July 28th, 2014

A Sense of Humour At Work

Quote about humour from Bill CosbyWhat role does humor play in the work place?

There is plenty of scientific support for the fact that laughter is good for you.  It is good for you physically, because it brings oxygen rich air into your body that stimulates your lungs, heart and muscles in addition to releasing endorphins from your brain.  Laughter is good for you mentally because it reduces stress and it is hard to feel anxious, angry or sad when you are laughing.

I don’t need the science to know that I like to laugh.  It just feels good.

I also know that I like to be around positive people, and most especially positive people that make me laugh.

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” Victor Hugo

Business is serious.  There are always issues, challenges and stress.  There are financial pressures, targets to meet, competitive pressures, market pressures and the ever present need to grow.  There are employee issues, product issues, customer issues and supplier issues.  It is easy to let business get you down!

So what role does humor have in the workplace?

In my opinion a workplace without humor is a soulless place and the more humor you can have the better!

Cartoon man laughingHere are 10 thoughts about humor in the workplace.

  1. The person who brings a smile in the work place brings a “value add” above their other skills.
  2. If humor can reduce stress then that alone is a big reason to find ways to introduce humor.
  3. Humor needs to be universal … some humor can be at the expense of others and that can be destructive.
  4. People who can make others laugh tend to be positive people, and you should always want positive people around.
  5. Humor defuses tough situations, which frees up people’s brains to focus on the issue without the distraction of stress.
  6. A smile is infectious so humor can have a positive effect on a whole team, even those who don’t necessarily get the humor!
  7. I don’t want to work in an environment where there is no laughter, so I assume others feel the same way.  Laughter is therefore good for staff retention.
  8. Leaders should actively encourage humor.  This may seem strange, but given that there are so many benefits, why wouldn’t leaders want to put a focus on this?
  9. Business is serious, but finding ways to bring humor into the workplace is likely to improve performance because everyone is less stressed.
  10. Leaders need to set the example.  A smile costs nothing, but is worth a lot.  Laughter costs nothing but has positive physical and mental impacts … just do it!

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Charlie Chaplin

A CEO, a supervisor and a line worker went into a workplace…
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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July 25th, 2014

Inspiration That Works For Me

Poster saying Opportuniy is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work"Quotes and sayings can be a little “hokey” for some people, but I like them. I like it when I find new phrases that resonate, I like it when I come across a quote that makes me smile and I even like it when I re-discover older sayings that still have meaning for me.

I have a tattoo on my arm that says, Carpe Diem.  I got it just before a charity boxing match I participated three years ago.  It was a big commitment to do the training and get in that ring.  I was about the same age at which my dad had died of a heart attack.  I was doing something that not too many people do.  Seizing the day, seemed like a good sentiment, and one of the ways that I live my life.

I have a card over my desk at work.  It is a birthday card my mom sent me quite a few years ago, with a quote from James Dean. You will have heard it many times before, “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” That is how I try to live my life.  There is a quote from the movie Braveheart with a similar sentiment, “Every man dies.  Not every man truly lives.” I love it!

When asked about any personal success I might have enjoyed in my career I will often cite Time Management as an area that has been huge for me.  To be able to maximize time, to be as productive as possible it takes a discipline and constantly finding new ways to manage time.  Zig Ziglar said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.  We all have twenty four hours a day”.   A similar quote from H Jackson Brown says, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time.  You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller,  Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein”.  Pretty powerful statement, IF you want to really hear it.

There are many others that have influenced me, affected me, supported my own ideas and helped me to achieve some success thus far in my life.

“Happiness is an attitude.  We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.  The amount of work is the same.”  Francesca Reigler

“I would rather regret the things I have done, than the things I haven’t done.”  Lucille Ball

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the jo at hand and a determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”  Vince Lombardi.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  Martin Luther King.

I have always taken pride in my work ethic, believing, like Thomas Jefferson that “Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.”

To some people these quotes are just words that may or may not resonate.  To me they are much more than that, they inspire me, remind me of how I got here and what it will take to achieve those next goals.

