CEO Blog

Category Archives: Management

Leadership and Tough Decisions

Jim Rohn quote about LeadershipPeople in positions of power often make decisions that will impact people (sometimes a lot of people) both positively and negatively.

“Decision is the spark that ignites action. Until a decision is made, nothing happens…. Decision is the courageous facing of issues, knowing that if they are not faced, problems will remain forever unanswered.” Wilfred A. Peterson

Good leaders will endeavor to do the right thing … whatever that means.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”  Roy Disney

As I get close to twenty years as CEO of the company I founded, I thought I would share some random thoughts on this subject … as I see it.

  • Leaders MUST make tough calls … or likely they are not doing their job.
  • Leadership can be lonely, especially when there are tough decisions to be made.
  • Things change, requiring new decisions.
  • Loyalty is a good thing … misplaced loyalty is not.
  • People are responsible for their own destiny.
  • Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
  • Positions of power should never be abused … but that does not mean avoiding decisions that might hurt people.
  • Decisions should never be made in order to be popular,  Good leaders, like most people “like to be liked”, but that desire should never color a decision.
  • A leader has a responsibility and accountability to the role.
  • What was the right decision in the past is not necessarily the right decision today.
  • Waiting to implement a tough decision never makes it feel better.
  • Leaders should be humble, empathetic, thoughtful, human … but ultimately they need to make the right decisions.
  • The worst decision is a no decision … it is always better to consciously decide the answer than to have it default because no decision was reached.
  • If you are not willing to make tough decisions don’t seek out leadership positions.

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”  Norman Schwarzkopf

If you are new into a leadership role then you will struggle with this.  Your decisions can impact people’s careers, livelihood, future and that should never be taken lightly … but sometimes it is inevitable.

It is no surprise that leadership is hard … so expect that!

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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Focus Wins the Day!

Meg Whitman quote, Don't boil the oceanThe metaphor in the picture strikes a chord with me … because, like most business people I always have a million ideas for improving things, all of which are amazing of course!

The reality is that if I try to focus my attention on too many things then I dilute those efforts and nothing gets done well.

What does that mean in the real world?

I think it is human nature to want to fast track to the end, to reach the goal without all that “hassle and effort” in the middle.

  • It could be as basic as my annual drive from Toronto to Florida.  This means more than 24 hours on the road.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Star Trek moment and find myself transplanted, car, trailer and motorbike too … without all that driving?
  • It could be my quest to lose weight.  Wouldn’t it be nice to just take a pill and “Hey Presto!” I’m slim and trim again without all that discipline and sacrifice in the middle!

The reality is (a) we need to work for anything worth having; and (b) we need to control that urge to get everything done and over immediately … in order to be be successful at the things we focus on!

“Perseverance is not a long race, it is many short races one after another.”  Walter Elliott

This same philosophy applies in the business world.

  • As a business owner you want to grow, and there are multiple strategies that can be adopted.  You might just hire more salespeople, open new offices in new locations, acquire another company or perhaps add new lines of business?  If you try to do all of those things then you won’t apply the right focus .
  • As a leader there are numerous areas you would like to improve, perhaps the productivity of your sales team, the success rate of your proposal team, the efficiency of your back office and on.  If you need to be personally and deeply involved in all of these initiatives then trying to make it all happen at once will most likely not be a happy experience.

I think you get the message … but one last example, because this same philosophy applies to individuals.

We often have big aspirations for ourselves, and we want to become the CEO tomorrow, conquer the world the next day and retire rich by age 40. We can all point at the few names that have had that sort of success, but we can also point to lottery winners.

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”  Brian Tracy

So here is my  advice to individuals striving for success:

  • Go for your dreams but be realistic.
  • Work hard, but smart.
  • Never give up, and don’t beat yourself up because it takes longer than you thought it would.
  • Be very focused … you can’t fix everything at once.  Eat the elephant one bite at a time.
  • Enjoy the journey … achievement feels good.  So celebrate the wins along the way.

Too often we derail our potential by trying to tackle too many things at once.

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”  Tony Robbins

Don’t try to boil the ocean … it is just too big!

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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How Busy People Get Stuff Done

Stephen Covey quote on timeDo you ever wonder how some people can accomplish so much with their time?

