The Ontario Regional Government Review and How It Affects You

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

 

Who is Involved?

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

 

What is Being Reviewed?

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

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

 

How Can You Have Your Say?

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

 

When Will Changes Be Seen?

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

 

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

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

What is #BalanceforBetter all about?

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

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

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

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme

How balanced are we now?

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

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

Let’s talk about #3 for a second.

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

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

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

What a girl wants

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our key takeaway from these studies?

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

So where do we start?

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

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

KPMG just told us.

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

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

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

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

  • Curiosity
  • Insight
  • Engagement
  • Determination
  • Inclusiveness

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

Personalize this gift:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personalize this gift: 

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

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

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

Personalize this gift:

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

4. Institute formal mentoring, coaching and support systems

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

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

Personalize the gift:

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

5. Schedule in recognition and celebration

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

Personalize this gift:

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

Don’t forget…

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

As we strive for #BalanceforBetter, everyone benefits.

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Guest Author: Cher Cunningham

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

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

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Video – The Benefits of Lean and Continuous Improvement for Municipalities

 

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

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

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

You can watch the video here.

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

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

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

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

Contact Name: John Whelton, VP North American Operations

Telephone: +1 (416) 637 5074

Email: [email protected]

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

Fax: +1 (647) 748 3722

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

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Hardiness and Resilience: When Giving In Can Give Us a Lift

Resistance versus resiliance

When you experience failure, loss, or a serious setback do you see it as temporary or permanent? Is failure an event or who you are? Is it a learning or crushing experience? Does it traumatize you or become a springboard for growth?

Confucius said, “our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” That’s the thinking behind Japan’s Daruma Doll, a good luck charm with a rounded bottom. When knocked down, it bounces right back upright.

We tend to think of unwavering steadfastness and never-say-die persistence as important leadership qualities. To a point, they are. But resilience in the face of the hurricane-force winds of change is as often about being flexible like a palm tree rather than unbending like an oak.

Like so much of life, it’s about balance. W.C. Fields was on to something about resilience when he quipped, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to let it storm, find shelter, and look for an alternate route to our dream. Maybe it wasn’t even the right dream; we may need to accept what the universe is trying to tell us and reset our destination.

Psychologists Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch contrasted and studied people who are relentless and unbending and people who accept and flex with life’s twists and turns. They found that flexible people were much healthier than their steadfast counterparts. Stress levels were quite a bit lower, and a protein indicating bodily inflammation linked to diabetes and heart disease was much lower. The flexible, resilient group was able to bounce back more effectively from serious defeats, less likely to dwell on the past, set new goals, and get on with their lives.

Professor, social psychologist, and positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, has found,

“resilient people are the ones who bend without breaking and who eventually bounce back from even the most difficult life challenges. Instinctually, they can see some form of light in the darkness they face. In study after study, my collaborators and I find that it is precisely this infusion of positive emotions into negative emotional terrain that drives resilient people to bounce back.”

How we use the F-word (failure) has a major impact on our personal, team, and organizational effectiveness. Failures are inevitable. Suffering is optional.

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For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.

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Position versus Persuasion Power

Joel’s a high IQ manager with strong analytical skills coming from a deep technical background. He hates meetings (“they get in the way of real work”) and resents having to sell changes or get people on side. “I don’t care if they like me,” he’s fond of saying, “I only want their respect and implementation.” He likes nothing better than solving tough technical problems with practical, well-designed solutions. He runs his organization “by the numbers.” He focuses on continuously improving existing processes and technologies. He sets high targets and relentlessly drives everyone to meet them.

Joel’s always the smartest person in the room (at least in his mind). Irrational, emotional behavior drives him nuts. He often dismisses contrary points of view with comments like, “That’s only their perception, that’s not reality.” He then proceeds to prove “reality” with facts, rational arguments, and analysis.

Joel believes that most people see their work as a four-letter word and must be tightly controlled, threatened, or bribed before they’ll work hard enough. He prides himself on being a tough manager who rolls up his sleeves and digs deep into operational details. He exercises tight control with policies, directives, and rules. His mood swings cause the team’s emotional tone to wildly gyrate from high to low with much time being spent figuring out how to read him and avoid his wrath. Joel’s main tools for influencing behavior on his team are threats, punishments, and “shooting down people who haven’t done their homework.”

Denise balances a concern for people (high EQ) with a strong technical background. She realized some time ago that leadership work often happens in meetings. So, she has trained and worked hard at developing her facilitation and team leadership skills.

Denise sees possibilities in people. She believes that people want to take pride in their work and be part of a winning team. She’s learned that motivation or morale problems are often rooted in leaders failing to engage people in the broader ideals of the organization. As more people search for meaning in their lives and in their work, this disconnect creates much of the frustration and lack of purpose found in so many workplaces today. Denise works hard at connecting people to her organization’s vision, values, and purpose. Denise’s high energy and optimistic attitude sets a strong and positive emotional tone throughout her organization. People are inspired to face tough problems with confidence and teamwork.