As a motorbike rider and somebody who tries to squeeze as much as possible into life I particularly like this quote, which has not been attributed to any one person.  “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘What a ride!’’’

I have many more that I could post but I will finish with one of my own … Walk Fast and Smile!  The walk fast meaning attack life ‘with purpose’, and the smile meaning enjoy life and let everyone around you know it!

What keep you grounded?

What motivates you?

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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July 23rd, 2014

Change Your Results … Or Have Them Changed For You!

Change quote from HeraclitusThere are two basic ways in which change will happen to your results.  The more desirable way is Proactively, where you change the things you are doing and the way you are doing them.  However if you do not change your behaviors, inevitably change will come Incidentally, because the world will change around you! 

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change”.  Bill Clinton

This is one of the prime motivators for companies to pursue growth strategies, because otherwise they WILL go backwards.

The same principle applies to us as individuals, if we stop learning and growing, pushing and improving, then we will be overtaken by change around us and most likely by those who are willing to keep changing.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”. Charles Darwin 

Here are some of the common comments from people resisting change:

  • “We have always done it this way.” Or “Everybody does it this way.”
  • “Why change something that is working?”
  • “I know best.” (One of my all time favorites)
  • “We worked hard to get to this point!”  (The unsaid statement being that it will be hard work to change it.)

As a leader you will need to overcome those objections from your team but more importantly from within your own brain!  If you don’t believe in the change then you are never going to convince others to go along!

Here are 10 practical things that you can do:

  1. Involve everybody affected in the development of the “new way”.  They don’t need to all be in a big strategy session, but they do need some way to provide input and they need to understand why the change is happening.  People will react better if they feel a part of the change as opposed to having change imposed on them.
  2. Don’t make the change too big … try to break it down into manageable bites.  Get some small wins to build on!
  3. Reward success … whether it is recognition, small incentives or even monetary rewards.  The rewards need to be in line with the “wins” but at a minimum people need to get some recognition.
  4. You are likely building new habits, and we all know how hard that is … try starting a new exercise regime, quitting smoking etc.  There likely needs to be some prescribed changes that are measured, monitored and managed.  If you just ask (or tell)  “them” to just do it … good luck with that!
  5. There should be a ton of communication.
  6. There should be executive level support and encouragement.
  7. Try to get champions.  If you can get some members of the team having success, then they can help in the education, “selling” and implementation of the “new way”.
  8. Recognise that there will be setbacks … don’t give up!  Find new ways, try different approaches, rekindle the enthusiasm … do not allow the “naysayers” to win.
  9. As a leader, it is critical that you always support the initiative, and encourage any other leaders to do the same.  If people sense any support against the change the project will be doomed.
  10. Be available to give advice and to bring support and leadership.  Do not disappear and expect the “project” to get done.

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”  John F. Kennedy
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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July 22nd, 2014

The Many Hats of the CFO

Jim Rohn quote on leadershipI was at the FEI (Financial Executives International) conference in Niagara Falls a few weeks ago.  There was some great content over a couple of days, but one of the best sessions was the opening keynote from Maureen Sabia who is Chairman of the Board at Canadian Tire.  She has enjoyed many years serving on public company boards, and is very clear in what she expects from a CFO.  With her experience, knowledge and confidence I was not about to argue, and she was very compelling with her views.

To many people the CFO is “the bean counter”, and there is a stereotype expectation that he/she will be a little “straight”, not necessarily a people person, a little risk averse, a little nerdy and not very social.  Many accountants will play up that stereotype, but my experience with senior financial executives and especially those at the most senior levels is that they are not at all like those stereotypes.

Here is what Maureen Sabia had to say about CFOs.

