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Blogger: Barbara Bowes
Barbara Bowes
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly BowesKnows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at

It doesn’t take much thought to see that trust in our governance systems is cracking like an eggshell. We saw this with the recent reversal of voter support for Prime Minister Theresa May in Britain, as well as last year’s vote for the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump’s first six months in office sees him challenged by three investigations into issues surrounding his campaign as well as his unseemly "unpresidential" behaviour. Canada isn’t immune, as the recent British Columbia election seems to suggest. 

How do you solve some of your daily problems? Do you sit down and do a thorough analysis of the situation, try to find the root cause of the problem, brainstorm potential solutions and then weigh the pros and cons? Well, if this is how you handled every problem, you’d never make it through your day. No, in most situations, you just know what to do. Why is that? The reason is that most of us are, to some extent, intuitive decision-makers.

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Much has been made of the recent American election, when accusations of fake news were heard daily. Fake news, most often circulated through social media, is intended to create misinformation, falsehood and, in some extreme cases, psychological warfare. But other than dealing with good, old-fashioned "gossip," who would ever think the concept of fake news would apply to the workplace? 

Skip the Dishes, the highly successful Winnipeg-based restaurant delivery service, has been on a fast and high growth trajectory since its launch in 2013. It has enjoyed great fanfare and was recognized as one of North America’s fastest-growing companies. "Going live" has been the company’s corporate mantra, as city after city throughout North America has been added to the delivery roster. Brand awareness and success quickly led to the company being purchased by a United Kingdom corporation called Just Eat PLC, for a reported $110 million.

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Learning how to better determine and achieve your life ambitions is vital to maintaining success

Here we are in March and while spring is coming, many folks are feeling rather down. The reason? They have failed to fulfil their New Year’s goals. In fact, it is reported 80 per cent of all resolutions fail by the end of February with less than 45 per cent of people still continuing on with their goals by year end.


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We’ve been hearing a lot lately about "fake news." Just like those phoney email messages appearing to be from your local bank branch, fake news often includes misinformation posted to what looks like a trusted site. Still other venues include published articles from unethical "journalists" who simply make up their stories. No matter what venue it appears in, fake news is specifically designed to deliberately provide misinformation presented as the truth — all to either profit in some way, persuade people to think a certain way or, at the very least, question their own beliefs. In today’s Internet environment, these so-called news stories travel across the world in seconds. Some have called this practice "yellow journalism" and/or psychological warfare.


Coaches are also known for mentorship, counselling, organizing and team-building, all with the goal of motivating team members. So I find it strange that coaching in the workplace has taken so long to gain credibility. 

Only in the past five to 10 years has coaching been recognized as having value in supporting managers and helping them increase their personal performance. As well, business coaching or "executive coaching" started out as a performance management tool to "fix" a manager and was seen as the last stop before termination. No wonder executive coaching was not seen as an opportunity.

Tips to help you develop positive behaviours in the workplace

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a move behind the scenes by groups of professionals and industry associations to ensure professional work standards in their industry sectors.

Focusing on human resources is an investment, not an expense


For some unknown reason, as the Christmas holiday came and went, the 1944 novelty Christmas song All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth kept ringing in my ears. Was it the simplicity of the tune or the simplicity of the child’s "ask" that made it such an earworm?


For some reason, while the Christmas season is one of Black Friday sales, travel, good food and family celebrations, for some people it’s also a time of real personal apprehension. That’s because they’ve been thinking about changing jobs at mid-life or contemplating retirement.

Develop a strategy for next opening

Why are you feeling so down and out? How is it you’re experiencing beautiful weather, you have a great family, solid friends and a good job, yet you’re feeling dejected and defeated? I know — you didn’t get that coveted promotion!

Taking time to assess your attitude can lead to positive thinking

You’ve seen it, I know you have. I’m referring to the bad behaviour and negative attitude some employees exhibit in the workplace. In fact, you may have engaged in this behaviour yourself.

Examples include whining and pouting if you don’t get your own way and viewing everything in the work world from a "woe is me" or glass-half-full attitude. I’m sure you’ve met an employee who can’t find anything right about their job or their employer, yet they still come to work every day, poisoning the atmosphere.

