Reading the Signs: What to do when your Boss is Upset with you.

full-time nanny

I came across a great article by the folks at entitled; “What Should a Nanny Do if her Boss is Upset with Her”, and I immediately saw the cross-over potential that this article brings for those new to the workforce or as a refresher to those already in the workforce for a few years.

Sometimes you know when your boss is upset with you and sometimes there will be no clue, and depending upon the severity of the situation and the potential repercussions, you may want to consider the possibility that your job could be in danger.  So once you figure it out, it’s best to get in the habit of coming clean with mistakes as soon as they happen, getting used to giving your boss the heads’ up where you think there may be a problem down the road, and documenting situations rather than waiting with bated breath for them to be found out.

This article highlights the following important things to remember when deciding to come clean;

  • Realize That These Things Are Rarely Permanent – Unless you have done something on purpose with the intent on causing someone harm, or damaging the reputation of your employer of the business you work in, the chances of your employer resorting to drastic disciplinary measures are fairly slim. Provided that you’ve been an otherwise good employee, most employers would rather resolve an existing problem than take on the task of sorting through dozens of resumes and conducting numerous interviews in effort to get someone who may be better than you, or may be worse than you.  Better the devil you know, is the saying.  That being said, it’s not wise to be too secure in your position; if you’re overly cocky and consistently go against what your employer decides for you, they will let you go.
  • Confront the Issue Head-On – If you know that your employer is angry but haven’t been approached with a reprimand or a request for an explanation, it’s best to take the bull by the horns and approach him or her with your concerns. It’s especially smart to make an effort to mend fences if you know why your employer is upset and agree that you are in the wrong. Letting the situation go unacknowledged for too long can cause resentment to build up and exacerbate the problem, so don’t dodge your employer in hopes that things will blow over.
  • Be Honest – Should your employer confront you with questions about an incident in which you know you were in the wrong, don’t give into the temptation to cover your tracks. Admitting that you were wrong and are willing to accept any penalties as a result of your poor choices shows strong character and moral fiber; in addition to being the right thing to do, it may also impress your employer enough that they second-guess their outrage.
  • Keep Your Own Temper in Check – Being accused of misconduct, whether you’re guilty or innocent, is enough to put almost anyone on the defensive. Taking this tack with your employer as a reaction to questioning or accusations will only escalate the situation, and perhaps lead to the loss of your position, which you would otherwise have been able to retain. Remember the old adage about flies and honey and realize that anger, even of the righteous variety, will get you nowhere in these situations.
  • Accept Responsibility For Your Actions – Attempting to pass the buck, or blame someone else for your failure to perform properly or your momentary lapse in judgment, isn’t likely to endear you to your already-upset employer.  Instead face the consequences of a poor choice as gracefully as possible. Whining or shifting blame isn’t just ineffective, it’s often downright counterproductive.  In addition if you blame someone else and your employer decides to keep you, then you run the risk of them finding out and that relationship is damaged for good.
  • Make a Concerted Effort to Make Up – It’s easy to hold your breath and hope that a tumultuous period in your relationship with your employer will pass without any attempts to mend fences on your part, but that’s almost never the case. Extending the olive branch isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially if you feel that you have nothing to apologize for; still, preserving that relationship, and perhaps your post itself, may depend upon your ability to do just that.
  • Keep the Conversation Behind Closed Doors – Never, ever, ever discuss a bad situation with friends, colleagues or staff.  They do not need to hear you air your grievances or discuss an ongoing problem you have with your employer. Even in the largest, most densely populated cities, most social circles are relatively small and people will talk. Letting news of your woes get back to your employers is a surefire way to make them give up on you altogether, so make sure that you keep any and all conversations about the state of your relationship with your employers and the details surrounding it away from the public eye.

If, after all this you notice that things are not getting better for you, then start looking for a new job – it’s so much easier when you are already employed – and approach your employer with a request for a reference letter or recommendation because not only will they give it to you if they want you out but don’t want to fire you, but also it gives them time to start the search process themselves.


What in the World has Happened to Customer Service?

What in the world has happened to customer service?