  1.  The very basic expectation of a CFO is that they know the technical aspects of their job cold.  Good with numbers, good with understanding the nuances of the numbers and able to report efficiently and accurately.
  2. There is an expectation that the CFO will offer no surprises to those who rely on her to provide information.  The board and the other company executives should have absolute trust that she will not hold back.
  3. Board members and most importantly the audit committee should expect to meet with the CFO prior to any board meeting, and should expect to hear anything they need to know before going to the board meeting (see #2).
  4. The CFO should cultivate relationships beyond her domain … with other executives, board members, industry members and peers.
  5. Maureen talked about the 4 distinct roles that the CFO will have … The Strategist, The Catalyst, The Guardian and the Operator.
  6. The Strategist.  In this role the CFO applies his financial leadership in M&A situations, capital markets, financing and in aligning the financial strategies with the business strategies.  The CFO should have an excellent understanding of the business, so much so that a previous role with business management responsibilities is extremely valuable.
  7. The Catalyst.  The CFO will share in leadership responsibilities with the CEO, ensuring the disciplined execution of the corporate strategy (together with the rest of the executive team).  The CFO will bring a rigor to the processes of the company, change management skills and a good understanding of the risks inherent in the business strategy.
  8. The Guardian.  The CFO will protect the assets of the company, bringing the right balance of risk to the growth strategy.  She will not shy away from challenging the CEO, bringing a healthy tension to the executive suite ensuring that the CEO is not surrounded by “yes men”.  The CFO must have the trust of the executive and the board, which is achieved through openness, honesty and her strategic value to the organisation.
  9. The Operator.  The CFO will bring the right talent to her team, delegate and mentor to ensure she has the time to execute on all of the expected roles.  The CFO is just expected to be extremely competent at this part of the job … the numbers need to be reported accurately, completely and efficiently.
  10. Tenure is important … when a company has a great CFO they need to hold onto them, ensuring continuity and reducing the risks inherent in turnover.

I must say that having worked with my CFO for the last 18 years, in a private enterprise, I can understand exactly what Maureen is describing.  To be able to trust absolutely, to know that the advice comes with a deep understanding of the business and to know that the technical aspects of the CFO role are “a given” is very important to any CEO.

How does your CFO stack up?  If you are a CFO are there areas that you need to work on?

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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July 21st, 2014

The Art Of Avoiding Work, And What To Do About It!

Happiness is an attitude posterThere is a certain type of person that takes great delight in doing everything possible to avoid work.  I have seen them in action, or perhaps I should say I have seen their inaction, in many different situations and from what I can see they generally have one, or a combination of motivations:

1.  Laziness;

2.  A need to demonstrate their “superiority”, through their ability to “fool the boss”;

3.  Their need to belong or just peer pressure, following the lead of the “instigators”;

4.  The “thrill” of the game … because they are not really challenged by their work; and

5.  Sometimes it is the only “control” that they feel they have.

“It’s sad, really, how a negative workplace can impact our lives and the way we feel about ourselves. The situation is reaching pandemic heights – most people go to work at jobs they dislike, supervised by people who don’t care about them, and directed by senior leaders who are often clueless about where to take the company.”  Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld

If you are a business owner, or a leader within an organization the obviously this kind of “worker” (non-worker) is not good for business, but what can you do about it?

  • If it is not already an embedded culture within your organization then you need to move fast and “stop the rot”.

“If you want to learn about a culture listen to the stories.  If you want to change a culture change the stories”  Anonymous.

  • It is not always possible to make employees feel engaged, but it is possible to measure productivity.  If it is a possibility to tie pay to performance, rewards to performance and/or recognition to performance it might help.  An employee who is rewarded, whether financially or otherwise), by “what they do”, rather than by “time put in”, might find some motivation to actually do the job.

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” Simon Sinek

  • Engagement is a BIG word … but the essence of the problem is a divide between the person doing the work, and the management/ownership.  It is possible to get people engaged, but it takes a big effort, a real willingness to do that heavy lifting, an honesty about wanting to have engagement and it needs to be done for the right reasons … not just because it is good for productivity.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Doug Conant

  •  Sometimes you need to remove the toxic influencers … just like the story of the bad apples affecting the good, a toxic personality can have a devastating impact on those around them.  I heard a quote recently that

“Some people are like clouds, when they disappear it is a brighter day”. 