The often worst managed HR function can be a boon if well-implemented

As time creeps toward school-report season and that well-known Halloween gala event, many organizations are also looking at finally getting around to that dreaded report card or "performance review" process. You’ll notice I used the word "finally." I did so deliberately because performance reviews are almost always late or simply not done. In fact, the performance-management function is the worst managed area of the human resource field.

Effective communication starts with hearing what someone means when they speak

There’s an assumption in our society that everyone is born to listen effectively. After all, that’s what our ears are for. Yet, we know there’s a great deal of miscommunication and disrupted relationships at home and at work simply because people don’t listen well.

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Being the boss brings unique role, responsibilities

With the continuing flood of baby boomer retirements, many individuals find themselves being promoted to CEO. It doesn’t matter if the individual is a long-term employee or new to an organization, they’ll find being a CEO is a lot different than being a senior manager. 


Grin and wear it

Although I’ve never followed fashion, I’ve certainly had a front seat to the phenomenal social transition from formal office attire to casual dress. No longer is the three-piece uniform for men or the pencil skirt and matching jacket for women the standard business uniform. 

When did this cultural change begin? Research quickly reveals the fashion trend started in the mid-1960s with a marketing ploy to sell more of those Hawaiian shirts for men on what was called, "Aloha Friday."

Eventually, this led to the drive for "casual Fridays" in the workplace and has now revolutionized the concept of fashion in the workplace. Today, you’ll recognize in some cases, casual Friday has turned into "everyday" casual.

Getting people working together a key part of organization structure

Have you ever sat down and thought about how fast our business world is transforming particularly as it relates to new products and services? Look at how quickly society adopted Facebook, one of the first social-networking sites invented in 2004.

Maybe the problem at work is you


Last week, my Winnipeg Free Press column dealt with how to deal with an annoying co-worker. However, what if you are the problem? Yes, you! How could that be? Well, first of all, take a look at your attitude. Are you the one with a bad attitude? Are you the one making everyone miserable around you? Are you the one creating concerns for your boss?

Lately, we’ve had several opportunities to observe and assess the importance of words in one’s conversation. Just ask the recent young election hopeful who had to bow out of the campaign. His past derogatory words about women on Twitter struck a lightening blow to his political future. Having countless female friends and giving credit to his mother just wasn’t enough to gain public support and smooth this one over.

Since getting the right to vote, women have been instrumental in shaping labour practices

WITH a provincial election on the horizon, it was somewhat timely that in January we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Manitoba women getting the right to vote, and 56 years since our indigenous population was finally granted the right to vote.

Picking yourself up after a job loss

Target Canada's announcement of 17,600 pink slips in January 2015 was one of the biggest mass layoffs in Canada in more than 20 years. In one fell swoop, 133 Canadian stores were closed and their employees let go.

Well, they're over! Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, that is. Gifts were opened, love was everywhere, and the feast of unique traditional foods was an especially good treat.

Attracting, retaining quality employees just part of return on investment

Employers are once again concerned about a capability gap appearing in the marketplace, as it seems the gulf between candidate skills and the needs of employers is widening.

Organizations, potential volunteers have roles to play in creating successful relationship

Volunteerism is a big deal. For instance, approximately 47 per cent of Canadians older than 15 volunteered in some capacity for a total of 2.07 hours in 2010. According to Statistics Canada, this figure was equivalent to 1.1 million full-time jobs.

Upgrade your stock by going back to 'school'

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.

Every workplace has go-to people who aren’t managers; managers need to nurture them

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.

Following the rules is a strategy for career success

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.

The headline in the Free Press read, City sees healthy growth in economic development and reported the growth momentum was predicted to continue well into 2015. It’s nice to see Manitoba’s competitive advantage has been successful in attracting large world-class companies. At the same time, I am pretty proud of the large number of mid-sized, family-owned enterprises demonstrating success.

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.

Human resources, IT must team up on workplace surveillance

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.

It's important to recognize, and be diligent about conflicts of interest

For the past few years, our local world has been abuzz about the issue of perceived conflict of interest in government agencies.

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.

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.

It's always wise to take time to build relationships

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.

