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Le blogue de Solutions & Co.

Le blogue de Solutions & Co.


To continue where the article entitled THE ABILITY TO ACT… AT THE HEART OF PERFORMANCE AND EXCELLENCE left off, let’s begin by defining the term “competence” in a professional context:  the notion of competence means to demonstrate having the ability – that is the knowledge, skills and attitudes – to mobilize and leverage the different kinds of knowledge required to carry out a professional activity, enabling an individual to successfully perform their role and responsibilities. These competencies are the tools that enable you to be effective and to achieve your desired goals.

Just like two sides of a coin, these competencies fall into two broad categories: operational competencies and relational competence.

Operational Competencies

This is the “technical” component. These are task-related competencies, therefore specific to a particular profession, and they include:

  • Knowledge is the set of theoretical, technical or tactical professional knowledge, including procedures, data, rules, standards, requirements, methods and tools. These are the intellectual skills learned through study and acquiring information, which are required to exercise a profession.
  • Know-how is the set of practices related to having strong operational vision, technical skills, knowledge of the methods, and mastery of the practical skills (experience, practicality, efficiency) required to perform a task depending on the situation and the environment.

These skills help us do our jobs efficiently.

Relational Competencies

This is the “human” component. These are the competencies relating to people, which are useful in all professions, in principle. They are sometimes called “soft skills”, and are the set of professional qualities such as attitudes, aptitudes and behaviours that a person demonstrates when performing a task, and they include:

  • Know-how-to-be, which is the set of emotional skills involving attitudes like assuredness, autonomy, enthusiasm, integrity, and self-control, which enable a person to enter into a relationship with themself.
  • Know-how-to-interact is the set of social skills such as respect, courtesy, diplomacy and empathy, enabling you to enter into relationships with others, including co-workers, customers and suppliers.

These competencies enable us do our work in an enjoyable way.

They are called personal competencies, or intra-personal and interpersonal skills, or even “soft skills”. They are indeed competencies, but they are not soft!

Relational competence is a professional competence in its own right and it is desirable to develop it on equal footing with the intellectual and technical competencies.   

But it is not only the operational skills (which make you efficient) or the relational skills (which make you pleasant) that guarantee professional effectiveness.


We agree that operational competencies are essential, that hiring coders who do not know how to code, doctors who do not know how to treat or chefs who do not know how to cook, is a quick path to failure. These skills are the backbone of the HR process. But how do you explain why organizations that hire people with similar operational skills end up with very different results?

By distorting the term “professional competencies” and by focussing on seemingly “essential” skills, we have diminished the value of competencies that really matter. Most of the textbooks that students consult, and the tests and exams that they do, relate to these operational competencies – it’s simply copy and paste!

When we call other skills “soft” and imply that they are optional, we give them little respect and importance.

It turns out that the difference between successful organizations and struggling organizations are the attitudes, aptitudes and skills of the people doing the work, which are sometimes difficult to measure.


When we consider which competencies are useful to an individual to maximize their professional effectiveness (Knowledge, Know-how, Know-how-to-be and Know-how-to-interact), there is much less opportunity to learn them.

We learn Knowledge and Know-how in the school classrooms, in an institutional way and through experience, but we are not taught to affirm ourselves, to inspire confidence, to influence, to communicate and to collaborate with others. These behaviours are therefore acquired in varying degrees, often quite informally, by imitation or by learning on the job.

Traditional schools focus on acquiring knowledge and intellectual development, but neglect coursework on relational competencies. Training individuals to understand and apply interpersonal skills can help them improve their professional and social lives.

Current employers and customers demand more than just operational competencies, hence the importance of investing in this kind of learning for better professional effectiveness, or to realize a person’s full potential.


We have all, at one time, worked with someone who was extremely efficient because they relied on their knowledge and know-how. These people can be brilliant, hardworking, meticulous and confident. Despite these competencies, working with these people can sometimes be unpleasant. They can be perceived as being arrogant, impatient, contemptuous, cold or closed-minded. Working with them can sometimes leave an after-taste.

