Building a Custom Queen’s IRC Certificate: Lessons from the BCNU Governance Board Certificate Program

 Lessons from the BCNU Governance Board Certificate ProgramUnion president Christine Sorensen and the British Columbia Nurses’ Union (BCNU) Board have big aspirations for a professional union with a strong, high-functioning Board. Achieving this vision has meant restructuring, long-term strategic planning, and significant training for the Board – and all within a three-year elected term.

In 2017, Christine was appointed as president (from the vp/acting-president role) and a new Board had also been elected. With a significant turnover in Board members and a strong drive for change, they began working towards their goals, immediately taking on some significant organizational and structural issues.

The BCNU Board (or Council) is comprised 25 people – 20 chairs for 16 regions in the province, and five provincial officers.

“We needed them to come together and unite very quickly as a Board as we were dealing with some very complex issues,” said Christine. “We were looking for something that would give them the skills and abilities to feel confident about making difficult decisions.”

BCNU had been working with Queen’s University IRC to provide a customized Labour Relations Certificate to their local leaders, and when they started talking about who could provide training to the Board, Queen’s IRC came to mind.

The union wanted a Certificate program from a reputable institution with experience in training for unions. They needed training on a variety of topics to help build leadership skills within the Board, so they reached out to Queen’s IRC Director, Stephanie Noel.

Stephanie was pleased to work with the group to build a customized Certificate program to meet their unique needs.

“They needed training that focused on effective governance and leadership skills,” said Stephanie. “But like many organizations, they also needed some foundational pieces around managing organizational change, labour relations, strategies for workplace conflicts, creating high performance teams and building trust and emotional intelligence.”

The themes that ran throughout all of the training programs in the Certificate included:

  • Understanding their role and responsibilities on the BCNU Board
  • The crucial role of teams and teamwork
  • Building trust and emotional intelligence
  • Effective communication practices
  • Conflict resolution best practices

While the first BCNU Labour Relations Certificate was comprised of three, four-day labour relations programs, Board members did not have the time for four-day training sessions. Stephanie customized the schedule to the Board’s needs, and set up seven, two-day programs, to run monthly, at the same time as the members came from their regions for the Board meetings. And with that, the Queen’s IRC Governance and Leadership Excellence Certificate for BCNU was born.

Throughout 2018, a variety of Queen’s IRC facilitators and coaches rotated into the BCNU offices for each two-day program, giving participants the ability to learn from experts in each area.

“As the individual programs progressed,” Stephanie said. “It became clear that the vision for the final program on team-building would have to change. So we adjusted it into a more advanced version of the first program on governance effectiveness, because that’s what BCNU needed.”

Christine thinks there were many valuable components to the IRC training, but overall helping the Board move towards an understanding that their role is around risk-management was key. The term they often use is “nose in – fingers out”. A couple of the programs focussed on role-clarity. What is a Board member’s role? What is true Board governance? What is risk management? What is fiduciary responsibility?

While the newly elected Board members were experts on the nursing floor, most of them had never sat on a Board before. “In their first year, they’re trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do,” said Christine. “Now all of a sudden, we’ve made them responsible for a multi-million dollar budget, a collective agreement and staff.” For someone who was a nurse at the bedside yesterday, this is a big mental shift.

The training helped members move from being a “do-er” to being a leader and strategist. “It helped us with that mental shift of having the Council move to more Board governance and Board oversight,” said Christine.

Personally, Christine saw a lot of value in the sections on understanding emotional intelligence, not only for Board members as individuals but also as a group – learning how they function and make decisions, and what decision paralysis they sometimes get into and why. “The facilitators really challenged us to move to that higher-functioning level as a Board,” she said.

For other members who wear two hats – one as a Board member and the other as the ‘operational CEOs’ of their own region – the practical labour relations programs on things like conflict resolution and  grievance handling were very useful for their regional work.

Christine points out that regional chairs have to operationalize the decisions made by the Board, so depending on where they are, they have to remind themselves, ‘I’m here wearing my regional chair hat’ or ‘I’m here wearing my Board hat.’

Tracey Greenberg has been a Licensed Practical Nurse for 34 years, and is currently the regional chair for the Frazer Valley region. He was impressed with the Queen’s IRC Certificate program. “As a Licensed Practical Nurse, university has not been something in my realm of education, so for me to get university training was just incredible,” he said.

“My thinking process has changed in regards to really listening to people. I just felt like my mind opened up to a lot of the governance pieces. It gave me a look at all the skills I have and what I can improve on.”

Tracey feels that the training helped him improve his leadership skills. He said people actually noticed a difference in his style.

“My way of thinking about things has changed. I am looking at more of the bigger picture and how all the little pictures create that picture, and how to work with them all,” he said. “I think the course really helped me do that.”

Tracey really appreciates that Queen’s IRC was able to create this custom certificate for them. “I just really found it so helpful.”

Relationship Management in a Union Environment

Relationship Management in a Union EnvironmentBuilding relationships in the workplace is hard – and it takes work. It’s even more difficult when you work in a unionized organization which has traditionally adversarial relationships. But these days, organizations like the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) are stepping away from the attitude that, as a union, you have to be in ‘fight mode’ all the time. They are working towards accomplishing more for their members by trying to have better relationships with management.

This is where the Queen’s IRC Relationship Management in a Union Environment program comes in. In January 2019, OSSTF asked Queen’s IRC Director, Stephanie Noel, to run a one-day custom training program for its new Protective Services Committee (PSC). The training focused on working towards common interests, better communication, and handling conflict in workplace relationships.

Bob Fisher, OSSTF Director of Member Protection, says that the vision for the new Protective Services Committee is that it’s a committee of experts. Committee members will give advice for central negotiating issues, but also be a resource to Local bargaining units in their day-to-day labour relations issues. The 34-member committee is made up of Local union leaders from across the province, assisted by 8 staff members.

“We used to have a provincial collective bargaining committee that just wasn’t meeting the needs of the organization,” said Kerri Ferguson, OSSTF Director of Negotiations Contract Maintenance. “It tended to be populated with grassroots members who didn’t necessarily have all of the skills and experience.”

The people who are on the new committee were chosen because they already have a certain level of expertise in negotiations, grievance arbitration, problem solving, collective agreements, contract maintenance, and education funding. And with a strong training component built in, particularly for the first year of the committee, Bob expects that members will become “better experts” at the things that they’re already experts at, and raise their level of competence in the areas where they aren’t as strong.

When Kerri and Bob sat down to decide what training they needed, one of the first things they identified was the desire for people to establish good relationships with their employer counterparts.  And then they had to decide ‘How do we get that in front of the committee?’ The first thing Bob thought of was Queen’s IRC. He was aware that Queen’s IRC did custom training, and both he and Kerri had taken Queen’s IRC labour relations courses in the past.

