August 25th, 2006
Several months ago I wrote a blog about rumors. It was based upon a persistent rumor in the market that Eagle was at the point of being sold to one of our competitors … and guess what, I still hear about it!
Eagle is NOT in ANY kind of negotiations or discussions about ANY kind of merger or acquisition!
Eagle has big plans for our next fiscal year which starts September 1st, 2006 … our eleventh year in business will be an exciting one for us! Watch that space!
I meet regularly with other industry leaders to discuss industry issues in a professional manner, respecting the fact that we are competitors and the fact that I love to “kick their ass” whenever I can, and they mine!
If you want to know the truth come to the source, and to those of you spreading rumours … “Get a life!”.
Tomorrow I will be heading out on a vacation for a week in the UK, visiting with my family and taking a break from the everyday stressors of the workplace. Of course Janis and I will have our blackberries, will find the nearest internet café and check our hotmail accounts and generally stay in touch with the office!
This got me thinking about the subjects of work/life balance, of rest and relaxation, and the general notion of recharging the batteries. Great ideas, and I do think that people need to get away from the office to recharge.
It is amazing just how many hits on Google you will get when you search on those subjects! There are tons of articles with all kinds of advice and I even looked at some of them! There is a Canadian government website devoted to work-life balance, now there is a good use of my tax dollars! Monster had articles on the subject of vacation smarts that might well have been written for people like me … if only I would read them! There was a pretty good article about the importance of rest and relaxation, which I found interesting. I even have a link on my blog page to Patricia Katz who produces the Pause newsletter and subscribes to a saner life than yours truly!
So, what gives? I’m not a stupid person (OK … I heard that!) but I don’t ever really get away and forget about it all. For me, I feel that getting away from the office and being able to spend time with my family is rejuvenating. If I spend a half hour clearing my email each day it brings me a peace of mind.
I think that life/work balance is a very personal thing … and for me, loving what I do means that I don’t really feel “put out” when I check email on vacation. At least my email box won’t have 500 or 600 new emails when I get back! My answer to work/life balance might not be everybody’s “cup of tea”, but it works for me and I don’t know too many people that smile more than me!
Smile and walk fast!!
Have you ever overheard a conversation and just wanted to jump right in?
The young man was trying to impress the lady in the Tim Horton line up. A government worker in the CS category (computer specialist), he is a CS3 level. According to the Treasury Board website that lists government pay scales this young man earns a minimum of $63,900 out of the tax coffers. If you ever wondered where your tax dollars go, then listen to a government worker like this for 5 minutes. I read a CATA document that suggests the CS category of the Federal Government has grown from 8,000 to 18,000 since the year 2000. (As a little aside, if they really want to save money they should look very hard at the cost, productivity and ROI associated with this group instead of trying to nickel and dime their supplier community).
So … back to the point. Mr. CS3 was complaining that his boss actually wanted him to do stuff that should really be done by a higher category person. “But wouldn’t it be more rewarding to do more challenging work” says the young lady. “Hey show me the money” says our star, “Unless they pay me at that higher level I will just do what they pay me to do!”
He went on to complain about job security and the fact that all the jobs have terms of 6 to 9 months! JOB SECURITY … what is that! I wonder if he ever heard about the layoffs on Ottawa, tens of thousands from the private sector … that actually fuelled the growth in government employees? I wonder if he has heard of offshoring or if he knows that the private sector needs to actually make money in order to keep employing people. I wonder if he gets out every now and then?
So what would I like to do?
1. Kick his sorry ass!
2. Display him as a poster boy for why the government should outsource everything it can!
3. Find out where he works and see if I can replace him with a contractor that will do twice the work in half the time and, when you count all the loaded costs of this guy, will actually be cheaper!
4. Tell the young lady that this was not Mr. Right … but she already knew!
5. Maybe I should apply for a job there!!!!
Let me add a disclaimer! I personally know many people who work for the Federal Government and I would not want their jobs. They work long and hard, butting up against a bureaucratic system that seems to throw roadblocks to productivity at every turn. These are the good ones … unfortunately there are way too many Mr. CS3s!
The press seem to have caught on to the Canadian Federal Government procurement reform initiative and are having some fun with it. I’m sure there are some senior people squirming at AT Kearney and PWGSC, and if not, then they should be!
