The role of a business manager is a lot like that of an orchestra conductor. Assisted by a group of professionals, they both transform complexity into harmony. While business managers usually develop their own individual styles to lead teams, these four tasks of an orchestra conductor can also be fully applied to business management.
- Build your team: unify performers
- Build you team: unify employees
- Set goals: perfect compositions for opening night
- Set goals: achieve corporate objectives
- Execute accurately: flawless interpretation
- Execute accurately: smooth operation
- Review: listen to the music carefully and observe the reaction of the audience
- Review: inspect results thoroughly and examine feedback
When in the hands of professionals, violins make a gentle silky melody while trumpets produce powerful bright tones; they possess different characteristics and should be used to express different emotions. With proper coordination, every contribution made by each member of the orchestra will weave a beautiful piece of composition that tells a vivid story to the audience. Same as in the musical world, business managers should organize and motivate their teams to guarantee outstanding business performance.
Build your team
It is critical to equip your team with the right talent that not only comes together with the skills required to achieve your objectives but is also made up of people that fit your company work culture and believe in what you do. You want to make sure everyone in the team is playing the same symphony or marching to the same beat.
What do you want to accomplish and what is your end goal? It is unrealistic to ask a violinist to play a tuba, or to ask the orchestra to finish an entire symphony in three minutes. As a business manager, your goals should be SMART- specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
For an orchestra conductor, it is a requirement to have a full understanding of the compositions, an appreciation of the sound of different instruments, and the meaning behind each single note. In order to tell the best story with the music, the conductor has to cue in instruments accurately and give indications on the volume of the music. Likewise, an important aspect of business management is to be able to tell a compelling corporate story that empowers and inspires people to work together. Effective managers know who to call on to achieve objectives on time and on budget. Since “practice makes perfect,” the ability to coach and guide team members is key.
Take a look at a conductor’s facial expression next time you have a chance. You’ll see how he/she bathes him/herself in the melody as if it is a generous feast to the ears. Similarly, a business manager will savor the outcome with the team and review every bit of it. Obtain feedback from your team members and clients; it will come in handy for your next task.
Without a doubt, both business managers and orchestra conductors demonstrate strong leadership within their own millieus. Although coordinating a team has never been easy, just remember these four steps, to help conduct your business orchestra confidently.
Click here to find out how you can find the right business manager for your “business orchestra”.
− Cherry Peng
Last night, Randstad Canada celebrated the third annual Randstad Award, an event that honors the most attractive employers in the country. Hosted at the Carlu in downtown Toronto, the evening was filled with quality networking time with some of Canada’s leading senior executives. It also provided valuable information on the importance of employer branding when attracting and retaining the best talent in Canada. Our own Jan Hein Bax hosted the event that included presentations from globally-renowned branding expert Brett Minchington and design superstar/entrepreneur Debbie Travis.
The Randstad Award is based upon the appeal of the selected company as a potential employer. To determine this, we sent out a survey to 7,000 Canadian respondents between the ages of 18 and 65 who were asked to identify the companies they would most prefer working for. They were then asked to evaluate the relative attractiveness of each of the selected companies based on 10 key factors:
Good training opportunities
Long-term job security
Opportunities for career advancement
Interesting job content
A pleasant and stimulating working environment
Competitive salaries and employee benefits
A good work-life balance
Progressive policies concerning the environment and society (CSR)
Based on these factors, WestJet was named as this year’s Randstad Award winner – voted the most attractive employer in Canada for the 2nd year in a row.
Congratulations to the top 5 Randstad Award recipients:
2. Transat A.T. Inc. (Air Transat)
3. IBM Canada Inc.
4. Bombardier Inc.
5. Pratt and Whitney Canada International Inc.
To view the complete list of finalists and for further information on the breakdown of the award, please visit randstadaward.ca
We live in a digital world. Many organizations are embracing the technological changes of a digital world in their organizational procedures, including their hiring processes. Some have included and/or have switched to online job application processes such as accepting resumes online. Social media has also become prominent in the online job application process.
It is increasingly common for hiring managers to view your online profiles – like LinkedIn – to learn about your job experience or to get an idea of the “real” you before making an effort to contact you.
With that said, here are some useful tips to help you make the most of your online presence to assist you in finding a job via the online job application process.
Analyze Your Online Presence
First and foremost, start by Googling yourself. Check and see if anyone shares your name. If there’s a chance the hiring manager could mistake them for you then it could harm your job search. If this is an unfortunate reality for you, consistently update information about yourself across the web and your profiles. By doing this, search results for your name should display what you want without any harmful mix-ups.