Similarly, we have all had the opportunity to work with extremely pleasant people, who rely on their emotional and social skills. They are receptive, sociable, caring, pleasant and attentive… But it can a struggle to get something from them promptly, to make them respect deadlines, to follow their logic while they speak and to find yourself pulled into their disorganized worlds.

When we consider the duality of these two dimensions, we realize that when our strengths are overexploited or misused, they can become weaknesses as they can limit opportunities for agreement and professional effectiveness.

  45 lectures
45 lectures


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

- Aristotle

“The ability to act” is the intentional and effective leveraging of a “set of knowledge” (acquired, integrated, mobilized and used) to deal with a given situation. It’s the winning combination that enables an individual to successfully perform their role and responsibilities in a context of action…In short, to be effective!

For many of us, work takes up the bulk of our days. It is a source of great satisfaction or frustration, and the stage for our emotions and our challenges. It’s the place where, in front of everyone, we evaluate our successes and failures.

What are the factors of a successful professional career? Why do some people succeed while others are simply functional for the duration of their careers, or, worse, only barely survive? Obviously, having some luck or getting a degree does contribute to some people’s success, but this only explains a tiny part of these successes. What happens to those who have had the same opportunities or obtained the same diplomas but who, despite everything, don’t reach the same heights?

We all know lawyers, accountants, engineers, receptionists, administrative clerks, salespeople, customer service representatives, IT technicians, analysts, masons, contractors, chefs or hairstylists. Whether they have chosen a profession, a trade, a career or a vocation, some do very well and others fall to the back of the pack and watch those in the front succeed.

What are the skills enabling one individual to be different from the many others, to separate themselves from the masses and to succeed professionally?


In order to succeed in any professional context you must have a toolbox. A Doctor has a toolbox… A Mechanic has a toolbox… A baker has a toolbox… Not all tools are concrete and tangible like hammers, adjustable wrenches or stethoscopes… Our tools are often intangible… They are our professional skills!

Let’s define the term “competence” in a professional context:  the notion of competence means to demonstrate having the ability – that is, knowledge, skills and attitudes – to mobilize and accomplish a set of "knowledge" required to carry out a professional activity, enabling an individual to perform their role and responsibilities successfully. These skills are the tools that help you to be effective and to achieve the desired goals.

We will discuss these skills in more detail in the next article, but for now, let’s remember that they are all skills that are valued in the workplace and essential to our professional success. Cultivating good professional skills requires mastery of a number of skills that go beyond a simple “taxonomy of professional skills”. The ability to act unfolds simultaneously in 4 dimensions: relationship to knowledge, relationship to task, relationship to oneself and relationship to others.


However, just because we have accumulated these skills doesn’t mean that we will be able to act accordingly. In other words, the skills are our tools, but the goal is to put them into practice, to transform them into action… To have the ability to act!

Knowing how to act requires having learned to combine other knowledge in a context-specific and orderly way to take an effective action. It is a matter of being able to draw on your repertoire of various kinds of knowledge, to choose the kind that is the most suitable for the situation, and to know how to apply it. It's the ability to consider appropriate actions and their influence on your performance.

The ability to act is a set of “action” skills, such as having good standards of judgment, coping skills, communication skills, management skills, etc., which enable you to take suitable actions leading to a balance of critical elements (relationships, environment, etc.) in relation to the desired results.

Having the ability to act is to know how to…

  • Work in a team
  • Communicate effectively
  • Demonstrate professionalism
  • Adapt yourself
  • Manage your emotions
  • Manage time and priorities
  • Manage stress
  • Take ownership of change
  • Influence
  • Manage conflicts
  • Innovate
  • Develop friendly business relationships
  • Be diplomatic
  • Etc…
  • In this era of change occurring at breathtaking speed, knowing how to act in real-time becomes the seal of effectiveness at all levels and for all types of organizations. As complexity increases, individuals, teams and organizations must continually be able to update their knowledge and skills in order to remain competitive in fast moving, often-ambiguous environments in which there are multiple ways to accomplish your goals.

