Overcast

Winnipeg, MB

29°c Overcast

Full Forecast

Barbara Bowes

  • Reading between the lines

    Time and time again, all through our educational years and into our work life, we hear about the importance of interpersonal communication. When our communication is deemed to be effective, we can quickly develop trust and respect, build teamwork, problem solve and resolve differences. On the other hand, if our communication is deemed to be ineffective, it's well known we can cause conflict and frustration. In fact, poor communication can destroy professional relationships and/or create unhealthy family dynamics. Yet, many people think because we can talk, we are communicating. Actually, that is not the case at all. In other words, just because words leave your mouth, doesn't mean the listener really understands the message. And just because words leave someone's mouth, doesn't mean they are telegraphing you their true message.
  • Policy makes perfect

    Appropriate workplace etiquette and professionalism have long been topics of discussion. We've talked about the need to interact with colleagues in a polite manner, to work effectively in teams and to ensure we focus on work tasks instead of taking personal phone calls or shopping online. In the last few years, there has also been a good deal of focus on workplace behaviour that is regarded as harassment or bullying. And finally, ever since casual dress entered the workplace, there continues to be considerable discussion regarding what is proper dress and what is not, especially as summer rolls around.
  • Transforming the career

    AS a columnist and public speaker, I have spoken and written about accountability from several perspectives. For instance, I shared with readers that taking personal responsibility means to focus on one's work and doing one's assigned work efficiently versus "sneaking" work time to text friends, keep tabs on your Facebook account or continually checking for personal phone messages.
  • Bye, bye boomers

    The baby-boomer exit is here. So far, it's been somewhat innocuous, with rather quiet retirements of distant corporate executives. Lloyd Robertson, lead anchor of CTV evening news for instance, stepped down a couple of years ago with barely casting a ripple. Locally, many well-known entrepreneurs and organizational leaders have quietly passed the torch to up-and-coming leaders.
  • Accountability counts

    For the last five to 10 years, the word "accountability" has been widely discussed and bandied about. Whenever you pick up a business and/or human resource article to read, the word accountability is sure to be found. Yet, even after all these years, do leaders, managers and employees really know what it means? And are people indeed applying a personal- or organizational-accountability framework? Is it well-known that the concept of accountability applies to everyone in the organization? Frankly, I am not sure, but no matter what your job role or responsibility, the concept of accountability applies to you.
  • A problem with authority

    Recently, I received several requests for assistance on the deeply troubling human-resource issue of bullying in the workplace. Worse yet, the boss is the person doing the bullying. These distressing situations prompted me to read a recent report published by the U.S.-based Workplace Bullying Institute. Its 2014 survey found at least 20 per cent of workers reported they were being bullied, while 23 per cent of other workers were aware of bullying and 21 per cent reported witnessing bullying in their workplace.
  • Keep bad news bears at bay with positivity

    It seems the "bad news bears" have struck again and more workers have lost their jobs. Frankly, whether it is downsizing, right sizing or whatever you want to call it, "bad news" is simply bad news. And bad news isn't always about a layoff situation: bad news can result from the news that a close colleague has become ill or decided to retire. You can also experience bad news when you are told your performance is not up to par. Or bad news may be when you learn about a work transfer to another location or the fact you may be getting a new boss whom you already know and don't care for. However, bad news in your personal and work life will continue to come in all shapes and sizes and at any time. Yet, you can't allow a cloud of negativity to develop and take over your life. Therefore, the challenge is to remain positive, but as everyone knows, this in itself takes a lot of work. Not only that, what steps can you take to ensure positive thinking?
  • Leaders lacking

    The latest research by the now-famous Gallup survey and polling company says today's organizations are continuing to fail at hiring the right talent for their organization 82 per cent of the time. The study suggests people are still being hired and promoted for their technical talent rather than leadership talent. Not only is this statistic alarming, but according to Gallup, it appears to account for the 70 per cent variance in worldwide employee-engagement scores. As a result, the survey suggests bad management can indeed be blamed for the low employee-engagement and employee-morale scores.
  • The challenge of following