From Debra Magnuson – Career Partners International – Twin Cities


With Baby Boomers beginning their moves into retirement and Generation Z, the youngest generation, now entering the workforce, the needs and expectations of employees are changing. To provide insight into the importance and impact of this workforce revolution, Career Partners International, one of the largest talent management solution providers in the world, hosted researcher and author Dan Schawbel for a webinar entitled “Generation Z: Understanding the Next Generation of Worker.” This document discusses the concepts introduced during the webinar, as well as practices that engage employees of all ages, concluding with solutions to help organizations thrive by leveraging the strengths of the new workforce.


Businesses must prepare for widespread major illnesses

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.

Staff fretting over money hits firms


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. Even more alarming is the statistic that suggests 63 per cent of young people, aged 18 to 29, are living paycheque to paycheque. Baby boomers, too, are reported to be postponing retirement.



Mass retirements will create opportunities, leave skills gap


For the past number of years, we've heard whispers of the pending retirement of the baby boom generation. For some employers, these retirements are no longer looming, they are here, right now. For others, especially the younger generation, the baby boomer retirement trend can't happen soon enough. That's because many boomers are staying in the workforce longer than past generations and are therefore perceived to be clogging up the available career paths.



Occupation transitioning more than just upgrading education

Have you ever been in the situation where you've started to second guess yourself and rethink your career? Have you been asking yourself, "What am I doing here?" or, "What's wrong with me?" These thoughts and questions often reflect a sense of career unease and are usually a sign that personal job satisfaction has either slowly or abruptly come to an end.

Understanding the unsaid key to effective communication

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.

All job satisfaction comes from ownership of work

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.

Workplace bullying is even worse when your boss is behind it

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.


Disabled workers are a great, under-used resource


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.



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.

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.


Changing jobs strengthens the résumé

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?"


Practical strategies keep executives 'in the know'

Most readers are familiar with the highly popular TV show, Undercover Boss, now seen in Canada, England and the United States. Each episode features either a senior executive and/or business owner of a large corporation who goes undercover as a front-line employee in their own company. The executive wears a disguise, adopts an alias and background and then spends one week working various jobs. In most episodes, the executive also changes locations. During the week, the executive experiences all the trials and tribulations of front-line workers and really gets to see first-hand what is working well and what is not.


Priorities for new year should reflect workplace trends


It's only a few weeks into 2014 and the afterglow of those new year's resolutions is already starting to fade. So, for those whose persistence is slipping, I suggest you step back and reflect on the sage advice given by Queen Elizabeth in her annual Christmas message. She stated that "we all need to get the balance right, between action and reflection and that hopefully everyone will have the chance to contemplate the future."



Before you seek that promotion, review your career motivations

Similar to Christmas carols and folk songs, the practice of making New Year's resolutions has a long history, starting with ancient Babylonians, who made promises to their gods at the start of each year. Typically, people focus on goals to improve their physical well-being such as engaging in a stop-smoking plan, starting a regular exercise routine and/or losing weight. Some people realize their credit card spending has gotten away on them, so they focus on getting their finances in order, while others set goals toward upgrading their education. No matter what, most goals are related to personal self-improvement.

Know how to deal with employees' disruptive behaviours

It's been a wild month of unflattering and unbecoming behavioural antics by the now internationally famous Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. He's finally admitted to drinking in the mayor's office, drinking and driving, and smoking crack. I'm sure that's not exactly the kind of role model Toronto was looking for.



High-integrity leaders crucial to an organization's success


There have certainly been a few eye-catching newspaper headlines lately that have served to fuel our feelings of cynicism about leadership integrity, especially on the political scene. On both the local and national scene, we've been exposed to a perception of self-serving power and influence arising from deep-rooted friendships as well as back-room political manipulations used in an attempt to discard individuals who are perceived as a risk.


Executive-director and board evaluation invaluable for effective leadership

Most small-business leaders know and acknowledge that performance management is the worst-managed of all human-resources management areas.

Relationship-building strategies to help you and your colleagues get along

It's often been said workplaces are much like families and, in fact, most organizations work hard to create what they call a "family atmosphere." By this we mean a harmonistic family where everyone gets along and works well together.

Yet, a workplace where everyone consistently gets along is indeed difficult to achieve. That's because at some point, someone will cause friction through their words or behaviour. For instance, one person might display a condescending attitude while another might engage in activities or comments that plainly show lack of respect. As well, envy and jealousy among workers can often arise. Any of these incidents starts a chain of events that can lead to outright war between employees.

