CEO Blog

Category Archives: Management

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

Peer Groups are Great Tools for Learning and Support

A problem shared is a problem halvedWhen I started my company I called a couple of friends who also ran their own companies.  I asked them to call a couple of other people and explore the prospect of a monthly gathering of business owners.  We started a “President’s Club” with the objective of learning from, and supporting, each other.  We kept it simple, met after work at someone’s office, brought in sandwiches and discussed the kinds of issues we were facing.  Anything discussed was confidential and for a bunch of years this group gathered on a monthly basis … indeed many are still friends.

Over the years I have belonged to a few different peer groups, all of which have been beneficial.  In recent years I joined a group of CEOs, who happen to have a shared passion for motorcycles.  Once or twice a year I will head out for 4 days with a few of these fellow business leaders and we spend the morning on business discussions, afternoons riding and evenings networking.  Powerful stuff if you generally spend your days tied to a desk dealing with the million and one issues facing any leader on a daily basis.

“Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?”  Voltaire

There are many peer groups for CEOs and business owners however there is no real reason they should be restricted to this group.  The one typical difference for business leaders is that they have no-one to talk with inside the company about some issues.  Other  than that, many of the benefits that business owners enjoy could be beneficial to anyone who formed a group of like minded individuals.  These are the kinds of benefits peer groups provide.

  • Shared experiences.
  • The same kind of problems and issues.
  • A common background .and therefore good understanding and empathy for each other’s situation.
  • A place to be able to discuss concerns perhaps not so easily discussed at work.
  • The benefit of many minds and experiences.
  • The insight into how other companies operate.

“The only source of knowledge is experience.”   Albert Einstein

If you are looking for ways to learn and grow, other than the normal options then perhaps forming a peer group might be of benefit.  Here are a few tips …

  • Invite people like yourself, but from different companies.
  • Get then to invite a few people they know.
  • Determine how big the group should be … probably not more than 12.
  • Work on an agenda … raise issues/determine focus for a meeting/discuss issues/social ending (beer and munchies?)
  • Set rules … confidentiality, attendance expected etc
  • You might consider bringing in speakers, moderators etc.
  • Keep it simple … and cheap.
  • Do regular evaluations (quarterly?) to determine whether it is bringing value, and what could be improved.

Maybe peer groups could be the next big thing in personal development?

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?

Independent Thinking

Be yourself.  Quote from Mark TwainIt is very easy to be “swayed” by others.

People with strong opinions will share them quickly … and often!  If a couple of people are of the same opinion then there is a momentum, and that can pull others along into a herd mentality.

“Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”  John F Kennedy

In the normal course of our daily lives there will be many such moments when this kind of “peer pressure” really doesn’t matter.  It might be about mundane things like characters on a TV show, or which color of beige is best on the wall (really … once it is done you will likely not be able to tell the difference!)

Other times it is important to keep your own counsel, understand the situation and make your own call.

If you are in a leadership role, or aspire to be in a leadership role it will be important that you demonstrate an ability to make sound decisions, and the fortitude to not be swayed by popular opinion.  That does not mean being inflexible; it does mean making measured decisions and informed opinions.

The herd mentality is rarely a good way to reach important decisions.  The “herd people” are typically loud, opinionated, easily influenced and see only one side.

Ask lots of questions.

Try to understand the situation objectively.

Don’t leap to conclusions.

Block out the “herd people” … you already know who they are.

Make a habit of thinking for yourself, not just taking a story at face value!

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  Aristotle

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?


Give Help Unconditionally

Plant trees you don't expect to sit underOne of the things that I have learned in life is that giving is a good thing.

It could be giving money or time to a good cause.

It could be giving advice or counsel to someone looking to me for advice.

It could be helping an entrepreneur out with some ideas or contacts.

There are many ways to give.

There does not always need to be a quid pro quo.  I give that help with no expectation of a return.

Some people always expect something in return, and while that is for them to decide, I would suggest that life has a way of paying us back for our good deeds.

Take a leap of faith and help people whenever you can, and do it unconditionally.
It feels good … and your life will be enriched just by doing it.  Anything else is just gravy!

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”  Mohammed Ali

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?

The Devil is in the Details

Details quote by Stephen BrewsterEvery successful venture will depend upon a sufficient level of detail in order to be successful.

This applies whether you are talking about a home hobby project or your new business venture.

So my advice to the budding entrepreneur, new manager or really anyone trying to accomplish something significant, is as follows …

You MUST engage your brain to think things through at a sufficient level of detail!

You MUST apply the required amount of rigor … paying attention to the details.

You MUST be willing to make things happen … that takes ensuring all those details are ACTIONED!

You MUST put in the required effort … because it takes HARD WORK to do things the right way!

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”  Beverly Sills

There will be MANY who view this as obvious but there are relatively FEW who are willing to actually do it!

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?

Productivity Tips from the Best Salespeople

Your income is related to attitude quote by Jim RohnHow do the most productive salespeople spend their time that makes them so successful?

The best salespeople have many qualities, but in terms of productivity these are just a few ideas :

1.  They maximize time with clients and prospects.

  • They make it a priority to fill up their calendar.
  • They go out of their way to have meetings, never putting them off because they are inconvenient or might entail a drive.
  • They will fill their calendars out into the future, and group meetings by geography or building.   If you have to drive to a meeting then who else could you meet while there.
  • They recognize that time spent with any influencer is good … this could include assistants, receptionists, contractors etc.

It is difficult to get past Zig Ziglar’s obstacles if you are not meeting with, and listening to, your client and understanding her situation.

“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”  Zig Ziglar

2.  They set themselves mini-goals.  They will likely already have targets set by their company, but they set their own to motivate themselves.  Here are just a very few ideas:

  • an increased number of meetings this month, by some number or percentage;
  • an increased number of calls out;
  • an increased number of telephone conversations;
  • an increased number of warm leads; and
  • an increased number of written cards thanking clients.

All of these will be in addition to their own company targets that will likely be revenue, margin or profit focused.

Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.”  William Clement Stone 

3.  They focus their efforts on “high return” activities.  Salespeople are paid to generate revenues.  Tasks that are not focused on that goal will always be secondary.

  • They will be super organised, with great time management skills.
  • They will chase leads.
  • They will chase and build relationships … that are meaningful.
  • They will push their internal colleagues to meet the needs of their clients.
  • They will bring added value to their contacts wherever possible.
  • They will get their vital administrative work done (CRM notes, account collections etc) but secondary to the higher return activities that lead to revenue.
  • They will not allow paperwork, busywork, “administrivia” or any non-vital tasks get in the way of their success.  (Note the difference between vital and non-vital admin!)
  • They take full advantage of their work day, and will put in the extra time whenever needed.

Everyone lives by selling something.”   Robert Louis Stevenson

Would you add anything to this list of what successful salespeople focus their time doing?

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?

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!

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?


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!

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?

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?

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?

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.

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?

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)!

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?