The Power of Video: Marketing YOURSELF!

 

muniSERV knows how important it is to get your message out to municipalities and municipal employers, and this includes videos! We’re letting you upload a video to your muniSERV profile and your Candidates’ Profile on muniJOBS, which lets you showcase you, your personality and why you’re a great fit! Let’s look at some of the best ways to get you looking and sounding your best.

Use a tripod

tripod

 

Tripods are important and inexpensive! They’ll keep your camera steady and you perfectly in the frame. Shaky, poorly framed videos will always appear less professional than a nicely framed, steady profile! Tripods are cheap, little tools that manage to increase the value of your shot exponentially.

 

 

Write it out first

 

Don’t just turn on the camera and improvise! Write everything out first. Read it back, listen to yourself and listen for anything you want to change. Practice it a few times by yourself – make it sound looser, fluid and more conversational. You don’t want it to sound like you’re just reading a script. You want to sound comfortable and confident, as opposed to stiff and awkward.

 

Be in the right setting

 

desk

Videos are visual, remember! It’s not just you that’s being shown off, it’s everything around you, too. The surroundings are reflective of you, as this is a clear window who you are. Messy rooms, background noise or pets running around causing trouble in the frame can cost you big. This is a video that you have complete control over. You can always do another take if the cat comes in and knocks over a book on your desk.

 

Keep the editing simple

 

This is for professional use, not a high school art film. If your video is of just you talking to the camera, intro with a fade in from black and end with a fade to black. Steer clear of the star wipes and excessive overlay animations. If the video is shorter in length
(around two to four minutes), try to get it done in one take to avoid cutting and pasting different sections of each take, causing distracting jump cuts and removing the confidence of the viewer in your skills to present yourself in a collected manner.

Subtitles

 

In what seems like a surprising addition to the list, subtitles are becoming more and more important. According to Digiday, 85% of videos are viewed with the volume off. Beyond this, subtitles ensure that your messages are conveyed clearly to everyone, as the words are printed right there. Those who are hard of hearing have a visual, and those who might still struggle with English can be sure about the content.

Videos are incredible tools that we’re all able to use with the prevalence of cameras in our smartphones. The days of grainy, choppy webcam footage are long gone. Utilizing this tool to its fullest potential in both your professional profile on muniSERV and in your Candidate’s profile on muniJOBS can really showcase the product or service you’re trying to deliver to municipal decision-makers, and what an asset you are to a future municipal employer. It’s their chance to really get to know you before you even realize it. If you want to get your video featured in the muniSERV newsletter, email us at [email protected]

The Mediocre Leader

The world is full of mediocre leaders, and I am one of them.

But I don’t want to be mediocre, and I don’t believe I’m condemned to a life sentence of mediocrity. Most of all, if I have any compassion on those I lead, on those subjected to my middling skills, I have to get better.

 

Practicing While Performing is Really Stupid

As a people leader, I’m not sure I have ever been asked or expected to go off-line and out-of-sight to work on my leadership skills. Sure, I’ve been “trained” in the art of people leadership/management via various courses, books, podcasts, blogs, mentors and the like. But the action plan always appears to parallel the classic Nike slogan: just do it.

Interestingly enough, we accept that many pursuits require significant time invested in off-line practice and closely monitored exercises prior to independent performance. This includes:

  • surgeons
  • pilots
  • hostage negotiators
  • public speakers
  • race car drivers
  • actors, athletes
  • artists
  • engineers
  • musicians
  • teachers
  • …and the list goes on

Consider just one example from this list. A public speaker that presents a TED Talk may have a preparation-to-performance ratio of 50:1 or more. That is, for a 10-minute talk, the speaker prepared with 8 hours of speech writing, memorizing, rehearsing and visualizing. In preparing for her TED Talk – a 20-minute Talk that has received over 21 million views – Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor rehearsed her speech over 200 times. Doing the math, she spent at least 67 hours rehearsing a 20-minute talk – on top of the time she spent writing and memorizing.

Why is it that people leadership is treated differently than other pursuits? Is it because the bar for leadership is so low? After all, the position of formal people leadership in the workplace is so common that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is 1 people manager for every 4.7 employees. And even more common is the informal leadership that nearly all of us assume throughout or lives – either in our homes, in our extracurricular pursuits, or with our friends.

