Managers

13 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Recently someone told me when describing a work situation that Managers should not be promoted to a Manager’s position unless they have or have had children. This person was adamant that there is a difference between Managers who have a family or not. She then starts enumerating the long list of skills required to raise a family which a non-family Manager does not have. I had never heard that point of view but it makes some sense. Being responsible for directing and leading a group of people takes the same set of skills as dealing with kids. In fact it is harder with adults because it is harder to teach them and change behaviours. If we take listening skills as an example, kids are infamous for wanting to be heard and get attention. Is that not the same as employees? Listening skills are one of the main complaints employees have. My Manager does not listen to me. Understanding and assessing situations are other skills which are tested by kids constantly. Having these skills would help a Manager in their daily routine. Communicating in various ways depending on the situation permits kids and employees to understand and learn. Organization skills are a must with kids. It must be practiced by the parent so that the child can learn from the role model. Employees require the same from their leader.

The list goes on and on. The more I thought of this concept which is not new, the more I realized she made a lot of sense. Again I learned that some solutions to our career challenges are obvious and already with us we just have to stop and think a little.

 

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All I want for Christmas

12 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

This a re-post from last year but it is worth reading again.

With our ever changing environment, I have to continuously make personal changes which I hate. Whether Technology changes our lives or society changes our lives, I am bombarded with constant change.

In my last blogs I have ranted and raved about change. Recently I seen an item on the internet which I could relate to and decided it was worth sharing with you. This item really depicts our changing times.

       “My kids each year ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give them my real answer. I think it’s probably the same answer for a lot of the parents I know, so I decided to share it:

What do I want for Christmas? I want you. I want you to keep coming around. I want you to bring your kids around, I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help and make me feel needed. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job, your worries, your husbands/wives, your kids, your fur babies. I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care.

I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work, I’m pretty proud of it.

Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I want you to bring your kids around. I love it when they’re here, and to be honest, sometimes I love it when they leave, too. I want to tease them, play with them, teach them, spoil them, and do the things I didn’t have the time, money, or wisdom to do with you. They’re my “do-over”. When I’m dead and gone, I want them to miss, me. I want them to remember me and say, “Those were good times”.

I want you to spend your money make a better life for you and your family. I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving my gift all year. I want you.”

I want to be treated, respected, look up to, loved and cared for as my Grandparents were.

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Bad Managers

11 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

In my dealings with employees, the most frequent comment I hear is      “I have a bad Manager”. Most employees do have bad Managers. There are many reasons for this, too many to enumerate in this blog. What almost all employees forget, as much as they are managed by someone else, is they have an obligation to manage themselves. It is too easy to blame others in particular the Manager. Employees have to take control of their own actions and be responsible for the outcomes. Have I had bad Managers in my Career? More than I dare to count.  You can be miserable in your job or you can do something about it. That does not mean quitting your job because chances are great you will find yourself with another bad Manager. It does not mean to complain to another Manager or Human Resources. You turn your miserable situation into a positive learning experience. Working for a bad Manager conditions you to become a better Manager at a later time. The key here is to learn to manage your Manager.

First of all you need to think and act like a Manager. Good Managers will study their employees and make notes of their strengths and weaknesses to better manage them. Therefore, you make a confidential list of your Manager’s strengths and weaknesses. You also make a list of your own strengths and weaknesses. You take note of the similar skills, habits and behaviors you and your boss have. Work these to better your relationship with your boss. The areas where you clash then need to be analyzed and determine what you need to change to make a difference. You may seek training on your own or identify someone in the company that could help you with the areas you want to improve. Seeking someone to help is easier than you think. To ask someone for help in improving yourself because you feel they are good at certain things is a very high compliment. It is very difficult for someone to turn down your request when you say I want to be like you or I want to develop skills like you. By working on your weaknesses and developing yourself will only make you happier and more valuable to the company. You also turn the focus on yourself instead of dwelling on your Manager’s deficiencies. By following this simple process, even though it will take time, you will have one of three possible results. Firstly, by being a better employee you will make your Manager look good. That is not a bad thing because either he will be promoted or moved possibly because the powers to be noticed you could do a better job. Secondly, maybe someone in the organization will notice your efforts and good work therefore wanting you on their team. Thirdly, at the very least you are developing yourself to take on new responsibilities therefore making you more valuable in the marketplace.

