Tips to Run a Successful In-Person Meeting

Over the last two years, many of us had to learn how to connect differently than we were used to. Instead of putting on our best suit, we’re still in our jammies from the waist down. Instead of shaking hands we’re pushing unmute.

Slowly but surely, the world is beginning to open back up. Where it’s safe to do so, many meetings are returning to an in-person format. Since we’ve all become accustomed to doing things virtually, it may take a little time and effort to get back into the swing of the face-to-face meetings. Here are a few tips to help make your meetings run as smoothly as possible.

Set the Agenda:

Municipalities know this, but meetings always run more efficiently when there is an agenda to follow. Having a clear agenda helps set the expectations. If the conversation starts going off track, you can always point back to the agenda items to steer things in the right direction. Setting out estimated times each agenda item should take for discussion, will also help provide direction and keep folks on track.

Start on Time. End on Time.

While it may seem polite to wait for some late arrivals to join, there’s a bigger downside to holding off until everyone is in the room. First and foremost, this sets a bad precedent. Accommodating the latecomers shows the others that arrival times are lax. This can spiral out of control quickly. Secondly, the attendees who’ve prioritized arriving on time are now feeling frustrated that their time isn’t being seen as valuable.

Set Ground Rules:

Having a few basic ground rules around meeting etiquette can help provide great flow in your meeting. Some solid rules, or expectations, can be something simple like; participate, get focus, maintain momentum, and reach closure. If you list these rules at the top of your agenda, both new and returning attendees will understand the direction of the meeting.

End with an Action Plan:

We’ve all been in meetings where the conversation seems to go around in circles without resolving anything. It’s important to establish a plan of action for the agenda items that need follow-up. Assigning certain people to particular tasks and plotting out a course of accountability will ensure that your meetings have purpose and value to all of those involved. We’ve conducted meetings by video teleconference for so long, (and honestly, we’ve become pretty good at them), it will be an adjustment for everyone to start attending again in person. But a well-organized meeting, and Chairperson with good leadership skills, will get us all back
in the swing of things soon.

Oh, and one more thing – dig out that suit again. Things may have changed over the last couple of years, but it’s still not considered socially acceptable to wear pajama bottoms to an in-person meeting.


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  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 and

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, & Shaping Organizational Solutions (SOS)

[email protected]  Phone: 855.477.5095


Podcast Interview with Ripple Analytics

Do you dread conducting annual employee reviews?

Ripple is a platform for providing quick, anonymous team member evaluations. By rating colleagues based on the Big 5 Personality Traits, Ripple turns objective feedback into actionable information.

CEO, Noah L. Pusey, brings a unique perspective to growing Ripple, drawn from nearly two decades of experience establishing and building law firms in New York City.  He has counseled and advised individual and corporate clients in various practice areas including business development, growth strategy and general transactional matters.

Noah has firsthand knowledge of the flawed employee review systems used by many companies – having participated in hundreds of annual evaluations over the years, so he has set out to change they way they’re done!

Listen to this podcast to learn more:


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.



What Post Pandemic Leadership Will Look Like For Canada

By: Kartik Kumar

National Practice Leader, Municipal Government and Broader Public Sectors.

The past year has been incredibly volatile across all industries. While some industries remained steady and stable, others suffered significantly. As we begin to emerge into a post-pandemic way of life, new beginnings will always call for new leadership and new perspectives. 2020 has required an incredibly unique set of leadership skills that were constantly challenged month after month with scandals, social justice issues, quarantine and climate change to name a few.

As restrictions begin to loosen with more and more Canadians being vaccinated, there are several critical leadership qualities and competencies that will serve leaders well in the public sector for a steady, safe and final reopening across Canada. Below are some of the leadership qualities I foresee as essential for leaders to transition public sector services and organizations into a post-pandemic life. 