    Today, the most effective leadership style in a participative, teamwork environment is known to require the right combination of soft skills and technical expertise. As well, we also know this combination of skills is not easy to attain and requires substantial self-awareness, as well as the ability to motivate others to follow your lead. But what about those followers? According to David Day, a psychology professor currently at the University of Western Australia, we have a preconceived notion leaders are always out in front of the band. In his view, each team has several leaders, so sometimes, leaders are also followers who engage in shared leadership in both formal and informal roles.
  • Spring clean your business

    OK, the grass is cut, the garden ready to plant and all your spring chores are complete and your home is ready for summer to officially arrive. But what about your workplace? Have you taken time to "spring clean" at work? Frankly, most people don't do this at all unless they are engaged in a planned move. As a result, clutter continues to grow, operational processes become routine, systems and policies become outdated and sometimes no one notices products and/or services are in decline.
  • It's about ability

    Looking for a job is a full-time job. If a job-hunter has a disability or a health condition, finding work is even tougher. Statistics show disabled Canadians have a more difficult time finding work and staying employed. Their challenges are often significant and that may explain why disabled employees are underrepresented in the workforce.
  • Climbing the ladder

    Spring always seems to be full of celebratory events, and the month of May is no different. During this month, we not only officially celebrate Victoria Day on May 19, we also celebrate Mother's Day, the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Awards and the Women Business Owners Entrepreneur of the Year award among a flurry of many other important events.
  • Let's talk

    Are you a listening loser? At one time, watching people strolling down a sidewalk involved counting the number of smokers. Then, as society made smoking a social no-no, we started to see more people strolling along with a coffee cup in hand. Paper cups, sippy cups or insulated mugs, it didn't matter; their hands were full.
  • The pivotal pro

    Every month seems to have its day of celebration. And in the month of April, we have celebrated the well-known Secretary's Day and/or Administrative Professionals' Day since approximately 1952. This special day is now celebrated across the world in recognition of all the important work these key professionals do to ease the challenges faced by management. As well, the Professional Association for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants (PAFSA) has declared the year 2014 as the International Year of the Secretary and Administrative Assistant. You'll note that I used the word, "professional" when discussing this job role, and I did so for a number of reasons.
  • Nip that talk

    Yes, spring is finally here. Yet, while it's certainly time for celebration, for some unknown reason, I recently found myself thinking of dandelions and weeds instead of spring and beautiful, colourful flowers. On reflection, it occurred to me I was disturbed about the reported proliferation of gossip in a particular workplace and what advice I could provide to help the employer overcome the mess gossip had created. These days, I'm also encountering more and more concern about employees engaging in gossip activities via the Internet; so, perhaps there's a need to seriously pay attention to the topic of gossip again. However, one of the challenges about gossip is there isn't strong consensus about what exactly constitutes gossip. Ask a group of people and you'll get a group of different answers. There seems to be a wide range of opinion that might even be growing. For instance, some people believe a statement is considered gossip only if it contains untruthful remarks. Others believe gossip is any statement that speaks about an individual and/or an employer without their presence. Still others suggest a statement would be considered gossip only if it includes disparaging remarks, criticism, rumours and/or consists of a range of behaviour, right up to a malicious form of attack bordering on workplace violence.
  • On the straight and narrow

    As you've likely noticed, infamous Toronto Mayor Rob Ford can't stay out of the news, but at least the latest message was he had been "cleared" of allegedly smoking crack cocaine. However, with another ongoing police investigation and the mayoralty campaign heating up, the story of Rob Ford is far from over. In fact, while Ford may be taking comfort from this latest announcement, I would suggest he still has a lot to do to clean up his image. That's because his personal and professional behaviour over the past year has once more brought to light the importance of ethics in the workplace.
  • Teach your workers well

    Canadian employers have been sounding the alarm about skills shortages for some time. The gaps span across industry sectors and affect every province. A recent report estimated one in 10 jobs will go unfilled by 2020. The other challenge is that 10 per cent of the worker supply is predicted to consist of "low-skilled" workers who are not ready for the jobs that will be created. Governments, both provincial and federal, continue to scramble to create programs and put new investments in place to help alleviate the situation. At the same time, the situation is being studied across the world and creative alternatives such as a global mobility strategy are being proposed. With respect to mobility, a recent guest commentator in a national human resource journal commented that steps should be taken to improve the mobility of all Canadians so they can work and practise their profession wherever they wish to.
  • Cultural differences

