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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Municipal Work Opportunities for Our Professional Members!

Ontario Supports Modernization of Small and Rural Municipalities

The Ontario government is providing up to $24 million to support the modernization of 224 small and rural municipalities across the province. This investment will help improve the delivery of critical programs and services that people rely on every day, while saving taxpayers’ dollars.

A total of 254 projects have been approved for funding under Intake 2 of Ontario’s Municipal Modernization Program. Municipalities will use the funding to find efficiencies and implement a wide range of initiatives to digitize, streamline and/or integrate programs and services with neighbouring communities.

The funding will help municipalities administer the cost savings measures in time for the 2022 municipal budget cycle.

Here’s the List of Municipalities who received funding for various Municipal Service Delivery & Efficiency Projects.

If you offer any of the services these municipalities are looking for, select the municipality you would like to work with and watch their websites for RFPs for any Third-Party Review or Implementation opportunities.  You might also want to watch muniSERV’s Find RFP’s section and/or bidsandtenders listings.

For more information on the Municipal Modernization Program and the June 30th announcement, click here.

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How To Find Executive Level Talent For Canada’s Municipalities And Broader Public Sector Organizations

How To Find Executive Level Talent For Canada’s Municipalities And Broader Public Sector Organizations

Some thoughts from a search expert in these fields.

In my last article, we discussed the leadership qualities and traits that will be required to transition Canada’s Municipalities and the general Public Sector into a post-pandemic reality. As the pandemic recovery slowly makes its way through the economy in Canada and abroad, industries will begin to bounce back, becoming more resilient, agile and innovative under new leadership. As a result, an increase in hiring has surged through the workforce and is transforming the talent landscape from a “War for Talent” to include a “Race For Talent”. So what is the best way that Councils’ and Boards’ in the Public Sector can reach, engage and attract the best talent to lead the recovery. 

More often than not Municipal Councils’, Boards’ and Senior Management Teams within the Public Sector will approach the recruitment of a Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Executive Officer, Director or other C-level senior executive similarly to that of a mid-level manager. When taking this effort on themselves, they will post the job description, gather resumes, interview candidates and make a final selection. This approach to running a senior level search internally is compromised for many reasons including:

  • There is limited access to qualified leaders beyond your team’s immediate networks.
  • A lot of potential candidates are not “actively looking,” are “selective” regarding their career moves and would not apply for the role concerned about a breach of confidentiality. Dealing with a search consultant, before they commit, makes it easier for these candidates to feel comfortable and seek more details about the opportunity.

Countless times I have seen Municipalities and other Public Sector organizations attempt to take on the hiring for a senior executive leader internally, and end up coming to us eventually for help in managing the search process.

In order to avoid this initial waste of resources, time, finances and frustration, I’ve created a guide for how Municipal Councils’, Board’s and Senior Management teams in Canada can partner and work with an external executive search firm for finding and appointing the best leaders for their organizations and communities.

Step 1: What Is Their Specialization? Success In Finding And Placing Right Fit Candidates Who Can Make A Difference

Firstly, you will need to identify the best search firm to partner with. This will include a close examination of several key areas including the types of executives they have placed, other clients they have worked with in the past (are these past clients similar to you and your needs) and a list of recent or past searches. For example, I specialize in placing Chief Administrative Officers’, Chief Executive Officers’, Commissioners’ and Directors’ for Municipalities, Public Sector organizations and Libraries across Canada. To quickly gather this information, review a search firm’s website. If you are still unclear of their specialization and methods you can dive deeper into their thought leadership that they have published. Look for regular postings of thought leadership articles and content about your industry and ask yourself if these articles provide deeper insights than others you have come across or reveal perspectives that you may not have considered. A truly experienced search consultant should be able to demonstrate and provide value to their wider networks in addition to their immediate clients.

Successful search consultants that exceed client expectations, will also see a high rate of repeat and referral business – it is important to understand what percentage of a search firm’s business is repeat or referral business versus new business. The higher the repeat / referral rate – the better the relationship a search consultant will have with their clients. I am grateful to have a very high rate of repeat / referral business. 

