CEO Blog

Category Archives: Management

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to management.

Don’t Avoid Tough Decisions

Don't pray for an easy life quote Bruce LeeIf you have any management or leadership responsibility then you will inevitably have tough situations to deal with, and tough decisions to make.

The last thing you should do is to avoid them … because they just don’t go away, in fact they typically just get worse.

You will inevitably have lots of other tasks, responsibilities and commitments where you could spend your time … but that ugly situation is just going to fester.

You can procrastinate and try to avoid … but it will still be there, and not only is it likely to be causing you problems but other people too.

When you avoid those tough situations you undermine your own credibility, create problems for those around you … and still you are going to have to deal with it at some point.

I prefer to adopt the “rip a band aid off” approach.  Just get it over with!!!!

It is amazing, but nine times out of ten as soon as it is handled, no matter how painful that might be, there is a sense of relief that it is off your plate!

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”  David Allen
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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Contracts Are Important

Branson quote about having time for the small thingsAs a young salesperson it always seemed like contracts took all of the fun out of a sale.  There is the “high” of getting a YES from a client but then you have to get a contract agreed, with all of that “legal stuff”.

My experience is that many companies really don’t pay attention to the detail of a contract, and rather than negotiate will basically sign anything … hoping that it doesn’t come back to bite them!

There is some logic to that approach because in the large majority of situations the other party will not take advantage … but sometimes they will.

There are several reasons why it is important to negotiate a reasonable and fair contract that pays attention to the detail.

  • It protects the interests of both parties, not just one.
  • If you are signing on behalf of your company then you have a responsibility to protect the interests of your employer.
  • If you agree to poor contract details it is a fair bet your management will be unimpressed.
  • A clear contract makes decision making easy.
  • A good understanding of the contract detail is a show of professionalism and given that a contract is often a first business  interactions with a client you should start off in a professional manner.

If you go about the negotiation in the correct manner you can get through the contract negotiations with a minimum of fuss and have a good professional start to to a business relationship.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are being “difficult” when you are just doing your job.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Selling Internally

Leadership quote by Ken BlanchardAs a young salesperson I was often reminded that is was important to sell “internally” just as much as I sold “externally’.  There were lots of examples why, but generally they involved getting people onside with my sales situations.

  • I had to convince proposal writers to put in that extra effort so my proposals were the best they could be;
  • I had to work with contracts professionals to address potential contractual concerns;
  • I had to convince management that we had a good chance of winning, so that we would invest the effort in a bid;
  • I had to convince technical management to put effort into the solution; and
  • I would need to convince management that we could make money at the bid price.

I could have just expected everyone to “do their job”.

I could have just focused on the external client … and hoped we won.

By working closely with all of my “internal clients”, by influencing their decisions,  I improved our chances of success, and they helped me to better understand the sales situation.  They pushed me as much as I pushed them.

This doesn’t just apply to sales.

If you are in management and not working hard to sell your fellow managers on your business ideas, investment strategies, hiring plans, sales plans etc. then you are missing an opportunity to help your own, and your fellow manager’s success.  If they support you then your success is more assured … and of course vice versa, you need to support them.

If you are a partner in a business and are not selling your fellow partners on your activities then you are not building the relationship that you ultimately need with your partners.  You need their support and they need yours!

Worse still is the toxic environment where people work to undermine their fellow employee, manager, partner etc.  Is there anything worse?  Nobody needs a colleague actively trying to undermine them!  When it happens at the management levels and above, everyone knows it … and it breeds a toxic environment throughout the company.

“The strength of the team is each individual member.  The strength of each member is the team. “  Phil Jackson

The best companies have a TEAM culture, their people push each other but in a supportive way.  They celebrate each other’s success and “have each other’s back”.

Internal selling  (or influencing) is one way to demonstrate leadership and combat the “political” environment that a toxic culture generates.

What kind of environment are you creating?

What kind of environment would you prefer as a place of work?

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Facts or Bias?

Don't believe all you read on the internetDo you believe everything you read?

“Of course not!”  you say.

How do you determine what to believe?

That is a tougher question … because almost every message we receive has some kind of bias.

Coke, of course, is better than Pepsi … unless you are a Pepsi drinker, and feel the opposite.

All the bad news about Donald Trump is of course true … unless you subscribe to the opposing points of view.

The point is that the person or organisation writing the message has an opinion, and most often that opinion comes through loud and clear.

“I maintain a  balanced view of the world, but that balance is always in my favor.”  Mark Lawrence

If you sell Fords then there are many reasons why Fords are the answer.

If you are left wing in your views then right of center views are all wrong.