9 Critical Skills Leaders Will Need Post-Pandemic.

Strong Digital Communicators. As we saw throughout the pandemic, timely and factual information must be distributed to reach large audiences very quickly. Future leaders will need a balance of skills to understand how to best leverage communication platforms and tools such as tweeting and texting for urgent public alerts.

Adaptability. As workforces begin to return to the office, new leaders will need to be adaptable and encourage a hybrid model of remote and in-person work. Future leaders will need to embrace this and shift the cultural perspective to value productivity over physical presence in an office. Most employees and teams understand the best ways they work and future leaders will have to flex and accommodate accordingly while keeping an eye on productivity. 

Digital Transformation Champions. As workforces went fully remote for over a year, many organizations were blind-sided by this drastic shift putting an immense strain on technology and resources. This unexpected transition to entirely digital delivery for services, meetings, events and more will remain with us even after the pandemic subsides. Future leaders will need to champion and continue to support a hybrid model for digital and in-person services to their communities and citizens even post-pandemic.

Transparency and Trust. As we saw with scandals, social justice issues and even vaccination delays creeping into 2021, trust was fractured across the economy and Canada. Effective post-pandemic leaders will need to be transparent in order to build confidence and trust back up within governments, municipalities, public services and more in order to move past the severe impacts of COVID-19. 

Tenacity, Courage And Resilience. Many difficult decisions were made in 2020 that riddled industries including the public and private sector. In order for municipalities to recover from these hardships in the long-term, leaders will need to be bold, tenacious and resilient. Future leaders will need to redefine their strategic direction and vision after a year of diversion, delays and disruption, and take these skill sets with them into post-pandemic planning. 

Motivation And Influence. As we discussed earlier, trust and transparency will be critical to instill a renewed faith in governments and Canada’s economy. As we emerge into a more familiar way of life, strong leaders will need to motivate and influence communities to impart a feeling of safety for restarting the economy again. By providing an initial assurance of comfort and trust through transparency, strong leaders will then be tasked with pursuing this momentum and convincing communities that the end of the pandemic has arrived through influence. 

Empathy. Even beyond catastrophic pandemic times, strong leaders must always remain empathetic for their teams and communities. In order to be successful, strong post-pandemic leaders must remain steadfastly empathetic and recognize the individuals and stakeholders that were essential to survival over the past 14 months. In addition, effective future leaders must be mindful and recognize the impact COVID-19 has and will continue to have on society’s mental health. By remaining vigilant to these risks and possible side effects, leaders will be able to better support the well-being of their teams and their communities across Canada.

Collaboration And Partnership. The pandemic has shown us the true benefits of collaboration and information sharing. Future leaders will need to heavily rely on partnership for building a new future together. Within the last year, there were key strategies and projects that worked well and others that were less successful. More often than not, collaboration and partnership attributed to Canada’s success during a time of volatility and future leaders will need to continue building upon these relationships through collaboration. 

Innovation And Flexibility. Many municipalities, local governments and even libraries depended upon innovation to help them adapt to chaotic and unprecedented times. Post-pandemic leaders will need to lean heavily into innovation which will in turn demand flexibility. Whether leaders are tasked with finding alternative revenue streams, incentivizing workforces to return to the office or even accelerating new businesses to open and return to urban areas, creative thinking and flexibility will be a critical skill to set these initiatives in motion and course correct the future for Canada’s economy.

During the pandemic many people and communities fled cities to suburban areas for more space and a better work life balance offered by remote working. As a result, these smaller non-urban satellite “Zoom Towns” needed to adapt quickly as residency increased and their micro economies grew. Below is one such example of a small municipality that met this challenge head on, and relied heavily on their innovative leaders and agile teams to plan and prepare for this.

Modernizing For Urban Lifestyle Through Innovative Leadership

As the pandemic subsides, the question arises for those that fled urban centers in search of more space and whether or not they will remain or return to the larger cities? Some will undoubtedly return to urban life, however, others have found a renewed appreciation for life outside of the city, such as the Town of Innisfil. A recent article discussed the innovative ways that the small urban satellite Town of Innisfil, located 45 minutes outside of Toronto with a population of ~37,000, is reinventing itself through a highly nimble and flexible approach to economic development. 

