Category Archives: Management

The Secret to Success…Ask How You Can Help



I was at a family dinner the other night and was talking about office politics with one of my cousins. This cousin is a successful software executive who has a chemistry degree and years of experience working oin almost every aspect of the software business.

Our conversation about office politics turned into one about business philosophy. He explained to me that he was very fortunate to have started with his company years ago when it was growing and there was opportunity for a young go-getter fresh out of university. When he was in an entry level position, he went out of his way to find ways to help his team, boss and company do better. He took on extra work, corrected inefficiencies in the company’s processes and always took the time to help his boss out.

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5 Ways to Kill Procrastination


Procrastination is one of those topics that is written about all the time. I find that while the information is useful, the short term inspiration to change your habits dies out quickly.

In my experience, procrastination is usually a result of one of these 3 factors:

– Boredom

– Incompetence

– Laziness

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9 Common Sense Tips on Professionalism That Aren’t so Common


Everyone has heard the adage that common sense isn’t so common. It’s true. Especially in business and office politics.

Here are 9 common sense tips on professionalism that aren’t so common:

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How to Choose the Right Board to Volunteer On


Volunteering on a board of directors is a fantastic way to share your expertise and experience with an organization that desperately needs people like you. Business professionals do well on non-profit boards because they can fill a skill set that may not already exist in the organization.

So you’ve decided that you have a bit of free time and you want to give back. You’ve decided to volunteer on a board because it will look good on your resume and you want more leadership experience.

So how do you find the right one for you?

Well, the first thing to consider is what you want out of the experience. Are you looking for more hands on operational experience or more high level governance experience? Let’s take a step back and i’ll explain the difference between the two.

Operational vs. Governance Boards

Operational boards are involved with the day to day engagement activities of the organization. This could be everything from communications, event planning and member engagement. The benefit of an operational board model is that if you like “doing” more than “planning” then you’ll definitely get an opportunity to do this. I like operational boards because you get to know your directors really well by working with them on specific projects.

Governance boards on the other hand deal primarily with policy and interact with the organization at an advisory level. If you are interested in learning how to ask good questions and make decisions, then a governance board may be a good fit for you. I’ve sat on three governance boards in the past and I’ve learned a lot about leadership and how an organization operates at a strategic level.

Both types of boards are highly valuable because they can teach you a lot about people, management and conflict resolution.

I currently have the opportunity to sit on two kinds of boards right now and I take away different experiences from both.

Four Questions to Ask Yourself

So back to the original question, “How to choose the Right Board to Volunteer On?”.

There are four important questions to ask yourself:

1) What are you hoping to get out of the experience?

2) What type of skills and experience can you bring to the table?

3) What are you interested in?

4) How much time do you have to dedicate to an organization? (Operational boards typically take up more time than governance boards)

Once you’ve answered these questions, then look within your local community for organizations that are looking for board directors. Narrow down your search to three organizations and then do some research on the history, engagement model, media attention and policies of each one. Then get in touch with the organizations you are interested in and find out what the next steps are for joining the board.

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5 Qualities of a Great Manager


Being a good manager is tough. Most people have a hard time making the tough decisions and also trying to get their team on side.

1) Great Listening Skills

Listening and communication are probably the most important qualities of a good manager. If employees don’t feel like they are being heard or that their opinion matters, then you go down a slippery slope that eventually ends with either you firing the person or getting a resignation letter out of the blue. Take the time to listen to your employees and take their suggestions, ideas and sometimes criticism seriously.

2) Empathy

Empathy is another key quality of a great manager. Everyone has hard days and sometimes the best that a person gives to a situation is going to vary from day to day. Although you want to make sure it’s clear that you have high standards for performance, you don’t want to come across as a cold, emotionless person. It’s possible to find a balance of getting things done and also dealing with personal issues that may arise unexpectedly. Make sure you make it clear to your team that you are open to figuring out ways to make their experience and work the best it can be.

3) A clear vision of the desired outcome

Often, managers will fail when the outcome is ambiguous. Is it customer service or internal politics that comes first? Establish a clear vision of what you and your team are hoping to accomplish and remind them regularly of how their contributions will get you there. Breaking down a large project into small pieces allows people to see why they are moving in a certain directly and provides clarity to the day to day decision making.

4) The ability to empower your team

Great leaders and managers inspire their team to bring forward their best ideas and work. By creating an environment that fosters empowerment and creativity, your team will be able to bring their best ideas to the table. Everyone always says that they hate micro-managing but very few managers have the awareness to stop. Keep your team accountable for their KPIs but allow them to get to that goal in their own way.

5) Be Open

Managers frequently think of themselves as the ones who have a lot to teach their employees. But it also works the other way around. Typically a great manager has a generalist skill set and brings on specialists on to their team. Having a cross functional team allows each member to bring a unique contribution to the table. Be open to the idea that you can learn a lot from your employees. They may teach you a different way to solve a problem or come up with an idea to hit that goal or KPI in a more efficient way. By making it clear that you set the direction for the team but that you are also open to suggestions and ideas, you foster an environment of learning and coaching.

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