Strategies to Overcoming Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

Unconscious bias is hitting the news. From Bay Street to Main Street to Starbucks the impact of unspoken bias is real and harmful to the workplace. Bias stands in the way of making correct decisions in hiring and promoting. It also has a vital impact on your staff and the workplace in general. Let’s explore how we can become aware of our own bias and stop it in the workplace?

 

First, let’s define it. “Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. (ECU: 2013 Unconscious bias in higher education) 

 

We all have a bias. The question is, do we identify it and then what do we do about it? In addressing one of the most crucial training issues facing the workplace today, unconscious bias, employers can assist in creating an inclusive, civil and respectful workplace. 

 

Research indicates that unconscious biases are prejudices we have, yet are uninformed of. They are “mental shortcuts based on social norms and stereotypes.” (Guynn, 2015). Biases can be based on skin colour, gender, age, height, weight, introversion versus extroversion, marital and parental status, disability status (for example, the use of a wheelchair or a cane), foreign accents, where someone went to college, and more (Wilkie, 2014). If you can name it, there is probably an unconscious bias for it.

 

Hence if we think we are unbiased, we may have unconscious adverse thoughts about people who are outside our own group. If we spend more time with people from other groups, we are less likely to feel prejudice against them.

 

This universal tendency toward unconscious bias exists because bias is rooted in our brain. Research shows that our brain has evolved to mentally put things together to make sense to us. The brain sorts all the information it is blasted with and labels that information with universal descriptions that it may rapidly access. When we categorize these labels as either good or bad, we tend to apply the rationale to the whole group. Many of the conclusions are taken from previous experiences and learnings.  

In an article, “The Real Effects of Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, a few of the known unconscious biases that directly impact the workplace include:

  • Affinity bias is the tendency to warm up to people like ourselves.
  • Halo effect is the tendency to think everything about a person is good because you like that person.
  • Perception bias which is the inclination to form stereotypes and assumptions about specific groups that make it awkward to make an objective judgement about members of those groups. 
  • Confirmation bias is the openness for us to pursue evidence that sanctions our pre-existing beliefs or experiences. 
  • Group think is a bias which occurs when people attempt to fit into a specific crowd by mirroring others or holding back opinions and views. This results in individuals losing part of their characteristics and causes workplaces to miss out on originality and creativity.

Horace McCormick’s research found more than 150 identified unconscious biases, making the task of rooting them out and addressing them daunting. For many organizations, however, identifying as many as possible and eliminating them has become a high priority.  

 

You can address discrimination issues by increasing your awareness of your unconscious biases, and by developing strategies that make the most of the talents and abilities of your team members. 

Unconscious behaviour is not just individual; it influences organizational culture as well. This explains why so often our best attempts at creating corporate culture change with diversity efforts seem to fall frustratingly short; to not deliver on the promise they intended.

 

What you can do: 

  • Be aware consciously of your bias 
  • Focus more on the people, on their strengths
  • Increase Exposure to Biases
  • Make small changes 
  • Be pragmatic 
  • Challenge stereotypes and counter-stereotypical information 
  • Use context to explain a situation 
  • Change your perception and relationship with out-group members 
  • Be an active bystander 
  • Improve processes, policies & procedures  

Also, managers can play a crucial role in unearthing these hidden biases by declaring their intentions to be non-biased. They can also provide transparent performance appraisals that emphasis on the employee’s exceptional abilities and skills, and grow a stronger mindfulness of their own unconscious principles.

 

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Dealing with Escalated Situations in Your Workplace

Resolving workplace conflict is an expected part of the job managers and Human Resource Practitioners. Whether you work in education, healthcare, human services, business, or any field, you might deal with angry, hostile, or noncompliant behaviour every day. Your response to the defensive reaction is often the key to avoiding a physical confrontation with someone who has lost control of their behaviour.

These ten De-Escalation Tips will help you respond to challenging behaviour in the safest, most efficient way possible.