Today, the Town of Innisfill is challenging the status quo and applying learnings from their larger, more urban counterparts, allowing the Town to scale quickly and innovate quite literally from the ground up. The Town of Innisfil is taking new measures for transformative city planning, public transit and more with its sights set on becoming a central GovTech hub for Canada. 

Within the article, Dan Taylor, Economic Development Catalyst for the Town of Innisfil said, “The reason we’re able to be quite innovative is we’re small and nimble. Our senior administration and council are fairly closely aligned. So we have great thinking in our leadership — both politically and administratively”. Taylor continued to add, “…Our Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) said, when we do economic development, we want to be an accelerator. We don’t want to just be a facilitator. We want to put our foot on the gas and really play a different role”.

In order to keep their small community thriving post-pandemic they’ve decided to innovate in a few different ways including:

  • Offering economic incentives for GovTech start-ups to relocate offices and establish headquarters in the Town of Innisfil away from the larger city centers, allowing talent to remain local and drive innovation centrally. 
  • Planning and building an urban environment zoned using concentric circles for streets and avenues. By building the infrastructure of a modern city-within-a-town, referred to as “The Orbit”, the Town of Innisfil will offer residents the benefits of city dwelling without overdevelopment and losing the intimate feeling of the Town.
  • Piloting Uber as the Town’s main official form of public transit. This on-demand format of public transit reduces costs and increases efficiency as demand increases or subsides. By leveraging an existing platform through partnership and collaboration, the Town of Innisfil was able to plan and create a new mass transit system with little infrastructure investment.
  • Accepting cryptocurrencies for residents to pay taxes. The Town of Innisfil has begun accepting digital cryptocurrencies from residents to pay for taxes. 
  • Planning a new rail transit to connect the Town of Innisfil directly with the neighboring city of Toronto to offer streamlined commuter options and increase connectivity to the larger central Canadian hub. 

The Town of Innisfil was able to innovate and set these strategic plans in place as a result of their leadership. Instead of taking the traditional approaches to economic expansion and development, senior leadership within the public sector saw an incredible opportunity for true innovation and sought out creative solutions. As an entire collective municipality, the Town of Innisfil has resources readily available to drive these fresh, new and innovative programs. However, even on a much smaller scale, innovation knows no boundaries.

Innovation Within Canada’s Public Libraries For Today And Tomorrow

Another example of innovation on a much smaller scale, are the many ways in which leaders across Canada’s public libraries transformed, adapted and innovated as they were forced from a primarily in-person model to an entirely digital resource and online service. 

In a recent interview, Vickery Bowles of the Toronto Public Library system, mentioned the ways in which the Toronto Public Library had to innovate and adjust as the pandemic thrust both the private and public sector into a digital transformation spiral. 

Within the interview, Bowles commented on how the library was able to adapt. “The transition to the online environment was critical for people to give them the opportunity and to make these connections”. Bowles added, “Through a lot of innovative thinking, hard work and dedication on behalf of our staff, we dropped everything and we just focused on what we needed to do as a result of being closed and rethink how we deliver our services”.

Some of the small yet innovative ways that leadership within the Toronto Public library system met these challenges included:

Developing and Delivering Programs Virtually. Through webinar and video platform technology adoption, the Toronto Public Library was able to work with their team members to innovate, launch and deliver over 550 programs to over 40,000 attendees in under 6 months. These programs ranged from children’s story hours to yoga for young adults. 

Curbside Pick Up And Drop Off. To keep book services available to communities while reducing the risk and spread of COVID-19, Toronto Public Libraries allowed for members to reserve items virtually and collect items in-person from a safe distance.

Waiving Late Fees. Libraries began waiving late fees due to quarantine guidelines and restrictions set in place at the beginning of the pandemic. Interestingly enough, the Library discovered that late fees were acting as a barrier to access for lower income families and members. By eliminating late fees, Toronto Public Library usage has increased across these communities – a core mission of the Public Library.

