Tips to Run a Successful In-Person Meeting

Over the last two years, many of us had to learn how to connect differently than we were used to. Instead of putting on our best suit, we’re still in our jammies from the waist down. Instead of shaking hands we’re pushing unmute.

Slowly but surely, the world is beginning to open back up. Where it’s safe to do so, many meetings are returning to an in-person format. Since we’ve all become accustomed to doing things virtually, it may take a little time and effort to get back into the swing of the face-to-face meetings. Here are a few tips to help make your meetings run as smoothly as possible.

Set the Agenda:

Municipalities know this, but meetings always run more efficiently when there is an agenda to follow. Having a clear agenda helps set the expectations. If the conversation starts going off track, you can always point back to the agenda items to steer things in the right direction. Setting out estimated times each agenda item should take for discussion, will also help provide direction and keep folks on track.

Start on Time. End on Time.

While it may seem polite to wait for some late arrivals to join, there’s a bigger downside to holding off until everyone is in the room. First and foremost, this sets a bad precedent. Accommodating the latecomers shows the others that arrival times are lax. This can spiral out of control quickly. Secondly, the attendees who’ve prioritized arriving on time are now feeling frustrated that their time isn’t being seen as valuable.

Set Ground Rules:

Having a few basic ground rules around meeting etiquette can help provide great flow in your meeting. Some solid rules, or expectations, can be something simple like; participate, get focus, maintain momentum, and reach closure. If you list these rules at the top of your agenda, both new and returning attendees will understand the direction of the meeting.

End with an Action Plan:

We’ve all been in meetings where the conversation seems to go around in circles without resolving anything. It’s important to establish a plan of action for the agenda items that need follow-up. Assigning certain people to particular tasks and plotting out a course of accountability will ensure that your meetings have purpose and value to all of those involved. We’ve conducted meetings by video teleconference for so long, (and honestly, we’ve become pretty good at them), it will be an adjustment for everyone to start attending again in person. But a well-organized meeting, and Chairperson with good leadership skills, will get us all back
in the swing of things soon.

Oh, and one more thing – dig out that suit again. Things may have changed over the last couple of years, but it’s still not considered socially acceptable to wear pajama bottoms to an in-person meeting.

The Value A Search Firm Provides Versus The Costs To A Municipality / Broader Public Sector Organization

Kartik Kumar

Kartik Kumar

National Practice Leader, Municipal Government and Broader Public Sectors.

When a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization is looking to hire a new senior executive – they have two options. The first is to do the search themselves and take on the hiring and search process internally. The second is to partner with a specialized executive search firm that has a successful record and significant experience in placing senior level executives in their industry to manage the entire search process. 

Municipalities and Broader Public Sector organizations operate under very strict budgets and sometimes the cost of paying to work with an executive search firm can seem high. As a result, some organizations choose to take on a new senior management search themselves. While this may seem like a smart cost saving measure at the time, an organization can face serious legal issues, lost opportunity and lost time if they make a mis-hire and are unable to find the “right fit”. In full transparency, let’s take a look at the actual hard costs (in terms of time and resources) that a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization will face and incur when taking on a new senior management search themselves without the help of an executive search firm. 

Phase I: Strategy Costs 

This entire executive search process will need to be owned and managed by a senior executive leader within the organization with the know-how “to manage a process such as this”. The Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization should be comfortable with the ethics of poaching and causing another Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization to lose a senior executive. Many organizations do not allow this type of activity amongst each other. However, using a third-party such as an executive search firm, allows this type of activity to take place without any conflicts or issues. Candidates would feel much more comfortable dealing with a search firm rather than dealing with a competing organization. Finding and placing a new leader within the organization is a very delicate and intensive process. Let’s say you are a senior executive at a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization who will own this search process, and earn roughly ~$150,000 per year or ~$78.00 per hour. This will be our baseline for evaluating and calculating time in terms of cost to the Municipality.

Before you begin your executive search for a new senior executive, you will need to identify stakeholders, any technology required, construct a strategy, organize documents and create milestones for this entire process. This will need to be a few hours of meetings and time for all internal stakeholders that will be involved to align on this process. Let’s say for example it will take roughly 15 hours collectively (or ~$1,200) of the senior leadership team’s time to decide on a strategy and get the proper processes set in place and approved.

Once you have a strategy and plan in place, you will need to create a job profile including: a list of requirements, responsibilities, qualifications, skills and credentials required of a candidate to perform in the role. As you are looking for a high-performing senior executive, this position profile must be carefully crafted as the senior executive will be the next leader for your organization for years to come. Cost will vary significantly depending on the amount of time involved for multiple stakeholders in this process. 

Creating the job profile takes time, and the individuals that understand what is needed of a senior executive will need to collaborate within this part of the process. At this level, the senior leadership should be very involved in drafting and creating the position profile. Let’s say, for example, that four senior executives within the Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization will need to draft, review and approve the position profile spending about 10 hours of their time each on this profile totaling 40 hours or ~$3,200.