    In the next article we will explore the notion of professional competence in greater detail. Until next time!

      74 lectures
    74 lectures

    Newsletters - Professionalism – Knowing How to Act



    The ability and commitment to adopt the right behaviour in the workplace – to behave in a way that reflects favourably on the profession. Professionalism encompasses a series of attitudes, skills, behavioural and moral norms, attributes and values that are expected from a specialized individual in a defined sector or practicing a profession or trade.




    Whoever you are, whatever your expertise, and whatever ambitions you have, your professionalism is an asset for your career. Not only does it affect positively your workplace, it affects the way your clients, colleagues, superiors, subordinates and all your professional relations perceive you.

    People constantly observe your behaviour and form an opinion on your competence, your character, and your engagement, which is rapidly cast throughout your workplace. The way you act will determine how everyone you interact with perceives you.

    To be "professional" is a prestigious and enviable reputation, and is a way to demonstrate that you are a true asset for the team, for your organization and for your profession. If you want to succeed, to be taken seriously and respected, knowing how to act in a professional manner is vital.

    The more you behave professionally, the better your chances are to build a positive reputation for yourself. Professional people are the first to be taken into consideration for promotions and to be given gratifying projects that will also allow them to benefit of better self-esteem and distinction.

    This can be translated by a salary increase, an improvement of your career prospects, respect from peers and upper management, and a decrease in risk to be affected by layoffs. In short, professional individuals are generally successful in their careers. 

    A professional individual is a competent individual, someone we appreciate and we look up to.




    It is essential to show professionalism if you wish to succeed. But what does it mean?

    After all, professionalism is rarely taught – you are supposed to learn it as it goes through a combination of observations, mistakes, interpretation and absorption. However, it’s not always easy to do and learning it can be full of obstacles, since you’re not always conscious of your own mistakes.

    For some, being professional could mean dressing appropriately for work, or doing a good job. For others, it means having diplomas or certifications. Professionalism does include all these attributes. But it also includes many more.

    The challenge in defining "professional" is that it remains vague and evasive since it carries many implicit connotations and meanings. It means different things to people. What we interpret as professional behaviour or good judgment can differ from one person to the next.

    To act as a professional means doing what is needed in order to be perceived as a reliable, respectful and competent person. Depending on where you work and the job you have, professionalism can take different shapes. Professionalism is not explicit to a profession or a sector in particular, it’s something that applies to all professional activities in their singularity and uniqueness.

    Professionalism does not try to dictate every word or every gesture, but trace the outline of an ideal to which professionals can aspire throughout their career.

    We find three elements in professionalism:

    1.            An individual that masters knowledge and skills tied to his profession.

    2.            His ability to act as expected in his profession, adapted to his environment and that match expectations in all professional activities.

    3.            Characterized by the commitment and motivation to accomplish quality work.

    Professionalism is not limited to competence. Competence is one of the important aspects of your work, but you’ll also need to learn how to act professionally at work. You can be the best in the technical execution of your work, but also lack professionalism. It has less to do with what you do (the results you produce) and a lot more with the way you produce those results.

    In assessing professionalism at any degree within an organization, you must always ask yourself three questions:

    •             Do you have the necessary operational skills to be considered professional? Do you have the knowledge, comprehension, facts, notions and experience you need to do the work efficiently?

    •             Do you have the necessary rational skills to be considered professional? Do you have the skills, behaviour, traits and virtues that others (shareholders, employees, clients, suppliers) perceive as being important and use to determine if you are being professional?

    •             Do you have the necessary commitment to be professional? Do you have the necessary drive, motivation and intention? Are you ready to do the necessary work?

    Professionalism is reflected in your daily actions. Adopt a strategic and proactive approach, since it can be learned and developed. Let’s not forget that beyond being professional, there is a need to actually want to be professional!

