Reflections on Working in a Municipality

I recently was asked to discuss, “Managing Your Career from Start to Finish”, with the graduating class of the University of Western’s Municipal Public Administration program.

To prepare for it, I was asked to reflect on the trajectory of my career and provide some thoughts and tips I might have on launching a municipal career.  

It was an interesting task – not one I’d really given much thought to before. 

The graduates were surprised to learn, that when I first became interested in a career in municipal government, many municipalities in rural Ontario were managed by husband-and-wife teams.  Not good financial management at all but back then it worked.  

This is a far cry from the professionalism municipalities deliver today.  While constant changes in legislation are frustrating to municipalities, they really have served to improve municipalities over time.

When my local husband-and-wife team announced their impending retirements, I started taking the AMCTO Municipal Administration Courses and going to Council meetings – not only to understand municipal operations better, but also so the Council would get to know me.  And it worked!  

I applied and my first municipal job was as Clerk/Treasurer/Tax Collector of my local municipality.  

So, here’s some strategies that may help you land your first municipal job

Do some homework;

  • Research the municipality and the department of interest
  • What are the issues? What key projects are they working on?
  • Go to a Council meeting in person once things open again so Council and staff will start to get to know you, or watch some online to understand the protocols
  • Volunteer to help at municipal/community events
  • Look for a summer job in the municipality to get a feel for what it’s like to work there
  • Ask if you can job shadow the CAO for a day (at no charge) 
  • Investigate OMAA Bursary program http://www.omaa.on.ca/en/about-omaa/the-omaa-bursary-program.asp  It’s a Bursary program offering $5,000 annually to support the education of future municipal government leaders and promote the role of CAO. The program runs to 2025.

 

My personal belief is that those launching municipal careers right now have perhaps the best opportunity in recent history, for quick career advancement, because so many municipal employees are eligible for retirement in 2021.

Many are staying on past their retirement dates, however, to help their communities through COVID, but I predict there will be a mass exodus of employees soon as the COVID crisis begins to ease. We’re already seeing an increase in municipal job postings.  

As for the trajectory of my career – well, I eventually became the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and helped the municipality through restructuring, worked with the province in issues and project management, and eventually decided to set up a municipal consultancy and develop muniSERV.ca. and muniJOBS.ca

To me, a career in local government is still the most challenging and rewarding work you’ll ever do. 

Like I always say, You can take the girl out of the municipality, but you can never take the municipality out of the girl.”  

 

Susan Shannon, AMCT

Founder & Principal, muniSERV.ca & Shaping Organizational Solutions (SOS)

[email protected]  Phone: 855.477.5095

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Being aware – situationally aware

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

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

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

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

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

Ambassadors need to be aware. Situationally aware.

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

Being situation aware is truly a change in mindset.

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

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

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

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

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

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

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

 

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Turn Stress into Good Stress by Choosing Your Response

Life is a parade of stress-inducing situations ever looming on the horizon. Which helps explain why, the more you resist stress, resist the inevitable, the more painful it becomes. For instance, say that your stress was an egg. And imagine squeezing and squeezing that egg. It’d finally crack under the pressure, right? What a mess! But if you gently hold the egg, you can easily handle it.

Stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier

In a Stanford News article by Clifton B. Parker, the author interviewed Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal who talked about her research indicating that “stress can make us stronger, smarter and happier – if we learn how to open our minds to it.”

 

McGonigal states that “The three most protective beliefs about stress are: 

1) to view your body’s stress response as helpful, not debilitating – for example, to view stress as energy you can use; 

2) to view yourself as able to handle, and even learn and grow from, the stress in your life; and 

3) to view stress as something that everyone deals with, and not something that proves how uniquely screwed up you or your life is.”

a cascade of health-promoting physical responses.

Studies have shown that when we embrace stress, our bodies release a cascade of health-promoting physical responses. A life-saving “biology of courage” that helps you endure and thrive even under the most daunting, stressful conditions.

In a Q&A with the Rotman School of Business, McGonigal responded to one of the questions with the following: “The profound ‘mindset reset’ that I’m encouraging involves embracing stress because you understand that there is no way to live a stress-free life, and that the presence of stress in our lives is important to being human. We need stress in order to experience the things we want most in life — whether it’s health, happiness, love or growth. I am convinced that when you choose to see the upside of stress, you increase your resilience, add meaning to your life and make more personal connections.”

A Story from Real Life…the horse is out of the barn!

