3 Ways To Prepare To Ask For A Raise

Talking about money can be an uncomfortable conversation for many people. But add to the equation that you’re asking someone in authority to you to give you more money and it’s a recipe for an anxiety attack. But regardless of this, if you want to get paid more money at work, chances are you’re going to have to talk to your boss about getting a raise. So to make this whole process easier on yourself, and to increase your chances of getting the pay bump you’re looking for, here are three ways you can prepare to ask for a raise at work.

Time The Conversation Right

When it comes to talking to your supervisor about a raise, timing can make or break the outcome of your conversation. To be on the safe side, Molly Triffin, a contributor to Forbes.com, recommends doing your research about when the company you’re working for traditionally gives out raises. If they generally wait until it’s time for a performance review, you may want to wait until your next review to talk to your boss about increasing your pay. If you’re unsure about when the best time to ask for a raise will be within your specific company, Triffin recommends either asking your co-workers or your boss when a good time to have a conversation about salary would be.

Prepare For What NOT To Say

While you may be focusing more on what you should be saying during your salary negotiations, Aaron Gouveia, a contributor to Salary.com, recommends to also prepare for what not to say. Feeling that you want a raise because you either haven’t had one in a while or you know your co-worker doing a similar job makes a lot more than you can entice you to seek out more money, but these are definitely not things you necessarily want to bring up when you’re trying to convince your boss to give you a pay increase. Rather than making your boss want to give you a raise, saying the wrong things could put you further behind professionally than you were when you began the conversation. So even if your conversation gets a little heated, make sure you know what phrases you should avoid in order to keep the conversation going in the right direction.

Nail Down The Proof Of Why You Deserve A Raise

As opposed to referring to your feelings or impressions of yourself when justifying a pay raise to your boss, the best strategy to get the increase you’re wanting is to focus on the concrete proof of why you deserve the raise you’re looking for. Susan M. Heathfield, a contributor to TheBalance.com, recommends making a list of your accomplishments and how they’ve benefitted the company. You should also point out any additional responsibilities you’ve taken on since your last pay increase. Both of these points can be great justification for a raise of your current income level.

If you’re planning to talk to your boss about a raise in the near future, use the tips mentioned above to ensure you’re prepared for the conversation.

The Best Ways to Manage Absence But Beware – It Can All Go Wrong

Absence in the workplace is costing companies hundreds of thousands of pounds every year, so if you’re not already managing your staff’s absence levels, both short- and long-term, now would be a very good time to start. You’ll be pleased to know that unless you’re a very large company, absence monitoring is not that complicated. It can be done simply by setting up an Excel spreadsheet to record the work attendance, or otherwise, of employees.

However, monitoring and managing absence should be done so as not to scare or seemingly force employees to come to work when they really are sick. We’ll talk more about some of these less desirable outcomes later.

For smaller companies there’s the free Health and Safety Executive’s sickness management SART prototype tool which can be used to record, monitor and analyse absence – you can read more about it and download it here.

Fit Notes

If a staff member is sick, and off work sick for 7+ days in a row – they are required to present a ‘Fit Note’ (formerly called a ‘sick note’). If the doctor’s note states that the employee ‘may be fit for work’, it’s a good idea to arrange to meet with them and discuss how best you can help get them back on the job. For longer absences, consider using the following techniques, which should encourage work attendance and help to reduce the costs of staff absence:

  • Return-to-Work Interviews

Return-to-work interviews help to deter absences that are not genuine and can help to identify the underlying causes of absences.

  • Work Attendance Incentives

Many companies now offer their employees incentives to discourage non-genuine absences and get them back to work – extra holiday days, cash rewards or allowing staff members extra time off if their attendance has been good are a few of these.

  • Flexi-Time

Flexible working times where staff members work shifts or work from home can help to reduce absences.

  • Work Stress Training

Training employees to cope with stress has proved to reduce absence levels by some margin.

