416 847 0036 - 519 673 3463


The stock markets might be soaring as both Canadian and American economies recover; however, the turnover rates among chief executive officers are also continuing to soar. In fact, according to a recent poll, executive turnover jumped to 32.3%, the highest in several years. I agree that some turnover is due to retirements, but others are due to resignations.

While some resignations and/or terminations are due to leadership scandals, the majority of resignations at the CEO level are similar to any other resignation. In other words, the CEO and their board may feel there is no longer a fit for this individual in their organization. The talents they offer are not the talents needed to move the company forward to success in this new economy.

The challenge for organizations then is how do you go about finding the right leader for the right job at the right time? Then again, how do you keep them?


Believe me, it’s not a matter of simply searching for a good candidate. It’s a matter of making certain preferred individuals are indeed the “right” candidate. Therefore, the real challenge before having any candidate sign on the dotted line for employment, is ensuring you have applied a rigorous executive search process and taken as much time as is needed in order to make the right decision.


The starting point of any search process is to define the selection criteria. My strategy is to meet with a search committee, interview senior management and come to consensus on the “must have’s”, the “nice to have’s” and the “I can live with this” selection criteria. These criteria are then compared to the organizational vision, the market requirements and the internal culture to determine if any new criteria should be added or others given less emphasis.

A second step in the criteria selection process is work with the committee to determine specific examples of workplace behavior and experience they would like to see in their candidates. This information rounds out the picture of a successful candidate and provides food for thought with respect to developing interview questions.


The entire selection criteria process requires time consuming and rigorous debate so that all factors are thoroughly examined and consensus amongst the decision makers is achieved. Only then will you be ready to go to market to source out qualified candidates.

The list of selection criteria provides the framework and the tools for identifying and qualifying candidates that might be suitable to your organization. It is the filter through which all candidates are assessed. Selection checklists are prepared, screening and face-to-face interviews are directly linked to the selection criteria and used in candidate discussions. Slowly and carefully, candidates are screened and vetted until there is a set of 3-5 candidates who may be worthy of a presentation to the selection committee itself.

Without an effective selection criteria process, the search committee may misjudge an exceptional candidate who will then unfortunately slip through the cracks. At the same time, there are other individuals with excellent communication skills who may appear to be the cream of the crop but are not. Instead, they are simply good at camouflaging their weaknesses in such a way that it is difficult to assess.

While I have taken time to emphasize that time must be taken to ensure the right selection criteria are set, once these are in place, time then becomes an issue. In other words, the search process must progress in a steady manner over an 8-12 week timeframe in order to ensure the continued interest of potential candidates.

There is nothing more frustrating than putting all the right steps in place and then losing good candidates because the recruitment process itself is not efficiently carried out and/or stalls altogether. The solution to this issue is to ensure everyone is ready to proceed and that personal calendars are cleared in order for key stakeholders to be involved in the final processes.

Spending time on developing the selection criteria for a successful candidate is a rigorous and systematic process. If followed effectively, the process will result in the hiring of a successful candidate who will best meet your needs and will invigorate your organization to reach its goals.

Source: 2014 January: CEO Turnover Soars 32 Percent As Year Starts – Challenger & Christmas


Nina Disesa

Ballentyne Books

Purchase here


Disesa is a “been there, done that” lady who has successfully clawed her way to the top of a renowned advertising agency in New York. Her story is one of a hard hitting, crafty leader who refuses to be toppled by the battle ready male tactics she encounters. Instead, her strategy of seduction and manipulation, which she calls “S&M”, is a combination of psychology, mothering and stubbornness. All 220 pages are full of real examples of personal success, failure and advice. While the book is directed to women, men should read it to at least learn how silly their power antics really are.

Over the past few years, we have been receiving increasing numbers of unsolicited resumes each day. In a lot of instances they are from the US or international locations, but we get a lot of contact from potential candidates in various parts of Canada as well.


Most of the emails appear to be sent to multiple recruiters and executive search firms, as they usually begin with, “Dear Recruiters”. I am concerned for the candidates who send them in, as when resumes are sent out indiscriminately, confidentiality goes right out the window. Unless a specific background gets noticed, most of the time it is either deleted or goes into the filing system never to be seen again.