They establish and run huge companies, are seemingly involved in charitable ventures, political lobbying and oh by the way they have a home life too!

There is a reason why Benjamin Franklin said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

Yet the truth is that we all have the same number of hours in our day!

“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, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  H Jackson Brown Jr.

Time is a resource that we never get back.

What lessons can we learn from those ultra busy people that could help us be more productive?  I am no Richard Branson, but I have enjoyed some success in my life.  Here are some of the lessons I would share.

Understand what is important to you!

  • If you don’t have a clear idea about what you REALLY want, then it will be difficult to assign the right level of priority to your time.
  • If you want to be great at your chosen profession you need to understand what that looks like and put a plan in place to get there.
  • If you want to be super involved in your kids lives, then equally you need to have a plan that allows you to achieve that.
  • You need to be realistic because very often competing priorities will result in failure in both goals!  Choices are hard, they involve compromise and delivering tough messages … but you need to do it.

Focus your energies on “high return” activities.

  • Once you understand your priorities then your choice of where to focus your energy becomes easier … I did NOT say easy.  You have multiple competing demands on your time and not all of it is within your control, so you need to manage that!  (Remember … you are responsible for you … not your parents, your friends, your boss or even the government!)

Outsource/delegate whatever you can.

  • Almost everyone struggles with this.  Why should I pay someone else to do something I could do myself?  You don’t need to … unless you want that time for something more important.
  • If having someone else clean your house meant more time with your kids is it worth it?
  • If having someone clear your driveway, do the yard work, paint the house etc. meant more time to study for promotion, work at a hobby, invest in your relationships etc then what is that worth?
  • For many years I have used a concierge service in Ottawa (Balance in Style) that have handled many, many tasks small and large that would otherwise have taken my time.  Most times they do it better than I could, and it allowed me to focus my time on what I viewed as “higher return” items!

Be a Time Management Guru

  • An up to date “To Do” LIst;
  • Religious use of your calendar;
  • Prioritise your tasks;
  • Set goals.

Think bigger … that is not the same as think BIG (work your way up to that)

  • Change yourself
  • Invest in yourself
  • Believe in yourself
  • Stretch yourself

Get involved.

  • When something is important to us we make time for it.
  • Just by “jumping in the deep end” we force ourselves to figure out how to fit this new commitment into our life.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”  William Penn

What tips do you have for people wanting to get more out of their lives?

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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Start Your Day Right

Golda Meir quote about governing the clockI often write about “driving your day” but what does that look like?  It starts before you even log into your computer.

1.  Get in the right frame of mind.

This can be different for different people, but here are some ideas that you might want to try.

  • Read some uplifting material … motivational quotes, “feel good stories”, your favorite blogger or uplifting writer
  • Work out.  You will need to fit it into your schedule, but  morning has always been my “go to” timing for a workout, even with kids and a busy job I made it a priority.
  • Read your OWN “feel good” book containing a list of all the things that are positive in your life.  Create one today and Add to it often, and pull it out whenever you need “reminding” that life is good.
  • Park your “personal baggage”.  A tough thing to do for many people, but try to leave any personal worries behind so that you can concentrate on your work.  At least if work is going well then you will feel batter for that.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”  William Penn

2.   Get your “To Do” list organised.

  • Review yesterday’s list and add the items that need to be on today’s list.
  • Take a little time to think through whether there are other items that should be on the list.  If you manage several project areas in your role, then keep a list of those major areas handy to prompt you.
  • It’s now time to scan the email and pick out items that need to be on the “To Do” list, don’t process all your email yet … just identify the key ones that need to be processed.
  • Check voicemail and add important items to the “To Do” list.
  • Check your calendar for scheduled activities … meetings etc.  Make sure they are on the “To Do” list.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.”  Alan Lakein

3.  Prioritise your “To Do” list.

  • Look for the Important items.
  • Look for items that move you closer to your goals.
  • Look for items that give the best return on your effort.
  • Look for urgent items … but ensure they are are also important.  (Other people’s emergencies do not necessarily become your priorities.)
  • Look for quick wins.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”  Zig Ziglar

4.  Now you can execute … start to knock off those tasks, starting with the highest priority items and knock off the quick wins as you can.