  • Healthy Lifestyle

The adoption of a healthy lifestyle has proved to significantly reduce absence rate. Regular exercise, healthy eating, walking, running, or working out at the gym, are all good ways to boost fitness and get employees back to work. Exercise also helps to combat depression and promote a sense of wellbeing.

  • Income Protection Policy

An income protection policy provides long-term absence employees with a monthly salary. These policies are relatively cheap and will ultimately save the company money.

We have to be very careful when monitoring absence so as not to make employees feel they have to come to work when they’re not well enough, or make them feel bullied in any way.

Now let’s talk more about some of the less desirable outcomes of absence management.

Feeling Forced to Work

For reasons related to job security or a heavy workload, some employees will come to work even when they are actually ill, and this is not a good thing. Unwell staff members are unlikely to perform well, may make mistakes that cost the company money – or worse, create legal issues – and most likely infect their co-workers with whatever germs or illness they’re suffering from. To combat these occurrences, some companies have introduced workplace wellness strategies which are combined with their absence management initiatives.

Increased Stress

The more workers feel under pressure to come to work, the more stress and other health issues they may suffer. Ironically, increased stress can often result in long-term absences.

Beware too, as some employees may feel that work interviews are a kind of interrogation – the last thing you want is a sick employee coming to work just to avoid these. When employees return to work after being sick, it’s okay to ask them why they were absent but at the same time they should be welcomed back to the workplace and not be made to feel guilty in any way.

A major contributing factor to absence in the workplace is stress but with the introduction of changes to the Right to Request Flexible Working, in June 2014, all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service are now able to request flexible working hours. This change has benefited employees and companies alike and has had a very positive influence on absence and stress-related illness in the workplace.

Staff members are now able to enjoy a better work/life balance and as a result feel more loyal to their employers. If bad weather, a sick child, or transport delays prevent them from travelling to work, they can work from home and not feel guilty about not going into the office. Also, if an employee feeling a little sickly or has a temperature, instead avoiding travelling to the office and not doing any work, they’ll be more inclined to log on at home and crack on with some work.

The Top 5 Most Lucrative Career Paths In The U.S.

Depending on what a person considers to be most fitting for their personal existence in the world, the “best” jobs in the U.S. are rather subjective.  The most lucrative career paths are a bit more fine tuned and easy to decipher.

Though money is not everything in life, it does have an unfortunately strong effect on most people’s happiness.  Money is a necessary evil, and the more of it we have, the more successful we are considered to be.  Here is a quick rundown of a few of the most lucrative career paths available in the in U.S.

Web Developer

The median salary for a Web Developer in the United States is just under $64,000 a year.  The internet rules a significant portion of our economy, and it is wise to invest in the proper knowledge to be a part of the booming business.

Job security is high in this career and it typically only requires a four-year degree in some computer-related field.  Web Developers must learn to be fluent in coding and software applications.

You could also make money blogging as a web developer; since the most lucrative blogs are well designed, fast loading, and have good content.

Accountant

Accountants can also sleep peacefully knowing that there will always be a place for them in the workforce.  There will always be a need for people who are good with numbers as long as the Internal Revenue Service exists.

Accountants typically inspect financial records, file taxes, and do other financial management tasks for individuals and big business. The average yearly income in the U.S. for an accountant is around $65,000.

Occupational Therapist

The average income for an Occupational Therapist in the U.S. is near $80,000 per year.  The unemployment rate for this particular occupation is currently just over one percent.  The field is expected to expand, making Occupational Therapist a lucrative career path.

OTs, assist patients in rebuilding their ability to perform necessary daily tasks.  They work to restore prior function to injured limbs and other various parts of the body.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses are responsible for monitoring patients, performing minor medical procedures, and administering medications.  Most nurses work long hours, but the financial benefits are worth the time spent helping others.