If a candidate wants to keep options open for a career change it is far better to do the homework and find a search firm or consultant that specializes in his or her particular function or industry. Many people think the blitzing the market is the way to go, but the opposite approach will yield better results. Yes, it’s possible to luck out once in a while and get that lead or job, but 95% of the time a person who saturates the marketplace with resumes appears either too eager to move, unemployed or is in every recruiter’s database.


With nearly 30 years in the search business we have seen many changes in hiring practices. Quality candidates are those who are very successful in their roles, stay more than 5 years with their employers, and keep getting promoted. Quality candidates also do their own due diligence and select an executive search firm that can help them.


I do hope this is of value when seeking a career move!

By: Barbara Bowes

Yes, spring is finally here. Yet, while it’s certainly time for celebration, for some unknown reason, I recently found myself thinking of dandelions and weeds instead of spring and beautiful, colourful flowers. On reflection, it occurred to me I was disturbed about the reported proliferation of gossip in a particular workplace and what advice I could provide to help the employer overcome the mess gossip had created. These days, I’m also encountering more and more concern about employees engaging in gossip activities via the Internet; so, perhaps there’s a need to seriously pay attention to the topic of gossip again.

However, one of the challenges about gossip is there isn’t strong consensus about what exactly constitutes gossip. Ask a group of people and you’ll get a group of different answers. For instance, some people believe a statement is considered gossip only if it contains untruthful remarks. Others believe gossip is any statement that speaks about an individual and/or an employer without their presence. Still others suggest a statement would be considered gossip only if it includes disparaging remarks, criticism, rumours and/or consists of a range of behaviour, right up to a malicious form of attack bordering on workplace violence.

On the other hand, a review of several dictionary definitions identifies a more toned-down view. Gossip in a dictionary is described as idle talk and/or a rumour that reveals personal or sensational facts about the lives of others. In other words, the dictionary definitions appear less onerous than the public view. In fact, some might refer to this definition as simply water cooler “chit chat.” So, it seems that a definition of gossip is simply in the mind’s eye rather than being definitive.

Yet, I would suggest that in my experience, most people find gossip to be more harmful than helpful, especially in the workplace. Whereas ensuring a harmonistic workplace is the job of every manager, how does one go about determining if gossip is indeed harmful? One way to do this is to assess any statements of concern to determine their impact on people. Ask yourself the following questions:

a) Does the statement attack, belittle or criticize someone’s integrity or misfortune without proof?

b) What is the impact of the statement? Is the relationship between groups damaged in any way as a result of the statement?

c) Does the statement create negative emotional energy that will drive down morale, create negativity and cause conflict?

d) Does the statement damage the reputation of the subject person and/or the organization?

If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, then the statements are more than likely gossip. And believe me, gossip can be just as hurtful and dangerous as those legendary “sticks and stones.” That’s because gossip can literally destroy interpersonal relationships. It will destroy trust between individuals as well as departments. When trust has been destroyed, people are reluctant to share, to work as a team, to reach out and help each other and to give credit for good work.

In some cases, gossip can result in personal job insecurity and a lack of self-confidence. This, in turn, pushes front-line workers to be constantly coming to managers for answers and direction. Managers will then start second-guessing their own decisions. Finally, managers will soon find they are spending far too much time on human-resource issues instead of time needed to spend on organizational planning, process and productivity.
The question, then, is how does an organization — or an individual for that matter — break through this gossip dilemma? There are two potential solutions. First, most managers could apply a policy solution. In fact, we are seeing many organizations writing policies for more aggressive behaviour such as bullying, cyber-bullying, and harassment. These are usually written to closely parallel legislation that has come into place.

However, one of the dangers of writing a policy to cover gossip, as we noted above, is the definition of gossip does not appear to be definitive or consistently understood. And, as was experienced by one organization that terminated an employee for engaging in gossip, the court decision ruled their policy was far too broad and the employee was reinstated.