Customers are Ignoring You
Customers are Ignoring You (Photo credit: ronploof)

It used to be a high priority for the service industry to ensure that customers were satisfied with products and services in order to ensure they would come back.  Nowadays it seems that businesses have thrown away the mantra that the customer is always right and instead are content if each interaction between customer and customer service representative ended in conflict.I think customer service representative are going that extra mile to prove they are right, instead of taking a step back, hearing what the customer has to say – removing them if there is a scene being made – and resolving the issue.

In times of recession, especially now that we really have a global economy, it’s even more crucial for businesses to retain customers instead of trying to get more of them.

I have 2 recent examples of horrible customer service which I will outline, then I will describe how I feel it should have played out, according to my beliefs and experiences and according to how we were taught in graduate school.

Example 1)

I was standing in line at Old Navy in the Promenade mall with about 8 other people waiting to pay – there were two cashiers – and an obvious delay.  The manager arrived and suddenly the line went quiet to listen to an exchange that went something like this;

Manager: “What seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “I’m trying to return these items I bought at Old Navy in the States”.

Manager: “We don’t accept items bought in the United States!”

Customer: “When I bought them, I specifically asked if they could be returned or exchanged in Canada and the cashier said yes they could.”

Manager: “They can’t.  We don’t.  We cannot sell items bought in the US”

Customer: “Well, then can you please exchange them.”

Manager: “No.  It doesn’t matter if we take them back or exchange them, it still results in us taking in products which were bought in the US and we cannot sell them, so no, we cannot accept these items.”

Customer: “But I would not have bought them if I knew that was the case.”

Manager: “Well, they shouldn’t have told you that…”

Customer: “So you expect me to go back to the US to return these or leave the store with them and never come back?”

Manager: “You know.  I’ll take them this time only.  But items bought in the US can never be returned or exchanged in Canada.  They should not have told you that…”

Manager now walking away: “… and it says so on the bottom of the receipt!”.

So now after this played out in the store in front of a good 20 customers I wondered the following.

1) Would it have hurt for the manager to accept the items before irritating the customer and explaining that it is not policy to accept items from the US.

2) Once it escalated why didn’t the manager take the customer to a different station so as to not draw attention to this conflict.

3) Why was it necessary to add – when walking away – that it said so on the bottom of the receipt.  That was a low blow and very unnecessary.  Instead of having to prove herself right this manager should have ended with something along the lines of; “Sorry for the inconvenience”, or “Sorry for the misunderstanding”.

How many people in that line up left the store wondering if they should be coming back?  I’ll bet there was more than one of them and that is one too many when there is so much choice for the consumers dollar.

Example 2)

The Pickle Barrel at Yonge and Eglinton.

We had an early dinner with family and family friends at the Pickle Barrel and Berry and Linus really wanted the chicken fingers and fries.  (Since I know you wanted to know – Stewie ate an adult hamburger which he felt was overcooked, dry, and all his fries, his Grandpa’s egg and then his sister’s chicken fingers).

After a couple of bites of her first chicken finger, 2-year-old Berry held it up to her mummy and said, “spicy”.

We sluffed that off as meaning hot, as in temperature hot.

She took another bite, drank some water, ate her fries, nibbled a little more, then started peeling the batter off and trying to eat the chicken.

With 3 children, we assumed she was just playing, she was not complaining and we finished dinner.  We also saw that she ate very little so we figured we would have to feed her at home, as happens quite often with her and Linus.

But Linus, still hungry, wanted to finish her food, and he took one bite and said, “Wow.  This is spicy”.

I took a bite and my wife took a bite and were overwhelmed with the taste of black pepper and the longer the food was in my mouth the spicier it got.

Whew!  My tongue was tingling.

We called over the manager, and explained to her that we did not feel that chicken fingers from the children’s menu should be laced with black pepper and we asked her to remove these items from our bill.

The first thing out of her mouth was “I’m sorry”, which we appreciate, but then she said, “I’m not sure I understand.  No other kids complained that they were spicy and none of the other orders of chicken fingers were returned tonight.”

