Promoting an ‘L&G’ Culture ~ Influential Admin Team Leaders (Part 2 of 2)

Cont’d from Promoting an ‘L&G’ Culture  ~ Influential Admin Team Leaders (Part 1 of 2)

“We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day”, Sir Richard Branson

Other ideas that your Admin Team Leader(s) can explore requires strong negotiating skills in dealing with program vendors with regards to licensing matters. Ideally, this is where your IT department comes into play, as they will be able to offer a wealth of information on this subject, including sharing their direct contacts.

Speaking of your IT department, it is this group of specialists that will guarantee relevant services are provided on your firm portal, assuming your firm has one.

If your firm does not yet have a portal, I would suggest that your Team Leaders meet to work out the commonalities among the administrative body for this team’s specific training programs and coaching needs.

He or she can then speak to the IT team to establish what is plausible. Armed with this knowledge, they could then present their plan to their administrators and HR team for discussion and implementation approvals.

These ideas may well present a more attention-grabbing and engaging atmosphere for your employees to learn and grow, as opposed to the use of the conventional external training and coaching settings that are costly, and often take your employees off-site.

Another approach to ponder, used throughout our history, although considered a touch unorthodox, is the system of bartering firm services for the desired equipment, training, coaching, or another requirement.

For example, if you have a significant number of employees requiring a particular training or coaching, I would contemplate attempting an exchange of services where possible with the high-ticket external training and coaching companies.

Depending on your industry, this exchange could look like offering free advertising, notably reduced printing costs, accounting services, or a significant discount on a myriad of other professional services.

While this method requires clever negotiations skills, the results would surely prove worthy, while creating a win-win situation for each party.







Promoting an ‘L&G’ Culture ~ Influential Admin Team Leaders (Part 1 of 2)

“We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day”, Sir Richard Branson


If you have an influential Admin Team Leader in place for your department(s), you are most fortunate.

An effective Admin Team Leader will listen to all of your concerns about your role; perhaps as yet unattainable tools or equipment, and of course, learning and growth training that encourage your career advancement.

The Team Leader is your ‘go-to’ to express any job-related issues, whether that looks like an associate concern, workload issues, overtime, or what have you.

While a Team Leader shoulders many responsibilities, their chief role is to make sure their assigned teams are operating efficiently and effectively, and thus, have the right programs and tools at their disposal to work at peak performance levels consistently.

Naturally, discontented employees are not going to stick with their departments or any firm that does not offer a culture of opportunity. Firms not operating in this culture are sure to face real and expensive employee retention issues.

The Admin Team Leader, operating within the firm budget guidelines, must be resourceful in sourcing either internal or external coaching and training resources, and cost-effective tools for the firm, while still offering value for your administrative teams.

Depending on the scale of your firm, and the number of employees requesting (or requiring) coaching and training, your Admin Team Leader(s) may wish to consider:

  1. Sourcing experts inside the firm network to present talks to your team;
  2. Reaching out to firm mentors and coaches, to see if they would be willing to discuss the connected issues and programs together with your team; and
  3. Negotiating in-house contracts for knowledgeable, competent program trainers to keep costs down.









Is your Firm ‘Connecting’ with You?

Engaged Employees

Connected employees will stay with their firms, become a dedicated advocate of the firm, as well as proactively seek out viable ways to create a positive difference by contributing in some way to the bottom line of the firm’ financial success.

Connected employees can typically achieve higher performance levels with results attributable to their natural dedication and motivation. Therefore, I suggest that there is a remarkable link between connected employees and corporate profit margins.

Employee ‘connectedness’, or engagement is crucial to organizations that seek to not only retain valued employees but truly engage with their staff at all levels, thus increasing its level of performance.

Major Factors of Connection

Many organizational factors influence connected employees & employee retention, such as:

  • A culture of value and respect where outstanding work is valued;
  • Easily accessible, consistent, and constructive feedback and mentoring;
  • Adequate office tools and equipment to complete work responsibilities;
  • Fair and proper reward, recognition and incentive programs;
  • Opportunity for advancement and professional growth;
  • Readily available, and effective leadership;
  • Clear and definitive job expectations, and
  • Generating a high level of motivation.