At the same time, most of us know it’s human nature to talk, to “chit-chat” and to gossip, and so thinking we can simply legislate this issue away is unrealistic. In my view, a much more effective and longer-term strategy is to approach gossip from an educational point of view involving employees, supervisors, managers and senior leaders.

An educational approach would help participants to define and understand ethics and professionalism in the workplace. It would provide interactive experiences so participants would be able to identify instances of hurtful gossip versus idle chit-chat. Spending time in someone else’s “shoes” is a powerful way to bring about true understanding. At the same time, employees need to be given a review of the human-resource policies, where gossip fits within these policies and the disciplinary penalties that go along with it.

An educational approach, particularly for managers, would include a thorough examination of communication skills, especially since it is well known that only 20 per cent of managerial messages actually reach the front line totally intact with their message. As well, managers are particularly poor communicators when they need to send a negative message. For instance, they throw out a trial balloon to see how many questions might be generated. They overwhelm employees with too much information and leave before being asked for clarifications. Or, they hide behind their desk and send out ominous emails to which no one has the opportunity to ask any questions. As you can well imagine, any and all of these communication strategies cause significant relationship breakdowns. An educational approach, consistently delivered and reinforced over time, would help to overcome this issue.

As I indicated earlier, an organization can create as many policies as it wants, but motivating employees to follow them is another matter. Therefore, any educational program being offered must also help employees understand their role in managing their own careers and making a positive contribution toward the harmony in the workplace. While there are many successful tactics individual employees can implement, the following two tactics have proven to be very effective.

1. Identify the gossips – There is one or two in every group. Know who they are and avoid them at all costs. If you are approached and can’t immediately get away, listen, but avoid providing any feedback that would encourage them to continue. Follow the old adage that says, “Don’t believe everything that you hear.”

2. Turn to the positive – Build your skills on how to reframe a statement into a positive comment that doesn’t require a response from your speaker. This creates a disconnect and stops them in their tracks.
Although spring has been late in coming, thankfully it is finally on its way. However, I sincerely hope our spring air will be filled with positive comments and energy along with beautiful, colourful flowers. Cut off gossip as you would with weeds.

Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly Bowes Knows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at barb@legacybowes.com. Learn more at www.barbarabowes.com.


If you are taking any notice, you’ll quickly agree that the so-called “Millennial” generation (1978 – 1995) will be forming the majority of the workforce by the year 2020. And, with this in mind, it is easy to envision how this millennial generation of employees will influence the way we work and operate in the workplace. Not only that, Millennials are already being perceived as a group that may well be more demanding with respect to rewards and recognition.

As an executive search professional, I certainly recall the demands made by the generation X employees when they came into the workplace. For instance, I recall one engineering student being offered a desk made completely from mini-blocks as his signing bonus. Still others initiated the trend of bringing dogs to work along with the trend of business casual dress and flexible work hours.

But, since every generation brings its own style to the workplace, what is so different about the Millennials? For one thing, Millennials are expected to engage in more “job hopping” than earlier generations. That’s because company loyalty isn’t as important as progressing in their career at a more rapid rate. As a result, they’ll change jobs more quickly in order to achieve their level of satisfaction. So, count on a tenure ranging from eighteen months to three years.

Not only that, studies show that Millennials are already earning more than the previous generation at the same age while they are also carrying more debt. This then suggests that their demand for compensation and benefits will be higher and may well create pressure on the salary offers.

As well, Millennials are the first generation to literally grow up with technology. They are quick to discard what they feel is outdated equipment and to adapt to the latest techniques. In fact, don’t bother offering a laptop as their signing bonus, they have already moved on to the latest gadget. Millennials like being connected 24/7 and prefer texting and Facebook rather than the standard email as their chosen channel for communication.

Millennials also have more of a social conscience than earlier generations and are much more socially liberal and accepting of diversity. They want to make a difference in the world and, in fact, will put this goal first before following in a set career track. They are especially interested in environmental stewardship, they excel at teamwork and finally they are self-confident and savvy.

What does all this mean for the recruitment and retention of Millennial employees?