The median salary for a registered nurse in the United States is just under $67,000 per year.  The unemployment rate in this career is only around two percent.  Job security is endless due to the nature of the work.  People will always need nurses.

Statistician

If a person has a strong love for mathematical equations and anything to do with numbers, then Statistician is the proper career path.  It is possible to get a foot into the field with a Bachelor’s degree, but a master’s or a Ph. D. will get a person further.

Attracting the Best and Brightest to Mining

The need for the mining industry to attract a strong workforce in the decades ahead remains a critical topic and I think it’s something that bears emphasizing.  The growth potential is such that in Canada alone the industry will need over 145,000 workers by 2023, according to the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR)

A report released last November looked at the ability of the industry to access workers with the necessary skills when an economic upswing takes place.  The shortage in skilled tradespeople is exacerbated by a lack of recruitment over the past five years. That only increases pressure on an already thin labour supply.  It also hampers the resurgence of the industry to previous production and employment levels. 

That’s why this is such an important issue to raise.

The Mining Industry Human Resources Council also estimates that the pool of available talent will not be enough to meet the industry’s needs by 2023 — that’s only six years away.

The challenge of attracting skilled workers to our industry presents both a challenge and an opportunity.  For those looking for a growth industry, it’s a great opportunity to enter a field where your skills will be valued and well compensated. Given the need for workers, mining will offer security that is lacking in other fields. The jobs run the gamut from engineers to geologists, to health and safety professionals and many other trades. 

Admittedly, mining was not my first choice when I completed my studies. After earning my MBA, I joined Hudson Bay Mining as a financial analyst. I didn’t have long-term plans as far as working in the mining industry is concerned until I realized what a tremendous entrepreneurial opportunity this industry could be.

It’s also worthwhile to note that there are ongoing innovations in mining which hold great promise and are tremendously exciting, advances such as sensor-driven autonomous mining machines and developments in the microbiology of minerals.  The technological advancements and possible applications in the area of robotics are also very exciting.

There are excellent training courses available for those wanting to get into mining available through the Canadian Mining Certification Program (CMCP).  The CMCP is a national program that certifies the skills and competencies of mine workers. Those positions include miners and drillers. There are also certified courses and programs offered by EduMine.

The field offers plenty of opportunities for personal growth. This industry is not for everyone, but I can say from experience that it offers many enriching opportunities for growth. My goal here once again is to remind everyone of some of those exciting opportunities.

How Realtors Can Maximize Their Income Stream

Let’s face it, many of us would all like to begin to earn or increase our supplementary income stream. While finding ways to earn a little extra income has become easier with the internet and better communication tools, it can still be challenging to find long term paths toward supplementary income.

This is especially true for realtors, who often work well beyond the standard eight hour business day chauffeuring clients to and from potential homes, creating marketing and promotional material for properties they are selling, and even staging homes for owners.

From my experience at AccessEasyFunds working in the area of realtor commission advances, for real estate professionals the best way to boost their income is to use the many skills they already have.

One of the easiest ways to increase cash flow is to branch out. Instead of specializing in one neighbourhood or city, begin to research and study adjacent areas and jurisdictions, so you can begin to offer your services in those areas.

Use existing clients to introduce you to friends and family in nearby neighbourhoods who may be interested in selling. Word of mouth is a proven way to generate more business in the real estate industry and the extra clients will help increase your revenue.

Another way to increase revenue is to expand into the real estate referral business. As your personal client roster grows, you will begin to have repeat clients who will come to you when the want to upsize or downsize or who will refer their children or parents to you. Sometimes these clients may also ask for help with moving to another city or community.

As a real estate referral specialist you simply access the real estate databases that you already subscribe and are a member to and generate a list or a specific referral for your client. The referral can be based on a select list of pre-determined criteria that can include the prospective realtor’s history, standing and status with local real estate boards and associations.

Referral specialists then match the buyer with the suitable agent and earn a portion of the sales commission fee, which is roughly 20 to 30 percent.