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$4,400.00 

Phase II: Talent Acquisition Costs

When a Public Sector organization decides to take on a senior management search themselves – they assume the process is as simple as posting to a job board site and letting the resumes flood in. The search has to start somewhere, and this is the quickest way to build a talent pipeline when you do not have a network of talented professionals to choose from or contact.

This inbound recruiting method works well for staffing more junior level roles, but when it comes to senior leadership positions it is not ideal. Posting a job to a job board will attract only “Active” candidates. Active candidates are eagerly looking for a new opportunity or are currently unemployed. At the leadership level the “actively looking” talent pool yields a large volume of mediocre talent. More often than not, these candidates are in-process for other opportunities as well and have a relatively low commitment to your  organization or the position itself. There is no guarantee that the qualified candidates will flood in. In some cases, I have conducted searches where very few resumes responded to the posting. Most of our successful candidates are what we call “passive candidates.” These are candidates that are identified by reputation and directly sourced. Usually these candidates are not “actively looking” for a new role but open for opportunities to enhance their career. This a classic situation where direct poaching between organizations may be deemed unethical, however that is the business of an executive search firm. A professional executive search firm will do targeted research to determine who the most effective leaders are in this space and contact them directly. 

The average posting cost a public sector organization will assume for several job boards to generate a talent pipeline can be upwards of ~$5,000.

Let’s say for example, that you have posted your senior executive position to several job boards and received several applications and now it’s time to review. This stage of the process should typically be handled by a senior level leader who is capable of answering all relevant questions and has the expertise to communicate well with senior executives.,. In addition, you will need to build your own deep relationships with candidates throughout this entire journey ensuring that confidentiality is maintained at all times. If the word gets out there that a potential candidate is looking, it could potentially risk their current employment which could lead to legal action. Only you and other key stakeholders will understand what skills and leadership style will be a match for your organization. The time required to carefully sift through, organize and prioritize these  applications can take roughly 40 hours which can cost a Municipality ~$3,000.00 of your time. 

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$12,400.00 

Phase III: Screening & Interviewing Costs

Next, you will need to screen via zoom or phone the top 20 candidates to begin the interview process. Let’s say that each initial candidate screening will take 1 hour per candidate and then some additional time to create the interview questions, draft and refine your feedback and notes, review resumes again and notify the bottom candidates that they will not be moving forward. This phase will cost the organization roughly 75 hours or ~$5,900.00 

After the top 10 candidates have been selected, a second round of initial interviews will need to be conducted to gain a firmer understanding of which candidates to present to leadership and the other key stakeholders as the top choices for the role. These interviews will be much more in-depth and should take longer than the initial screening interviews. In addition to longer interviews, candidates again will need to be measured and assessed after each interview. This stage of the process can take roughly 60 hours or a total of ~$4,700.00

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$23,000.00 

Phase IV: Stakeholder Interviews & Final Assessments Costs

Once the top candidates have been screened, and put through an initial round of interviews – they will need to speak and interview with other senior leaders and stakeholders within the Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization. There will need to be at least 2 rounds of interviews between the senior leadership team and these top candidates. One of these interviews may be a panel interview with multiple stakeholders (3 for example) participating. After these interviews are conducted the team will need to come together to discuss their thoughts, notes and reactions to the candidates. This stage for one candidate can take up to 10 to 15 hours per candidate or ~$4,400.00

Now you must deliberate and choose to narrow it down to two finalist candidates. At this stage, some senior leadership stakeholders within the Municipality may want another round of interviews or have a candidate make a final presentation. In addition to these additional interviews or presentations, stakeholders will need to discuss and unanimously decide together on the best fit candidate. This can take roughly 15 hours total to complete and arrive at a selected finalist for a total cost of ~$1,200.  

Total costs to your Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization at this point are: ~$28,600.00 

Phase V: The Cost Of Making An Offer

At this phase, a verbal offer is made prior to drafting the official contract to be signed. This phase is relatively short, but sometimes negotiation and internal politics can extend this phase of the search considerably. Let’s say for example the candidate has decided to negotiate a few things into their contract which will require legal and HR to revise several drafts and receive approval each time. This stage can be outsourced or take roughly 10 hours of legal and HR’s time or ~$1,000

If the candidate accepts you will choose a start date which will be several weeks away. At this stage you have invested nearly ~$30,000 in your time to find a new senior executive. This time is in addition to your regular responsibilities and commitments in your everyday role. 

Hidden Costs And Outcomes: 

There are many variables that can happen during the executive search process such as your finalist candidate accepting another offer at a different organization. If this happens you will need to repeat some of Phase IV and consider those added time costs. 

More often than not when a senior management search is conducted by a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization internally without the help of an executive search firm, the selected candidate is not a good fit, which results in a mis-hire several months later. As a result, this candidate needs to be replaced, but since too much time has passed from your initial interactions with all candidates when beginning your search, you will need to restart at Phase III again and revisit the entire search process. This can add an additional ~$15,000 to your original time spent and bring your total internal time costs up to ~$45,000 to find a replacement candidate for the position. 