I think she was calling us liars…

“You can go to the kitchen and try one for yourself”, I said.

“Well, I will go back and talk to the chef”, she said.

“And take it off our bill” my wife reminded her.

Here’s my issue here…

We told her they were super peppery and that the kids couldn’t eat them, and that we tried it too, so we had 5 people taste these and they were still sitting on the plate.  It’s not like we were making this up and yes, she should have taken away the plate without question, brought it into the kitchen and asked the Chef to try it before passing judgement.  She was apologetic, but too little too late.  It left a very bad taste in our mouths, especially in light of the fact we told her we would need to feed the kids again as soon as we got home and they were exhausted and really needed to go to sleep.  She dismissed that and wanted to make the point that no one else returned their chicken fingers.

The whole concept of customer service is to provide the best possible service to your customers so they will return, tell others and tip well.  IT’s getting lost on people in the service industry who do not know how their actions impact the organization as a whole.  If each person in a customer service role were able to see the dollars attached to their actions they might react differently, I believe.

This hits home to me, as I personally feel giving quality customer service is one of the most important things an organization can do to stand out from their competitors.   I often find there is a fine line between explaining and making excuses and when someone is asking you to explain your decision or actions they cannot accuse you of making excuses.  Making excuses is telling a customer that the other store should not have told you that information or that no one else returned their chicken fingers.  Explaining is what customers are asking of customer service representatives when they are met with resistance trying to do what should be a normal transaction.

I recall many years ago making a decision on how to solve a problem dealing with the government and my manager asked me to explain why I took the path I did, and I began to explain in detail what I was thinking.  I was interrupted and asked why I was making excuses, when in fact I was just responding to the question about how I came to this thought process.  Yes, I admit the desired actions were not met, and I was hoping that by explaining my thought process that I would learn a different way and succeed on my future attempts.  If I were making excuses I would be blaming others and not takingresponsibility for my actions.

All I wanted was to provide the best customer service possible… Something I think is a lost art nowadays.

How do you feel about customer service?  Does exceptional customer service change your mind about an organization.  Does it even exist?

Urban Daddy Investigates: What happened to the patio at the Starbucks at 1740 Avenue Road?

On Wednesday of this week, I was asked by the community – my former community of 8 years, actually – to investigate the disappearances of the patio on the north side of the Starbucks at 1740 Avenue Road (at St.Germain) and right across from the fantastic Safari restaurant (the best Chipotle Corn Chowder in the city and amazing lamb burgers!)

This patio means a lot to the community. There is a Facebook page devoted to making this patio and the locals who frequent it into a reality show. I could totally see that. Students, local residents, real estate agents, all kinds of people flocked to that patio to sit, chat and consume Starbucks products. This patio is one of a kind in that upper-middle class area of Toronto and It was the place to be seen… And heard.

Our urban family, often spent time hanging out there with our real estate agent, Mr. Real Estate himself, Marshall Cohen or with my in-laws where the kids would watch the world go by eating oatmeal, yogurt or mint frappuccino chip (oops, that last one was me).  More common was myself with a grande Americano while the kids covered themselves in yogurt or ate the pre-packaged egg, apple, cheese snack.

Ask anyone who has sat there or walked by and they will tell you about the characters who hang out there.  Some seem to be there ALL the time.  One common memory was of the guy with the full-length fur coat (but not a real fur coat, that’s cruel) smoking his cigars, of the elderly couple who meet there every day to chat with the neighbour and their family before everyone heads out to the office or for a stroll. 

I checked online to see if the City of Toronto had posted some patio guidelines or amended the official plan to prohibit patios from the West side of Avenue Road and found only one possible link to a draft City-wide zoning bylaw amendment to the official plan relating to Patio’s, drafted by Toronto City Planning department. 