  1. Be empathetic and non-judgmental
  2. Respect personal space
  3. Use non-threatening nonverbal communication
  4. Avoid overacting
  5. Focus on feelings
  6. Ignore challenging questions
  7. Set limits
  8. Choose wisely what you insist upon
  9. Allow silence for reflection
  10. Allow time for decisions

 

 To help you towards more efficient conflict de-escalation and resolution, the following basic steps can be followed:

  • Obtain the name of the person with whom you are speaking: People respond favourably to their own name. It also makes the conversation more personal. Ask for the person’s name early in the piece and use it throughout the discussion.
  • Use Active Listening: Clarifying, paraphrasing and using open-ended questions ensure that the individual you are speaking with knows you are aware of their situation and frustrations. Resaying a person’s own words back to them demonstrates that you have understood entirely what they were trying to say.       
  • Show support and suspend judgement: Empathy needs to be shown during conflict situations. Respecting the other person’s point of view even if you do not agree entirely will be the first step to resolving the conflict. 
  • Get them to agree and say yes: Having the person agree with you on general factual points leads the conversation towards a more favourable outcome. If you can show that you have understood their point of view by making clarifying statements you generate a state where the other person must reply with an affirmative response. The sooner you can get the person to say yes then sooner the conflict will de-escalate. It always works.
  • Avoid clichés: The worst of these being “Calm Down”. Did you ever notice how people who tell you to calm down are the ones who got you mad in the first place? Saying those words during a verbal conflict usually gets the classic retort “I AM CALM” very loudly usually with an animated hand gestures as well.       
  • Show empathy: You need to show compassion and understanding and give the conflict your full attention. Do not make impulsive decisions. Take the time to work through the problem.
  • Consistency in Courtesy: The person you are dealing with first thing in the morning deserves the same level of respect, civility and patience as the individual you are dealing with at 2 in the afternoon. They warrant the same high level of service and professionalism as the first person you spoke to. You need to maintain that position of positive brand ambassador and an excellent professional service.

There are many physical aspects of being mindful of in conflict situations. It is important always to be aware of features of conflict such as your body language, your emotions, your judgement, and your initial thoughts. Keeping these in mind is essential when trying to de-escalate a problematic situation.

Monika B. Jensen is the principal of the Aviary Group, consulting company that address workplace discord.  For more information, visit www.aviarygroup.ca

 

 

 

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Private Security Trends and the Need for more Trained Private Security Resources

The Canadian Occupation Projection System (COPS) predicts that by 2018, there will be a significant shortage of Private Investigation and Private Security professionals for the projected number of job openings in Canada.

 

This is due to a large number of impending retirements and the increasing demand for trained professionals in the Private Investigation and Security field. The current security climate in Canada, the privatization of public security functions and the gaps in accessible knowledge and streamlined training in the private security field, including the gaps between private and public security, are all indications that there is an imminent and urgent need to provide professional and comprehensive private investigative and security services to Canadians. This not only increases individual safety and security within municipalities but also ensure the Canada as a whole maintains its credibility and reputation as one of the safest Countries in the World.

 

In 2002, the Law Reform Commission of Canada opened a dialogue on the trend in the growth of private security in Canada. A continued rise in law enforcement expenditures, combined with economic downturns, have contributed to pressure being placed on police services around the world to become more effective and efficient. This has resulted in a growing trend of privatizing some functions traditionally performed by public policing to the private security industry as well as the growing cooperative efforts between public and private security. Private security plays an increasingly important role in community safety and addressing issues of crime and social disorder.

 

It is often assumed that privatizing and outsourcing traditional law enforcement tasks will result in reductions in the numbers of sworn police officers. This is very far from the truth, on the contrary, public and private security collaboration may in fact result in innovative initiatives that previously did not exist, and with the growing need for security actions in communities, may in fact provide law enforcement with extra resources and partners to undertake more actions without being overworked and understaffed while utilizing various community expertise.

 

There is a growing need for more security trained private resources and more collaboration between all security facets in Canada.  In Ontario, Private Investigators as well as Security Guards are licenced and regulated by the Ministry Of Correctional Services and Community Safety.

 

Anyone that acts in these rolls must have a licence. To obtain a licence, you must meet some requirements, one of them is completion of a Ministry-approved course provided by a registered provider such as Focus Investigations. A minimum 50 hour course for Private Investigator and a 40 hour course for Security Guards is mandatory.

 

These courses can be completed online making it easy for students to complete at the curriculum at their own pace. The process is as follows:

 

1. Complete Ministry training course and receive a “Completion Number”

 

2. Book a written exam at a SERCO Canada location that provides these tests. 

 

3. Upon successful completion of the exam, a candidate may now apply to the Ministry for their license. 

* For Security Guards, Emergency level first aid training is also required.