Strengthened Digital and Municipal Partnerships. By partnering with eBook platforms and offering a digital reader option to members, library membership increased during COVID-19 as individuals sought out alternative ways to engage their minds at home. Additionally, Toronto Public Library later partnered with food banks to offer their physical library branch spaces to them for delivering food services to the shared communities that both the Library and food banks serve.

Providing Equitable Internet Access For All. Some Toronto Public Library members depend heavily upon the availability of technology and internet access to participate in government programs, online education, etc. To continue providing these members equitable access and remain connected, Toronto Public Libraries innovatively developed internet connectivity kits that include a laptop, WiFi hotspot and laptop bag. These kits were designed to deliver these resource rich services all from the safety of a member’s own home. 

Many of these new digital services and methods for the Toronto Public Library will remain ongoing post-pandemic due to their success. As a result of these innovative and flexible approaches, library membership has increased during the pandemic. 

As we have seen, innovation and flexibility will remain top of mind as a core leadership skill set in our post-pandemic society. However, municipalities and public sector organizations will be challenged with identifying the best leaders and candidates that have cultivated and align with these leadership attributes.

Innovation, Diversity And Inclusion. 

Diversity and Inclusion has been a common thread and discussion point for many leadership teams across the public sector for over a decade at this point. New ways of adapting and growing will require fresh and new perspectives at the leadership level. 

Oftentimes innovative leadership qualities are found within diversity candidates that can challenge the status quo to effectively impact change across the organization and 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, the biggest challenge that the public sector faces when it comes to finding and appointing diversity talent at the leadership level includes:

  • Access To Diversity Candidates
  • Diversity Mandates Representation
  • Elevating Inclusion To Allow Diversity To Flourish

Access To Diversity Candidates

Many municipalities 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 to help identify, appoint and present the most qualified and capable diversity candidates for leadership roles. For example, in the past year, I’ve worked with several public sector organizations and municipalities to identify, hire and onboard several strong female leaders across Canada.

Diversity Mandates Representation

One element of diversity that some organizations fall victim to is the pressure to hire a diversity candidate as a check list item to appease public demand and stakeholders for visibility reasons. I’ve worked with many clients in my career as an executive search consultant, and the key to hiring a diversity candidate that can provide the best value to the community is the simple concept of representation. 

I often challenge clients, counselors and hiring committees that request a diverse slate of candidates to examine what diversity looks like within their community internally and demographically. Sometimes the personification and perception of diversity by selection committees may not always align with the true values and representation of the communities they will be serving – this is critical when considering a diversity hire at the leadership level. 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. 

Elevating Inclusion To Allow Diversity To Flourish

The other caveat that municipalities and public sector organizations overlook when hiring a diversity candidate is the necessary inclusivity training and acceptance of new and different perspectives by other senior leaders. Inclusivity programs allow for the broader leadership team to adopt and best leverage new perspectives offered 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 work together and support one another. As a result, this awareness and inclusivity will increase collaboration and knowledge sharing and trickle down through the organization to more junior teams. As this cultural shift slowly takes place, success can be measured by the amount of diversity talent attracted to the organization, thus building an internal diversity talent pipeline for the future.

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 Kumar at [email protected] for Senior Leadership Recruitment within the Public Sector across Canada. 


Are you a Winner or a Learner?

It seems to me that most of us are happy to just be agreeable when it comes to our perspective about how the world works. As individuals we find some sense of mental peace knowing that we think like the rest of a group.  

But I’ve always looked at things differently.  Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong.  And when I am wrong, I’m never afraid to admit it.  I forgive myself and accept it as a learning experience.

As Lionel Ritchie recently told a contestant on American Idol, “When you win, you win.  When you lose, you learn.” 

