Measuring High Potential Employees

All business owners need to be concerned with developing their high potential employees.  The areas that require measurement and tracking are:

  1. Capacity

A key area to focus on for up and comers is self-awareness.  Of crucial importance is the presence of the ability to build relationships at all levels of the organization.  Quick thinking and the ability to learn and maintain information is also necessary.

  1. Experience

Growing as an individual is one thing.  Growing a team is highly valuable.  Beyond that putting in place plans for the development of a number of teams and departments becomes essential.  Having success in this final stage is mandatory for achieving high placement. 

  1. Motivation

Desire for career success and attainment is basic to the success of a high potential employee.  People may have the talent and an enviable track record in terms of achievement.  The desire to be a top notch leader must be present for that person to move forward.

Each area is needed for the successful development of the high potential person or people within your business.

Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Procrastination Is Good for Creativity

Most of us have come to believe that procrastination is not good for us or our business.   Adam Grant author of “Originals – How Non-Conformists Move the World” has a different point of view.   He asserts procrastination is often a good thing especially when it comes to creativity.  From a productivity point of view procrastination may not be beneficial.

Another author Nancy Morris a Canadian Management Consultant has written a book “Procrastinate Now – Rethinking Time Management”.  Nancy also asserts that procrastination has a non-deserved bad rap. Time for pausing and re-evaluation of projects is important.  Waiting for the right time to launch a new project or initiative gives you the opportunity to re-access, tweak and enhance for an improved launch.

What are you working on that requires creativity and that has you pause in the middle of a project and re-evaluate?

Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Reasons to Hire Contract Workers

With the volatility of the economic climate in many industrialized counties including Canada, the USA and much of Europe the circumstances provide the perfect storm for the use of contractual consultants.

  1. Contract workers take the edge off of overwhelm due to overwork and or contraction.
  2. Contracts allow a business to keep its overhead manageable.
  3. Contracts with consultants add a different perspective to the workplace that in and of itself leads to positive change.
  4. Contract workers take the edge off of peak vacation periods and ensure that projects and or production stay on track saving costly financial overruns.

Contractors are a beneficial investment of time and resources especially in relation to the challenges of ongoing change.  The true value of a business is the people who work in it.  Shorter term contractors provide invaluable assistance in addressing current and future volatility.

Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Body Language Power Poses – Do They Work?

Researcher Amy Cuddy claims power poses work in terms of influencing your thinking and thereby your behavior patterns.  Working with men and women in a broad cross section of industries, mining, industrial, health care, manufacturing, construction, and various government agencies it has been my observation that they do work.  Further to that they work equally well for both genders.

Women and men who sit huddled at their desks with shoulders hunched in and head bent down do not appear to inspire confidence.  Nor do they appear to inspire collaboration.

On the other had men and women who take up space – stand confidently – arms their sides or on their hips with a solid stance inspire confidence and the desire to work collaboratively with them.

What I have observed suggests that Ms. Cuddy’s research has validity.  That power poses do influence the thoughts and behavior of the individual.  Power poses appear to also influence the behaviors of those around them.

Ms. Cuddy suggests that individuals practice power poses for two minutes prior to having an important meeting, discussion, or even job interview.  Her suggestion may have significant merit.  Certainly a two minute time investment is worth trying out to determine the validity of her research.  At the very least you may find your scope of influence at work or in your personal life growing.

Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Online Privacy and Your Business

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.


Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at


Integrity in the Workplace – When is it Safe to Tell it Like it is?

Like many people I hear about the importance of having integrity in your interactions with others.  Be true to yourself is a phrase that is used often.  Another is to speak your truth when interacting with others.  These are great phrases that we hear and that may have influence over our behaviour in our workplaces.  The question for me is “when is it safe to have integrity”?

We have all been in situations where a boss or co-worker has been in crisis mode and has been less than allowing for integrity to show up in a discussion or conversation.  When you are sitting in front of someone who is in crisis is that a safe time to tell it like it is?  Is that the time to be true to yourself and aligned with the principals you value? Is it even the time to bring up aligning with the vision, mission or values of the company?

These are questions to ponder regarding having integrity when things are going sideways.  As stated in a previous post integrity requires trust and respect.  When those characteristics are missing I would venture to say that is not the time to have a forthright discussion with a person whether that be a colleague or a higher up that you report to.

In the event the other person is in crisis it may be best to revisit the important issues you wish to bring up for another time when there is less emotional upheaval going in.  It has been my experience that until someone is ready and open to hear your message it falls on deaf ears.  When you feel you must say something the suggestion is that you wait for an opportune time.

In some workplaces that time may be illusive.  For those caught up in that scenario it may be best to keep your options open and find another employer that is more closely aligned with your values.


Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Keeping an Ethical Perspective in Project Management

As a Project Manager you have taken the challenges of having a specific outcome occur within a defined time period.  Often you have been selected for a particular project because of similar experience within the same industry.  There are times when your experience ensures that you will be able to bring along a host of team members, procurement, and financial solutions to the table.

While it may be accurate to say that you do have access to the resources required it may not be prudent to bring the same parties to table as with your previous projects.  Let’s look at why you want to maintain an ethical approach and avoid using the same pipeline.

