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Profiling Performance

Q: Our company has experienced steady growth over the last few years. Due to this growth we’ve had to promote people very quickly, often before we thought they were ready. I’m now seeing managers who are too hands on and doing other peoples work for them; they have trouble communicating with staff and aren’t responsive enough to our ever changing environment. The company has enrolled these individuals in management training and provided coaching, but we’re still not seeing the changes we need. What are we missing?

A: Have you looked at motivation?

The issue at hand is not uncommon and one it seems many companies are familiar with in one way or another. A few years ago business was booming and companies were just trying to keep up. In doing so, many technically competent people were promoted to more senior roles due to their experience and familiarity with the company. Organizations are now working with these same people to try and develop their management skills.

Mike Moreau,
Concord Consulting
The issue is that organizations are not seeing good return on investment in terms of making lasting changes to these managers’ behaviours. The reason for this is that companies believe there is a gap in terms of skills, which are teachable. The real problem is that there is often a gap in the person's motivation to do certain aspects of a job. The trouble is motivation cannot be taught.

In order to achieve high performance in any role five essential elements need to be in place: Education, Experience, Skills, Personality and Intelligence. You won’t find high performance from an accountant if they don’t have their CA. TELUS won’t hire a 23 year old from Harvard as their next President and most companies won’t put their web developer into a sales manager role.

The most overlooked piece, which many learn to be the most critical factor in terms of success in a role, is personality (if a candidate possesses the appropriate levels of Education, Experience and Skills). Companies typically don’t do an effective job of clearly (or scientifically) identifying the specific characteristics a person requires in order to excel in a role. Each role in an organization has a specific set of characteristics that are necessary for high performance and each company will have a distinct culture that will help them define their specific combination and degree. By not identifying which characteristics are necessary to achieve success, we have no benchmark against which to measure our candidates (scientifically) against to predict where they’ll succeed and where they’ll struggle.

A Typical Illustration

Here’s a typical scenario that seems to be replaying itself in organizations. An engineer with a good track record and five years of experience is invited to take on a management role. This person seems to be people- and team-oriented, is technically sound and enjoys more variety in their workplace. They lack management experience but a plan has been put in place to address this.

The person takes over the role and shortly thereafter some gaps begin to show. This person finds it difficult to make decisions and the delays are beginning to cause problems. The individual is also unable to confront a direct report when their work is not to standard, so the manager begins simply doing the work for this employee. The manager is working hard but not in the right way and because of this, work is jamming up in his department. A director pulls the new manager aside and they work on some strategies to combat these gaps. For a few weeks the meeting seems to have had a positive effect. Soon after, however, the same problems sneak back in again. The person is coached, re-trained and reprimanded but nothing seems to have a lasting effect. The employee is then either re-deployed or released.

If we select only one characteristic of the many that are required in the management role, one needs a personality that’s motivated by taking risks when not all of the information is available, and is also motivated by holding others personally accountable to a set of standards.

As it turns out, the engineer is motivated to avoid confrontation and is too hesitant when asked to make a decision. Despite all the training and coaching to help this individual with his level of assertiveness, the company sees the same results. Small periods of change occur but the employee is unable to sustain those changes long term. Had the company scientifically measured the person’s motivations and compared them to the role ahead of time, they could have predicted these gaps in performance and made a different decision.

Someone may possess a body of knowledge but that doesn’t mean they will be continually motivated to actually apply that knowledge in their role. This is most often a company’s biggest roadblock to achieving high performance in staff; not enough of the right people in the seats of their organization.

Mike Moreau, Director of Client Development, Concord Consulting Corp. can be reached at

NOTE: Mike Moreau will be presenting on “Understanding
the Relationship between Personality and Performance” at
IPM’s Fall Workshop in Calgary on October 19, 2010 and
in Edmonton on October 21, 2010. For more details, click here for more details

Bill 168: Amendments to Ontario’s OHSA

Q: I know that there are statutory regulations governing violence and harassment in the workplace in the federal jurisdiction, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia. My operation is in Ontario and I wanted to know if there are any obligations with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace in this province?

A: With the passing of Bill 168, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the “OHSA”), workplaces in Ontario must understand their obligations and be ready to implement procedures related to workplace violence and harassment. Bill 168 came into effect on June 15, 2010. Below I outline several of the obligations employers in Ontario will have to comply with.

