5 Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss

Dealing with a bad boss

Bad bosses can be deadly. One 15-year study found that when employees had a difficult relationship with their boss, they were 30% more likely to suffer from heart disease. Perhaps really bad bosses have lower coronary disease because their hearts are seldom used!

If you have ever said, “My boss makes me sick!” you might be right. A British study found that stress induced by a bad boss lowers immune response, and participants were more susceptible to a cold virus.

As with much in life, it’s not what happens to us, but what we do about it. A bad boss might victimize you, but you choose whether to be a victim. Strong leaders don’t wait, they initiate. If you have a bad boss, you can decide that he or she’s not unbearable and live with your situation, fire your boss by leaving, or practice upward leadership with some boss management.

Boss management or leading upward is one of the most popular topics on our website. Recently The Globe & Mail published my column on Five Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss in their Leadership Labs section. I condensed years of writing and coaching on this topic into five steps:

  1. Strengthen your credibility and relationship
  2. Check your timing and approach
  3. Don’t wait, initiate
  4. Speak up
  5. Fire a bully boss

Click here to read the column for a brief description of each step.

A reporter once asked the Dalai Lama why he didn’t hate the Chinese Communists. Now they have some bad bosses! The Dalai Lama replied, “They have taken over Tibet, destroyed our temples, burned our sacred texts, ruined our communities, and taken away our freedom. They have taken so much. Why should I let them also take my peace of mind?”

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Thinking about thinking….

Daily we are required to make decisions, recall facts, and balance risks, whether at work or at home.

All of this requires considerable thinking yet we don’t really pay much attention to how we do that. Is it because its so easy or because it is so hard????

Let’s explore….

If we were to ask a friend or colleague “What is capital of France?” most will quickly come up with the right answer. Paris, of course. Easy question and not a lot of effort goes into finding the answer. The same goes if I were to ask you to spot the pattern in this series of numbers 122333….?? Yes, you got it. 4444.

But what if you were asked to come up with the answer to 15 x 24 without using your phone/calculator? If you are like most people, this question requires you to pause and think hard. If you were good at math in school you might be able to recall a shortcut or you just might have to get out pen/paper and figure it out the old-fashioned way. Unless you are a math superstar, it will be difficult to come up with the answer quickly but, given time, we can all do it.  The answer btw is 360.

If you consider yourself in the top 1% in terms of math abilities and are still feeling comfortable, here is my favourite math challenge of all time:

·       A bat and ball cost $1.10 to purchase

·       The bat costs one dollar more than the ball,

·       How much does the ball cost?

Allow me to keep you in suspense as you mull that one over. The answer is at the bottom of the page.

What these mind exercises illustrate is something that Daniel Kahneman refers to as “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, which happens to be the name of his best-selling book from 2011. Kahneman, who is now in his mid-80’s, is acknowledged to be the father of the field of behavioural economics. As a trained psychologist, and proudly not an economist, he has always been considered an iconoclast in his field of study. Along with his now deceased partner, Amos Tversky, he has spent a lifetime studying and gaining insight into how the human mind behaves.

As a result of their ground-breaking studies, Kahneman and Tversky came to realize that there are actually two systems at play in our brains which affect our reasoning, judgement and decision making:        

·       System 1 operates automatically in the background at all times. It is quick and intuitive requiring little or no effort to come up with an answer. System 1 allows us to answer “Paris” to the question about the capital of France. When we use this system to think we are looking for patterns and meaning from the information at hand. Consequently, it is prone to mistakes. We can easily make judgment errors and fall victim to bias and are generally unaware of these errors when they happen.

·       System 2 kicks in when System 1 can’t provide the answer, like in the example of 15 x 24. This type of thinking is necessarily slow and deliberative. It requires great effort and we have to pay careful attention. It works best when it tests and checks results from System 1. It too can be prone to errors if we become distracted and lose our focus on the task at hand.

As someone who has spent their career helping colleagues make important procurement decisions there is much we can learn from Kahneman and the study of the human mind.  How often have we seen rushed evaluations and distracted evaluators lead to the wrong contractor being selected and poor project outcomes?

That is not to say that evaluations need to be dragged out unnecessarily. The use of enabling technology and more effective evaluation methods can make a huge impact and result in better overall outcomes, while still being completed in a timely manner. I advocate for drafting more effective and efficient evaluation schemes. On your next RFP, consider asking suppliers to respond in a structured manner to avoid having evaluators engage in an endless cycle of page flipping as they seek to find the pertinent information.  Try using enhanced consensus scoring where you focus only on the differences in scoring that exceed a pre-determined variance. We often spend too much time debating the merits of a 6 vs 7 and too little time trying to reconcile significant differences of opinion. Finally, spend the time to adequately prepare and train evaluators, even those who have previous experience. Awareness of how the mind operates and the pitfalls to avoid can go a long way towards a better outcome.    

