Additional Municipal Develop Plans Information
Date: June 12, 2017
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If you were unable to attend any of our Open Houses, or if you simply want access to the information that was shared, please download this PDF, as it contains plenty of useful information regarding this project. Click the image below or here for access to the PDF. 

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View From The Hub Online Survey Regarding Municipal Development Plans
Date: May 31, 2017
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An additional way you can provide your feedback regarding upcoming changes to Municipal Development Plans is to answer a quick online survey.

To participate in the survey, simply click here.

You may also participate by attending one of our Open Houses. Find more information regarding open house dates by clicking here or by following our Facebook Page.

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View From The Hub Open House Information
Date: May 11, 2017
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If you are interested in learning more about development and updates to our Municipal Development Plans, we encourage you to attend one of our open houses. Here you will learn more information, provide your input, and ask any questions you might have.

Here are the dates and locations for all Open Houses currently scheduled:

 

Public Open House #1 – for Silver Sands, South View and West Cove

Date:  Saturday June 3, 2017

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Place: Darwell Seniors Hall

Highway 765 & Highway 633, Darwell

RSVP Here

 

Public Open House #2 – for Nakamun Park, Sunrise Beach and Yellowstone

Date: Saturday June 3, 2017

Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Place: Onoway Museum and Heritage Centre

4708 Lac Ste. Anne Trail North, Town of Onoway

RSVP Here

 

Public Open House #3 – for the Town of Onoway

Date: Tuesday June 6, 2017

Time: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Place: Onoway Museum and Heritage Centre

4708 Lac Ste. Anne Trail North, Town of Onoway

RSVP Here

 

Public Open House #4 – for Sunset Beach

Date: Saturday June 10, 2017

Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Place: Summer Village of West Baptiste Firehall

945 Baptiste Dr., West Baptiste

RSVP Here

Keep up with our latest updates by following our Facebook page: View From The Hub.

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Take Care of Staff and Staff will Take Care of Your Community
Date: July 6, 2015
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Over our years working with municipalities throughout Alberta, TSI has learned many things about the internal and external workings of a municipality. Whether through interim management, support of a program or service or through our public engagement programs, TSI has seen municipalities thrive and municipalities struggle. We have driven into communities where the pride of the community is clear and communities where the struggles are evident.

What has been most interesting has been the alignment between community culture and municipal corporate culture, or the human resources culture. Happy employees take pride in their work. Whether they are the CAO of a community or the staff member cutting the grass, one can easily see whether the community’s internal corporate culture is strong or whether morale is low. A CAO who is happy at work, whose council trusts them to do their job and whose council is supportive rather than directive, spends more time at the office and spends more time looking for creative ways to build the community. The CAO then supports their staff to do the same and the ripple effects continue all the way to the staff cutting the grass and watering the flowers. The arena attendant stops to pick up that piece of trash, the flowers get a little more water and the grass is mowed with a little more attention to detail. When residents see a community that is well taken care of, with grass cut, flowers down the boulevards and clean walkways, they also tend to take better care of their property. Isn’t it funny how when one neighbor doesn’t take care of their property, it almost becomes an epidemic? The same is true for a neighborhood where everyone takes care of their properties. No one wants to be “that” neighbor whose property looks disheveled.

When working with municipalities, they often ask us, how to improve the reputation and the culture of their community. My answer; improve the culture of your internal organization first. Focus inside before you look outside. Do you have happy employees or is it like the Flintstones when the horn goes off at 4:30p.m? Remember, your staff is also members of your community. They go to community events, their kids play on the community sports teams and their parents have coffee at the community coffee shops. Are they speaking positively about the community or are they complaining and spreading discontent? Are they talking about the new innovative program the community is bringing forward, or are they complaining about being micromanaged, underpaid and unappreciated? Remember, bad news spreads much faster than good news.

So, how do you improve internal culture? While this may sound easy, it is actually very difficult and takes time, particularly if you are working from a culture deficit. And if you have a great internal culture, you need to maintain it, which also takes hard work. First, you need to do an analysis of your internal culture. Are your employees happy? Do they feel valued, fulfilled and supported? Do you have an environment that encourages creativity, or does everyone have their little box they need to operate within? Do your teams and departments work together collaboratively, or do they shudder when they pass each other in the halls?