For those who want to expand their real estate business, attaining a brokerage license is also a viable option. Obtaining a brokerage license allows you to open your own real estate office and collect commissions from agents who work out of your brokerage. Like opening a referral business, brokers also earn a percentage of the realtor’s commission, anywhere from 5 to 50 percent.

Depending on the city and country you live in, the rules pertaining to establishing a brokerage may differ. However, it is well worth the time finding out the specific requirements especially if you believe you can find a large amount of agents who would work for you.

There is an old saying about working smarter not harder to attain your goals, and using the skills that you already possess is one of the best ways to work smarter and earn extra income.

Employee versus Independent Contractor

“The difference between slaves in Roman and Ottoman days and today’s employees is that  slaves did not need to flatter their boss.”
 – Nassim Nicholas Taleb, BS, MS, MBA, PhD is a scholar, statistician, and author of the book, “The Black Swan”

sweatshop

Written by Steve Nyvik, BBA, MBA, CIM, CFP, R.F.P.
Financial Planner and Portfolio Manager, Lycos Asset Management Inc.

 

The exploitation of labor conjures up images of workers laboring in sweatshops for 12 hours or more a day, for pennies an hour, driven by a merciless overseer.  Employment in Canada has evolved – some might argue just enough to keep abreast of changes in provincial employment standards, where the payer offers low wages and has control over how you work.

When starting one’s career, one likely has to take whatever they can to make money and to gain work experience.  But for highly educated or experienced workers, there exist some types of work where the payer doesn’t control every aspect of what to do and how to do it.  It is in these types of roles where respect and satisfaction are more likely to be found and where one is treated as a professional.

Where one can be considered as an independent contractor, such status can come with valuable tax benefits of being able to deduct a wide range of business expenses and taxable income being subject to the small business tax rate (for 2016, the combined federal and BC corporate tax rate on the first $500,000 of active business income is 13%).

So, if you are the type of person that wants to be in business as opposed to working for someone, let’s look at some of the obstacles you’ll need to navigate.

 

Personal Services Business

To be able to claim a wide range of business expenses and enjoy the small business tax rate, your business cannot be considered to be a Personal Services Business (“PSB”) under 125(7) of the Income Tax Act.

A Personal Services Business carried on by a corporation in a taxation year means a business of providing services where:

  • an individual who performs services on behalf of the corporation (an “incorporated employee”), or
  • a person related to the incorporated employee

is a specified shareholder (i.e. owns 10% or more of the company) of the corporation and the relationship between the provider of the service and the entity receiving the service could reasonably be regarded as an employee/employer relationship.

As most consultants will own more than 10% of their company, the issue is that of whether you are in an employee / employer relationship.

 

Are you an Employee or Independent Contractor?

There is no one, definitive test of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.  Such a determination requires consideration of a wide variety of factors and each situation requires an independent assessment.  The key is determining whether the worker is performing services as a person in business on his or her own account or as an employee.

The Canada Revenue Agency guide, “RC4110 Employee or Self-employed?”, tells you the process that the CRA goes through in making an assessment.  They look at several elements to determine whether the responses better reflect a contract of service (employee) or a contract for service (independent contractor) for tax purposes:

1. Intention of the parties

– whether the parties intend the relationship to be one of employer / employee or independent contractor.

To decide the parties’ intentions, the CRA examines a copy of the contract and receive testimony from both the worker and the payer to ascertain the actual nature of the working relationship.

 

2. Control

Control is the ability, authority, or right of a payer to exercise control over a worker concerning the manner in which the work is done and what work will be done.  When examining the factor of control, it is necessary to focus on both the payer’s control over the worker’s daily activities and the payer’s influence over the worker.  It is the right of the payer to exercise control that is relevant, not whether the payer actually exercises that right.

