Tag Archives: business

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

Making Changes that Last!

What will you do differently in 2014It is a New Year, and along with that comes a fairly common theme of making New Year’s resolutions.  Most of those resolutions, despite our best intentions, will quickly become history and we will continue with our lives the same way that we did last year.

Effecting change in your life, whether it is as simple as committing to more exercise or as complex as making a career change or starting a business, is hard!

Here is a video from John Izzo for whom I have great respect.  If you ever get the chance to hear John talk then take it, he always has an interesting and compelling message with regards to human behavior in the workplace.  In this video he explains the science behind the issue of making changes (our New Year’s resolutions) stick.

You can use the information from John to greatly improve your chances of success with your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions.

Here are some ideas …

Large man thinking about new year resolutions while slouching in a chair1.  Consciously create new routines … the mere act of creating routines will work with your brain, not against it.

2.  Keep it simple … take the “eating an elephant” approach, one bite at a time.

3.  Have a plan … not just a goal, but a plan with action items to help you reach that goal.

If your goal is to improve your exercise routine and you think the answer is to join a gym, then you need to have a plan that you can keep up on a regular basis.  If you joined the gym previously (maybe multiple times) and it didn’t work, then why is it going to work this time?  Maybe going with a workout buddy or a personal trainer will keep you motivated?  Maybe setting aside a specific time of day that will work better for you will work … first thing in the morning works best for me.  Maybe you should save that club membership fee until you find the time that works for you … get out of bed early and go for a brisk walk, do sit-ups and pushups just to get used to the new routine.

It is easier to make small changes and create new routines, than to make BIG changes in your life in one go.  If you can make multiple small changes over time that together add up to meeting your goal, then you will be far more likely to succeed.   One example might be for the sales person who wants to improve their performance … here are some very easy things you can do that together will result in positive change:

a.  Change up your look … buy some new clothes, make yourself “feel good” about how you look.

b.  Add a little time to your workday … another half hour or hour a day, focused on productive activity.

c.  Emulate the activities of the most productive salespeople in your company and industry.

d.  Network with successful people.

e.  Get out more … more client calls, more networking, more meetings with people that can help you.

f.  Work on your time management skills … use a calendar religiously, use To Do lists, keep good notes, maximize your work time with work activities (less chit chat, more work).

g.  Set yourself mini-goals to achieve your greater goal.  e.g.  Number of client calls a week, number of face to face meetings, number of self-development courses/webinars/books etc.

h.  Invest in your self-development.  If you company offers materials take 100% advantage, if not (and even if they do) then spend a few dollars yourself to invest in YOUR career.  (Look into the CPSA … Canadian Professional Sales Association)

i.  Adopt the attitude that YOU are responsible for your own success.

You don’t need to do all of this in one go … but if this is your blueprint to success in sales, then be serious about it and start to make those changes.

The BIG thing about change is that when you see results quickly it is a great motivator, whether those results come in lost pounds, increased sales productivity or just feeling better that you are headed in the right direction you are more motivated to create the new routines in your life.  As John Izzo says we are hardwired for routine, but excited by change … work with that and make 2014 your best year ever!

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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 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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Its Good to Care … Just Don’t Worry!

It is a fine line between not caring, and not worrying!

It is only by “caring” that we do our best work.

Worrying too much is detrimental to our health.

Worrying however is a very human trait, and I think most of us worry somewhat.  The trick is to use that emotion in a positive way to effect change … OR, if you cannot change an outcome then find a way NOT to worry.

For example:

If we “care” about our job then we will work hard to be successful … as a salesperson that might mean long hours, planning, building relationships and working towards those sales.   By “caring” we do everything we can to improve.

It is also normal for people who care about their job to worry about their results, about their performance etc.   If you have done everything you can then “worrying” is detrimental.  At that point you need to find a way to “let it go”.

The best employees “care” … just don’t let that “caring” affect your health. 

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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 Centre!
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Simplify KPIs for Efficient Business Management

I like to consider myself to be pretty good at managing my time.  I have evolved my various systems over the years and continue to evolve them as new tools come along, my role changes or I feel it is time to shake things up!