Our world of work has shifted and changed significantly over the last decade. No matter what industry sector your organization fits, your issues and challenges are more complex, more dynamic and faster paced than ever before. In addition, organizational leaders have learned that the concept of a global economy is not just some far flung theory but instead, it has real impact right here in our city and amongst our working colleagues.

What do you do when your organizational career ladder is no longer pointed upward? What can you do when you have downsized, right-sized and restructured to such an extent employees are confused about possible opportunities? What can you do when employees tend to flee from your organization first and ask questions later?

Flexible schedule could make you happier

When was the last time you thought about how much our workplaces have changed with respect to when and how we work? If you did a little research, you'd find that a work schedule in the industrial age was often six days a week and 12 hours a day with no statutory holidays or scheduled vacation. Child labour was standard practice.

If you really think about it, life and our work are full of choices and decisions. At home, we make choices and decisions regarding what to wear, what to eat, what to do day-to-day, who our friends are and where we might intend to go. At work, we make choices and decisions that help us in our careers, help bring about successful results for our employers and hopefully lead us to job satisfaction. Yet, as we know, many people do not make good life choices or make good decisions either at home or at work.

Introverts may need special strategies to be heard in the workplace

Are you the type of person who's tired of being told to be more assertive, to get out and network more effectively or to speak up at meetings? Are you avoiding large social events and, if you do indeed attend, you're ready to go home in an hour? Or are you the candidate who simply doesn't interview well because it takes time to get to know you? How many of you have spent countless hours attempting to be extroverted, only to feel lonely and exhausted at the end of a day?

Succession planning includes business-wide changes

WHILE it's true many baby boomers are indeed not retiring at the lightening speed first expected, for business leaders to think the issue of succession planning is a lot of ado about nothing is crazy. In my view, ignoring the broader issues related to succession planning is tantamount to burying your head in the sand.

If we're honest with ourselves, we can admit that each of us has a hot button word, phrase or action that simply sends us off on a tizzy.

In today's workplace, career success often depends on being a positive, contributing member of a like-minded group

The idea of employees working in a "team" has been with us since the early 1930s when the so-called Hawthorne experiments found that productivity increased when workers felt supported and involved. It was also during this time period that more attention was paid to the influence of organizational culture and the interaction between supervisors and employees. Over the years, the lessons learned from these early studies have continued to impact our work world to such an extent that "teamwork" is part of everyone's vocabulary. In fact, most organizations today look for reference to teamwork on new candidate resumés.

Female police officers sign of gains in workplace equality

It still amazes me that women were once shut out from public life; we couldn't vote, we were barred from advanced education and we couldn't enter into some professions such as medicine. In some provinces, women couldn't hold property and, in fact, women were not even defined as persons. Thanks to the hard work of a determined rights advocate named Nellie McClung, women in Manitoba gained the vote as early as 1916 while women in the rest of Canada had to wait four more years.

Employee performance appraisal and performance management has long been a core pillar in a manager's tool kit. However, I'm sure it isn't a surprise to learn that employee performance management is the most mismanaged functional area of human resource management. All kinds of complaints have surfaced such as inconsistency, subjectivity, lateness, a top-down approach and a failure to tie the process to organizational goals, to name only a few.

It's a skill that can be learned for problem solving

Albert Einstein, the world-renowned physicist made famous through his theory of relativity, was also known for his general skill in problem solving. In fact, he once stated that if he had one hour of his life left to save the world, he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes of time on the solution. In other words, his message is that there's a lot more power in asking questions and the "right" questions to define a problem rather than simply jumping in and trying to find a solution. But believe it or not, many of us continually jump right into a problem instead of stepping back and investing time in defining the problem.

Ensuring employees have positive approach a key job

While the last few years have found baby-boomer retirement issues holding top priority, the latest human resource surveys are showing that employee engagement is now taking over the primary lead. In fact, one survey reports that 94 per cent of survey participants indicated that employee engagement was the most important workforce challenge they were currently facing.

Find the right motivational mix for your employees

Employee motivation, an individual's internal drive to achieve a goal is now one of the most studied areas of human resource management. Over the years, multiple theories have been put forward.

For instance, the popular Maslow theory suggests that employees are motivated to first look after their physical need, then their safety and social needs and, finally, they are motivated to seek satisfaction for their own ego and self-gratification. The Skinner theory on the other hand, suggests that if an employee's behaviour is positively reinforced, this will lead to ongoing positive outcomes.