In the corporate realm of formal people leadership, it is my experience that systems and processes provide so much support that most leaders need call on their leadership skills only infrequently. That is, we are actually prevented from truly leading by systems that assume our leadership skills are insufficient. And since we as leaders apparently only practice our leadership skills on those we lead, why should we create a world that expects otherwise?

In my next post, I will talk about how we ensure that our practice is effective. In the meantime, drop a comment below and let me know what you think!

At Levelling Up, we help growing leaders quickly become exceptional leaders by connecting them with expert mentors & coaches.

A reverse what….?

As a steward of taxpayer dollars, municipal buyers face tremendous pressure to get the best price for your organization. This keeps the tax burden low amid always tight budgets. The mantra often heard is “do more with less”.  Often the “best price” isn’t always the “lowest price.” You need the most qualified vendors to give you their lowest possible price, and you need to settle on those prices quickly.

You are already relying on your purchasing staff and group organizations, to ensure the vendors you select are qualified. Are you aware that you can now take savings to a whole new level with Electronic Reverse Auctions? A “reverse what?” you say….  

The term “Electronic Reverse Auction” or “ERA” may not be known to you now but it is a tool that every municipality in Canada will be hearing more of as it becomes a standard part of the municipal procurement tool kit.

The traditional procurement tool kit in Canada consists of tenders and RFPs that function under the notion that bidders get one chance to give you a price which is sealed in an envelope and opened later by the purchasing staff. Once the envelopes are opened, changes cannot be made to the price and the lowest price bidder is duly rewarded, either with the contract outright or by being assigned the most points for that criteria if there are other criteria to consider. What is generally believed is that we received the best possible price…..only we do not have any way of knowing if bidders collectively would have bid lower, had they been given the opportunity to make further reductions in price. We may have gotten the best value that was offered but buyers are left to wonder if we received true market value. Many in the municipal sector are familiar with the terms “municipal premium” or “public sector premium”, usually spoken of in whispers and behind closed doors. We often think that it would have been much less expensive if we were buying the same thing for a private sector organization. A buyer in the private sector likely would have been able to, or even encouraged to, negotiate a better deal.

What if municipal buyers did not have to take the first and only offers presented? What if they could negotiate with the qualified suppliers in a fast, fair and honest way? Could suppliers be allowed to reduce their bid, if they felt it was in their best interest, in order to secure the public contract.       

Until recently, this type of scenario was not realistic in Canada in the public sector, but that has now changed. In 2017 the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement both came into effect. These trade agreements, for the first time, explicitly recognize electronic reverse auctions as a legitimate public procurement method in Canada and include provisions to govern their use in public sector procurement.   

While this is a new development in Canada, reverse auctions have been recognized internationally for many years in leading standards like the United Nations Model Law on Public Procurement as well as the European Union Procurement Directive. Countries around the world, including the US, UK, and Australia, have successfully used reverse auction in municipal procurement for the past two decades with significant savings in a variety of categories of spend.    

An Electronic Reverse Auction (ERA) is an online, real-time purchasing technique which involves the presentation by suppliers of successively lowered bids during a scheduled period of time and the automatic evaluation of bids. A reverse auction can be configured in two ways that align with the traditional procurement process: 1) as the entire competition when price is the only criteria and the winner is the lowest bid at the end of the electronic auction; or 2) as the second stage in a two-stage competition when other quality-based criteria have already been evaluated, in which case the winner is the supplier judged to have the highest overall evaluated bid.

Respected Canadian public procurement lawyer, Paul Emanuelli, stated in his recent whitepaper, Electronic Reverse Auctions: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions, published in 2018:

“The question is no longer whether ERAs can or should be used…. The question is how much further can ERAs be expanded across all sectors, …., to achieve improved process efficiencies and cost savings.”[1]

Emanuelli goes on to recommend that “organizations interested in implementing ERAs should take the following seven steps:

1. Adopt legally vetted Negotiable RFP templates with ERA protocols

2. Update to ERA‐friendly policies and procedures

3. Develop an industry strategy to select the right projects

4. Create a rollout plan to control internal deployment

5. Ensure appropriate internal training and awareness

6. Get initial launch support from experienced advisors

7. Develop a plan for self‐sufficient long‐term use”

For Canadian municipalities, ERA’s represent an opportunity to reduce spending in a disciplined and strategic way. While not fool-proof and certainly not applicable to all purchasing categories, when ERA’s are strategically used, you can expect to generate savings of 8-20% depending on the category. What kind of impact would that level of savings have on your organization?       