It’s one thing to allow yourself this flexibility, but as a Manager or Leader do you extend this same flexibility to your team’s innovative ideas?   And, perhaps more importantly, if an idea fails, do you offer the same “forgiveness” for your team as you would for yourself?

Continue reading


$31 million Canada Healthy Community Initiative – open for proposals

The Government of Canada announced that the Community Foundations of Canada with the Canadian Urban Institute are open to receive and review your proposal for access to $31 million under the Healthy Communities Initiative.


I attended the Canada Healthy Community Initiative launch webinar February 9 and reviewed the applicant guide which is focused on the increased recognition of social and digital infrastructure that contributes to healthy community outcomes. The applicant guide makes it easy to understand if your organization can apply.


The projects eligible for funding need to serve the public or a community disproportionately impacted by Covid19 and fall within three healthy community initiative themes, one of them being community projects that use innovative data and technology solutions to connect people and support healthy communities. Community projects that use digital technologies and solutions to encourage citizen engagement, use open data, online platforms or physical digital devices for public benefit.

All budget items must be project related and expenses occur between April 1 2020 and June 30 2022. Details on how anticipated expenses are outlined in the budget are included in the applicant guide.

You need to demonstrate community engagement. Planned continued engagement with the community to receive feedback on the project may also demonstrate the role of the community in delivering the project. Your team can also elaborate on your equity approach and principles for the project and how it relates to community outreach and feedback.

All projects focusing on the theme of digital solutions and any project that handles public data should demonstrate best practices of digital design and responsible data management. The good news for you and your organization is that Athena Software meets the needs for inclusive design and data management.


Athena can provide details on data management considerations including:

Collection – who can collect the data

Access – who can access the data

Use – Who can use the data

Openness – What data is attributed to an individual

Compliance – PIPEDA

Minimum funding is $5000. Maximum funding is $250,000


All budget items must be project related and incurred April 1 2020 to June 30 2022. The government provided a budget template in excel. We created a proposal for the Canada Healthy Community Initiative and integrated it with the budget template to help give you a head start on filling out the form. Let me know if you are interested in the proposal and excel budget template and we will send you the forms to begin the process.


The first round of funding opened February 9 2021 and will close March 9 2021 5 PM PST. Review committees begin making decisions March 10. All applicants will receive results by April 30 2021.

The second round of funding opens May 14 2021 9:00 AM AST and closes June 25 2021 at 5 PM PST. Applicants that did not receive funding in round one can apply for funding in round two. Review committees begin making decisions June 26. All applicants will receive results by August 13 2021.


You will need to check which region your project is in before you apply with the link to the map in the application guide. You will also identify the amount you are applying for. Any project over $100,000 will be reviewed at the national level.


Your application will be evaluated with many others in each community. Your application must meet the basic eligibility criteria including project rationale, community engagement, outcomes, project implementation and readiness fulfilling all of the following criteria:


  • Submitted by an eligible organization, and provides documentation
  • Responds to needs arising from COVID-19
  • Creates or adapts public spaces, or programming or services for public spaces in the public interest
  • Demonstrates consideration of and connections within the community
  • Serves the general public or a community disproportionately impacted by COVID-19
  • Falls within the Healthy Communities Initiative theme(s)
  • Submitted with a complete budget
  • Is requesting between $5,000 and $250,000
  • Incurs expenses between April 1 2020 to June 30 2022

Please join me March 5 at 1 PM EST for a hands-on webinar as we share ideas from communities that use Penelope to assist those most affected by Covid 19 and review proposals for new and current agencies using Penelope. You can find the registration page on our Athena web site. Hope to see you there. If you have questions before then call or email. Until then stay safe. We will see you soon.


The Management Trilogy

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, managers have been hard-pressed to pivot to a virtual style of leading their teams. Even where the work of their teams does not lend itself to ‘work at home’ strategies, nevertheless a greater reliance on the use of virtual tools has emerged. So how are you doing with that?

