Getting a Job Promotion in Ottawa ...

Private Sector: "Hey Joe, you've been with the company for 9 years now, you have a good track record and you do quality work. Some of your ideas have translated to $1000's per year in savings and your streamlining recommendations have reduced over-head by 10-15%. We would like you to head the team to implement some of your other ideas - since you came up with them obviously you know them best. How much salary increase do you think is justify-able?" Then you negotiate money.

Public Sector: "Hey Joe, you've been with the department for 9 years now, you have a good track record and you do quality work. Some of your ideas have translated to $1000's per year in savings and your streamlining recommendations have reduced over-head by 10-15%. We would like you to head the team to implement some of your other ideas - since you came up with them obviously you know them best. So what we are going to do is put a notice up for internal and external applicants for a vague job description. You should apply, but not by giving your resume to your Manager and Director, but by sending a text only version through a web site so that it can be analyzed by a computer program to make sure that the terms you use in your resume match those that we put in the essential qualifications section at a rate greater then 50%. If your resume makes it through the screening, you will be invited along with the other candidates to participate in a written exam to assess your general knowledge of computing tends in 6 areas. The test will be written by a 3rd party who is not familiar with the specific tasks of the job you are testing for. If you happen to score 60% or better in each of the sections, you will be invited for an interviews with your manager, the director and a neutral HR 3rd party. The interview questions will be graded, but the questions will be written by a 3rd party who is not familiar with the specific tasks of the job you are testing for. Should you pass the interview, you will need to provide 3 references that will be called and verified, even though you have worked here for 9 years and the job is in the same group, for the same manager you currently work for. If at the end of this process you happen to be the top candidate in the pool, you will receive a formal letter of offer from HR that you must sign and return within 10 days of the job posting. Once you have accepted, the job will become an acting position for the 3 month appeal process. If no one contests your job during the appeal period, then it will become indeterminate at the increment 1 salary level for the designation which is $2200 more than you currently earn. Good luck!"

Now Available as a Cartoon!

10 signs of incompetent managers

I came across a great piece about traits that incompetent managers share. Written by Margaret Heffernan for, this no-nonsense piece cuts to the chase and is about as true a list as I've ever seen. Here are the traits of incompetent managers, according to Ms. Heffernan:

Bias against action: There are always plenty of reasons not to take a decision, reasons to wait for more information, more options, more opinions. But real leaders display a consistent bias for action. People who don't make mistakes generally don't make anything. Legendary ad man David Ogilvy argued that a good decision today is worth far more than a perfect decision next month. Beware prevaricators.

Secrecy: "We can't tell the staff," is something I hear managers say repeatedly. They defend this position with the argument that staff will be distracted, confused or simply unable to comprehend what is happening in the business. If you treat employees like children, they will behave that way - which means trouble. If you treat them like adults, they may just respond likewise. Very few matters in business must remain confidential and good managers can identify those easily. The lover of secrecy has trouble being honest and is afraid of letting peers have the information they need to challenge him. He would rather defend his position than advance the mission. Secrets make companies political, anxious and full of distrust.

Over-sensitivity: "I know she's always late, but if I raise the subject, she'll be hurt." An inability to be direct and honest with staff is a critical warning sign. Can your manager see a problem, address it headlong and move on? If not, problems won't get resolved, they'll grow. When managers say staff is too sensitive, they are usually describing themselves. Wilting violets don't make great leaders. Weed them out. Interestingly, secrecy and over-sensitivity almost always travel together. They are a bias against honesty.

Love of procedure: Managers who cleave to the rule book, to points of order and who refer to colleagues by their titles have forgotten that rules and processes exist to expedite business, not ritualize it. Love of procedure often masks a fatal inability to prioritize - a tendency to polish the silver while the house is burning.

Preference for weak candidates: We interviewed three job candidates for a new position. One was clearly too junior, the other rubbed everyone up the wrong way and the third stood head and shoulders above the rest. Who did our manager want to hire? The junior. She felt threatened by the super-competent manager and hadn't the confidence to know that you must always hire people smarter than yourself.

Focus on small tasks: Another senior salesperson I hired always produced the most perfect charts, forecasts and spreadsheets. She was always on time, her data completely up-to-date. She would always volunteer for projects in which she had no core expertise - marketing plans, financial forecasts, meetings with bank managers, the office move. It was all displacement activity to hide the fact that she could not do her real job.

Inability to hire former employees: I hired a head of sales once with (apparently) a luminous reputation. But, as we staffed up, he never attracted any candidates from his old company. He'd worked in sales for twenty years - hadn't he mentored anyone who'd want to work with him again? Every good manager has alumni, eager to join the team again; if they don't, smell a rat.

Allergy to deadlines: A deadline is a commitment. The manager who cannot set, and stick to deadlines, cannot honor commitments. A failure to set and meet deadlines also means that no one can ever feel a true sense of achievement. You can't celebrate milestones if there aren't any.

Addiction to consultants: A common - but expensive - way to put off making decisions is to hire consultants who can recommend several alternatives. While they're figuring these out, managers don't have to do anything. And when the consultant's choices are presented, the ensuing debates can often absorb hours, days, months. Meanwhile, your organization is poorer but it isn't any smarter. When the consultant leaves, he takes your money and his increased expertise out the door with him.