 

More information can be found on the licensing and industry here:

https://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/PSIS/FAQs/FAQs-Licences/PSIS_faqs_licences.html

 

Additional training that is useful for security professionals as well as anyone working in a security related field such as:

 

Notetaking:

 

Knowing how to take notes is important for the following reasons:

 

  • Notes are referenced for several reasons and potentially by several people.
  • Supervisors might want a rundown of the events you encountered the night before, clients may want to know about incidents that affected their businesses, and law enforcement may need these notes to help with an investigation which could conclude in a court case in which the notes will be used to prove or disprove an allegation.
  • It is vital that security personnel know how to take proper notes so that the facts are covered and there is no confusion that renders the reports useless.

 

Crisis Intervention

 

A crisis occurs when someone loses control over their behaviour. These moments are often preceded by warning signs that tells you someone’s behaviour is starting to escalate.  Security officials and any employee having to interact with the public may be faced with a situation where they are called upon to defuse a situation. By following the tips in a crisis intervention course, they often prevent a situation from becoming critical and dangerous and they are prepared and confident in any crisis they may face.

 

 For more information or to enrol in one of these courses, visit us at http://www.focusinvestigation.net

 

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Managing Gossip in Your Workplace

By: Monika B. Jensen

Gossip is widespread in the workplace. At times, it appears as if employees have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. They chat about their organization, their coworkers, and their bosses. They often take a half truth and flip it into an entire hypothetical reality. Speculating on the team’s future, who will let go, who is seeing who and what employees are doing in their personal lives.
Employees are capable about gossiping about everything, and they do in a workplace that fails to bring about a stop to the chatting employees.

A certain amount of gossip is likely to occur in any place of work; employees are curious to know what is going on and like to chat about work matters. The essential point is to determine when the gossip is inappropriate. In which case, if it is not addressed, it may lead to low employee morale or a toxic work environment.

As a manager, the need to stop the gossiping occurs when it becomes disrupting to the workplace and the business of work, it is hurting employees’ feelings, it is damaging interpersonal relationships, or injuring employee motivation and morale.
Since research shows that gossip is disruptive in the workplace, what can we do to address it? Let us look at a few different approaches as a team and as an individual to addressing gossiping in the workplace.

When you deal with gossip as a team considers putting a ban on gossiping. Some workplaces have adopted an official ban on workplace gossip by having employees sign a pledge. Although extreme it may be effective. To discourage gossiping encourage employees to speak to each other about issues that are causing them problems before they bring it to their supervisors or other parties’ attention.

In the age of social media, it becomes easier to spread rumours and gossip about others. This can cause tremendous harm to the culture of the workplace. Organizations, today need to deal with social media and keep an eye on emails, personal blogs and Facebook discussions among employees. Finally confront rumours promptly. Providing factual information about layoffs, problematic situations or surplus of employees serve them better than to leave them speculating on their own. It is important to discuss the impact that gossip may have in the workplace. Talking openly the differences between active communication and gossip. In today’s workplace, verbal harassment has legal ramifications. Employers have a duty to take action against verbal harassment when they become aware of it.

So in dealing with gossip as an individual, always share information.

Be generous with the non-confidential material. This has proven to put a check on the gossip mill. Interestingly closed doors can set off alarms even if the intent is innocent.

Let people know that you may be interrupted at any time unless in a private meeting. Be sensitive about appearances.

Often rumours and gossip form around cliques in the workplace. Try to avoid forming groups and reach out to new people to keep the loop open. If all else fails, walk away. Gossip loses its momentum when there is no audience.

Find a way to tactfully suggest a more efficient channel for complaining or remove yourself from the discussion. If you start to focus on the positive qualities of your colleagues, you will automatically have nice things to say about each other.

Workplaces that have the highest levels of gossip seem to be the ones where employees are not engaging in work duties. Stay busy. If your day is full of tasks which you find thought-provoking and rewarding you will be less likely to get distracted by trivial activities.

We spend long hours at our job, make a point of cultivating relationships and activities outside your workplace. Having strong relationships outside the office provides sources of emotional support and objective advice often.