The Cost Of Working With An Executive Search Firm.

Senior executives are key hires to your leadership team and your organization. They have a significant impact on the future of your community and organization and a controlling stake in that future for years to come. A miss-step by taking on a search yourself and hiring the wrong candidate can have monumental consequences and set a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization back in many ways. When looking at the total internal costs associated with finding, interviewing and hiring the best senior executive, a Municipality / Broader Public Sector organization can save significant time, risk and money by partnering directly with an executive search firm to manage and run this entire process. 

Typically, the search fee itself will be lower than the cost in time and resources that the organization will spend doing a search themselves, and a search consultant will be able to serve as a trusted advisor throughout this entire process. In summary, here are some things to consider when debating the value of working with an executive search firm:

  1. By posting and praying, you have no control over whether a good candidate will respond. If they don’t respond, what are you going to do? 
  2. If the hired candidate leaves or is released or terminated, you are back to square one and must restart this entire process. With a search firm there is no additional cost as it is covered under a replacement guarantee. 
  3. A credible search firm does research into your industry and assesses its network to identify who the key players are, and proactively reaches out to them to determine interest. Most of our successful hires have been people in this category that would have not considered the opportunity otherwise.

About The Author

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector, including Municipal Government and Public Libraries. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the Broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik to learn more ([email protected]) about Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada.

How COVID-19 Permanently Digitized Site Selection

Have you ever had a meal, gone on a date, or enjoyed a vacation so good it made you never want to repeat the lower quality experiences you’ve had in the past? Why would you want to eat bad food, date a loser, or suffer scratchy hotel sheets when you knew there was a better way for you to live and you could keep living that way? That ah-ha moment is the same realization that happened with corporate site selection during COVID, and why professionals will not go back to the old way of doing business.

The global pandemic was a disaster for business expansions and relocations, including foreign direct investment (FDI). The data is clear that these projects declined significantly as a result of the COVID pandemic, just like the overall economy. It was natural that businesses were unsettled by the economic upheaval, so they were uncomfortable making multi-million-dollar corporate location decisions without physically and personally “kicking the dirt” as part of their due diligence.

Economic developers couldn’t physically travel to meet with businesses considering a prospective location expansion into their community, especially internationally, due to legal restrictions. Likewise, corporations weren’t travelling to meet with real estate developers or EDOs. The risk was too great; death from a virus or becoming quarantined outside of a home country made even aggressive businesspeople reconsider traditional operating procedures.

When traditional business practices fail, new strategies get implemented to overcome the obstacles; no companies want to be stuck being unable to take action to move their company forward, even in an unprecedented pandemic. And that’s exactly what happened with corporate expansions and site selection projects.

The only way to do site selection analysis leading to corporate location expansions in a non-physical world was to go digital. As a result, business, corporate real estate, and economic development engaged in a test of purely digital site selection out of necessity. But the result of the experiment was that it worked. The outcome of this positive result is that many businesses are discovering there is an alternative and better way to do site selection.

Of course, the transition toward online site selection has been a gradual trend that has been growing for decades. The difference is that COVID was a stress test to see if corporate site selection could be accomplished 100% digitally. Like other industries, this trial-by-fire accelerated trends and is normalizing new practices into standard operating procedures.

Digitization was not an experiment and trial run that was unique to economic development:

 Like these other digital experiments, digital site selection has revealed new advantages and proven theories. Digital site selection:

  • Enables companies to consider more communities faster
  • Communities can be more easily compared with objective and consistent benchmark data
  • Assumptions about the need for in-person were proven incorrect and that they were replaced with web meetings
  • Taking multiple web meetings gets more accomplished and is faster than flying and driving to numerous in-person meetings
  • Economic development GIS site selection software met the challenge to deliver relevant location information and site selection analysis in real-time

Two key reasons that companies will not go back to the old way of doing site selection are 1) they have discovered digital is an acceptable/preferable alternative and 2) their success story is being amplified in awareness to CRE peers and CEOs in other companies through mainstream media.

What does this new digital reality look like for the process of site selection? How are site selectors themselves doing things differently? Join us tomorrow for Part II of How COVID-19 Permanently Digitized Site Selection.

How HR Leaders Can Support and Implement A Hybrid Workforce For The Public Sector

eye glasses on a paper

Many Municipalities and organizations within the broader Public Sector across Canada were heavily reliant on in-person work prior to the pandemic. Today, a hybrid workforce is the model many organizations and employees across the Public Sector are shifting to, but the real question remains for Mayors, Municipalities and HR leaders on how to successfully implement this.

A Pandemic Test-Run: How One Canadian Town Tried A Shortened Work Week and Hybrid Workforce

 During the pandemic, the rural Town of Zorra (just east of London, Ontario), launched an 8-month pilot program of a 4-day work week in a hybrid environment. The first part of the trial for the Township’s 14 municipal office staff ran from September to December 2020, with the second four-month trial period beginning in July 2021. In an article, the Town of Zorra’s Chief Administrative Officer, Don MacLeod, commented that there had been no complaints from staff or the public, indicating no disruption of services. The trial divided teams into two groups, one working Monday through Thursday and the other working Tuesday through Friday, with each “workday” lasting 8.75 hours. Their salary and total working hours per week remained the same as before. 