Over the years I have gone from a largely paper based time management system to a largely electronic focused system, but still using paper where I find that to work best for me.

One of the things that I try to do every now and then  is to revisit the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that I monitor, and make sure that I am spending my time wisely.  I find that all of us managers have a tendency to want more and more data/indicators about how the business is doing … yet experience has taught me that focusing in on a few key indicators can actually be the best use of my time.

With technology today I can get reports on a multitude of different aspects of my business, ranging from monthly standard financial reports through daily activity monitoring, exception reporting, quality initiatives, financial data, A/R reports, customer lists … on and on!!!  The trick is determining what ‘few” can do the job for me.

Here are some thoughts for the manager trying to stay on top of their business:

1.  Keep it simple.

2.  Decide what “handful” of indicators you are going to monitor … keep it as short as possible.

3.  Decide how often you will look at that data.

4.  Decide how often you will update that list (note update means develop “the list” NOT ADD to the list).  You NEED to review the list on a regular basis, but you also need to give them time to see if they are doing a good enough job for you.

5.  You WILL find interesting data at every turn … DON”T be seduced into thinking that you NEED it.

6.  The data that you need in your role today will change as your role changes.

7.  Share your thoughts on KPIs with peers and develop a standard set that works for a per group.

8.  Do NOT create your own tools … adopt the corporate tools and work with them.  The effort developing and maintaining them will be better spent elsewhere … but do share your ideas with “corporate”.

9.  These tools and indicators are just that … don’t spend a ton of time over analysing, take the information and use it to get on with the job.  Remember the 80/20 rule … if you feel 80% of your needs are being met then be happy, because if you chase that final 20% it will cost you BIG in time and dollars!!!

10.  If you need help developing KPIs we might be able to find a consultant for you 🙂 

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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 Centre!
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Reinvention is NOT Optional

Competition comes in many forms, so whatever business you are in it is important to be constantly asking yourself some basic questions.  Some of those questions might be:

Am I meeting my customers needs?

Is someone else doing a better job?

Is my industry changing?

If I keep doing what I do will I still be here in 5 years?

What else could I be doing?

Disruption can happen in any business, as has been seen many times over the years.  We only have to think about the affect of big box stores on the smaller retail shops, the impact of the internet on so many businesses, the impact of low cost off-shore labour on many industries … just to name a few.

When you work in and around high tech, or with the big consulting firms then innovation and change tends to be “a given” … but that is not always the case in smaller, mainstream businesses.

Yesterday I had my motorcycle serviced and today I had my car serviced.  It is always a frustrating exercise for me, and I assume any busy person, to have to take time from my schedule to drive out to the garage and then get back to work.  Which got me thinking about these businesses.

I asked the owner of the car shop how business was going and he replied that the last couple of months had been OK, he actually made money.  He suggested that in a 12 month period he will make money for 3 or 4 months, break even for 3 or 4 months and “survive” for the rest.

“Have you any plans to do anything different?”, I said.   He doesn’t.

At the motorcycle shop I managed to arrive there about 2 minutes after closing time, received no sympathy from the exiting employees and was lucky enough that there was a manager still on the phone who let me drop my bike off for service the next day.  On pickup day I had not heard from them 90 minutes before closing so after several calls I finally connected to the service shop and they were not sure if it was going to be completed that day.  It was … but again I had a level of stress I did not need.

None of this is earth shattering … and everyone has these frustrations.  But … it could be better.

A disruptive model could easily drive both of these hard working business owners out of business!

Why are they content?

If my business was unprofitable for 3 to 5 months a year I would do something about it.

If my customers were having trouble getting to my shop for service I would make it easy for them.

I took a quick look at what other service shops are doing around the world (that disruptive internet again) and came up with some top of mind ideas for these business owners …

Look at your hours of operation … if you are open when your clients are working and closed when they have free time does that make sense?  It doesn’t need to be a radical change but opening the retail shop for evening hours, with an opportunity to drop a bike off with them might just make life a lot easier for your customer.

The big garages have a shuttle … why not have a pick up your bike/car service?  Pick it up anywhere and return after service … I would pay for that!

