Does Your Business Have the Capacity to Change

Often those in the top levels of a business are entrenched in having a business transition occur without having taken an accurate pulse as to what is actually involved.  This occurs in large and small businesses alike.

An accurate assessment of capacity relies on having your employees provide honest feedback as to what is on their plates currently along with their ability to take more on and have it turn out. Getting real as to what can take place is of course dependent on having honest feedback from employees.

Honesty requires trust.  Ensure you have that trust and that you are willing to have certain tasks be re-assigned, or have additional help brought in on a temporary basis to ease the strain of the current workload.

Assessing the capacity of your teams or teams and then taking the action necessary to ensure your team or teams have the necessary resources and support is crucial to the success of the business transition.

Contact me for a discussion regarding your business transition needs.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Change & Transition Consultant,

Communicate with Confidence

There is an expression that I grew up with that goes something like this “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, meaning that when things are difficult – action is required. The phrase is said to come from JFK’s father Joseph Kennedy. Action in many cases takes the form of communication.

Essentially the statement is one that resonates with me.  There are however a few additions I would make to communication with confidence.

  • When you need to communicate something that is challenging or difficult – show it – be in integrity with what is occurring.
  • Pause and listen carefully before speaking or entering into a debate.
  • Hone your listening skills – pay attention to what is not being said.
  • Be aware of what you are saying and how your body is positioned – have good posture, make eye contact – say what there is to say without embellishment.

Practice and develop taking action through confident communication especially when the subject area is challenging.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant – Change & Transition,


Stop Saying Sorry

Canadian Sociologist Maja Jovanovic has made a study of apologetic statements that are made. She believes that the more we utter “sorry” the more it hurts us as individuals. When constantly saying “sorry “Jovanovic states that makes us appear smaller, timid, and diminishes our confidence.

Taking out sorry from your sentences is a discipline that requires vigilance, practice, and consideration. When you bump into someone try saying oops – pardon me, or go ahead, or even after you. When you are in a meeting and want to contribute you can be polite and enter the discussion by using any number of phrases such as How about looking at this another way, or Here is an idea. These statements do not minimize what you have to offer and who you are.

When you find yourself late for a meeting or appointment thank everyone for their patience and just join in. A simple Thank You changes the dynamic. Even when you have been challenged by something and have been complaining about a situation a thank you for listening is all that is required.

In what areas are you prepared to be cognizant of the unnecessary “sorry” phrase and are prepared to eliminate it from your speech patterns?

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant – Change & Transition,

Areas That Make a Difference at Work

There is a lot of material on what aspects employers need to be focusing on to have engaged and productivity employees. The top from a management consulting perspective are:

  • Encouraging the development of soft skills – that is those skills that improve communication, train a solutions orientation, and set the stage for creative problem solving;
  • Providing flexible work arrangement with staggered hours for staring and completing the day and allowing for telecommuting once a week for all employees.
  • Offering safe methodologies that are free from reprisal for launching concerns over harassing or bullying behaviour in the workplace.

When employees feel that they are valued and receiving training that enhances their skill sets, when they have a degree of autonomy over their work schedules, and when they feel safe enough to report behaviour that is threatening or harassing, they will typically be engaged. Engaged employees stay with their employer for extended periods of time. Employees that are engaged are also productive with fewer sick time and absenteeism.

What are the top areas in your company relating to employee engagement?

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant – Change & Transition,

Leadership & Cultural Change

As a leader in your business you may be faced with having to address the aspect of cultural change or transformation. You may have come to the realization that the lack of stimulating discussion on several areas of crucial importance to the business is not occurring.

Overcoming the tendency to think that a lack of discussion means that there is consensus is a key first step in recognizing that change is necessary.  Consensus is often an overlooked flag when it comes to making and taking the tough decisions that spur an organizational cultural revamp.

Consensus decision making is a useful process when it reflects active and spirited discussion.  When that is missing it indicates it may indicate that employees are simply going along with a process and are not fully engaged or supportive of what is being implemented.

When teams are avoiding disagreeing it is an additional flag that the risks involved are not being addressed. The failure of an implementation may be because a decision was made by a team or group that was not willing to challenge the process.

What action have you as a leader taken to encourage discussion and disagreement in your business?

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant – Change & Transition,

Volatility is the New Normal

Economic Volatility – The first reason for stating that volatility is the new norm is the unprecedented lack of predictability in terms of the economic times we live in. It appears we are in a cycle of change and upheaval in terms of jobs, technology, and business operations.

