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Barbara Bowes

  • Learning never stops

    A glimpse around your neighbourhood will confirm the fall season is on its way. Children and parents are busy purchasing school supplies and new clothes. Teachers on the other hand, are already in their classrooms, preparing for the upcoming year. Yes, as Carole King likes to sing, "School bells are ringing." Yet, it isn't only children and young adults who should be thinking about school. Anyone in the workforce needs to be thinking about school, as well. Yes, you can pat yourself on the back for finishing a long and arduous education resulting in a degree or diploma. However, once you enter the working world, you still need to continue learning. In this case, the term 'school' is better known as 'continuous learning' or 'professional development'. But no matter what learning is called, every worker needs to make learning a lifelong passion.
  • Merger management

    The year 2014 was branded by human resource professionals as the year of "merger mania" and if the recent real estate mergers are any sign, 2015 is definitely continuing this trend. It's amazing how mergers change the landscape of an industry sector. Yet merging businesses brings a whole new set of risks. In fact, there's been plenty of research over the years that suggests 50-85 per cent of all mergers fail. No matter how well you plan, the change can be quite traumatic for all concerned. That's because each party has its own organizational culture -- "the way we do things around here." In many cases, culture can appear to be similar and/or compatible, but most organizational culture is invisible, so you may not truly recognize the elements of culture until someone tries to change it.
  • The perils of a bad boss

    Twice in one week and two separate phone calls for help, yet only one problem... a bad boss! It's certainly disconcerting to receive a distress call such as that, and to learn a vacationing employee doesn't want to return to work. They are anxious, afraid and stressed. In fact, they would tell you all of their vacation relaxation has quickly dissolved and they are near the point of panic. It's unfortunately this type of leadership behaviour has caused such a difficult situation.  
  • Facing layoffs

    It's been more than 30 years since the term "outplacement" was coined and with Canada most likely heading into a recession, I am sure we will hear more about this service, as organizational changes begin to occur. Outplacement service was initially designed to provide employees with assistance to reduce the trauma of losing a job.
  • Recession fears hit the workplace

    Lately, we have been hearing Canada is in a "technical" recession. A recession occurs when there are two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. If that's the situation, then we have been in a recession since the first three months of this year.
  • Identifying the leaders among us

    Recently, I had lunch with a business acquaintance who is the epitome of a hidden leader. Over a 20-year time frame and with a grade 12 education, she rose from the shop floor to being a corporate president. When I first met her, I was teaching facilitation skills to a group of front-line employees. I took note of her ability to learn quickly, her enthusiasm, the respect others showed toward her, and her eagerness to adapt to change.
  • Schedule a summer intern

    Every summer, holiday schedules create challenges, especially in smaller organizations. In order to alleviate the problem, some leaders require that employees take no more than two weeks of vacation at a time, as it is difficult to accommodate longer stays away from work.
  • The challenge of change

    I remember in my youth I found time seemed to just creep along rather slowly. I couldn't wait to graduate, I couldn't wait to go to university, I couldn't wait to graduate from university and I couldn't wait until I secured my first professional job. Yet, now that I'm older with many years in my profession, it seems time passes far too fast. For instance, my one-week vacation flew by in such a flash I found myself confused about time and dates.
  • Reached a crossroads in your career?

    Reached a crossroads in your career?

    Learn the signs that signal it’s time for a little self-reflection

  • Going all-inclusive

    I am most proud of the cultural mosaic of Winnipeg and Manitoba. We have people from many cultures living and working here, all contributing to the economy. There are many positives from this phenomenon as well as challenges. The mayor's newly appointed indigenous advisory circle is a good example. Its purpose is to create unity and equality through understanding and building bridges in our community.
  • Policies are there for a reason

    Things happen fast in a global world. In Malaysia, two Saskatchewan siblings ended up in court and were eventually deported after they -- along with others -- stripped naked on a mountain that's considered sacred and posted photos on social media. Not only did the photos go viral, they coincided with a terrible earthquake. Unfortunately, the social-media stunt was linked by the government to the natural disaster and the subsequent loss of life.
  • Wardrobe malfunction

    There's a good deal of sizzle in the news lately about dress codes in schools. The issue falls on the shoulders of young women who are accused of baring too much skin. The other challenge appears to be that many schools don't have a dress code per se, but ask students to dress "appropriately." Of course, this is open to interpretation.
  • Summertime schmoozing

    Ah, summer. The time for vacation, time for the annual summer juggle (holiday schedules), time for student interns and the time for staff parties where the good times roll. But let's not forget time for conversations, networking and making connections.
  • Punching the clock at the cottage

    I'll be honest, I am sitting in my beautiful cedar-lined sunroom while I write my Free Press column. I can see and feel nature, hear the birds, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine. It's such a pleasure to enjoy a cup of hot tea on the deck. The only thing missing is the lake. But, it got me thinking: how many employees work from their cottage during the summer? How many employees stay connected while on vacation? Technology allows us to be connected 24/7 -- and we love it.
  • Canadian pride lacking?

    I must say I very much enjoyed the Victoria Day long weekend (weather, notwithstanding) and hope you did, too. However, I was quite surprised to learn a recent survey showed at least 50 per cent of Canadians don't know why we celebrate this statutory holiday.
  • Self-regulation is in

    The Manitoba government recently introduced legislation that would add occupational certification to many industries. Although details are scant, it's suggested the legislation would create better training and skills development.
  • Out of the office

    Where can a young person find a job that helps them stand out in a crowd without competitiveness? Where can youth find a summer job that results in building lifelong friendships and lifelong employability skills?
  • Playing politics

    During the past several months, readers and the public have been exposed to the highest level of relationship conflict an organization can experience: conflict between warring executives. Those very same people whose role is to develop strategic direction and delegate to administration to make things happen. I can just envision the warring parties, locked in conflict and ignoring each other as they walk down one of those hallowed halls of government. I don’t know whether the conflict within the provincial NDP has been festering for years, but I think most of us recognize decisions are not being made and work is not being done.
  • What summer students need

    While spring weather itself has been slow, time is still slipping by, and before you know it, those summer-student applicants will be knocking at your door. Hiring a summer student can be very beneficial to your organization, especially if your existing resources are stretched and you need to find a means of leveraging your resources. Students today often bring advanced computer skills and a phenomenal ability to navigate the Internet, both of which might prove very valuable for special projects within your organization.
  • Managers need to lead by example

    Almost every manager I speak to talks about the amount of time they spend on human resource issues. Some even feel overwhelmed. Unfortunately, most of the issues relate to interpersonal conflict between employees, bullying, blaming, poor performance, job dissatisfaction, gossip, complaints and whiney attitudes. According to Cy Wakeman, author of Reality Based Leadership, and the keynote speaker at the upcoming QNET conference, part of the challenge is that many employees have adopted learned helplessness both in their personal and professional lives. In her view, employees are feeling they lack control and have an inability to change their circumstances. This results in negative attitudes and presents a problem for leaders.
  • 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?