May is an exciting time on the family farm. For us, grain farmers, the majority of our crops are sown in May. We grow malting barley for beer, wheat for bread and pasta. We grow pony oats and oats for human consumption and canola oil, often on contract to Earl’s restaurants for French fries. We grow quinoa and I am learning to cook with it, quinoa is a new crop for us. Last year we had a few acres of Faba beans and sunflower seeds (they froze early and the deer ate what was left). Often we grow field peas which are mostly used as protein in pet foods.
Again I am reminded that we need a farmer 3 times a day. Recently I taught the “Classroom Agriculture Program” to 21 students from grades 1-9 at a Hutterite colony. They sell eggs, chickens, beef, milk, pork, lamb, mutton, potatoes, vegetables, baked goods and wanted me to leave with eggs and fresh buns! Those students knew more about farming than I will ever know. I thanked them all several times for what they do to feed us and explained that the contribution they make to society as significant farm producers was very important.
It is the fiscal year end for CAM-X and as Brad French, our financial guru and budget maker works on a budget for May 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020 if you have any specific priorities please let Linda know. Budget decisions are crucial to the longevity of CAM-X.
Plans are in full swing for both COACH U and the Conference. Edmonton in September is harvest (payday) for grain farmers, with fall colors and all the big machinery getting the crops into trucks to haul to elevators to load on rail cars to get to port for overseas shipments. From Edmonton grain heads to Vancouver, Prince Rupert or the Lakehead. I think in the past grain was also shipped out of Churchill. Grain buyers struggle to ship out of any other port than Vancouver because the crews on the ships are mostly unwilling to sit in any port other than Vancouver because it is no fun… :)
In our wellness journey this month we had a financial planner educate our staff about financial literacy. I think the biggest challenge for anyone who hasn’t yet started building wealth is the struggle to get started. The concept of “pay yourself first” is a foreign concept to the half of the population that are “spenders”. The “savers” get it and do it. Saving money is not related to income, it is a mindset. And if you have come to Canada from the Philippines you are born into a culture of sharing. 13% of the GDP of the Philippines is from Filipino’s working abroad and sending money home.
As I write this, the Alberta Election is looming and judging by the quantity and color of signs out and about around the province I am looking forward to an exciting hard fought election.
Spent some time in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska in the last couple of weeks. Don was in Colorado for a Hemp conference (the boys think growing hemp is the future) and I joined him later. He went to several tourist attractions including Mesa Verde and very scenic places in south west Colorado. We met up with friends in Wyoming and toured the Black Hills. Spent a night in Deadwood South Dakota. Fun town with lots of history; great food and all kinds of entertainment.
Thank you to Desiree Bombenon, she is educating us about Singularity and the Digital Revolution. As she says we don’t know what we don’t know. I suggested the digital revolution happened at my office when we hauled the cord board to the museum :)
I am reading “Whiplash, How to Survive Our Faster Future”, Joi Ito and Jeff Howe.
Brief review from Amazon:
“The world is more complex and volatile today than at any other time in our history. The tools of our modern existence are getting faster, cheaper, and smaller at an exponential rate, transforming every aspect of society, from business to culture and from the public sphere to our most private moments. The people who succeed will be the ones who learn to think differently.
In WHIPLASH, Joi Ito and Jeff Howe distill that logic into nine organizing principles for navigating and surviving this tumultuous period:
Emergence over Authority
Pull over Push
Compasses over Maps
Risk over Safety
Disobedience over Compliance (My personal favorite)
Practice over Theory
Diversity over Ability
Resilience over Strength
Systems over Objects
Filled with incredible case studies and cutting-edge research and philosophies from the MIT Media Lab and beyond, WHIPLASH will help you adapt and succeed in this unpredictable world.”
My leadership education says life is about learning to ask better questions and I often hear myself saying whoa, that is not the answer I was looking for, let me rethink the question.