 The results thus far have yielded an interesting impact to employees. Employees were able to spread personal activities across three weekend days instead of two, freeing up more time to be present, take care of errands and care for family members. Logistically, employees had to restructure their work day schedule to accommodate in-person meetings on overlapping work days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and leave individual work to the other hours. While at first the restructured work week took some getting used to, overall it allowed employees to have better work-life balance and feel recharged. The trial of the four-day work week in the Town of Zorra has yet to conclude, but initial benefits can already be seen including:

  • Improving efficiency
  • Reducing overhead
  • Retaining current employees
  • Attracting new talent

For The Town of Zorra, this experiment tested both the workweek itself with the added challenge of a hybrid workforce of essentially three collaboration days in-person. Many Canadians have suggested that a hybrid workforce of 3-4 days in office would provide sufficient balance for them and be ideal. The new challenges presented by a hybrid workforce will be how employees reconnect and reduce the barriers of in-person versus digital collaboration and socialization.

 Rebuilding Collaboration, Community and Trust Through Culture

With the adoption of digital collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack and more, teams were able to remain connected during the pandemic. However, many would argue that in-person collaboration is always more effective than these alternatives. As employees return to the office in a hybrid work environment, HR leaders will need to ensure that the barriers between virtual and in-person employees remain low. Leaders within the Public Sector will need to navigate this by developing new guidelines to maximize collaboration for in-person and remote teams such as:

  • Requiring presentations or meetings to happen in-person
  • Holding regular in-office Town/City Hall meetings once a month to bring together all employees
  • For virtual meetings, requiring cameras to be on at all times
  • Reward in-office days with perks, credits or rewards
  • Enable and implement the same IT systems for virtual and in-office employees
  • Plan water-cooler days where departments that overlap or work on projects together can collaborate casually in-person
  • Encourage meetings and attendance to be conducted all via the same channel, either virtually or in-person
  • Keep the number of meetings low
  • Accommodate new physical workspaces that align with remote work environments
  • Reimagining Organizational Culture

One of the things that arose from the pandemic was the sensitivity, awareness and elevation of mental health within society and the workplace. As Canada’s organizations begin to invest in a hybrid workforce, training, seminars, webinars and activities surrounding mental health can help individuals process the past 18 months from a work and personal perspective. These sessions will be critical to safely and successfully transitioning into a hybrid workforce.

Along with the mental shift of returning to an in-person office environment, communication methods will need to be refreshed and reassessed for any new employees that were on boarded during the pandemic. A revisit to any new employees’ initial onboarding can help leaders discover new aspects of their colleagues and help inform more effective in-person communication styles for delivering feedback, teaching and building trust.

 There is no doubt that remote employees will feel a loss of freedom when returning to a hybrid work environment after enjoying the flexibility and comfort of working from home. At home, leaders and teams proved they could remain as productive as if they were in the office, however, new habits, behaviors, and routines arose to dictate working hours, team socialization, breaks, and more. As a result, Municipalities and other Public Sector organizations will need to re-engineer both their physical spaces and organizational culture to blend the “in-home” culture of flexibility with the “in-office” culture of collaboration.

About The Author

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector, including Municipal Government and Public Libraries. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the Broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik to learn more ([email protected]) about Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada.

New! Drive time data for cars, trucks, walk time on ZoomProspector

We’re thrilled to introduce yet another new feature on ZoomProspector: adjustable drive time analysis for cars, trucks and walking. This is a game-changer for prospective investors who need to assess transportation logistics, commute times and travel distances for target clients travelling in different ways, on different days and at different times. In keeping with GIS Planning’s ongoing commitment to excellence in the user interface, we’ve designed this feature to be intuitive, visual and easy for your website visitors to find.

The new drive time analysis is easy to find – it’s an enhancement of the radius/ drive time buttons at the top of every single property and pinpoint report. Now when you click “Minutes,” you’ll see icons that let you select car, truck or walk, with an additional option to click on and adjust the date, time and destination – from or to the selected location. We’ve made it even easier by also adding these options directly on the map for those website visitors who prefer to make adjustments over there.

Miami Dade ZoomProsepctor walk drive truck timeIt’s easier than ever for economic developers to inform site selectors and businesses making location decisions as they research long and shortlists of suitable communities and properties. You can read more about our new adjustable drive time analysis here. You can also click here to learn more about the other map tools that make ZoomProspector the most innovative and user-friendly online GIS data tool for site selection?

Would you like to learn more about how ZoomProspector can help drive investment to your community? Click here to schedule an online meeting and demo.

Finding Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in Municipal Government and Public Sector Organizations in Canada

 

Kartik KumarKartik Kumar, National Practice Leader, Municipal Government and Broader Public Sectors.