First of all, Millennials don’t like to be labeled, so while it is important to understand their needs and values, take care to avoid labeling them as such. Since Millennials are heavy technology users, you will have to ensure you have the latest of equipment and stay ahead of the trends. Be prepared to create a variety of assignments so that they are continually challenged while they are learning new skills. Work closely with your Millennials and help them understand that completing “probation” doesn’t mean an automatic promotion and/or a move into your own private office.

One of the key challenges you may face is the ability to reach out to a Millennial and to get them interested in your job in the first place. With Millennials getting most of their news from the internet, advertising is best done through social media with ads that are focused on the benefits to the candidate rather than focusing on your corporate history.

Whereas Millennial’s look for a job where they can make a difference, recognize that candidates would be interested in your corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship efforts. Be sure to mention these opportunities in your marketing campaigns and help candidates understand where and how they can participate.

Where I find many employers are weak is in the knowledge of the market rates for compensation and benefits in their industry sector. Millennials think nothing of going on the internet and attempting to confirm their potential salaries. In many cases, they are not making good comparisons, yet you must be ready for the questions, requests for verification and counter offers that will surely take place as the Millennial candidate negotiates for his/her job.

OK, you’ve been successful in hiring your Millennials, and now you have to manage them! In my mind, in order to be successful, managers must be open minded, tolerant of the many questions and process improvement challenges that will come your way and be able to provide effective feedback and guidance. Whereas these young people won’t have much work experience, you will also have to tolerant as you teach them that crossed legs folded up on the chair is not professional practice and that looking professional still really does count for something.

There are many challenges in today’s work world, but understanding, training, coaching and mentoring of your new young employees combined with meaningful work will go a long way to building a strong employee team.


Sharon L. Lechter, Greg S. Reid

Sterling Publishing with The Napoleon Hill Foundation

Purchase here (http://www.amazon.com/Three-Feet-Gold-Obstacles-Opportunities/dp/1402784791)

Author Greg Reid weaves the personal story of a young man’s struggle for self-esteem and success as an author. As part of this journey, he seeks the help of the Napoleon Hill Foundation and their philosophies. As a result, he documents numerous interviews with successful entrepreneurs gathering wisdom and advice as he goes. The book is an easy read and makes you feel like you are sitting at the knee of a great elder and philosopher. The book consists of simple themes, simple truths and simple messages for every reader. This is a book that should be read again and again.


For the last 10 years we have been told that the baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, will be retiring, causing a shortage of workers moving towards 2020.

Has that happened? Not in large numbers thus far, however we are now starting to see this materialize. I have noticed that many senior finance executives are now saying, “Enough is enough; I now want to get out and enjoy life while I am able.”

I was recently surprised to learn that there are 5825 people in Canada aged 100 years old or over. Wow! No wonder people are still working; 70 is the new 50.

We are now beginning to see a shortage in quality candidates at the CFO level in small to medium size companies $20M – $400M.  The companies that have not made contingency plans for succession planning are finding it difficult to promote from within.

As niche executive search practitioners in business since 1985, we are a valuable source for companies of this size. We know it has been extremely important to keep in touch and build relationships with the younger executives that will be the senior executives of the future.

There will always be senior executives that will not want to retire but just tone down and work a little, but at the end of the day we will be seeing a shortage of good quality candidates, creating a candidate driven market!

By: Barbara Bowes

Most readers are familiar with the highly popular TV show, Undercover Boss, now seen in Canada, England and the United States. Each episode features either a senior executive and/or business owner of a large corporation who goes undercover as a front-line employee in their own company. The executive wears a disguise, adopts an alias and background and then spends one week working various jobs. In most episodes, the executive also changes locations. During the week, the executive experiences all the trials and tribulations of front-line workers and really gets to see first-hand what is working well and what is not.

In most of the episodes I’ve personally watched, the executives appear quite shocked at the many little process challenges a front-line worker is confronted with. As well, the experience seems to be a real “eye opener” as the executive learns how some of their corporate policies negatively impacted the front-line workers. At the same time, the undercover executive gets to meet both excellent as well as poorly disciplined employees and learns a great deal about the corporate leadership style and front-line working conditions.