Long hours: In my experience, bad managers work very long hours. They think this is a brand of heroism but it is probably the single biggest hallmark of incompetence. To work effectively, you must prioritize and you must pace yourself. The manager who boasts of late nights, early mornings and no time off cannot manage himself so you'd better not let him manage anyone else.

The best French Fries in Gatineau??

Le Patapouf
117 Gatineau Ave.

Here is another hidden gem in Gatineau, except this time it is for French fries.

The prices are great and the service is friendly and the french fries are top notch. Too bad about the location. But if you are out and about and want a great snack, try the Patapouf .... you won't be disappointed.

Hidden Treasure in Gatineau for Car Repairs

After the winter we have last year I decided that I want a winter car so that my new car would last a few extra seasons, also with the low profile of a lot of new cars I doubt it would even be drivable in more than a few inches of snow. Anyways, that said, I recently purchased an old 4x4 with good clearance for the winter.

As is recommended when purchasing any used car, I had a full vehicle inspection. I like to do this at a dealership because they always give you the worst case scenario. As expected, the dealership estimate came to about $1500 (for a $5000 winter car? I don’t think so!). I took the dealership estimate to Canadian Tire and they bid at $1200 - still a little too much for me.

I had never been there before, but I found the “Garage du Coin” on Google and decided to stop by. At a first glance, I was surprised the building was still standing – to say it is rough looking is an understatement. However, the garage owner Sherif Sbeiti was super friendly and went over the dealership estimate and the car at no charge, made a few calls and came up with a price that was 1/4 the dealership estimate and 1/3 Canadian Tire. The work was done the next day and the car runs great.

So if you have an old car and think you might be paying too much, give these guys a call, or drop by. It might well save you $100’s or $1000’s in car repair costs.

Garage du Coin
183 rue de Varennes
Gatineau, QC J8T 8G6, Canada
(819) 568-3511

Pedestrians forced to take to the streets (and possibly penalized for it!)

"Gatineau residents will be walking in the streets until the end of winter because the city has given up on plowing sidewalks.

The city says there's simply too much snow for them to remove, so they will be plowing the snow that has been clogging streets since the weekend onto the sidewalks."
- Ottawa Sun, March 13, 2008

However, in a separate article in “La Revue” (March 12, 2008 edition) Gatineau Police have announced that they will be ticketing pedestrians that they consider to be unsafely walking in the streets.

While I understand the role of Police in ensuring safety for the citizenry of Gatineau, this seems like a bit of a cash grab. I think Police should be enforcing on-street parking regulations and ticketing cars that are parked in already narrowed streets, where those cars create a dangerous situation for drivers and pedestrians - especially on main roads and near schools.

As an example, on-street parking on Boulevard de la Cite has effectively narrowed the street width to one lane. On 2 occasions this week alone, traffic has been backed up along this street as only one car can pass at a time. The focus could also be in areas near schools where children are forced to walk on the street, and on-street parking makes it difficult for one car to pass in certain areas, let alone a car and a pedestrian.

While I hope next winter won’t present similar problems, hopefully city council will enact legislation that protects pedestrians rather than penalizes them. Ticketing poor pedestrians forced to take to the roads because of winter weather while not enforcing things that have been shown to save lives (like mandatory bike helmet laws) seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Dealing with the winter blues ...

Cross post from
I will start this post off with a happy thought: Winter is almost over. For many of us, especially those in the North and Canada, winter can be long, hard and draining. The lack of sunshine, fresh air and the cold can take its toll on your body after a few months. So here are a few tips to survive the long winter.

Sunshine: Many people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD or Winter Depression), some estimate as many as 1 in 5. The most common symptoms of SAD include extreme fatigue, oversleeping, not being able to get out of bed, overeating, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain. It can also be accompanied by the regular symptoms of depression, such as low mood, loss of interest in activities and trouble concentrating.

The best therapy is light therapy - either natural (get outside for 15-20 minutes a day) or through a special light treatment lamp. I have also found that 15-30 minutes a week in a tanning bed through January and February to be very beneficial.

Exercise: Exercise encourages the release of endorphins into the blood stream that have a great effect on mood and energy. 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3 or 4 times a week can help elevate your mood, and combat winter weight gain.

Be careful to avoid overtraining as it can depress your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds and flu. In addition if you feel an illness coming on, reduce your training intensity and training session length. Please be kind to others: if you are a member of a gym, stay home for a few days so that you don’t expose others to your germs and viruses.

Vitamin Therapy: Vitamins B and C can help you overcome fatigue, and boost your immune system so that your body can beat winter time colds. Vitamin B complex usually has a number (50 or 100) which corresponds to the amount in mg of each Vitamin B factor. In winter, a 200 pound man can take up to 200mg a day. Vitamin C supplements are usually sold in 500mg or 1g tablets. You can take up to 2g a day of vitamin C (Personally, if I feel the onset of a cold, I double my Vitamin C intake to 4g a day, add Echinacea and a ZMA complex.).

While getting through winter may be tough, just remember to eat right, exercise moderately, take your vitamins and treat yourself to some natural or artificial sunshine every once in a while. Spring is juts around the corner.