Simon R. Heath,
Keyser Mason Ball
Bill 168 defines “workplace harassment” as engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. “Workplace violence" is defined as: (a) the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker in a workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to a worker; (b) an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace that could cause physical injury to the worker, or (c) a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.

While many workplaces have a harassment and discrimination policy focusing on the requirements of the Human Rights Code, it will soon be mandatory for workplaces to have a policy that addresses the issues of workplace violence and harassment centered on the requirements of the OHSA. The policy should define workplace violence and harassment and must outline procedures for employees to report any incidents.

Such a policy must be posted in a conspicuous place in any workplace with six or more employees. As well, employers would have to review and revise these policies on at least an annual basis.
Employers will have to conduct a workplace risk assessment which involves a process of identifying which parts of the workplace may be at risk of violence. This would include violence between employees as well as violence against employees by customers or members of the public. Some of the risks may be well known within the workplace based on the type of jobs performed. Other risks may not be revealed until security, incident, or health and safety inspection reports are reviewed.

Bill 168 requires workplaces to have a policy and procedure for complaints and investigations in place. Employers must ensure adequate resources and training to meet these obligations.
It is important for your workplace to educate workers on potential violence risks and to train workers on the procedures for controlling the risks. Any policies that are implemented in the workplace should be reviewed with the workers. As well, management should be trained on their duties and expectations.

As part of a workplace violence program, workplaces must have procedures in place to control workplace risks and for providing immediate assistance when workplace violence is likely to occur.
With the passing of Bill 168, issues such as domestic violence and workplace bullying are now covered by the OHSA. The employer is required to take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances to protect the worker where the employer becomes aware or ought reasonably to be aware of domestic violence occurring in the workplace.

Many of the duties of employers, supervisors and workers that are set out in the OHSA will now be extended to apply to workplace violence.

Bill 168 also extends a worker’s right to refuse work in certain situations where health or safety is in danger to include the right to refuse work if workplace violence is likely to endanger the worker.

The maximum penalties for contraventions of the OHSA are $25,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation.

Simon R. Heath, B.A., MIR, LL.B., is an associate in the law firm Keyser Mason Ball LLP and can be reached at

NOTE: Simon Heath will be presenting on “Today’s Critical Issues in Employment Law” at IPM’s Toronto Fall Conference October 28, 2010. For more details, click here for more details

Managing the Multigenerational Workforce

Q: The mix of younger generations and older generations in the workplace is really challenging. I hear a lot about the differences between generations and I worry that I am not able to provide the management needed for a mixed team. What advice do you have for today’s multigenerational manager?

A: If you are worried about managing a multigenerational workforce, then you should really be focusing on what it takes to engage ANY workforce, because it is engagement that hits your business’s bottom line. A focus on employee engagement to increase effort and commitment pays off in terms of improved employee performance, increased employee retention, and customer satisfaction (Crush, Peter “Employee Engagement ROI – Rules of Engagement”, Human Resources ,1 October 2007). According to the Corporate Leadership Council (2008), organizations with high levels of employee engagement tend to have higher operating income, net income, and earnings per share.

Gail Matheson,
Ph. D., Edmonton
The research on different age groups confirms for me that the most important message is to remember employees are human beings who want an engaging environment in which to work. In November 2009, the Conference Board of Canada published a report called “Winning the Generation Wars: Making the Most of Generational Differences and Similarities in the Workplace”. In this report, they conclude that “there are differences in perception across the generations, but similarities in workplace preferences.”

There is substantial literature on the differences between generations, which is too difficult to cover in a short response. Here are some high level points. Millenials demonstrate loyalty to people not organizations. They need to see their role in the big picture, then stand back and let them work. They are inspired by mentoring, flexible hours, the feeling of getting ahead instead of traditional rewards. Gen X’ers value work life balance, and see themselves as free agents. They are strategic, altruistic, and tech savvy. Baby Boomers see work as a high priority, perhaps the highest, and will work 14 hour days with stressful lives. They embrace technology but it is not second nature. The Mature workforce is loyal to their organization, and believes in paying your dues. They are comfortable with hierarchy and top down style. They believe you arrive on time, work hard and receive steady income and job security in return. You can see the possibility for tension around the water cooler already, as well as in the management of a multigenerational team.

