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.”

Announcement: Retirement of Paul Juniper

It is with mixed emotions that we announce that Paul Juniper has decided to retire after more than 10 years as the Director of the Queen’s University Industrial Relations Centre (Queen’s IRC).

Paul became the sixth Director of Queen’s IRC in 2006. During his time as Director, Paul expanded the IRC’s professional development programs to cities across Canada and internationally. He introduced a number of new human resources and labour relations programs, and conducted research into the state of the HR profession. He also developed and designed the Queen’s IRC Advanced HR Certificate to meet the increasingly complex professional development needs of HR practitioners.

Queen’s IRC has been a leading provider of premium professional development programs in labour relations, human resources, and organizational development since 1937, and has expanded and evolved over the past decade thanks to Paul’s exemplary leadership.

Paul will be greatly missed. We wish him all the best in his retirement. Fortunately, he will continue to serve as a facilitator for Queen’s IRC.

Stephanie Noel has been with Queen’s IRC for over 15 years. As the Business Development Manager, she was responsible for ensuring that the design and delivery of each program adhered to Queen’s IRC’s standard of excellence. She led the Queen’s IRC Program team as well as the Sales & Marketing team, and has been instrumental in developing and strengthening the IRC’s relationships with organizations and participants.

Stephanie Noel has been appointed the new Queen’s IRC Director, effective July 1, 2018.

Stephanie has worked with clients to tailor custom training programs specifically to their organization’s learning needs, and over the years, she has developed customized certificate programs with various organizations, including private sector, government and union organizations. Stephanie’s research interests include change management and labour relations practices.

Stephanie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics (Honours) degree from Laurentian University, and earned her Masters of Business Administration from Royal Military College of Canada.

Congratulations Stephanie!


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.

Celebrating 80 Years of Transformative Professional Programs at Queen’s IRC

This fall, Queen’s IRC is celebrating its 80th anniversary, and to celebrate this milestone we’re offering you the chance to win $1,000 off your next IRC professional development program!

Over the past 80 years, Queen’s IRC has supported thousands of Human Resources, Labour Relations and Organizational Development professionals through countless changes and transitions in the workplace. Throughout our long history of presenting well-respected and well-attended programs and conferences, we have consistently developed and refined programs to reflect current trends and issues.

Queen’s University originally introduced the study of Industrial Relations on October 12, 1937, when the University formed the Industrial Relations Section. It was the first department of its kind in the country, a true pioneer. In 1960, the Queen’s Industrial Relations Section was renamed the Industrial Relations Centre (IRC).  You can read more of our history on our website: About Us.

To celebrate 80 years of transformative professional programs at Queen’s IRC, you can enter our draw to win one of eight $1,000 IRC Gift Cards!


  • A total of eight (8) $1000 gift cards will be given away – total prizes worth $8000
  • Gift cards may be combined with early-bird discounts, group discounts or other special promotions
  • Limit one prize per person
  • Draw is open until December 31, 2017
  • Winners will be announced January 5, 2017
  • Gift cards must be used by December 31, 2018


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

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

Peter Edwards Delivers 2015 W. D. Wood Lecture

Peter Edwards, Vice-President Human Resources and Labour Relations at Canadian Pacific, delivered the 2015 W. D. Wood Lecture on November 6, 2015 at Queen’s University. Peter spoke about the future of work, the future of the labour movement and how technology will impact jobs.

Peter urged the audience to think about how things like controlling trains remotely, driverless cars, and completely automated factories are going to profoundly change the world.

“We either change with or ahead of them, or we’re out of the business. The world’s going to change,” Peter said. “We are living in transformative times. We’ve had changes like this in the past, but there’s just so many technologies coming together. There’s 70 billion of them in your pocket that you didn’t even know about, 2 billion in the phone’s core processor alone. The changes that we’re seeing will never go backwards.”

Peter brought the discussion back to today, and to our system of collective bargaining. He discussed his own successes in collective bargaining and his refreshing approach to union-management relations. To be successful you have to build a relationship, not just go into the collective bargaining process expecting it to be adversarial.

>> Download the transcript of Peter’s lecture here.

>> View Photos from the lecture on Facebook

2015 Workplace in Motion Summit a Success

The inaugural Workplace in Motion Summit was held last week in Toronto, with over 100 people in attendance. The one-day Summit brought together Human Resources, Organizational Development and Labour Relations professionals from across the country to learn about the future of work, and examine the trends creating the new world of work.

Summit Chair Brenda Barker Scott shared the characteristics of the new employee, the new work and the new workplace. Infographics contrasting the old world vs new world in terms of the new employee, the new work and the new workplace provided a basis for discussion amongst participants.

Millennials from Shopify, Free the Children and Me to We, shared how their companies have created innovative workplaces that are attractive to new workers; Hugh Ritchie from OpenText discussed how technology is changing the world of work.

The afternoon featured break-out sessions with OD Leader Francoise Morissette, HR Leader Diane Locke, and LR Leader Anne Grant. Guest speakers in these sessions were from TELUS, Samsung, the City of Edmonton, and CUPE. They shared stories about successful culture change, workplace innovation, and attracting and retaining talent in their organizations.

Summit proceedings and more information will follow in the coming months.

View Pictures from the Summit on Facebook

View Infographics from the Summit on Facebook

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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