Now it’s time to clean-up your social media presence. Optimize your profiles with proper keywords to assist with search engine results. Also, include contact information, educational background, and of course, work experience. Next, ensure any inappropriate content is removed; embarrassing photos, videos, or offensive language. This can be a time consuming task, but once completed it will help improve your online job application results and the chances of being found online by potential employers.
Preparing Your E-Documents
Even electronically, a resume is essential in the online job application process. It should be succinct, and demonstrate how your skills and knowledge fit the job description. If you are a young graduate, you may choose to list all of your experience since it may be limited. Just be sure to relate it to the job description somehow.
After finishing your “fancy” resume, create a second version that has very minimal formatting. This will be your digital resume. It has become common practice for HR staff to only accept electronic resumes. Many of these resume programs do not keep all your fonts and formatting; some don’t even keep bullet lists! Try uploading your original resume first. If you’re lucky, it will accept your resume’s formatting. If it doesn’t, create a “basic” format-free copy from your original.
Hiring managers have also started using software tools to help remove unsatisfactory resumes. By analyzing keywords found in job descriptions and comparing them with uploaded resumes, the software can detect any matches. This is why it’s so important to include words found in the skills section and job descriptions, not just one or two, but all of them! If your resume is not optimized correctly it could be discarded before someone even looks at it. Once you pass the initial screening, the best case scenario is getting called in for an interview. If you do get called in, bring a few copies of your “fancy” resume just in case.
The next thing to think about is your cover letter. It will determine the employer’s first impression of you so make it more personal and descriptive than your resume. Show your passion and interest in the job, why you are a good match, and what you can offer to the company. The hiring manager already has your resume so avoid repeating yourself. Instead, elaborate more on your accomplishments and give examples of how you benefitted past employers. Always double check your cover letters when uploading them online as their formatting can be altered.
Remember, each job is different, so make sure you customize your resumes and cover letters for each job application.
Create an Online Portfolio
Having your own personal website or portfolio is a great way to show hard evidence of your talents and accomplishments. Your website should include a section with your work experience on it – similar to a resume. It should also include a link to your portfolio section that showcases your work; websites, advertisements, graphic designs, etc. Also, don’t forget to provide contact information so hiring managers can reach you.
Research some background information about the company. If you know the name of the interviewer, look them up on LinkedIn. Study any current news about your field that you could mention in the interview; the hiring manager will be impressed that you have a keen interest in the job. In addition, don’t forget your interview basics like dressing professionally, asking good questions, and preparing your answers to interview questions beforehand. Before you leave, ask for their contact information and when they are expecting to call back candidates. Finally, email the hiring manager within 24 hours thanking them for the opportunity.
The online job application process can be a lengthy undertaking but if you remember these tips, you should have no problem getting noticed. When you’re finished updating your online presence, visit our website and browse through our online job boards.
By Daniel Ecclestone
Providing competitive benefits packages and financial incentives are great ways to attract employees, but financial compensation can only go so far. To retain your employees you are going to have to create a positive working environment. Here are six tips to help you retain employees by being the best boss you can be.
1.Don’t be an absentee boss
As important as it is to give your employees space, it is equally important to make sure that they are feeling challenged and productive. Follow up with them at least once a day to see how they are doing. This is a good way to ensure they have enough on their plate and to see if they have any questions. If they feel like you are never around they are going to start feeling neglected which can lead them to the wanted ads.
2.Give them work
As obvious as it sounds, make sure you give them work to do. If you feel like your employees can take on more, chances are they can. Don’t overwhelm them with projects just make sure they have enough to keep them busy. All jobs will have their expected lulls but ensuring that your employees have a few projects on the go will keep them from losing interest in their job. The only thing worse than being too busy at work is not being busy at all.
3.Let them be your boss (by encouraging feedback)
Comments, suggestions or complaints should not be left for the HR department. Encouraging your employees to give you feedback is another way that can help create a positive work environment. It is important that your employee feels like they can talk with you about any issue that affects the workplace. Keeping an open dialogue with your employees will help earn their trust which will make them feel more secure and content in their job.
4.Mind your P’s and Q’s
Your mother was right; manners DO go a long way. How you present yourself to your employees will affect how they feel about you and the company. Use please and thank you with every encounter you make. People respond to good manners and will work harder and faster for you if they are being asked courteously to do something. This is also true for bad manners. If you bark orders at your employees or send them blunt, rude emails they will feel less valued and unappreciated, and making sure there is value put to a person and their position will not only help retain your employees but it will ensure that they are giving their all when it comes to their work.
5.How flexible can you be?