Qualified vendors. Lowest prices. Best use of taxpayer dollars. That’s what you get from a reverse auction.

To learn more please contact Craig Milley at Wayfinder Consulting Inc. – Your Procurement & Supply Chain Guide

[email protected]    

250-882-4955   

https://www.wayfinderconsultinginc.com          

Now available on demand: Ecofiscal Commission online course – Using Market-Based Tools for Municipal Sustainability

Municipalities are missing out on the full potential of market-based tools!

Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential. Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while generating revenue that can be used to fill financial gaps.

These challenges include:

  • Municipal infrastructure is aging and faces a growing investment gap;
  • Municipalities have limited ability to raise revenues. Only so much can be raised from property taxes. They also often face constraints on debt financing; and
  • To attract people and investment, livability is key: cities must provide job and recreational opportunities, ensure affordability, make it easy to move people and products, and protect clean air and water.

It all sounds a little daunting. Yet an under-used policy option might lie at the intersection of these challenges. Municipalities can use market-based tools to fund critical infrastructure and create incentives for individuals and businesses to make choices that improve the livability and sustainability of our communities.

Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, with support from the McConnell Foundation, has developed a unique online course on municipal market-based tools for sustainable development that will help municipal employees, and those that work with municipalities, successfully design and implement these solutions.

Through five self-directed and on demand modules that include recordings of webinars led by experts and experienced practitioners and a series of online exercises, participants will learn how Canadian municipalities can practically use a variety of market-based tools. The five modules include:

 The course is guaranteed to provide unique insight and practical guidance on the selection, design and implementation of municipal market-based tools.

Who should attend?
The course is intended for municipal employees, as well as federal and provincial employees that work with municipalities on related issues. It is open to anyone, including students and private sector employees, that has an interest in topics such as municipal finance, asset management, infrastructure financing, environmental policy, urban planning, traffic management, water and wastewater management, and solid waste management.

The course is well suited to busy professionals. You can complete the modules at your own pace and on your own schedule.

Registration details:
You can purchase individual modules for $50, or sign up for all 5 modules for $200 (a $50 savings). Complete at least 3 modules, including course exercises, to receive a certificate! While modules can be mixed and matched, Module 1 is a pre-requisite for modules 2-5 as it is foundational. 

French option:
We’ve also made available a mini-course that summarizes the material for $70. Presented by Justin Leroux in French, this mini-course includes videos that cover the highlights of our traffic, water and wastewater, and municipal waste modules as listed above.

Go to courses.ecofiscal.ca for more information and to register. If you have any questions, contact [email protected]

The Benefits of Lean and Continuous Improvement for Municipalities

The Benefits of Lean and Continuous Improvement for Municipalities

By simplifying working practices and minimizing inefficiencies, continuous improvement (CI) techniques enable municipal organizations to save money and increase quality, without reducing the level of service offered to citizens. Leading Edge Group provide Lean training programs and improvement consultancy support, specifically designed for municipalities, empowering staff at all levels to apply Lean methodologies with immediate effect.

In our video, Lean for Municipalities expert, Callie Woodward, explores the relevance of Lean/continuous improvement for municipal organizations and the benefits that can be achieved through effective deployment.

We hope it helps with your continuous improvement planning and activities.

You can watch the video here.

Where in-depth support is required, a Lean for Municipalities expert can work with organizations to lead the effective deployment of continuous improvement strategy and tactics. Our consultancy services offer strategy, processes and tools to implement sustainable change and deliver measurable results.

We work with staff at all levels and functions of the organization, from City Managers to front-line staff. We’ve helped both large and small municipalities across Canada with their Continuous Improvement efforts.

Training options that are suitable for staff at all levels, across all functions of the municipality and training workshops for those who have a leading or strategic role to play in continuous improvement.

If you would like to discuss the benefits of Lean/CI and key success factors in more detail, please feel free to contact us using the details below.