“Everyone in our organization who does something through Queen’s IRC acknowledges its quality,” Kerri said.  “We have never done anything like we’re doing this year in terms of spending money on quality training for this group of experts,” said Kerri.  Previously, they had mainly done internal training.

Queen’s IRC facilitator, Jim Harrison, led the relationship-building program for OSSTF. “The focus for a program like this would normally be on the front-line people who are negotiating and handling grievances,” said Jim. It’s a critical skill for them to be able to have good communication skills, understand common interests, and be able to work well with their colleagues.

“What Bob and Kerri picked up on was that building these kinds of relationship skills also improves internal relationships within the union itself – department to department, individual to individual, employee to management,” said Jim.

Being in the education business, PSC members are exposed to a great deal of professional development, Bob said. “I had a number of people come up to me after the Queen’s IRC session and tell me that it was the most meaningful, useful P.D. they have had – ever!”

Feedback from the committee members about the IRC program was overwhelmingly positive.

Betty-Jo Raddin is a Local president in the Bluewater District School Board, a Protective Services Committee member, and the Vice-Chair of the Negotiations and Implementations Sub-committee. She was able to takeaway lots of key points from the ‘questioning and listening’ section.

“I need to be able to ask the right questions and listen in order to be able to effectively problem solve the situation,” she said. “I need to know what to ask them in order to figure out, is there some way that we can come up with a resolution that could work for both of us?”

“When you’re having a discussion or disagreement and you’re not reaching a resolution on something, often I think we blame the other person instead of looking at ‘what’s the situation?’ What are the situational reasons that they’re unable to agree to what we need them to agree to?”

Betty-Jo appreciated that this training was tailored to a unionized environment because it was very applicable to her situation compared to some of the other outside training she has done.

Dave Weichel has been a chief negotiator with OSSTF for about 18 years. He is a member of the Protective Services Committee, vice chair of Contract Maintenance and Member Protection Sub-committee and still works on a day-to-day basis as a guidance counselor. Dave is in an unusual position, as most of the people who are involved in the PSC are exclusively serving as OSSTF leaders.

“As somebody who still has to deal with school board level development, the Queen’s IRC Relationship Building training was one of the best things I have ever had access to!”

Dave was impressed with the fact that the training was not only in-depth, but also interactive with great opportunities to sit down and participate. “It wasn’t just having someone talk at us for eight hours,” he said. “You really feel like you walk out of there better prepared, with a better toolkit, to go about doing what we do. It was awesome.”

The Queen’s IRC approach includes exercises that allow people to work through real life situations and practice the skills they are learning in a safe environment. While these exercises were sometimes a bit awkward for the OSSTF participants, they were excellent learning experiences.

For the Chair of the Protective Services Committee, Fatima DeJesus, the training was a good refresher on conflict resolution skills. Part of the training focused on learning to step into conflicts rather than running away from them, so you are able to resolve them before they blow up into something bigger.

Fatima is also the president of an educational support staff bargaining unit and early childhood educators bargaining unit. The training made her think about what the other side is feeling and thinking about, which she acknowledges, is something that you often forget. “You’re very focused on what you want as the Local leader, and what’s important to you, but you sometimes lose sight of what’s important to the other side,” she said. “The room was full of experts, but it was quite interesting to hear that a lot of people didn’t always think about what the other side was thinking.”

The questioning and listening section also stood out for Fatima. “I’ve learned to ask the open-ended questions, and I’ll be honest with you, I’ve learned to shut up a little bit and listen a little bit better too!”

Fatima echoes what the post-program evaluations revealed: “It was amazing training. I would have to honestly say probably one of the best training sessions I’ve ever had. If anyone is even considering doing this, then I would absolutely recommend it 100%.”

OSSTF is a union with 60,000 members, 230 job classes, 151 bargaining units and 37 districts. The bargaining units are organized by job class which includes teachers, support staff, custodial, office and clerical staff. Although this training was created for members of the PSC, it was also opened up to Local leaders.

“I sat at a table with Local people,” said Kerri Ferguson. “At my table, no one else had done Provincial office level work. All of them were thrilled with this training. It made them think in ways they’ve never thought before.” Kerri said her tablemates were already planning to use the techniques they were learning as soon as they returned to the office.

Kerri enjoyed the mixture of speaking, writing, thinking and table exercises. “For me personally, I think it validated and gave some language to what I’ve always believed and been trying to do.” It opened her eyes to the fact that things that come naturally to some people don’t necessarily come naturally to others. “I’ve learned what needs to be explained to people (which I just didn’t think needed to be explained) and I have the words to do it.”

Kerri and Bob are full of praise for facilitator Jim Harrison and Queen’s IRC. “Jim was a very dynamic presenter – he went for the entire day and never seemed to lose energy,” said Kerri.

“There was lots of really good material to chew on, and he presented it in a way that kept everybody engaged,” Bob said. “I just can’t say enough about how pleased I am with the way he operates … Of course, I’ve come to expect that from Queen’s IRC.”

As someone who has attended previous Queen’s IRC programs, Bob said he is always impressed with the quality of the training, and this custom session was no exception. “I’m really pleased with the way it went.”

 

For more information on custom training, please visit our website at https://irc.queensu.ca/customized-training  or contact Cathy Sheldrick at cathy.sheldrick@queensu.ca.

Workplace Restoration Q&A with Anne Grant

Workplace Restoration Q&A with Anne GrantQueen’s IRC sat down with Anne Grant, the facilitator for our new Workplace Restoration program, to find out more about the topic and the program. In the interview, Anne shares her experience in workplace restorations, including the surprises she’s had along the way. She gives some insight into what makes workplaces toxic and how this program will help organizations that are experiencing disruptions like prolonged conflicts, increased harassment or grievance claims, leadership issues, strikes, investigations or significant organizational changes.

What kind of problems do organizations have that would require a workplace restoration?

A workplace restoration might be needed after a polarizing event like a big investigation. It might be a merger or a strike. It might be difficulties with management. It might be a group of rogue employees causing problems. Often after a strike or lockout, a few rogues, union or management, can keep the conflict alive.

One of the things that I’ve really seen over the last ten to fifteen years is a need to address the conduct in the workplace. In general, it’s because people are getting into bad habits and engaging in behaviours that are not acceptable in this day and age, as we’re seeing in the media right now. People get sloppy, they engage in a lot of things that they shouldn’t, and people put up with it for a long time.