 

Diversity and Inclusion has been a common discussion point for many Municipalities and Broader Public Sector organizations over the last several years in Canada. As communities and populations begin to shift to become more inclusive and diverse, meeting these changing societal values and demographics will require fresh perspectives and representation at the leadership level within Municipalities and other Public sector organizations.

Oftentimes innovative leadership qualities are found within diversity candidates that can challenge the status quo to effectively impact change across a community. Typically, diversity candidates have experienced and mitigated a lifetime of adversity and obstacles. These experiences, both professionally and personally, foster new ideas, creative thinking, innovation, agility and influence. However, when it comes to appointing diversity candidates to positions of leadership, Municipalities and other organizations within the Public Sector face a number of challenges including:

●  Finding Passive Diversity Talent

●  Diversity Leadership Driven By Representation

●  Benchmarking Diversity Candidates Against Competencies and Skills

●  Creating An Inclusive Culture To Drive Performance

Finding Passive Diversity Talent

Many Municipalities and organizations see the value that diversity can bring to their leadership teams but don’t know where to start their search for this elusive talent. For many years, organizations and Municipalities unknowingly created a culture of homogeneity thus shrinking their own internal talent pipelines as a source for diversity talent. Instead, Public and Private Sector organizations must partner with external experts, such as an executive search consultant, to assist in the identification, appointment and presentation of the most qualified and capable diversity candidates for a role.

Diversity Mandates Driven Representation

One element of diversity that some organizations fall victim to is the necessity to hire a diversity candidate as a response to societal pressure. I’ve worked with many clients in my career as an executive search consultant, that believe that hiring a diversity candidate that can provide the best value to a community is the simple concept of representation.

When I work with Municipalities, Public Libraries and other Public Sector organizations – I advise Councillors, Board members and other stakeholders and selection/recruitment committees to consider three things:

  1. The benefits that diversity can bring to their communities/ organizations.
  2. Require a diverse slate of candidates.
  3. Examine diversity within the community/ organization and population to help clarify and define the best fit of diversity for a leadership role.

Benchmarking Diversity Candidates Against Competencies and Skills

Sometimes the personification and perception of diversity by selection/recruitment committees may not always align with the true values and representation of the communities they will be serving. As a best practice, a diversity candidate should be representative of the larger community in which they will serve, while also maintaining the leadership attributes required by the role.

In addition, Municipalities and Public Sector organization’s selection/recruitment committees must carefully examine what key competencies and skills the role requires. Sometimes the benchmark diversity candidate that a search committee thinks they need, does not always align with the skills and core competencies demanded by the role itself. The best fit diversity candidate is a well-rounded individual that is able to meet both the requirements for the role as well as represent the larger community/ organization.

Creating An Inclusive Culture To Drive Performance

The other caveat that Municipalities and Leadership within the Public Sector overlook when hiring a diversity candidate is inclusivity training and acceptance of new and different perspectives for other senior leaders. Inclusivity programs allow for the broader leadership team to adopt and best leverage new perspectives gleaned by diversity candidates in powerful ways. By elevating cultural sensitivities and awareness to the existing senior leadership team and creating a more inclusive culture, senior leaders can learn how to better collaborate, break through unconscious bias and support one another.

As a result, this awareness and approach to inclusivity will increase collaboration. This culture reshaping will then trickle down through the wider teams and produce better results. As this cultural shift slowly takes place, success can be measured by performance and the attraction of other diversity candidates to the talent pipeline.

About The Author.

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector, including Municipal Government and Public Libraries. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the Broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik to learn more ([email protected]) about Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada.

How ZoomProspector makes you look like an economic development rockstar

GIS Planning’s clients range from small towns with a single economic development person (who often also handles duties at the chamber, the city manager’s office etc.) to large cities or regional and statewide economic development agencies with large staffs.

But no matter the size of the EDO is, they always have more projects and incoming requests than people or time.

Fortunately, GIS Planning clients can rely on the equivalent of an extra staff member with ZoomProspector working for their region.

Closeup portrait happy excited young economic developer celebrating successZoomProspector is available to answer questions 24/7 from anyone who comes to your website, whether they’re a potential investor, site selector or local entrepreneur. The industry’s leading GIS web tool for economic development can always be relied upon to offer accurate, up-to-date information in clear, visually compelling ways. And while it can’t crack a clever joke in meetings, celebrate birthdays or join co-workers for drinks after work, it will also never take a vacation, steal your lunch from the fridge or leave the coffee pot empty.

Reliable, smart and unflappable, ZoomProspector is the staff member every economic developer wants on their team. It makes everyone around them look good by helping them succeed. It makes you look like a rock star by facilitating quick, reliable research and helping generate beautiful, branded reports and polished proposals.

We have clients who speak with businesses only after that business has (in effect) qualified themselves by gathering information and answering questions, using the powerful analytical tools and extensive datasets provided by ZoomProspector.