Unfortunately lurking at the extreme end of the gossip spectrum is workplace bullying. What may seem harmless rumors to some, may amount to intimidation and harassment for the targeted employees. Complications of physical and meth health issues arise and need to be addressed in the proper forum.

Finally become a role model. Do not indulge in any gossip yourself. Become a leader in this area. Do not feel the need to chat to feel connected, liked or to be informed about your team. Taking a stand to prevent random gossiping creates a better workplace for everyone.

Monika B. Jensen

Principal, Aviary Group

905-683-9953

mjensen@aviarygroup.ca

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The Five Key Facets of High Performance Leadership

 

High Performance Leadership (HPL) is in great demand. Are you ready to become a high performing leader?
Many people in leadership positions struggle with understanding what makes a good or even great leader. While billions of dollars are spent annually on leadership development, high performance leadership is still in short supply.

Organizations have responded to the demand for high performance leadership with a steady stream of education and training resources, which seem to be plentiful, (for example, at the time of writing, Amazon.com had over 9,000 references on leadership), yet most attempts at building high performance leadership are either far too complex or too simplistic to be of any practical use to leaders who need to make things happen. So what does work?

High Performance Leadership

While successful organizations focus on three imperatives: aligning strategy & people; developing world class leaders; and building world class teams, when we look at what successful leaders personally do to succeed, we find that they concentrate on building their capacity around what we call the five key facets of high performance leadership , using the acronym FACET:

Focus – Authenticity – Courage – Empathy – Timing

Focus

Effective leaders stay focused on the outcomes they wish to create, and don\’t get too married to the methods used to achieve them. They provide this \’outcomes focus\’ for their organization by emphasizing the mission, vision, values and strategic goals of their organization and at the same time building the capacity of their organizations to achieve them.

This capacity building emphasizes the need to be flexible, creative and innovative and avoid becoming fossilized through the adoption of bureaucratic structures, policies and processes. It also means letting go of lines of business, products and programs that don\’t support the focus.

Authenticity

Leaders who are authentic attract followers, even leaders who are viewed as being highly driven and often difficult to work with day in and day out. Simply put, they are viewed as always being themselves and therefore followers know what to expect from them and can rely on them, in good times and bad. They know themselves intimately, and they understand the effect they have on others.

Authenticity provides the leader with the currency to obtain \’buy-in\’ from key stakeholders, because authenticity builds and maintains trust. Authenticity is the bedrock upon which the other four facets are built.

Courage

The challenges facing leaders today are immense, and require great courage to overcome. Leaders are constantly being challenged by others, be it their own team, customers, the public or stakeholders. Standing firm in the face of criticism, yet having the courage to admit when they are wrong, are hallmarks of courageous leaders.

They have the courage to face reality and lead change in order to achieve whatever they are focused upon. Courageous leaders know when to let go and let others take the initiative, which entails…

Empathy

Effective leaders know how to listen empathetically, thus legitimizing others\’ input. By doing so, they promote consensus building, and build strong teams. They coach others to do the same, and so create a culture of inclusiveness and collaboration. They tend to be great listeners who capitalize on the ideas of others, and provide recognition for these ideas, yet they don\’t get bogged down in overly complicated dialogue. They never let themselves get caught in endless dialogue, because they are continuously refocusing.

While they create learning organizations that place a high value on dialogue and continuous feedback, they know when to make decisions and take action, which brings us on to the fifth facet…

Timing

The one facet that can make or break a leader is in knowing when to make, and not make, critical decisions. All of the other facets must be viewed as subservient to getting the timing of critical decisions and actions right. There is a need to be focused, authentic, courageous and empathetic, but get the timing wrong on critical decisions and everything else will fall apart.

Great leaders move with appropriate speed. They don\’t believe that everything must be done immediately…they know how to prioritize, and how to get their team to prioritize. As well, they engage in timely follow-through to ensure actions that are committed to happen in a well coordinated and timely way.

Is it that simple?

Is that all it takes to be a great leader? These facets of high performance leadership are not exhaustive. Just as one would look at the facets of a diamond, upon closer observation other qualities become observable.

Any person can aspire to being a great leader by embracing these five key facets. To get started, if you are in a leadership role, regardless of your position in your organization, start by asking yourself the following key questions:

Key Questions

1. How focused am I? How much of my time do I spend communicating and inspiring people about our mission, vision and strategic goals? How much focus do I create in my organization? How married am I/my organization to methods that have outlived their usefulness?