  • Communicate … a lot.  People need to know you value them.  People need to understand the big picture.  People want to feel a part of something.  People want to be recognized.

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.”  Tom Peters

This is a problem faced by many large, bureaucratic types of organizations and once that culture is embedded it is incredibly difficult to change.  For smaller companies this is a great reason to establish the culture that you want, right from the beginning.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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July 16th, 2014

Canada Job Market Review Second Quarter of 2014

General Observations:

newspaper job sectionThere was not a big change in Canada’s economic circumstances between Q1and Q2 of 2014.  The unemployment rate has been hovering close to the 7% mark for some time and finished the quarter at a disappointing 7.1%.  Over the previous 12 months Canada has added 72,000 jobs, which is 0.4% growth.  After 2 quarters, 2014 is certainly not shaping up to be a banner year for the Canadian economy.

When writing this market review I use a number of “indicators” and try to factor in Eagle’s own experiences, as one of Canada’s larger professional staffing companies. The intent is to give the reader a view “from the trenches” to support the bigger picture view from the statisticians.

I have chosen the TSX as one indicator of the state of Canada’s economy, with the assumption, a healthy economy increases demand for people.  If the TSX were the only indicator we would have no problems because it has continued to rise over the last 12 months.  The index was at around 15,000 at the end of Q2 which was up about 800 points over the previous 3 months.  One could reasonable argue that those TSX companies enjoying this growth will be good targets if you are looking for work.

oil rigsDespite the environmental challenges facing Canada’s oil sector, the price of a barrel of oil appears to remain fairly healthy ending the quarter at around $108 which was unchanged from the previous quarter. At this price point the sector is typically continuing to invest and grow, which creates job opportunities.  Obviously it is not quite that simple with pipeline companies continuing to face political challenges with their projects.  Should some of those resolve we can expect another mini boom in this sector.

Canada’s financial sector, centred primarily in Toronto but with a healthy presence in Montreal, continues to be huge employer and a sector to explore if you are a professional looking for work.  Regulatory change, innovations in banking, technological advances and the need to address the retiring boomers are all reasons why the banks continue to hire.

The telecommunications sector is another very large sector that is always looking fo talent.  The big players are in a very competitive environment, with a need to innovate to attract customers.  The demands on their infrastructure, technology advancements, retiring boomers and expansion into new markets are all drivers of their need for people.

ConstructionLook around the skyline of any of Canada’s larger cities or attempt to do our own renovation project and you will quickly understand the demand for the trades here in Canada.  If you add the big oil projects in Alberta and the infrastructure projects across the country this is clearly a sector where the demand seems to be insatiable.

The three levels of government across Canada have always been huge employers and despite the recent focus on reductions in spending and cut backs on headcount there is still opportunity.  In addition to the big projects that will result in savings, such as Shared Services and technology projects there is the ticking time bomb of the retiring boomers, who in this “attractive pension” environment, will take retirement.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of this sector, which is the largest provider of talent in any economy and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy.  The index has reflected the very slow growth over the last year, and indeed ended Q2 at a reading of 108 which is actually down 7 points from a year ago.  Here are Eagle a quarter 2 over quarter 1 comparison saw a 7% increase in people applying for jobs and a 4% decrease in demand from our clients which would suggest a softening job market.  This does not tell the whole story however, because there are still shortages of the most in-demand skills