Indicators of an employment relationship

  • The relationship is one of subordination. The payer will often direct, scrutinize, and effectively control many elements of how and when the work is carried out.
  • The payer controls the worker with respect to both the results of the work and the method used to do the work.
  • The payer chooses and controls the method and amount of pay. Salary negotiations may still take place in an employer-employee relationship.
  • The payer decides what jobs the worker will do.
  • The payer chooses to listen to the worker’s suggestions but has the final word.
  • The worker requires permission to work for other payers while working for this payer.
  • Where the schedule is irregular, priority on the worker’s time is an indication of control over the worker.
  • The worker receives training or direction from the payer on how to do the work. The overall work environment between the worker and the payer is one of subordination.

Indicators of an independent contractor relationship

  • A self-employed individual usually works independently.
  • The worker does not have anyone overseeing his or her activities.
  • The worker is usually free to work when and for whom he or she chooses and may provide his or her services to different payers at the same time.
  • The worker can accept or refuse work from the payer.
  • The working relationship between the payer and the worker does not present a degree of continuity, loyalty, security, subordination, or integration, all of which are generally associated with an employer-employee relationship.

 

3. Ownership of tools

– generally independent contractors provide their own tools and equipment to accomplish that work. If the payer provides a furnished office and a computer, it may point to an employment relationship.  Contractual control of, and responsibility for, an asset in a rental or lease situation is also considered under this factor.

What is relevant is the significant investment in the tools and equipment along with the cost of replacement, repair, and insurance. A worker who has made a significant investment is likely to retain a right over the use of these assets, diminishing the payer’s control over how the work is carried out. In addition, such a significant investment may place the worker at a risk of a financial loss.

Indicators of an employment relationship

  • The payer supplies most of the tools and equipment the worker needs. In addition, the payer is responsible for repair, maintenance, and insurance costs.
  • The payer retains the right of use over the tools and equipment provided to the worker.
  • The worker supplies the tools and equipment and the payer reimburses the worker for their use.

Indicators of an independent contractor relationship

  • The worker provides the tools and equipment needed for the work. In addition, the worker is responsible for the costs of repairs, insurance, and maintenance to the tools and equipment.
  • The worker has made a significant investment in the tools and equipment and the worker retains the right over the use of these assets.
  • The worker supplies his or her own workspace, is responsible for the costs to maintain it, and does substantial work from that site.

 

4. Subcontracting work or hiring assistants

Indicators of an employment relationship

  • The worker cannot hire helpers or assistants.
  • The worker does not have the ability to hire and send replacements. The worker has to do the work personally.

Indicators of an independent contractor relationship

  • The worker does not have to carry out the services personally. He or she can hire another party to either do the work or help do the work, and pays the costs for doing so.
  • The payer has no say in whom the worker hires.

 

5. Financial Risk taken by the worker

– Employees usually don’t have any financial risk as their expenses will be reimbursed, and they will not have fixed ongoing costs. Self-employed individuals may pay fixed monthly expenses even if work is not currently being done.  Both employees and self-employed may be reimbursement for business or travel expenses so they consider only expenses that are not reimbursed by the payer.

Indicators of an employment relationship

  • The worker is not usually responsible for any operating expenses.
  • Generally, the working relationship between the worker and the payer is continuous.
  • The worker is not financially liable if he or she does not fulfil the obligations of the contract.
  • The payer chooses and controls the method and amount of pay.

Indicators of an independent contractor relationship

  • The worker hires helpers to assist in the work. The worker pays the hired helpers.
  • The worker does a substantial amount of work from his or her own workspace and incurs expenses relating to the operation of that workspace.
  • The worker is hired for a specific job rather than an ongoing relationship.
  • The worker is financially liable if he or she does not fulfil the obligations of the contract.
  • The worker does not receive any protection or benefits from the payer.
  • The worker advertises and actively markets his or her services.

 

6. Responsibility for investment and management

– Is the worker required to make any investment in order to provide the services? A significant investment is evidence that a business relationship may exist.  The CRA will also consider if the worker is free to make business decisions that affect his or her profit or loss.