2. Am I viewed as authentic? Do people see and hear the real me? Do I wear a mask at work, and remove it when I leave each evening?

3. How courageous am I?  When my values, vision and goals are challenged do I buckle? Do I stand firm and only change my position when I know that I am wrong?

4. How empathetic am I? Too much/too little? Do I create enough opportunities for open and candid dialogue? Do I ever find myself getting bogged down in consensus building, or leading my team to false consensus? Is there a feeling of inclusiveness, collaboration and engagement amongst the members of my organization, and with other stakeholders, including customers?

5. Do I make and execute decisions in a timely fashion? Do I demand well coordinated and timely execution of strategy from others?

What can you do to create a high-performance leadership culture? Asking these questions in a candid way will open up many possibilities for you, your organization or your clients…if you have the courage to do it. Building and sustaining a high-performance leadership culture takes time, patience and a clear focus on the vital few characteristics that leaders can develop naturally and authentically.

Listening to what people expect from you as a leader, and then responding empathically, in a timely fashion, will move you dramatically towards mastering these five key facets of high performance leadership.

Above all, you need to TAKE ACTION.

About the Author

Brian Ward is CEO of Affinity Consulting and Training, an independent consulting and training organization based in Edmonton, Alberta. He is also the founder of www.Management4M.com, an online training resource for new and first-time supervisors and managers.

 

 

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Effective Leadership: more than a title, it is a way of being!

It’s the age-old question, what makes a good leader?  I think we have all experienced both good leadership and poor leadership.  I have asked and been asked this question many times over the years in conversation, in workshops, in coaching and here’s what I’ve discovered.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a leader in an organization, whether you are leading a team or a leader in a community, it all comes down to a few key attributes; being a good communicator, being approachable, supportive, versatile and being accountable.

So let’s start with communication.  When it’s all said and done, being effective at keeping your team in the loop, facilitating two-way conversations, being a good listener, asking questions and taking a genuine interest in your team members are absolutely key to strong leadership.  Even when a leader needs to have a crucial conversation, lending an ear to listen, being open, showing you care and demonstrating interest, will not only promote more two-way dialogue, you will gain their trust and confidence.

Being approachable is always at the top of the list when I ask others what makes a good leader.  Many commented that a manager who is approachable offers unlimited support, they not only offer positive and constructive feedback, but they ask for feedback and are actually open to receiving it.  This is a great segway into being supportive and versatile.

Being supportive goes hand-in-hand with being versatile.  Versatility is about managing one’s emotions and helping others manage their emotions.  When stakes are high and there’s a lot on the line, it can be very easy to fly off the handle and potentially “throw someone under the bus”.  Everyone has bad days, so as long as it doesn’t become a habit, being supportive in these instances goes a long way.  What is also key, is for a leader to recognize patterns or situations where a team member may lack skills or an ability to cope, in a given situation.  It doesn’t mean they are not good performers, it simply means they appear or feel that they cannot perform under the circumstances presented.  These are great coachable moments and a place where both strong support and versatility play a vital role as a leader.

A supportive leader will stand behind their people and even co-handle putting out fires if need be.  Once the fire is out or at least under control, the leader will take the opportunity to debrief the situation with their team or team member.  They may ask questions like, what did you notice?  What went well?  What didn’t go well?  How come?  What would you do differently?  The goal being to help gain a better understanding about where things went wrong and even where they went right, celebrate the good and coach the team/team member on how to better manage this type of situation in the future.  The key is to help others see the gaps and look for ways to fill them.  The role of leader is not to highlight the gaps.

Funny enough, accountability is probably the most critical piece to being an effective leader.  It’s always interesting to hear others describe what accountability means to them or who should be accountable and what that looks like.  Often people mistake leadership to be hands-off and simply a role of overseeing-of-others or as we have heard it called in the corporate world, the top-down approach to management.  What being a strong leader is really about, is being able to acknowledge, own and stand behind your decisions, mistakes or a misstep.  It’s getting behind a cause, keeping your word or backing someone up where appropriate.  Being a bit exposed and vulnerable has its ups and downs, but in leadership, it can mean the difference between gaining and eroding trust.

