Monday, January 29, 2007

Silence Fails

The authors of Crucial Conversations have put out some very interesting research called: "Silence Fails: The Five Crucial Converstations for Flawless Execution". This research was undertaken by Vital Smarts and the Concourse Group. More than 1000 executives and project management professionals were surveyed across 40 companies, representing a variety of industries.

What they found is that five common business problems are responsible for 85% of the failure of high stakes business initiatives. This research identified the most prevalent and costly barriers to project success, including:

1. Fact free planning
2. AWOL Sponsors
3. Skirting
4. Project Chicken
5. Team Failures

The interesting thing about all of these factors is that they are within our control as managers and executives, and when avoided can save money, time, and other resources. The premise of this research outcome is that Five Crucial Conversations that Business Leaders can have can predict and prevent failure.

To view the whole report visit the Silence Fails Website. I think that you will find it quite interesting -- I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Jennifer Britton
Potentials Realized
90 Day Biz Success Program - starts February 27th
Email: jennifer[at]potentialsrealized[dot]com
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960

Monday, January 22, 2007

Interviewing Tips for Employers 101

Interview Tips 101
Copyright 2007 Jennifer Britton. All Rights Reserved.

Lately I've received a number of calls from organizations asking about developing an effective interviewing process. A large part of my former work as a manager (in companies which did not have a separate HR department) was to develop interviewing procedures, and implement them. I now teach interviewing skills as part of Business Curicullum at the College level, and often advise organizations on these issues as an HR Consultant. Late last year one of my students asked me just how many interviews I had run over the years. My response - thousands.

I'm going to do a series of blog posts for employers and candidates who are keep posted if you are interested in this topic. I know that interviewing is often a black hole, and often the area that gets left to the end for many small business owners, and managers who function in smaller companies. My intention is to give you some basics on interviewing tips --- either as the interviewer or the interviewee.

Today's post is all about basics for the interviewer.

1. Give thought to the interviewing process and develop a consistent process for all candidates : In order to ensure the best "fit" for your organization, make sure that each candidate is being measured the same way. What this means practically, is that every candidate should be asked the same questions, and should go through the exact same steps. This is important not just for selection, but also to ensure consistency, which could be challenged in the legal environment.

2. Be aware of legislation -Every country has different legislation which will impact the interviewing process. Here in Canada, employers need to be aware of the impact of the Canadian Human Rights Codes and questions that may be prohibited under it. I am constantly amazed at the fact that many well known companies that violate the Charter in their interviewing process. Not being aware of the legislative framework you are operating within can be a very costly mistake. Ensure that all staff involved in the selection process (from recruitment advertising, to the application, interview and selection process) are aware of any prohibited grounds.

3. Group Decisions are better than Individual Decisions: It is more and more common today, and is a best practice, to hold panel interviews. Panel interviews involve two or more interviewers speaking with each candidate. Research has continued to show that group decisions are better than individual decisions for many reasons including the fact that our own personal biases do not play as dominant a role.

When holding a panel interview process, ensure that all panel members are briefed on the process, the position you are hiring for, as well as best practices of interviewing. It is often helpful to build time at the start of the interviewing schedule for a 15-30 minute meeting between the members of the panel at the start of the interviewing process to discuss what it will look like -- who will ask the questions, when and how. In the past when I have led interview processes, I would actually email all panelists an interviewing kit a week or so before the interview, giving them some time to review it prior to the interviews.

4. Block time in between candidates for interviewers to complete their notes, and also to synthesize the group's feedback or recommendations. If you are holding 6-8 hours of interviewing back to back, it is natural to have each candidate start to look like each other. By blocking time in between interviews you can summarize your findings and then move on, returning to your summaries for each candidate at the end of the day or the end of the interview process.

When undertaking a panel interview, make sure that all panelists are comfortable and knowledgable about the process and measurement (for example, if you are using any sort of matrix to measure). Also ensure that all panelists are on the same page (for example, that my rating of 5 is consistent what others rating of 5 looks like). In the later, it can be helpful to provide some specific examples of what behavior would be considered a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 (if using a 5 point scale).

Stay tuned for more Employer Interview Tips 101...I'll be posting more later this week.

I'd welcome your comments - what are your biggest challenges as an employer when it comes to Interviewing? Please feel free to post below and I'll try to address them in future blog posts.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton
Potentials Realized
Email: jennifer[at]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Facing a Skills Gap?