A staff survey is a great way to begin this analysis. Providing some incentive for completion of the survey will also increase the response rate. Forget about the sleeve of golf balls; provide something of value to them. Value to them…not necessarily monetary value. How about a Friday afternoon off. Make sure the survey asks the right questions. Questions that can be measured, but also questions that allow your staff to tell you the things you don’t want to hear. That’s right, get it all out in the open, because they are talking about it in the coffee shops and whispering about it in the lunchroom anyway. Once the survey results are in, decide whether there are certain issues that need further discussion, workshops or follow-up surveys. Don’t just focus on the bad, but also the good. Are there areas where your staff is happy? And if so, how do you maintain and continue to build on that momentum?

Areas where I bet you see some discontent:

– Succession planning – Does your staff know what their next step is? Do they have an individual development plan (IDP)? Are they supported in their current role and potential future roles with training? Does their manager provide them opportunities to grow? An employee who knows their career progression and sees the opportunity will stay with that organization. If the only way for them to progress is by crossing the street, they will be gone!

– Training and development – Does your staff have the right training to do the job? Have you promoted them beyond their capability without the proper support and training? Are they encouraged to learn new, innovative techniques in their field of expertise? An employee who is continuously learning and challenged to grow, will most likely be happier and more fulfilled in their role. Also, these new techniques are a valuable resource to your community. Whether it’s a more efficient way to do something or a new creative approach to a program, it leads to the betterment of your community.

– Compensation – Does your staff feel fairly compensated? When they read a job advertisement for a similar position in a different municipality, are they shocked and disheartened by the salary being offered? While happy employees aren’t driven by compensation, it is certainly part of the equation when deciding whether to stay or move on. It also makes them feel valued or undervalued. Have you done a compensation review lately to see where you fall in the region? You don’t have to be the highest, but you should at least be competitive. Compensation includes benefits. Does your staff feel adequately covered? Do they feel they have enough vacation time? Are flex days important to them? Rested, well compensated, and healthy employees work harder and take more pride in their work.

Disgruntled employees don’t put in extra effort. In fact, they often provide poor service, which in turn shows on the streets, on the lawns, in your recreation facilities and at the front desk of your community office.

Last comment; throw out your policy on social media use in the office! That’s right; let your staff go on Facebook! Believe me, if they are going to steal time from you, they will do it whether it’s on Facebook or at the water cooler. Encourage them to share community events, community programs and positive stories about the community on their pages. Don’t make it their job, but rather allow them to show their pride in the community they are helping to build. Have an internal staff Facebook page where your staff can socialize, share ideas and organize events. Create the forum for your team to build! Once again, don’t be afraid of what you might hear. They are talking about it anyway, you might as well be aware of the conversations and in a position to respond.

Bottom Line: Take care of your staff and your staff will take care of your community.

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Get Out of Your Box!
Date: June 9, 2015
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For the last 10 years of my career I have always been in a box of some sort.  I was in an Economic Development box, a Communications box, a Stakeholder Engagement box and an Aboriginal Relations box.  Don’t even get me started on the “Mom” box.  Working in the corporate world that box was both a place of comfort and a limit to my potential.  Right from University you are made to choose a “box.”  Are you a marketing major, an economist, an engineer, a scientist… And even before University, it was, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  I get it.  And to some degree I understand the relevance of our boxes.  These boxes help us market ourselves, help us find our way in the big world.  They help us define our areas of expertise and help us find those who can fill the gaps where our expertise fails us.  Having said all that, all I can say now is, “get out of your box!”