To bring this all together, the really cool thing about this is that anyone can work on themselves and increase their emotional intelligence.  Whether you are a Leader or not, as you may have gathered, enhancing these skills can help us in business and in life.

Here are 5 simple steps to being or becoming a stronger leader in any capacity:

  1. Be Self-Aware –pay attention to how others react to you
  2. Self-Regulate –breathe and ask yourself, “What just triggered that emotion?”
  3. Ask for feedback -constructive feedback, if you’re open to it can be a huge personal growth booster!
  4. Be curious –during conversations and meetings, ask more questions
  5. Listen more -lending an ear and maintaining eye contact are great ways to show interest and be supportive… and we learn so much more as well!

Being aware of others around us and noticing our own behaviour is the first step in understanding what to work on.  It is really up to each of us to make that happen.

P.S.: if you’re interested, other words for Leader are Front-runner, Trailblazer, and Spearhead, all of which represent a way of being.  Think about it, when we apply for a position, although we must present substantial evidence on paper, that we can in fact do the job from a functional standpoint, it’s usually during the interview process that our behaviours, how we respond in the moment, how we manage ourselves that typically stands out and either gets us the job or not.

In reality then, it’s only after demonstrating key behaviours and proving ourselves, that we in fact earn a title.  All the more reason to improve our communication and increase our emotional intelligence, wouldn’t you agree?  After all, providing guidance and being a good example will be key to grow our next generation of leaders.

Written by:

Heather Wilson, ATC

Owner at Spark Your Vitality

 

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What does Bill 132 (Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act) mean to you and your workplace?

One in four women and one in ten men say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Of the reported cases of workplace sexual harassment, 55% were committed by co-workers; 39% of which involved a supervisor or manager. 8% of those who are sexually harassed at work report the harassment.

Recently there have been some changes made to Bill 168 – Violence in the Workplace, which gives employers’ statutory obligations. Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, which received royal assent on March 8, 2016, requires all employers to have policies and programs including an investigation procedure. The essential changes brought by Bill 132 include: an employer is required to create a workplace harassment program; the program must include reporting and investigating tools for incidents of workplace harassment and violence; the employers must ensure that all complaints are investigated, and investigations are completed in a timely fashion and a new power to the Ministry of Labour (MOL) to order an independent workplace harassment investigation at the employer’s expense.

September 8, 2016, now looms for companies as the date for compliance with Bill 132. The amendments stand to change dramatically how workplace harassment is addressed in Ontario. The new OHSA obligations and expectations have been set and are accompanied by expanded government oversight. Harassment in the workplace is already a challenging issue that could engage multiple forums, with complaints possibly being advanced through a grievance, civil claim, complaint under the Human Rights Code, and, depending on the severity of the conduct, the criminal justice system.

Also, and particularly, the Bill amends the OHSA to require an employer to conduct an investigation of a workplace harassment complaint that is “appropriate in the circumstances.” The phrase “appropriate in the circumstances” is not defined. Further, the Ministry of Labour has not published any guidance material to communicate what factors will be considered by inspectors when determining whether an investigation meets this standard. Assuming that the inspectors could be evaluating investigations against expected best practices which would include such things as an impartial investigator, a collection of all relevant information, and procedural fairness to the alleged harasser could create challenges for employers as the appropriateness of an investigation may be evaluated in hindsight.

Consequences of flawed investigations would impair or prejudice the employer’s ability to establish just cause for termination or discipline. There would also be an issue of due diligence under the OHSA and Human Rights Code. Consequences would include aggravated, punitive or Code damages; penalties from the Ministry of Labour under the OHSA and reinstatement in unionized workplaces. Some of the critical mistakes some employers are making include: failing to act at all; taking the complaint seriously; failure to train investigators; inability to plan, improper or inadequate files; and retention of evidence.

Many situations happening in the workplace may prompt the necessity for an investigation, such as allegations of discrimination or harassment, workplace bullying, inappropriate use of the internet or social media, policy breaches, or statutory violations. Often, employers attempt to resolve minor issues informally through discussions with the employees involved. When the allegations are more serious, employers may depend on managers to conduct internal investigations. However, in many situations, having an organization deal directly with the problem is not necessarily the best approach – informal discussions may rapidly collapse, and basic investigative steps may be overlooked by inexperienced managers, making matters worse. A vital skill for any employer is identifying when a formal investigation by an external investigator is appropriate.