Indicators of an employment relationship

  • The worker has no capital investment in the payer’s business.
  • The worker does not have a business presence.

Indicators of an independent contractor relationship

  • The worker has capital investment.
  • The worker manages his or her staff.
  • The worker hires and pays individuals to help do the work.
  • The worker has established a business presence.

 

7. Opportunity for profit and risk of loss test

– employees generally don’t have an opportunity to earn profit (beyond their normal salary), nor do they risk a loss. If fewer clients come in, they generally still get a paycheque.  Contractors on the other hand, have both the opportunity for profit, and the risk of loss.  They have to pay for overhead expenses, and may not earn enough income to cover those expenses.

Self-employed individuals have the ability to pursue and accept contracts as they see fit.  They can negotiate the price (or unilaterally set their prices) for their services and have the right to offer those services to more than one payer. Self-employed individuals will normally incur expenses to carry out the terms and conditions of their contracts, and to manage those expenses to maximize net earnings.  Self-employed individuals can increase their proceeds and/or decrease their expenses in an effort to increase profit.

The method of payment may help to decide if the worker has the opportunity to make a profit or incur a loss.  In an employer-employee relationship, the worker is normally guaranteed a return for the work done and is usually paid on an hourly, daily, weekly, or similar basis.  Similarly, some self-employed individuals are paid on an hourly basis. However, when a worker is paid a flat rate for the work done, it generally indicates a business relationship, especially if the worker incurs expenses in doing the work.

Indicators of an employment relationship

  • The worker is not normally in a position to realize a business profit or loss.
  • The worker is entitled to benefit plans that are normally offered only to employees. These include registered pension plans, and group accident, health, and dental insurance plans.

Indicators of an independent contractor relationship

  • The worker can hire a substitute and the worker pays the substitute.
  • The worker is compensated by a flat fee and incurs expenses in carrying out the services.

 

Summary

Being an independent contractor as opposed to an employee takes a greater amount of risk.  There could even be times when you have little or no work.  And when the tough times come, you may be more vulnerable to your services being terminated and may be the first to be let go.  But with that greater risk comes the greater flexibility in doing the work the way you think it should be done.  As a result you might have greater job satisfaction.

You may have to invest in training to keep up-to-date and you have to secure your own benefits.  You may need to spend time marketing your services to secure new business.  And of course, being independent can result in significant tax savings.

To give up such lucrative tax status, freedom as to how you work, and be labelled as an employee, one should receive valuable training and skills development, have opportunities for advancement, and be entitled to employment benefits, paid time off and statutory holidays, and possibly accrue pension benefits.

An employee also has one additional advantage when it comes to their job coming to an end (other than for cause).  An employee will have an entitlement to severance or notice in lieu of severance.  An independent contractor has no such entitlement – their role can end at any time.

I hope that this article has been insightful to help you determine the type of role that makes best sense for you.  If you are interested in working with an investment adviser that you can talk to about your work, benefits, pensions, and quality of work life issues, then please call me, Steve Nyvik, at (604) 288-2083 Extension 2 or email me at: Steve@lycosasset.com.

Tomorrow’s future starts with today’s investments

Education has been accurately called ‘the great equalizer’ because it evens the playing field and opens the doors to success. I have seen and experienced the affects a good education can have on one’s life. When I was young man, it was my acceptance into a Master’s program at the University of Ottawa that helped set me down the path to my career accomplishments.

While institutes for education like elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities are the first line of educational training, there are also a number of other organizations and groups that aim to enrich and enhance the knowledge, skill set and experience level of today’s younger generation.

One that is especially dear to my heart is the Junior Achievement organization of British Columbia (JABC), a chapter of the larger JA Worldwide, an international organization committed to empowering and educating young people to overcome their circumstance despite their social and economic challenge and transform their futures.