In closing, here are my top advice tips to evaluators:

·       Be prepared to invest the time necessary to the task

·       Don’t rely on your fellow evaluators to bail you out

·       Slow down your thinking and avoid the rush to judgment

·       Pay attention to the details

·       Use critical thinking

·       Be respectful of other viewpoints during consensus meetings

·       Be aware of your biases – everyone has them

 

·       When relying solely on intuition, pause and use slow thinking to check/recheck the result

The ball costs $0.05

https://www.wayfinderconsultinginc.com/

 

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Are You Doing it…To…For…or…With…Your Team?

Are you manipulating your team

Many studies have shown the impact that control of our situation has on our health, happiness, and effectiveness. In one experiment a white-footed deer mouse was placed in a brightly lit cage. The mouse could press a bar to alter the light. The mouse reduced the lighting to a dim level. The next morning experimenters set the lights to dim. The mouse immediately stepped up the lighting to bright. The mouse didn’t seem to care about its level of lighting. The critical issue was having control.

Another autonomy and control experiment was in a nursing home. One floor of residents were allowed to rearrange their room layout, schedule their time, and given a plant to keep and look after. Another floor or residents were told about all the good things being done for them. The staff arranged their room, scheduled their time, and gave them a plant that the nurse looked after. Eighteen months later, the residents on the floor with more control were more active and healthier than their controlled peers. Only 15 percent on the control floor died compared to 30 percent on the other floor.

Countless organizational studies show that autonomy, participation, “having some say,” and a modicum of control in the workplace are vital to employee engagement. Here are a few ways you can engage your work teams:

  • Develop a regular Listen-Feedback-Action process. This generally starts with a survey or third party interviews or focus groups. The outside company then prepares a summary report. This is reported back to everyone in the organization for feedback, clarification, priority-setting, and action planning. Broader organizational issues are identified, and actions set for implementing those changes. This is reported back to everyone and part of an ongoing process.
  • Coach team members to enrich their jobs and align their personal strengths, passions, and organizational or job needs.
  • Engage frontline service providers in a systematic process of identifying changing customer expectations against your team or organization’s performance. Get their help in analyzing trends and planning to meet those shifting needs.
  • Hold regular breakfasts (“muffins with management”), lunches, and celebration dinners with frontline teams. Take this time to ask for feedback, concerns, and suggestions. A simple question such as: “What’s the dumbest thing we do around here?” can produce powerful insights and engage people in resolving the issues raised.
  • Keep highly visible scoreboards, big thermometers (like a fundraising campaign), bulletin boards, web sites, blog/Twitter posts, newsletters, and the like to update everyone on your progress toward key goals or change and improvement targets. Make goals/targets and progress as visible as possible.
  • To get partnering behavior, treat everyone like partners. Share financial and other “confidential” information openly so everyone can see how his or her efforts contribute.
  • Ask frontline service providers what systems and processes would better help them serve your customers. Get their involvement in prioritizing the areas to be changed and improving them.
  • Send personal thank you notes (on real notepaper, not by e-mail); make detours to offer a verbal “thanks again,” and make lots of supportive phone calls.
  • Use focus groups (a cross-section of frontline staff) to test new management directions before making grand announcements to everyone. Even if you press on against the advice of the focus groups, you’ll have deeper insight on how to face the issues the new direction may raise.
  • Promote those people who are exemplary leaders. Use 360 feedback and other input from a variety of people to get a profile on their leadership effectiveness. Promotions send the clearest signals about the true culture of an organization. Are you promoting your cultural standard barriers?

Resistance to change often frustrates managers. But most of us enjoy change — especially for the better. What we resist is being changed. Effective leaders “do it with” their team or organization rather than doing it to or for them.

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The Mediocre Leader – Pt.3

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.

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about how odd it is that we practice our leadership skills on those we lead. Unlike other high-skill professions (surgeons, speakers, pilots, musicians, etc.) that are practiced off-line, our expectations of our leaders are apparently so low that we allow them to practice while performing.

Is an Effective Leader Simply a Well-Practiced Leader?

Before I get completely hung up on the idea that a significant quantity of deliberate practice is all that’s required to make me an awesome leader, I am forced to consider that there is much debate around Ericsson’s work. The debate doesn’t challenge the value of deliberate practice, or even the 10,000-hour marker. Rather, it suggests that inherent, non-trainable traits differentiate the best from the rest – such as height and bone structure in sports.

This debate makes sense to me, and completely I agree that effective leadership requires more than just deliberate practice. However, unlike height and bone structure, the traits that differentiate the best leaders from average leaders ARE trainable. In my experience, these differentiators are a leader’s principles – the leader’s beliefs about herself, about others, and about how things operate in world at large.