The Globe and Mail ran a neat little story last week and painted a pretty good picture of the situation … makes for good reading! Most of the industry associations have been involved and CATA has probably been most vocal in the debate about the Federal Government’s “Way Forward” procurement strategy, even calling it the “Way Backward”. There was also a cynical view of the situation painted on the political site Next Agenda .
As if all this was not enough the Globe and Mail published stories about David Rotor going to England in June on a “fact finding mission” related to this initiative. I won’t even mention the obvious, but this trip went from bad to worse when Rotor “stood up”, not one, but two British officials who had set aside time to meet with him! Rotor is the “procurement expert” the government hired to head up this initiative … outside of the $24 million I would suggest! Interesting that the Canadian government had to apologise to British officials for a hired gun!
The momentum around this issue is ballooning and maybe someone will come to their senses and adopt a collaborative approach to procurement reform. The people that have been working with the current system have much to contribute … it would be nice to be part of the solution rather than watch the next Federal Government scandal unfold!
OK you just got through another Monday! The weather is still warm, the weekend was fun, you would sooner have been (a) sitting at the cottage, (b) chilling with friends, (c) shopping till you are dropping … anything but in the office!
One of the things that always makes me feel good at work is making a difference. It could be as little as making a difference in someone’s day, or as big as making a difference to your company’s numbers. Here are some suggestions:
1. If you are a salesperson … call all of those clients that you find difficult to call, and set up meetings. The grumpy people, the “snobby” people, the people that treat you badly, the people that you think could be brighter, the people that you love to hate!
2. Find something nice to say to all of the people you come into contact with. I like that tie! You look great! Thanks a bunch! Great work! I can always trust you!
3. Only think positive thoughts when talking to people.
4. Buy the coffee.
5. Go for the coffee.
6. Write some hand written cards to people you know … your Mom, spouse, friend, client, colleague, boss … and say something nice.
7. Set yourself a stretch goal and exceed it!
Practice doing positive things until it becomes second nature. Then Mondays will always be less difficult and life will be a lot more fun!
In my blog on Friday I was extolling the virtues of reading. I think it might make sense for me to recommend a book every now and then. My suggestion today is an older business book that has become something of a modern classic, Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Good to Great is often quoted in business circles and is focused on understanding what makes good companies become great.
Collins talks about the type of leader required in great organizations. He suggests that the high profile “celebrity” leader is not necessarily the right choice. “Level 5 Leaders” are those who lead with personal humility and professional will, and the preferred leadership type.
Collins coined the term “Get the right people on the bus”. Basically the premise being that if you hire the right people then you can overcome most hurdles. They will adapt and get you to where you need to go.
To become a great company you really need to understand where you are, sounds easy but many never really do that. Then you need to understand what it is that you can be the best in the world at, what you are passionate about and what drives your economic engine.
Great companies have a culture of discipline and an ethic of entrepreneurship. They build a framework for their people to work within and employ self-disciplined people who will go to any length to fulfill their responsibilities.
Finally technology is harnessed as an accelerator by great companies. They don’t follow fads, but they do recognize technologies that will bring value and they become leaders in their adoption and implementation.
This is not a hard book to read and is a good start for those of you who might not have read many business books. Of course there is always the 8 page synopsis available through Executive Book Summaries.
Reading is an integral part of anybody’s job, but using reading to advance yourself in your career is something that I don’t think enough people do.
Some observations …
- I am always amazed at how many people just scan their emails. They don’t read them diligently, and therefore they often miss vital details.
- So many people do not read the newspaper, their source of news coming from radio, TV and often the internet.
- Reading a good book is relaxing, rewarding and stimulates the mind. It broadens your vocabulary and expands your knowledge … yet many people never do it.
Some suggestions …
Read the newspaper. It does not need to take long and it fills you with information about local and world events. In your conversations with clients, colleagues, fellow travelers you can have stimulating and knowledgeable discussions.
Read a book, even if it’s a trashy novel. The sentence structure, words used and the act of reading will make you a better business reader.
Subscribe to Executive Book Summaries and read the three book reviews they send each month. Each review is 8 pages long, takes 20 minutes to read and gives a good overview (Coles Notes) of a business book. Now you can discuss the merits of Blink, The Eighth Habit, Good to Great etc. with those around you, impressing them with your knowledge.