Note: meeting the requirements of Bill 132 could lead to mistakes that can be costly to your organization.

Be prepared. Be proactive.

Contact Monika Jensen, Principal Aviary Group at mjensen@aviarygroup.ca  or (905) 683-9953 if you need a complaint investigated or mediated.

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Embracing Civility for a More Satisfying WorkPlace

Complaints of harassment, discrimination, bullying and now violence and disrespectful workplaces have become a standard concern for managers and Human Resources specialist. As we cope with the many arising situations, I have found the word incivility is becoming frequently used. So what does incivility mean? To define it, let’s look at how the Institute of Civility describes it. Civility is about more than merely being polite. Civility requires a profound self-awareness being characterized by true respect for others. Civility involves the tremendous hard work of remaining present even with those with whom we have inherent and perhaps fierce differences. It is about continuously being open to hearing, to learning, to teaching and to changing. It pursues mutual ground as a start point for discussions when differences may occur, while at the same time be aware that differences are heartening. It is persistence, grace, and strength of character.

Recently research has expanded our practical understanding of incivility by identifying behaviours which employees have deemed disrespectful. The most frequently occurring forms include: neglecting to turn off cell phones; talking behind someone’s back; doubting someone’s judgement, using demeaning or disparaging language, gestures or behaviours; communicating with the intent to belittle or degrade, eye rolling, giving the silent treatment and using sarcasm; gossip and slander; paying no attention or ignoring someone; taking credit for someone else’s work or ideas; intimidation by intentionally using fear to manipulate others. It may also include yelling, invading personal space, throwing things, slamming things and losing one’s temper; and sabotaging by setting someone up to fail or intentionally creating a situation to make another person look foolish or incompetent. Also may include hate-ism by deliberately pointing at a victim based on age, gender, race or sexual orientation are instances of profiling because of an “ism.”

Many examples include blaming others rather than accepting responsibility; checking email or texting during a meeting; using email to send a difficult message to avoid facing the person, which may be misunderstood and misinterpreted; not saying “please” or “thank you”; not listening and talking over or down to someone.
The cost of incivility is high. It is not only about money! There is research to support impacts on performance through lost time and absenteeism, lack of creativity, less helpfulness and less likely to assist another employee. The impact of teams is on the level of energy, emotional engagement, and performance. The conduct reaches into our physical health; impacts our customers and commitment to the organization and willingness of employees to stay with their companies. All affecting the bottom line of productivity.
So how do we address these issues? I would like to explore some recommendations for your consideration. It starts with us as individuals. Managing ourselves. How? If you throw a ball at the wall…it comes back. It works with people too. If you are, mean…it comes back! People will be mean to you.

How can you be kind and patient all the time when life is so stressful—and just plain hard? You do it by embracing civility! Civility requires self-awareness.

With self-awareness you can:
 Control your attitude
 Manage your moods
 Choose behaviours that do not negatively impact your life or disrupt those around you

Can you…
 Feel and express annoyance, irritation or frustration without hurting others— and then let it go?
 Accept and even appreciate that other people have needs and opinions which are different from your own?
 Encourage and enjoy the successes of others?
 Recognize when someone else feels irritated, upset or frustrated and keep yourself from reacting impulsively in response?

As leaders, we need to model. The Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy wrote: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.” Employees look to leaders for guidance and someone to aspire too. What are they seeing? Watch your language and put away your smartphones when engaging with your staff. Be mindful of the perils of emails and other electronic communication. Pick up the phone or set up a face to face meeting instead. Take immediate and corrective action when warranted. Rude and disrespectful behaviours emerge quickly and sometimes without warning. As the leader, you need to respond at the moment. By delaying a reaction or action, it sends out mixed messages to the offender as well as the entire team. Take all complaints seriously, realizing that coming forward by the individual is difficult, and they need to know they are supported.

We attend seminars and workshop on harassment prevention, Creating Respectful Workplace and Violence in the Workplace. I have put together a workshop on “How Embracing Civility can Create More Satisfying Work Environments”. The agenda is:
• Why Civility Matters
• It Starts with You!
• Do What You Say and Say What You Mean
• Good Fences Make Great Neighbours
• Working in the Salad Bowl
• Eliminate Gossip and Bullying
• You Can’t Always Get What You Want
• Taking It to the Extreme
• Paving the Path to Civility

Contact Monika Jensen, Principal, Aviary Group, at mjensen@aviarygroup.ca  if you are interested.

