Friday, 23 December 2011

Trend: Would you want work email blocked after work hours?

Volkswagen in Germany has agreed to stop sending email through its BlackBerry servers to some of its unionized employees after working hours, BBC News reports.

Would you want work email to your Blackberry blocked after work hours? (iStock)

Employees under union negotiated contracts will not be able to receive work email on their smartphones beginning a half-hour after the end of the shift. Email service won't begin again until a half-hour before the start of their next shift. The email block does not apply to management at Volkswagen.

The automaker said it agreed to the change after employees complained that their work hours were creeping into their home lives.

The workers will still be able to make and receive calls on their BlackBerrys.

The announcement follows a similar move by French tech giant Atos, which said earlier this month it would phase out email altogether and replace it with instant messaging, video conferencing and shared documents.

What are your thoughts on email and your work life balance?

About Minto Roy

Brings more than a decade of experience in career management. He provides expert commentary on employment issues and trends and has been a regular columnist for the South Asian Post. To learn more about Minto Roy connect with him on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Interview: Chris Hodgson brings entrepreneurial attitude to Google Canada


Chris Hodgson is head of industry retail for Google Canada. Abridged: Interview: Special Globe and Mail Update - Published Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011 12:00AM EST

What’s your background and education?

I trained as a mechanical engineer at Queen’s University in Kingston and graduated in 1993. I worked at Imperial Oil in Toronto for five years. Then I decided to do a business degree at INSEAD in France in 1998. I moved to London to work for Accenture for four years. I did some consulting on my own and joined a company called Computacenter in 2004. I spent two years turning around a French business they owned and then returned to the U.K. to run their software partnerships with Microsoft and various other companies. I then left that to do my own startup called KidStart in 2007.

How did you get to your position?

After being in London for 12 years, my wife and I wanted a better quality of life for ourselves and our kids. I looked at setting up or moving my business to Canada but decided it was too much of a risk. The market here wasn’t really ready for the business I ran.

I realized I’d have to start working for someone else, which is an entrepreneur’s nightmare. I looked for a company that was open to an entrepreneurial attitude, and Google was top of that list. I networked, and through a friend of a friend I met Chris O’Neill, who runs Google Canada. He was in the process of building his management team and I interviewed for a role.

What’s the best part of your job?

Google is a fantastic company. The people and the support network are great. And being focused on the leading edge of retail in Canada, as an entrepreneur, excites me and keeps me interested.

What’s the worst part of your job?

It’s been a bit of a shock coming back to Canada. Google is a company that moves quickly. A lot of Canadian retailers don’t move as fast and that can be frustrating sometimes.

What are your strengths in this role?

It certainly helps coming from a culture that is leading edge. I can start presentations saying, “I come from the future.” The U.K. is so much more advanced when it comes to e-commerce. I can help retailers navigate where they’re going to be five years down the road.

Also, the entrepreneurial background that I have gives me experience and comfort in driving things through and making things happen.

What are your weaknesses?

It’s been 12 years since I lived in Canada so I don’t yet have as strong a network in Canada. It has helped to have a good team around me to fill in that gap.

What has been your best career move?

Making the decision to do my MBA in France opened my eyes to a whole different set of opportunities, and fundamentally changed the direction I was going with my career and even with my life.

What has been your worst career move?

It can be very easy to get trapped in an environment where you’re not happy and you settle. If you’re not happy, make decisions quickly, like ripping off a bandage. Don’t get caught up in trying to make things work for too long. If I look back, there are one or two stages of my career where I could have moved on more quickly.

What’s your next big job goal?

Helping retailers in Canada understand how consumers have changed their shopping behaviours. They’re now doing a lot of research online before they make purchases. My goal is to educate retailers about the shift that is going on in the marketplace and the opportunities available to them.

What’s your best career advice?

Never be afraid to dream big and follow your dreams. That is important when you’re thinking of making career transitions, when you’re looking at new opportunities that are available to you. It can be easy to say, “That sounds a bit risky.” But ... if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, quite often it’s worth that risk.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Dianne Nice is The Globe and Mail’s Careers & Workplace Web Editor.