In a fast-paced digital world where people want that information before they take time to pick up the phone and connect in person, ZoomProspector offers a critical competitive advantage. In many cases, simple questions about a community’s demographics, labor force, businesses, wages, etc. can be answered on the public ZoomProspector site using a few clicks of a mouse button.

As the most intuitive and user-friendly GIS site selection data tool on the market (by a long shot), they don’t need training or guidance to do so. You can rest confident that you aren’t losing leads before you even know they exist.

When more extensive data requests or RFP’s come in, GIS Planning clients have the ability to pull down and compose sophisticated reports on their community, with custom mile or drive time analyses around specific available sites or buildings, or around a pinpoint on a map. They can easily build and export reports from ZoomProspector in a few minutes. When our economic development clients receive incoming requests from elected officials, members of their community, academics or journalists, they too can be handled easily and quickly. Thus such request is transformed from a time-consuming nuisance to an easily handled opportunity to network, engage and build or bolster relationships with stakeholders.

Our drag and drop proposal generator now enables our clients to begin a response to an RFP, or begin crafting a proposal, with one click, and from there it’s easy to include available sites and buildings with relevant data reports, even include video and photos.

Best of all, anyone can perform the same high-level, detailed analyses on ZoomProspector at any time of day or night. GIS Planning created ZoomProspector to be a public-facing, easy-to-use source open access data portal. Economic developers can simply point to their own public website to answer basic questions, direct marketing campaigns to the website as a “call to action”, and make their website an integral part of their information toolkit.

With our ZoomTour platform, our clients can go even further and offer an online immersive experience, using media ranging from still photos to video to drone footage, and (of course) GIS Planning data tools, to provide a guided tour of a community (or a part of the community like the downtown area, or specific business clusters etc.), available 24/7, 365 days per year.

Learn how GIS Planning’s innovative GIS data tools for economic development can serve your community. Book a demo today!

Vaccination Policies for Municipal Employees and Consultants

While there is currently no federal or provincial legislation in Canada requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all employees, we are seeing more and more municipalities implementing requirements for their employees, consultants and contractors.

This is a controversial issue and muniSERV is not speaking out for or against these policies. We believe that municipalities have an obligation to protect the health and safety of their employees, as well as their residents and the community as a whole. Although implementing a mandatory vaccination policy poses potential legal risks, such as human rights and privacy claims, most municipalities are moving forward. This blog is meant to help clear up some misconceptions and to help municipalities make informed choices when developing, implementing and enforcing their vaccination policies.

Human Rights

Human rights legislation, pertaining to employment, prohibits discrimination on certain grounds, including disability, sex and religion. If an employee refuses to comply with mandatory vaccination policies with a justifiable exemption, the employer must make accommodations. These can include working remotely or more specific measures like increased PPE or modified work hours. Many municipalities are requiring staff who have are not fully vaccinated to attend vaccination education training and undergo routine COVID testingPrivacy Concerns

In most Canadian provinces, an employer may collect, use or disclose personal employee information only with their consent and for reasonable purposes. In order to enforce a mandatory vaccination policy, employers would be required to ask employees if they are vaccinated. This qualifies as the collection of personal information, which means that the employee would have to consent but also that the employer must demonstrate that they are collecting the information for a reasonable purpose.

In this case, the employer could reasonably request vaccination information but only to be used for the implementation of vaccination policies, health and safety protocols and infection control measures. This information should, ideally, be kept separate from regular personnel files and only accessed with required.

Termination

An employee who refuses to be vaccinated because of a medical condition or religious belief cannot have their employment terminated as that would be considered discrimination under the human rights code. But, the reality is that employers can invoke a “without cause” termination as long as the proper severance is paid.

Non-compliance with vaccination policies could leave employers in a delicate situation, forcing them to discipline their employees and even possibly terminate their employment.

Unionized Employees

Since many municipal employees are also union members, municipalities must work closely with the unions before finalizing and implementing their vaccination policies. Workplace safety is a founding principle for most unions but the pandemic has produced new obstacles for everyone.

Of course, it is always best that municipalities explore all of their options and obligations when developing, implementing and enforcing their vaccination policies.

Building And Reconnecting a Hybrid Workforce for Public Sector Organizations Across Canada

Kartik KumarKartik Kumar

National Practice Leader, Municipal Government and Broader Public Sectors.

As vaccinations slowly allow for the workforce to return to the office – there are many things to consider as both the public and private sector begin to implement a hybrid workforce. Just as the post-pandemic recovery will demand new leadership traits and styles, so will the way that Canadians approach working together and collaborating.