Too much lyin', cheatin' going on

I don't ever recall paying much attention to changes and growth in our English vocabulary, but I was surprised at how quickly new words were created after the Lance Armstrong confession spilled over to the news waves. These new words, doprah, liestrong and livewrong, will stay with us for some time and will continue to be a symbol of the deep corruption seemingly found in the area of cycling sports.

HR problems don't go away, they just get worse

Have you ever heard of the concept of a psychological game? This usually refers to a conscious or unconscious communication tactic that plays out like a game with real live winners and losers. It's really a type of psychological one upmanship that people engage in while trying to gain the upper hand in a situation. You can recognize you've been inadvertently involved in a psychological game because at the end of it, you'll probably feel angry, annoyed and/or simply exhausted from your efforts.

Small- and mid-sized businesses need to develop a workforce strategy

Recently, economic statistics have shown that the provincial economy showed modest growth in 2012, unemployment is down and salaries increased moderately. At the same time, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce small business survey suggests a clear increase in business confidence.

I know from watercooler conversations that many people -- employees and business leaders alike -- are indeed feeling a sense of optimism. In fact, I personally feel a great sense of excitement. However, I can guarantee that all this optimism will quickly fade for our small business leaders and employees alike if effective strategic and workforce planning fails to set corporations up for success.

Self-esteem, planning key to successful work life

Wow, what a way to start the year 2013! More full-time jobs. With the 5,200 new jobs created in December alone, it seems our province is finally on a roll. In fact, this type of stellar performance might lead us to becoming a "have" province once again, a thought that certainly creates a positive buzz in the minds of job seekers and employers alike.

It's the time of year when owners and organizational leaders are busy setting their own business resolutions for the year 2013. According to many surveys, these include goals such as placing a new or renewed focus on retaining employees, developing the next generation of leaders, developing a culture of engagement and training leaders to be coaches.

It's the most challenging time of the year... for business owners juggling their needs, staff hopes

How does one know the Christmas season is upon us? While it's easy to suggest the carols and decorations at the mall, I think the real evidence lies with the Black Friday shopping frenzy.

Congratulations, you've been appointed a new middle manager! That's quite an accomplishment and I'm sure you've worked hard for this special promotion. In fact, over the years, in preparation for your advancement, you've taken courses and professional development training to gain self-awareness, learn about your personality and communication style and learn to truly understand the concept of leadership versus management.

If you really stopped to think about it, you'd find that much of your life is simply a series of repetitive, unconscious habits. For instance, when you wake up, what you eat for breakfast, where you sit at the table, what you wear and what time you leave for work aren't just conscious decisions; they've become habits. In other words, over time, your behaviour becomes automatic; it's just the way you do things, good or bad.

Every workplace experiences some sort of drama, yet, believe it or not, I seem to receive more complaints about workplace conflicts in the winter months than at any other time of the year. I'm not sure of any reason other than the fact employees can't easily go outside to let off steam. Perhaps it's the stress of the upcoming Christmas season, or perhaps the stress of one's over-extended credit or perhaps the long, very foreboding cold days of January and February. Excuses, excuses!

When was the last time your company's job descriptions and organizational structure were reviewed?

Typically, these important organizational elements aren't seen as priority items unless new leaders join the organization and look at things from fresh eyes. The result is that years will go by before problems are recognized as serious enough to take action.

Well, fall is definitely here. The leaves have all but disappeared and the unexpected recent snowfall reminded us that winter isn't far behind. Signs of fall are also seen at the local farmers markets, as hundreds of families anxiously seek just the right pumpkin for their Halloween festivities. Other families are busy harvesting their remaining garden produce or attending those famous local fall harvest dinners.

Have you ever been accused of not listening? I suspect that most people have been the recipient of that type of criticism, yet I'm not sure most people realize just how important listening is to our daily life.

I'm always sad when I learn of staff reductions and layoffs and recently, that's what's caused me to generally reflect on employee career planning and how people handle their layoff situation. While we've certainly had our share of layoffs in Manitoba, the most recent notice of layoffs coming from two major retailers, suggests that shifts in our employment market are still occurring.

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If you asked successful leaders what made them successful, I'm certain you'll find the answer to be good communication skills.