Contact Name: John Whelton, VP North American Operations

Telephone: +1 (416) 637 5074

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://www.leadingedgegroup.com/

Fax: +1 (647) 748 3722

Address: 60 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 805, Toronto, ON M4T 1N5

 

Cyber Attacks & Municipalities: A Tale of Two Communities

“There are only two types of companies: Those that have been hacked, and those that will be.”, 

Robert Mueller, FBI Director, 2012

Executive Summary

In 2018, many municipalities in North America fell victim to cyber-attacks, and in particular ransomware. This study reviews two municipalities, Atlanta, Georgia, and Wasaga Beach, ON whom both were impacted as a result of a malicious attack on their networks.

Atlanta

Atlanta (pop. 486 000) was hit in March 2018 with a cyber-attack through ransomware. A ransom of $51 000USD was demanded but not paid. Over the next few days, critical systems and activities were taken offline as city staff struggled to regain access to systems. Impact included:

·       Public Wi-Fi disabled

·       30 mission critical applications disabled

·       8 000 employees were unable to access their email or networks for days

·       Citizens were unable to pay fines or parking tickets

·       Forms had to be completed by hand as systems restored

·       Many official documents were not recoverable

Final tally was close to $10 Million, including costs for additional contractors, system upgrades, new technology and computer replacement.

Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach (pop. 21 000) was hit in April 2018 with a similar type of ransomware attack. Initial demand for close to $150000 was reduced to  $35 000 and paid by the municipality. Despite this, the town was impacted for weeks even with recovery efforts. 

Impacts included:

  • Government data inaccessible for weeks
  • Systems had to be re-imaged and rebuilt
  • Payroll systems hampered

Final tally close to $252 000, including $50 000 for consulting,  $160 000 for lost productivity and overtime, system upgrades, new technology and computer replacement. Some costs carried into 2019 Budget Year.

How to be Prepared in Your Municipality

While Atlanta and Wasaga Beach are different sizes, they both suffered similar negative impacts due to a malicious attack, and having inadequate preparation for the type of attack that hit each separately.

Being prepared begins with a proper security risk assessment and review of the security practices and processes currently in place. Assessments should typically review such areas as:

  • Technology in place for security controls
  • Policies and standards related to Information Security
  • Training and awareness in place with staff
  • Incident Response plans
  • Disaster Recovery Plans 

Municipalities should also consider:

  • Training for IT staff on cybersecurity
  • Cyber Insurance
  • Testing and training of staff on cybersecurity issues
  • Use of third parties with cyber specialization to complement skillset of internal team.

Conclusion

Cyber Attacks can be indiscriminate and attack all levels of companies including municipalities large and small. However they can also target municipalities, due to limited IT budgets, strained technical resources and small if any dedicated security personnel.

Municipalities should take proactive measures to prepare for cyber-attacks and reduce the impact and likelihood of financial costs and loss of services.

“The effectiveness of one’s security program belongs to those who see the possibilities
before they become obvious.”, 
Michael Castro, 2018

RiskAware is a boutique Cybersecurity firm, specializing in Security Governance and Strategy, assisting organizations of all sizes with security and risk advisory services and security-on-demand capabilities.

RiskAware can be contacted at [email protected] or visited at www.riskaware.ca

 

Exclusive Opportunty for muniSERV Professionals Only!

You know muniSERV is a powerful online platform that helps consultants/professionals and municipal service providers showcase themselves directly to municipal decision-makers. Your muniSERV professional membership includes an SEO optimized professional profile with access to exclusive and targeted marketing to municipal clients. We help you build your reputability and visibility within Canadian municipalities to grow your business.

Now, muniSERV.ca and the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) are happy to announce the development of a Members in Transition Toolkit to help Canadian CAO members in transition access the information and professional services they need as they navigate their way through transition.

Our partnership with CAMA provides an exclusive and unique opportunity for your muniSERV professional profile to link directly to the CAMA Members in Transition Toolkit on their website – and to those CAMA members in transition who need your professional services. Participating in this special category increases your opportunity to build your practice/business locally and across Canada.

We are now looking for the following professionals from each province to provide specific services for inclusion in the toolkit: 

  • Employment Lawyers (who represent employees)
  • Financial Planners/Accounting Planning/Taxation Advisors
  • HR Advisors/Career/Transition Counsellors/Life Coaches
  • Recruiters/Executive Recruitment Firms/Head Hunters
  • Pension Advisors
  • Messaging/Communication Experts
  • Psychiatrists/Counsellors/Therapists
  • Business Coaches

How can you participate in the special transition/career services category?

muniSERV Members: If you’re already a muniSERV professional member, you’re all set. All you need to do is go to your dashboard and add the new, special Transition/Career Services in the “Build Membership Package” section.

