A great year in review for Hamilton/Niagara in 2011

By Laura Gibson – December 6, 2011
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Hamilton/Niagara had a very diverse group of SIG topics and hosts in 2011. Thanks for a great year!

Why does it seem that the older we get the faster the years go?  I can't believe I'm looking at December 2011 in my calendar.  I'm just getting use to use to the fact that my oldest son is 10 when his 11th birthday is just over 2 months away!

We had a great variety of SIG events in Hamilton/Niagara in 2011 - a couple of the highlights were the event at Paul Boers where we were privileged to have Geordie Raine from Montana HR speak to us about their Turnaround Interview program. The Turnaround Interview is an innovative approach to dealing with difficult employees and situations. Some of the areas discussed will include dealing with your tough employee problems (i.e. lateness, minor safety violations, unneeded 'sick' days).

Some questions we discussed included:

• What employee problems do you most struggle with? Have you had any solutions that have been successful?

• Are all employees disciplined consistently?

 • Where do you talk to employees when you are having a discipline discussion with them? Have you been trained to handle these situations?

We also had an informative discussion with the WSIB on the new Work Reintegration program at WSIB (what we use to refer to as the return to work program and the LMR - Labour market re-entry program).

Some of the features of the new Work Reintegration program are:

-       Emphasis on meaningful work and input/choice for the worker

-       Employer's obligation is to keep options open for employee and be notified of the employees progress

-       There are new options - not just workforce or school but options such as on the job training in the open labour market; part time employment and retirement

Probably one of my favourite events this year was our Customer Service SIG - I had no expectation on it but the topic was requested by a member and extremely well attended.  We hope to do more on this topic in 2012.  Some of the highlights of the event were:

  • What skills are critical for the Customer Service staff to have?  This included a long list including people side (essential skills); geographical knowledge; problem solving and technical skills
  • The biggest challenge identified was managing customers expectations
  • We also identified the fact that even though all of the individuals in the room worked in Customer Service their roles were very different
  • What types of measurement can the Customer Service department provide at a company level to show their value and purpose within the organization?
  • How do you get time to train staff that must be on the phones at all times?
  • Is Customer Service a position or a function

Thanks to all our great hosts: Jervis B. Webb, Paul Boers, Palfinger, Salerno Dairy, BHH Benefits, Hamilton training board, CanMet, and Mohawk College Enterprise.

For more information on the Hamilton/Niagara Consortium and related activities, please contact Laura Gibson at 226-388-3894 or


About the author

Laura Gibson

Field Service Advisor - Brantford region/KW-Cambridge region/Hamilton/NiagaraExcellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC)

Well what can I tell you about me?First and most important I'm the Mom of 2 great boys - grade 5 and grade 8 this year - EKK!Second - I'm all about helping manufacturers! My…


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Laura Gibson
December 6, 2011

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