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.

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!

Do You Need a Talented Temp On-Site or a Virtual Assistant?

Please review the following questions to determine if my services would help you in achieving your business and project goals, and meeting or beating your client deadlines.









  • Are you finding yourself staying late to complete projects? Eating ‘fast food’ at your desk, and working weekends?
  • Do you keep a ‘to do’ list that just keeps growing, because you find you have to add to it daily?
  • Is your website or blog consistently ‘up-to-date’ with accurate and ‘on brand’ data?
  • Are you actively engaged with all your social networking accounts; attracting your contacts with daily posts, comments, and news or important announcements?
  • Do you have ‘assigned staff’ on hand to take care of all of your social media marketing and networking needs?
  • Could you benefit from having an extra set of eyes, and pair of hands to help you get back on top of things?
  • Are your current staffing levels sufficient to help you with all that you have to do?
  • Do you have proactive and skilled support staff available to you, willing and able to help you?
  • Are you working with complex documents that need advanced formatting edits before client delivery, but don’t quite have the skills required, or know the fastest way to go about it?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed with your day-to-day tasks – not enough hours in the day?
  • Do you have a professional and reliable contact to call upon when you need a little extra help on your projects?
  • Do you have a tight staffing budget that does not support hiring a Temp through Personnel Agencies, due to the associated high fees?
  • Are you, or is your firm interested in ‘cost-effective’ administrative assistance, with no employee benefit costs attached?

If you answered YES to ANY of the questions above, you would most definitely benefit from having the services of A Talented Temp at your disposal.

If you would like to explore areas that I can clearly help you with, please contact me directly via phone or email, and feel free to connect with me through your preferred social networking service as well.

Thank You!

Is Santa Coming to Your Workplace? Bonuses and Christmas Gifts for Employees


Perhaps no one is openly talking about it, but employees at all levels are surely thinking about it – what will this year’s Christmas gift or bonus be?

Whether it’s a holiday-season gift or a bonus, employee expectations may be high for 2016. However, I think it would be interesting to witness what the consequences would be if, one year, employers decided to bypass gifts and bonuses altogether – what do you think?

Is there a chance that your own employer might be feeling that their past generosity has become more similar to an obligation or simply an employee expectation, regardless of performance levels?


Types of Bonuses

A bonus paid to an employee is of course, over and above his or her regular salary, and can take many forms.

First of all, year after year, an employer might offer an automatic bonus of a fixed amount that is not subject to the performance of the employee, or of the employer’s business. A bonus can also be paid on a purely discretionary basis as the employer sees fit.

Lastly, the parameters for payment of the bonus may be predetermined according to criteria established by the employer, with or without the participation of its employees. However, employees are aware of the criteria, which is usually related to the operating results of the business, or to the employee’s individual performance.

Legal Framework

There is no set legislation on bonuses although, depending on the circumstances, they may be considered part of an employee’s overall compensation. They are instead governed by the contractual framework. Their amounts, criteria, and the recurrence of payment may constitute employment conditions in an individual employment contract or in a collective agreement. A company policy may also establish the bonus framework for all employees, or for different classes of employees. Finally, a constant and recurring bonus mechanism known to all employees may also be considered to be a legal framework.

Modification or Termination of the Bonus

An employer may, for a variety of reasons, wish to curtail the distribution of bonuses during the holiday season. Its right to do so directly depends on the legal framework governing their distribution, as noted above.

Therefore, if the granting of a bonus is provided for in an individual employment contract, it may be deemed as an essential condition of the contract, depending of course on the amount. In such cases, the principles of constructive dismissal may eventually come into play. Before modifying the bonus criteria, or doing away with the bonus altogether, the employer should notify the employees concerned. The length of the prior notice period will depend on the circumstances, the characteristics, and the number of years of service of the affected employee(s).

This reasoning may also apply where the bonus is provided for in a company policy. Close examination of the terms of that policy will be necessary, however, as often the employer will have already provided for the possibility of unilaterally making changes to the bonus. Even so, depending on the amounts involved, this latitude on the part of the employer cannot, however, go so far as to constitute an abuse of right.

On the other hand, if the payment of and the criteria for the bonus are provided for in a collective agreement, the employer will not be able to make changes unilaterally, unless of course the collective agreement or another union agreement gives it permission to do so.

Bonuses and Termination of Employment

Can a dismissed employee claim his or her Christmas bonus then?

The answer to this question depends on the type of bonus involved, and on whether or not the dismissal was justified. If it was justified, the employee cannot claim the bonus given to the other employees following his or her dismissal.

Conversely, in certain circumstances, an employee dismissed without cause may be entitled to such a bonus. For example, if the bonus is clearly provided for in the employment contract and its payment is automatic, the dismissed employee can include it in his or her claim for payment in lieu of reasonable prior notice.