Much has been published regarding leadership principles by Ray Dalio, John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, Brené Brown and many others. Desiring to improve their “leadership game”, many leaders (including me) voraciously consume this literature. We learn from, and are second-hand mentored by, these strongly-principled leaders, and we slowly change our bone structure – our differentiating traits.

Principled and Practiced

But, to be effective, a leader must be both principled and practiced. And while I’m very much looking forward to my next shipment of principle-focused books from Amazon, I just can’t help but be disappointed with my lack of attention to deliberate practice.

To create opportunities for deliberate practice of leadership skills, LevellingUp was formed.  At Levelling Up, we help growing leaders quickly become exceptional leaders by connecting them with expert mentors & coaches.

Visit us at www.LevellingUp.ca

The experts you want.  The skills you need.

 

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Smiling is Contagious. Try it!

It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.

Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!

Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.

Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.

Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.

  • Be enthusiastic – people love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious and draws others to you like a magnet.
  • Associate with positive people – if you want to stay positive, stay away from people that drag you down. Associate yourself around like-minded people.
  • Smile – smiling makes it all better. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which are known as the feel-good hormones. It is a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when you feel good!
  • Change your thoughts – positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to an adverse reaction.
  • Stop complaining – limit your complaints. Whining and griping about anything and everything will not create a positive attitude. When you are complaining, you are spreading negativity.

·        If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.

Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.

Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:

  • By smiling, we can reduce the level of stress hormones. Smiling helps us to increase the number of antibody-producing cells and improve the effectiveness of other cells.
  • Smiling is good for our general health. Smiling 100 times is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or cycling in fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes we just want to laugh or cry. That means you want to release all the pent feelings in your head, making you feel both physically and mentally better. So to reduce anxiety smile often, even when you are not happy. Smiling at others will, in turn, help them be happy.
  • Smiling can take you from being angry, stressed, feeling guilty, and negative to putting you in a more favourable frame of mind. Smiling will make you change yourself and improve the attitudes and thinking to other people to the better.
  • When people can view an event that may be frightening as funny, they may be able to feel more content and see the events occurred just merely as a “challenge” in life, rather than a threat.

There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.

They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.

According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.

A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.

So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.

Stay great and healthy.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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The Mediocre Leader – Pt.2

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.

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about how odd it is that we practice our leadership skills on those we lead. Unlike other high-skill professions (surgeons, speakers, pilots, musicians, etc.) that are practiced off-line, our expectations of our leaders are apparently so low that we allow them to practice while performing.

Not all Practice is Good Practice

In his groundbreaking 1993 paper “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”, cognitive psychologist Anders Ericsson explains “many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of [deliberate] practice”.

According to Ericsson, deliberate practice includes:

“A constant sense of self-evaluation, of focusing on one’s weaknesses, rather than simply fooling around and playing to one’s strengths. Studies show that practice aimed at remedying weaknesses is a better predictor of expertise than raw number of hours; playing for fun and repeating what you already know is not necessarily the same as efficiently reaching a new level. Most of the practicing that most people do, most of the time… yields almost no effect.”

You may have heard about Daniel Letiv and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule – that a key prerequisite to mastery in any skill domain is 10,000 hours of practice. I quote Letiv contemplating that the 10,000-hour rule “doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do”. Not only does Ericsson answer this with “deliberate practice”, but his research also lands on the 10,000-hour figure as a pre-requisite for mastery.

If 10,000 hours (or 5 years of 8 hours of practice 5 days a week) scares the pants off you, it has been established that 10,000 hours is insufficient in the most highly competitive fields such as the Olympics. Performances that were record-setting twenty years ago are now achieved in training by many competitive athletes! Or, maybe looking at this from a more reassuring angle, in pursuits where the bar is set low (like leadership?), significantly fewer than 10,000 hours are required to become outstanding. After all, the U.S. had 1 Olympic athlete in Rio for every 583,213 Americans – as compared to 1 people manager for every 4.7 employees.

As a musician and an athlete, I willingly adopt the discipline of focusing on weaknesses, and that (as Ericsson puts it) getting better “requires effort and is not inherently enjoyable”. However, in the realm of leadership, I don’t think I’ve ever invested in any deliberate, effort-laden, not-inherently-enjoyable practice. Given that I spend WAY more time leading people than I do in athletic competition and/or music performance, I profess this lack of investment doesn’t make sense.

Sure, I’ve spent over fifteen years – or 30,000 hours – of my career in positions of formal leadership and am therefore “highly experienced”. However, I grudgingly admit most of these practice hours match Ericsson’s description of “playing for fun and repeating what you already know” and will therefore “yield almost no effect”.

 

But practice obviously isn’t the only thing that allows leaders to achieve mastery – and we will talk more about that in part three of this series.

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

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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]

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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          

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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]

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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

 

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