I heard of a workplace that was becoming increasingly dysfunctional and toxic, and so they decided to cancel the Christmas party. I thought, you can’t do that. You can’t just wait until November and say, “By the way, we’re not having a Christmas party.” At another place, they used to let the staff go a little earlier on the last Friday before Christmas. The new manager said, “No, that’s ridiculous. You have to stay until 4:30.” These were the kinds of things that were the last straw, completely breaking down the morale in these workplaces.

How do you restore a workplace after a polarizing event?

It’s about looking for commonality, and that’s what I tend to focus on. What is your ideal working relationship? What is your ideal work environment? What are the components of an ideal workplace for you? And then, how do we implement that? Nine times out of 10 everybody has, pretty much, the same idea of the type of workplace they want.

Let me give you an example of a school board. They had a huge strike that went on for months. I was asked to come in and do a restoration between the union and management – it was a multi-stage process. It started with the school board and the executive of the teachers’ union, and then it went to a larger forum with all of the grievance officers, the managers, the principals and so on of the school board.

What was really interesting with the school board was something that I did not see coming at all. It was a Catholic school board. I met with the union, and they told me all sorts of horrible things about management. Then I met with management, and they told me all sorts of horrible things about the union. The next day I was supposed to meet with them jointly to talk about what my assessment was and what the plan was to go forward. Before the joint session the head union guy said to me, “Are you going to do the prayer, do you want me to do it, or would you prefer the superintendent to do it?” My jaw was on the ground going, “What?” These adversaries open and close with a prayer, and I thought … okay, let’s back up here. If you guys can open and close with a prayer, we can find a way forward together in a pleasant way. We had to find and recognize that commonality before we could move forward.

What makes a workplace toxic?

In my view, a toxic or poisoned workplace is one where the dysfunction of the people within the work group negatively affects interpersonal interaction and productivity.  One of the things that Peter Edwards talks about in his book[1] is how there are different types of people in a workplace. There are the positive leaders – they come in and they’re keen, and they want to do extra stuff. Sometimes you want to slap them because they’re so perky! Then you have the rogues, the negative leaders, who are perpetually negative and stirring the pot. In the average workplace, there are 5% on either side, book ending, positive and negative. You have the 70% in the middle, who are neutral and essentially just come to work and do their job. Then some that fill in the gaps.

In a toxic workplace, what happens is more and more of the neutrals start to go over to the dark side, because there’s no enforcement of the rules. They engage in excessive chitchat, including malicious gossip, sometimes because they aren’t getting information in a proper manner and they don’t know what’s going on. There’s a huge amount of uncertainty so they start cutting corners. They stop doing any extra. They stop caring.

Our positive leaders and positive followers don’t usually go over to the dark side, but they become apathetic. They start to leave. Sometimes there can be a mass exodus. Suddenly everybody retires; they can’t get new people to come in because the reputation of the department or organization is terrible.

In a healthcare organization I worked with, the leadership was perceived to be playing favourites, but a big part of what was going on there was that it was a very highly regulated industry. They implemented a very vigorous risk management protocol so that if there was an error, there were reams of paperwork that had to be completed. A lot of individuals saw that as punitive, but in fact, people weren’t being punished or disciplined. The problem was that the organization wasn’t being clear and wasn’t communicating the reasons behind the protocols. This lack of communication enabled a larger than normal group of negative leaders or rogues.  When the managers didn’t handle the rogues, they ended up with a very unhappy group of employees overall.

What is the most surprising part of the workplace restoration process for you?

People are often shocked when I do my assessments, because I start by asking people what they like about their workplace. Most of the time I get a vast majority of responses, if not 100%, that have really positive things to say about the workplace and really positive things to say about their colleagues.

I remember working with a group a few years ago in a fairly intense work environment, a 24/7 operation. Word on the street was the manager was crap. The manager was not doing their job. The manager was terrible. In that particular case, I was jointly retained by union and management. One of the things that I’ve learned along the way is that you really need to check in with the actual troops on the ground. I interviewed 50 staff, and 48 of them had no issues with the manager.  However, two staff absolutely hated the manager’s guts. These two were absolutely vitriolic about the manager. These employees were very skilled and respected members of the team, but for whatever reason, they did not get along with their manager.

As part of the restoration process, I met with two groups of 25 employees to reveal the findings of the interviews. I told the group, “You’re going to note in my slides that there are no management issues, and that is because 96% of you stated you had no issues with the management of this team.” Suddenly, the whole room is looking around going, “Wow. That’s interesting.” The group recognized there were a couple of loud mouths, who are very powerful and persuasive leaders, stirring things up, but they didn’t know how to handle them. There were other issues in this organization, but there was a complete disconnect about what the actual source of the problem was. A huge part of restoring that workplace was acknowledging and jointly working on solutions for the real problems, as well as shutting down the malicious gossip about the manager.

What do you think the most important step in a workplace restoration is?

If I was going to choose the most important part, I think it’s developing and communicating clearly the terms of reference for the process right up front, because you’re going to keep falling back on that when you do the plan, when you do the implementation, and when you do the evaluation. People have to know what you are going to do because typically they have lost the ability to trust.

Why is Queen’s IRC introducing a Workplace Restoration training program?

Queen’s IRC offers a course called Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation, and we heard the feedback that people need to know what to do after the investigation is over, to help repair the damage done by a strike or merger or investigation. Additionally, IRC participants were asking detailed questions about how to restore and rebuild workplace relationships where there has been a history of bullying or sub-standard behaviour.  So in addition to adding a module to the Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation program on this topic, Queen’s IRC decided to introduce a 3-day Workplace Restoration course to delve more deeply into this process.

There’s lots of courses out there that just give you the assessment part. That’s a component, but it’s not the whole thing. This course will teach people the whole process – from the assessment, to making and implementing a plan, to the evaluation. (Read more about the 4 Steps to Fix a Toxic Workplace.)

What will people learn in the Queen’s IRC Workplace Restoration program?

They will feel prepared to recognize and define some symptoms of a toxic workplace. They will be equipped to conduct an assessment to understand more clearly what the real problems are in the workplace. They will have tools and techniques to plan and implement the restoration plan, and they will also have some guidance as to how to go about evaluating it after the fact.

I’m a total believer in the Queen’s IRC approach, which is: teach it, do it, teach it, do it, teach it, do it. Participants will create terms of reference in a simulation based on current workplace problems. They’ll conduct some interviews. Then they’ll get a series of surveys, and, in groups, they all assess a workplace based on the information they got from me in the simulation.  Program participants will create a plan, write a report and compile recommendations to address the issues in the simulation.  Finally, they will learn how to go back and evaluate the process to ensure on-going mutual respect in the workplace.

Who should attend the Workplace Restoration program? How will it be useful to different people?