In 2008, my husband, Stan, of 8 years was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer. “Sorry, the horse is out of the barn” is what we were told over and over. Sorry, too late for surgery, the horse is out of the barn. Sorry, too late for radiation, the horse is out of the barn. “Maybe oncology can help.”  

 

In no time at all, here we were, our world suddenly turned absolutely upside down. It felt surreal and almost like we were watching ourselves in a movie. Alas, an oncologist who embraced Stan’s situation and wasn’t about to allow the horse to keep running until Stan ran out of breath. Instead, he told us that “Sometimes aggressive cancers respond to aggressive treatment.” Okay then – let’s get started, we responded. Keep in  mind, he continued “you have less than a 5% chance of living 5 years.”

 

That was a defining moment and one filled with immense stress – the life or death kind…literally. At that moment, we had a choice, we could feel defeated,  go the chemo course and hope for the best.

 

Instead, we chose our stress response. For Stan, it was an attitude of I’m not ready to leave my wife and my family – I still have so much to live for. Stan also looked at the odds and chose to respond by taking on the perspective that somebody is in that 5% that makes it so it’s going to be him.

 

The stress response I chose was one of combating this evil force. I could see it, it had a shape, it had a colour and it was voracious. Well guess what, I could be voracious back – “no I’m not going to let you win” I thought. 

Choice gives us power

This stress response was a choice and with choice comes power. There is so much more about this journey but today I just want to focus on just one of the techniques for mastering stress – choosing your stress response.

 

That choice is what kept me going as the caregiver, researcher, on-demand cook, chauffeur, part-time coach, communications head and wife. My choice gave me the courage that I needed to continue although inside I was filled with fear, particularly in the early days.

 

Months later, as my husband continued to make phenomenal progress and defy the odds, the oncologist shared that when he first saw Stan, he didn’t expect him to live 6  weeks! In fact, he said that the majority of people that don’t choose a positive stress response don’t make it.

 

There were so many life lessons learned in that time and yes, Stan continues to be super healthy and almost impossible to keep up with as we approach the 12.5 year mark as I write.

 

How can you shift your perspective to choose new ways of responding to stress so that you turn stress into good stress?

Submitted by:

Sophie Mathewson, PCC

Strategic Advisor & Coach

Prism Group

[email protected]

prismgroup.ca

 

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Negotiating Like a Lawyer

I don’t like going to the doctor’s office. Part of the reason is because my doctor also happens to be a good friend of mine and I already see him enough on the golf course, squash courts and playing pick-up hockey

 

But I mostly avoid doctors visits because I hate being poked and prodded. So to make my doctor’s visits as quick and painless as possible, when I do have to go see him I give him as much context as I can about the reason for my visit. This gets him to focus on my problem and limits the amount poking and prodding 

 

I also don’t like getting poked and prodded in a lawyer’s office

 

Most of us that work for organizations that have a legal department which reviews the contracts we’re negotiating and the amount of changes to a contract, especially if the edits are to our standard agreement, usually determines the extent of the legal review

 

So just like the doctor’s visit, I make sure to provide our lawyers with as much context as I can so they can focus on the issues and not have to go through the entire agreement with a fine toothed comb

 

Now there are some lawyers that, no matter how much context you give them, they’re going to read the whole contract and that’s ok, it’s their prerogative. However, most lawyers I’ve worked with actually appreciate the extra effort I’ve put in to make their lives a little easier

 

But there’s another thing you can do before you even send the contract to legal for review and unfortunately, I don’t see enough negotiators doing this so spoiler alert… it’s actually ok for you to negotiate the legal terms in a contract on behalf of your organization, as long as you remember 3 things:

 

  1. Make sure you actually understand the legal terms before arbitrarily rejecting the other sides edits
  2. Make it clear that all changes will still require final legal review and sign-off…and the trick here is to only negotiate in the areas where you have a really good sense of your lawyers threshold of acceptability
  3. If you’re working off your paper, try to eliminate as many changes as you can from the other side

 

I was helping a client not too long ago who wanted to start discussions with a new supplier so they sent them an NDA to sign and the supplier came back with some edits. But before my client sent it off to his legal department for review, I asked if I could take a look at the changes first

 

The supplier had made five changes to the NDA. Four of the changes were to de-risk any liability they’d have if they breached confidentiality and one was a legitimate concern about their IP

 

So we went back to the supplier and said we understood the IP concerns but the other four changes would make it impossible for us to do business with them. Within 10 minutes the sales executive responded that he’d had a “quick chat” with his lawyers and we could disregard those 4 changes but they would like to see some compromise on the IP

 

When my client sent the changes to legal, he provided all of this context and legal approved the change in a few hours, which is nothing short of a miracle in most organizations

 

So the big takeaway here is that if you fancy yourself as a negotiator, then be a negotiator. Don’t just throw your contracts over to legal to sort out…and if you don’t know something, learn.