It is also important to realize that your employees may have needs that require their hours to be a bit more lenient. Allowing flexible hours outside of the rigid 9-5 can help. Say you have an expectant mother or a single father. Allowing them to work alternative hours or from home is a way to reduce their stress and lighten their loads a bit. Creating arrangements like this will make your employees grateful for having such an accommodating boss.
6.Be their biggest fan
Encourage your employees to take ownership of tasks or to take on projects outside of their role. This will help them further develop their skills and expand their resumes. It is also important to give them credit where it is due. Even if it is just a shout-out to them in a meeting they will see that their efforts are appreciated which will motivate them to take on more responsibilities. Forgetting to praise an employee or not calling them out on their hard work can cause resentment which can lead to a disgruntled employee.
By Alexandra Levey
Prime minister Stephen Harper is reportedly eager to tackle the ongoing crisis of skills mismatch in Canada. Taking measures to improve education and training programs could be the key to unlocking potential in jobseekers and enhancing the employment market.
Statistics Canada data shows that unemployment remained stubbornly high at seven per cent in February, but it seems that it is not a lack of opportunities that is responsible. Businesses are apparently eager to expand their workforce, but are unable to find suitable candidates.
Over $2 billion in government funds have been allocated to provinces with the aim of expanding unemployed residents' skill sets, but the results have not been significant, and the prime minister may be seeking alternative methods.
An alleged Conservative insider told CBC News: "[Harper is] frustrated. We're spending all that money and not seeing the matching result at the end. We’re hearing about it from business leaders across the country."
The CD Howe Institute has already highlighted the need for better training programs in the country, claiming that helping jobseekers to gain new skills required by employers in the nation is "the best way to further support the Canadian labor market".
Official figures show that 13.6 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds are out of work, so prioritising aid for young jobseekers could be key to ensuring improvements in the current market and in the long term.
The not-for-profit organization believes that redirecting some of this generation from higher education and into alternative, vocational pathways through the provision of additional information and guidance could help to combat the difficulties faced by a number of employers.
The Conservative politician reflected this same sentiment, saying that "there’s a general feeling there are too many kids getting BAs and not enough welders". Mr Harper may therefore look at ways to promote alternative, and perhaps more suitable, courses to youngsters.
Targeting health care, skilled construction and ICT skills should be top of the list, as CBC News claims that these sectors are being impacted most significantly by skills mismatch.
Posted by Kate Griffin
In June 2012, Randstad Canada invited women from Canada’s leading businesses to discuss the realities of women advancing into managerial and executive roles. Topics discussed included how far women have come in the workplace, challenges and opportunities still to come, and how women can become an even greater part of Canadian businesses.
Challenges and Obstacles
According to the majority of participants, balancing work and family is the biggest challenge for them to overcome in their career. Most participants were working long hours and were still expected to carry much of the family responsibilities at home. Other challenges and obstacles mentioned included outdated perceptions of women in managerial and executive roles, the lack of career opportunities, and the lack of female mentoring.
Balancing Work, Family, and Personal Obligations
Since balancing family and work life were seen as the biggest obstacles, it’s important to understand exactly what it means. Women in the workplace, and especially those in managerial and executive positions, must carefully plan when or if to raise a family. Although such decisions affect the careers of both men and women, it usually has a greater effect on women’s careers. Since managerial or executive role usually involve busy and demanding work schedules, this often makes balancing family and personal life a difficult endeavor. The good news is that a majority of women have been able to juggle their career, family, and personal obligations successfully.
Sources of Inspiration and Support
Obtaining a managerial or executive position within an organization can be a long and arduous journey. In order to stay on the right path, women often find different sources of inspiration and support to help mould them into high-ranking positions. Such women often find that personal goals or passions are their biggest source of inspiration. Other factors include a desire to be self sufficient, financial security, and an interest in obtaining managerial or executive experience. Overall, it seems that women in managerial/executive positions are more motivated by an internal desire to succeed, and are influenced less by external factors.
Equality opportunity in Canada has come a long way, but still has further to go. Regarding salaries, a large majority of women felt there were either moderate or large differences between what earned compared to what women earned in similar roles. There is a perception of a similar gap when it comes to promotional opportunities. A large majority felt there was a moderate to large difference in opportunities for women compared to men; while the rest felt there was a small or even no difference in opportunities. A majority of women also felt that men were given more important decision making opportunities, more frequently given the best jobs, tasks, and projects, and also given more travel opportunities.
Changes Supporting Women in the Workplace
Apparently there is still work to be done to provide equal opportunities for women in managerial and executive roles. But significant changes have been made. There are now more women business leaders in Canada than ever before. Other changes include better work-life balance, more flexible working arrangements, and more career opportunities in general.