JABC has been an education partner to the province of British Columbia since 1955, inspiring and preparing youth to succeed in the constantly evolving business and digital world. Over the last six decades, JABC has helped 35,000 students each year through their unique programming that is facilitated through the tutelage of local business and community leaders.

With a specific focus on business education, programs at JABC include work readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Students also begin to form strong business networks that will serve them throughout their school and work careers.

Last month, I was among two other BC business people honoured by the JABC with an induction into the Business Laureates of BC Hall Fame.

As Jan Bell-Irving, President and CEO of JABC, spoke about the contribution my fellow inductees and myself have made, I couldn’t help but think about how impactful JABC is on the lives of the youngest residents of our province. JA Canada, the national chapter, has worked with more than 4 million Canadian students over the last 60 years, with plans to help another 4 million in the 60 years to come.

In my gratitude address (Ian Telfer: 2016 Business Laureate Induction),  I thanked the JABC, not only for the honour, but also for the fantastic work they do preparing and enabling the success of Canadian youth. I also urged the more than 700 business executives and entrepreneurs in the room to continue to support the efforts of the JABC through donations, volunteer work and sponsorship.

In the final words of Jan’s speech, she said, “They have left behind a powerful legacy that continues to inspire future generations of business leaders and entrepreneurs,” and although she was talking about this year’s inductees, she could have easily been talking about the JABC.

Three tips for effective leaders

There are few things greater than the feeling you get building and leading a successful business. Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of establishing and growing a variety of mining firms into successful companies and I have also lead some not so successful ones.

While this feeling of accomplishment is grand, it is only dwarfed by the amount of gratitude that leaders must feel and show the dedicated team of professionals they work with. This includes the executive team, managerial staff and employees; in short, the people who are able to take your corporate vision and make it reality. 

Over the last 30 years, I have learned some valuable lessons when it comes to being an effective and efficient leader. I have also witnessed leaders in other sectors exhibit truly admirable leadership skills.

Ian Telfer’s 3 leadership tips

Building a team

Building the right team is as important as building a successful business.

No man is an island, as the old adage goes.  Which is why in order for a business to achieve full potential it needs a robust team of executives who are able to bring unique skill sets and perspectives to the boardroom.

Don’t be afraid to delegate

The ability to wisely and effectively delegate is a quality less talked about than others and yet it’s crucial to a leader’s success. Too many business leaders want to micromanage and oversee every detail of the company, which can delay important deadlines and leave the executive team feeling undervalued.

A leader should be in charge of the overall direction of the business.  They are looking ahead, steering the course, and making needed corrections to avoid getting off track. A leader who is too caught up in every minutia of the company is apt to lose sight of the big picture and may even fail to see that their company has veered off course until it is too late.

It’s also been proven that leaders who give important responsibilities to their team and employees, along with the freedom to complete the task their way, foster a positive and healthy workplace. Additionally, this builds team innovation and idea levels, morale, and overall satisfaction.

Assigning responsibilities and delegating work establishes levels of trust that are crucial when working in any business environment.

Foster open communication

It’s important to let business teams feel free to share results and findings with you. Communication is also key to ensuring your team is able to fulfill their assignments and responsibilities. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is very important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working toward the same goal.

From my experience, if you want an organization to succeed, you and your team have to master the art of clear inter-communication. In my opinion, implementing well-organized paths that facilitate easy group communication and collaboration improves the likelihood that a given business will enjoy success.

Finding equilibrium between shareholders and business realities

The relationship between a public company and its shareholders can be a tenuous one at times. While both interests want the company to achieve success, each have a unique view as to how success should be gained and within what timeframe.

This difference of opinion is often magnified in the mining sector, where more often than not it takes years to see a return on investment for any given mining project.  This can create tension between mining executives and shareholders, one further complicated when shareholders are pension funds and money management firms.