This simple process makes working life so much easier because you are doing something positive for yourself rather than waste valuable time criticizing the boss. Become the Manager he/she is not by working on the skill sets you need to become a Manager.

It took me a long time to realize this system but when I did my Career started to progress at a faster pace. Simple rule: Take control of your work life by becoming the Manager you can be. Gerry’s rule # 259.

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Resumes/Phone Numbers

10 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

There was a day where employment applicants had numerous phone numbers to contact them. They had a home number, a business number, cell number and a number to leave messages if the other numbers where not answered. Today one sole number is given namely a personal mobile number which is not always reliable or effective. People especially younger generations change phones and their numbers in some cases 2-3 times a year but do not update that little detail on their resumes. Mobile numbers with no voicemail or no activated voicemail are useless. I have left up to 3 messages over 3-4 days and not received a call back. If I get a call back these are some of the most common reasons for the late return call: My phone was broken, my phone has been acting up, my phone was not charged, I could not find my charger, I could not find my phone, my sister hid my phone and the list goes on and on. You are looking for a job why would you not be ready to receive calls. Don’t get me started on how people answer and behave on phones.

 

Don’t answer your phone if you are unable to talk. Don’t answer your phone if you are at work or on the job because you just told me that if you get hired you will be using the phone regularly while at work. Resume then goes in don’t hire pile.

 

All I’m suggesting is if you are seeking employment and sending resumes to companies prepare yourself for receiving phone calls. It may not be a bad idea to have a working voicemail and a second phone number in case the 1st does not work.

 

This is far too common.

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Employment References

01 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Along with a good Resume, you need good References. Employment References or also known as Employment Checks are the tools to verify the information in your Resume or to verify what you might have volunteered in an interview. You need to keep these references separate from your Resume and current, which means you need to keep in touch with the people you use for references. Without References you limit the effectiveness of your Resume and what you may say in an interview. Everything needs to be verified and confirmed for accuracy.

Unfortunaley the fact that companies close, move or get sold means that people within those companies also move. Therefore it is very important to keep in periodic touch with your contacts whom have volunteered to attest to your performance. Otherwise you have no way to prove the information in your Resume is correct. Too many times I have seen individuals who cannot provide Reference information. For example, your last 3 employers closed and you have no idea where the Managers and Supervisors have moved. For a new employer, it is critical to verify your information. The lack of verifiable information may cost you your next job opportunity.

Written References are not very effective. If the company has moved or closed, this document becomes useless to the new potential employer. Written References are also too easy to forge therefore most companies do not use them.

My suggestions are: firstly, ask permission to use someone’s name for an employment reference. Also ask them if you could use both their business phone number and their home phone number. Secondly, contact these people at least every 3 months to make sure they are still at the phone numbers they gave you. If they have moved, it is easier to track them down in 3 months rather than 3 years. Remember to conduct an effective job search you need both a good Resume and current References that can be contacted quickly.

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Telemarketers

28 October 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

We have all been bombarded by Telemarketers calling at all times of the day. Even if we do not like these calls they continue to pour in. The reason is simple it works for these companies. If it did not work they would find other means to get to us. Heavens knows we are increasingly seeing more advertising on TV than actually programing. One day I got the crazy notion to count the number of products advertised while watching different TV programs. Would you believe there are between 9 and 12 products advertised on the average on every commercial while watching pretty much any program? One particular show had 19 products advertised in a 5-7 minute commercial. A one hour TV program will have approximately 35 to 45 minutes of programming the rest is commercials. I pay for TV entertainment and enjoyment not to be over advertised to. I got off the topic of Telemarketers so here I get back on track. Why don’t we have fun with the Telemarketers rather than dreading them or getting frustrated by them? Why don’t we ask them the questions? Maybe ask them for their full names and to spell it for starters. Ask them where they live and where they are calling from. Ask them if their company is a member of the Better Business Bureau. Maybe suggest that it would be more appropriate for you to go to their offices for a meeting. Ask them if they are a registered member of the Certified Telemarketers Association ( it does not exist ). Also ask them if they could call back between 12:00 Midnight and 4:00 am your time because your phone uses less Hydro during those times.