New muniSERV Members:

  • Become a muniSERV member today to create your profile in your dashboard
  • Start appearing in searches in the Find Municipal Experts & Services database right away and get a Free Members Only rotating ad (value of $120) for your first month of membership.
  • Go to your dashboard in the “Build Membership Package” section and add the special “Transition/Career Services” category to your cart. 
  • Then select as many subcategories as you like in “Manage my Profile”
  • Membership and participation in the Transition/Career Services category is just $489/year. And, if you’re a CAMA member or sponsor, you pay only $460 annually.

*muniSERV is pleased to share the revenue from this special category with CAMA to support their members and future projects.

Click Here to get started or Contact us [email protected] for more information.

 

Improving Citizen service through disciplined issue management

When interacting with the people you serve, what is the single most important activity that you can do to make them feel more positively about you? Listen to what they are saying, and remember it.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding citizen engagement and how best to inform your constituents. Should we be sending out newsletters? Creating a targeted email campaigns? Blogging on our current initiatives, creating a Facebook page – maybe we need a hashtag #IssueOfTheDay?

As we have talked to residents however, one thing is become clear; more than being informed, citizens want to be heard. This takes many forms, but in principle, it all comes down some very basic tenets;

  • They want to feel like what they are saying is being listened to and will be taken seriously
  • They want to know that their issues have been recorded accurately,
  • They want to understand the process of how they will be addressed,
  • They want transparency

As a way to better serve your citizens, here are a few simple recommendations to help deliver the kind of responsive service that leads to improved citizen satisfaction and builds trust in government.

1. Record and track everything

  • We understand that each complaint or service request needs to be prioritized against our other activities and resource constraints. To the citizen however, if they are bringing it to you, it is because it is important to them and it needs to be respected as such. The easiest way to achieve this is to record every single citizen complaint, issue and service request and communicate your progress with it.

2. Provide access to information to the entire team

  • When you share information effectively and everyone is kept up-to-date, you convey a message that the issue was important, and that you are competent in your ability to respond. If you can record issues so that they can easily be viewed by all staff, then when citizen inquires about progress in the future, the entire team can provide them with a status update. In this way, any interaction with a citizen can be informed with the issues that are important to them.

3. Ensure you close the loop

  • When you have completed your actions, don’t forget to share the work that was done. Public notifications are important, but if you are able to extend this to include direct confirmation, the impact is considerably stronger. Making it as personalized as possible supports your goal to make them feel that they have been treated as an individual. The objective of this final interaction is to ensure the citizen is aware that you listened and did your best to find a satisfactory resolution. Even with those unfortunate cases where nothing could be done, an email confirming that it was evaluated with an explanation of the rational behind your decision can limit their frustration.

4. Be open and transparent (with data to back it up)

  • With the right tracking system, a quantitative report can be created that highlights the issues and service requests that were received in the previous month and the actions taken. This is a potent method to articulate the work you are doing for your citizens. Including the resolution times can be an effective tool for validation of service levels against those required by the municipal act within your province/state. For example, if you are accountable to fix a pothole within 12 days of it being reported, and you are able demonstrate that 90% of the time you are able to respond in 7 days or less, you have a means to show that you are working above the required standard. And remember, a regular and accessible report can also increase public support to buy new equipment or to hire a additional staff to speedup/improve service delivery.

SO HOW DO I START??

If you are on-board with the belief that the simplest path to citizen satisfaction is based on improved intake, tracking and progress reporting, your first step should be ensuring you have the systems in place that allow you to do this. Too often “engagement” equates to outreach (i.e. speaking) instead of issue tracking and reporting (i.e. listening) .

We built AccessE11 to support both. We built a system to listen, react, respond and inform. It is cost effective, simple to use and can be implemented in the time it takes to enjoy a coffee, or read this blog.

The Ontario Regional Government Review and How It Affects You

A lot has changed since the mid-1970s. That’s how long it has been since Ontario’s regional municipalities were established. Since then populations have grown, infrastructure needs have greatly changed and your tax dollars are being stretched further than ever. That’s why the province is reviewing the governance, decision-making, and service delivery functions of 8 regional municipalities and Simcoe County in their current Regional Government Review. Find out more about the review, the municipalities that are covered and how you can have your say in the process.