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Reactionary vs Strategic Leadership Development

Your problem is not your problem, your problem is a culture that creates your problem.

I often get calls from potential clients to conduct a workshop on a particular topic to address a problem or issue they are presently dealing with. I call this reactionary development rather than strategic development. This happens when organizations react to a problem by looking for a one or two day training solution to fix it. As much as I like to work I always tell them the same thing, “there is no magic bullet workshop that is going to fix the problem, it takes a long-term strategic process in most cases.” The root of most issues is an unhealthy culture and ill-equipped leadership. To fix the problem, focus on the culture, and culture change takes time, a minimum of three years.

Why is this? Because most problems being dealt with in the majority of organizations are related to the lack of competent managers and intentional culture development. Just because someone is really good at their job, which is why they get the promotion, doesn’t mean they will make a great manager. People are promoted into management positions because of their superior technical skills and often demoted or fired because of their lack of interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills. Most organizations promote people to their level of incompetence then leave them there or get rid of them.

Gallop just released research indicating 80% of people in management positions are not prepared to be there. The time to prepare for the issues any organization will face is before they happen. There are key competencies that every manager needs in order to provide effective leadership, improve engagement, performance and create an engaging culture.

C.O.R.E. Leadership Academy 

C.O.R.E. Leadership Academy provides a long-term strategy with quarterly training opportunities focused on developing competent managers and supervisors and creating healthy cultures.

Why quarterly training? It takes approx. 66 days to form new habits, and research confirms learning is more effective when people focus on one topic or skill at a time. For that reason C.O.R.E.  Leadership Academy (CLA) provides quarterly training opportunities using 70-20-10 personal development process to apply what is learned. By providing quarterly development opportunities specific skills are built upon each quarter, or a theme can be the focus for an entire year.

C.O.R.E. – Of central importance; the basic and most important or essential part of anything

CLA Philosophy – focusing on key strengths leaders, managers and supervisors need to become competent provides the greatest potential for personal and organizational success.

CLA’s primary focus is the development of…

C – Competent Managers

O – Organizational Culture

R – Relationship Management

E – Efficient Workforce Strategies

For a free consultation on bringing CLA to your organization email paul.bailey@3c-coaching.com or call (705) 607-1058

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19th Annual Customer Service Conference May 11-13, 2016

30% Savings for Public and Not-For-Profit SectorCSPN Logo Full v1

Each year, Customer Service Professional’s Network (www.myCSPN.com) hosts a conference for customer service professionals.  Conference delegates include leaders from municipalities, various levels of government and corporations.  Join us to expand your knowledge in sessions presented by experts in the field, meet with exhibitors and to share stories on how to create a great customer experience.

The 2016 conference will be held at the Mississauga Convention Centre.

Cocktail Reception sponsored by Interactive Intelligence, May 12, at 5:00 pm

This year we have 25 dynamic speakers, including Michelle Musgrave, Director of Housing Operations with the Regional Municipality of York,  Jason Mclaughlin, Manager of Customer Interaction with Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), and David Pitsch, Director of the Guest Education Centre with Lululemon Athletica.

In addition to our amazing lineup of speakers, May 11th boasts two contact centre tours – DHL Express Canada and The Shopping Channel. Join us as we interact with key personnel throughout the hosting contact centres and share best practices with peers. Space is limited – reserve your spot during registration!

Join us to learn more about:

  • Delivering the Brand Experience through your Employees
  • Moving from Transactional to Relational Environment
  • How to Motivate and Empower Employees to Deliver an Ultimate Customer Experience
  • Personal Effectiveness for Corporate Performance
  • The Challenge of Change
  • Separating yourself from the Competition by Increasing Employee Loyalty

This conference is sold out every year, so hurry and register for your 30% discount, because we do not want you to miss out.  We promise you will learn, discover, and glean new insights! 

The early bird registration deadline is March 7, 2016. 

For more information, please contact us; 905-477-5544 or info@myCSPN.com

Visit the Conference Website:  www.AmazeYourCustomer.com  

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