Now that I have entered the world of consulting I have learned that these boxes only limit our ability to truly achieve our goals and to truly make a difference.   I will admit, when I first began consulting I tried to limit my offering by staying in my little boxes.  I began by marketing my experience and expertise in Economic Development, in Marketing and Communications, in Strategic Planning… and I had successes in these areas.  But when our team was awarded a big contract reviewing a Regional Emergency Services project I didn’t understand how I could fit in.  I offered to help with the Final Report, do some writing and presentations for them, but really, what do I know about Emergency Services???  Walking through a service level review of the emergency services department with our CEO opened up a whole new box for me.  After one meeting walking through the process I was sitting in a room across the table from the regional Chief walking him through the rest of the service level review.  So Chief, what do you do in a week?  How much time does that take you?  How often do you do that?  Basically pinning down every hour of the year that the Chief spends in his job.  Well let me tell you, it doesn’t take a person with an Emergency Services background to recognize the inefficiencies and the ineffective uses of his time.  Wow!  I just jumped into another box!  Now, this is a bit of a big jump.  I’m not suggesting that everyone can jump into areas they have zero expertise, nor can I.  I still require the expertise of the emergency services experts on our team to fill the gaps in my knowledge.  BUT, I can see the problem and I can find the avenues to follow to find the solution.  Isn’t that what school really teaches us anyway?

I often talk to friends and colleagues that I trust and value and discuss the opportunities available in consulting.  The amount of times I am told about their little box and that this is the only area they feel they can offer expertise.  A friend who has been in HR for years mentioned this to me and I asked her how she did in her other classes in University.  How did she do in Marketing, in Strategy, in Economics.  It wasn’t until I explained and reminded her that all classes in Business school are aimed at case studies and finding the solution to an issue that she realized that she may have more to offer than what was sitting in her little HR box.

So here is a challenge for you!  Get out of your boxes!  Just because you don’t know the answer right now, doesn’t mean you can’t find it, or find someone who has the answer to join your team.  Are you smart?  Are you able to look at a problem and figure out where to look for the solution?  Do you know smart people?  Quit limiting your potential by staying in your little box!

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Social Engagement vs Open Houses
Date: April 23, 2015
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When was the last time you went to an open house regarding a topic, issue or project?

When you last held an open house, how many stakeholders attended?  What did that open house cost to run both in human and economic resources?

Life is busy these days and no one has time to attend an open house, particularly if the issue or topic does not directly impact them negatively.  We work longer days, have busier schedules for our kids, we sit on boards or committees and we like to sit down after all of that and have a glass of wine or a beer.  There you go, serve wine instead of donuts and I might attend.

In our experience with public engagement, I can tell you that open houses are a thing of the past.  By thing of the past, I’m not suggesting they don’t have value, I’m just suggesting there are far more valuable and useful tools to engage your stakeholders.

Facebook, yes I said it, the oh so time consuming thing we all spend so much time on, will engage more of your stakeholders in one hour than a whole week of open houses.  Twitter, while not as easy to get the audience, also provides far more outreach than your typical open house.

 

The best part is that a lot of organizations, particularly municipalities, already have a Facebook page and a decent following, but they don’t use it to properly to engage the community.  They don’t respond to the questions or comments and instead they use it purely to advertise community events.  I get it, this takes resources, but believe me, it’s far less resources than half a dozen of your staff standing at an empty open house eating your donuts.

For more contentious issues, you may want to develop a page specifically for that topic.  We have worked on a project for a small town in Alberta dealing with a fairly contentious topic.  It took us one week to get over 300 followers on the Facebook page.  When was the last time you had 300 people at an open house?  And the best part, is that these 300+ people are now an audience that not only grows but that can be reached 24 hours a day!

Who do you see at open houses?  Usually the people that have a reason to yell at you.  The Nay-Sayers.  The NIMBY’s (Not in my back yard).  The passive people who are either supportive or undecided aren’t the ones that come to the open houses.  Not usually.  Obviously there are exceptions and I’m sure I’ll get some comments about how awesome your open house was, but the truth is, stakeholders only show up if they want or don’t want change.  Facebook gives people who don’t have the time, but more importantly the drive or passion for the subject matter to comment, stay informed and “like” your posts.  Often our clients will come back and say, all the comments are negative so we shouldn’t build the project, or we shouldn’t proceed with the initiative.  What they don’t see are the number of “likes” on the posts.  You must take these as passive acceptance and more often than not, these far outweigh the negative comments.