 

Who is Involved?

Led by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ontario government is reviewing 8 regional municipalities (Durham, Halton, Muskoka District, Niagara, Oxford County, Peel, Waterloo, York), Simcoe County, and their lower-tier municipalities. In total, 82 upper and lower-tier municipalities are included in the review. The review is led by Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark with 2 special advisors appointed as an advisory body to help with this review, Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn. The special advisors will be out in the communities and available for discussions with appointed and elected officials, concerned parties and local citizens.

 

What is Being Reviewed?

The main focus of the review is to help ensure that these municipalities are working effectively and efficiently, and can continue to provide the vital services that communities depend on.

The review aims to create efficient and effective governance, decision-making and service delivery throughout the province. As municipalities grow and evolve, so do their specific needs. There will be obvious financial concerns, from the allocation of service responsibilities to identifying opportunities for cost-saving measures. The existing governing model will be reviewed to make sure that the distribution and election/appointment of councillors properly represents residents. The decision-making process will also be under scrutiny at all levels.

 

How Can You Have Your Say?

The province of Ontario is looking for input from the people who live, work and spend time in the municipalities covered by the review. Residents, businesses and municipal partners are all invited to share their thoughts on what is working well and what they feel can be improved or streamlined. The deadline to complete the online survey is April 23, 2019. Written submissions can also be sent via email or by Canada Post. Further details, submission guidelines and privacy policy can be found here

 

When Will Changes Be Seen?

Findings from the public consultation, as well as recommendations from the advisors, are expected early this summer. Individual municipalities could start seeing changes in the following months.

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.

We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business.

Five Ways to Celebrate Your Women Leaders (or – What a Girl Wants)

The International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter, a call for action that asks employers around the world to take a new and closer look at how their employee culture celebrates success and nurtures leadership in the women in their employ.

What is #BalanceforBetter all about?

This year’s campaign is focused in on, as you probably guessed, gender “balance,” with the aim of having success become balanced across gender lines.

“Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

How balanced are we now?

The good news, is that we’re doing better and better. Here’s some encouraging pieces of information:

  1. In the wake of an Ontario Municipal Election that saw an increase in women running (27% of candidates) AND elected to council seats, we have a measurable achievement toward balance that is worth celebrating!
  2. The even better news is that Municipal government can bring women and their voices to the table in other powerful ways – both by applying a gender lens to community engagement and by looking within at how we engage and support our female employees.
  3. The best news of all is that 84% of respondents said that their company supports women in leadership, and the same percentage say their company culture allows women to succeed.

Let’s talk about #3 for a second.

Women are reporting that their company supports and allows women to succeed, but the reality is still that significantly more men are sitting in powerful leadership positions than are women; Just 8.5% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 listed companies are held by women. So what’s going on?

At the core, the problem is this: we’re expecting women to act like men in the workforce.

Organizations have a hard time recognizing leadership potential in women, women play full-out to “not fail” as opposed to “winning” and often express dissenting views in more diplomatic and therefore less impactful ways.

What a girl wants

As leaders in our communities, municipal offices have the opportunity (and responsibility) to set the standard for supporting women in leadership.

So what do women want? Luckily, we already know!

A 2017 KPMG study asked women to rate the most important aspects of supporting and preparing women to pursue leadership roles. Here’s what their top 5 results were:

  • leadership training (57%)
  • confidence-building (56%)
  • decision-making (48%)
  • networking (47%)
  • critical-thinking (46%)

In KPMG’s 2019 study, women leaders were asked what they most needed from their employers:

  • More training opportunities (41 percent)
  • Encouraging mentorship (33 percent)
  • More flexibility for employees to be able to take risks (28 percent)

Our key takeaway from these studies?

Leadership and confidence development are the missing elements that can hold women back from seeking and securing advancement.

So where do we start?

Many organizations have done away with generic gifts such as that set of four glasses, logo etched desk items or the standardized framed photo in favour of personalized “Thank You’s” based on the interests of the recipient. Employees, in turn, feel more respected and valued when they receive something that they actually want.

So how can we identify the best recognition ‘gift’ for those willing to take on additional responsibilities or a new role?

KPMG just told us.

In the spirit of #BalanceforBetter, here are 5 fabulous, empowering ways to celebrate your women leaders!