Some other thoughts:

  1. Just because the phone rings does not mean you need to answer it.  Use call display judiciously and plan time in your day to process voicemail.
  2. You do not need to process every email as it comes in either.  Use filters to create “folders” for non-urgent emails.  Schedule time to process those emails.  Switch off that little alert that tells you an email arrived!
  3. When new tasks come along make sure you prioritise them and schedule them into your existing tasks.
  4. Do NOT celebrate every task done or small task completed.  Stay focused on knocking off tasks.
  5. DO celebrate meeting milestones and major wins.
  6. Remeber technology is a tool … use it as such, and don’t be a slave to it!

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”   Benjamin Franklin

Being your best at work feels good, has a positive impact on your life and should maximise the time you have available for the other things in your life.

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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International Women’s Day – A Canadian Role Model

janis corporate picThis week saw the annual celebration of International Women’s Day . designed to “Celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women”.

I’m a little biased with this blog entry, but one of the motivator’s for up and coming women in society is to be able to see role models.

For many women who are ideal role models, there is a reluctance to step into the limelight and so, at the risk of retribution to come, I’m going to single out one such person.

Janis Grantham is Eagle’s President and Chief Operating Officer.  In reality she is the person who runs this company and has been a huge part of any success we have had.

The company, under Janis’s direction has grown to be a $150 million Canadian company with a string of accolades.

  • 50 Best Managed Company every year for the last 17 years;
  • ISO 9001:2008 Registered;
  • Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures (2012);
  • Great Place to Work (2014);
  • Certified Great Place to Work.

Janis herself attained her MBA through the Queen’s Executive MBA program, whilst working full time and recently completed the Rotman Director’s College achieving her ICD.D designation.

She has been recognised on various lists over the years:

  • She was recently named One of the World’s Most Influential Women in Staffing.  This was the Global Power 100 as produced by Staffing Industry Analysts.
  • She has been listed on the Profit W100,  a list of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs for the last 10 years.
  • She was on the WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women list for many years.

Despite this kind of recognition this lady flies beneath the radar, runs this company, has raised two kids AND had to put up with a busy husband … yes, that would be me!

Janis grew up in modest circumstances in Northern Ontario, went to high school in Ottawa and carved out a career for herself.

She is the kind of Canadian role model that can inspire young women to do great things with their lives, because she started with nothing  and has created a life (not just a career) to envy.

Happy International Women’s Day (week)!

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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Make Time to Think

When did you last take some time to JUST think?

Typically when we have a few minutes we will turn on the TV, pick up our smart phone, get on Facebook, email, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn or some online tool.

Many of us will have grown up multi-tasking … we watch TV and do our email, we eat our meals watch the news on TV and have a conversation with our kids all at the same time!

We lead incredibly busy lives, expected to work hard in a demanding job, commute a long way because that is where we can afford to live and when we get home there are a ton of commitments.

Who has time to think?

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers

There is just too much to … DO!

THAT, right there, is the problem.

We build a life for ourselves, but rarely step back to see if it is really working for us.

We run our lives this way … being driven by the busyness of our days.

We run our companies this way … “DOING” from the minute we start to the minute we finish.

Good companies will force us to get out of the “day to day” routine every now and then, forcing us to look at the business strategically.  THAT is where the big decisions happen, where the change in course happens.

Who is forcing you out of the day to day routine for your home life?  (Hint … YOU are responsible for YOU)

Who is forcing you to take time away from DOING your job to actually THINKING about it?  (Same answer)

“I can change the story. I am the story.”  Jeanette Winterson

It doesn’t need to be commitment of days at a time … although the return might just be worth it.

It does need to be a regular thing … because we build “ruts” for ourselves very quickly.

Do yourself a favor, lose ALL of the distractions (even your favorite music) and take time to THINK!

“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”  Anthony Robbins

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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Leadership is NOT a Popularity Contest

Leadership quote by Ken BlanchardIn an ideal world managers would set reasonable expectations of their staff, and their staff would be accountable for meeting those expectations.   Once targets were met, management would set new goals and the cycle would continue.  The manager would not need to oversee the work, micro-manage their people or insert themselves into the process until the work was complete.