Fairwell to a golf pro

Kim Jong Il may have only played golf once, but he was still apparently able to record the best round in the history of the game. That is of course if you believe the claims by media outlets in Pyongyang in 1994. He was said to have shot 38 under par (an unbelievable 25 shots better than the world record) on a regulation course, including an astonishing 11 holes in one. Talk about beginners luck! Sadly, the Guinness Book of Records has yet to recognise the 'Dear Leader's' achievements on the fairway.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Five Tips for Confidently Speaking Up at Meetings


Abridged: Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder

The way you present yourself in company meetings can have a big impact on your career. Whether you're the shy type who usually opts not to speak up -- or you're just the opposite -- here are a five points of view on making your point effectively in front of a crowd.

1. Practice: Like anything, practice makes perfect when it comes to speaking up -- especially if you're shy.

"One way shy people can gain confidence to speak in meetings is to practice outside of meetings," says Susan Newman, co-founder of School2Life, an organization that helps students transition to the workforce. "Share your point of view and participate in conversations in and out of the workplace. Doing this helps you recognize where the discomfort sets in. In time, it will get easier or more manageable because you'll know what to expect from your nerves. So speak up and speak often."

One of the best ways to get practice outside of the workplace is to join your local chapter of ToastMasters, a group specifically designed for helping people to improve their public speaking skills. The organization currently has more than 12,500 chapters globally, so chances are there's one in your area.

2. Get to the point: When you speak at meetings, concentrate on making your point as succinctly as possible. This will help your message come across clearly and will help you avoid the title of "company blowhard."

For those that tend to be on the verbose side, try thinking about your message in Twitter terms, says Joey Price, founder of career consulting firm Push Consultant Group, LLC. "[Ask yourself]: is your message potent and concise enough to fit into 140 characters or less? If not, you may be rambling on. Trim and enhance."

That said; If you must make a longer point, set yourself up to keep the floor until you finish, advises Dianna Booher, author of "Communicate with Confidence" and "Speak with Confidence." This will let your peers know that you're making a multi-faceted point, and not just going on and on.

"If you fear that someone will interrupt you before you finish, preface your ideas with something like, 'I have four observations to make about the situation. First ..., 'and then keep enumerating as you go along so that people understand you're not finished when you take a breath," Booher says.

3. Belly breathe: Public speaking can be nerve-wracking, but you don't have to let it show. Abdominal breathing will make you sound confident by giving strength to your voice.

To use this technique: "Inhale deeply and then project your voice by speaking from the diaphragm," says Jean Palmer Heck, president of Real Impact, Inc. "This is essential for those who are shy, because it gives more power to your words and persona and can eliminate any shakiness in your voice."

4. Pay attention to your body language: "I know it sounds obvious, but if you're hunched over, or speaking softly, it's unlikely people are going to take what you say seriously," says Frances Cole Jones, author of "The Wow Factor: the 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World."

Her top tips for in-meeting body language:

  • Sit up and forward
  • Keep your hands on the table (We trust people when we can see their hands)
  • Lean in
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact with everyone around the table

5. Learn from others: A great way to figure out how to become an effective speaker is by watching those who do it well. Pay attention to colleagues who seem to captivate their audience, and what it is that makes them so poignant.

"There are always colleagues that I've worked with from my current or past business interactions whom I have admired for their ability to confidently share their opinions, and listen and accept the viewpoints of others, without monopolizing the conversation or sounding like wind bags," says Dianne Shaddock, principal of

"I study their presentation, the tone and volume levels of their voice, as well as the reactions of others in the room to what the individual has to say. I then incorporate their best qualities and make them my own. I've found that this works quite well and has helped with my confidence level at meetings," she says.

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow @CBForJobSeekers on Twitter.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Canadians' net worth down, increasing debt load

Abridged: CBC News

The sharp drop in the stock market cut Canadian's net worth by $4,600 per household in the third quarter, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday, December 13th 2011. 

"Although residential real estate assets increased, this was more than offset by the decline in the value of household holdings of equities (including mutual funds) and pension assets," the agency said.