Do you know how Engaged & Connected your Employees are today?

The first step is to learn what the present level of employee engagement is. The simplest and most convenient tool to measure this component may well be a Comprehensive Employee Satisfaction Survey, which is widely used in our corporations today.

A well-crafted and administered satisfaction survey allows you to understand at which level of engagement your employees are operating. Customizable employee surveys can offer you with a place to begin in your efforts to optimize employee engagement.

The key to successful employee satisfaction surveys is to pay close attention to the feedback from your employees. Typically, this is the only way to identify their specific concerns and issues.

When divisional or firm leaders listen, employees respond by changing behaviour and consciously become perceptibly more engaged, resulting in increased productivity and employee retention.

Engaged employees are more likely to be content in their roles, stay with the company, and consistently strive for higher levels of performance, and ultimately, of course, a promotion.

I believe that listening to your employees’ concepts, and acting on their contributions, coupled with actively involving employees in the decision-making process, are all key factors in realizing the coveted reward of employee engagement.

Plan Do Check Act System: Employee Engagement








The Plan Do Check Act system is an effective problem-solving technique that sets the foundation for a culture of continuous improvement.

All organizations face a myriad of challenges, particularly the larger firms. Whether or not they are big issues like elusive revenue targets, or efficiency-specific problems such as rework, following the ‘Plan Do Check Act’ system will help businesses implement effective solutions.

The key activities involved in each of these four stages of this straightforward system are outlined for you below.


In this stage, identify the source of the problem and craft a solution. Conducting an intensive cause analysis is critical to any problem-solving initiative; allowing you to style a solution that may fix the issue, not merely cover it up.

Many tools can be used to conduct a root (or real) cause analysis. Two common tools that come to mind are fishbone diagrams (cause and effect) and the ‘5 whys’ (asking “why?” repeatedly until identifying the cause).

Once the cause of the problem is known and fully understood, choose and design the solution that best addresses it. Anticipate the impact following solution implementation, and make sure to collect the baseline information.


In the Do stage, carry out the solution. To prepare for the implementation, create action and communication plans, and conduct a stakeholder analysis. Once these elaborated plans are in place, enforce it in the work area.


In the Check stage, the results are reviewed to see if a solution has been reached and to quantify the benefits and advantages. Speak with the people directly involved in the change to get their opinion. Capture this new information, and compare it with the initial information to measure your gains.


In the Act stage, the amendment is incorporated into standard work, if no further enhancements are necessary. If moving forward with the final amendments, change any process documents accordingly, and communicate the permanent changes to all stakeholders.

If more improvements are required, apply the Plan Do Check Act system once more, until the changes can be incorporated into commonplace work practices.

While the above stages offer guidance on what activities need to take place, of equal importance is ‘how’ these steps are carried out, and how they are applied.

The most successful problem-solving initiatives actively engage employees at all levels throughout this process. Employees on the front lines, who do the work daily, have the foremost comprehensive understanding of where the problem areas are.

These employees know what solutions are going to be most effective, and what communication and coaching need to exist. By placing value on their comments, and basing solutions on their hands-on knowledge and ideas, organizations will carry out effective solutions for the longer term.

The Plan Do Check Act system is an effective problem-solving technique that sets the foundation for a culture of continuous improvement. Momentum will increase as employees learn to apply the new tools to their work areas — which of course is the goal for any organization seeking efficiencies through employee engagement.

Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 2 of 2)

In this last section of ‘Remember to ‘Market your Soft Skills,’ I am going to assume that you have taken some time to consider your soft skills seriously, and what you have to offer your current or next employer, in concert with your professional credentials.

As I mentioned previously, more import is placed on a candidate’s soft skills of late, and this is true for both potential employers directly and Staffing Agencies. In some cases, a candidate with less experience will get the position based on his or her personality, presentation, and effective communications demonstrated during the interview(s).