A recent KPMG study found that over 75 percent of Canadians would like the flexibility of a hybrid workforce. With the majority of Canadians becoming more comfortable working from home and leaning towards a blended version of in-person and remote work, Municipalities, and broader Public Sector organizations across Canada will need to consider how to structure the physical, digital and cultural realignment of their workforces. After 18 months of remotely working, there are many benefits for allowing employees to remain at home for some or all of the time including:

  • Reduced Commuting Time
  • Reduced Carbon Emissions
  • More Flexibility
  • Better Work Life Balance
  • Fewer Interruptions By Colleagues

Many employees are hesitant to relinquish their freedom from remote work, but recognize the benefits of in-person connection versus digital connection. Leaders across Municipal Government and Public Sector organizations in Canada should position the workplace as a place for collaboration to build community and trust again in others. The transition to a hybrid workforce will give rise to difficult conversations for both attracting top talent and retaining existing teams. Below are a few things that organizations within the Public Sector will need to carefully consider when launching a hybrid workforce model. 

Safety and Well-Being

Safety will be critically important to making employees and teams feel comfortable in negotiated environments and spaces, such as the workplace. From limiting in-person headcounts throughout the workplace to maintaining a new standard of cleanliness, these commitments will need to be rolled out and communicated efficiently to teams from the top down. New programs and benefits designed to promote balance and support mental health across the organization for returning employees will be critical to a successful transition.

Retaining And Rewarding Remote Talent 

Not surprisingly, the idea of “indefinite remote working” back in 2020 motivated a lot of employees to move out of city centers in search of more space, stronger support networks and better balance. Now, as both the private and public sector implement hybrid workforces, leadership and managers find themselves at a compensation crossroads. For employees that moved away and are choosing to stay fully remote, new conversations will arise surrounding the cost (salary) versus the value (work) an employee brings to the table. Cost of living has diminished drastically for those that have fled urban centers which may be a reason for reducing salaries. However the value, performance and contributions these employees offer remain the same as before. These difficult situations will need to be handled consistently and carefully to assure that employees remain engaged and incentivized. 

Bridging The Digital And In-Person Divide

With the pandemic forcing many Public Sector organizations to adopt digital transformation of their services, operations, and more, organizations will need to assure a seamless transition between platforms, systems and workflows for both digital and in-person set ups. This means migrating data, files and records to a centralized cloud data storage system that can be securely accessed in-office and remotely. Municipalities and broader Public Sector organizations will also need to upgrade legacy infrastructure and systems that are unable to support a hybrid workforce. 

The Hybrid Workplace

In some cases larger companies have created the role of the Chief Remote Officer, to lead and formulate the most effective blend of working remotely and in-office. As employees return to the office, the physical workspace environment itself will need to change and depart from the typical cube / office set up. The new office environment and furnishings will require a more casual setting to physically encourage and welcome collaboration among team members such as more tables and less desks, reimagined seating areas or “living rooms” as well as private spaces for individuals to hold meetings or calls. The new hybrid workplace will need to accommodate how people work from home on the couch, at a dining table, at a kitchen counter, etc. 

Many Municipalities and organizations within the broader Public Sector across Canada were heavily reliant on in-person work prior to the pandemic. Today, a hybrid workforce is the model many organizations across the Public Sector are shifting to, but the real question remains for how to successfully implement this.

The New Hybrid Workforce and The Public Sector

During the pandemic, the rural Town of Zorra (just east of London, Ontario), launched an 8-month pilot program of a 4-day work week in a hybrid environment. The first part of the trial for the Township’s 14 municipal office staff ran from September to December 2020, with the second four-month trial period beginning in July 2021. In an article, the Town of Zorra’s Chief Administrative Officer, Don MacLeod, commented that there had been no complaints from staff or the public, indicating no disruption of services. The trial divided teams into two groups, one working Monday through Thursday and the other working Tuesday through Friday, with each “workday” lasting 8.75 hours. Their salary and total working hours per week remained the same as before.  

The results thus far have yielded an interesting impact to employees. Employees were able to spread personal activities across three weekend days instead of two, freeing up more time to be present, take care of errands and care for family members. Logistically, employees had to restructure their work day schedule to accommodate in-person meetings on overlapping work days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and leave individual work to the other hours. While at first the restructured work week took some getting used to, overall it allowed employees to have better work-life balance and feel recharged. The trial of the four-day work week in the Town of Zorra has yet to conclude, but initial benefits can already be seen including:

  • Improving efficiency
  • Reducing overhead
  • Retaining current employees
  • Attracting new talent

For The Town of Zorra, this experiment tested both the workweek itself with the added challenge of a hybrid workforce of essentially three collaboration days in-person. Many Canadians have suggested that a hybrid workforce of 3-4 days in office would provide sufficient balance for them and be ideal. The new challenges presented by a hybrid workforce will be how employees reconnect and reduce the barriers of in-person versus digital collaboration and socialization.

Rebuilding Collaboration, Community and Trust

With the adoption of digital collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack and more, teams were able to remain connected during the pandemic. However, many would argue that in-person collaboration is always more effective than these alternatives. As employees return to the office in a hybrid work environment, Towns and Municipalities will need to ensure that the barriers between virtual and in-person employees remain low. 