The final consideration for identifying specialization within a search firm when working in the Public Sector, is to confirm that a search firm or search consultant is a trusted partner and vetted provider with prior experience working with Municipalities and Public Sector organizations. A search firm that has been through this rigorous process of verification, certification, approval and documentation, will be accustomed to these requirements and this process. Having this awareness and experience will save you time and resources when looking for an external search firm to partner with.

Step 2: Why Partner with A Search Firm Instead Of Doing It Yourself?

Aside from the downsides to doing it yourself that I mentioned earlier, there are a number of additional reasons why allowing a well respected third party to manage and run your executive search process will yield better results. In addition to unrivaled candidate access and relationships, a search consultant or search firm you partner with can:

  • Collectively gather information from internal stakeholders to create a summary of ideal core competencies, gain trust and build consensus.
  • Remain unbiased during the research, interviewing and decision-making processes.
  • Conduct interviews to provide a fair and objective process for everyone involved.
  • Assure that candidates have fair representation in the interview process.
  • Garner buy-in across multiple internal stakeholders.
  • Decrease the time to placement / hire by circumventing internal obstacles and politics. 

A search consultant should serve as a trusted advisor to both a client and a candidate. Having an objective perspective as a search consultant, they can lead the charge and the process and instill confidence and trust within the candidate. When a search is conducted internally – candidates often will not trust the process for any number of reasons and therefore lose interest, shrinking the available talent pool. This distrust can manifest from any number of prior experiences including:

  • Mistreatment in a prior internal interview process
  • Losing the role to an internal hire / promotion (for cost hiring purposes)
  • Mishired and not a good fit culturally. 

The candidate experience is becoming more and more critical to finding and attracting senior leadership talent within the Public Sector. A third party search consultant represents both the client to the candidate and vice versa and will have everyone’s best interests top of mind throughout the entire cycle. When candidates are not selected to move forward for any number of reasons, an expert search consultant will assure that the candidate’s experience remains positive by offering additional coaching, feedback, etc. This in turn creates a favorable impression by the candidate and maintains a Municipality’s or Public Sector organization’s reputation. 

Another reason why senior executive candidates do not apply directly to positions is the risk of exposure to their current company which can damage their reputation and career aspirations. As a search consultant, I make sure that the entire search process remains confidential and candidates are informed of their status in a timely and discrete manner – regardless of the outcome. 

Once your Search / Recruitment Committee has selected a search firm to appoint your next senior executive, it is imperative to understand the process of how you will work together with a search consultant. 

Step 3: Understanding The Executive Search Process. 

To set expectations, an executive search process for selecting a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) or a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will take roughly 6-8 weeks to complete. First, we interview Search / Recruitment Committees and the rest of Council / Board members to gain insight, get stakeholders actively involved and identify the core competencies (skills, traits, qualities) of the ideal candidate. When completed, this reveals the summary of the most important core competencies, which are then developed and approved by the Search / Recruitment committee and built into a position profile. 

Next, as a search consultant, we go to market to research, find, engage and source candidates that align with these competencies. Our team will often consult with my confidential advisory committee of current and past successful Municipal and Public Sector executives seeking potential referrals for candidates. Typically this initial research will yield approximately 80-100 candidates, who are then scored and ranked against the competency matrix through a round of initial interviews and either moved forward or withdrawn from the process. After this initial screening and research phase, I match the best candidates that align with both the required experience and core leadership skills, resulting in roughly 8-10 top candidates ready to be presented to the Search / Recruitment Committee. 

At this point, a truly experienced search consultant will continue to manage and facilitate the interview process between candidates and the search committee. By facilitating panel interviews as a moderator and coaching stakeholders on key questions to ask, a search consultant will make sure that the process remains fair and equitable. This also avoids any possibilities for potential conflict internally and eliminates favoritism and bias. 

We would then work with Search / Recruitment Committee stakeholders to build consensus of their top 3 candidate selections. Once further interviews are conducted and a finalist is chosen, we also recommend a unique psychometric assessment expert to conduct an independent assessment of the finalist candidate. I will conduct final reference, credential, criminal background and social media checks. An offer is then extended to the candidate who will then either negotiate or accept. 

The above process is an example of a typical search process that has been successful on many occasions in hiring senior executives, however each process is tailored to clients’ specific needs and agreed to in advance. We constantly strive to improve our processes and do so based on feedback from clients. 