In one evening I read “The Carpenter” by Jon Gordon. Lots of learnings; my favorite… Are we talking to ourselves or are we listening? The concept Jon intends us to practise is similar, to the way Skip does in “On Course” http://oncourseworkshop.com/ . Which of the voices in our head do we listen to? Our inner guide… the kind patience encouraging voice… little choo choo train… I think I can I think I can, I know I can; yeah I made it over the hill, (talking to myself) or the inner critic… continually beating ourselves up (listening to myself). I know and understand this concept, but bringing consciousness to it is a meaningful practice.
I tend to study the human skills required for the future; and really enjoyed the book “Humans Are Underrated; What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will” by Geoff Colvin. Read that book in a couple of sittings. Just as we update our technology in our never ending struggle to be at least a bit relevant I am working to update our human skills so we don’t get kicked to the curb like an old computer. We take our old electronics to the eco recycling station at “The Edmonton Waste Management Centre”. It is North America's largest collection of modern, sustainable waste processing and research facilities. They have GEEP. https://www.geepglobal.com/ they also operate a huge composting facility. (They have a great tour)
They do not yet have a recycled humans program. At our office, we subscribe to the theory that people want to do a good job and if they knew better they would do better. :) Thank you to CAM-X for always notching up our educational programs.
Membership Development Committee Report
Respectfully submitted by Gary Blair
We continue to have a lot of positive feedback on the monthly Member Spotlight. Dennis O'Hara, of Associated Call Centers is highlighted this month!
Anyone interested in being our next Spotlight, please be in touch firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind, the Spotlight is for owners, senior management, the operations team at any level, sales staff, programmers, supervisors or agents. We want to open the doors and make introductions that strengthen the connections within the industry!
At the moment, we are currently looking into having the Member Spotlights housed on our website as part of the Member section and should have more news on this shortly. The board has endorsed expanding the mandate of the Membership Development Committee by adding a subcommittee called Member Engagement.
This new initiative will be to continue the ongoing awareness and education of our members of all the services and benefits that come along with membership. We’re going to start by reaching out to those members who don’t participate in specific programs. We want to better understand their needs and to learn, from their feedback, why they may not have participated previously. In this way, we hope to address any concerns, learn from our members and tweak our programs to remain relevant so as to offer even more value to our members.
We will also be reviewing the welcoming process of new members with the intention of better integrating them into our Association. At our most recent board meeting, we talked extensively about this and zeroed in on a number of specific initiatives which will be implemented going forward.
Volunteers for the Member Engagement sub-committee are welcome and you may contact me directly at email@example.com if you are interested in joining or knowing more about what this entails.
Garrett Bidewell, Convention Chair
Dear CAM-X members,
I am really excited about this year's CAM-X convention, We all understand the power of storytelling; it has earned a place as the most important tradition humans possess. The reason being that every story contains a lesson to instruct the audience. Stories teach us to love, to forgive, to be just and to strive for better than we have.
With that, I am introducing our Keynote speaker Carrie Doll. Her Topic is The Power of Storytelling. I have been listening to her podcasts for the past couple of years. My wife and I are huge fans and can’t be more excited to hear it and receive some real takeaways. Facts tell, Stories sell. Come learn of the power of storytelling, how it can be used to boost your business and create powerful, professional and personal connections. Carrie’s presentation will help delegates discover the power of their voice and how effective and strong public speaking skills can be.
Come join us in Edmonton, Alberta and discover your inner companion! As a great quotes goes, “Great Stories happen to those who can tell them”.
Looking forward in taking it all in with you.
"Be like a flower and turn your face to the sun."
- Kahlil Gibran
Two Grey Suits
Shhh...Don't Say Anything...
This article is part of the TwoGreySuits Managing Employee Performance Series and is offered by our partner, TwoGreySuits as a service to our members.
The question many employees in the workplace contemplate is when to speak up about a business practice, process or decision that is not right or on which they disagree. More often than not, the easy route is to go with the flow because this is somewhat expected, has little employment risk, and is less stressful, and the path of least resistance so to speak. Why has our business culture largely evolved to one where you are conditioned to go along with poor business decisions because the other option of speaking up is too risky?