The ideal audience for this program includes anyone who has a leadership role in the workplace – that could be formal leadership roles, HR professionals, union executives, stewards, and so on, but it also could be technical leaders, clinical leaders or organizational development professionals.

Workplace restoration is about partnering with your union and collaboration between managers and employees to create the workplace that everyone really needs.

Different groups are going to have different levels of issues. This program is going to give them the awareness of the things they should be looking for so they’re finding the symptoms up front. How do we recognize this ripple before it becomes a tidal wave? I think part of it is people don’t know where to start.

A section of this course is going to be talking about what kind of questions to ask and how to do an assessment, but a big part of it is, what do we do with the information? How do we reengage the staff? How do we bring them back to a joint vision of what the workplace should be?

They will learn how to do an assessment, including some ideas around different kinds of terms of reference for these processes, whether they retain somebody, or whether they do it in house. They will learn how to tailor it to their context, to their workplace, and how to customize this approach to their specific issue. They will learn not only how to gather the information, but how to analyze it. It may be that they already have a lot of this information. So what are we going to do with it?

In closing, what do you like about the workplace restoration process?

I really, really like doing this work. This work is very satisfying, because what I have found is the vast majority of people want to do the right thing. I think that our job, as Labour Relations professionals, is to make it easy for them to do the right thing. Studies have shown that people want to come to work. They want it to be a bit friendly. They want it to be a bit relaxed. They want to do a good job.  This applies to senior staff and millennials and everyone in between.  They want to feel like they’re really contributing something. I think that’s what this process is tapping into.

 

About Anne Grant

Anne GrantAnne Grant has practised as a full time mediator and conflict resolution professional since 1994.  Anne’s dispute resolution practice includes extensive mediation of labour and civil disputes. She specializes in the assessment and restoration of poisoned work environments as well as conducting a range of workplace investigations. Currently she is the lead facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Labour Relations Foundations, Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation, and Workplace Restoration programs, and Past President of the ADR Institute of Ontario. Anne has far-reaching experience handling toxic workplaces in the public and private sector. She provides strategies to address dysfunction at the individual, team and departmental level. Her experience includes extensive mediation of civil and labour disputes, as well as facilitation, poisoned work environment interventions and human rights investigations.

 


[1] Johnson, J., Dakens, L., Edwards, P., & Morse, N. (2008). Switchpoints: Culture Change on the Fast Track to Business Success. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

4 Steps to Fix a Toxic Workplace

How do you fix a hostile workplace after a strike, merger or other polarizing event? How do you create a healthy workplace after a harassment or grievance investigation? It can be difficult to rebuild the trust that has been lost between members of a team or in leadership, or both. But, according to Anne Grant, a Queen’s IRC facilitator and workplace restoration specialist, you have to bring people back to a joint vision of what the workplace should be.

Is Your Workplace Toxic?

According to Anne, a toxic or poisoned workplace is a work environment where the work product is being affected by the dysfunction of the members of the team. Some signs and symptoms of a workplace that needs help could be an increase in grievances or sick time; it could be more people quitting or retiring; it could be difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent. But there are also more subtle signs, like apathy among workers or an increase in gossip or bullying.

“We have all kinds of processes for addressing a complaint,” says Anne. “But we don’t have as many processes for getting back to an ideal workplace after a complaint or polarizing event like a merger, strike or perhaps a big investigation.”

And that’s where a workplace restoration comes in. Whether it is addressing difficulties with management, a group of rogue employees spreading negativity through the office, or an issue that no one ever got around to investigating, a workplace restoration can help re-establish communication and trust in an organization.

Anne shares four steps to fix a toxic workplace:

1. Assessment

The first step is to figure out what’s really going on by doing an assessment of the situation. Why do we have a lack of trust? Why do we have apathy? Why do we have dysfunction?

Sometimes assumptions are made that are not quite correct, so the first step is always to find out what the actual issues are by talking directly to the staff. It could be dysfunctional team relations or team behaviour, which could include malicious gossip, bullying behaviours, or perhaps some members of the team just not getting along.  Another issue that often comes up is challenges with management practices. There may be a perception of favouritism, that management isn’t managing the workplace or that there’s a lack of planning. Perhaps there’s the perception of unfairness, that management isn’t managing the negative performers or correcting unacceptable behaviour.

A key part of the assessment piece is to communicate the process and be clear that it’s not an investigation. Perhaps a memo that says: “We have recognized that there are some challenges on this team. We are going to be doing a workplace assessment starting on this day. You will be able to complete a confidential survey and/or attend a confidential interview. Then the survey results and our plan will be released at a meeting next month.”

When completing the assessment, you might find that there are operational or technical issues, but most likely, you will find that there’s a lack of trust and communication.

Anne worked with a group of public works employees who drive snow plows. The initial information was that: “Oh, there’s a couple of guys, and they don’t get along with the new guys. It’s a millennial thing.” However, as she dug into the issue and spoke to the employees, she found that one of their biggest issues was that they didn’t feel like there was a plan for their department. They felt like everything they did was at the whim of the manager. George said: “You know, Frank and I are the only two guys that can drive the grader, and we’re pretty close to retirement, and we don’t see the plan for who’s going to get to drive the grader next.”

2. Plan

The second step is to make a plan to move forward. How are we going to fix this? Are we going to send the manager for sensitivity training? Are we going to give everybody a refresher on bullying? Are we going to work to model some effective workplace structures, like effective staff meetings and that sort of thing? What is the plan going to be?

In Anne’s example above with the snow plow drivers, the discovery of the real issues led to the development of a skills inventory being posted, so the workers knew who was certified to drive different pieces of equipment. It incorporated the seniority list, so it had senior employees at the top and junior employees at the bottom. Everyone could see who had what certifications, and then it could be used to plan who would be next to get training. Going straight down the seniority list wasn’t working, because George and Frank, who were at the top of the list and were the most senior guys, were going to be gone in the next year. The next person on the list, Sam, was already was certified in two other areas, and it didn’t make sense to certify him in the grader because he could only drive one piece of equipment at a time. Identifying some tangible issues meant that they were able to make an effective plan to work towards a more ideal workplace.

3. Implement the Plan

This is where the rubber hits the road in the process. Many times, organizations do the assessment and planning pieces, but the recommendations never get implemented.

One of the ways that a workplace restoration differs from a grievance investigation is that it’s not about disciplining the rogue employee(s) or manager; it’s about identifying what the ideal workplace looks like for that team, and figuring out how to make it happen.