If you want to have more fun try impersonating the following:

1)    A Police Officer Investigating a murder.

2)    A religious person and try to convert them.

3)    A person with no memory.

4)    A person robbing the house.

5)    A Nanny or a Butler.

6)    A person going through a nervous breakdown.

7)    A woman with PMS.

8)    A favorite TV actor.

9)    A Narcotics Officer.

10)  A Fundraiser Volunteer.

11)  A Warden

12)  A person from Revenue Canada or the IRS.

13)  A Hunter.

14)  A Redneck.

15)  A Salesperson and try selling them something.

I think we should have fun with these Telemarketers rather than get frustrated. Just food for thought!!

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Resumes-Part 2

02 October 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

As a follow up to my last article, I need to say, you need to put a Resume together when you are gainfully employed. When you are the happiest in your job then you are in the best state of mind to document the events in your employment history. You are also able to brag about your achievements and contributions made to your current and past employers. It is no different than writing your Biography or Memoirs, you want it to be interesting so people will want to read it.

Most people start writing a Resume when they are unhappy in their jobs and considering changing employers. Or worst, writing a Resume starts when we are out of a job and try to marathon through an important document in record time. Ex. I quit my job today so I will do my resume tonight so I can start my job search tomorrow. This is definitely the wrong strategy in fact it is a recipe for disaster. Over the years, I have seen many employees whom knew their jobs were ending in 6-12 months yet most of them did not start a resume till after they were out of work. This scenario is still all too common today. We are  trying to write an important document, which will determine our future success in the worst frame of mind. Developing an effective Resume takes lots of time and planning, no different than preparing for a good meal, settling an insurance claim, building a house or preparing for a Divorce. If you want to win, you need to develop a good strategic plan and have an effective tool.

Please, please do not even think about having someone else write your Resume. How can a third party write about your adventures. I have seen resumes written by Mothers, Sisters, girlfriends and wifes and unfortunately it does not do the person in the Resume any justice. Don’t forget, like in court you are the one that will be in the stand answering questions so you better know every word in that resume. I have seen individuals who had perfectly written Resumes yet in the interview they could not express themselves in the same manner, so what message are you really giving a prospective employer. Or I have interviewed people and asked a question based on information volunteered in the Resume and they would ask: Is that in my resume? You are best to go through the pain of preparing your own Resume and be ready to answer any question arising from that Resume.

Bottom line is, don’t rush into writing a resume but plan it out, keep it current and keep it in a safe place then your success will be assured.

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Resumes/Passports

01 October 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Most of us have a Passport. We protect this Passport and we renew it every 5 years. It is an important document. Then why is it we do not see our Resume as an equally important document? We keep our Passport, Insurances, Wills and other important items in a safe place sometimes in our Safety Deposit Box but not our resume. Our Resume is a record of our employment, education and achievements, so why not guard it, update it and keep it safe. Our Resume is an Employment Passport.

Recently I participated in the closing of yet another Manufacturing Facility. My job was to assist employees in getting ready for their inevitable job loss and prepare them to find other employment. A number of these people had no resumes. Reasons varied from: had a computer crash and lost everything, thought this was going to be my last job, my mother lost my resume, lost my resume in the Divorce, the dog ate my resume, sold my truck and my resume was in the glove compartment, my resume disappeared or I don’t know what happened to it. Through the years I have heard about every excuse in the book including: Do you think the company would return the resume I applied with? The point is, we put a resume together, get a new job and forget about the resume till we need it again. Big Mistake.