More Specifically:

cn towerThe GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is Canada’s largest metropolitan area and has the most demand for talent, representing 60% of Eagle’s business.  The sectors that create the most demand here at Eagle would the the telecommunications sector, the financial sector, the insurance industry, the retail sector and the municipal and provincial governments.  We don’t service the construction industry but, it too, is a hot sector in the GTA.  We anticipate, with a provincial election done and a majority government in place that there will be an icrease in demand from the provincial government as it settles on its major priorities and addresses the impact of impending retirements.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada has been enjoying a strong resource fuelled economy for some years now, and despite a slowdown in the “boom” it still represents one of the best areas to find a job.  Calgary, which has the second most head offices in Canada, and is the hub for the oil patch, is the economic engine of Western Canada.  Other cities that have seen decent increases in demand include Regina, Saskatchewan, Vancouver and Winnipeg … although they are much smaller centres and therefore the demand is relatively small.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal and “the Maritimes”.  Montreal continues to be fairly busy, particularly in the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry.  There is also some demand in St John’s, NFLD (population about 200,000), and in Halifax (approx. 400,000) but everything is relative and they are not big markets.  The Federal Government in Ottawa is moving ahead on some large initiatives which is creating some demand and this market is looking healthier for professionals than in some time, however the National Capital Region has seem an increased unemployment rate over the last while.

The types of people that seem to be in constant demand from our clients has been fairly consistent.  We see a consistent demand for Program Managers and Project Managers while Business Analysts are also always in demand.  It might just be our focus but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too.  Big data, analytics and mobile expertise are specialisations that we are seeing more and more.  On the Finance and Accounting side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand.


While 2014 started with some promise it has not proven to be a boom year.  The second quarter saw no appreciable gains over the first quarter, other than in the stock market, which might actually have an impact on upcoming retirement plans as people’s portfolios recover and improve following the recession.  We will see more skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly by fuelled by an increased number of boomers retiring.  The US recovery seems to be progressing well which should cause a drag along effect here in Canada too, although Canada/US relations are a little strained currently.

The unemployment rate around 7%, (7.5% in Ontario) is more a reflection of Canada’s move from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy, and the demand for professionals remains high.  Having said that it is not an easy time to find work for anyone, unless you are have a high demand skill set.

For those people willing to go where the work is we see continued opportunity in the oil patch, with obvious demand in Fort McMurray and all areas related to the oil sands.  The cities with higher talent demand include the GTA, Calgary, Regina, Montreal, Edmonton and to a lesser degree Winnipeg, Vancouver and Saskatoon.  The industry sectors that have the most demand have not changed and include banking, insurance, construction, telecommunications and the sectors that serve those industries.

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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July 15th, 2014

Developing Your Business Strategy … 10 Tips

H Stanley Judd quote about planningStrategic planning is a critical component of any company’s success.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” Sun Tsu.

Developing plans does not need to be onerous, but it does require effort and a commitment to taking the time required to the process. At my company we schedule a quarterly management meeting off site which we use to create plans, to review how plans are going and to address tactical problems. I believe this is a good practice and a big part of any success that we have enjoyed.

There are many benefits to taking the management team offsite for these kinds of sessions.

1. In a fairly short amount of time you can develop a roadmap that your team can execute against.

2. You will take advantage of the collective brainpower of your management team.

3. By getting away from the office you can bring a fresh look at the business.

4. A planning session should focus on the potential, but also recognize the challenges.

5. Some companies prefer to bring in external facilitators; we have had more success handling it ourselves. What you do need is someone capable of leading the sessions.

6. The sessions should be structured, following a process that “teases” out the ideas, encourages participation and is not constrained by “group think”.

7. The sessions need lots of space to write … we use the large post it note sheets all over the walls.

8. One traditional approach, and a good way to get into planning is a SWOT … Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

9. All participants should feel safe, everyone should be treated equally and nobody should dominate the talking.

10. The end result of this exercise should be ACTION Plans … with measurable outcomes, assigned to people AND with deadlines.

“Strategy is thinking about a choice, and choosing to stick with your thinking” Jeroen de Flanders

It is unlikely that your first strategic planning session will result in a major change in your direction … but it might!

It will result in positive action, supported by the whole management team that will advance the company’s goals.

It will result in a more engaged management team.

It will show who the strategic thinkers are.

It will allow the “quiet voices” (who often have the best ideas) a forum to get their ideas out.

If you don’t already conduct strategic planning t then I would strongly advise any business owner, executive, entrepreneur to engage in such an exercise and see what it can do for you.