Expectations for Stellar Performance from Employees – Employees and managers alike are expected to be plugged in and tuned into work for far longer than the standard work day. The expectation that texts, emails, and posts will be read and responded to after hours, during days off, and during vacation periods is considered by many to be normal.

Conflict between Work and Personal Time –The boundary between work and personal time is blurry at best. The push to achieve and in some cases do more with less has people working later and starting earlier. Smart phones and tablets are readily given out with the anticipation that availability is ensured on a 24/7 basis.

We are in a paradigm shift and it is imperative that as individuals we find ways to unplug and stay focused in what is for the most part largely uncharted territory.

Marie-Helene Sakowski – Business Consultant Change & Transition, at

Employee & Company Growth Are Often at Different Paces

You were hired for your dream job at company XYZ. For the first few years you were in the zone – you meshed with the company culture and were a great fit in terms of your attitude and behaviour.  Suddenly or maybe gradually you began to feel less aligned overall with the company.  You wanted more freedom, or creativity or different challenges.  The fit does not feel quite right.  There is a chaffing going on.

As an employer and leader you notice that one of your star employees is indifferent. The person maybe quieter or appear to be less involved. Quality of work may be a little inconsistent. Attitude while still good has changed. An underlying tension or apprehension is evident. The company or the employee may have grown by leaps and bounds. What started off as a great fit is no longer.

When facing a situation with an employee who is no longer a good fit there are some steps you as the employer can take to mitigate the situation. First you can meet with the employee and develop a transitioning out plan.  Working with other businesses to find a home for the employee is a win-win scenario. Another option is to look internally to determine if there is a role that will use put the talents and skills of the employee to good use.

What have you tried to ensure both you and an employee come out as winners when the fit is gone?

Business Consultant Change & Transition, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Engage People in Change

Where ever you work there is a workplace culture.  It is the framework that hampers change management because it is viewed to be necessary for consistency in day-to-day operations. What happens when what is defined as consistent no longer serves the business? Some form of stagnation is a result. Stagnation becomes the stumbling block for change to occur.

As a Consultant questioning assumptions, behaviors, beliefs and processes is second nature. Finding a way to engage your clients is imperative.

  1. Address what is actual current in the operation of the business.
  2. Bring measurement tools to the forefront.
  3. Work within the sphere of influence you have.
  4. Ensure your champion for the process is well informed.
  5. Be diplomatic.
  6. Speak to your audience in the manner they understand.

Changes occur with action. Build on your wins and take the time to celebrate each of your successes along the way.

Business Consultant – Change & Transition, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Culture & Transparency

Transparency in culture is a challenge that requires alignment from the executive all the way to casual staff. A blueprint for cultural alignment that is worth sharing follows.

  • Take the time to develop a code of conduct and ethics. Ensure you have input from all levels of the organization when developing the code.
  • Orientation for all employees from the CEO / President to the part time casual staff is mandatory.
  • Ensure employees understand and appreciate that decisions they make and activities they engage in reflect the principles in the code of conduct.
  • Encourage employees to refer to the code when faced with a decision or challenge.
  • Provide a safe and confidential method for employees to voice concerns or areas that may need to be reviewed.
  • Engage a random selection of employees from different divisions or departments to review the code of conduct every 2 – 3 years. Incorporate recommended changes to the code and have all employees re-oriented to the differences.

Transparency is present at every level as is the level of engagement. Employees typically buy in and those who do not leave to pursue other opportunities.

Business Consultant Change & Transition, Marie-Helene Sakowski at

Specific Soft Skills

It turns out that people with an Arts degree may have the right type of soft skills to succeed in areas that are uncertain and murky.  That being the case – here are the soft skills that people with a Liberal Arts education tend to have:

  1. Being curious and willing to try new things.

It is speculated about 70 % of working people want to be told what to do and do that over and over again.  Enter the need for curiosity, and the ability to make up the rules as you along, a strong characteristic of Arts grads.

  1. Decoding or analytic skills.

Unpacking systems and processes are what Arts graduates are generally better at than others.  Using critical thinking skills developed during the degree courses is invaluable in terms of putting all of the puzzle pieces together into a logical framework.  It is also valuable when it comes to unearthing details overlooked by others.

  1. Reading people and communicating.

Having empathy and being able to see people as they are is a skill that Arts graduates have in spades.  Focusing on what others want and need and then being able to communicate that clearly is hugely beneficial.

Business Consultant – Change & Transition, Marie-Helene Sakowski at