Meanwhile, Canadians continued to borrow, driving household debt per capita up by $600 from the second quarter and $2,200 over a year, to $46,100. Total household debt increased to $1 trillion in mortgages and $448 billion in consumer credit debt.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney warned Monday that Canadian households need to end their spending splurge, particularly on homes, because debt levels have reached 149 per cent of income, higher than in the U.S. or Britain. But the Statistics Canada numbers released Tuesday put the debt level even higher, at 150.8 per cent of income.

The 2.1 per cent drop in household net worth, to $180,100 in the third quarter from $184,700 in the second quarter, followed the 12-per-cent slide in the benchmark Toronto Stock Exchange indicator. "This marked the sharpest quarterly reduction in stock prices and per capita household net worth since the fourth quarter of 2008," Statistics Canada said.

Government net debt (at book value) increased to $795 billion in the third quarter, compared with $772 billion in the second quarter. Total government net debt was 46.9 per cent of gross domestic product in the third quarter, up from 46.3 per cent in the second quarter.

About Minto Roy

Brings more than a decade of experience in career management. He provides expert commentary on employment issues and trends and has been a regular columnist for the South Asian Post. To learn more about Minto Roy connect with him on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Canadian unemployment rate at 7.4% for November 2011

Canadian manufacturing has lost 627,000 jobs over the past nine years. ((Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

Abridged: CBC News 

Canada lost a surprising 18,600 jobs in November, pushing the country's unemployment rate up by 0.1 percentage points to 7.4 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday. Economists had been looking for between 16,000 and 17,000 jobs to be added, and for the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 7.3 per cent. The loss of 53,300 part-time jobs offset an increase of 34,600 in full-time work, the federal agency said.

Unemployment rates in Canada

"The details [of] the November jobs report are mildly better than the headline," Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said in a commentary. That's because most of the drop came in one province, and was tied to a decrease in self-employment.

Employment fell in Quebec, where 31,000 jobs were lost and the provincial unemployment rate hit eight per cent, and in Saskatchewan, which lost 4,200 jobs and saw unemployment rise one percentage point to 5.1 per cent.

Provincial unemployment

Canada's national unemployment rate was 7.4 per cent in November. Here's what happened provincially (previous month in rackets):

  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 13.2 (12.9)
  • Prince Edward Island: 11.1 (11.2)
  • Nova Scotia: 8.6 (8.6)
  • New Brunswick: 9.8 (9.4)
  • Quebec: 8.0 (7.7)
  • Ontario: 7.9 (8.1)
  • Manitoba: 5.5 (5.2)
  • Saskatchewan: 5.1 (4.1)
  • Alberta: 5.0 (5.1)
  • British Columbia: 7.0 (6.6) 

Unemployment Figures Source: Canadian Press

Although overall employment in goods-producing industries rose [mostly due to construction], manufacturing employment declined again," United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir noted. "Canadian manufacturing has lost 627,000 jobs over the past nine years."

The Canadian dollar was slightly higher in the wake of the disappointing jobs report.

About Minto Roy

Brings more than a decade of experience in career management. He provides expert commentary on employment issues and trends and has been a regular columnist for theSouth Asian Post. To learn more about Minto Roy connect with him on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Transparency Pays Off In 360-Degree Reviews

Abridged: Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lubin

Like most executives, Sanjeev Nikore had managerial faults. But unlike most executives, he publicly divulged them to fellow staffers.

The result? A promotion.

Mr. Nikore, a senior corporate vice president at HCL Technologies Ltd., was among its 25 top leaders who went through performance evaluations known as "360-degree feedback" last year and shared the results company-wide via an internal website. Nearly 6,600 other managers at the global information-technology company did the same thing with employees who had graded them. 

HCL Technologies' Vice Chairman and CEO Vineet Nayar encourages his employees to be open about their faults. Here, he speaks with staff at the company's Noida, India headquarters.HCL Technologies' Vice Chairman and CEO Vineet Nayar encourages his employees to be open about their faults. Here, he speaks with staff at the company's Noida, India headquarters.