It is our understanding that the average tenure for a Chief Administrative Officer / Chief Executive Officer in the Public Sector is roughly 3-5 years. If you have any questions regarding the Canadian marketplace or are considering a new executive hire to your leadership team, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Below are a list of our current searches that we are working on:

Some of Our Past Successful Searches Include:

  • Chief Administrative Officer – City of Pickering
  • Chief Administrative Officer – City of St. Catharines
  • Chief Administrative Officer – Township of Uxbridge
  • Chief Administrative Officer – Town of Niagara – On – the Lake
  • Chief Administrative Officer – Region of Waterloo
  • Chief Executive Officer – Burlington Public Library
  • Chief Executive Officer – St. Catharines Public Library
  • Director, Economic Development Services – City of Oshawa
  • Director, Planning Services – City of Oshawa
  • Director, Transit Services – Region of Waterloo
  • Director of Municipal Works – City of Niagara Falls
  • Director of Operations and Environmental Services – Town of Ajax
  • Director of Communications – City of Cambridge
  • Director of Information Technology – Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)
  • Director of Finance – Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)
  • City Manager – City of Cambridge
  • Senior Manager, Economic Development – Town of Whitby

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 industry segments, including Municipalities and other Broader Public Sector organizations. 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 and Partner 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 Kumar at [email protected] for Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada. 

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Considering a SaaS Platform for Citizen Request Management? Here are Some Key Questions to Ask

Local governments are continually looking for ways to streamline their operations. But with increasing citizen demands for more modern and accessible digital services, along with limited and declining budgets, bridging all of these needs can be a challenge. A growing number of municipalities are moving to manage these challenges by adopting Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms for core operating functions.

In this article, we take a look at some of the key things to consider when selecting a SaaS solution specifically to underpin your citizen request management process.

Does the Service align well with your operational needs?

The answer to this question obviously needs to be a resounding yes, however when evaluating cloud-based citizen request management solutions it is critical to start with a clear understanding of what your true needs are – both immediate and longer term. First and foremost, preferred solutions should be designed from the ground up with the needs of local governments in mind for the best chance of a successful implementation. Where not the case, adaptation to your process requirements will likely be more difficult and prone to failure. Be equally wary of solutions that offer feature functionality that you can’t or won’t actually use as this will normally drive unnecessary cost, and also lead to sub-optimal usability and poorer uptake by staff. To fully benefit from the cost savings promised by moving to the cloud, also look for solutions that include tools that can be used by trained administrators within your organization to configure and customize the SaaS solution to your specific requirements without costly custom software development.

What considerations exist to keep the citizen fully engaged in the Service Request Management process?

In all aspects of local government operations, citizen engagement as a strategy to create better and more livable communities is seeing increased emphasis. Yet too often citizen involvement in the service request management process takes a back seat to internal tracking against the municipal assets that the requests relate to. Solutions that keep citizens at the forefront will leave them feeling well served and more compelled to contribute to the process. For example, a well-designed citizen request management platform should support multiple channels for the purpose of accepting requests so that citizens can interact how and when it works for them. Solutions should also be mobile friendly, automate communications for real-time status updates, respect WCAG guidelines for accessibility, and include on-line capabilities for citizens to view and comment on the requests they raise.

What do the SaaS vendor’s track record and reputation look like?

As is the case with any product or service purchase, an understanding of a vendor’s previous experience is a great leading indicator or whether their offer is right for you. When it comes to citizen issue tracking, look for companies that have been around for several years and that can demonstrate success with local governments having similar operations to your own. Speaking directly with appropriate reference customers should be a given. Credible software review sites like G2 and Capterra are also highly useful to gauge customer experience and success and to compare the different options that are available to you.

What happens to my pre-existing data?

If you are currently using an on-premise system for citizen service requests or have other sources of data that you have invested in over time, it is worth understanding the potential and ease with which this data can be preserved. Ideal solutions will provide administrative tools to simplify the data import process. And where source data needs to be cleaned or transformed to make this possible, your SaaS solution vendor should be able to provide professional services expertise to support required ETL efforts.

Can I take a graduated approach to switching over?

