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I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Caring and respectful equals successful"

Jul. 14 "Caring and respectful equals successful": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on May 18,2015.  I like the picture of an office worker with a halo and angel wings and he's waving to his co-workers:

Companies are obsessed with return on investment. Fred Kiel thinks they should be concerned about return on good character. It may amount to the same thing.

The Minnesota-based consultant has found that companies with chief executive officers who have stronger moral principles deliver better results. In a seven-year study, he had the CEOs answer questions about behaviour and beliefs that revealed their moral character but, more important, he also surveyed their employees. Ten CEOs were rated virtuoso leaders because they and their executive teams displayed top character habits in the workplace. The bottom 10 were deemed self-focused CEOs, since in nearly every case employees were describing bosses with weak characters out to help themselves, no matter the cost to others.

The virtuoso CEOs delivered nearly five times the return on assets of their self-focused counterparts, he reports in his book Return on Character.  They also had 26-per-cent greater work force engagement. Finally, their companies experienced significantly reduced risk, with lower audit costs, less likelihood to be told by an auditor there was a problem with the books, and fewer lawsuits. “These are dramatic results,” he said in an interview. They are, effectively, the organization’s return on character.

He identified four key character traits that were used as the basis for the study and, more importantly, could serve as a guideline for your own self-assessment:

1. Integrity: Telling the truth; acting consistently with principles, values and beliefs; standing up for what is right; and keeping promises.

2. Responsibility: Owning one’s personal choices; admitting mistakes and failures; and expressing a concern for the common good.

3. Forgiveness: Letting go of one’s mistakes; letting go of others’ mistakes; and focusing on what’s right versus what’s wrong.

4. Compassion: Empathizing with others; empowering others; actively caring for others; and committing to the development of others.

The first two traits connect to the head, and the last two, to the heart. Our behaviour, of course, can vary in different situations but he is specifically interested in our default responses – what we are most likely to do.

Interestingly, the virtuoso leaders were more likely to have mentors. They were more prone to self-reflection and could tell stories about their experiences to help educate their colleagues. “The self-focused leaders didn’t have much self-insight,” he said. When asked about character issues, they often replied, “I haven’t thought of that.”

They also had a dog-eat-dog view of the world, assuming that everyone was out for themselves. The virtuosos believed people could be trusted until proven otherwise, and that a CEO needed to be a generous, respectful leader who assisted people with their careers.

Their view was that they were around to make a profit and make the world a better place.
“The virtuosos had no concern about their own careers – they focused on doing what is right for the business and figured it would work out for them. The other CEOs were focused on their own careers and financial security mostly,” he said.

But don’t think the virtuosos were pushovers. They were savvy, determined leaders, and could be hard-nosed when needed. But they were caring and respectful of others, as they pushed for better results.

You can take his character quiz for a better idea of where you stand at or fill in a 65-question character predictor. Most people rate themselves positively but the predictor compares your answers to how others have responded and divines how you might act in tricky moral situations.

“Most people find a difference between their self-assessment and the character prediction,” he notes. He strongly suggests you supplement your self-assessment with the opinions of others you work with.

Your behaviour can be changed, he said. The key is to find the fuel for change, a vision of what you want to achieve – the person you want to be – and why that is important. A friend of his learned that people didn’t always believe what he said. The energy for change came from reminding himself he wanted his children and grandchildren to remember him as a man of his word.

Next determine the one big keystone change you want to make – the alteration in behaviour that would propel you the most toward being a virtuoso leader. “If you focus on 14 things, you will fail at 14 things. If you focus on one, you get a virtual circle started and eventually the change you achieve leads to changes in other areas,” he said.

Then disarm what he calls your “security system” – the behaviour that paid off for you in the past but is actually counterproductive. He points to a high achiever who always has to be right, a trait that was now hindering his relationship with colleagues.

This is not about altruism. Return on character sounds like a soft do-gooder concept but he stresses it’s about driving better business results. He’s got the statistics to back it.

"Can your employer punish us for talking about your pay?": I also cut this article out in the Globe and Mail on May 18, 2015:


Our employer told us that we are not allowed to discuss our pay with our colleagues. I thought that was ridiculous, but after looking it up online, I’m not so sure. Can my employer really do this? If I do talk to my co-workers about our salaries, what can they do to me?


Greg Chung-Yan
Associate professor of industrial/organizational psychology,
University of Windsor

The simple answer is no, your employer can’t really do that, at least not directly. But since when do employers always behave in ways they’re supposed to?

Consider your goals before talking openly about your salary. There are times when a public airing of salaries can be put to good purpose. Ontario’s Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act – the basis of the so-called Sunshine List – reduced the pay discrepancies between men and women in some places because it made evident just how wide the pay gap was. Too often, new employees go into salary negotiations unarmed with information about what fair compensation looks like or what to benchmark an offer against. Knowing what other people are paid is useful in such cases.

But unless there are strategic reasons to talk about salaries, keep this in mind: Casual conversations about salaries with co-workers are never casual. Money is an emotional topic, wrapped up with notions of fairness, self-esteem, competitiveness, and other strongly held values and personal sensitivities.

Look how judgmental and irritated people get when it comes to the Sunshine List. Information is limited to just the company, job title and salary and includes no other details of the compensation packages, job duties or employment history. But that lack of information doesn’t stop readers – including myself – from becoming indignant. How do you suppose people will react when it comes to considering salaries in their own workplace with people they know? You would be safer talking about politics or religion.


Zuleika Sgro
Senior Manager, Talent Management Services, Questrade Inc., Toronto

Discussing pay and compensation with colleagues often causes unnecessary tension, confusion and miscommunication. Simply put, your pay is your personal agreement with your employer.

I would advise anyone who had questions or concerns about how they are compensated, to talk to their employer directly about their own situation and not their co-workers.

Compensation is determined based on a number of variables, including seniority, merit, and previous experience. Given this, we often see comparable ranges in pay for similar roles but not always the same pay for the same role. When colleagues discuss or share this information directly, it often becomes a point of tension for no valid reason.

If you are concerned about your compensation, this should come from you to your employer directly, and not because you heard someone else makes more. I encourage you to put faith in the employer you work for and trust their compensation strategy. If you don’t, then I encourage you to speak to your employer directly about your concerns.

In terms of what your employer can do to you for speaking about compensation if they’ve stated their policy on the matter, it could include progressive discipline measures if these discussions are disturbing the health of the workplace.

I also encourage you to keep in mind other aspects of your total compensation, such as flexible work arrangements, vacation, benefits, and a good work environment.

My opinion: I want to agree with Greg Chung-Yan.  Let's talk about topics like politics and religion.


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