And the final word from Peter Drucker, Strategic management is not a box of tricks or a bundle of techniques. It is analytical thinking and commitment of resources to action. But quantification alone is not planning. Some of the most important issues in strategic management cannot be quantified at all.”

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
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July 14th, 2014

Get Time Management Right And Everything Else Follows!

Franklin Time Management QuotesThere are a million and one books designed to help us be more successful, be fitter and be smarter.  It can be a little daunting just trying to figure out what is most important.

Is it better to exercise in the morning or the evening?  Should I do weigh training or cardio?

Should I learn a new technical skill, get better at writing or work on my presentation skills?

Do I network within my industry or with people from other industries?

As you progress through your career you will be faced with a multitude of choices and you will need to work through your options to determine what the right answer is for you.

TimerThe best choice I made fairly early in my career was to be organized … to really work at my time management, because if you can be efficient with your time then you have an ability to introduce change into our routine, and accommodate all of those other commitments that will help you on the road to success.

If you can manage your calendar efficiently then you will know what is possible and what will work best for you.  Incidentally I work out in the mornings, because family commitments tended be in the evenings and I could adjust my sleep schedule to accommodate my workout routine in the morning.  If I tried to fit it in last thing at night I was far less likely to do it!

If you can figure out priorities then you can focus on what is important.  By giving some of my personal family commitments a very high priority I was able to fit in those parent/teacher interviews and sports events while still giving sufficient priority to get my work commitments done.  It’s not easy, but good time management and priority management achieves the best results.

If you can be disciplined enough to keep a current “To Do” list then you (a) ensure that you do not inadvertently miss any important tasks; and (b) can focus on “doing the work” rather than figuring out what to do.  You work on your “To Do” list for a few minutes once or twice a day, and then you just need to follow the plan.  You execute the top priority items first meaning that you are at your most productive.

Covey's time management quadrantIf you are committed to great time management then you learn some clear lessons that will help you for life.  Here are a few of mine:

i.  Interruptions are a productivity killer … when you are focused on a task do everything you can to avoid interruptions.

ii.  Just because the phone rings or an email arrives it does not mean you need to react to them.

iii.  There are certain parts of the day that are better suited to certain tasks … for example as a salesperson I had good luck contacting clients early in the morning before they got into their day.

iv.  You should concentrate on the toughest tasks first, when you are freshest.

v.  Crossing tasks off your list is very satisfying.

vi.  Every time you change job your system will need to change.  As a manager you delegate tasks and tracking those is a different challenge than actually doing your own tasks.  As a business owner I wear a number of hats which means having a system to ensure I am not missing tasks for ANY of those roles.

vii.  My stress levels are increased when I let my time management discipline slip.

viii.  Technology has given us some great tools … but sometimes paper works best.

ix.  You can get great ideas from lots of sources, but you have to decide what works best for you.

x.  Time management is a never ending task, both in the execution of your system AND in the evolution of your system!

My contention is that if you practice great time management then you will find a way to get all the things done that will contribute to your success!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
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July 11th, 2014

KEEP The End In Mind!

target with arrows in the bullseyeIf you know me, or have read many of my blog entries, you will know that I am a Steven Covey fan, in particular his book and theories around the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Covey’s Habit #2 is “Start with the end in mind” … which is excellent advice.  What he is really saying is to understand what your ultimate goal is, before you set out on your journey, or before you start to execute on a plan.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins

It seems so obvious, but I can tell you that “more often than not” people just “do stuff” rather than having a plan first and then executing against that plan.

One of the obvious benefits of setting goals is that it helps you to map out a strategy along with actionable tasks to help you reach that goal. One of the less obvious benefits of having that goal is that it helps you to stay focused all along the “route”.  You are better able to focus on what really matters, rather than being distracted by the “sidebar events” that happen along your journey.

“In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” Unknown

In business it is easy to get distracted, there are always new opportunities that can take you off course, there are problems and issues that seem big … but if you can stay focused on that end goal, are not really big!