However, what each age demographic is looking for is what human beings have desired in their workplace through out most of history. If you want to engage your multigenerational workforce, provide them with continuous communication about what they should be doing on the job and how their goals connect to the organization’s goals. Provide clarity about responsibility, authority to make decisions, and the tools to measure results. Maintain good, productive relationships within and across groups. Provide meaningful development plans that leverage strengths, and provide enriching assignments. Show appreciation for ideas, efforts and accomplishments. Provide regular and candid feedback.

Good managers are already doing all of these things. I think we have become confused by the information on differences. It was meant to provide us with good market data around which we could target recruitment and retention programs to well defined demographics – just like what marketing departments do. What we have inadvertently done is created a sort of prejudice the focuses on group differences. We are forgetting that each individual is AN INDIVIDUAL. The age demographic information is useful, and can help a manager understand the possible context, values, and motivators of the employee sitting in front of them. But none of that should replace the practices and principles of good people management.

Gail Matheson, PhD is the VP, HR at the Edmonton Journal. She was the Principal Consultant at Stratius Consulting. Gail is an expert in change management, leadership development, and business transformation.

Social Media for Recruiting

Q: I've noticed that more and more big companies are using social media tools to attract candidates, and it seems to be delivering great results. We're a smaller company without a dedicated HR/Recruiting department - how can we leverage social media without having to hire a Gen Y internet wunderkind?

A: You're right: In the past 12-18 months, social media has gone mainstream. The fastest-growing demographic groups using social media are the 35-49s, so it's not just for kids and early adopters any more.

Paul Dodd,
Businesses are increasingly using social media to reach all their stakeholders, including customers, clients, employees and potential candidates.

In fact, more than 85% of Canadian HR and recruiting professionals say that they're using social media to find and connect to candidates, and 73% say that social media channels are now the first place they look when they have a role to fill.

Why is social media so effective for recruiting?

It's fast: Instead of having to post a job and wait for respondents to apply, social media channels (like LinkedIn) allow companies to search for candidates based on specific criteria. You connect with the right candidates faster and spend less time on unsuitable ones.

It's cheap: The biggest social media channels - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube - have no hard costs attached. Simply reducing the use of ads on job boards and leveraging social media to drive referrals can save even smaller organizations thousands of dollars a year.

It delivers better candidates: The people using social media the most tend to be the most desirable candidates (they have above-average education, skills and experience). But they can also be the hardest to reach (they aren't actively looking for a new job, but would be receptive if the right opportunity came along).

If you aren't using social media for recruiting, you're probably missing out on a valuable talent pool and spending more than you need to on recruiting.

But with so many options, the prospect of using social media - for recruiting or otherwise - can be daunting. Which channels should you use? What messages will you convey? Who'll be responsible for it? What disasters could ensue? And what will it cost?

Don't panic - you don't have to become a social media guru overnight! Start small, and work your way up. There are plenty of ways to leverage social media without spending anything but a little time.

Here are our 7 'first steps' to social media for recruiting:

1. Update your corporate LinkedIn profile - and make sure your existing employees update theirs (with a corporate focus, of course) as well. Candidates researching a potential new company often look at current employees' profiles to get a 'feel' for the organization, so positive, consistent, active profiles can send a powerful message, both about your employment brand and your social media/internet savvy.

2. Leverage employees' LinkedIn profiles to search for candidates, ask for referrals, and announce interesting news about the organization via their status updates.

3. Make sure members of the management team are participating in industry- and role-related groups/discussions on LinkedIn. This is a great way to identify top talent, so you know just where to find them the next time you have an opportunity. It's also a good way to raise your corporate profile, employment brand and job brand over the longer term.

4. Create a Facebook group and/or 'fan page' for alumni (current and former employees). Recruiters know that the #1 source of A-list candidates is referrals from other A-list alumni/current employees, and a 'fan page' is a great way to stay in touch.

5. Talk to your marketing department about their social media efforts. Do they already have a Twitter account for the company? A Facebook group? Ask if you can post opportunities to their followers.

6. Start a blog - or make your current one more interesting and friendly. Make no mistake: The best candidates do their homework before they apply, take a call from a recruiter, or agree to an interview. Take a look at your blog: If you were an A-list candidate, would it make you interested in the company?

7. Make it easy for people to share opportunities or other information, but putting 'Refer a friend' or 'Tweet this' buttons beside job opportunities, blog posts, or other announcements.

Paul Dodd is the President of Head2Head (, a company that specializes in delivering innovative recruiting solutions by bringing bottom-line thinking to clients' HR and recruiting functions. Paul can be reached at 416-440-2030.


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