Cyber Security and Municipalities: Balancing Risk and Budget

Weak or nonexistent cybersecurity programs represent a massive organizational risk for municipal government agencies across North America, and of course Canada. Municipal leaders are often unaware of these risks because they assume that security is addressed or believe that a threat is minimized as a public sector organization.

In 2018, reports from three Ontario municipalities, one in BC and one in Quebec surfaced. All around ransomware, and all impacted adversely the operations and privacy of their records and impacting their constituents. Each also had a financially impact to the municipalities as each had to work to eradicate the malware, recover data or pay ransoms.

While ransomware attacks are often indiscriminate and are about disruption, other attacks are imminent that also hinge on weak security measures and experience. Theft of data from the public sector is valuable and should not be overlooked. Land deeds, mortgage information, birth and death records, SIN numbers and more, all constitute Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and all can equate to valuable dollars to those who can use them for further criminal activity.

Municipalities need to be looking at various areas to shore up cyber security for their offices and staff and help reduce the risk associated with these threats.Actions can include but not limited to:

-Developing a cyber security strategy to combat threats and understand security posture

-Implementing technology and security tools to handle threats as they emerge

-Awareness training for staff to help know when threats like phishing email are present

-Developing a information security policy for all staff to follow

Cyber threats is multi billion dollar industry for cyber criminals. Municipalities are not immune to the threats that are present every day. Each municipal leadership team should look at their own areas and determine what steps are needed to be performed.

In the end it is not IF a cyber attack will affect them but rather WHEN and HOW impactful it will become.

 

Interested in an assessment or virtual CISO services? Feel free to drop a line

 

Michael Castro

Founder and Principal, RiskAware Group

[email protected]   www.riskaware.ca

 

 

 

 

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Unique Opportunity for Professionals & CAMA Sponsors!

Each year a number of Canadian CAO’s are transitioned out of their CAO positions. Most often they are simply a casualty of a new political environment.

CAMA recognized the growing need to support their CAO members in transition and engaged a consultant to develop a Members in Transition Toolkit. The Members in Transition Toolkit will be launched at the 2019 Annual Conference in Quebec City.

It became evident that those transitioned members who had immediate and continual access to good resources, appeared to get through transition easier. So part of the project included having them identify the specific resources that would have been helpful to them as they navigated their way through transition.

We now need to locate the professionals from each province who provide these identified resources, for inclusion in the toolkit. The toolkit will list the services required and will link to the professionals who provide the service, so our members in transition can quickly and easily find the professional resources they need, when they need them.

Specifically, here are the professionals we need for 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

CAMA partners with muniSERV.ca to provide the professional resources Canadian municipalities need, through its Find Municipal Experts & Services database.

If you provide any of the above professional services, please consider becoming a muniSERV professional member and then select the special Transition/Career Services category after the toolkit is launched in May. Doing so provides you with the unique opportunity to be automatically be linked directly to the CAMA Members in Transition Toolkit so CAMA’s CAO members in transition can easily find you. *muniSERV is pleased to share the revenue from this special category with CAMA to support future projects.

How to Participate

If you already have a muniSERV professional profile, you’re all set until the launch of the new toolkit in May. We’ll notify you when you need to go back into your dashboard and add the new, special Transition/Career Services in “Build Membership Package”. 

If you’re not a muniSERV member yet;
 1. Become a muniSERV member today and create your profile in your dashboard
 2. 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.
 3. We’ll notify you when you need to go back into your dashboard in the “Build Membership Package”, and add the                  special “Transition/Career Services” category to your cart.
 4. Then you will be able to select as many subcategories as you like, in “Manage my Profile”

Click Here to join muniSERV, or Contact us: [email protected] or  [email protected] , for more information.

 

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New Partnership for muniSERV!

You already know muniSERV.ca offers a full suite of tools for municipalities – most of which are free.

But, we’re always on the hunt for even more new and innovative tools and resources to help Canadian municipalities – and we’ve found another perfect partner!

We’re pleased to announce that muniSERV.ca has entered into a partnership with GoByDesign, for their innovative new platform – BoxOfDocs, The Ultimate Sharing Platform For Canadian Municipalities.

Whether you are updating your existing bylaws or policies, or looking to develop new standards, and want to see what similar municipalities have in place, BoxOfDocs is here to help.

*Bonus Partnership Offer

Now, when you register for free on muniSERV, you can also activate your Free Trial of the BoxOfDocs, Municipal Premium Membership, which lets you effortlessly share documents with other Canadian municipalities and gives you with access to thousands of documents your municipality uses daily!

