college president surfaced in the news. No, no, no, said CBC brass as they made the decision to suspend popular radio host Jian Ghomeshi for alleged inappropriate sexual behaviour. And again, CBC brass said no as they suspended the practice of allowing on-air personalities to reap the benefits of high-paid speaking gigs outside of their regular work.
  • Bounce back after a layoff

    We've all seen our world turn upside-down at some point in our lives, but this latest downward trend in fuel prices is certainly throwing us into a bit of chaos. I don't recall such a rapid, teeter-totter transition from high to low prices. And while we are enjoying the benefit of low gasoline prices, knowing a job cut might be just over the next horizon isn't so much fun. Yet, that's exactly what's happening.
  • Relationship status: Developing positive connections in the workplace a key to success

    The new year is beginning to unfold and as you might expect, the newspaper has been full of great ideas for creating and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. There have been articles on physical fitness, as well as a review of apps to help you stay true to your exercise goals. We’ve seen articles on making healthy meals with turkey leftovers, meals to keep you warm and articles that help you to discover the trick to making a smoothie. All in all, the advice is meant to drive readers toward good health and happiness.
  • Resolving power: Successful career goals can't be set in isolation

    As you would expect, many people continue with the age-old practice of trying to change their lives by writing a set of New Year's resolutions. Of course, these dreams encompass everything from losing weight and exotic travel plans to getting a promotion at work. However, we also know very soon into the new year, people begin to get frustrated. They lose their commitment, fall into old habits and then find themselves backsliding to where they were before. In other words, setting a goal is one thing, accomplishing it is another. So, why the failure? Some say goal failure means the individual really wasn't ready to reinvent themselves and change their lives. Others suggest people most often write goals that are unrealistic or their expectations are simply too high.
  • Facing 2015 head-on: New year trends you'll see in the workplace

    For individuals, New Year's resolutions are an annual ritual for setting goals for the future. As an organizational leader, you also need to set goals, but first you need to take a glimpse of some of the trends you'll face in the year ahead. The human-resource landscape is particularly complex and hard to get a handle on. So, as you make your plans, consider the following HR trends gleaned from my own professional experience over the past year.
  • Party's over

    All right, Christmas Day has passed, family celebrations are over and now is the time to think about setting your personal and professional goals for 2015. It's a tradition after all. Perhaps you want to change jobs or even change careers. Maybe you want to lose the 10 pounds you've gained over the fall season. On the other hand, you might want to save for a special overseas travel tour or attend an expensive concert. So, what's holding you up? Are you confused about what you want to do in your future? Are your goals simply an impossible dream? Just where is your resistance coming from? Are you procrastinating? Are you afraid of commitment, judgment or failure? Let's face it, if goal-setting is one of your personal and professional challenges, over time you might find yourself behind rather than ahead.
  • Career tips for new mayors... and others

    Now that Brian Bowman has taken his oath of office, all attention is focused on his accomplishments during the first 100 days as our new mayor. He came aboard with a clear plan that outlined his priorities for building an effective council, tackling the crumbling infrastructure and bringing accountability back to city hall. As you can expect, some individuals have already criticized his efforts and accomplishments, yet from a career perspective, his determination to focus on concrete goals and objectives in the first 100 days is a very wise decision. Why is the first 100 days so important to someone transitioning into a new job? It's important because there are multiple career transition challenges. For instance, most people entering a new job are quite vulnerable because they don't have established relationships. And often, they don't have a detailed understanding of their new organization and/or their new role. This forces an individual into a stressful situation where they need to learn quickly and seek early wins that help to build personal and professional credibility.
  • 'Tis the season...