We need to manage this important document. Here are some tips in maintaining an updated resume. First of all get a resume done or use the one they taught you to do in school. Update it and save it. I recommend saving it on your computer but maintain a hard copy with your Passport ( in a safe place ) this avoids losing it when your computer crashes or gets stolen. In your current job you will have a performance appraisal or in absence of an appraisal you will get feedback on what you do well and of course what you need to improve upon. Take the positive feedback and describe it as an achievement on your resume. Do this every time you get positive feedback then your resume is always todate. When you change jobs immediately change your resume. When you get feedback at the end of your probation period then go to your resume and update it. The same goes for courses you take, upon completion put it on your resume. If you do this religiously your resume will always be up to date and you will always know where to find it. This is so simple and effective yet very few people do it.

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Training for Grandparents

09 June 2016 Categories: Gerry's Corner

You’ve raised a family, took care of your elderly parents and maybe Grandparents and now you expect me to take courses on how to be a grandparent, what is this world coming to?

Last week while on my riding lawnmower cutting approximately 2 acres of grass not lawn but grass, I was doing my usual thinking. It is a time where I try to figure out the world and solve all its problems or more specifically try to understand and solve my own financial or personal issues. I was thinking why is it so difficult to continue being a parent and be a grandparent. I thought I had come up with the answer. Our kids don’t come to us for advice anymore therefore explaining their continuous questionable decisions which inevitably ripple back to us in the form of worry, concern and unfortunately in some cases financially. I am not insinuating that I have serious issues in my family but it is not the parenting role that I would have expected or hoped for. Of course the first conclusion you come to, is it is only with us. Where did we go wrong and how can we fix it?

The next day I read an article in MacLean’s Magazine entitled “Grandma’ll do it” and there it was, I was not just us but rather all of North American was feeling it too. The role of grandparent has totally changed and no one told us. The role is not as it was with our parents or grandparents but it is being redefined by our kids to the point that now we have to be trained. It is no longer something that you learned by living, growing up, getting experience, figuring it out and following our role models that was our elders. Now everything is put into question. Tradition and status quo is no longer. Instead of seeking advice as we did, we are expected to be on standby for whatever they may need, whenever they need it. That could mean nothing for a long time or change to a lot for long time. The big culprit is the internet. The internet has all the answers and everything is immediate which is what kids expect. The kids today regardless of age do not need their parents except when they feel they have a need. This may sound crazy but it means they do not need their parents for advice and wisdom; they need their parents to do things for them to make their personal lives better. The problem is we don’t subscribe to the same values or life styles.

Here is an excerpt from the MacLean’s article (June 13/16 issue) that explains it all: “The fact is, parents no longer see grandparents as oracles of knowledge; the internet provides ready advice for every bum rash, tantrum and night terror. Grandparents are encouraged to catch up with the research, which explains the burgeoning industry of grandparenting classes at hospitals and child learning centres- but at the same time, in an era characterized by angst-ridden child rearing and a surplus of parenting literature, parents often want to make every call themselves. The Boomers, accustomed to having things their own way, are increasingly faced with a dynamic over which they have little control. The parent-grandparent relationship has never been more complicated”

And I thought this was MY problem.

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Receivables

07 June 2016 Categories: Gerry's Corner

One of the toughest things to do in small Business is to collect receivables. It is our money, we have worked for it yet it is so difficult to ask for it when the job is done. In all the years I have been in Business I have to admit I have been very fortunate. Maybe it is because I choose my clients, maybe it is because I make my terms very clear at the outset and in writing, maybe I get to know the financial contact in Accounting or maybe I have just been lucky, for whatever reason it has not been a big issue for me however it is getting harder to get paid in a reasonable time. Big Business in particular has changed their accounting practices where they only pay suppliers in 60 days or 90 days or longer. This is my paycheck and I have to wait this long to get paid? It is ridiculous. Does anybody that works for a company wait more than 2 weeks for a paycheck? I understand the reason for these accounting practices but is it fair to treat the little guy the same way. We need our money too, to pay bills and feed the family. There should be more discretion given in paying suppliers rather than applying general rules. I’m just saying!

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