    Yes, you've seen them; those job ads that say, "Your search is over!" Did you read any further? If you did, you might find statements such as, "the city of Toronto strives to be a model of public service excellence. We are looking for people who share our values, our stewardship and our commitment." Or, in the private sector, you might see statements espousing their corporate values, such as trust, integrity, respect, thought leadership, innovation, inspiration and/or adaptability. The purpose of these descriptions is to attract potential candidates to the organization. It is an attempt to describe what the organization believes to be its values, shared attitudes, customs and behaviour as well as the expectations and the philosophy that directs people how to act within the organization. In other words, these statements are describing the organizational culture.
  • Coach 'em up

    If you're an organizational leader looking out beyond the immediate horizon, what do you see? Do you see a strong pipeline of employees ready to take over key positions in your organization? Are you ready to carry on if one of your key employees becomes ill or dies? Or are you ready to expand and grow with new ideas and innovation?
  • Managing change

    As a reader, you often see news articles directed to newly appointed leaders on how to survive and thrive the first 90 days after their appointment. And, with a high percentage of leadership failures within the first 18 months, new managers need all the success strategies they can get. Typically, the first piece of advice for a new manager is to quickly gain the trust of employees and key stakeholders. This is accomplished by paying close attention to the organizational culture and learning what current practices and behavioural norms exist.
  • Equality doesn't compute

    Today is International Women's Day, a day when we celebrate women's role in society and celebrate the economic, political and social achievements women have gained over the past 100-plus years. The initial push for recognition of women's contribution to the world of work started at the turn of the century when industrialization created a booming economy. At this time, the role of women in the world of work was discounted and grossly undervalued. Men, on the other hand, ruled both government and business and there was nary a woman in sight. So, where do we stand today?
  • The old switcheroo

    How many jobs have you had? How many careers? If you're like me, you may have had eight to 10 jobs and/or three to four careers in your lifetime. Yet, as I progressed in my career and deliberately moved from one job to another after a tenure of approximately three to four years, I remember my father saying, "Why can't you keep a job?" I also remember reeling in shock and annoyance because, for the most part, all of my job and career changes were planned and deliberate. I knew I wanted to try different experiences and build up my skills repertoire. What surprised me was my father labelled my moving from one job to another as "job hopping" and felt it would be detrimental to my career. And then just the other day, a gentleman put the same question to me: "Why did you move around so much in your career?"
  • Online profile your personal brand

    It wasn't all that long ago that most of our interpersonal communication was face to face, by telephone or by letter. In these circumstances, the most common disrespectful behaviour was yelling at someone, uttering a swear word or sending a disparaging note. At the same time, the results of this behaviour were typically more private versus public. My, how the world has changed! Today, in addition to face-to-face encounters, we communicate and interact with one another through text messaging, email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, instant messaging, Instagram and the many other electronic communication mechanisms that seem to be springing up every day. These changes in communication mechanisms have revolutionized the way we live, work and play. Just think about the number of emails you receive every day? Just think about the number of people you now see walking down the street staring at their hand-held device.
  • Warm & fuzzy ...at the workplace?

    February is Valentine month, the time when we traditionally celebrate romance and intimate spousal/partnership relationships. As well, February has become the time when the issue of workplace romance becomes the annual topic of hot debate. "Should you or shouldn't you" is always the question. Yet we all know that since people are spending most of their time at work, the opportunity for romance is naturally there. However, from an organizational perspective, so is the threat of potential repercussions.
  • On-the-job jargon

    If you're like me, you've experienced occasions when an unusual thought jumps into your mind, yet you don't know where it came from. Sometimes the thought is related to a forgotten task, while others are memories of times gone by. That's what's happened to me. For some reason, a thought popped into my mind that reminded me of some of the communication challenges I experienced early in my professional consulting career. For instance, one of my first newly won assignments caused a huge personal shock. That's because just as I concluded my meeting with the client, he slapped his hand on the coffee table and said, "Well, now we can go to bed together!" No kidding! Frankly, I don't recall what I said in return but I do remember blushing to the brightest of red colours. Fearing an undesired future fate, I then quickly called a male colleague asking for help. Of course, my colleague belted out a hearty laugh and told me the client was simply confirming we could do business together. Yet, how was I supposed to have known that?