Setting aside the many benefits of a cloud-based solution, new technology will always involve change for your staff and, for this reason alone, you might be interested in starting small and evolving the use of the new platform over time. For managing citizen service requests, solutions that you consider should easily support adoption by a single department or limited number of users in parallel to other departments continuing with existing processes. This can reduce risk, provide an opportunity for user feedback and help to validate the business case for other departments.

What assurances can the vendor provide regarding security, performance and resiliency?

Continuity of your operations and security of your data are critical considerations, and a cloud approach necessarily involves placing trust in your selected vendor to have these in hand. For vendors with any significant customer base, the good news is that these requirements should have received a lot of attention and certified experts will likely have been involved in architecting and securing the hosting environment. But given the nature of citizen request data, you will want to make sure that an acceptable privacy policy exists and that handling of personally identifiable information is understood. It is also important to know what safeguards exist against DDOS attacks or other malicious behaviours, and whether redundancy exists for high availability and disaster recovery purposes. And finally, you will want to ask questions about data backup procedures that are in place, including frequency and location.

How well is integration with other systems supported?

If you find yourself in a position where you need to integrate the citizen request solution with other back-office systems, ask how these integrations can be supported for your unique use case. The principal needs are for the vendor to provide open APIs that allow for secure data exchange between systems, along with professional services to support these efforts. If a vendor has created pre-built connections to leading application integration hubs like Zapier even better as this could greatly reduce the effort and cost involved.

What onboarding, training and support resources are provided?

No evaluation would be complete without gaining a high-level of confidence that onboarding will go smoothly and that your vendor will be there to support your success with the selected citizen request management platform over the long term. Mature vendors will employ a customer experience team and provide a proven process to get you up and running quickly, train your administrative personnel and end users, and guide you through branding and configuring the solution to meet your specific needs. Also look for a searchable online knowledge base where answers to common questions can be found, and a robust and responsive ticketing process for situations where additional vendor expertise is needed.

What are the details of the pricing model?

A clear benefit of moving to the cloud is that it avoids any upfront CAPEX spend when municipal budgets are tight, however the SaaS solution that is right for you should result in lower total cost of ownership over the long term. Costs for available citizen request management solutions are highly variable so, first and foremost, look for a service that is priced right for the operating scale of your municipality. Depending on the simplicity of the pricing model, costs may vary based on metrics like user counts, data storage requirements, transaction volumes or number of modules included. As discussed above, your use of the platform could very well expand over time and any potential price increases should be easy to understand and reasonable.

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How to Persuade Employees to Embrace Records & Content Management

Records and Electronic Content Management (RM/ECM) solutions increase effectiveness, efficiency, and compliance with regulations. A big challenge can be to convince employees to actually use the new software. Unfortunately, nearly a third of RM/ECM migrations fail due to a change management issue.

Issues can arise in a number of forms, such as: 

  • Employee fear. Employees may be afraid that they will lose their jobs because the new system will make them redundant. Such employees may be actively hostile to the change and attempt to sabotage the transition; 
  • Employee routine. Some employees may have worked with a paper-based records management system for decades and be very comfortable with it. These employees may be hesitant to change their routine if they believe that they will be unable to work with the new software;
  • Key people averse to change. Even if the majority of employees are willing to change, the transition may not work if key members of the team aren’t. If the team lead or an otherwise respected or admired employee refuses to change, this attitude may spread to other would-be RM/ECM converts as well; 
  • Employers not putting the time in and/or abandoning the project. Managers can be very busy and if they don’t see quick results they may stop pushing for employees to adopt the RM/ECM solution and move on to their next project;
  • No culture shift. Switching to an RM/ECM solution is a big shift, not only in terms of efficiency and effectiveness but also in how employees think of their work. In an RM/ECM system information can be easily shared across departments, eliminating silos. RM/ECM solutions also reduce the need to print information. If employees don’t adopt these new ways of thinking it can be problematic;
  • Non-supportive software vendors. Vendors are often unaccustomed to working with local governments and don’t realize their unique needs. These vendors may be unwilling to shift their policies or customize their software to meet government requirements.