Outdoor Patios

Proposed rules under the draft City-wide zoning by-law

Area 2 (part of the Former City of Toronto): -rear yard patios are not permitted in CR zones -side yard patios are permitted up to a maximum 50% of the building depth


maximum size restriction (the greater of 30m2 or 30% of GFA)

separation from Residential zones (40m if elevated & 10m if not elevated)

entertainment uses not permitted

Since it is not clear to me whether or not these proposals were made permanent, or even if there was a public consultation, or if the slightly raised patio was within 10 meters of the residential property to the West of the location so I reached out to my friend, Ward 16 City Councillor Karen Stintz to ask for an update as to why the city asked Starbucks to remove the patio and why one cannot be added back to that spot.  I explained the value of this patio to our community and the fact that Tim Horton’s which had just opened up further north on Avenue Road asked for and was granted a permit for a kick-ass patio, yet this Starbucks location was not.

I was curious to hear what she has to say on this matter.  She is very alert to issues within her ward.

For the love of G-d, man… Shovel your snow on your lawn, not in the street… It’s against city bylaws.

This is one of me pet peeves.  People who shovel their snow in the street instead of on their lawns.  If you live in the greater Toronto Area, you would know, or should know, that it is against the city bylaws.  If you get caught doing this – the city had bylaw officers out last winter ticketing houses in my area – and if you don’t pay it, they tack it onto your property taxes.

Best choice… Don’t do it.  The fine is somewhere between $150-$300 but cannot exceed $5000.

I’ve actually stopped my car and told residents about the bylaw and had many of them look at me like I was crazy, and also thank me for letting them know.  Most people just don’t know. 

In case you were wondering what section of the municipal code this falls under, I have provided it below, it is 719-5.  Feel free to google it, print it out and hand it to that annoying neighbour who fills the street with their snow making it very difficult to drive or walk around their house.  


Chapter 719 of the Toronto Municipal Code:


§ 719-1. Definitions.

§ 719-2. Time limit for removal of snow and ice from sidewalks.

§ 719-3. Removal from sidewalks by city; recovery of costs.

§ 719-4. Removal from structures.

§ 719-5. Moving snow onto streets.

§ 719-6. Offences.

§ 719-7. Use of the word “highway.”

§ 719-8. Transition

[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Toronto 1999-7-29 by By-law No. 530-1999. Amendments noted where applicable.]


Traffic and parking — See Ch. 950.

§ 719-1. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

BUILDING — Includes the land and premises appurtenant to the building.

§ 719-2. Time limit for removal of snow and ice from sidewalks.

A. Every owner or occupant of any building must, within 12 hours after any fall of snow, rain or hail has ceased, clear away and completely remove snow and ice from any sidewalk on any highway in front of, alongside or at the rear of the building.

B. After the removal of snow and ice, if any portion of the sidewalk becomes slippery from any cause, the owner or occupant must immediately and as often as necessary apply to the sidewalk ashes, sand, salt or some other suitable material so as to completely cover the slippery surface.

C. Subsection A does not apply to an owner or an occupant of a building where, pursuant to City of Toronto policy, the City of Toronto has undertaken the responsibility to clear away and completely remove snow and ice from the sidewalk on the highway in front of, alongside or at the rear of the building at that location.

1999-11-25 by By-law No. 776-1999]




§ 719-3. Removal from sidewalks by city; recovery of costs.

A. Where snow and ice resulting from any fall of snow, rain or hail has not been removed from a sidewalk situated on a highway in front of, alongside or at the rear of any occupied or unoccupied building or vacant lot, within 12 hours after the fall of snow, rain or hail has ceased, the Commissioner of Works and Emergency Services or a person appointed by the Commissioner may, at the expense of the owner of the building or vacant lot, clear away and remove the snow and ice, including the remediation of any slippery sidewalk.

B. The Commissioner of Works and Emergency Services must keep an account of all expenses incurred in doing the work and of the building or vacant lot in respect to which the work was done.

C. The expenses incurred in doing the work may be collected or recovered from the owner of the building or vacant lot in any manner, including the manner provided by section 326 of the Municipal Act.1

§ 719-4. Removal from structures.

A. The owner or occupant of any building which fronts or abuts on or is erected near to a highway, from which snow or ice may fall upon the highway, must, whenever snow or ice accumulates upon any portion of the building to an extent that is dangerous to the public using the highway, sidewalk or lane way, cause the snow or ice to be immediately removed from the building.