I was talking with a PhD colleague of mine recently who was let go as a CEO. He had come to the conclusion that our business culture is evolving to one where we chew people up and then spit them out. In other words people are just the tools of the real business power brokers and that people are tolerable in their contribution as long as they don’t overstep their bounds. The flip side of this is that those who figure out how to successfully challenge the status quo, often rise through the ranks and end up being power brokers themselves who often ironically do not genuinely welcome the thought of having their own thinking challenged. In the course of my HR consulting career, many times I have heard employees confide in me that they cannot raise certain valid business issues because they would end up getting fired for it, or some lesser form of added job stress. This is an issue for sure. But, why is it like this and more importantly, what can be done about it?
I suggest that a healthy organizational culture is one where employees are encouraged to speak up at any level without any fear at all of retribution, and furthermore, that this is clearly articulated as a core company value – no fear of retribution for speaking up. Taking this to the extreme, wouldn’t it be interesting to work in a culture where it was a requirement to say at all times what is on your mind about what is going on in the workplace. Of course this would represent a chaotic state. But we don’t need to go to that extreme.
Why employees are fearful of speaking up is not that hard to understand. The risk very often far outweighs the benefits of doing so. Another reason is that employees are not trained in how to properly raise issues in a proper business sense without it often looking like a personal vendetta. Interestingly, as an HR Consultant, when I go in to assess an organization, I always glean more information from talking with non-management employees than looking at policies, financials, or even talking with executives. One of the reasons is that I inherently know that management is often more guarded because there is more at stake for them if they choose to open up.
In a recent client situation, this fear of speaking up was so well ingrained in the culture of the organization, that it was affecting business results in a significant way; it was affecting their ability to bring on desperately needed qualified resources. The culture had evolved to one where if you didn’t agree with all decisions coming from senior management, then you simply did not fit in the organization, and would eventually be terminated. Surprisingly, this goes on every day in many businesses. So, the $64 million question –
How do you prevent this? The best answer I know of is that the top person, usually CEO is the one who sees value in employees being encouraged to speak up where they see improvements would help the organization. This is not to say at all, that all employees need to be in agreement about every decision our business process, it says that employees input is valued and respected without fear of retribution. It also does not mean that every decision is first sent to employees before finalization. We should never expect that all employees would be capable of making senior management decisions. Additionally, there should be a stated ideology which says that employees are encouraged and have the opportunity to input, but that at the end of the day, after consideration has been given and final decisions explained transparently, the company decision often will hold and that employees are expected to fall in line – but only after the opportunity for input and understanding has been provided.
Bottom line; a healthy culture in an organization starts with the behavior and thinking that goes on at the very top level. The value of an employer encouraging employee input without fear of retribution must be clearly believed, stated and followed.
Take a few minutes to explore the HR Power Centre at www.twogreysuits.com. It contains on-line Employee Engagement training, everything you need for effective people management in the HR Power Centre, and, when you need answers fast, you can talk to a senior HR Professional 24/7 through the HR Hot Line.
Signing up is hassle free. Just go to www.twogreysuits.com and log in using your email address as your username and CAMX01 as your password. It's as simple as that.
Hassle-free, effortless HR Solutions for your business ...Because HR Happens
Respectfully submitted by Linda Osip
Our Education Committee has created an amazing calendar of Learning Opportunites for your teams in monthly Webinars and Lunch & Learn sessions. All recordings are available through the CAM-X office.
2019 AOE with Linda Osip
Employee Engagement with Gloria Tonne
Amazing Customer Service with Leisa McDonald
Feedback Conversations with Sheila Jessup
Dealing with difficult and stressful calls with Sherry Oxner
May 1 Work Life Balance with Leisa McDonald
May 22 Bud To Boss with Cindy King
June 5 Goal Setting with Cindy King
June 19 TBA with Leslie Wilson
September 17 & 18 COACH U Leadership Training
COACH U – Julianna Cantwell
Exceptional Leadership (Level 1) (full day)
Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:
Understand the differences between a technical and leadership role
Differentiate between formal and informal leaders
Adapt their leadership style to match the individuals they are leading
List the three communication factors and know how they impact every interaction
Identify the six levels of listening and how they affect communications, rapport and relationships
