HRMATT 2015 Conference Recap

This episode is a recap of the HRMATT Conference 2015, which
featured the prominent guest speaker, Dr. Robert Kaplan. He’s the
co-creator of the Balanced Scorecard and the Strategy Map. During
the conference, CaribHR.Radio sat down with him and also with
T&T presenters Leah deSouza and Maxine Attong.

…read more

CaribHR.Radio: HRMATT 2015 Conference Recap

Economic Stress in the Caribbean Workplace – Dr. Robert Brown

Listen in to my interview recorded in the summer of 2015 with Dr. Robert Brown, author of Economic Stress – Harsh Truth and Keys to Empowerment. In this conversation he’s out to empower Human Resource Managers in the Caribbean with the ability to help employees deal with economic stress.

It’s a timely interview as even Trinidad’s recession deepens and employees start to feel the impact of the downturn in every single country in the region. …read more

CaribHR.Radio: Economic Stress in the Caribbean Workplace – Dr. Robert Brown

Interview with Joel Millington

Recently, I sat down with Joel Millington from

He has an interesting podcast in which he interviews business leaders in Trinidad and Tobago who can serve as role models for up and coming business men and women. It’s an interesting concept and I enjoyed speaking with him about “what makes me tick.”

Here’s the link to the interview.

How to Make Civil Servants Attractive to the Public Sector

My Sunday column  today describes a problem that both Trinidad and Jamaica are facing. How do they make civil servants more attractive to the private sector?

The inspiration came from the following billboards I could not help but notice in Trinidad – click here to see.
Both countries need to move public sector workers into the private sector, albeit for very different reasons I describe in the column. While the need is great, however, the change management execution is weak.
It’s one thing to set policy, but when lots of human being are involved, there are specific best practices that must be followed.
Witness the chaos at the passport office in Jamaica this week. Someone at PICA underestimated the demand that would be generated by the announcement that an almost 50% price increase would be put into effect in a few days. The result? A stampede in which two children were almost trampled and nine were taken to hospital with injuries.
Change management is hard and it’s easy to confuse it with politicking, which it isn’t. Novices at the highest levels of organizations mistakenly believe that “it can’t be that hard,” only to be surprised at the results they fail to accomplish.
In my article, I jump over many of the tricky steps and suggest some themes to keep in mind, but I don’t mean to downplay them. In a single column, I focus on one angle at a time.

Solving the Riddle of Corporate Values

convert corporate valuesRecently, I took on the topic of values in a Gleaner column. It’s one that many companies have a problem with, even after spending time and money on developing the “perfect” solution.

Converting Abstract Corporate Values into Profitable Action

You are sitting in your CEO’s office and she wants to know why the list of company values isn’t working. After all, she complains, “We spent two days at last year’s retreat coming up with it. Everyone was involved, so buy-in was never an issue. Why then has nothing changed?”

As a manager or executive, you are caught off-guard. You see the values plastered on walls all around the office. Each person carries a little laminated card in his/her purse or wallet. Why are they not working?

What you may fail to realize is that engaging employees is only a small (but necessary) start. To go further, you need to shed a particular mental model that is limiting your company’s success.

It all starts with a mistaken assumption. In companies, people assume that when it comes to understanding corporate values, everyone is on the same page.

The facts say otherwise. When leaders speak about values they often use them as “valence issues”: non-controversial topics that cannot be argued with, such as “Integrity” and “Respect.” They are a favorite tool of politicians who rely on the technique to get all heads nodding: even those of their opponents.

However, a deeper dive reveals the truth. Executives have a habit of turning values into valence issues, causing them to fall flat.

The best way to convert abstract values into profitable action is to translate them into norms – a step most companies don’t take. For example, one employee may interpret the value “We Put People First” as a suggestion to say “Hello” to each person they pass every morning. Another might see the act of greeting people they don’t know (or like) as one of insincerity and disrespect.

In other words, both employees might believe that they are being true to the value, while acting in opposing ways.

The chances are high that in your company, the values that you promote so stridently are causing opposite effects. They end up creating discord, burning up energy and wasting motion that distracts from the bottom line. What can your executives do to make sure that your investment in the retreat isn’t frittered away?

1. Learn the Video-Tape Test
To solve the problem of poor coordination, focus on defining behaviours that can only be observed with the naked eye, and be recorded on video. That is, they need to be the kind of actions anyone can see. For example, the act of “prioritizing” fails the test. By contrast, “writing up a prioritized list of potential tasks” passes. When this distinction is clear, new behaviours become easy to learn and understand because they can be passed on by the average worker.

2. De-construct Values into Behaviours
With the video-tape test in mind, you can break down any corporate value into its component behaviours. Just set up an executive brainstorming session, explain the distinction, and ask for examples of behaviours. Keep going until you have a list that meets the criteria.