Another option an organization can provide is mentoring or sponsorship. The idea is to provide a junior member with constant guidance throughout many functions of their job. By doing so, the employee being mentored can learn how to outperform expectations and manage internal politics and policies. Unfortunately, a large majority of women said that their organizations have not provided them with a mentor/sponsor to guide them throughout their career. However, it seems that younger women (between the ages of 18 – 34) have been given more of an opportunity to have a mentor or sponsor than of those aged 35 – 55. This suggests that the concept of mentorship is slowly becoming a more viable option for women entering the workplace.
While progress continues to be made, there are obstacles that must be addressed to allow for an equal representation of women in the senior ranks of Canadian businesses. However, there are many opportunities for Canadian organizations to promote women leaders to do very well in today’s business environment.
To view our full report, click HERE and download the pdf onto your computer.
What you can and should expect from a recruiting firm.
In today’s hectic business climate, organizations devote a lot of time and resources to getting value for dollar. What, they ask, is the best way to focus on core business objectives without getting entangled in peripheral, time-consuming matters?
Some organizations decide to outsource essential services that are not at the core of their business, such as recruitment and hiring. Using the services of professional employment agencies may not only save money, it may also optimize your company’s chances to make the right hiring decisions. After all, your staff, your “human assets” are the source of your company’s greatest competitive strengths.
So how do you choose?
Much like buying a new pair of jeans, proper “fit” is essential. A top-rated recruiting firm will understand your business, your culture, and your competitors. They will have access to top-rated candidates in your field and will develop a real recruitment and on-boarding process that is clearly defined and respects both your company’s time and need for results.
What can you expect?
Substandard recruiting will simply ask you to provide job descriptions and salary ranges, and then pester you to interview the candidates they put forward. Or, they may take an even easier route and just match some key words and email you a lot of resumes. If you have specific questions about these candidates and their expertise, these firms will rarely know enough about them to respond honestly.
A top level firm will invest the time to find ideal candidates. They will be able to excite and motivate the best candidates and screen out the ones that aren’t a good fit. And additionally, they will serve as a good “brand ambassador” for your company. Keep in mind, candidates will associate the recruitment process with your company, as much as with the recruitment firm you’ve chosen so at the very least, you want the employment agency’s reputation to equal yours.
What should you demand?
A top rated recruiter will understand your organization and its requirements well enough to identify the “perfect” candidates and understand why they would want the job. They will conduct all necessary due diligence and truly understand the candidates they put forward and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
Once you find a recruiter that truly commits to you and does those things, you are more than half way there. Your relationship with your recruiting firm is truly a partnership and will require your full participation. For those that commit, you will get truly great employees who really “fit in” and it will be an efficient, cost-effective, and enjoyable process for everyone involved.
By Chris Welsh
Importance of Work-Life Balance – Fact or Fiction?
Most of us are working longer hours than ever before. Thanks in part to the introduction of the smart phone, Wi-Fi and increasingly portable computer technology, the boundaries between "personal time" and "work time" are becoming blurred. Is this becoming a problem? It depends on who you ask. Some of us obviously "live to work" and others see our careers as but one part of our busy lives.
Randstad’s own data demonstrates that almost half of Canadians surveyed want a better work-life balance.
According to a recent survey, close to two thirds of Canadians are working more than 45 hours a week – 50 percent more than 20 years ago.
However an article on the Harvard Business Review blog asks readers to "embrace work-life imbalance."
The article states, "Overworking is really only possible if you are not having fun at work. By the same token, any amount of work will be dull if you are not engaged, or if you find your work unfulfilling." Technology, the blog post notes, "…hasn’t ruined your work-life balance, it has simply exposed how boring your work and your life used to be." Others however, disagree, and point to factors including increased stress, burn-out, and physical and mental illnesses.
Employees with young children often feel the brunt of competing work and family demands. More than 25 percent of survey respondents had no children, having made the decision to put their careers first. Participants without children were much younger than the survey average, which according to one of the survey’s authors, Professor Linda Duxbury of Carleton University, was "a way to satisfy work demands."
Mental health issues are also part of the equation, both in the workplace and in society as a whole. According to a recent Ipsos Reid poll, 20 percent of Canadian workers are experiencing depression. Further clarification comes from a study released in 2011 by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
The Standard suggests that in order for workplaces to be psychologically safe, "self-esteem needs" must be met and workers need to "…feel rewarded in terms of praise, recognition and acknowledgment of and credit for their contributions." The Standard also suggests that psychological health is compromised in workplaces "…where work is distributed inequitably."
So how do you feel about work-life balance? I can share my thoughts after I go pick up my kids!