1.  Review what you do to promote your female staff members from within.

Organizations around the world are struggling with this key metric of success: leadership development. A good place to start is by looking inside your municipality for those people with the top factors in leadership potential—those traits or attributes that make them the best people for the job.

According to Egon Zehnder, the first factor is having the right motivation: a commitment to working as a team to move the municipality forward. The other 5 predictors are:

  • Curiosity
  • Insight
  • Engagement
  • Determination
  • Inclusiveness

It can be easy to get distracted from focusing on leadership potential, and instead to promote people who have been there the longest, who work the hardest, or who are daring enough to ask for it. These things make a great employee, but not necessarily a great leader.

Personalize this gift:

Develop an individualized plan of personal and professional development for those you identify that are strong in 3 or more of those factors.

This can be as formal as a path or growth map developed in your HR system, that measures results orientation, strategic orientation, collaboration and influence, team leadership, developing organizational capabilities, change leadership, and market understanding. 

Or, it may be as informal as consciously bringing those candidates into discussion (“We are playing with this idea and would love your feedback.”), or sharing opportunities more proactively (“This training is available and I think it would be very rewarding for you.”).

2. Help your women achieve the mindset and communication and leadership skills that allow them to advance with confidence and resilience.

Consistently, we have seen that women need to evolve their own leadership style and develop skills that support their advancement. The reality is that this is true of men, too, we just do a better job of supporting and validating their natural leadership style.

Women often have a harder time advocating for themselves and asking for their voice to be heard. They’re more likely to want to hear what everyone else has to say, and to want to find and create solutions that feel like a positive and effective compromise.

To help them to nurture their strengths, and build new ones, municipalities can provide powerful leadership trainings. In doing so, we’re not only helping our leaders develop stronger leadership skills, we’re subtly telling women that we value and respect their unique leadership styles.

Personalize this gift: 

Offer training in a range of key leadership and communication skills – so that women can increase their ability to be heard, express and defend their opinions, and make an impact.

3. Bring confidence-building workshops into the workplace through lunch-and-learns

Workshops or lunch-and-learns allow your people to grow where they are, alongside their co-workers, so that integrating these new skills into the workplace is more natural and comfortable. This can also allow you to establish better opportunities for networking and discussion among employees, and create a general shift in workplace culture.

Personalize this gift:

Build in some connection time so that women can explore and develop their understanding, build relationships and practice selling their ideas in a small group, lower stakes environment.

4. Institute formal mentoring, coaching and support systems

By formalizing a system of mentorship, mentoring becomes not only accepted, but expected. This could include assigning a mentor to an up-and-coming woman leader, building mentoring into the work schedule and designating an office or meeting space for mentoring.

In this way, not only can experience and history be shared, but through mentorship, we are able to reduce the fear of failure, combat Imposter Syndrome, and add perspective to the risk-taking that is inherent to advancement. These are all big ticket issues for many women wishing they could take on a bigger, more impactful role.

Personalize the gift:

Do some match-making to select the right mentor and train both mentor and mentee to understand how this relationship works. You may even want to facilitate a mastermind in your workplace or in your community.

5. Schedule in recognition and celebration

All this isn’t to say that recognition and thank yous are passé or somehow no longer of value! It’s absolutely still a powerful way of supporting your employees. If you don’t already have a system for recognizing your employees’ success and victories, consider scheduling in celebrations of your women leader’s achievements through your intranet or internal newsletter and at meetings.

Personalize this gift:

Work to identify key qualities, actions and attitudes that led to that success to inform and inspire the leader herself, as well as others who look to her as a role model. The more specific and clear we make our praise, the more valuable and inspiring it is.

Don’t forget…

Just as we all benefit from gender balance, so can both genders benefit from these suggestions. Men and women alike flourish in the context of appropriate promotions backed by training, mentorship, and recognition.

As we strive for #BalanceforBetter, everyone benefits.

(And, of course, you can still have cake on International Women’s Day!)

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Guest Author: Cher Cunningham

Cher is a Leadership Confidence Coach who helps individuals transition into leadership roles by banishing anxiety, building confidence and resilience, and through communications, media, and presentation skills training. She offers a range of Workshops, Virtual Lunch and Learns, Speaking Engagements and group or 1:1 Leadership Confidence Coaching.

Find out more about how Cher supports women leaders at http://chercunningham.com.