If you have not committed to being an active member for either muniSERV or BoxOfDocs yet, now is a great time to join both and network with other Canadian municipalities to take advantage of valuable tools and services offered under this new partnership.

Welcome BoxOfDocs!

Susan Shannon

Founder & Principal,

muniSERV & muniJOBS

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Blunders managers often encounter when attempting to resolve workplace disputes

In today’s workplace employee conflicts may and do happen. Sometimes they begin as simple matters which escalate into significant issues in the workplace causing lower performance and productivity resulting in lack of communication, misunderstanding of the intent, personality clashes or different perceptions and values.  

 

It is vital to deal with employee conflict, whether minor or significant, in a timely fashion to preserve a positive, healthy work environment and to evade any increase or collateral damage among work teams and others departments. 

 

We are finding that managers often do not respond accordingly to the issues of conflict in the workplace. In many cases, it is for lack of experience, fear of retaliation against them, insufficient training and lack of confidence. Sometimes they find it easier to avoid and ignore then tackle the sensitive issues.   

 

When issues are not dealt with quickly and efficiently in the workplace, they tend to fester and develop in magnitude. When an employer has contacted me, the situation usually has been growing underground, so to speak, for some months before it explodes in either the HR office or before the managers. Typically, at this point, the problem is more complicated, involves more staff and takes more effort and time to resolve. At times it may even undermine the staff’s confidence in the manager’s ability to manage. 

 

Some common behaviours of supervisors and managers which may have a negative impact on the managing of workplace disputes effectively would be ignoring the situation until it is about to “burst”.  

 

When managers disregard challenging situations, when they do come to the surface, they require immediate and urgent action usually at a very inconvenient time to resolve. Some managers tend to overlook an awkward situation altogether until the case is ready to blow up. Then they need to take immediate action to try to deal with it, and this almost always occurs at an inconvenient time, like on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend. Putting your management head in the sand will not make the problem go away, it will only make it worst. Taking action early in the workplace dispute development is usually the best solution, with the most excellent chance of success. 

 

Not dealing with a conflict that is escalating quickly, many managers found themselves frustrated and overwhelmed which could add fuel to the case, potentially affecting the decision-making process and the capability to contain and resolve the situation comprehensively.

 

Another mistake a manager may make is letting the office politics interfere with resolving the conflict. When office politics interfere with the steps of the solution, staff in the workplace goes camping. Taking sides of either the complainant or the respondent. The team that tries to remain neutral (sitting on the fence) only suffer the ongoing bickering of the two parties.

 

The way that employees perceive situations in the workplace are essential to resolving the conflicts in the actions to be taken. A biased move (recognized or not) on the managers part may result in more battles and create permanent barriers in the workplace.  

 

The objective of workplace dispute resolution in the first place is to come to an agreement or solution that is practical and realistic for all parties. So it may mean there is a requirement for conciliation to move forward to resolution by the manager.  

 

Taking a page out of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” book and initially “seek to understand then be understood”.  

 

Sitting down with the employees, listening actively to what they are disturbed about, gathering all the information from both sides and only then attempting to craft a clear picture of what is going on, why and what the options might be regarding resolving or improving things for those caught up in the conflict.  

 

The bottom line is that disputes and conflict in the workplace are not stoppable. Anticipating how to approach these workplace situations beforehand, may put you in a position to be ready to take action when they occur.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD
TEL: 905-683-9953

WEBSITE: www.aviarygroup.ca
PRINCIPAL
FAX: 905-683-9912

 

 

 

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Four Budget Visuals That Help You Tell Your Story

Whether you have new council members, a new ratepayers’ group or increasing cost pressures, communicating financial information effectively can make the difference between adopting a budget in three meetings or three months. 

It can be tough though; people collapse municipal services and property taxes with other agency’s services and taxes, and services are easy to take for granted.

This budget season, let pictures do the work. Here are four images you can add to your budget presentation to help tell your story about why costs are increasing and how public money is spent.

1. Capital Has Changed

Why the increasing focus on capital? Local governments own most of the public infrastructure in Canada now – that means covering lifecycle costs, asset management, preventative maintenance and more. Try using this graphic depicting the transfer of assets to local governments to illuminate newer financial responsibilities.  

2. Project Commitments: Funded and Approved

Looking for a way to connect council-approved projects with annual funding?

Senior Management Team, meet the iceberg. It’s a graphic metaphor one Canadian city manager used to describe the growing number of projects council approved, announced without a funding plan, (also known as projects that were ‘below the [funding] line’) and deferred. The image highlights which projects the council-directed tax increase pushes forward to future years and the risk that political talk does not match budget walk.

