Integrity in the Workplace Especially Now

Integrity equals trust.  What does trust look like at work? Is it aligning your actions with the mission, and values of the company?  Does it involve more than moral judgment and character, honesty and leadership values?  What leadership values does having integrity require?  Are those leadership values in place for the owners, executives or other decision makers within a company?  What does it look like for leaders to not have integrity?

Further to that employers and employees have likely read many articles on the importance of having integrity.  They like me may have questions as to the fundamentals of having and keeping integrity alive in the workplace.  The first is the defining and monitoring the methodology in place regarding the efficacy of a document that outlines values to be followed in relation to the day-to-day business operations.  Secondly the question may arise as to how integrity is monitored in relation to the overall success of the business.  The third area that there may be questions in is what steps are taken to have a process get back on track when integrity is missing or has gone off the rails.

In my experience for integrity to be present and functioning the characteristics of trust and respect must be solidly in place first.  When business owners do not trust and respect one another decision are not likely to be based on honesty and alignment with the company values.    Further to that when trust and respect are missing at the ownership or leadership level they are also missing within the various employee groups within the company.

Having a reference document around integrity is valuable and for it to be fully utilized it must contain processes for managing conflict and diversity in a manner consistent with the values of the business.  For integrity to be present the employer and employees need to have a mutual basis of trusting and respecting one another while maintaining a healthy respect for diversity.

In the event the business you are in as an employer or an employee is not thriving it would seem to be prudent to do a quick check as to what areas of the business are out of integrity or alignment with the stated values of the company.  It may be that a quick fix solution will put the process back on track.  It may mean designing a process to monitor and track day-to-day operations to identify areas where a lack of trust and respect have eroded and caused the current situation.  It may mean that the owners or executives need to set aside time to relearn or begin to value one another and allow for trust and respect to show-up in interacting with one another.

Integrity is a word that takes action, courage, and a willingness to change for it to be alive and well in a workplace.  As an employer, a leader, and an employee integrity requires trust and from trust comes commitment.  Ask yourself what you are doing in your workplace to promote trust and commitment.


Marie-Helene Sakowski, Business Consultant SME’s,

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The Feel of Success – Three Strategies to get you there

Success may not always look the way we think it should.  However it should feel a certain way.  It should feel good, like something has been accomplished or completed.  There are articles aplenty on what successful people do, how they do it, what they foster, and what they do not do.  How do you feel when you are being a success?  More importantly have you defined what success is for yourself or your business?

  1. Define what success is for you.

Articles about great business successes and the leaders at the helm have their place.  One thing they cannot do is define success for you.  My own journey has had me unpack personal success and take away what others have defined as success and develop my own terms for it.  I now have success on my terms not the terms of others.  I started with defining personal success and what that felt like.  For example it feels right to support causes that have diversity and compassion built into their framework.  It also feels right to work with individuals and businesses that have a commitment to the people they serve.

  1. Define what you want to achieve.

What are motivated to achieve?  What strengths are you bringing to your life and to your business?  Many people talk about feeling like a fraud because they do not fell truly successful.  A suggestion to overcome that is to focus on what you want to achieve.  If you want to be self-employed do it.  If you want to be a manager set to work for that to come about.  Having achieved your goal acknowledges the achievement as a success.  It may not look like you thought it would.  Allow yourself to feel the satisfaction of your accomplishment and celebrate that.  Celebrating the small successes is important to feeling successful.

  1. Align personal and business goals.

When your personal and business goals are aligned there is a sense of freedom and happiness.  Ensure you do the work to have that alignment in place.  It may be that you value working for a company that has a strong ethical base and the products and services made available reflect that.  Or you may value a company that has a creative culture and a casual work environment.  Whatever it is have the goals align and your feeling of success will certainly grow.

Feeling successful is more than the money you make, the influence you have, and the trappings of material goods.  While it is important to be able to support yourself it is also important to feel your accomplishments and celebrate your own individual attributes.


Marie-Helene Sakowski, Business Consultant SME’s






Online Privacy and Your SME

At a recent seminar on promoting online small business success the subject of privacy was given a great deal of attention.  The overall message focused on the need for accountability, consent, and the limiting use, disclosure and retention of information collected.  A brief overview for the scope of each area follows.