A big part of the implementation is communicating to the staff what can and can’t be done, and why. “We’re going to do this this month. We’re going to do that next month. That recommendation that you made, it’s a great idea, but because of the regulations for our industry, we can’t implement it.” The workers need to know that they have been heard. Treating them like partners will help motivate desired behaviour.

Anne says while it’s important to acknowledge the injury in order to heal and move forward, the focus has to be on the ideal workplace and what steps can get you there. A key part of that process is education – it’s a good opportunity to remind people of expected and substandard behaviour, without blaming or singling out individuals. “One of the issues that was reported in the survey is some substandard behaviour. There’s noncompliance with our organizational code of conduct or with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

Anne recalls a workplace restoration experience at a coal yard. There were many complicated issues, but one of the workers said: “We need a Tim Horton’s down by the lagoon.” It turned out that a bunch of these guys worked outside down by the lagoon all day, with a Johnny on the spot and no access to a cafeteria. Everybody up in the main building had access to hot coffee, a cafeteria and real bathrooms. One of the things that they were able to implement as part of the workplace restoration was getting a coffee truck to come down to the lagoon at 9:00 in the morning and at 1:15 in the afternoon to sell them hot coffee. While there were big issues that were not easily fixed, this small step made the workers feel like they had been heard and contributed to creating a more ideal workplace. The coffee truck was bringing more than caffeine. It was bringing good will.

4. Evaluation

The final part of the process is a check-in. Anne recommends an evaluation in three months, six months, or a year, depending on the situation. This reminds the troops that their leaders haven’t forgotten about them, and it continues to engender trust and engagement from the staff. It also holds everyone accountable for maintaining the new processes and expected behaviours. People fall off the wagon after a while, and by completing an evaluation, it holds all parties accountable.

 

Queen’s IRC has introduced a new Workplace Restoration program, which will teach you how to address a toxic workplace to rebuild relationships and productivity.

Queen’s IRC Certificate Fast Facts

Did you know that we offer Certificates in Advanced Human Resources, Organization Development, Labour Relations, and Advanced Labour Relations? When you place a Queen’s University IRC Certificate on your wall, it tells your colleagues that you have received leading skills-building education and that you are a committed continuous learner.

Certificate Fast Facts:

  • You need 12 credits to earn a certificate
  • 1 credit generally equals 1 training day
  • You can take programs in the order that best addresses your learning needs or fits your schedule
  • We offer programs across Canada
  • Certificates have prerequisites, but we can sometimes substitute these prerequisites depending on your experience – you still have to earn 12 credits to earn a certificate
  • In order to receive an Advanced Labour Relations Certificate, you must first earn the Labour Relations Certificate
  • Added bonus: credits never expire and there is no set time to complete your certificate

Visit our website for more information about our Certificates.

Still have questions? Contact us at 1-888-858-7838 or irc@queensu.ca.

Transforming HR Data into Business Insight: A Closer Look at the HR Metrics and Analytics Program

Jim Harrison teaching at the HR Metrics and Analytics programQueen’s IRC recently introduced the HR Metrics and Analytics program to help HR professionals analyze metrics and transform data into powerful stories for their leaders.

Led by Queen’s IRC Director Paul Juniper and Queen’s IRC facilitator Jim Harrison, the program was designed to help HR professionals become more confident and competent in how to analyze data, how to use data properly, and how to share it in ways that can help their organization make decisions.

According to Paul, one of the key things people learn is how to link the data to the story. “Data with no story is not helpful. A story with no data is not going to be believed. You need to meld the two together.”

“Some people can be really good with the data, but they haven’t had the practice or experience at presenting to senior leadership,” Paul said. “Alternately some people who are in HR have been afraid of using data and numbers, but they’re really good with the story. They don’t know how to pull the right numbers out of the data in order to support their story.”

Brenda Grape, an HR Business Partner at AMI, recently attended the HR Metrics and Analytics program. “I was really thrilled with it. It definitely went above what I expected.” Brenda said that she really got a lot out of the case studies, specifically being able to focus on how she wanted to present the story that goes with the numbers, as well as focus on the numbers that back the story.

“I loved the overall pace and format of it. I liked the pieces of lecture, but I love the practical hands-on approach.”  She is already using the knowledge and skills she learned at the HR Metrics and Analytics program back at work. “I’m utilizing the tools on a regular basis.”

Brenda enjoyed the interactive nature of the program, and being able to work with other people. “It was a good group of people, all bringing different perspectives.” She said that coming from a small organization, it was good to get a variety perspectives, including from HR professionals in larger organizations and other industries.

Heather Francis, Manager of Employee Benefits for High Liner Foods, also participated in the HR Metrics and Analytics program.  “For me, the lecture style learning is important as well as the collaboration, the ability to talk to my colleagues sitting around the table, and to learn from them as well,” she said.

“When I was thinking about HR and analytics, just because I’m so new to it, I was thinking on a very, very small spectrum. Through the course, I’ve been given a tool box of things that I can use and apply. I’m very interested in where it’s going to take us in the next year to five years. I think it’s a very good program.”

Post-program evaluations have given HR Metrics and Analytics a very positive response, with participants citing the right mix between lecture and teamwork, and the practical application of the concepts learned as the most valuable aspects.

Kenji Nuhn, a Human Resources Reporting Specialist at CAA South Central Ontario, said it can be a little chaotic trying to make sense of all the data in HR. “What this program has done for me is given me a very solid foundation to work off of. It’s a very clear and organized way of thinking.”

He values the tools and frameworks that were presented in the program. “It’s given me a very easy way to organize my data, and a very simplified way to make recommendations through the data that I collect, interpret, and report on.”

Facilitator Jim Harrison describes this program as a real working session, a sentiment echoed by Brenda Grape and other attendees. Participants work through a number of case studies during the three-day program, in addition to the option of working on a real-world project.

“We ask you to bring a live project or a live situation from your organization,” Jim said. “You get to apply the tools and the templates and what you’ve been learning, and we give you direct feedback on that. We think that it’s really important that if people are going to take the work that they’re doing in the program back into the real world, we bring the real world into the program to let them work on it directly.”

Michael MacBurney is the People Relations Manager with WestJet. He chose the HR Metrics and Analytics program because his organization has recently put HR at the business table. “This program, I felt, could provide me with some tools, a different way of thinking, a different skill set to take back to that table and be a better asset to the company.”

Michael enjoyed the being able to work in groups to really get a good grasp of some of the concepts that were being taught, before taking them back to the real world. “I think in HR specifically, we see a lot of theory doesn’t necessarily translate into practice,” Michael said. He valued being able to draw off others’ experience and learn how things work in other organizations, so he could draw correlations into what might work within his organization.