“Leadership is not a popularity contest; it’s about leaving your ego at the door. The name of the game is to lead without a title.”  Robin S Sharma

In the real world, communication is not as clear as we would like, priorities change constantly, one manager is not as efficient as the next and the same with staff.  Some people accept accountability and others don’t, teams have issues and people are people.

Hence a need for a steady communication, and a means to track progress to ensure that everyone is where they need to be.

The right balance of management involvement is always tough to determine, but a  manager’s natural tendency will err on the “more often” than “less often”; the employee ‘s preference will be “less often” rather than “more often”!  This is just a  reality of the work place!

What is a new manager to do?  Particularly if they have been promoted such that they were in the “less often please” camp previously!

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”  Tony Blair

1.  Leadership is not a popularity contest.  Leaders (managers) need to do the right thing, not the easy thing.

2.  Human nature says that very often, but not always, people will take advantage of their relationship with you … see #1!

3.  As a manager you have a duty to your employer, which usually involves meeting targets and completing projects etc.  That should be your driving force … see #1.

4.  The old phrase, “You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is worth remembering, as long as your team are responding.  If employees “earn” the right for more autonomy then give it, just don’t forget #1.

5.  If employees are not performing, have unacceptable behaviors or are disruptive in any way you MUST address it, and quickly.  It does nobody any favors if things reach a point of frustration that causes drastic action … quitting or being fired!  So remember #1, and have the tough conversations.

“Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.”   Mary D. Poole

The management role is tough but if you adopt a leadership mentality, have the best interests of your team at hear and do the right things, not the easy things you will do well!

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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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Top 10 Blog Entries for 2015

Top Ten Eagle blog entriesThe following were the most popular blog entries from the last year.  If you missed any of them then now is an opportunity to catch up!

Surviving a Downturn (in Alberta?).  This was a “reprint” of advice from Tom Peters just before the last recession.  It seemed topical back in January as oil prices plummeted and jobs were being cut in the oil patch.  Unfortunately things are not better yet!

“You buck yourself up with the thought that “this too shall pass”—but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon, so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.”  Tom Peters

Independent Contractor Myths & Realities in CANADA!  The Canadian Federal regulations around independent contractors have not changed in thirty years, despite the changing nature of work.  Too often I see “experts” pontificating about the risks of using contractors without a real understanding of the subject.  There are many benefits to companies using independent contractors and so this blog was focused on presenting the facts!

“Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others.”  Ayn Rand

Attitude Matters … A Little Humility is a Good Thing!  This was a reminder that no matter how good we are, or think we are, it can always change!  It does not cost anything to be a little humble, and it will help with relationships that could be important to you at some point in the future.  Also includes 13 rules from General Colin Powell.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; noting on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” W. W. Ziege

Email Etiquette – 20 Tips!  Email is such a big part of our lives that everybody should be aware of the basics of email etiquette.  Some of it is good manners, some of it is common sense and some of it is good time management … hope it helps!

“Communication works for those who work at it.” John Powell

10 Lessons From a Retirement Party on Living a Good Life.  A good friend of mine retired this past year, and it was interesting to see the impact he had on so many people.  He is a role model and we can all learn from him.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  Vivian Greene 

Positive (or Negative) Influences Can Change Your Life.  Some of the best advice I ever received was to surround myself with positive people, and equally try to avoid negative influences.  This blog entry expounds on those principles.

“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”  Oprah Winfrey

10 Thoughts About Measuring Success?  For many people success is defined by money or position, but that is narrow thinking.  Success should be personal, not necessarily what others consider success.  YOU need to decide what success looks like for you.

“Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.”  Tony Hsieh

Leadership Should Be Uncomfortable (and it is)!  Leadership is sometimes glamorised, so it is important that you know what you are getting into!  This was an attempt at showing some of the realities of leadership.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  Jim Rohn

A Mentor/Mentee Relationship is Attractive BUT Hard Work!  Both mentors and mentees need to work hard if such a relationship is to bring the real value.  Learning by osmosis in an ad-hoc fashion is rarely effective!

“For every one of us that succeeds, it is because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.” Oprah Winfrey

Waiting is Not a Winning Strategy.  In contradiction to the phrase, Good things come to those who wait, my suggestion is that you need to make things happen yourself!