    Christmas and Hanukkah are upon us, so organizational leaders, team members, family members and individuals all need to be more aware of the multitude of emotions of the holiday season. For employees' families, stress can arise from complicated schedules. Blended families often double the number of visits and dinners to prepare or attend. Gift buying is complicated, especially for children who have great wants but whose parents have a low budget.
  • Holiday-party headaches

    It's that time of year. First the snow, then American Thanksgiving, then Black Friday. Wow, what a start to the Christmas-holiday frenzy. I am exhausted already just thinking about December. It's certainly a busy month full of shopping, vacation planning, family scheduling and the exchange of gifts. Employers, too, are busy with work tasks and employee holiday scheduling in addition to shipping off those last-minute client requests. However, it is customary for most employers to take time out of their busy schedules to host a special employee holiday event. This is a great opportunity to let employees know they are valued and appreciated by their organization as well as an opportunity to get to know employee family members.
  • Say it with feeling: Emotional intelligence, communication skills key to being a good leader

    There are two characteristics that are critical to leadership, yet are sadly lacking -- emotional intelligence and effective communication. Both of these topics have been studied for many years. So, it is well-known leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence and communication skills enjoy better job performance, better career success and greater mental health.
  • Personal health affecting health of the economy

    For the last number of years, Canadians and Manitobans have basked in the glory of the growing global economy. More and more businesses are exporting their goods and services all over the world. Many have established manufacturing plants and distribution systems in foreign countries. With this has come a burst in international travel as employees and owners arrive in various countries for sales excursions, annual meetings and other business trips. Life is exciting. The Internet has also helped us explore an international world and it is becoming easier and easier to communicate across borders. In many cases, it is said your message will go around the world in 30 seconds with a push of the button.
  • Changing culture a massive task

    As repulsive as it is, the CBC/Jian Ghomeshi affair is a prime example of how quickly a leader in today's society can fall from grace. It's also a good example how the fall can be a rather crushing experience for both the individual and the organization.
  • Remember their sacrifice

    As I write this article, I am confident our 2014 Remembrance Day observances will have even more significance than usual. Yes, we will once again remember the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty in both world wars. However, this year, there are so many international events that have shocked us into the reality of just how fragile world peace really is. For instance, the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine in particular has caused many citizens to be somewhat unsettled. I am hopeful many of our younger generations are now beginning to truly understand what our Canadian freedom and democracy really stands for. Yet, when a horrific incident occurs, such as the recent killing of the Ottawa reservist, the deliberate vehicular death of a soldier in Quebec and the senseless deaths of three RCMP members in Moncton, our sense of peace and security on the local front comes quickly crashing down. Questions are already being asked: "What's happening to our society?" "Why are our safe-keepers being targeted for violence?"
  • Self-esteem essential

    Have you ever looked in the mirror and didn't like what you saw? Have you ever felt unhappy with yourself, and the feeling lingered for days? Do you often compare yourself with others and feel you are not good enough? Are you constantly telling yourself you're stupid or can't do anything right? Or, have you been terminated from a job and chastised yourself, thinking you must be a failure? If these descriptors match some of your thoughts and you are consistently repeating these destructive words, you are probably suffering from low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence.
  • The cost of cash stress

    As one of those "working Canadians," I was somewhat dismayed to learn the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA) has recently reported more and more workers are living paycheque to paycheque. According to this most recent survey, people are also saving less and feeling stressed and overwhelmed by debt.
  • Blurred lines

    If you're a people watcher like me, you've probably noticed a widespread social phenomenon in our community and beyond that represents a distinct and interesting shift in people's communication behaviour. For instance, if you recall, years ago when smoking was popular, you would see a group of individuals gathering and/or walking down the street with a cigarette in hand.
  • Delegation situation

    It's been one year since the congratulations started rolling in; after all, you had been promoted! You were thrilled to be selected for your high-performing, demanding job. It's the type of job where you experience an adrenalin rush all the time. It's exciting to be challenged as you resolve one crisis after another. Yet somehow, your spirit is starting to lag and you are worried the bloom is falling off the rose, so to speak. In fact, you're becoming seriously concerned there doesn't seem to be enough time to recover as you jump from one crisis to the next. Your email inbox is always full, deadlines are being missed and staff morale is beginning to slip.


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