 

I recently developed and launched a training course with my colleague, Mark Morrissey, which covers this and other topics that are essential for Strategic Sourcing Professionals.

 

Most of you have a training budget this year and you could do a lot worse than seeing what we have to offer, so check out the training section on our website and let me know if you would like more information about our corporate group pricing

 

Mohammed Faridy

Chief Executive Officer

OneView 1450 Meyerside Drive Suite 603 Mississauga, ON L5T 2N5

E-mail: [email protected] I Cell: 416-917-2410

 

 

 

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What type of testing is right for your website – Understanding the difference in website testing

In the last few weeks there has been a rise in reported malware and malicious attacks on small municipalities. Testing of three small municipality websites in recent weeks by our team has resulted in failures on all sites basic security parameters. We often hear small organizations saying they don’t need to worry about attacks, they aren’t “big enough” but anyone can be a target.

Regular testing your website for known vulnerabilities and emerging threats should become a part of your Cyber Security Road Map. The first step is identifying the type of web testing that is right for your infrastructure. Here are a few key questions to consider;

1) Where is your website hosted – do you host it yourself? Is it hosted by a third-party?
2) Who is responsible for the security of the host system, the operating system?
3) Do you have a web application firewall such as CloudFlare in front of your website?
4) Is your website a static page with content?
5) Do you have a login and if so what type of data is behind the login? Customer, pricing, private personal?
6) Do you have any API interactions with other applications?

When you start down the road of testing your website you want to consider the host operating system and the application. There are two key types of testing available, fully automated scanning and manual testing. Fully automated scanning is used for both host operating systems and web applications. The host operating system scan will scan for all currently known vulnerabilities affecting that operation system. It will report back on the CVE, the risk and usually suggested remediation tips. The same is true for the web application scanning. The fully automated web application scanner will scan your website at a minimum for the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities and report back on risks and remediation. https://owasp.org/www-project-top-ten/.

Manual testing means that you have an actual person who is using various methods to determine the security of a host or the application and If the rules of the engagement permit, they will attempt to exploit a vulnerability and gain access, modify content or download information. There are varying degrees of manual testing, the simplest is one tester and one day and the more extensive 2 testers and 5 days of testing.

The type of test that is required for your website really depends on two main factors –

 

1. Have the host and application ever been tested before?

2. What is the criticality of the data being processed or stored on this site?

 

For example, if you have a very static page of content that is hosted by a third party, chances are a good OWASP 10 scan of you site will be sufficient to let you know if you have any glaring misconfigurations that could lead to a website defacement or potential attack on your site. If your website has a login and you allow users to sign up for accounts and host dynamic content, you would want to make sure you consider a manual test at least for the first test. Once a thorough baseline has been established for the site, testing can become more routine and automated.

We recommend you develop a plan for testing and make sure to include the above considerations. There might be special notifications you have to give in writing to a third party before you test an application, you might have to have a testing IP whitelisted in a web application firewall, you may need special accounts set up in the application for testing.

If you are unsure what type of test is right for your website, reach out to us and we will be glad to discuss options with you.

http://www.mi613.ca

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You will never change my mind in a negotiation

I’ve been negotiating contracts for so long now that it’s impossible for me to remember every moment in every negotiation

 

But there’s one thing I remember vividly from every single negotiation, because it’s probably the one thing that’s remained constant through all these years

 

I’ve never had my mind changed in a negotiation

 

I’ve agreed to things and made compromises, all for the sake of getting a deal done, but no one’s ever convinced me that they were right and I was wrong…about anything

 

And likewise, I’ve never changed anyone’s mind in a negotiation, because that’s not the purpose of a negotiation

 

Our goal as negotiators is to compromise, give and take, until we arrive at a deal that’s mutually beneficial…that makes good business sense for both sides

 

However, too often I see negotiators become preachers who start lecturing the other side on the “truth of the matter”

 

Well the truth of the matter is that if I come into a negotiation believing a supplier’s software was worth no more than $10K, there’s absolutely nothing they can say that’ll convince me it’s worth a penny more than that

 