Let's face it, leaders spend most of their day engaging in communication of some kind or other. That's because leaders need to get things done through people. They use their communication tools to motivate and direct their teams; they set a vision and goals and use communication to attract followers. They also use communication to influence others, both within their corporations and external in the community.

According to a recent human resource survey, the level of stress among Canadian business professionals is rising, with approximately 63 per cent of survey participants blaming their work as the main source of stress. Survey participants also suggested that the continuing instability of the world economy was a contributing factor, as well as personal finances and customer relationships.

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As you learned from one of my recent articles, occupational fraud is a growing phenomenon in Canada. In fact, the Certified General Accountants Association (CGA) recently reported that one-quarter of all small- and medium-sized enterprises were victims of at least one instance of workplace fraud in 2011.

With schools and universities opening for fall attendance, I find that at this time of year, one personal recollection of my school history always comes to mind.

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems that fraudulent and other questionable employee behaviour is on the rise as there isn't one week that goes by where a troubling incident isn't reported.

Employee motivation -- an individual's internal drive to achieve a goal -- is now one of the most studied areas of human resource management. Over the years, multiple theories have been put forward.

For instance, Maslow's popular hierarchy of needs theory suggests that employees are motivated to first look after their physical needs, then their safety and social needs and finally, they are motivated to seek satisfaction for their own ego and self-gratification.

A little thinking goes a long way to ensure reputations don't get destroyed on the Internet

Hiring an expert to coach executives benefits both individuals and their companies

Use sports, cultural events to build teamwork instead of grousing about your employees' 'theft'

As technology, market conditions and other factors evolve, it makes good business sense to redesign a company's structure

I remember a situation years ago when a parent asked for help with his daughter. Although she was a business school graduate with some university, she couldn't seem to get a job.

Every business and organization has at one time or another faced what it considers to be a crisis. Yet, few of us will ever experience the horrifying crisis being faced by a group of citizens as well as the employees and owners of a local Colorado movie theatre where a PhD university student allegedly went on a killing spree.

I'm confident it would be a rare situation to encounter a senior executive who hasn't had to deal with poor leadership within their ranks. Part of the problem is that the most challenging leaders often exhibit a Jekyll and Hyde personality-- they seem to have two conflicting personalities that show themselves at different times.

Life would certainly be a lot easier if our employees and colleagues agreed with everything we said or did.

However, true life intervenes and creates the many challenges we face when trying to influence others to come alongside with our ideas. These challenges are even more prevalent today as top-down, authoritative leadership continues to give way to widespread teamwork.

How often have you heard the phrase, "Oh sure, she/he got promoted because they're the manager's favourite."

Interestingly enough, recent research suggests that favouritism is much more widespread than initially believed. But what exactly is favouritism from a recruitment perspective?

I truly love Winnipeg's slogan -- "A great place to live, work and play" -- yet many of our workers would say they literally have no time to play! In fact, many would also say it was difficult to achieve good life/work balance.

The objective of a recent survey of human resource professionals was to identify the potential skills gaps that might occur as younger and older workers enter and exit the workforce. It was interesting to learn that 52 per cent of the HR professionals say their most serious concern is the lack of professionalism and work ethic.

When employers hear the term risk management, they more than likely think about identifying, assessing and prioritizing areas of financial risk arising out of such things as a business acquisition, major purchases, equipment failure and/or the crash of a major information technology support system.

The popular old saying, "why wait till Christmas?" is really a poke at someone who procrastinates in their decision making and/or is slow to act. While the comment might be directed to individuals, the same holds true for organizations, especially when it comes to adapting to changing business trends.

A recent United Nations study suggests that unfortunately, the disease of affluence is spreading worldwide. This so-called disease typically refers to high blood pressure.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently sent many Canadians' blood pressure spiking by insinuating they're suffering from another "disease of affluence," one that prevents them from accepting just any job versus being unemployed.

According to Travel Manitoba, our province is on a roll.

The provincial tourism marketing agency suggests we need to shout from the rooftops that it's "Manitoba Time," and I agree. Manitoba has so much to offer our citizens as well as business visitors and tourists. Just look around; we have the luxury of beautiful parks and glistening blue lakes nearby, with plenty of opportunities for fun and adventure or just plain relaxation.



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