However, the dismissed employee will normally not be entitled to a bonus if the payment of it was purely discretionary. Moreover, the employee will have no such entitlement where the evidence shows that the bonus payment criterion was not met.


The kinds of gifts employers can give employees during the holiday season, from the traditional Christmas card to a more lavish frozen turkey, are limited only by their imagination.

And whether this generosity on the employer’s part is new, or solidly entrenched in company tradition, can the employer randomly decide one year to be less generous?

In a non-unionized context, generally speaking, a Christmas gift from an employer is seen as a gesture of gratitude, offered on a discretionary basis, without producing any obligation on the part of the employer.

Handing out bonuses, and/or gifts during the holiday season is a generous gesture on the part of an employer, and most certainly, appreciated by its employees. The benefits are far from negligible insofar as human capital management is concerned, as it tends to foster a sense of belonging among employees, with what could be described as a bonding effect at this special time of year. Having said that, close attention should be given to such an act of generosity. After all, employers should not feel an irrevocable obligation to give either but rather, have this action remain a genuine token of appreciation for staff efforts, versus the perception that it is, or has become, some kind of binding duty.


Supporting Article Research Sources: Langlois Lawyers, LLP, Mondaq





Using Effective Time Management Strategies – Section I


Provided below, are a few simple suggestions that I have used to save valuable time and certain frustration when working under pressure to meet simultaneous project deadlines:

‘TO DO Lists’ – On the Road to Effective Time Management

  1. Write these lists out versus tracking them electronically because the risks are higher for being sidetracked when multitasking under pressure. Writing your lists will also trigger your memory;
  2. Prepare your lists throughout your work day, and revise/prioritize before leaving work; you will then be well prepared for the morning;
  3. Perform the item you least like to do first to get it out of the way, such as photocopying or high-volume faxing, each of which can be time-consuming as a result of paper jams, long queues for the machines, etc.;
  4. If you know there is a project on the go that could be arriving on your desk shortly, try to determine when you will receive it, and request the draft be sent to you piecemeal, so you can add your magic touch to each section (ensure consistency);
  5. It is wise to carry a notebook with you so you can follow-up on any spontaneous requests that will undoubtedly be made of you when moving throughout the office;
  6. Making your notes daily will allow for consistent follow-up and focus, and aid in ensuring things continue to run smoothly; and lastly
  7. Carrying your notebook with you is a helpful resource if you run into a colleague that has a query, and you want to track your last communication notes, and/or requests.


You could use the fax to photocopy and vice versa, and/or have your IT team set up your system to send and receive faxes directly.

If you are able to define the expected arrival time for an incoming project, be sure to give Production and/or Graphics a heads-up to get your job in their queue to avoid delays and missing your client deadlines.

The following tips, some learned the hard way, may seem obvious and logical to you at first glance. However, I can assure you that they are often overlooked when working with long and/or difficult documents; resulting in wasted time, and a good deal of frustration.

Ignoring these tips can be costly as your documents can quickly become a nightmare to deal with!

This is particularly the case when working on two or more ‘rush’ projects simultaneously.

Unfortunately, when working with long or complicated documents; such as those with several section breaks, different layout/page orientations, embedded pics, excel charts, alternate headers and footers etc., MS Word becomes confused, and typically ends up labelling your document ‘corrupt’; which is a challenge to work with, or try to recreate.

While working collaboratively in programs such as Google Docs, MS OneNote or SharePoint certainly has its benefits, and give the impression of being ideal options for encouraging genuine group effort, they also create confusion, because these systems basically work akin to turning on ‘track changes’ or ‘versioning’ in Word.

As you know, working in long and/or complex documents, track changes can be quite intimidating and messy to work with. I am sure you would agree that simply selecting ‘accept all changes’ is not a wise option for obvious reasons, including the fact that your project leader’s review and approval for each change must come first.


Please continue reading here: Using Effective Time Management Strategies – Section II















Preparing Your Professional Digital Portfolio



I am pleased to respond to my reader’ requests to write another article on creating your professional portfolio since the interest in this topic is so obviously high. It is rewarding to learn that my earlier article has sparked an interest in learning more about this process.

Please note that it is important that you prepare ‘both a hard and soft copy’ to aid you in your career development now, and into the future. The time to prepare these tools is NOW while you are gainfully employed – please keep this point in mind.

Assembling a ‘digital’ portfolio will make this process easier for some of you, although as mentioned, you still need to prepare a hard copy as well, which you can place in a binder or leather pouch. It is not necessary to invest a great deal of money on the packaging, as of course, the contents are far more important, and a new, attractive binder will certainly suffice.

Additionally, by preparing both a hard and soft copy, it permits leaving a hard copy with the prospective firms; at your discretion. You will know if it is appropriate to do so. I would not suggest giving away your digital package, unless of course, it is ‘specifically’ requested.

I would suggest that in preparing your digital version, you include a colour photo with your name and current title or the title of your desired role on the cover of the CD casing for the benefit of those who will be storing and viewing it.