  1. Procurement

Starting a new project requires working collaboratively with the new stakeholders likely the management team.  Before assuming that you have the right procurement assets at your disposal check with your team and ask them if they have a preference as to suppliers.  Make sure you involve the team in setting the criteria for procurement with the necessary variable that need to be compared.  Once that has been completed you may go ahead and start the RFP process.  It may well be that the ethics require a different set of vendors than you have worked with before.

  1. Financial Status

Keeping up the costs of a project are imperative to ensure overruns are reported and appropriate decisions made as to the overall status of the work performed.  Cost overruns and the downstream impact of those are particularly important.  In developing the project charter and scope of work a financial reporting process was put into play.  You may find yourself in the situation where one of the managers of a project that has been closed has yet to report the project financials and the cost overruns that occurred.  The financial report is due.  Ethically I would say that you let the project stakeholders know that you will be delaying the financial report for a defined period of time.  Let the stakeholders know you do not have complete data at this time and wish to report accurately the costs to date and the potential downstream impact.

  1. Individual Team Performance

As the person on charge it is important to monitor the performance of your team.  You may have a situation where you have a team member that has been consistently underperforming and you have had a several discussions with that person to no avail.  It is important that you have clarity as to the reason for the underperformance.  It may be that a personal matter at home or with the individual is impeding the performance.  It would be prudent to have a further discussion with the individual to determine what aspects of the work load stay with the person and what aspects get shifted to another team member.  Ongoing monitoring will be part of the process and it may well be that the person is divested of duties on the project.  It is important to act within the HR policies of the business and to handle the situation with discretion and confidentiality whatever course of action is taken.

Following the above suggestions will go a long way to keeping ethics in place.  A stronger project team may well be an unexpected benefit as well as increased goodwill with the stakeholders.  Ethics do pay off in the long term and add to overall success.


Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at


Signs the Change Management Initiative You Are Implementing is Working

Being on the forefront of change within a business setting is like living on the cutting edge of a new identity that has not quite yet completed its morphing into the next best thing.  At best the process is in a cocooning phase that is followed by the metamorphosis into a different mode of operating. You know you are on the right track when you have:

  1. Clarity about where you are headed and buy in from stakeholders.
  2. The team working with you are engaged and completing their accountabilities.
  3. Recommendations from employees are encouraged and implemented when and where it is feasible to do so. Further to that when it is not possible to implement a recommendation the reasons for the decision are articulated and shared.
  4. Employees and managers alike feel valued and part of the process because they have a say and they appreciate the investment of taking their feedback seriously.

It takes courage and commitment to keep the momentum in a change initiative moving forward.  It may not always be easy so enjoy it when it is.

Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Tip for Small Business and Succession Planning

As the owner of a successful operation you likely have several part time and full time employees and a standard way to doing business that has served you well over the course of the enterprise.  Full retirement may not be for you.  The sale of the business is not something you are ready for.

Enter the need for a phased in succession planning process and a reduced work and responsibility role for you.  Start the process now.  Look at the people in your employment and identify at least 2 candidates that are ready and able to take over a significant portion of your duties

Start training the person identified immediately on the duties and responsibilities that you currently manage.  Step back in the process and allow that person to make some changes.  After the training and period of stabilization take a complete break from the business and have the newly trained employee be responsible.

You may learn that you enjoy the freedom to come and go from your business as you please.  You may find that new sources of revenue materialize.  With that realization letting go and working fewer hours allows the details of the succession planning process to include a structured plan for your eventual exit.


Need greater clarity on the process for starting a succession plan – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Managing versus Leading

At one of the places I was recently working in I was searching for management level training to engage employees identified as having the potential to move into leadership roles.  During the search I found a plethora of training programs for leaders and a shortage of training programs or workshops for managers.

Programs for leaders included community base training, post-secondary courses, and workshops.  Management training was less evident and tended to focus on supervisory roles within manufacturing related areas.

Given that good management is essential to the running of a business it begs the question where do managers go for the exposure and mentoring required to move up the ranks of the organization.  Traditional mentoring may provide a partial solution.  Mentors may or may not have knowledge or experience of other industries and may have a narrow point of view as to what works best.  In other words those who are mentored by individuals within their own organization may only receive a small piece of what good management looks like.

Leadership training on the other hand is part and parcel of training many programs, workshops, and community based programs.  It is well and good to develop leadership.  The truth is though businesses tend to require more followers than leaders.

The question arising is why the emphasis on leading over managing?  Management is a cornerstone of a sustainable business even in the world in which we live in where change, flexibility, and volatility are the norm.

It is a good question and one that requires reflection and contemplation.  The management of business is paramount.  Having people with a strong grounding in the business as leaders is also vital.  It would seem that the scale of emphasising one over the other must be realigned or balanced.

Training facilities and post-secondary institutions often scramble to provide training programs for  current or perceived business needs.  It would seem that the identification of a lack of leadership over the past decade or two has brought about the focus on the need for leading.  It is my suggestion that managing be put back on the training agenda and quickly.

In today’s world good managing is as essential as good leading.  Take a look around your workplace to identify where the gaps lie in terms of the overall functioning of the business.  Is it leading or managing?  Are there enough followers or too many pseudo leaders?  Are managers in evidence or have they been made redundant?  Lastly where are you in the spectrum of managing and leading?

Need greater clarity – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at