Denise uses a collaborative approach to partner with people. She sees people as adults who are generally self-managing (with some exceptions). Joel treats them like kids to be managed “with a firm hand” (with some exceptions). Denise cares about people. Joel dehumanizes and objectifies them. Denise uses the power of persuasion (leadership) to get things done. Joel uses position power (management). Denise builds a cause and case for change, appealing to the head and heart to get buy-in. Joel tries to overcome resistance to change with facts and force; like someone traveling in a foreign country who can’t speak the local language, he’ll just talk louder to be understood.

Denise shares as much information as she can and builds strong multi-channel and multi-directional communication loops. Joel gives people information on a need-to-know basis; he only “empowers” people as a motivational technique to manipulate people to do what he wants. Denise partners with people so they feel naturally empowered to reach their mutual goals.

We see plenty of Joel’s — and not nearly enough Denise’s. Their differences are obvious enough.

Whom would you rather work for?
Who is the stronger leader?
Who is likely to get the best results?
Would your team consider you to be most like Joel or Denise?
How do you know…?

 

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For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.

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Blunders managers often encounter when attempting to resolve workplace disputes

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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Succession Planning: From Piecemeal Programs to Integrated Strategy

Succession planning steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boost Customer Service with a Culture That Serves the Servers

Boosting Customer SErvice

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Partner Chain

7 Tips for Co-Creating a Higher Service Culture:

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

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

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Mental Health Problems and the Workplace

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

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

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

 

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

·      Regular late arrivals or often absent

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

·      Lower output

·      Increased mishaps or safety problems

·      Numerous complaints of exhaustion or unexplained pains

·      Difficulty focusing, not being decisive or forgetting things

·      Making apologies for missed deadlines or poor work

·      Decreased attention or involvement in one’s work

·      Working excessive overtime over a prolonged period

·      Expressions of outlandish or grand ideas

·      Displays of irritation or pointing the finger at others

 

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

 

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

 

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

·    Poor communication

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

·    Work overload and work underload

·    Shift work and/or night work

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

·    Short-term contracts

·    Role conflict, uncertainty and changing roles

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

·    Lack of training for managers in communication and people skills

·    Idleness

·    Uncomfortable physical workspace

·    Introduction of new technology, if not planned and gradual

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

·    Work-life imbalance

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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Municipal Elections – Does My Vote Matter?

Municipal Elections – Does My Vote Matter?

The simple answer is yes, your vote does matter. (But that doesn’t make for a very interesting blog, now does it?)

A great advantage about municipal politics is that it’s easier to get to know the candidates on a more personal level than candidates at the provincial or federal level. Outside of major cities, many candidates will be someone you went to high school with or they’re related to a friend of yours, or they’re a local business owner of your favourite shop. For those candidates you are not familiar with, many municipalities “All Candidates’ Meetings”, that provide meet & greet opportunities throughout the campaign. These sessions typically encourage questions and comments. Local media outlets usually profile candidates and their platforms so you can gain a better understanding of who they are and what they stand for. Check your municipalities website, your local newspaper, cable channel and social media.

Candidates generally have an established platform or mandate on which they’ll be campaigning. While you might agree with their thoughts and ideas about that platform, keep in mind that they’ll still be voting on your behalf for any items that come up at council meetings. Be sure that their morals, values, and goals for the future of your municipality are clearly in line with your own. Remember, just because you agree with their platform doesn’t always mean that they share your views on current or potential affairs that will need to be decided upon.

Who you vote on to council will have a direct influence on your municipality, your daily life, your business and your city or town’s long-term goals and strategic plan.

Here are 5 great reasons for you to learn about your local candidates and get out there and vote in the municipal election.

 

  1. Each potential candidate brings something unique to the table. Everyone has particular ideas about how things should be done. They have personal causes they support or want to see come to fruition. Even their motivation to vote a certain way on issues can be something you fully agree with or the reason you’ll never check off their name on the ballot.
  2. Your local government is responsible for affecting much of the health and safety of your daily life. Some of these important issues are: Public transit, keeping streets clean and maintained, local police and fire, community water systems
  3. Municipal decisions include long-term planning for your town/city. Some considerations are: Neighbourhood planning, major road work, sewer systems, annual festivals/events, tourist attractions
  4. Social issues are often dealt with at the municipal level: Where to place shelters to help the homeless, how to keep drugs off the street, how to make the downtown core safe, affordable housing
  5. Local government loves community enrichment projects: Parks, waterfront enhancement, recreation centres, libraries, arts, culture

 

Having your voice heard in the municipal selection process is important. Your vote plays an integral part in shaping your community. I encourage you to get involved in your local politics this year. Get to know the candidates and vote. Who knows, maybe politics will become something you’re passionate about and we’ll even see your name on the ballots four years from now.

 

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.  We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business.

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