Luckily, Ricoh has over a decade of experience working with local governments and boasts the ability to implement efficient and effective transition processes. We recognize when local governments perform this transition well. One particular municipality who excelled in its transition to RM/ECM was the Township of Springwater, Ontario. Springwater implemented several of our best practices as it: 

  • Created a team including members from different departments who met frequently and discussed desired results. This ensured that the departments could request the functionalities that they needed;
  • Started the transition process from the top down. First they convinced the council to switch over to the new system, then senior management, and so on. This ensured that employees weren’t change-averse due to the attitudes of those above them. Employees could also ask their superiors if they had any questions about the system. As the superiors had received training first, they were able to effectively answer these questions;
  • Maintained open communication. Springwater regularly polled staff to learn of any questions or concerns about the software and allayed any issues. This also involved assuring employees that the RM/ECM solution would make their lives easier and not harder as some of the monotonous tasks they did before could now be automated, allowing them to focus on more important things;
  • Addressed the culture shift resulting from the transition. Springwater’s transition team spoke to each department about their current information silos and how that would change as information became easy to share. The team also spoke to employees who were used to piling paper on their desks and explained to them how the new system would make their lives easier; 
  • Replicated the old filing structure within the new repository so that employees would feel comfortable with working on the electronic records. Springwater also kept the paper records during the beginning of the transition process until employees were sufficiently comfortable with the new system and saw that the paper system provided no benefits; 
  • Arguably most importantly, Springwater decided to work with a knowledgeable RM/ECM vendor – Ricoh! As Ricoh is extremely experienced in working with local governments and creating custom solutions, Springwater received exactly what they needed. Ricoh provided extensive support throughout the transition and ensured that everything was running as requested. 

Effective RM/ECM solutions make employee lives easier and allow them to work faster. However, employees often need to be convinced of this fact. Follow Springwater’s lead and persuade your employees to adopt RM/ECM. We’ll help you do the rest.

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Being aware – situationally aware

Our world has always been in a state of perpetual change. Now more than ever, it is perceived to be doing that at an ever-rapid pace.

Positive changes such as economic growth, and technology advancements to note a couple. Unfortunately, with the positive, comes the negative. A continuous cycle of persons who wish to do harm.

Safety and Security experts inform us that violent events will continue to happen. The violent extremist motivated and driven by an ideology, to the targeting of individuals, place of business, worship, acts of violence that permeate into every vertical, sector of business and government.

Active safety and security programs are continuous reviewed, modified to face existing and the new challenges of tomorrow.

To make your safety and security programs more effective, the program needs ambassadors, staff.

Ambassadors need to be aware. Situationally aware.

Situational awareness training provides your staff with valuable intelligence & time when facing safety and security situations of potential harm or danger.

Being situation aware is truly a change in mindset.

It is a way of thinking that will focus a person’s behaviour, their outlook, and their mental attitude. People that are aware are no longer vulnerable but capable.

Capable individuals are always prepared. Capable individuals are not complacent, they use technology to enhance their preparedness and response and their planning always includes a contingency plan.

Situationally aware staff improve the effectiveness of your safety and security program.

Situationally aware individuals enhance the workplace and enhance their personal safety and security.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance in Situation Awareness training, contact Michael White Group International today, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Michael White Group International is Arcuri Group LLC approved Situation Awareness Specialist Certification Training provider.

 

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Congratulations to the Municipality of Meaford!!

Congratulations to our AccessE11 customer, the Municipality of Meaford for receiving the 2021 CAMA Willis Award for Innovation!

The Municipality of Meaford has received national recognition for its “Report a Concern” AccessE11 Website Portal from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA).  The Municipality was presented with the 2021 CAMA Willis Award for Innovation, in the Under 20,000 population category, during a Virtual Awards of Excellence Ceremony held May 11th.

Meaford identified the need to adopt technology that would integrate and provide a streamlined process in managing citizen requests.  As a result, the municipality partnered with AccessE11 for the implementation of a cost-effective, robust, cloud-based software solution focused on the supporting the municipality’s requirements related to customer management. This is a “lean six sigma” software solution, which is deep-rooted and focused on addressing the needs of the customer first.

 “CAMA is pleased to recognize the Municipality of Meaford for the innovation and best practice being demonstrated by their website portal,” said Jake Rudolph, outgoing president of CAMA and Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Nanaimo, BC.  “Using technology that allows residents to report their concerns online is a great way to enhance limited resources, put the customer first, and gather data for planning purposes.”

Watch the video here

Congratulations Meaford!!

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