If you develop good reading habits it will lead to better writing skills too, and both are key skills for any management job!
This monthly feature compiled by Eagle’s regional VPs has become quite a popular blog entry. This is their view of “what is hot” across Canada.
The IT market in the West remains active with just the slight vacation-related slow down in August in what feels like the calm before the storm. There was a noticeable spike in activity for senior-level resources (Project Managers, Analysts, Architects and SMEs) through the summer months as the early stages of projects kicked-off. This will undoubtedly lead to a high demand for technical resources as projects move to the next phase, with the hottest activity expected in the areas of programming (.Net, Java) and testing (UAT, automated, manual), as well as SAP, Biztalk, and Agile / Scrum methodologies. In addition to significant employer branding efforts across the West to attract talent, there has been an increased effort by both industry and government to brand the cities themselves. Marketing campaigns have fired-up across the West to sell the virtues of its cities to potential candidates across Canada and around the world. While migration West is certainly one option, it is undeniable that it is only one very small solution to a much larger problem. Despite indicators that might normally cause us to think otherwise – terrorism, war, escalating project costs, and uncertainty in the US economy – confidence in Western Canada remains high.
The month of July was a “scorcher” for the GTA! As the mercury level began to rise outside, so did activity within the IT community. Last month was a busy month in the contractor community with businesses securing IT resources for new projects within both the private and public sectors. The financial sector has many new initiatives, many companies are entering into new project phases with multiple requirements for the same roles, and government continues to finalize and initiate project plans that have been “in the works” for the past several months. Many organizations are now in final preparation for the start of new fall projects. While interviewing activity remains high, there has been an interesting emerging trend with Hiring Managers. Many of them are now foregoing the interview process on their side and relying on the screening done by staffing agencies in order to ensure the most qualified contractors can begin settling into their new roles quickly. Since many of the opportunities are for senior level professionals, client-based interviews are no longer necessary given tight timelines and a competitive labour market. With the ongoing demand still high for qualified and experienced contractors, the average length of contract opportunities are being extended to 6 months and beyond. As well, the trend for organizations to proactively pursue contract extensions 4 to 6 weeks prior to the original end date continues in an effort to ensure existing contractors remain on assignment through to project completion. Demand remains high for many skill sets in the GTA, with Project Managers, Business Analysts, PL/1, .Net and Flash expertise at the forefront. Demand for SAP, Business Analysts with Insurance or Banking, and Security experts remains high and is expected to continue. Full-time resource placements have slowed, as many companies are choosing to delay the process until Labour Day, the traditional turning point for increased hiring.
As we leave behind a sizzling month of July in the East, and move forward into August and September, as is the case with the rest of the country, many companies here are also planning a busy fall season leading well into 2007. Hot skills in the Ottawa and Montreal markets include PMs with Telco backgrounds with experience in Voice, VOIP and Data Networks. There is an anticipated strong demand for these skills throughout the fall and upcoming winter months. In addition, there is continued strong demand for both full-time and contract SAP resources particularly in modules FI/CO, MM and HR. Montreal and Ottawa markets also require .Net Developers, Security Consultants and Business Intelligence candidates especially those with Cognos skill sets.
I often talk about the fact that so many people let life happen to them, that they don’t take charge of their own destiny. I probably sound like a broken record … but there are always reminders about why this is important.
In the space of a week recently a tragic accident took the life of a young man at my son’s school, and a friend’s father passed away. The young man was 17 years old and the older man was 70+ years old. On Friday I could have joined them when I crashed my motorbike … but I got lucky.
The point is that any of us can go at any time, and while it is not something we want to dwell on it is a fact that gives credibility to a quote from someone else who left this world way too soon. James Dean said “Dream as if you will live forever. Live as if you will die today”.
It took me a little while to “get it” but for a long time now I try to have passion for everything that I involve myself with … my family, my business, my industry association, my motorcycle, my learning, my health … every aspect of my life.
It would be absolutely great if one person reading this could “get it”. If that person could understand that, even though it seems like hard work, the ONLY way to truly live your life is with a passion for EVERYTHING in it.
My favorite quote of all time, come from the movie Braveheart … “Every man dies, not every man truly lives!”
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
CEO of a large Canadian Professional Staffing Company blogging about business issues and personal development.