A lot of writing these days in the field of human resources makes reference to the impending Skills Gap and Talent shortage which employers will face starting later this decade here in Canada, and also in the US. This is in part due to the imminent retirement of a large number of baby boomers, and not enough "skilled" employees to fill the void that will be created.

There are some interesting articles and research which has been published recently, both in Canada and the US, related to the skills gap. You may be interested in checking out the following links:


Lessons in Learning: Canadian Council on Learning
Dec 21/06

Narrowing the Skills Gap: Workplace Literacy Programs in Canada. Final Report.


ASTD released "Bridging the Skills Gap: How Skills Shortage Threatens Growth and Competitiveness...and What to Do About it" in November. You can view a copy of the White Paper at

The National Centre on Education and the Economy (NCEE) issued a new report tentiteld "Tough Choices or Tough Times". To view the Executive Summary of the report visit:

A third paper on this topic which you may be interested in is "Are They Really Ready to Work?" at This details findings from a joint survey undertaken by the Conference Board, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Happy Reading!

Jennifer Britton - Potentials Realized

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

101 + Marketing Ideas

101 + Marketing Ideas
Copyright 2007 - Jennifer Britton

January is often the month when the rubber hits the road and we start implementing our plans. But what if our plan is just a skeleton, and not really a roadmap of how to get from where we are now, to where we want to be?

Many business owners struggle with keeping their marketing efforts and momentum going. Recognizing that we all need a little inspiration once in a while, I've put together a short PDF which include 101 Marketing Ideas, with the small business owner or solopreneur in mind. It includes more than 101 ideas to enhance your marketing efforts -- most low cost, and not involving a lot of time.

If you'd like to receive a copy of this PDF, please email me and put 101 + Marketing Ideas in the subject line.

Here's a sneak preview....
#16 - Join a Blogjolt
#27 - Appear on internet radio
#39 - Develop a White Paper
#44 - Speak/Present at an industry conference
#90 - What makes you unique?
#103 - Build relationships

Happy Marketing!

Jennifer Britton, CPCC, CHRP, CPT
Potentials Realized

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Power of Relationships

What are the most important relationships for your business? We live in an age of relationship marketing, social networks, and referrals. Relationships are central to business success in today's economy. Have you been investing sufficient time into the most important relationships in your work and life?

Increasingly, more of my coaching work is moving into the domain of coaching business partnerships and other relationships, expanding from the team and group coaching and training work I have been doing since 1988. This is a really exciting shift for me, and I have set a goal to coach 50 partnerships over the next six weeks. Are you looking to design your partnership alliances more fully? Prehaps you are developing a new strategic venture with an external partner, want to enhance your relationship with your existing business partner, or develop stronger alliances with your individual staff members. What is the value to you of having a strong partnership alliance?

For the next six weeks I will be offering complimentary Designing your Partnership Alliance sessions held by phone with partners (business or personal). This process takes approximately 45 minutes.

If you are committed to investing in your relationships this year, and are interested in benefiting from Designing Your Partnership Alliance, I'd love to hear from you! Please send me an email or call me toll free at 1-866-217-1960 to book a DPA session. Please suggest two to three preferred times for holding the sessions, as well as what time zone you are located in.

I look forward to hearing from you and supporting you as you invest in your relationships this year!

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton - Potentials Realized

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Power of Focus

Photo compliments of Imagebase

Happy New Year to all readers! I hope that 2007 has started off on an upwards tangent. Today's blog post is about focus, and how important this is for business success. What are your major business goals for this year? Your personal goals for this year?

If you haven't read it yet, I'd invite you to visit my last post on Creating a Vision for 2007. In the exercise included, I asked readers to set out three major goals for 2007.

What are your major goals for this year? Are these front in centre in your mind or did you need to look them up? How will you maintain focus on these throughout the year?

Much of the work I do with coaching clients at the end of the year, and the start of a new one, is to reflect on the last year, and visioning for the upcoming one. I sometimes have clients mention how they were detracted from the major goals they had set out for themselves at the start of the year. Sometimes their initial goals were replaced by even bigger and more breathtaking goals - a fantastic situation! Once in a while the important goals have been pushed aside by other priorities -- and I usually ask, "What's been the cost of this?". What would be the cost of you not accomplishing your most important goals this year?

What will it take for you to maintain lazer like focus on the most important goals you have set yourself for this year?

What would accomplishing these goals look like? How would it transform your life and work?

What would the accomplishment of these goals mean for you? Your business? Your family?

I'd love to hear from you as to what focus means for you in 2007 -- please feel free to comment below.

Jennifer Britton ~ Potentials Realized