      727 lectures
    Mots-clés :
    727 lectures

    Newsletters - Services Standards - Levers of customer service quality

    Newsletters - Services Standards - Levers of customer service quality

    Why are service standards important?

    Service standards represent an important element for customer service excellence, as well as good yield management. They clarify customer and employee expectations, facilitate results-driven management, and promote customer satisfaction. A standard is an “evaluation base” and a “defined excellence degree” wanted by the organization and by customers. A service standard is a reasonable and measurable expectation from the customer, and an honest commitment taken by the service provider, to attain or surpass expectations.

    Service standards have two main goals:

    • Establish yield objectives for employees (ex. answer the phone before the third ring)
    • Inform customer about what they have the right to expect (ex. wait time under 10 minutes).

    When clearly stated, service standards equip the personnel with the right tools to bring customer satisfaction and facilitate engagement.

    Service standards for external and internal customers

    The principles used to establish service standards directed towards external customers could apply for internal customers as well. Internal customers are those served directly by what we do – employees, departments, teams who receive services directly from colleagues from other divisions in order to, in turn, serve their own customers.

    Simply put, an internal customer is any individual who depends on you or count on you to complete a task or function, or to provide information in order for them to do their job.

    We are interdependent – excellence in customer service begins in the exchanges between colleagues. The primary objective of standards tied to service is to reach the highest possible level of customer satisfaction. With time, this type of standard improves and increases service quality not only for internal customers, but also to external ones by ricochet, since their needs are satisfied they can offer impeccable service to their own customers in return.

    Internal service standards are a commitment to provide products or services of a certain quality level to other teams of our organization. The standards’ elaboration process rests on a clear understanding of what the internal customers expect in terms of level and quality of service.

    • What are your internal service standards?
    • Did you define the needs of your internal clients?
    • Do you fulfill their needs?
    • Do you know your internal clients?
    • How does your work affect theirs?
    • Did you ask them if there was something you could do to make their job easier?
    • Do you know their priorities?

    What is a service standard?

    A service standard is a commitment to reach a measurable performance level which customers (internal or external) can expect within their everyday operations. In order to deliver quality service, we must develop service standards that represent the behaviour which the organization / department / team wishes to adopt in front of its clients. A service standard is:

    • Client-oriented – It’s about what is important to the customers. Knowing customers’ expectations means identifying their priorities and their requirements. These expectations serve as indicators that will allow you to measure customer satisfaction, such as availability, professionalism, promptness, accessibility, credibility, courtesy, reliability, safety, etc. (what the customer wants)

    • Based on organizational culture – The standard must be in sync with the decisions and orientation taken as an organization, and is guided by a set of values and principles, such as independence, equality, integrity, excellence, respect, performance, innovation, collaboration, creativity, etc. These are the internal processes or values that are important to obtain results. (What the organization aspires to)

    • Measurable – Standard compliance is subject to objective evaluation via performance yield activities such as surveys and call recording, and make it accountable internally and externally.

    • Public – Commitment and performance are communicated to customers and to employees.

    The following criteria must be considered before and while the standards are being established:

    • Are these standards significant / important for customers?
    • Are these standards in line with industry standards?
    • Are these standards based on consultations and feedback?
    • Are these standards achievable?
    • Are these standards affordable?
    • Are these standards accepted and supported by management?
    • How will these standards be communicated?
    • Will performance indicators be put in place and will results be communicated?
    • Will these standards be revised and updated?

    How many standards should we have?

    You should have standards that are adapted to your organization / department / team’s size, diversity and complexity.

    First, we suggest you establish a small number of standards with emphasis on the most critical aspects of your organization / department / team.

    You will need an appropriation period for the notion of service standards. Once they’ll have become an integrated lifestyle within your culture, consider widening the range based on customer feedback. Feedback forms or calls / surveys can be used to check on customer comments.

    Once the organization / department / team has defined its service standards, they must be announced and become woven within the organizational culture.