Separate facts, feelings and assumptions to communicate more effectively
Provide both positive and constructive feedback to others
Use conversation to carry out an effective dialogue with others
September 18 & 19 55th Annual Convention & Trade Show
Keynote: Carrie Doll - The Power of Storytelling
The Award Committee
At our meeting last week we finalized our focus group questions
We are currently dividing up the membership for committee members to make calls
Calls should get started before the end of the month
Find out more about AOE Plus - contact Linda
Pre Employment Testing Demo Available - Contact for instructions
CSR, Supervisor & Site Certification
Member Spotlight – Dennis O’Hara | Associated Call Centers
Q. When did you join/start American Communications Centers and what brought you into the call center industry?
Our main company is actually Associated Call Centers and I started it in 1994. American Communications Centers is a DBA and was started to market to the TAS world, I think that was around 1998. Hell I’m not sure now!
Q. Can you tell us a little more about the evolution of your career path with American Communications Centers.
Well my career path was… “if I want this thing to grow and make money I better get it done” All kidding aside since I bought a TAS and combined it with my Associated Call Centers business we have strived to open new verticals and provided the best service we could, pretty much from day one I wanted to focus on getting the best people I could and giving them tools to excel. I have always said our people are our product and that has never changed. Things today are light years beyond when we first started …. You don’t know what you don’t know 😊
Q. What was your first CAM-X experience?
I am guessing it was at an ATSI convention In Montreal. I had a chance to meet with a large group of CAM-X folks and got to know more about the industry from a different perspective. Some time later as President of ATSI I attended a convention in Deerhurst. That particular trip was a LONG one as I flew to Tampa Bay for a friends wedding spent 2 days and then flew to San Diego for a WSTA convention and spoke there about ATSI and then the next day flew out early to Toronto rented a car and drove north for 3 hours! That was a fun trip but at that show I met a bunch of great folks and CAM-X opened up a lot of new ideas for me.
Q. Can you tell us more about how you’ve participated or benefitted from CAM-X membership?
Like most trade associations you get out what you put in but honestly the best part has been the training and the people. CAM-X really does an excellent job of staying focused on proving great customer service and making sure the agents are becoming everything they can be, honestly we have not spent enough time taking advantage of that stuff, something we aim to fix.
Q. What does your business look like today vs. ten or more years ago.
Well I’m a lot damn older! Honestly, it’s night and day. We service such a wide and diverse customer base now combined from what we did in the past such as TAS and order entry. The best thing that has happened was when Crystal O’Hara joined the company and took over as COO, she had lead the makeover of not just operations but the whole company! She is the hardest working person I have ever met and is always coming up with ways to make things better, improving training, streamlining processes and making this a fun environment for all.
In addition last year we made the move to “go virtual” last January we “sent everybody home” that has been one of the best moves we have ever made and has had a terrific impact on the business, the employees and frankly the bottom line.
Q. What platform do you use? Are you a member of the user group and why?
We use the Startel CMC and the Soft Switch. It’s an excellent platform that can do pretty much everything we need and all in all we have been very happy with it. One thing I can say is in my opinion there are no “bad” systems out there, if you do your job the systems can do more than most of us even know how to market and sell.
We are also a member of Team SNUG and have been since 1999. I was also a board member and president of SNUG and served on a LOT of committees, probably too many 😊
SNUG has been invaluable to not only the company but to me personally, life long friends that I can always count on and friends that I would do anything for. When Crystal and I got married last October we had close to a dozen industry friends that we invited, they are in most ways, family to Crystal and myself.
Q. Tell us a little personal background about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
Well personal background I can tell you what I can LOL, I have lived an Interesting life to say the least. But I have 2 wonderful children from a previous marriage, Erin age 22 who is about to graduate from college and Tommy age 18 who is graduating high school and then heading off to college himself. In addition Crystal has 3 boys so holidays are always fun and hectic!
In addition, I have been involved in Boy Scouts for years as an Assistant Scoutmaster first with Tommy and now with our youngest Christopher. Football fanatic, hockey fanatic and baseball nut! And oh yes I have been hunting and shooting since I was 12. This is a list that could go on for a while so I’ll cut it short!