Employees that are new on staff and those that have been around for years will need to be “re-onboarded” into a hybrid work environment. Leaders within the Public Sector will need to navigate this by developing new guidelines to maximize collaboration for in-person and remote teams such as: 

  • Requiring presentations or meetings to happen in-person
  • Holding regular in-office Town/City Hall meetings once a month to bring together all employees
  • For virtual meetings, requiring cameras to be on at all times
  • Reward in-office days with perks, credits or rewards
  • Enable and implement the same IT systems for virtual and in-office employees
  • Plan water-cooler days where departments that overlap or work on projects together can collaborate casually in-person
  • Encourage meetings and attendance to be conducted all via the same channel, either virtually or in-person
  • Keep the number of meetings low. 
  • Accommodate new physical workspaces that align with remote work environments. 

Reimagining Organizational Culture

One of the things that arose from the pandemic was the sensitivity, awareness and elevation of mental health within society and the workplace. As Canada’s Municipalities and broader Public Sector organizations begin to invest in a hybrid workforce, training, seminars, webinars and activities surrounding mental health can help individuals process the past 18 months from a work and personal perspective. These sessions will be critical to safely and successfully implementing a hybrid workforce.

In addition, communication skills will need to be revisited. During the pandemic, workforces and employees relied heavily on messaging platforms and virtual conference tools. Along with the mental shift of returning to an in-person office environment, communication methods will need to be refreshed and reassessed for any new employees that were onboarded during the pandemic. A revisit to any new employees’ initial onboarding can help leaders discover new aspects of their colleagues and help inform more effective in-person communication styles for delivering feedback, teaching and building trust. 

There is no doubt that remote employees will feel a loss of freedom when returning to a hybrid work environment after enjoying the flexibility and comfort of working from home. At home, leaders and teams proved they could remain as productive as if they were in the office, however, new habits, behaviors, and routines arose to dictate working hours, team socialization, breaks, and more. As a result, Municipalities and other Public Sector organizations will need to re-engineer both their physical spaces and organizational culture to blend the “in-home” culture of flexibility with the “in-office” culture of collaboration. 

About The Author

Kartik Kumar is a Partner at Legacy Executive Search Partners and has over 15 years experience in successfully executing 250 projects within the Public and Private Sector, including Municipal Government and Public Libraries. Kartik has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Ryerson University and an accredited certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Prior to joining Legacy Executive Search Partners, Kartik has held several Managing Director roles within large national and international executive search firms. He has successfully developed an executive search practice across Ontario and Canada within Municipal Government and the Broader Public Sector.

Contact Kartik to learn more ([email protected]) about Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada.

Reflections on Working in a Municipality

I recently was asked to discuss, “Managing Your Career from Start to Finish”, with the graduating class of the University of Western’s Municipal Public Administration program.

To prepare for it, I was asked to reflect on the trajectory of my career and provide some thoughts and tips I might have on launching a municipal career.  

It was an interesting task – not one I’d really given much thought to before. 

The graduates were surprised to learn, that when I first became interested in a career in municipal government, many municipalities in rural Ontario were managed by husband-and-wife teams.  Not good financial management at all but back then it worked.  

This is a far cry from the professionalism municipalities deliver today.  While constant changes in legislation are frustrating to municipalities, they really have served to improve municipalities over time.

When my local husband-and-wife team announced their impending retirements, I started taking the AMCTO Municipal Administration Courses and going to Council meetings – not only to understand municipal operations better, but also so the Council would get to know me.  And it worked!  

I applied and my first municipal job was as Clerk/Treasurer/Tax Collector of my local municipality.  

So, here’s some strategies that may help you land your first municipal job

Do some homework;

  • Research the municipality and the department of interest
  • What are the issues? What key projects are they working on?
  • Go to a Council meeting in person once things open again so Council and staff will start to get to know you, or watch some online to understand the protocols
  • Volunteer to help at municipal/community events
  • Look for a summer job in the municipality to get a feel for what it’s like to work there
  • Ask if you can job shadow the CAO for a day (at no charge) 
  • Investigate OMAA Bursary program http://www.omaa.on.ca/en/about-omaa/the-omaa-bursary-program.asp  It’s a Bursary program offering $5,000 annually to support the education of future municipal government leaders and promote the role of CAO. The program runs to 2025.

 

My personal belief is that those launching municipal careers right now have perhaps the best opportunity in recent history, for quick career advancement, because so many municipal employees are eligible for retirement in 2021.

Many are staying on past their retirement dates, however, to help their communities through COVID, but I predict there will be a mass exodus of employees soon as the COVID crisis begins to ease. We’re already seeing an increase in municipal job postings.  

As for the trajectory of my career – well, I eventually became the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and helped the municipality through restructuring, worked with the province in issues and project management, and eventually decided to set up a municipal consultancy and develop muniSERV.ca. and muniJOBS.ca

To me, a career in local government is still the most challenging and rewarding work you’ll ever do. 

Like I always say, You can take the girl out of the municipality, but you can never take the municipality out of the girl.”  

 

Susan Shannon, AMCT

Founder & Principal, muniSERV.ca & Shaping Organizational Solutions (SOS)

[email protected]  Phone: 855.477.5095