The list goes on.

If you have a decision to make, then you are best served by understanding the situation impartially.

So .. how do we get a balanced view?

  1.  Decide if you care to know the facts or if it really isn’t that important to you.
  2. Read opposing perspectives.
  3. Talk to people with opposing viewpoints. and
  4. Apply your own convictions, common sense and intelligence to the data that you are fed.

Your opinion is your opinion.  Your perception is your perception.  Do not confuse them with facts or truths.

Read news sources that offer both left wing and right wing perspectives.

If an article extols the virtues of solution “A” versus solution “B” then find more articles on the subject.

If there are independent organisations that cover the situation get their input … consumer reports, Gartner, Ipsos etc.  (But recognise even those authors will have some personal bias).

At the end of the day you need to make decisions based on the information you have.  The better information you have the better decisions you can make.

So …. don’t believe everything you read, especially if it is from one source!

Follow your heart but take your brain with you!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Business Relationships

Trust Sales quote from Zig ZiglarBusiness relationships are just like any other relationships … they need to be nurtured, they need investment and they need a level of commitment.

Clients WILL buy from people they trust, and you do not achieve trust without establishing some kind of relationship.

In almost any business relationship there will come times of stress … where the parties need to fix something, or renegotiate something or have tough conversations.  These situations are always easier if there is a good relationship and a level of trust.

Salespeople and business owners work hard to develop these business relationships and clients invest their time and energy in them too.  There are many ways that they evolve and grow, but here are some ideas:

  1.  Make promises and always deliver (over deliver if at all possible).  This does not have to be hard it could be as simple as committing to send an interesting article by the weekend and doing it the minute you get back to your desk (but never forgetting to send it)!
  2. Meet face to face.  The phone is good, email is a good way to share some stuff but face to face is how you get to know people and they get to know you.
  3. Be truly interested in the other person.
  4. Find ways to bring additional value.  Share interesting articles, data, information, market knowledge for example.
  5. Have regular contact … without wasting anyone’s time.  (Touching base is a lazy approach … you should have a valid business reason, and ideally an agenda for a to meeting!)
  6. Never waste their time.
  7. Be positive … keep your own negatives to yourself!
  8. Listen more than you talk.
  9. All large client organisations have valid governance concerns about undue influence of their buyers, so be mindful of these.
  10. It always helps a relationship to have some meetings under more informal settings.  Breakfast, lunch, coffee, drinks after work or even a game of golf (even though I hate golf) can help people get to know each other better.  (Be mindful of #9 above).

Every business relationship will hit a bump in the road at some point, and if you don’t have a relationship built on trust and credibility, beyond the terms of a contract then that bump may feel like a mountain!

“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.”  Robin Sharma

Invest in those business relationships!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Nobody Has ALL the Answers!

Mark Twain on Lifelong learningWe have all met them.

“Leaders” who have all the answers.

They have the “experience” … maybe they have “credentials” … perhaps they “read a lot”.

For whatever reason, they believe that they already know the answers.

They MIGHT ask your opinion … but we know they don’t really want to hear it.

More often than not they don’t even ask your opinion.

“A man who asks is a fool for five minutes. A man who never asks is a fool for life.” Chinese proverb

Here is the deal.

The BEST leaders listen to any good ideas.

They KNOW that they always have more to learn and they WANT to learn.

They take all and any input so that they can come up with informed decisions.

They hire people that are better than them!

They are willing to share their knowledge readily, but in a constructive way.

They want their people to learn … but they also want to learn from their people.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”      Alvin Toffler

Some thoughts …

What was relevant yesterday soon becomes obsolete.

What worked yesterday may not (probably won’t?) work today

Other people also have experiences.

You are very likely NOT the smartest person in the room.

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”   Jiddu Krishnamurti

I don’t care how smart you are, how experienced you are, or how much education you have  …  you can always learn more!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Avoid Unintended Consequences

Drucker quote about decision makingHow many times do we see a negative impact from seemingly harmless or well-intentioned actions?

We see it from governments who implement well-intentioned legislation only to cause negative affects in the “real world”.    As just one small example, attempts to help the “underdog” will often increase costs to business owners, and for small business owners the impact will be felt in lost jobs.

We see it from companies who will have a knee-jerk reaction to a “one off” situation and bring in rules that have negative consequences.  If you implement restrictive policies because of one bad experience then you create a less welcoming environment and that will be felt when trying to compete for talent with companies that are not so restrictive.

We all do it at a personal level.  We do or say things that inadvertently cause ripples.  It might be social niceties such as inviting some people to the party and inadvertently upsetting others, or by complimenting one friend and another takes offense.