To put it fairly simply, shareholders are looking for consistent growth in terms of capital and production because it translates into favourable fiscal projections. However, when it takes five to ten years for a mine to start producing ore, there’s a timeframe difference that can sometimes produce tension.

I briefly touched on this issue when I addressed Laurentian University in early 2015 (see Ian Telfer: Top 10 Mining Mistakes). As I explained, in my experience I have found keeping shareholder interest in mind is important.  However, it is equally important to find a balance between their more short-term goals and a mining company’s sustainable future. Increased pressure to focus on shareholder needs can skew perspectives and lead to hasty business decisions, poor strategic planning, and acquisitions or divestitures that backfire later.

More importantly, shareholders are compensated based on short-term price performance rather than long-term business feasibility, which can misalign the interests of both management and current shareholders with the true welfare of the company.

In the mining sector, there is often a tug-of-war between management and shareholders over the company’s capital. Investors often view extra cash on a company’s balance sheet as a possible return to shareholders in the form of cash dividends, which in turn is looked favorable by markets.

However, the company’s management teams can be hesitant to do this, and rightly so. This is because management teams are committed to sustained growth and may want to use additional capital to invest in new mining projects. Re-investing capitals in new mining initiatives is sometimes not at the top of shareholders priority list.

By no means am I saying that shareholders aren’t valued, but as my history in the mining sector has shown me, they are only one component of a much larger picture that includes the management team, the employees, the shareholders and the community. Finding the right balance between appeasing shareholder demands and promoting and protecting the future of a company is paramount in order to achieve long lasting sustainability no matter what sector or industry.

What I wish I knew when I first started my career

Throughout my more than thirty years in the Canadian mining sector, I have been taught many lessons, some I wish I learned earlier than others. While each lesson has helped me grow, there are a few choice ones I wish I would have learned when I first set out in this fascinating industry.

I am often asked to speak to students regarding their future aspirations. During a more controversial address of mine, I mentioned to attendees not to overly-listen to what shareholders say.  To be clear, I don’t mean disregarding shareholders all together.  However, many shareholders are temporary investors, while mining initiatives, if anything, are long-term projects that last years.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition, and one that I think is particularly evident in the mining industry.  But, what it means is that focusing entirely on shareholder input and opinions can sometimes be detrimental to the long-term advance of a mining company.  That’s something I’ve certainly learned during my time in the mining field, and it’s a lesson to keep in mind.

I’ve also mentioned this before, but it’s worth reiterating: the power of embracing opportunity when it presents itself.  I think this goes hand-in-hand with my belief that there is no reward without risk.  For business leaders and entrepreneurs, these two concepts unfortunately battle against each other constantly.  On the one hand, we can’t succeed without embracing opportunity.  On the other hand, rarely is there opportunity that does not carry with it some sort of risk.

The fact is that the most successful entrepreneurs in any industry are the ones who listen closely for opportunity as it knocks ever-so gently.  And when they pinpoint this opportunity, they sense its timing and have a gut feeling that it’s worth pursuing.  Then, without any further hesitation, they embrace this opportunity with 100% commitment. 

Many people hesitate at the sign of opportunity.  But, realizing that it’s oftentimes fleeting and only knocks once, successful business leaders are quick to evaluate an opening and put their full weight into it, if the timing is right.  That’s key.   

One other point that I wish I knew when I was starting out and a point I also reiterate to  students and the younger generation of professionals is to be the business partner you wish you had.  Putting yourself in another person’s shoes is never the easiest thing to do, but it’s incredibly worthwhile when building business relationships or building a business with a partner. 

Commit to being a partner who brings unique tools and skill sets to the table.  By the same token, choose partners who have skills that compliment, not compete, with your own. And look for associates who can challenge your way of thinking and offer fresh perspective and insight.

I think being a business leader means learning from one’s mistakes.  And that’s okay.  We have to be free to fail.  In business, and, yes, in life too.  But, hopefully, these words of guidance can provide a little measure of help along the way.