Yet, as you might expect, it would be difficult and impractical for most executives to go “under cover” in order to find out what’s going on at the front line. However, staying in touch with what is really going on in your organization is very important and even more so since executives are commonly located in corporate offices, famously known as the “ivory tower.”

However, that’s no excuse for ignoring and/or avoiding the important task of knowing your employees, understanding what’s happening throughout your organization and keeping your finger on the pulse of employee engagement. So, if that’s the case, what are some strategies that can be employed to help executives get “in the know” and stay connected with workers at all levels of their organization? The following tips have proven successful in many organizations.

Employee engagement surveys — Many organizations are investing significant dollars on diagnostic surveys that ask employees to identify issues perceived to be problematic. These surveys often run between 40-80 questions inquiring about leadership style, organizational communication, organization culture or job satisfaction amongst others. However, conducting the survey is one thing; doing something with it is another. Leaders shouldn’t undertake an employee survey unless they are willing to hear what is going to be said and be willing to do something about it. You must be prepared to share the results, present a plan for overcoming the barriers that have been raised and then taking action. If you fail to do that, you will have lost all opportunity to build the desired relationships with your staff.

Manage by walking around — While managing by walking around may sound old fashioned, it’s still very powerful and engages front-line employees in casual, friendly conversation. Know your employees’ names and use them. Focus the conversation on the employees by asking about families, activities, education or sports while at the same time being sensitive to personal privacy. Be sure to distribute your time fairly within the organization as you can easily be seen as favouring one department over another.
Be open and available — If you’ve successfully developed an informal relationship with employees and developed personal comfort, they’ll have no hesitation stopping by your workspace for a quick hello and a chat. Take a few moments and listen. If an employee offers a suggestion, ask them to investigate it further and return to share it with others. This approach helps to build skills, includes individuals in change and helps to build self-confidence. At the same time, you might find a “diamond in the rough” that you can develop as time goes on.

Ask for suggestions — Pull out that old-fashioned suggestion box and incorporate the idea into your workplace intranet system. Take the suggestions seriously. Acknowledge receipt and identify what the next steps will be. Perhaps meet with the employee to get more information as to why the suggestion was made and how their suggestion might impact operational systems.
Praise success — Most suggestions once implemented save the organization significant dollars. Plan to communicate the success to a broad audience. Name and profile the employee who made the suggestion and confirm the level of impact the suggestion has had on the organization. Reward the employee appropriately.

Be creative with reward and recognition — Meaningful rewards don’t have to be big public affairs. In fact, most employees would simply appreciate a personal thank you, tickets to a hockey game or a concert or a family night out at a restaurant. Organize a monthly president’s breakfast with a select group of employees and have a conversation. No matter what the reward and recognition initiatives you start, the important thing is to stick with it. Starting a new initiative and then not following through will only serve to create unwanted negativity.

Develop a sense of connection — If possible, hold full staff meetings monthly or quarterly to bring employees up to date on organizational happenings. Invite managers to share news from their department. Invite employees to share something good happening in their lives. Announce job changes, new employee backgrounds, marriages, births or other good news.
Create opportunities for social interaction — Many employees are involved in community service groups whose work could be enhanced through the workplace. Set up internal groups that support ongoing initiatives and create opportunities for individual employees to participate. Get employees involved a fun activity to raise money for a selected cause.

Invest in training and development — Opportunities for training and development demonstrate employees are valued and this creates a strong sense of belonging and loyalty. At the same time, employees will be upgrading their technical skills and learning new skills to enhance their career. All in all, employee development will lead to increased productivity and quality while at the same time strengthening morale and team spirit.

Address problems quickly — Nothing damages employee morale more quickly than a leader who procrastinates and/or avoids conflict. After awhile, employees will stop bringing issues forward because nothing is done about them. Create an organizational culture where employees are taught how to assess problems, discover the impact on the organization, offer a set of solutions and make a recommendation. This way, the employee has done his/her thinking rather than “dumping” a problem on the leader. Employees then feel they have more of an impact on their organization and their voice is heard and valued.