If you want to avoid unintended consequences, then you need to think “bigger picture”, and you need to be sensitive to your actions.

Some things you might consider:

  1.  Don’t make knee jerk decisions.  Take the emotion out of your decisions and let some time pass before you “act”.
  2. Get input.  Consider other people’s perspectives.
  3. Think ahead.  Try to anticipate what else you should consider;  who else you should consider and how else your decision might have impact.
  4. Have a plan that includes (a) the objective you want to achieve, (b) a plan to get to that objective and (c) any possible outcomes from your plan.

It is possible that the decision is more important than any repercussions, but in that case the consequences are not unintended … they are just consequences!

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

Obviously we can’t anticipate everything, but TOO often we don’t even try … make an effort, thoughtfulness is always appreciated!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Warning: Email Can Harm Your Relationships

Quote by Geroge Bernard Shaw on CommunicationIn many ways the heading of this article is similar to those warnings you see on bags of peanuts … Warning: This product may contain nut products.

We all KNOW that email is a lousy form of communication, but it is so easy.

We KNOW that it is very easy to inadvertently (or purposely) send a negative message.

We KNOW that we shouldn’t send them when we are angry.

We KNOW that we cannot convey subtle messages or body language.

We KNOW that the same message read by three different people will be interpreted three different ways.

We KNOW that a situation that is tense OR complex (even slightly complex) OR emotional OR controversial should never be addressed by an email.

SO …. TALK to people!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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What Do You Think Makes a Good Leader?

Leadership quote from DruckerThere are many books about leadership, and advice is plentiful.  I find it interesting to read the theories from people who have worked in large corporations versus those who have worked in smaller (more entrepreneurial?) companies.   There are the academics who provide their theories and the consultants who bring their ideas.  There are books from military leaders, business leaders, religious leaders and almost any walk of life.

The people that capture my attention the most are those who have significant business experience.  Those who have seen success but also experience failure.  The people who know that despite all the books in the world, there are no cookie cutters!

I have been around the block a few times, worked for large companies and small. I have worked in the lowliest of positions and been CEO of my own company for twenty years.  In reality, just like everyone else, all I have is opinion, based on that background.

I believe that many people are enamored with the prospect of leadership, but it is usually far tougher than they expect and their willingness to pay their dues is often questionable.  The type of traits that I would value in leaders might look like this:

1.  They make things happen … they make decisions, they find a way, they move towards a goal!

2.  They lead by example … they do not use the phrase, “Do as as I say, not as I do!”  They are authentic.

3.  They treat everyone equitably … they don’t play favorites, they build a team culture and they are humble.

4.  They strive for continuous improvement … they want to grow their organizations, to get better at what they do.

5.  They are empathetic … recognising that we all need an ear sometimes.

6.  They are tough … they make the tough decisions, they dole out “tough love”.

7.  They have a strong work ethic … they are productive, they don’t work less than they expect their staff to work.

8.  They are consistent … you always know where you stand with them.

9.  They listen … they are not afraid to hire strong people, and they listen to them.

10.  They are glass half full people … they motivate those around them!

If YOU want to be a leader then you should strive to be a good leader, and work on these attributes.  Good leaders are made NOT born!

“Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.”  Woodrow Wilson

Another reality is that nobody is perfect, so the drive to be the best leader you can be is an essential characteristic of any great leader.

What do you think?

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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“Why?” Is a Powerful Tool

wHY?There are certain words and phrases that really stand out in business … “Why?’ is certainly one of them.

Why, You might ask?

Right there is a perfect example of the power of this word.  When coupled with the ability AND discipline to actually listen, it will open up a treasure trove of information.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”   Bernard Baruch

Too many people are too busy talking to be actually learn anything!  Sad … but true.

How many salespeople have you met who just “dump” every reason why anybody ever bought their product or service … without even an attempt to understand WHY you might be interested!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”  Voltaire

How many interviewers ask a question and then take the answer at face value?  Here is the thing,  with every ask of the question “why?” you get another layer deep and that much closer to what you really need to know.

How many times have you just accepted a decision without asking why?  It is truly amazing how many decisions are made without the decision maker really thinking through the reason for the decision.  If they asked themselves “WHY?” then just maybe they would have come up with the right answer.

“A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.”  Smiley Blanton

Steven Covey’s Habit #5 is Seek First to Understand … THEN to be understood.  He knew what he was talking about … how can you provide answers if you don’t really know the question?

If there is ONE thing that you can do to enhance your career it is to be more curious, to ask the question “Why?” … a lot!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

 


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