Alternatively, you could use a ‘provocative graphic’ for your CD cover, preferably of your own design, and include your professional photo again in the introduction of the portfolio. Be sure to ‘Dress for Success’ in these photos.

Be sure you present your documents in a logical order that makes sense when printed out for viewing and discussion, and run a print or two before finalizing your CD.

Make effective use of ‘colour’ as much as practical, as this makes content more memorable, versus black and white, particularly when using proper graphics within text bodies. Once you have completed your ‘master’ copy, you can ‘burn’ the required number of copies for your intended marketing audience. For instance, you may want to start out with 15 copies in your career arsenal.

When creating your digital version of your portfolio, be sure to remove the ‘personal properties’ of all documents, before converting over to PDF, and burning to CD. This is a ‘crucial’ step.

As you are likely aware, these properties may be read if someone chooses to do so, regardless of the ‘security’ settings in place on the PDF version. The conversion to PDF will enhance the aesthetics of your presentation, as well as save valuable space on your CD, particularly if you have a large quantity of graphics material. Make sure you have ‘protected’ your pdf before sharing with anyone.

Again, be sure to ‘edit’ any confidential information; such as company name, client names, etc., indicated in any of your documentation by changing your text colour to ‘white’ and ‘hiding’ the text, or replacing the text with symbols. You must demonstrate and maintain total integrity in this regard, which will be most appreciated and understood by your audience.

Suggested documents to include in your digital portfolio:

  • professional portfolio introduction with your ‘colour’ photo;
  • capsule profile or short bio (versus long CV);
  • graphics and charts you have created for special projects; such as Excel, Visio, or PowerPoint;
  • marketing or advertising materials that you have created for various forms of media;
  • include ‘short’ publications that have been ‘authored’ and ‘published solely’ by yourself;
  • written acknowledgments from local superiors and/or head office;
  • certainly, include all ‘reference letters’ and ‘thank you’ letters;
  • prepare a listing of ‘current’ references with all pertinent contact information including cell, email, etc., (get permission first!); and
  • create a list of your ‘top accomplishments’ achieved in your current and past roles.

Your own published articles and accomplishments can be elaborated upon during your in-office meeting for a potential promotion, as well as your job interviews at a suitable time in your discussions.

If you have created a method for your firm’ business development pursuits, or perhaps process strategies for administrative teams, include these topics in your discussions, rather than sharing them in written form within your portfolios.

However, I would suggest that you do not disclose ‘all’ aspects of any of your ideas until such time as you are feeling comfortable and secure in your new role within your current firm, or your new career.











Career Marketing Materials ~ Your Professional ‘Portfolio’




‘Hard Copy’ Professional Portfolio



Q.  First of all, why do you think you need to create a professional portfolio?

A.  Because this empowering tool will allow you to market your capabilities in job interviews and upcoming promotions, as well as other scenarios; such as your performance reviews and your firm’ Learning & Growth (‘L&G’) efforts.

Creating your own portfolio might sound like a daunting task initially, but trust me; it can be terribly gratifying and a very satisfying experience. Allow me to elaborate on precisely what I mean by Portfolio’.

If you review a number of project works that you have created, you will no doubt come across terrific charts created with Excel, excellent PowerPoint presentations, general marketing materials, perhaps report writing, and different styles of documentation created and/or authored by yourself.

Where are these documents stored? I suspect that they are not enjoying space within a nice binder or casing with page protectors to keep them neat and clean. They are more likely to be on your personal computer or network where they lay dormant. This is not good news for you if you are wanting to market your particular talents.

This then begs the question, how are these dormant pieces of creativity serving you to prepare for future interviews or promotion within your firm – whether the interviews are a directive from your manager, or proactively sought out?

If you do not take action now, your creative pieces will remain virtually useless to your marketing and promotion efforts. This does not produce the desired results, which, in my experience, is building your self-confidence, and more importantly, giving yourself a significant edge.

Therefore, I would recommend that you take some time to peruse your projects, and strategically select the most appealing and complex pieces to begin building your hard copy professional Portfolio.

In my own career, I have used a portfolio for many years, and am invariably delighted at the response it prompts. I must admit, in hectic times, it is very easy to forget to incorporate a very good piece, and end up realizing that the opportunity has passed. I sincerely hope that you do not find yourself in a similar scenario.

Additionally, do not forget to include all your kudos for your great work, and going the extra mile when needed! I can guarantee you that your portfolio will prove to be an invaluable asset in your own career growth today, and well into the future.

IMPORTANT: Please also keep in mind that as unfortunate as it is, the reality is ‘layoffs happen frequently’ these days. Therefore, I suggest that you develop your portfolio while you have the chance, and still have easy access to your great works! Keep your Portfolio ‘up-to-date’, and be most selective with your pieces.

Good Luck & have fun with this, but GET ON IT NOW!