 
 

3.  Demonstrate Value Through Better Billing

Are there special programs or project costs council wants to highlight? Separating an infrastructure levy from the operating levy on the tax bill can be an effective way to highlight costs. The City of Mississauga’s bill identifies three such levies for the City of Mississauga highlights three special levies: The Emerald Ash Borer Management Program (a tree pest), Capital Infrastructure and Debt Repayment and the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus.  

4.  Municipal Services are Bodily Services

Tired of comparing the cost of services to the cost of a cup of coffee to communicate that municipal services are good value for money? Try this instead: The services we provide are important because they support everyone’s bodily functions. Every shower, flush, cereal box and bike ride involves local services.

 
 

This budget cycle, give elected representatives the gift that keeps on giving: a metaphor about how far municipal tax dollars go with an hourly reminder from their own body.  

Enter your email here to get these images sent to you in a PowerPoint slide deck.

What other budget metaphors, pictures and visuals have you come across that help communicate specific program costs or macro/micro capital shifts?

 

Emily Harris has worked in municipal finance policy as an academic at Carleton University, as the Manager of Policy at the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association, as a Management and Policy Consultant in the Toronto City Manager’s Office, as a Financial Analyst in the City of Toronto’s budget division and as a private consultant, completing projects for Local Authority Services (LAS) and the Ontario Government ministries of finance and municipal affairs. As Director of The Policy Shop, she specializes in financial policy updates for local governments and can be contacted at [email protected]

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Coaching Head Check: Do You See Eagles or Turkeys?

Expectations in coaching leadership

A leader’s coaching skills are vital today. Millennials especially want direct feedback and supportive guidance. Leaders aspiring to build coaching skills need to do a “check up from the neck up.” Am I in a growth or fixed mindset about the people I am coaching?

Ineffective managers ask, “How am I expected to soar with the eagles when I’m surrounded by a bunch of turkeys?” Effective leaders with growth mindsets see people as they could be — eagles in training. Managers with fixed mindsets simply see them as turkeys. They’re both right. Research shows managers and leaders often get what they expect.

In his Harvard Business Review classic “Pygmalion in Management,” J. Sterling Livingston draws from the ancient Greek myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who carved a statue of a beautiful woman that came to life. George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion (which was the basis for “My Fair Lady”) used a similar theme. In the play, Eliza Doolittle explains, “The difference between a flower girl and a lady is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.” Livingston presents a number of his own studies, as well as other research, to prove that “If a manager’s expectations are high, productivity is likely to be excellent. If his expectations are low, productivity is likely to be poor.”

“The Pygmalion Effect” was uncovered years ago by psychologist Robert Rosenthal at Harvard University. He told a group of students that high or low intelligence was bred into laboratory rats through genetic manipulation. One group of students were given the “bright” rats. The other group of students drew the short straw and got stuck with the “dunce” rats. When tested in their ability to navigate a maze, the bright rats dramatically outperformed the dunce rats. What the students didn’t know was that there was no difference in the rats’ intelligence levels. Both groups of rats were the same. The only variable was the expectations of the students handling the rats.

Educational research supports the theory that we get what we expect from people. In his book, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Robert Tauber, a professor of education at The Behrend College of the Pennsylvania State University at Erie, compiled over 700 doctoral dissertations and countless journal articles on stereotyping, perception of social differences, race, gender, ethnicity, body features, age, socioeconomic levels, special needs, and other personal and situational factors showing, “What we expect, all too often, is exactly what we get.”

A study by David Upton of Harvard Business School on the billions of dollars invested to increase manufacturing flexibility concluded, “Plants that managers think are flexible tend to get a lot of practice and get better at it. It’s a self-fulfilling belief. We’ve found that flexibility is determined much more by the people in the plants, their industry experience, and the practice they get, than by the use of a certain type of technology.”

It’s a vital head check for would-be coaches — behaviors reflect what he or she sees. Whether the leader thinks they can or thinks they can’t, they’re often right. They become what we expect.

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Succession Planning: From Piecemeal Programs to Integrated Strategy

Succession planning steps

Studies show a growing sense of urgency for succession planning. One survey found 92% of respondents felt it was risky not to have a succession plan for key employees but only 25% of companies feel they’ve identified adequate successor candidates and less than half have a process for developing candidates. Other research shows 70% of executives think their organization lacks adequate bench strength while nearly 75% of senior managers will retire by 2020. An HR software study reported that over 90% of millennials say working at a company with a clear succession plan would “improve” their level of engagement. Another report found that promoting internal leaders has a success rate of 70-80% while the rate for external leadership hires drops to 50% — about the same as flipping a coin.