Managers have to provide leadership for their teams across three domains. We call this The Management Trilogy, consisting of three overlapping areas:

Daily Management is a set of management processes whereby you and your team control and improve your mission-critical processes and cultivate your team values. This is where you, as a manager, LEAD WITH VALUES.

Crisis Management is a set of management processes whereby you and your team plan for, deal with and manage the aftermath of disruptive and unexpected events. These events threaten to harm the organization, its staff, customers and stakeholders, and the communities it serves. This is where you, as a manager, LEAD WITH VALOR.

Strategic Management is a set of management processes whereby you and your team plan for, move towards, and create your future. This is where you, as a manager, LEAD WITH VISION.

Of course, it’s rarely as simple as that. Whilst engaging in Daily Management, you can be hit with a crisis or indeed crises, such as Covid-19 and more. And at the same time, your team’s vision of a desirable future gets shelved until things ‘get back to normal’, whatever that is! And you have to manage all of this virtually!

It’s simple, but not easy. Here are a few tips to help you navigate these challenges:

TIP #!: Know yourself – in the intersection of these three domains, you will experience many different emotions. Managing your emotions will be key, as will leading with values. Knowing your personal and professional values will create a strong foundation for helping others understand their emotions and values.

Tip #2: Know your team members – Understanding what motivates your team members, and how they deal with the pressures and conflicts that arise between you, they and other team members will be crucial to maintaining a balanced and cohesive team.

Tip #3: Know your manager – Understanding your manager and their stressors will go a long way towards creating a strong working relationship between the two of you, which will stand you in good stead when you need your manager’s support.

If you would like to learn more about The Management Trilogy and the tools and techniques you can utilize virtually to achieve success, contact me at [email protected] or by calling 1-877-432-8182 (local in Edmonton 780-432-8182).

Brian Ward,

CEO, Affinity Consulting and Training




Feedback is the key to Engagement

We live and work in an age where feedback is necessary to secure employee engagement.  Study after study demonstrate up to 68% of the American workforce is disengaged.  Approximately 50% are unengaged and an incredible 17% are actively disengaged.[1]   Yikes.

Disengagement means lower levels of productivity, less revenue and higher incidents of weaker culture.  As noted by Gallup: Organizations with higher rates of “…engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability.”[2]

Disengagement is an illness that spreads rapidly when tolerated or left unaddressed. 

Why?  Several reasons:

1.   People that “pick up the slack” and generate the work product compensating for the lack of production by the disengaged feel underappreciated.  These employees are, essentially, punished for others being disengaged.  Employees who make up for the productivity of their disengaged colleagues eventually get frustrated and, not altogether unsurprisingly, tend to leave their employer.  Losing disengaged people is one thing, losing hard-working, go-getters is unacceptable for any organization;

2.   Disengaged employees are permitted to continue such disengagement – thus, repeating a vicious cycle where such behavior is encouraged if not altogether promoted.  Obviously, no organization wants to see this happen and yet it does. (As discussed above, such behavior requires the engaged workforce to over-work and drives up rates of attrition); and

3.   Management and ownership experience increasing levels of frustration, anxiety and concern over lower productivity, less revenue and higher levels of attrition.  81% of companies report turnover is a “costly problem” and 63% say retaining employees is actually more difficult than hiring people.[3]

How can ownership stem the tide?  How does an organization encourage and develop engagement?

One, simple word.

Feedback.  Gather feedback.  Analyze feedback.  Appreciate feedback.  Employ feedback to make more effective and objective decisions.

Feedback falls into three general categories – positive, negative and somewhere in between (often referred to as “constructive criticism”).  Management and ownership might not like all the feedback (especially the negative) received, but the process of gathering, analyzing and utilizing feedback helps strengthen culture within the workplace and improve rates of engagement.

A word of caution – if an organization is going through the valuable exercise of gathering meaningful feedback from their people, the organization must use it.  It is also important to gather enough feedback to make it statistically relevant (no need to act immediately after first gathering feedback).  When trends are identified in a given employee’s conduct and interaction with, or net impact on, others on a team or organization-wide level, action must be taken by management.