  1. Accountability

An individual within your business needs to be assigned or appointed to ensure you are compliant with the privacy laws in your jurisdiction.  Further to that ensure that your employees need to be aware of what data is being collected and why to avoid complaints. Having a privacy policy in place that is compliant and visible on your website or other online presence is necessary.  The protection of personal information held by your business is required even when that information is transferred to a third party for processing.


  1. Consent

When data is being collected ensure that the purpose for its collection is defined.  Consent for data collection needs to obtained and needs to be explicit.  Only collect the data needed for carrying out business.  This applies even when collecting email addresses.


  1. Limiting Use of Data

When obtaining data do so authentically (use of deception is a violation of privacy).  Provide a clear and concise explanation of how the information will be used and with whom it will be shared.  It is recommended that proof of consent be retained.  Do not deny a product or service to an individual who fails to consent to the collection, use or disclosure of information beyond that required to fulfill an explicitly specified and legitimate purpose.  Explain to individuals the implications of withdrawing their consent.  Dispose of information that does not have a specific purpose or no longer fulfills its intended purpose.

Privacy compliance provides transparency to your clients.  It gives you a further competitive edge in that you are following of best practices.  It is my belief that clients appreciate that and appreciate your business as a result.


Marie-Helene Sakowski,  Business Consultant SME’s

Change Management 3 Steps from Strategy to Action

Having worked for a number of different industries in a change management capacity the heavy lifting comes about in engaging management and the remaining workforce to move from talking about change to actually taking action towards change.  I am sure that many of you agree talking about change is a favored pastime that does not go anywhere in terms and is actually counterproductive in the long run.

Following are some suggestion to engage everyone into purposeful action that leads to the strategic change desired.

  1. Take a close look at where things are currently.

The strategy for the change initiative has been communicated.  Managers, employees and the champions for the process are in place and seemingly ready to go.  Something is missing as despite the communications process and daily and weekly updates the process is seemingly stalled.  Begin with asking your team what appears to be the blockage point.  Listen closely to what is or is not being said.  It may be that there is a fear of losing autonomy, scope, or simply fear of the unknown.  Ask outside of the team for input as to what it would take to have change be accomplished and embraced.

Once you have identified the common element to the resistance of change set out clear action steps that involve various stakeholders throughout the process.  Keep revisiting what is going on and revising until the initiative is complete.

  1. Revise as necessary after implementation

It is not unusual to have a process stall after a period of implementation and to have the workforce appear to revert to previous models of doing or completing tasks.  Take the time to schedule refreshers and feedback sessions and continue thee until such time as the changes are part and parcel of the day-to-day routine.

Once again ensure that stakeholders have clear actionable areas and that they continue to have buy-in.

  1. Hold a team meetings 6 – 12 months late

Team meetings are a perfect place to celebrate the successes and lay claim the action areas that are still outstanding.  Perhaps the areas that remain incomplete are no longer relevant and can be discarded.  Or there may be some additional initiatives that are relevant and timely as a result of the changes that have occurred.  Devise action steps to have the desired outcomes take place.


Change management by definition is often ongoing and clearly new strategies and action are required to keep up with dynamic markets.  Having inspired a company to go from talking about something to actually doing something about it is a good step towards ensuring additional changes have a better chance of being embraced and acted upon.


Marie-Helene Sakowski

Business Consultant SME’s

Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos

Essential Small Project Checklist

For many the start of a year brings with it the need to start or rekindle a series of small projects for completion within the first quarter.  In a busy PMO small scale projects may be overlooked or not given the attention they deserve.  Even those who are seasoned project managers need to review the essentials for the successful completion of the small projects on our horizon.

As is the case with all projects the essential areas to cover are:

  1. Project Name
  2. Goal – Scope Statement
  3. Objectives
  4. Constraints
  5. Risks
  6. Assumptions
  7. Estimated Costs
  8. Breakdown of Deliverables (Gantt Chart)
  9. Tracking Progress (Gantt Chart)
  10. Project Closing – Shared & Lessons Learned, Thanks, Final Report, Close Contracts and Accounting Codes

As with any project the last area is essential and one that deserves the attention and participation of all project stakeholders.  Thanks and the sharing of lessons learned is invaluable for other projects whatever their size may be.

Here is to your small project success over the course of the year!


Marie-Helene Sakowski

Business Consultant SME’sstocksnap_h2snxcyg1t