If you are a salesperson who is trying to grow a territory, you can chase every lead that you hear about … or you can have a plan.  If you have a plan, it will consist of target accounts, target client relationships, revenue targets for each of those clients and timelines in which to achieve those revenues.

Your plan should include contingencies such that when (as inevitably happens) sales slip into the next quarter, or fall of altogether, then you have other clients in the funnel to pick up the slack.

If you don’t have a plan then you become driven by your day and driven by circumstance, hence when a client moves their buying cycle it IS a big deal.  If you have contingency in your plan then it is not the end of the world, merely an adjustment to the plan.

If you are on track to meet your target them people issues, client issues, other initiatives, other opportunities and any other distraction are merely that … a distraction.  You keep focused on the goal, executing on the plan and the distractions do not get in your way.

So … your takeaway is to set Goals, and develop a plan to meet those goals.  You will be amazed at how much that will set you free … from worry, from distraction and from wondering what you do next!

Covey had it right … “Begin with the end in mind”, but don’t forget to KEEP that end in mind, as you experience challenges along the way!

“Goals give you a compass in order to direct your path through life. Goals focus your thoughts and actions on areas that have precise purpose and meaning.” Catherine Pulsifer

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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July 10th, 2014

It Takes A Plan To Get Stuff Done!

Drukker quote about planningWe need to create plans all the time, business plans, account plans, growth plans, acquisition plans, project plans etc. We even create holiday plans.  There really is no magic to creating plans, but what there is … is EFFORT!  It takes a willingness to roll up the sleeves and really apply yourself, if you want to create a good plan.  If a plan is worth doing then it is worth doing well!

If I break it down into components the I would suggest a plan should have at least five stages, starting with having a clear goal for the plan, right through to the action items that will get you where you want to go.

Here is my very high level look at what it takes to create a plan … any plan!

1.  The Goal of the plan. 

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra

What are you trying to achieve through this exercise.  For example a new account manager may be trying to develop a plan of attack for making an impact in their new role; OR anybody in need to shaking things up may choose to go through this process; OR even someone looking to create a special holiday might choose to go through this kind of planning exercise!

2.  Data gathering. 

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” Arthur Conan Doyle

There are many sources of data and the more inputs to a plan the better.  If it is a new salesperson then they may want to talk to their peers to gather lessons learned, history they should know about, messages that work etc.  A new CEO might have a set of questions to ask all of his direct reports and perhaps key people throughout the organization, including the front line workers. If it is a holiday plan the person might look at all the different types of vacations out there, the different general geographies and may need to gather data from anyone who might be joining them on the trip.

3.  Problem identification/Areas to be addressed. 

“A problem well put, is half solved.”  John Dewey

That new account manager might decide to identify three types of clients to target … key current clients; high potential clients; and decent opportunity clients.   A new CEO might identify the underperforming areas within the company and target those.  The holiday planner may need better understand the pros and cons of different types of vacation given all of the differing needs/wants of those on the trip.

4.  Prioritisation of issues and goals for each of those areas to be addressed. 

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” Stephen R. Covey

That new account manager might decide to identify three types of clients to target … key current clients; high potential clients; and decent opportunity clients.   The account manager could then set goals for meetings, new orders, closed business and new contact names for each of the next 3 months.  The holiday planner will lay out options and put together ideas about how to get to that final choice.

5.  Action item development, with measurable outcomes and a timeline. 

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” Mark Twain

This is where the rubber meets the road.  If you have goals with no action items then your plan is not a plan!  A plan lays out the way to achieve those goals.  That account manager might identify the key contacts in all of those target accounts and set a goal to meet all of them within a set time.  She might set herself goals for numbers of orders to get and closed business to book.  She will have timelines associated with these goals.  The holiday planner might need to have more meetings with participants, research in more details final choices, and put together a pros and cons document for each of those choices.

Once a plan is done then there is a roadmap for the execution of the plan.  At this point the strategy is in place and the “all important” execution needs to happen.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

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