For an organization to preach the importance of feedback, stress participation in gathering feedback and then do nothing with the data collected can be more damaging than not caring about feedback at all.

Gathering and using feedback effectively can change the face of any organization.  Ripple Analytics Inc. is a cloud-based platform that empowers companies to gather and analyze feedback from their people.  Check us out at  Give us a try!


Why we are qualified to write the blog:   Noah L. Pusey – [email protected] – is the President & CEO of Ripple Analytics Inc.   For over twenty (20) years, Noah has been building teams and developing employees at various companies.  As a result, he has participated in corporate America’s flawed annual review process and has set out to fix it.  He knows what works, what doesn’t and why.  See more about Ripple at


Covid-19 Increases HungerCount


The Covid-19 economy has reduced quality of life for many impacted by the pandemic. Individuals struggling with food security and mental health will increase. Innovative digital solutions can help collect data and apply data science to provide guidance on how best to manage the crisis with the resources in your community using proactive strategies that cost less and deliver better outcomes.

The Institute for Smarter Government can show you how.

Food Banks Canada monitors hunger across Canada each year with data collected from 4,934 organizations. There were over 1 million visits to Canadian foodbanks in 2019 delivering over 5.5 million meals. This was an increase of 47% over 2018. The pandemic will accelerate visits to the foodbank in 2020 and 2021 with an increase in mental health concerns at the same time.

In 2019, 57% of those requiring help with food were on social assistance, 48% came from a single adult household. One in eight were unemployed.

When Food Banks Canada annual survey HungerCount 2019 asked agencies what their clients’ main reason was for accessing a food bank, clients shared that their social assistance or benefits were too low. They had low or delayed wages. Some had lost their job and were unemployed or did not have enough hours. These four areas of concern accounted for 80% of those individuals requiring assistance from a food bank.

That was in 2019. With Covid in 2020 and now 2021, the economy will hit those living on the edge the hardest. Many families and single adults have less household income. Unemployment and reduced hours with lower pay will greatly accelerate the number of single adults and families arriving at the food bank in 2020/2021.

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Foodbanks HungerCount 2019

There are over 1.1 million Canadians receiving welfare and over 2 million if you include those with disabilities and mental health issues. The Canada Community Health Survey shows food insecurity has a statistically significant relationship with mental health variables.

The connection between food insecurity and mental health is greater with single person households now accounting for 48% of all households served. One in three of the single adults lives in poverty. Since 2016, seniors over 65 mostly with fixed incomes requiring an expansive array of expensive medications have increased visits to the food bank by nearly 30%.

Close to one in five single adults experiences food insecurity and many of those need support from a food bank to make ends meet. Many within this group have mental health issues that are exacerbated by poverty and low income. Many have mental health issues that go untreated for lack of supports available to them, are stuck in a cycle of inadequate social assistance or disability-related supports, or have lost a job and have nowhere to turn for new training and education programs to re-enter the workforce.

When the rent and wage subsidies transition back to the pre-covid economy, the need for food bank support will increase. Mental health and a range of other human service issues will surge.

Food Banks Canada will conduct research March 2021, across the nation to collect data from each community. Short term solutions will help address the immediate need for food while longer term solutions will focus on policy and try to address the question why. #BellLetsTalk offers some great Covid 19 resources to help everyone get through this together.

Canada is now seeing over 8,000 new case of the coronavirus each day. This is four times the rate when the pandemic started in 2020. Vaccines will help reduce transmission. This will take time.

Each community needs to understand how best to serve their population with the resources at hand. Innovative digital solutions can help begin collecting data in a client centric manner that makes it easier to apply analytics and create prescriptive programs that deliver better outcomes for less.

The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative makes it possible for every community to apply for Infrastructure Canada funding starting January 2021.

Be smart and get ahead of the Covid crisis. #Buildbackbetter Find out how to submit your proposal for funding at February webinar. Details will be posted shortly.