B. The owner or occupant must take proper care and precaution for the warning and the safety of the public using the highway, sidewalk and lane way, during the removal of the snow and ice.

§ 719-5. Moving snow onto streets.

No property owner, occupant or other person shall move or permit to be moved snow or ice from private property onto a highway, sidewalk or lane way.

§ 719-6. Offences.

[Amended 1999-11-25 by By-law No. 776-1999]

Every person who contravenes any provision of this chapter is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine as provided for in the Provincial Offences Act.2.  A person convicted of an offence is liable  to a fine of not more than $5,000.




§ 719-7. Use of the word “highway.”

The meaning of the word and expression “highway” where used in this chapter shall have the same meanings attributed to the word and expression by the Highway Traffic Act,

R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, and amendments and successors thereto.

§ 719-8. Transition

A. Despite this chapter, By-law No. 211-74 of the former Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, being a by-law “To regulate the use of Metropolitan Roads,” Chapter 304,

Snow and Ice Removal and §313-3 of Chapter 313, Streets and Sidewalks, of the Municipal Code of the former City of Toronto, Chapter 223, Snow and Ice, of the Municipal Code of the former City of Etobicoke, By-law No. 701 of the former Borough of East York, being a by-law “For the removal of snow and ice from public

sidewalks,” By-law No. 1381 of the former Borough of East York, Chapter 838,

Snow Clearing – Sidewalk and Chapter 1004, Street, of the Municipal Code of the former City of York, By-law No. 1212-71 of the former Borough of York, By-law No. 3343-79 of the former Borough of York, By-law No. 17117 of the former City of Scarborough, By-law No. 21621 of the former City of North York, being “A Bylaw to prohibit or regulate the obstructing, encumbering, injury or fouling of highways,” and By-law No. 5630 of the former City of North York (collectively referred to as the “other Snow and Ice Removal By-laws”) and any and all provisions therein shall remain in force until expressly repealed.

B. In the event of any conflict between any one or more of the other snow and ice removal by-laws and this chapter, this chapter shall govern.

[Amended 1999-12-16

by By-law No. 891-1999


Editor’s Note: This by-law provided that § 719-8B shall be effective on the earlier of: (a) the date that the City Solicitor files

a notice in the office of the City Clerk that the City of Toronto has received from the Regional Senior Justice of the Court of Ontario approved set fines for the offences set out in City of Toronto By-law No. 530-1999, as amended, being a by-law “To Provide for Snow and Ice Removal;” and (b) February 4, 2000.

Hey, that was my idea… Now what?

English: A solution consists of: plan, rationa...
English: A solution consists of: plan, rationale, idea, and insight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tough situation here:

It’s not like I’m new in the workforce or new to the organization that I work for – the Canadian Revenue Agency – but I’ve been here for 8 long years.  I am also 2 years into my MBA so I can now add the academics behind how an organization works to compliment my practical experiences.  I’m especially good at getting the most out of people.

This situation happened to me today and it blew me away.   I was at a total loss until now, but I’ve decided to just let it go, because I’m a team player and to be honest I don’t need to toot my own horn because the quality of my work speaks volumes.  Today, however, after spending quite a while trying to solve a complex matter with my team leader we found a solution based solely on a concept from one of my graduate school classes.  The professor in that class worked in the public service in the US so his views were interesting and relevant.

Later that day, I came across my TL holding court among a bunch of people when I overheard him speaking about the problem and they telling everyone my solution but misrepresenting it as coming from him.  He even said that not only did he come to the solution but her researched it and  reviewed it too.


But here is where it got even more interesting… Obviously he did not know I was there, and he had made a factual error on one part of his explanation so I corrected him.  Do you think he’d stop at this point???  Nope.  Instead he  just kept on embellishing the story to make it sound even more impressive.

I wanted to speak up, but I had to leave.

If you have to depend on someone else’s thoughts, words or writings to make your own life interesting that’s fine, just give credit where credit is due because if you’re found out to be a phony then you lose your credability.

What would you have done?  Remember this is a unionized environment…