While it might be an interesting experience, most leaders shouldn’t need to be an “under cover” boss in order to keep their finger on the pulse of their organization. The simple initiatives stated above, if applied consistently will help you to create a sense of community amongst your employees. This in turn creates a culture of trust, in which employees feel valued and operational problems are identified and rectified quickly.

Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly Bowes Knows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at barb@legacybowes.com. Learn more at www.barbarabowes.com.

No matter what industry sector, we all know there’s a general growing trend toward protecting the environment and recycling. And it’s not just about saving the planet; it’s about reusing and taking advantage of products that still have value. This phenomenon has also been a long-standing tradition in the area of second hand clothing stores or consignment shops.

So, why not think about “recycling” former employees back into your workplace? That’s right…bring them back! In fact, they might be really good candidates for your current job opportunity. After all, former employees have a fairly good handle on the nature of your business. In fact, they may have chosen to leave only to pursue a career opportunity that wasn’t available in your organization.

Interestingly enough, recent research on “boomerang” employees, those individuals who left and returned to a former employer, showed that these individuals did indeed leave more frequently for other career opportunities and/or for personal reasons. As well, the research found that these individuals typically returned to the former employer within a three-year period of time.

Actually, my professional position is that anyone who leaves your organization should be always considered an “alumni” who could hold value for you in the future. These individuals, especially if they were valuable employees, are good for network referrals. Keep in touch with them; they know the type of individual who would fit in well at your organization. They know the skills, the personalities, the leadership style and the requirements for success. These former employees can, at the very least, refer others to you for consideration. Then again, as more challenging opportunities arise, these same “alumni” can be excellent candidates to return and make another significant contribution to your organization.

As demonstrated in research, job dissatisfaction is not always the automatic reason people choose to leave an employer. Sometimes it is simply an opportunity that cannot be passed up. However, the situation does suggest that an organization can reduce the chance of employee leaving by ensuring an effective new-employee orientation process and providing an ongoing mentor connection so that the employee can be coached and guided in a career direction. And, if/when the individual can no longer progress within your organization, I believe there is nothing wrong with helping them move to other opportunities that would develop their skills and prepare them for a return to your organization.

At the same time, I cannot stress enough the importance of the exit interview and transition process when someone is leaving your organization. Since your alumni relationship starts immediately after the individual’s resignation, their treatment during this exit process is key to retaining their loyalty and creating a chance for their return. While the resignation might hurt your organization on the short term, keep in mind that you’ve invested in this person and you valued their contribution. Surely, investing in a continuing relationship is also worth your time and energy.

However, staying in touch with alumni and cultivating a loyal bond is not as easy as it might seem. Successful strategies have included annual alumni social events or receptions. More recently of course, many organizations have started their own alumni websites and email campaigns that allow former employees to interact with each other and to stay tuned to the direction and success of their former employer. Some organizations will send out staff or company newsletters and notices to former employees to attend staff fun events. Still, others ensure their managers stay in close touch by including them in their personal network. And in fact the research shows that most boomerang employees are rehired as a direct result of a personal relationship. In other words, when you make that recruiting call, it is a so-called, “warm call” and not a “cold call”.

Recruiting former employees to your organization can provide additional specific benefits. For instance, now that they’ve been away from your firm for awhile, they may be able to bring competitive intelligence to your industry sector. Overall, they are less expensive to train because their learning curve is shorter, and they can act as mentors more quickly because of their previous knowledge.
In a time of challenging recruitment scenarios, keeping in touch with alumni and considering them for positions within your organization is a valuable idea.

Source: They’re Gone – But not for Long, Dori Meinert, HR Magazine, June 2013.

Michael E. Gerber
Harper  Collins Publishers, Inc.
Click here to purchase

This is an updated version of an earlier best seller on the trials and tribulations of starting and growing your own business. Famous for the concept of working “on the business” instead of “in the business”, Gerber uses dialogue with a client and her business to help readers understand the concepts he is teaching. While in most cases this is a good approach, I found that the lessons were sometimes long in coming. I would rather they have been more brief and to the point. However, the book does have value for entrepreneurs and will certainly make you sit up and pay attention to where you are going.