As you take this step, go for extra credit: craft new behaviours that represent an evolution of your company culture. Start with what people do today, and then improve it by several steps. Also, don’t be generic… instead, look for fresh language that shouts: “Here is something you don’t already know.” This helps you avoid valence issues.

3. Convert Each Behaviour into a Performance Matrix
It’s tempting (and a mistake) to believe that someone is either demonstrating a particular behaviour in full, or not at all. A better alternative is to think in terms of a continuum of performance ranging from “novice” to “expert”.

For example, if the chosen behaviour happens to be “Greet colleagues each morning,” a novice, who is new to the company, might struggle to remember to enact the practice. However, an “expert” who has been around for some time would already have converted the behaviour into an automatic habit that never fails.

With such a matrix of behaviours, it’s much easier to evaluate oneself, a boss, direct reports and one’s peers. Now, you have an objective baseline that serves as a starting point. Build on it by creating a personal improvement plan that helps guide you through simple new practices, a few at a time. Ensure that you aren’t trying to change too many things at the same time, and build a support system just in case your willpower flags.

Before long, the entire organization will be moving in the direction of the retreat’s values because there will be an alignment of key behaviours. Your company will be far more likely to see an all-important impact on the bottom-line.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity and a management consultant. To receive a free Summary of each of his past articles, and updates, send email to

My compilation is ready for immediate access

Compilation cover 2014Finally it’s ready – a brand new compilation of articles that covers all my columns through December 2014.

If you have been a regular reader you may be interested in catching up on any articles you may have missed. I know that it’s difficult to read everything due to the fortnightly nature of my columns in Jamaica, and quarterly frequency of articles in Trinidad.

But you can also read articles as far back as 2010, making sure that you haven’t missed a single one.

If you happen to be a new reader, welcome to you! This summary will take you to over 90 articles written for the press in the last few years. Each of them tackles a topic I hope you find interesting.

They cover a single theme – how to make the Caribbean workplace more productive.

In addition, you will find access to over 50 radio interviews (via CaribHR.Radio) plus a few television interviews.

Follow your interests from one topic to the next – I hope you find the work I have done to be valuable. Also, you may use the compilation as a resource by doing a search for keywords you already have an interest in exploring. This will shorten the time it takes for you to grab a useful insight just before you need it!

Click on this link for immediate access –

I’d enjoy receiving your feedback.




Toxic Employees. Why We Need Them

iStock_000001372583XSmallMost offices have at least one. That disgruntled, difficult-to-work with co-worker that no one speaks to directly unless they have to, but have a lot to say behind their backs. Managers have a hard time dealing with them as well, because they are usually the ones with the real power in the department, and have the ability to sway public opinion, usually in a negative way.

Such employees develop in part because of poor HR management- those who are unhappy at work for one reason or another are allowed to fester, to the point where it clouds their interaction with the company and its clients. Some are also hired from toxic environments in previous jobs. But no matter their history, the consensus is that if they are unhappy, they should leave.

Or should they?

Toxic employees can give great insight into what is broken in organizations, and any attempt to manage them can lead to the development of key management skills.

After you dig through the negative comments and tales of woe, chances are that toxic employees can give you real insight into what’s wrong with your company culture. A lot of what goes wrong for these employees is a disorganized workspace, lack of leadership, recognition and the feeling that the company ‘owes’ them something as a result. Pay usually comes up as a sore point. But if you dig deeper, it is usually more a symptom than a cause. It really becomes counter productive when the company starts to ostracise these employees when the environment is a factor in their behaviour.

And what better way to develop your leadership skills than to be given a department full of whiners? If any manager can go in there and come out with their sanity intact, I would call it a win. At the very least, dealing with difficult employees helps managers work on their emotional intelligence, situational leadership skills and anger management. Even better if they can get these employees to be productive.

At times, with all the talk about productivity, efficiency and innovation, we forget that it is human beings are at the core of the activity. And as important as it is to keep pushing forward, the leaders of organizations need to ensure that everyone is on board- even the naysayers.

Unless your company is absolutely perfect, there will be toxic employees. As much as we may be tempted to ship them off to our competitors, it is a useful exercise to try and integrate them, or at the very least understand what got them there and address the internal issues that created the mistrust and negativity.

And if they are unwilling to change, then buy all means, ask them to exercise other options.

Jeremy Francis is a management consultant based in Trinidad. He is hoping to find the keys to being happy at work, so that he could share it with his clients. 

Dan Denison Interview

Dan Denison

Dan Denison is an international consultant and university professor at the IMD in Swizerland. He specializes in the area of culture change and our discussion focuses on the barriers Hr professionals face when they attempt to lead a corporate transformation.

Don’t miss this informative show.

Make sure to also join our free discussion list at, plus our Linkedin Page – CaribHRNet.

Lastly, make sure to tie into our community on Facebook by …read more

CaribHR.Radio: Dan Denison Interview