What else could you do with your shop to generate revenues?  Offer the use of the shop to DIY people who like to work on their own vehicles, but don’t have the tools or space.  Offer courses to teach people at various levels about vehicle maintenance.  Form a partnership with larger shops as an overflow capability to help them meet their needs.  Buy a portable garage … a truck that could do “house calls”.

It is not just the big companies that need to reinvent themselves … every business owner needs to think that way.  It is tough to own and operate a business, the start up phase is extremely stressful, there are always ownership related issues but experience reduces the stress levels.  This creates a risk of complacency and perhaps even a shift to a more risk averse approach to business … so it is critical to remember, in ANY business Reinvention is NOT optional!

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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 Centre!
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Accuracy is Important … Always. 10 Ways You Can Improve Yours!

Mistakes are a fact of life … they happen!

It is however important to learn from our mistakes, which is a natural process that will result in us getting better.

If we don’t learn from our mistakes then we miss a huge opportunity … and yet many people fall into this trap.

Accuracy is extremely important no matter what job you have … if you mislead co-workers, your boss, your client because of mistakes then there can be repercussions.  In some circumstances accuracy is CRITICAL … 99% accuracy might be great for many professions, but for an aircraft pilot or a ship’s captain it isn’t great enough!

How do you go about improving your accuracy so that you make less mistakes?

1.  You have to CARE!  You cannot adopt an attitude that accepts mistakes, you need to want to be “mistake free”.

2.  You need to LEARN … that means actively understand why the mistake happened and making sure it doesn’t happen again!

3.  Sometimes you need to SLOW DOWN.  Many mistakes happen because work is rushed, or because the person doing the work has not taken time to become accurate in their process.  in the same way that children learn to walk before they run, it is important that we learn to do our job RIGHT first and THEN get faster!

4.  Practice!   If you perform some tasks infrequently then you are more likely to make mistakes … so practice, and take special care on those kinds of activities.

5.  Check your work!   it is easy to complete a task and submit it … but if you take a little extra time to double check your work you will reduce the margin for error.

6.  Along with #5 develop little “checks” that work for you.  eg.  if you are providing numbers in a report is there a “rule of thumb” you could create that would show if anything looks strange in the results?

7.  Use spellchecker … ALWAYS!!!  This is a habit everyone should adopt!

8.  Along with #7 … don’t rely solely on spellchecker, read your document AFTER the spellchecker has done its thing.  The words in your sentence might be real words, just not the ones you wanted!!!

9.  Develop checklists for yourself.  If your job requires 5 steps in the process for every transaction use a checklist to make sure you completed ALL 5 steps EVERY time.  pilots use these, doctors use these … and a mistake from either of those professions could be VERY nasty!

10.  Take advantage of “best practices”.  Find how other people do the job and learn from them, ask for help, get a mentor … anything that will help you to get better at your job.

We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.”  … L.M. Montgomery

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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 Centre!
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Entitlement … a 21st Century Epidemic?

It seems that there are a growing number of people in our world who have a feeling of entitlement and they come in many shapes and forms.

They feel entitled to a job, entitled to government handouts, entitled to benefits that were negotiated in other times, entitled to major bonuses, entitled to “executive perks” … they are even entitled to multi-million dollar severance packages for failure … on and on.

The world just isn’t that complex … we need to live within our means.  As individuals, as cities, as Provinces (or states) and as countries.  There are plenty of examples of the entitlement shown by countries that are living beyond their means.

In my world … I am responsible for myself.  I use my skills, my energy, my commitment, my brains to reach the goals I set for myself.  My standard of living, my happiness, my successes, my failure today and into the future are all in my own hands.

Do YOU have an entitlement attitude?

Do you expect the government, your family, your boss or some other “higher authority” to look after you?

Good luck with that!

Entitlement is a modern disease that kills work ethic … in fact it kills all ethics, it kills creativity, it kills the desire we need if we are going to overcome adversity and achieve great things!

The way to cure this Entitlement disease is to accept responsibility, accept accountability and pay your own way!  Earn your success!  Create your own opportunities!  Give back!  Take some risk!  Push yourself to do better!

There is great satisfaction in taking personal responsibility … there is even greater dissatisfaction in being totally dependent upon the good graces of that “higher authority”!

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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 Centre!
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