“It’s been eye-opening to understand it’s not just solid numbers that you’re taking back to the business,” Michael said. “It’s really a bigger picture, in that you need to essentially captivate your audience, tell the story and understand what story you’re hoping your business to understand.” Other points that resonated with him included not getting too lost in the numbers, really understanding what you’re trying to solve when analyzing numbers, and using the numbers to support your argument. “I definitely recommend Queen’s IRC programs to any individual who’s looking to take something new back to their organization.”

Facilitator Paul Juniper believes this program can be beneficial to all organizations. “It will help them bring clarity to what information they’re collecting and why, and what they’re going to do with it. Some organizations leapt into metrics quite early. What they found is now they produce massive amounts of data and the data is distributed. Unfortunately people don’t know why they’re getting it and they don’t know how to use it. There’s a need for some organizations to take a step back and say, ‘What are we going to collect and why? How are we going to use it? How are we going to report on it?’ This course will teach you how to do all of those things.”

 

To see upcoming dates and locations for the HR Metrics and Analytics program, please visit our website: HR Metrics and Analytics

5 Insights into Conducting Effective Fact-Finding Investigations

5 Insights into Conducting Effective Fact-Finding Investigations Fact-finding is an essential skill set for anybody who is in an HR, labour relations or employee relations role. If you stay in this role, at some point you will end up doing investigations, and having this skill set is going to make you much more efficient as a practitioner.

Jerry Christensen, who recently retired from the City of Calgary, managed and coordinated the City’s respectful workplace program and dealt with all of their human rights issues. With previous experience working in the criminal justice system and with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, Jerry has worked in several regulatory environments where someone had to be held accountable. In this interview, Jerry shares his thoughts about the value of fact-finding and investigation training for HR and LR practitioners, as well as the five most important things he’s learned about conducting effective fact-finding investigations.

“If you’ve not done any workplace investigations, never had any training to do so, and then find yourself being thrust into that role, it can be very intimidating. The word ‘investigation’ is going to be flashing in front of your face in letters that are 10 feet high and blazing red. You may find yourself feeling anxious and nervous about your role in this process.” Jerry points out that this is why it’s important to have training in fact-finding. “Usually, when people are intimidated about the process, they’re going to stumble through it and they may not do it very well.”

As an investigator at the City of Calgary, Jerry took on a neutral role, where he didn’t advocate for one party or the other. This was very important to his role, because if HR or LR are perceived to be favouring one side, the parties involved may feel that it’s not a fair investigation.

Improving your skills in fact-finding is another essential tool in your toolkit, Jerry says. “These skills are your bread and butter as an HR or LR practitioner. I think taking the Queen’s IRC Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation course increases your competency as a professional.”

“Fact-finding is really all about talking to people. I really believe this kind of training is going to help improve their communications skills and their ability to engage with all types of people more effectively. It doesn’t matter what job you do or what kind of business you’re in. I believe that this training will be of benefit to you.”

Whether you’re just starting out, or whether you’ve been through some fact-finding investigations before, Jerry shares the five most important things he’s learned about conducting effective fact-finding investigations.

1. Good Investigations Are Thorough And Fair

The two main criteria for a good investigation are thoroughness and fairness.

It’s important to respond effectively to complaints in the early stages because issues can escalate quickly, to a point where the workplace can get polarized and toxic very quickly. You have camps of ‘he said’ and ‘she said’, no one trusts anybody, and employees are upset with what they perceive as an unfair situation because they feel nothing is being done to investigate the complaint. Productivity goes out the window and work doesn’t get done. An employer’s reputation can be negatively impacted very quickly because these perceptions become topics on social media or other outlets – nobody can keep it internalized anymore.

There are many cases where an employer has been accused of not doing a thorough and fair investigation. Those employers then have to deal with negative press, and possibly be involved in costly litigation.

Recently there have been media reports of an employee who launched a civil action, alleging that she brought forward what sounds like sexual assault allegations against another employee, and that the company didn’t deal with it properly. The employer will now have to demonstrate what they did and how they did it in order to defend themselves against those allegations in civil court. If they can’t prove that they investigated this in a fair and thorough way, and if they can’t demonstrate it with tangible facts or documentation, then their liability and reputation could be at risk.

2. Not All Investigations Are The Same

The word ‘investigation’ has a very negative value attached to it. For a lot of people, when they hear that word, they have their own perceptions of what investigations are – mainly from all the crime shows that we see on television. But crime shows don’t show the real way that workplace investigations should be done.

In some situations when a complaint is on the lower end of severity, there may be an opportunity to try to informally resolve the issue. HR and front line managers or supervisors should be able to (and prepared to) give coaching and/or advice to both parties so that they can resolve their conflict themselves. If they can do this, then nine times out of 10, the resolution will stick, and people will be able to work together much more effectively.

When the situation is dealing with more severe allegations, this is where the process tends to get more formalized. Complaints are written out and the allegations are very specific in terms of who, what, when, and where. People will have to be interviewed about their knowledge of the specific allegations. All of that information will have to be evaluated to determine if there has or has not been, a violation of some workplace rule or policy. If necessary, discipline may have to be imposed. In most people’s perception of what a workplace investigation entails, this type of process is what it would look like.

This is where the training that one can obtain through a fact-finding course, such as the one offered by Queen’s IRC, is going to help. It helps you learn to maintain that position of objectivity and fairness, and teaches you how to complete a thorough investigation and write proper reports. If you can demonstrate to the parties involved that your process is as thorough and fair as it can be, then they may be prepared to accept the outcome.

3. Patience Is The Key to Good Interviews

Everybody that I interview – everybody, it doesn’t matter who you are – they’re all nervous. On a scale of nervousness, with one being the least, and 10 being the most, usually most people are five and up when I come to interview them because, “Oh no …, now I’m involved in an investigation. Somebody might lose their job. I don’t want to get anybody in trouble.” Getting someone you are interviewing to a point where they feel comfortable to simply begin talking and having a conversation, that’s usually the biggest hurdle to overcome.

In the criminal justice system, people are interrogated, but in the workplace that approach tends not to get anything of value from the person you are trying to interview. You have to have a discussion with them in a way that’s not going to intimidate or make them feel threatened. Usually that’s the biggest hurdle right off the bat and sometimes this takes a while to achieve. Being patient and asking questions in a conversational tone will tend to get you the information you need.

4. People Present The Truth As They Know It

Most people want to tell you the truth as they know it. And by that I mean that people might tell you their version of what happened, and while they’re not lying, it’s very different from what somebody else saw. It’s how they perceive it and how they interpret the situation. They want to tell you that. You’ve got to be patient with them to give them the opportunity to get that out. Sometimes in an investigation, we want it done yesterday. But I’ve always taken the approach that I’m going to do it as quickly as possible, but it’s going to be thorough, and if thorough means taking an extra few days to get the information complete, then that’s what’s going to happen.