    Examples of customer service standards

    ________________________(Name of organization / department / team) aims to provide excellent customer service. Our service standards illustrate our commitment towards __________ (organizational value / principle), __________ (organizational value / principle), and __________ (organizational value / principle). In order to do so, we take the following commitment:

    accessibility standards

    In order to simplify access and use of our service, ____________________ (Name of organization / department / team) vows to:

    • Provide service during the normal business hours, being from 8: 30 am to 12 :00 pm and from 1 :00 pm to 4: 30 pm, from Monday to Friday.
    • Provide information, upon request, on various supports, such as audio, electronic text and in large characters in order to respond to the needs of individuals with disabilities or impairments.
    • Communicate with the customers in the official language of their choice.
    • Change its voicemail message daily, stating name, day and availability. If out of office or on vacation, stating the time or day of return, and the name and phone number of the person to contact for immediate help.
    • Activate automatic out-of-office messages on email when absent – stating the time or day of return, and the name and email address of the person to contact for immediate help

    availability standards

    Making information available and demonstrating our willingness to help are important aspects to our activities. This is why ____________________ (Name of organization / department / team) vows to:

    • Answer calls before the third ring.
    • The phone system always offers the option to talk to someone.
    • Always confirm receipt of emails within 24 hours. If the answer is not available, the anticipated delay needed will be communicated.
      It must not go over 5 business days. 
    • Process evaluation requests within 10 business days.
    • Process orders for products already available within 2 days of reception.
    • Answer to general communications within the following delays:

    • Message left on voicemail: within 4 business hours.

    • Email: within the business day following the employee’s return at work

    • Fax or letter: within 2 business days.

    • Social media: within 2 business days.

    reliability standards

    • Inform customers of any change and clearly explain the reason for the change.
    • See that all documents, tools, and website content is up-to-date.
    • Provide exact and up-to-date information on products, programs and services.
    • Give written confirmation on product or service price before starting.
    • Ensure clarity and precision of documents, forms, instructions, as well as graphic and written communication.

    safety standards

    Customers are guaranteed:

    • Respect and protection of confidentiality of personal information.
    • Encryption during electronic transactions.
    • Personnel identification (uniforms, badges, business cards).

    courtesy standards

    • Only transfer the client’s call once to help him reach who can answer his request.
    • Always be punctual.
    • Always address the customer with appropriate formality.

    flexibility standards

    • All employees have the authority to make a decision to accommodate a customer if this decision costs less than $150.

    credibility standards

    • Ensure the sending of letters emails and other documents without errors.
    • Opt for an appropriate dress code. 
      780 lectures
    Mots-clés :
    780 lectures

    Achieving objectives - Going beyond New Year's resolutions!

    Achieving objectives - Going beyond New Year's resolutions!

    The New Year is when many of us step back, take a good look at our lives and careers, and resolve to change things for the better.  We make a list of wishes and pledge that this year will be different than the previous. "This year I’ll… improve my work-life balance, take on more responsibilities, get a raise, be more organized, acquire a new skill…”. But then "Fail Friday" (the third Friday of the month, when our willpower is most likely to fade) comes along and we already start re-framing those resolutions... they become casual promises. By March they turn into wishful thinking, April sets in and you are simply daydreaming …and this year starts looking a lot like last year. And you are not the only one - Research shows that only 8% of people achieve their objectives (Source: University of Scranton (2014) "New Year Resolution Statistics" Journal of Clinical Psychology).

    Objective setting is a concept filled with potential. Top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields all set objectives. Objective setting not only allows you to take control of your life's direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. It’s not just a wish list; it’s a process that allows you to create recipes for success!

    Objective setting starts with careful consideration of what you want to accomplish, and ends with investing your energies to actually achieving it. In between, there are well defined steps that will allow you to formulate objectives that you can accomplish.