In these widely-used online feedback surveys, individuals get assessed by superiors, peers and subordinates about issues such as their ability to take charge, coach workers and manage conflict. Executives who reveal their 360-degree feedback typically do so just for their closest lieutenants. But frankness with staff about your appraisal can help your advancement – depending on how you handle it.

In Mr. Nikore's case, "I wasn't too good at delegating because I thought I knew the answers," he recalls. But the reviews opened his eyes and helped change his career trajectory.

Mr. Nikore took charge of consumer services worldwide in 2008, after previously running sales and marketing.

"Sanjeev and several fellow executives landed bigger roles because they achieved stronger results after quickly heeding colleagues' feedback on their leadership style," says Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL and author of the book, "Employees First, Customers Second.'' HCL adopted this unusual approach in 2007.

A small but growing number of executives take transparency to a similar extreme by exposing their shortcomings.

A third of U.S. executives advised by Aon Hewitt Associates Inc. now "share their 360 results with direct reports," up from 20% a few years ago, estimates Jim Donohue, a principal in the consultancy's leadership and organization practice.

One company that encourages this tactic is Dell Inc. Disclosing 360-degree evaluations to peers "is considered a good management practice," a Dell spokesman says. CEO Michael Dell has shared his results, and the voluntary practice occurs "across all levels,'' the spokesman continues.

"More and more people are getting comfortable with that," as companies increasingly promote executives with a demonstrated ability to accept feedback and grow, says Stephen Miles, head of leadership consulting for recruiters Heidrick & Struggles International Inc.

For British executive Reginald Bull, revealing his 360-degree evaluation eased his integration into two Korean companies. He left Unilever PLC to become chief human resources officer of LG Electronics in 2008.

Addressing about 200 colleagues on his first day there, he displayed summary scores from his most recent Unilever 360 review.

The review ranked him "average" for the operational phase of projects because "once the factories turn on, I get bored," Mr. Bull remembers. But because his Korean associates excelled at running things and knew his weakness, "we were better able to divide the work most effectively."

The HR executive repeated the exercise with his six-member team shortly after he joined Doosan Corp., a diversified Korean concern, last spring. His tendency "to sometimes oversell a bit through passion" enabled Mr. Bull to obtain assistance from one manager about smart ways to sell ideas within a Korean business, he adds.

Opening the kimono about your professional weaknesses most likely will benefit your career when big bosses encourages candor – as Mr. Nikore discovered. At first, the executive resisted publicizing his faults. But Mr. Nayar, the CEO, "was very persuasive," Mr. Nikore says.

Mr. Nikore initially earned poor grades for his people skills. "I felt bad," he recollects. The score improved after he created a monthly employee recognition system and made new teams responsible for their results.

Transparency can also strengthen your subordinates' loyalty. Consider VSE Corp., a government contractor serving the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies. CEO Maurice "Mo" Gauthier insists that senior executives reveal their annual self assessments to their teams.

"I see only an upside in sharing my performance results," says Denise Manning, president of G&B Solutions, a VSE unit. She told her eight-person team that she failed to arrange one of four planned client visits with Mr. Gauthier last year. This year, however, she completed all four visits by September. "My team made it a priority to facilitate scheduling and making sure I made the goal," Ms. Manning says.

Team members made the extra effort because they consider Ms. Manning a collaborative leader, Mr. Gauthier points out. "They want her to succeed."

Even though professional-services firms value 360-degree feedback, "there are industries that care less, such as traditional manufacturing," cautions Ana Dutra, CEO of leadership and talent consulting for recruiters Korn/Ferry International.

And there are downsides to being too transparent about flaws. Employees may lose confidence -- or even exploit your weak spots.

"People get scared to realize leaders are fallible," observes David Selinger, a founder and CEO of Rich Relevance, a provider of e-commerce personalization services. To encourage a culture of openness, he says he informs his roughly 105 staffers about areas "where I fell down in the prior year" cited in his annual performance evaluation and outlines corrective steps. But the troops don't see the board's full critique of their leader.

Meanwhile, an executive of a drug maker saw his advancement recently stall after sharing 360-degree assessments with colleagues that twice criticized his inability to set good agendas. His meetings "went on and on," Mr. Donohue recalls. Aon Hewitt helped analyze the review results.