The most challenging types of investigations are where the allegations involve a situation that happened in the distant past. When allegations are several months or a year or older, people’s memories get very sketchy. Even though some of us like to think that we have really good memories, when it comes to specific details, we don’t. We tend to have recollections that are influenced with lots of other things that happened in our lives during the time period that is being investigated. Dealing with allegations that are old makes it very difficult to determine the validity of those allegations, and it may seem like the person being interviewed is not being forthcoming. In my experience most people want to be forthcoming but their memories don’t always cooperate.

5. Stay Neutral And Investigate Every Complaint

As an HR or LR practitioner, it’s important to investigate all complaints in the workplace, either formally or informally. The Jian Ghomeshi case really highlights this point. The workplace allegations that involved Ghomeshi were years and years in the making. Some people in the workplace may have minimized it as “Oh well, that’s just him,” or “We don’t believe that.” Then the proverbial volcano erupted. Obviously people who should have looked into those allegations didn’t, and if you have any training in fact-finding, you will know that your first obligation in situations like that is not to say, “Oh well, that’s just him.”

If your organization has HR or LR practitioners who are trained in fact-finding and investigations, they are going to be able to handle most workplace complaints. But there may be instances when you need to bring in an external investigator. If people have the perception that HR is too close to the situation, or isn’t able to handle the complaints, you should consider bringing in an external person that is going to have the perception of objectivity and the necessary skills to do a thorough and fair investigation. That’s crucial here.

As a good employer, you have a duty to investigate any complaints that are made. It doesn’t mean you have to do a great big huge investigation and interview hundreds of people, but you need to check into those allegations to determine what next steps need to be taken. Maybe you will find that this is a matter that can be resolved between two employees, or maybe a more thorough investigation needs to be launched, but you can’t just ignore the allegations.

Getting Ahead of the Shift: Summit Inspires Thoughtful Conversations About the Changing World of Work

With an impressive line-up of guest speakers and facilitators, the Queen’s IRC 2015 Workplace in Motion Summit brought together over 100 leaders in HR, OD and LR from across the country to engage in conversations about the workplace of the future, and the trends that are driving new models for organizational planning.

The Summit, held on April 16, 2015 in Toronto, featured a number of themes, including:

  • Talent: How do we engage, retain and motivate a new generation of workers?
  • Transformation:  How can organizations transform without trauma?
  • Making the shift: What do organizations need to do to shift to new models?
  • Managing overload: How do we keep up with evolving technology and trends?

What Matters in Today’s Workplace?

Summit Chair Brenda Barker Scott shared the characteristics of the new employee and introduced Courtney Jolliffe from Free the Children and James Prince from Me to We to talk about millennials at work. “Passion trumps choosing a location. We’re following what we’re passionate about,” said Jolliffe.  Jolliffe and Prince discussed what makes their jobs attractive, how they want to work, career expectations, and where in the world they want to work. They joked that, in true millennial fashion, they surveyed their teams to get input before their presentation – they prefer to work collaboratively and learn by interacting with their peer group.

“We don’t want our career to be limited by our job,” said Prince. He noted millennials have a flexible and fluid work-life balance and are seeking variation in their jobs.  Technology gives them the mobility to work anywhere in the world.

Brittany Forsyth, Vice President of Human Relations at Shopify, talked about the importance of culture in her organization.

“When we interview, we look at potential. Are they going to push their boundaries? Are they going to challenge other people? Are they ok with being challenged?” They want employees to fit their culture of innovation and resourcefulness.

The highlight of Forsyth’s presentation was the concept of Hack Days.  Every three months, Shopify employees are given two days to work on a special project that will improve the Shopify platform. They stop their day-to-day work and do something outside of their regular role. “It’s about creating the right environment for people to grow, learn, experiment and innovate,” Forsyth said. Many of the products and features created at Hack Days actually make it to market.

Hugh Ritchie from OpenText shared how technology is changing the world of work. “It has never been so disruptive,” he said. He discussed the impact of big data, the cloud, mobile, security, digital and the internet of things. He shared a number of facts and statistics:

  • There are generations that have ONLY known life with the internet.
  • Today more information is created every 2 days, than from 0 AD to 2003
  • 90% of world’s data was generated over the last 2 years
  • Mobile data traffic will grow 13X by 2017
  • 15 of 17 U.S. sectors have more data per company than the Library of Congress

A Deep Dive into HR, OD and LR

The afternoon featured break-out sessions with OD Leader Françoise Morissette, HR Leader Diane Locke, and LR Leader Anne Grant. Participants were able to choose two of the three sessions to attend, and then all attendees returned to the plenary for a large-group debrief.

Human Resources

Facilitator Diane Locke led a discussion around HR practices in a new work model, and introduced guest speakers from Telus and Samsung to share their best practices for attracting, developing, engaging and retaining talent.

Bryan Acker, Culture Change Ambassador with TELUS, discussed their Work Styles® program, which gives employees the flexibility to work when and where they are most effective, so they can focus on supporting an exceptional customer experience. He said this supports work-life balance, improves employee retention and delivers consistent productivity.  According to their new hire survey, work-life flexibility is shown to consistently be a talent attractor for TELUS.

Christine Greco, Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs at Samsung Canada, shared her company’s philosophy to have highly engaged, innovative “brand ambassadors” breaking boundaries in order to achieve long term success. Samsung’s work environment includes collaboration spaces, creativity rooms and a lounge/café. Their recognition program offers unique employee perks, and they are heavily involved within their communities.

Strategies and themes from the HR deep dive:

  • Creating organizations that are employee-centric
  • Encouraging collaborative connections
  • Mapping out varied career paths
  • Taking advantage of millennial strengths
  • Releasing collective leadership capacity

Organizational Development

Françoise Morissette opened the OD Session by talking about how the world is changing and organizations have to transform in order to remain relevant, sustainable, effective and successful. She introduced John Wilson, Corporate Culture Strategist with the City of Edmonton, to share how the City is strategically building a better city and changing their corporate culture.

The City of Edmonton’s long-term strategic plan, called The Way Ahead, establishes six 10-year strategic goals to achieve the City’s vision for Edmonton in 2040 and to direct long-term planning. Wilson shared the Citizen Dashboard, which provides performance information to the public about municipal services that support the City’s strategic plan.