Many organizations recognize the critical need for succession planning. But the way they’re approaching this talent development challenge is with piecemeal programs. Too often internal support specialists such as HR, OD, or Talent Management professionals manage the program. They focus on tools like the 9 box grid, competency models, and organization charts. These tools are highly useful. But they’re severely limited when they’re bolted on the side of the senior leadership team’s crazy-busy agenda.

In high-performing organizations, tools and approaches like succession planning are owned and driven by the senior leadership team. They understand that implementation of their strategies and plans are highly dependent on culture development. Talent and leadership development are a vital strategic issue as vigorously managed as sales, marketing, operations, or finance.

Executives often check out (and start checking their email) when a deck of slides is read to them on succession planning tools, models, and processes. But if the senior leadership team is engaged in rich discussions on what their succession issues are and how to address them, they’ll quickly shift from passive approvers of their support staff’s plans to active leaders and drivers of the process. This becomes even more effective when senior leaders link succession planning to their strategy and culture.

Here are key steps for bringing a senior leadership team into alignment in moving succession planning from bolt-on programs to a built-in strategic process:

  1. Establish foundational frameworks for leadership/culture development grounded in research.  Examples: Excellence/culture models, Performance Balance, or 5 Steps to High-Performance Culture.
  2. Agree on a shared vision of your desired culture.
  3. Set/refresh the three or four core values anchoring your desired culture.
  4. Define the behaviors that model each core value and the negative behaviors that create eye-rolling “yeah, right” reactions to each core value. The clearest signal of an organizations lived (versus espoused) values is who gets promoted for what behaviors.
  5. Use a safe and anonymous process to identify moose-on-the-table (or elephants in the room) and what must be dealt with to move toward your desired culture.
  6. Agree on three or four Strategic Imperatives to address your “moose issues” and build an implementation plan for your desired culture. Set up teams for each Strategic Imperative with ownership/accountability, charter/mandate, and timelines.
  7. Decide on core succession planning tools such as 9 box framework, a competency model for hiring, promoting, and development, high potential programs, software, talent pools, etc.

What’s critical to this approach is managing group dynamics, meeting flow, and discussion process. A skilled, external facilitator with a toolkit of group processes, exercises, and applications has a huge impact on the success of planning sessions like this.

In their Harvard Business Review article, “Developing Your Leadership Pipeline,” Jay Conger and Robert Fulmer report that high-performing organizations marry succession planning with leadership development. “At the foundation of a shift toward succession management is a belief that leadership talent directly affects organizational performance. This belief sets up a mandate for the organization: attracting and retaining talented leaders.”

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Boost Customer Service with a Culture That Serves the Servers

Boosting Customer SErvice

With years of travel I’ve experienced the full range of frontline servers. Some are warm, friendly, and genuinely want to help. They seem to have bounced out of bed that morning thinking “how can I brighten our customers’ day?” Others are sour and surly. For them, customer service is an oxymoron and a huge pain in the paycheck.

A minority of servers are born to serve or born to snarl. It’s the large group in the middle that makes or breaks an organization’s service levels. They could go in either direction. Their customer service efforts reflect the service levels they’re getting from the organization.

IBM draws a direct link between employee engagement and customer service. Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Diane Gherson, said, “We’ve found that employee engagement explains two-thirds of our client experience scores. And if we’re able to increase client satisfaction by five points on an account, we see an extra 20% in revenue, on average.”

This link is consistent with research by Disney Institute and McKinsey & Company as reported in “Put Employees First to Delight Customers“, “American Express Boosts Customer Service with Transformed Leadership and Culture“, and a Wharton study showing to improve customer service, treat your employees better.

The Customer Service Chain is often a useful visual in building a culture of serving the servers to boost the customer experience and live up to the organization’s brand promise. Its core message is “if you’re not serving customers directly, you need to serve someone who is.”

Customer Partner Chain

7 Tips for Co-Creating a Higher Service Culture:

  1. Draw a customer-partner chain for your organization. Start with a key customer segment and work your way back through external partners and each team or department to external suppliers. Help everyone see where they fit in the big picture.
  2. Regularly bring the voice of the customer and actual customers into your organization. Take support staff who rarely deal with customers out to meet them.
  3. Update customer and internal partner performance data frequently (daily or weekly) and make visible to everyone.
  4. Work with servers to systematically identify root causes of service problems and involve them in a continuous improvement process.
  5. Post service trend charts and customer experience/process maps for all servers to keep score and stay engaged in the improvement process.
  6. Continuously ask servers to identify and prioritize what’s getting in the way of higher service levels and involve them in addressing the issues.
  7. Make it easy and painless for internal partners to raise issues and concerns. Respond promptly and systematically to analyze the trends for improvements.