Several lieutenants took advantage of their knowledge about the executive's negative reviews – by keeping meetings brief. They soon won jobs at higher levels than their boss, according to Mr. Donohue. But no promotions loom for the executive. "He has reached his potential,'' the consultant says. 


Thursday, 8 December 2011

No Room for Cheaters in Golf

By Brad Ewart, Real Golf eNewsletter Editor

Golf is one of the few games where you are your own referee.

Golfers are the only sportsmen who call infractions on themselves when no one else would have known. If you know you've done something wrong and are prepared to play with that guilt, then good luck to you.

Calling a penalty on yourself or calling out another player for a rule infraction is a player's obligation to the rest of the field. The players will respect the individual for following procedure and it allows the golfer to play without a guilty conscience.

In the mind of the cheater, they have justified their reason for cheating and don't let it bother them. For others, the insidious cheating worm unravels in their brain, and within a few holes, disaster will strike.

Some players are afraid to call out another player for breaking a rule simply because they aren't sure there was an infraction. A poll of 50 caddies, published in the January issue of Golf Magazine, revealed 54 per cent witnessed a player cheating during a tour event.

"There is no room in the game for someone who is cheating," said former Masters champion Craig Stadler. "If I see someone do it, I'll call him. Absolutely!

"Golf is a gentleman's sport and an honest game where you shouldn't have to worry about the other players. It is a tough enough game, especially under tournament conditions, where you have to concentrate on your own situation."

Cheating comes in many different forms. The most blatant form is a player writing down a score lower than what they really shot. Another cheater is the creative ball marker who can remark a ball position two or three times and get closer to the hole on each occasion.

If you see someone break the rules or you make a mistake yourself, then call a penalty. Cheaters should never prosper!

Bonus vs. the company christmas party US data

By Reuters

Companies planning to spend thousands of dollars for staff Christmas parties, even with open bars, shouldn't bother because most U.S. employees would prefer money.

Nearly three quarters of 2,574 workers questioned in a Harris poll said they would opt for a cash bonus, followed by 62 percent who would prefer a salary increase and 32 percent who wanted more paid time off.

Only four percent put a Christmas party on the top of their holiday.

"Until we see the impacts of the Great Recession further recede, when it comes to what employees want it starts with cash and other financial perks to make sure that ends can be met over the holidays," said Rusty Rueff, of Glassdoor, the jobs listing firm that which commissioned the poll.

A grocery gift card, being able to work from home for a year and company stocks or shares were also among the most popular items on the list. Ten percent of workers wanted a health care subsidy, eight said gym membership would be useful and three percent said they wanted a commuter subsidy.

Only two percent opted for a gold watch or other accessory. Nearly three out of four employees said they were eligible for a bonus this year and 58 percent expected to receive one.

'Tis the season to be job searching

Abridged: St. Louis Today

ST. LOUIS, MO -- If you choose to keep searching for a new job during December, the following strategies can help you stay committed to the task. Manage your time. If you let it, time can swallow you up. That's why companies place so much emphasis on time management and productivity. But it's really not time that you need to manage, it's you and your ability to accomplish the task.

Schedules, deadlines and to-do lists can keep you focused in your job search. Every week, schedule a set amount of time for job search activities and holiday fun. For each activity, give yourself a scheduled start time and a completion deadline. Then, hold yourself accountable. During scheduled job searching time, don't be waylaid by easy distractions, such as spending too much time checking email, hanging out on social media sites like Facebook, browsing the internet, researching companies or chatting with friends under the pretense of networking.

Before engaging in any activity, ask yourself, 'Is this activity moving my job search forward?" If the answer is "no," drop it and move on. To be truly effective, it's important to limit or eliminate non-productive activities. Additionally, it's important that you keep job tools up-to-date. Read trade publications and magazines in your niche area of interest. Regularly refresh and review your online resumes and professional profiles, such as the one you have posted at CareerBuilder, Monster or Doing so will help your resume rise to the top in employer-initiated searches rather than staying buried in cyberspace.