Strategies and themes from the OD deep dive:

  • Culture shift needs leadership
  • Engage employees and clients to create solutions
  • Goals must be regularly measured, evaluated and adjusted
  • Build engagement and involvement through transparency and accountability
  • Find a vision, commit to the vision, and stay with the vision

Labour Relations

In the Labour Relations session, Anne Grant noted that, by 2031, it’s expected that one in three Canadian workers will be born in a different country, and that there will be roughly three people in the labour force for each retiree. Grant shared stories of unions cultivating strategic allies and partnerships, rather than adversarial rivalries in order to succeed in the global world.

Crystal Scott, past-president of CUPE Local 3521, told the group about turning around a fairly inactive local by increasing engagement, providing training to members (who hadn’t had training in almost 20 years), and working with management to create better processes and policies for her members. The session revealed that unions and employers deal with many of the same kinds of issues.

Strategies and themes from the LR deep dive:

  • We must develop partnerships and increase communication between unions across Canada, North America and internationally
  • Social technologies can increase membership and engagement
  • Bargain for more than monetary benefits
  • Honour seniority but embrace new talents and contributions
  • Form partnerships with employers to forge more collaborative, less adversarial relationships

What’s your one thing?

At the end of the day, participants were asked what “one thing” they would take action on when they returned to the workplace. The most common theme was a determination to increase collaboration – between colleagues, across teams, in change, in long-term strategies, and with senior leaders.

Other action items included:

  • Have the courage to search and advocate for best practices not just accept the status quo
  • Look for solutions not problems
  • Help to foster an environment where new ideas, innovation, improved processes, creativity and fun are all encouraged
  • Share at least 1 positive/optimistic thought with coworkers everyday
  • Think about what’s next and not get caught up in what’s right now
  • Invite and create more opportunities to hear other perspectives outside of my immediate team
  • Look to find commonalities across groups of employees, rather than focus on our differences (ie: age, gender, department)
  • Update outdated key messaging on job descriptions and ensure that we are selecting the appropriate staff to fit our culture
  • Integrate the considerations for millennial workforce into the senior leadership HR and OD strategies
  • Promote client and leader reflection with thought-provoking questions
  • Build strategies to engage youth in organized labour

 

Pictures from the Summit are available on Facebook

Infographics from the Summit are available on Facebook

Summit Proceedings can be downloaded here

Exploring Senior Leadership in the Canadian Mental Health Association

Clark MacFarlane, Executive Director, CMHA – Cochrane-Timiskaming BranchClark MacFarlane has over twenty years of experience in the health care sector, and is currently the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) – Cochrane-Timiskaming Branch, in northern Ontario. CMHA branches provide direct service to people who are experiencing mental illness, and to their families. They are in the process of implementing a new service delivery model, which shifts from traditional treatment methods to a recovery approach.

In this interview with Queen’s IRC, Clark discusses the funding challenges of being an incorporated charitable organization almost completely dependent on government funding, the difficulty in building the talent pipeline in northern Ontario, and the struggles that come with leading an organization with multiple sites. He opens up about the rewards and challenges of managing in a unionized environment, the cultural shift that happened when the union came in, and the lessons learned in the first round of collective bargaining. Clark talks candidly about what they could have done better in change management, and the steps he takes to create a healthy work environment with happy and engaged employees.

Coaching Skills: Post-Program Perspectives

Queen's IRC Coaching Skill training program brochure coverIn December 2014, Queen’s IRC introduced a new two-day Coaching Skills program. With long-time Queen’s IRC facilitator Françoise Morissette at the helm, the program promises to deliver essential coaching skills, tools and models to help participants master the coaching process and improve performance at the individual and organizational level.

“Coaching is popular because it’s very portable and can be used formally or informally,” said Françoise, the lead facilitator for the program. She said coaching is a good opportunity to turn knowledge into know-how.  For organizations to compete, people development is becoming essential and employers are looking for opportunities to develop and manage talent. Training employees in coaching is one way to do that.

Talent is an organization’s biggest asset, and Françoise said she has heard over and over again that it’s not being managed well. “The program participants were very aware of the huge shifts happening in the world of work and how things will have to be different in the future of work.” Coaching is part of a larger set of vital skills that include talent management and talent development.

The inaugural program was very well received by participants. In fact, our post-program evaluations revealed that 100% of respondents found the programming to be directly relevant to their work. All respondents indicated that they agree or strongly agree that the IRC’s programming met their expectations and learning objectives. The evaluations indicated that all of the tools and modules were applicable to the participants’ work, with the “GROW Coaching Model” topping the list.

Raymond Wubs, an HR Business Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, said he found the GROW coaching model the most valuable part of the course.  He was pleased with all the extras that were provided, including the database of coaching questions to help find different ways of asking questions when you’re coaching.

“I am the lead for talent management and performance management at the Ministry of Transportation, so this has a direct link to my role,” Raymond said. “I was pleasantly surprised with how closely it linked to what I was hoping to get out of it.”

Raymond said he intends to take a more intentional role in developing their top talent, and the tools he received in the Coaching Skills program will help him do that.

Brittany Francis, an HR Business Partner at High Liner Foods, said she was looking for some skills to help her in her role, where she works with front line supervisors on a regular basis. She found the tools in the program extremely applicable. “I can use these tools every day, both at work, and at home.”

“I went in with an open mind, and my expectations were exceeded,” Brittany said.  She found the most value in practicing new skills as they went along, and in the takeaways, such as the question banks.

All of the participants interviewed had glowing reviews about facilitator Françoise Morissette. Brittany describes Françoise as knowledgeable, passionate, and humorous. Raymond says she is an excellent and knowledgeable facilitator. “She’s really engaging and she keeps the energy up in the classroom.”

Denise Miedzinski, Human Resources Manager at The Foray Group, agrees that Françoise is an excellent facilitator, and she enjoyed all of the extra pieces that were included. Denise also really liked the GROW model – she says it’s simple in a good way.  Denise plans to teach the other leaders in her organization how to use the model.

Denise brought along a colleague to the Coaching Skills program. She says it was beneficial because now they are both talking the same way about coaching. Denise saw value in how the program puts coaching in context, talks about facilitating and performance coaching, uses role plays, and allowed her to work with people from other organizations.

“I’ve done a lot of coaching, and I wanted to see if there was any additional skills I could pick-up.” She said that the Coaching Skills program tied in nicely with the Queen’s IRC Talent Management program, which Denise also completed in the fall of 2014.

Françoise said the Coaching Skills program is useful for managers and HR professionals, because whether they realize it or not, they spend a lot of their time coaching. But the potential use for coaching extends far beyond the traditional top down coaching methods.  Françoise noted that we are seeing more peer coaching, and bottom up coaching, where perhaps a younger person might be coaching an executive on new technology.

Please visit our website for more information on the Queen’s IRC Coaching Skills program.

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