I often encounter caring servers who want to respond to my request or help me deal with a service problem. Many times, they’re as frustrated as I am with the situation and their inability to solve it. Too often I’ve heard some version of, “Please complete our survey or make a complaint about this. Nobody listens to me. Maybe they’ll do something about it if enough customers like you complain loud enough.”

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Mental Health Problems and the Workplace

October is Mental Health Month. Recently there has been bigger mindfulness of the impact of mental health problems on individuals and the workplace. The economic impact is realized through direct treatment costs to the health care system as well as indirect costs, such as reduced or lost productivity due to absenteeism.

Mental health problems account for about half of employee absences due to illness each year in Canada for example, 3.5 days lost per employee per year are due to mental health problems. It is estimated that mental illness results in 35 million lost workdays each year in Canada.’

Employees living with mental health problems may feel and behave out of character at home and work. There may be feelings of things not quite right, yet they are unable to pinpoint the problem. Their co-workers, supervisors and family members may start to notice a change in mood and behaviour.

 

 Signs that indicate an employee or colleague may have a mental health problem are:

·      Regular late arrivals or often absent

·      Lack of teamwork or an over-all disinterest in working with co-workers

·      Lower output

·      Increased mishaps or safety problems

·      Numerous complaints of exhaustion or unexplained pains

·      Difficulty focusing, not being decisive or forgetting things

·      Making apologies for missed deadlines or poor work

·      Decreased attention or involvement in one’s work

·      Working excessive overtime over a prolonged period

·      Expressions of outlandish or grand ideas

·      Displays of irritation or pointing the finger at others

 

It is important to highlight that people behaving in these ways may be just having a bad day or week or dealing with a difficult situation in their personal life that may be temporary. A pattern that continues for a more extended period, however, may point to an underlying mental health problem.

 

Stress is a consistent part of life and work, and it can be positive or negative. Unwarranted hurtful stress through life events, including workplace issues, can contribute to mental health problems. Work itself can be expected to generate a certain level of stress associated with meeting deadlines and expectations, the need to feel valued and the loss of control over one’s time.

 

There are many causes of workplace stress. One key to effective stress management is maintaining awareness of the potential stressors and readiness to address them before they become problematic. Some of the most critical sources of work-related stress are listed below.

·    Poor communication

·    Incongruity in work demands, individual ability and amount of control over working practices

·    Work overload and work underload

·    Shift work and/or night work

·    Segregation, isolation and/or unstructured support for home workers

·    Short-term contracts

·    Role conflict, uncertainty and changing roles

·    The uneven weight assigned by management to consultation, support and control

·    Lack of training for managers in communication and people skills

·    Idleness

·    Uncomfortable physical workspace

·    Introduction of new technology, if not planned and gradual

·    The culture of presenteeism, in which an employee feels the need to be seen working at all times

·    Work-life imbalance

·    Home-based stresses that support or feed off of work-based stresses

 

Managing workplace stress can include training for employees to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stress, as well as to learn skills for coping with stress at work and in their personal lives.

 

Research has shown that some job stressors are worse than others, such as jobs that continuously involve imposed deadlines over an extended period and give individuals little control over the day-to-day organization of their work (high demand/low control). These jobs can lead to more than double the rate of heart and cardiovascular problems. As well as significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression and fell of being undermined. High demand/low control jobs also lead to substantially higher alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drug use, and a significantly higher susceptibility to infectious diseases.’

 

Jobs that require high physical or mental effort but offer little in the way of compensation, status, financial gain or career enhancement (high effort/low reward) also affect employee stress levels. These jobs are associated with triple the rate of cardiovascular problems and significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety and conflict-related problems

 

The health of workers does not have to be compromised by stress. Changes to the workplace can make for a more mentally healthy workplace, especially when employees feel adequately rewarded and have greater control of their work.

 

Mental health problems can seriously affect someone’s ability to work. If left untreated and the mental health problem worsens, the employee may need to stop working altogether.

 

On the other hand, employees may try to continue to work knowing that they are not performing to their usual standards. If mental health problems are acknowledged early, and proper treatment is obtained, most people can quickly return to their regular performance at work, and much unhappiness and suffering can be avoided.

 

Monika B. Jensen Ph.D
TEL: 905-683-9953

WEBSITE: www.aviarygroup.ca
PRINCIPAL
FAX: 905-683-9912

 

 

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The answers municipal governments have been looking for?

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.

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