The downside of this situation is of course remuneration, as it would be adjusted due to the difference in the educational and professional requirements specified for the role. However, the fact is that when a job candidate does land a role, he or she will learn how to be effective, moving forward when the opportune time arrives or is proactively sought out.

I have certainly witnessed the hiring of staff based on personality, where others have had more experience to offer, and I am confident that my readers can also relate to this scenario.

Now, let’s get to the core of this article, and review potential ‘transferable skills’, which could look like:

  • Good time & project management skills;
  • Ability to influence others;
  • Team player attitude;
  • Excellent listening skills;
  • Easily builds strong relationships; and
  • Strong organizational skills.

For example, let’s say a Home Depot salesperson desperately wants to get into the hospitality industry but has no prior experience to offer. The skills of a successful salesperson would of course easily transfer over to the hospitality industry for obvious reasons, and therefore, I say go for it!

I realize this is a very basic and elementary example, but I am sure you get my point. I believe that it comes down to ‘how you present’ in an interview, as I have stated in my previous articles. Your ’unique personal skills and attributes’ may look like:

  • Goes above and beyond;
  • Has a positive attitude;
  • Strong work ethic;
  • Quick study; and
  • Creative & Self-directed.

Of course, we all have something different to bring to the table, as it were. How we communicate our given skills is what matters, and what makes the difference when under pressure in situations such as job interviews and performance reviews.

Remember to ‘Market Your Soft Skills’ in Your Job Search (Part 1 of 2)

When conducting a job search, whether internally or externally, it is natural to be anxious about our ‘hard’ skills such as computer programs knowledge; graphics programs, advanced Excel formulas, the Net, firm portals, and confidence with using social media/networking tools, etc. All of these skills are a requirement of any job within the corporate world today and are valuable skills to have.

In our current job markets, employers do not seem to be solely probing for appropriate levels of education, certification, and technical skills, but rather ‘soft skills’ which will immediately engage the person interviewing you, as well as the various groups you will be working with once on board.

Companies that are presently advertising positions are requesting much more than pre-recession, as they have deep considerations around employee retention, economic conditions, and the apprehensive anticipation of losing valuable employees, once the economy is on a better footing, and has stabilized.

It is a logical assumption that some firms could lose staff as the economy improves, as opportunities from competitors present themselves, and offers of higher compensation and benefits hold an obvious attraction, most definitely if the employee is feeling ‘disengaged’ from their current employer.

Putting aside your hard skills and academic background, for now, consider the soft skills you have to bring to the table. Target what you recognize as your ‘transferable’ and ‘unique personal soft skills’, which will work to your advantage as you continue on your job search journey.

Are these skills highlighted within the body of your Cap Profile and Resume, and noted in all of your cover letters? If not, make sure they are going forward, as it will stimulate positive outcomes for you.

I would urge you to speak with your professional references to learn if they are including your distinctive and valued soft skills in their referral communications. Where appropriate, ask them to please include these details on a go forward basis.


Please continue reading Part 2 of 2 here, Thank You!

Grammarly – Clear and Effective Communications Every Time!

I am confident a high percentage of my readers have heard of Grammarly and perhaps use it to some degree as well. It is the #1 writing tool used by people at all levels of life; students, professional writers, business people, bloggers, and others who want to write more effectively. I believe it should be; particularly for those already working in business, or pursuing their entry into the corporate world.

The fact that Grammarly will check your spelling far better than any word processing program, check your grammar, and even adjust your punctuation, all FOR FREE, just boggles the mind, but that is a fact.

Grammarly, based out of San Francisco, is a private, independent company that began back in 2012, and has developed into the world-class writing tool it is today. Frankly, I would not want to be without this fabulous tool, as I use it every single day for all my writing; my Word documents, emails, on social media sites, and anywhere I am on the Web. Wherever I am, Grammarly is right there beside me; acting as my silent partner, ensuring clear and effective writing in all that I share.

Without question, Grammarly should be in every efficient executive and administrative assistant’ toolbox the world over. This wonderful tool can save valuable time and ensure all your documents are 100% mistake-free.