Now I may agree to pay more than $10K, but not because I’ve seen the error of my wicked ways and repented for doubting the honesty of a software vendor

 

I’ll pay more because there’s other factors impacting my decision

 

Maybe I know that they’ll never sell me the software for $10K so I’ll try to get other things thrown into the deal…longer warranty period, better indemnities, a cap on annual increases

 

The point is, I’m not focused on convincing them that I’m right and they’re wrong in a negotiation

 

The “truth of the matter” is that I couldn’t care less what they believe, as long as I get everything I need to make this a good deal for my organization

 

And I realize that’s a lot easier said than done. We’re human beings and we’re constantly looking for validation of our beliefs

 

Just turn on the news and see what’s going on in the world…right vs. left, liberal vs. conservative, republican vs. democrat

 

People yelling and screaming, lying and acting violently…just to show that they’re right and the other side’s wrong

 

Thankfully no one’s ever been violent with me in a negotiation, but I’ve been yelled at and I’m constantly being lied to

 

But none of that’s going to change my mind

 

I may walk away from a deal if I find out I’m being lied to, but more often I’ll use that as leverage in the negotiations

 

And the minute someone raises their voice it’s like they flipped on a flashing neon sign that says “I have no more valid arguments so I’m just going to start screaming like a petulant 5 year old”

 

So how do we achieve that zen-like state where we can just tune out the noise and focus on getting a good deal?

 

Well, the first thing you need to do is define what a “good deal” means for your organization…what’s your BATNA?

 

Is it driven by price… does have to be less than a certain dollar amount or you’ll walk away from the deal?

 

Is it driven by timelines… does it have to be done by a certain date or you’ll walk away?

 

Is it driven by features and functionality… it has to do these things or there’s no deal

 

Next, you need to set your threshold of acceptability, like how much you’re willing to compromise on certain terms and conditions

 

Or how much screaming and lying are you willing to put up with

 

All of these things create the foundation for a strong negotiating strategy and, when you have that, the rest is just noise

 

Now all of the things I’ve just talked about, and much more, are covered in the Sourcing Essentials Course my colleague, Mark Morrissey, and I launched a few months ago (https://oneviewnow.com/training)

 

And I truly believe that anyone who gets involved in Procurement, Vendor Management or Negotiations for their organization would benefit from this course

 

But it doesn’t matter what I believe, it only matters what you and your organization need right now

 

So I’m not going to try convincing you to believe me…instead, I’ll show you

 

In January of 2020 I launched a course called the “7 Skills of the Elite Negotiator” and I made it free

 

Almost 250 procurement professionals, legal professionals and senior executives took the course

 

I’ve reopened that course for 90 days, you can sign up here -> https://mop.mykajabi.com/7-skills-signup

 

So if you’re on the fence about the Sourcing Essentials Course, sign up for the free one and decide for yourself whether or not this type of training is for you

 

And when you’re ready to take the Sourcing Essentials Course, feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected] to learn about our corporate group rate

 

Mohammed Faridy

CEO, OneView

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

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How have the pandemic adaptations affected your Physical Security?

Well into the COVID19 pandemic, organizations, governments big and small have had to take measures and make changes to their environments to adapt to the needs of their staff, customers, their service delivery model, requirements of health science, government agency regulations and perhaps “new” industry best practices and of course the ever-changing virus.

These measures have evolved into many different things. We’re going to specifically focus on physical security devices.

Two of the pervasive items that have been introduced in many environments are plexiglass and signage.

Organizations have installed plexiglass barriers at intersection points of personnel as they have the potential to interact with other personnel, customers, vendors, etc.

Informative signage itemizing physical distancing rules, self assessment health protocols have been placed all around in both strategic and random locations within the environment to ensure every opportunity for personnel and visitors to be informed.

Funny thing about all of this plexiglass barriers and signage.

In some cases, not all, we have inadvertently defeated some or many of the installed security devices functionality and purpose. That is, their ability to monitor, detect and alert (alarm).

  • Motion detectors blocked, unable to provide proper coverage
  • Cameras experiencing sun flare reflection off plexiglass
  • Nuisance alarms due to swinging signage on the increase
  • And other unforeseen affects

There are incidents where this is enough of this added material, that areas, although devices are active and functioning as per specifications, are unable to detect properly – leaving areas with no security detection or proper monitoring.

We have the answers.

Let’s go for a (physically distanced) walk and have a conversation.

Your security risk plans are more than just a motion detector or even a strategic camera placement.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

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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

Edmonton

 

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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.

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