Top of Mind – Friday, November 6, 2015 – Yourself, Your Family and Your Work

In today’s fully connected world, more and more people struggle with the priorities of balancing work with their personal lives.  With that in mind I want to share my perspective on this topic that I have shared with my employees on a regular basis over the years.

I summarize my position with the following statement “Take care of yourself first, your family second, and your work comes third.”  This was not always my position.  I used to personally put work ahead of both and that was not good.  Over the years I have changed my personal approach and for many years now have applied this same approach with my team.  Many people struggle with this priority in their lives but let me explain why this order is important.

Take care of yourself first

Regardless of anything else, if your employees do not stop to take care of themselves first they will not be ready to properly support their families or their work successfully.  This includes the basics of sleeping, eating, fitness, medical care, taking off time for vacation to recharge their batteries, and hobbies.  Taking personal care of themselves contributes to them being their best self and puts them at their best to then support their family and their work.  We need to support allowing an employee to prioritize their personal care and well being so that they can then take care of their family and their job to the best of their ability.

Take care of your family second

Allowing an employee to take care of their family has to be the second priority.  Family bonds are strong.  When someone is worried about their family, due to sickness, medical challenges, a spouse’s job security, children’s educational success, safety, security or other family issues, they are not able to focus their full attention on their work and thus are not likely to achieve their full potential.  By allowing your employees to ensure the proper support and attention to their family this allows them to put their best self forward into their work.  An employee that is not able to achieve these aspects of family balance is going to be distracted by these issues while they try to perform their work.

Your work comes third

We all want to get the best performance out of our employees.  While it seems counter intuitive to encourage your employees to not put their job first, those that recognize that placing an employee’s personal well being and family well being ahead of professional execution will yield a stronger employee relationship and commitment and will most likely result in an employee relationship that produces improved results for your organization because your investment in that employee’s personal and family well being.

So the next time one of your employees is coming to work sick or trying to work while balancing a family related issue, give some thought to how you can help them prioritize their recovery or resolution of their family issue ahead of work with your support so that they will be able to refocus on their execution success without distraction as quickly as possible.  This level of support can be worth more to many employees than many other ways you could invest in maintaining your employee’s commitment to your organization.

Top of Mind – Saturday, October 31, 2015 – The Shortage of Women in IT

This week an article on CNN.com highlighted the small percentage of the population that women represent in the IT industry.  This is not a new issue.  It has been an issue since the birth of computer science.  What this article highlighted is that while women now represent the majority of university graduates in North America the number of women graduates with IT related degrees is about 12% of the graduating IT degree population.

As the father of two daughters and a son that are either in or planning to attend university in the next few years, I am proud that they are all academically strong and capable of academic success.  What I find interesting is that both my daughters have seen the success and enjoyment that I have had in my career in IT and have had no limit of access to computers or a lack of options to explore these in school and yet both have chosen other paths. 

Now, I don’t expect my children to follow in their father’s footsteps because it was my career path.  I have always encouraged them to choose their own path through life and be happy about their choices.  What does cause me to wonder is with the exposure that they had to IT in our home and the access to subject matter expertise to support their learning they had an easier path than most to choose a career in IT and did not.  So, if women with this level career path support are not making this choice then we fundamentally need to rethink the mentoring, guidance and direction that we give young women that allow them to see IT has a career path with potential and excitement for them.

I have the pleasure of working for a company that has an above average number of women in our IT workforce and that makes our team stronger but that is not reflective of the academic institutions that are graduating future IT practioners into the workforce, nor is it reflective of most technology organizations.  Fundamental thought leadership is required to change this situation and it needs to be aimed at the education system as early as JK to start to encourage interest in IT for women as a child and nurture that interest throughout their educational experience so that more women make the decision to study IT related disciplines and join the IT profession when the graduate.  The current gender imbalance in IT is not good for the profession.  It hinders our ability to harness women’s insights into innovation and does not bode well for the industry to be able to meet its future hiring demands when IT is dependent on a small percentage of the male minority of all university graduates to meet our hiring demands.

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Well done to Canada’s Women’s Soccer Team!!

Well, Canada’s Womens National Team is at the end of their World Cup run with a tough loss to England but they should hold their heads high for the support that they were able to inspire across our country. In what other country but Canada would they set record for the most fans to attend a national team game of either gender be held by a women’s national team (3 different times). These women have inspired our nation’s pride in women’s soccer and I hope Canadians will support the women playing from Germany, USA, Japan and England in the semi-finals and finals of this tournament. These women from around the world are playing good soccer and continued support of the Women’s World Cup through the next week needs to send a message to the world of the need to support women in sport globally and continue to breakdown national and global barriers to gender equality.
Well done to our Canadian Women’s Team!!!!

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What more could I possibly add to this?

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British runner treks across Canada for a cause

ImageI have been following Jamie’s journey since he was in Ontario. This guy is a true hero and the Sick Children’s hospital in whatever province you may live in is the beneficiary of all donations that he receives. Please take the time to follow Jamie and if you can put some financial support behind him that would be awesome.

Global News

REGINA – After breaking the world record for cycling on a stationary bike for 268 hours, Jamie McDonald is now attempting to run across Canada.

On March 9, McDonald began his 5,000 mile journey in St. John’s Newfoundland.

“I had no idea what I was doing at the start, I’m not even a runner,” said McDonald.

McDonald is born and raised in England but has challenged himself to run across Canada — nearly 8,500 kilometers in just 275 days. By the time he reached Regina on Friday, the distance he ran was equivalent to about 155 marathons. He still has another 1,900 kilometers to go and he’s doing that without a support crew or medical staff.

“I want to show kids it doesn’t matter how sick they are, they still have a chance and can still get out and peruse their dream,’ said McDonald.

As a child, McDonald spent years…

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The Bigger Picture

Today started with the radio telling me about an accident on the highway just past where I normally exit to catch my commuter train.  So I think I might be slightly delayed but it will be no big deal and it wasn’t.  I caught the train as planned and headed on my way into the city.

As we travelled, unfortunately, a trespassing pedestrian, was struck by train and fatally injured.  This of course sad.

However, what is more disappointing out of this situation is the lack ability of a small number of my fellow passengers to see the big picture.  These individuals were instantly focused on how the two hour plus delay was going to impact them rather than taking a step back and acknowledging that an individual had just lost their life.  

Meetings can be rescheduled.  The work will still be there when the train pulls in.  Relax.  Let the emergency responders properly address the situation and recover the body of someone’s family member in as dignified manner as possible.

In the big picture, birth and death are the frame and in each moment you need to assess whether that tiny spot that represents you as an individual he big picture is the focal point at that instance.

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