“Don’t just stand there.  Make it happen.”  Lee Iacoca

Hope you enjoyed some of my blog entries in 2015 … in January I will have been blogging for 10 years, and I have written about 1,850 entries.  I guess that makes me “opinionated”!

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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Make 2016 a Great Year

Goals quote from Jim RohnI know … you get tired of hearing about GOALS!

You don’t want to face the effort of making a plan that you feel you can’t control or that has little chance of success.

I used to think that way too.

Once I had my mind changed for me, what i found was that (a) it really doesn’t need to be a complicated process; and (b) as strange as this sounds, it doesn’t matter whether you meet your goals or not!  It is the process of setting them up and developing a plan, which you execute against, that will actually make a difference.

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” Earl Nightingale

Yes … things change, and so will your goals and your plans.  BUT by having a plan you will be taking action towards success.  Focus on the things you CAN control.

The following is a 3-step process that I use, which could help you to get started in setting some goals that would help you make the most of 2016.

Step 1.  Decide what is important to you.  I have a few categories that I use ..

“You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.”   Charles C. Noble

  • Health and Fitness
  • Hobbies/Vacations/Pastimes
  • Career
  • Relationships (personal and professional)
  • Training/Education

Step 2.  Take into account your experiences in 2015 related to your categories.  Then set at least ONE goal in each category.  It is most important that you see some success so don’t be tempted to have too many goals, but if you think you can manage it then set more than one goal.  Here are some examples …

Under health and fitness you might want to lose 5lb by March 2016; you might want to add weights into your workout routine at least twice a week; you might plan to reduce coffee consumption to 2 per day. Etc.

“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.”  Brian Tracy

Under Hobbies/Vacation/Pastimes you might want to give some thought about where you would like to vacation this year.  It could be to enjoy the cottage at least 12 weekends, or plan a weekend getaway without the kids; or take a 2 week vacation somewhere exotic etc.

Under Career you might set a goal of mastering certain aspects of your current role by the Fall; having a career planning meeting with your boss or HR; or developing a training plan to advance your career.

The goals that you pick need to be achievable and within your control.  This way you will see progress and as you do progress you can always add more goals or increase the “intensity”.

Step 3.  Plan into your calendar a monthly review.  At that review you will check your progress against each goal and will create action items to address them … which will go onto your “to do” list (of course you have a “to do” list!).

“This one step – choosing a goal and sticking to it – changes everything.” Scott Reed

This is a very basic, easily managed approach to goal setting.  You can obviously get much more complicated and sophisticated, but this works and the most important thing is to start somewhere.

Try it … this time next year you can be sitting and reviewing how you did in all of those categories and planning for 2017!  Good luck!

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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Document Meetings … It Saves Grief!

-The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.- (1)Every manager will be familiar with the concept of miscommunication.  How often have you had these situations:

  • You THOUGHT you had been clear.
  • They THOUGHT you meant this when you meant that.
  • Everyone left the meeting on the same page … but somehow things went off the rails.
  • Three people left a three-person meeting with three different impressions!

One of my lessons learned over the years is to always ensure that a meeting is documented after the fact.  It gives one more opportunity to ensure there was no miscommunication, to identify areas of confusion and to have a document to look at in the future, should the issue need to be revisited. Some obvious examples might be:

In the case of a status meeting with an employee … I would get them to document back to me all actions that were agreed upon.  The act of capturing the actions will bring clarity to the employee and remove “wiggle room” should any of them not happen.

In the case of a meeting with multiple participants I would suggest the “nearest to the action” person document the meeting, identifying all key decisions and action items, together with any timelines and allotted responsibilities.  eg.  A sales situation involving delivery and management might result in the sales person documenting the results.

It has always been a good business practice that salespeople document their client meetings … but so many don’t do that.  Typically it is a lack of commitment to doing things the right way.  Unfortunately it can  lead to miscommunication, finger pointing and does not serve the best interests of the salesperson’s employer nor their client!

Any group meeting that does not result in a shared document misses an opportunity for clarity, for accountability and for a record that can be revisited in the future as needed.

So the take away is  … adopt the practice of documenting meetings to ensure that everyone is one the same page.  It saves a lot of grief!  If you are a manager then hold your people accountable to that standard too!

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Kevin Dee is CEO 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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