Personally, I find it disappointing when I receive an email that has poor grammar and typos in it, it lowers my professional estimation of the sender immediately, and of course, this also bodes true for websites that also hold many errors – the internet is full of them!

The flip side of that is rushing and missing a small error – such as punctuation perhaps, that you should have caught before hitting the send button. Because I have this ‘add-on tool’ with me wherever I am writing, I don’t even have to think about such scenarios.

Imagine this happening to you as the sender, likely being in a rush, and you do not take the time to proofread, later finding your little mistakes – or worse, they are ‘pointed out’ to you by someone you were trying to ‘impress’, how embarrassing.

So, to make sure you have no worries with all your writing, just get the Grammarly add-on installed in your browser, across all your Microsoft Office programs, and for your Email. Even when you are messaging on your social networks, Grammarly will be there with you, making sure your text is clear and effective!

Canada: The Top 12 Employment Contract Terms


A well drafted and executed written employment contract can be useful in avoiding or resolving disputes during the employment relationship as well as when it ends – saving employers both time and money in either case.

Written Employment Contracts

Each employer has an employment contract with each employee – despite the fact that there is no supporting physical evidence of such (“nothing in writing”). There are many advantages to a well-drafted and carried out written employment contract, the ultimate advantage being notably fewer disputes and a significant reduction in the associated time and costs for the employer.

Readability & Comprehension

An employment contract that clearly sets out all the terms will help in fending off disputes later. And, since employment relationships are (or at least use to be) intended to last a long time, and human memories are fallible, a written employment contract ensures all the details, and occasionally complex arrangements are clearly and accurately recorded.


In contrast to different “commercial” contracts, courts interpret employment contracts with an eye to protecting the employee. Consequently, they scrutinize employment contract terms intently, typically deciding any ambiguities in opposition the employer’s interest.


The standard form employment agreement is useful, but employers need to continually review it and, if required, customize it to suit particular circumstances. That said, there are some terms that essentially each employment contract needs to include. Here are the top 12 terms.