By Mark Klein
Employee productivity is an important concern for employers because it affects profit levels and staff retention rates. However, it is ultimately a reflection of an organization’s culture and ability to motivate staff. An engaged employee understands and commits to a company and its goals. Engaged employees are intrinsically motivated by an organization’s culture, environment, and people, to be efficient and produce quality work. These five methods, when used properly, can help to increase employee productivity and create engaged employees.
1. Hold employees accountable for their work
Employees with clear descriptions of their tasks and who are aware of their deadlines will reduce the amount of time they would otherwise spend on inconsequential tasks. Employers need to set regular performance reviews with the employees in order to hold them accountable for their tasks, measure their progress, and address any questions or concerns they have. This is also the appropriate time to explain how their work ties into company goals and how it affects the big picture. This encourages employees to be actively engaged with the company.
2. Recognize and reward
Recognizing and rewarding the efforts of employees motivates them to continue delivering exceptional work. Being recognized provides employees with personal satisfaction in their work, while rewards provide an additional incentive to reach and exceed their goals. Of course, deciding the best method to motivate employees depends on the employees themselves and the approach they would appreciate more.
3. Create a positive environment
The workplace environment is definitely important in contributing to employee productivity. Creating a positive and open environment encourages employees to proactively seek help when needed. This helps to establish an organizational culture that also encourages communication and camaraderie between employees. This can be done through periodic social activities, or even through collective volunteering efforts within the community.
4. Provide opportunities for growth and learning
It is important to offer courses and/or seminars that will add to the employee’s knowledge. This encourages new ideas, but also shows that the employer is willing to invest in the employee.
5. Provide the most optimal work environment
Nothing discourages employee productivity more than slow or outdated technology. Make sure that employees have updated equipment to use, or ideally, equipment that could improve productivity levels. For example, having wireless headsets available for frequent callers is better than having employees with neck tension caused by having receivers pressed up to their ears.
As the cliché goes, a happy employee is a productive employee. Employees who are happier are more likely to derive personal satisfaction from their jobs and take an active pursuit in meeting the company’s goals.
By Erica Tin
You see their faces all the time, in television ads, newspapers, and commercials. You may have judged their personalities, passions, and interests based on their events and work choices. Now, you wonder, how did their brand identities become so prominent in your mind?
How did these celebrities become well-known for what they’re well-known for? They developed a personal brand and leveraged it to their advantage in a business capacity. Having a personal brand reflects who you are as a person, how you perceive yourself, and how others perceive you. It is composed of both personal and professional skills and qualities that differentiate you from others.
With these personal branding tips, you can create your own personal brand to use to your advantage.
1. Understand your attributes
Start with understanding yourself. Celebrities don’t achieve success without realizing what they do well, and what qualities they can use to represent themselves. If you don’t know what your attributes are, it is difficult to convince others to buy into your brand.
You need to know what your passions are and where your strengths lie. This can be done through a 360 degree assessment, where you ask your friends, colleagues, family members, etc. about what they believe your strengths and weaknesses are. You must then decide what you can offer others, based on these strengths and passions. What personal characteristics do you have that will aid this process? This forms the basis of your personal brand.
2. Constantly update and interact
In order to maintain their fans’ interest, celebrities attend interviews, signings, and events when they can. They also interact with fans through social media. This way, their brand stays current in the mind of the audience. You can do this too by leaving comments on blog pieces you find interesting and interacting with industry leaders on social media.
To help establish credibility, use social media to constantly update blog posts you created and relevant news articles you want to share. You should also regularly attend networking events, where you can engage and interact face-to-face with potential hiring managers or successful business people.
3. Become recognized for what your brand stands for
Celebrities with strong personal brands become highly sought after for what their brand represents. For example, having an athletic identity may allow them to endorse sport shoes, clothes, or drinks. Or being known as an environmental activist will see them invited to charity events for environmental causes.
You can position yourself as an expert in what your brand stands for, and get job offers or speaking opportunities from people looking specifically for what you have to offer. But this only comes from constantly updating your online presence and interacting with your audience.
4. Tailor your brand to the audience
Just as celebrities may branch out and try out different types of work, different qualities of their personal brand must be emphasized to appeal to different audiences. While creative skills may be helpful in being seen as a fashion designer, this quality may not be helpful to an aspiring actor. Likewise, if you are changing industries or trying out different kinds of opportunities, you will need to highlight certain skills or qualities in your job search. Make sure to update your brand to reflect your current experiences.
Finally, it is important to note that what makes this strategy successful is carrying over your personal characteristics into a business role. It requires consistent management, but comes with undeniable rewards.
By Erica Tin