    An objective is not the work performed, but the results expected once the work is done. If you are serious about achieving your objectives, get the tools you need to make this the year your ambitions go beyond mere possibilities and turn into tangible results. The following guidelines will help you set effective objectives:

    Set objectives in writing Did you know that less than 3 percent of people have written objectives, and of those who do less than 1 percent review and rewrite their objectives on a regular basis? Unless an objective is written, it is merely an aspiration. Once you commit it to writing, you set something in motion. You clarify what you want and begin focusing on how to attain it. The physical act of writing down an objective makes it real and tangible. This crystallizes it and gives it more force.

    Set positive objectives - State each objective as a positive statement. How you think about your objective can influence how you feel about it, and whether or not you achieve it. Negative objectives are emotionally unattractive, which makes it hard to focus on them. Reframe any negative objectives so that they sound positive: you may be surprised by the difference this makes! Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage says “When the human brain is positive, our intelligence rises, we stop diverting resources to think about anxiety. Our creativity triples. Productive energy rises by 31 per cent. The likelihood of promotion rises by 40 percent."

    Be precise - Your objective must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized objectives are unhelpful because they don't provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need objectives to show you the way and they should be detailed enough so that you understand well what needs to be accomplished. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.

    Make them measurable - The only way to know if you have achieved an objective is to quantify it. Include precise amounts, due dates, times and percentages so you can measure your degree of success. To determine if your objective is measurable ask yourself the following questions: How many? How much? For when? How will I know that my objective is achieved? Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved it.

    Set desirable objectives - Set objectives that motivate you. Motivation is key to achieving objectives. Society, family, friends, employers may want to influence the objectives you set. Objectives should be personally compelling, in line with your own desires and ambitions, and relevant to the direction you want to take. Write down a set of motivations identifying why it is important to you and what is at stake. This step is significant, because studies have indicated that people are more likely to succeed in changing their behavior when they are motivated by internal rather than external forces. By keeping objectives aligned with your desires, you develop the focus and the drive you need to get ahead and do what you want.

    Stretch out of your comfort zone - An objective should be challenging but should not discourage you before you even start. An objective can be ambitious and realistic at the same time; only you can decide the level of accessibility to your objective. Make sure each objective represents substantial growth. Safe objectives are boring objectives. Resist the urge to set objectives that are too easy, it will not contribute to your confidence and will stump your satisfaction. By setting realistic yet challenging objectives, you hit the balance you need. Set objectives that require you to "raise the bar" and bring personal satisfaction.

    Set priorities - An old Chinese proverb says, “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” While you probably need more than a single objective, you need to stay focused on a manageable number of them. When you have several objectives, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many objectives, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones. Use the "quality, not quantity" rule when setting objectives.

    Elaborate an action plan - This step is often missed in the process of objective setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps you can initiate and maintain momentum, especially if your objective is big and demanding, or long-term. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your plan.

    Estimate realistic completion time - How often has a task or project taken longer than you thought? If you don't estimate objective completion time accurately, all your planning will falter and it may cause you to give up. Always pad your timelines to account for novelty, delays and setbacks.

    Keep them visible - Post your objectives in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. Put them on your walls, calendar, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder.

    Review your progress - It takes time to accomplish objectives. And sometimes it can feel like you aren't making much progress. Take stock of everything that you've accomplished on a regular basis and measure your progress.  Not only will progress motivate you to continue towards your objective, it will also give you the opportunity to analyze what you need to do to keep moving forward.

    Appreciate failureSometimes, no matter how hard you work, you will fail to achieve your objectives. However, failure contains lessons if you have the courage and wisdom to learn from it. Each time we encounter failure, we learn about ourselves and what we have to overcome. Failing to achieve your objectives doesn’t mean that you failed but that your plan failed. So don't be distressed – just take note of where you went wrong and feed that knowledge back into the process of setting your next objectives.

    Living a life without setting objectives is like sailing a ship with no destination: you may end up somewhere that you didn't want to go! This is why setting objectives is so important to achieve your dreams, ambitions and personal success.

    So, what objectives have you decided to accomplish this year?


      1323 lectures
    1323 lectures

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