  1. Entire Agreement Clause. Another “legalese” clause that could make a difference in a dispute, this clause states that the written agreement is the entire agreement, and supersedes any earlier agreements – oral or written, drafts or final – the employer and employee might previously have made about the contract’s subject. This is in order to avoid both from claiming there are other contract terms in addition to those within the written contract.
  2. Fixed Term. If the employment contract is for a fixed term, make that clear, and specify the notice to which the employee is entitled upon early termination of the contract – or risk paying the remaining balance of the term.
  3. Independent Legal Advice. Include a clause in which the employee acknowledges he/she had the opportunity to seek independent legal advice on the contract. Be sure you give your employee time to consider the contract and to get that legal advice before signing.
  4. Non-Solicitation/Non-Compete. Employers are exposed to a financial loss while an ex-employee solicits his/her former employer’s clients and/or personnel. Employers can often protect their interests by way of imposing post-employment obligations on employees restricting or limiting their capacity to compete and/or to solicit clients and employees. However, public policy discourages such restraint of trade generally, and such obligations can affect the employee’s ability to earn a livelihood. Courts intently scrutinize them and refuse to enforce them unless the employer can prove they protect a valid proprietary interest of the organization, and are reasonable in terms of duration, geographic scope, and the nature of the activities prohibited. The key here is to apply clear and unambiguous language and not to invite more than is clearly necessary to protect the employer’s interests.
  5. Obsolescence Clause. An “obsolescence clause” is intended to make certain the employment agreement will continue to be relevant and enforceable no matter how long it lasts, and even if the employment relationship fundamentally changes between the date the contract is signed and the date the employment relationship ends.
  6. Permitted/Prohibited Activities. An employer does not automatically have cause to terminate a “moonlighting” employee without notice or pay-in-lieu of notice. Make it clear whether the employee is permitted to undertake other activities – for pay, or without pay (such as charitable work) – during his/her employment, or whether he/she must devote all the time to the job, and other activities (or certain ones) are either completely off-limits, or require the employer’s consent ahead of time.
  7. Probationary Period. Including a period of probation to decide whether the candidate is suitable for employment can be of value to the employer. A probationary clause states the employer can terminate the employee’s employment during a specified probationary period without notice or cause. However, it is important to note there that in order for it to be enforceable, the clause must comply with the minimum notice period under Employment Standards legislation.
  8. Protection of Intellectual Property, Confidentiality & Non-Disclosure. Intellectual property (IP) and confidential information, such as market research, financials, and proprietary client information, can be an employer’s biggest asset.
  9. Remedies for Breach of Confidentiality. The normal resolution from a court is monetary compensation. Employers should include a clause specifying the employee’s liability for monetary compensation for breach of his/her obligations, but the contract should also state that this is insufficient and that the employer and employee contemplated and accepted an injunction (a court order to stop doing something) and/or specific performance (a court order to do something) if the employee breached his/her confidentiality obligations.
  10. Resignation Notice Clause. Employers often require senior executives to give notice of resignation in order to deal with difficulty in recruiting or replacing a specialized skills position and ensure a smooth transition. The resignation notice is often considered a moral obligation and most employers do not act on such a clause – but it IS enforceable.
  11. Severability Clause. One of those “legalese” clauses that can save the day, states that any legally unenforceable terms or phrases of the employment contract are severed from the contract without affecting the enforceability of any of the other contract terms. For instance, it could operate to sever an unenforceable probationary clause – and leave an otherwise enforceable termination clause standing.
  12. Termination Clause. A “termination clause” is meant to displace an employee’s entitlement to “reasonable notice” of termination without cause through specifically setting out the employee’s notice entitlement. The law generally presumes that an employer can terminate a contract of “indefinite duration” (as opposed to one for a fixed term) without cause by giving the employee “reasonable notice” (Note: The employment standards legislation of some provinces requires cause for termination of employees with more than a specified length of service; seek out the guidelines for your province to ensure compliance). An enforceable termination clause – one that uses clear, unambiguous language expressly specifying some other period of notice and complies with employment standards legislation – offers both the employee and the employer certainty.


Supporting Article Research Sources: McInnes Cooper, Mondaq





Considering Your Career Resolutions for 2017?




We are now just a few short months away from 2017, and I am confident that many of you have had success with your personal resolutions made for this year, as well as the changes you would like to create in your career; possibly, an exciting career change during 2017.

Listed below are a few ideas I want to share with you that I believe may be similar to what you have pondered, and hopefully some new ideas for your Career Resolutions. Naturally, you are bearing in mind where you are in your present role, the length of time it took you to achieve that level of responsibility, and the path you perceive to be the best ‘fresh start’ that a New Year offers:

  • Learn more about your division, and the company overall (knowledge is power);
  • Establish better working relationships with your peers;
  • Become more engaged with your immediate boss and/or supervisor;
  • Attend more company-wide functions and connect with new people (Network);
  • Be more proactive in your approach and attitude toward your career;
  • Ask for more responsibility in your current role (assuming time/skills permits);
  • Register for suitable free training/courses offered at and through work;
  • Join strategic work-related committees;
  • Create & Chair a new committee theme that brings ‘added value’;
  • Uncover innovative ways to generate time & cost savings for your division/company
  • Evaluate whom you would like as your ideal Mentor or Career Coach;
  • Update your resume and references (always be prepared for advancement!); and
  • Participate in Community Volunteer programs, such as charity-driven events (check with HR about programs the company is involved in as well).

Please bear in mind that these are just a few examples of what your Career Resolutions might look like. I am sure that those of you that have spent considerable time pondering your lives and career, will have plenty to add to this list.

Having said that, I wrote this article for the benefit of those struggling to come up with ideas that would best serve their personalities and careers, particularly given our volatile job markets worldwide; which also deserves careful consideration.

I hope that this article has been helpful in getting the juices flowing for even a small percentage of my readers and followers.

Much Success to You!