Let’s talk Surveys.  These are a great tool to engage your stakeholders on a specific topic, particularly if you are looking for the sentiment of your stakeholder groups.  The key, and I don’t know why this isn’t obvious, is to keep them short and sweet.  If you can offer choices, even better.  If your survey is longer than 10 questions, the chances of your stakeholder completing the survey decrease significantly.  If you ask an open ended question that requires a long explanation, most of the time you won’t get it.  If it takes the stakeholder more than 3 – 5 minutes, you’ve lost them.  Surveys are a great tool that can be built into your social engagement program as well.  Break the questions down and schedule them as posts to your Facebook page.  This allows stakeholders the opportunity to respond to the questions they care about, it isn’t as daunting as the “survey” and you can respond with accurate information and key messages rather than getting that anonymous complaint that goes into File G for Garbage.

So, why do we continue to buy a dozen donuts and take 10 home after a long open house?  Because we are afraid of social media.  We are afraid of what might be said publicly.  Well guess what, it is being said all over the place.  It is being said in the coffee shops, in the hockey arenas and at the seniors’ coffees. The difference is that you don’t have an opportunity to respond.  You don’t have an opportunity to defend, promote or provide accurate information to your stakeholders, so instead the message continues, correct or not.

Your audience is on Facebook and discussing the issue, so why aren’t you?

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Business is All About Relationships
Date: April 22, 2015
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All through my career and life in general I have always valued relationships and recognized the depth and longevity of relationships.  I think it has always been a strength of mine and one I am proud of.  One can list of a number of sayings or quotes like:

– Never kick the ass you may one day have to kiss

– It’s not what you know but who you know

– Never burn a bridge …

We have all had relationships where we have wanted to throw a grenade on the bridge and the calculation of the chances of needing to cross that bridge always comes into our minds.  We have ALL been there.  And we have ALL ruined relationships that we later regret, even if just for the level of energy it took.  The longer my career goes, the more I understand the value of ALL relationships.

I can tell you that 90% of the contracts obtained in consulting are won based on a relationship.  Whether a previous working relationship, a reputation or a friendship.  5 years ago my husband and I moved from Edmonton to Calgary and I honestly believed we would never move back.  My career was in oil and gas and career advancement would be in Calgary or abroad.  If you would have told me a year ago that I would be back in the Edmonton region and having lunch with old colleagues and friends, I would have told you that you were crazy.

But here I am.  And now that I am back, I am so grateful that I built solid relationships while I was here.  I’m so grateful that I took the time to get to know people beyond the meetings.  And I am so grateful that I understood the value of relationships then and respected the people I worked with regardless of whether I agreed with their stance on a subject matter.  I want to thank those who helped me build my network by introducing me to your colleagues and friends, your network.

So to sum up my musings for the day, respect each other.  Let things go and focus on the positive.  Build bridges even if you don’t think you will ever need to cross them.  Negative relationships aren’t worth your energy, so don’t expend any on them.  Let them go and put the grenades away.  You just never know when you may need to call on that relationship or where their networks reach.  My goal for the foreseeable future is to not eat alone.  Whether it’s having a sandwich with my daughter and son while I take a break or whether I meet up with an old friend or colleague, meals are a great way to maintain relationships without cutting into our oh so precious work time.  And if you have to let go of some work time to build a relationship, I promise it will serve you better in the future!

Focus on the relationships in everything you do and the rest will come!

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Let’s Celebrate Her Achievements, Not Her Outfit
Date: April 17, 2015
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A few weeks ago I was at an event where a fairly popular, public political figure was speaking. Because I do not want to “out” anyone or embarrass anyone I’m going to keep the speaker anonymous.

She was presenting a strategic plan that I felt was innovative, well planned and very timely. She was very well spoken and presented the topic as passionately as she has every topic since she took on her new political role.

Along with a small number of other people in the audience, I proceeded to Tweet some of her key messages and thoughts. Among the tweets were a few that had me a little disturbed and have had me thinking for a few weeks now. These tweets included comments about how “she was really pulling off the red suit”, how her “power suit was awesome” and other tweets about her outfit. When was the last time you went to an event and saw a tweet about a man’s outfit? Not very often. So why, when a woman is speaking about a thought provoking, intelligent topic, do we feel the need to comment on her outfit?  And ladies, it is us that are doing this disservice.

So I’m calling to ALL women out there. Stop!

I’m not saying that in a conversation you can’t compliment a woman’s outfit, but for heavens sake when she is presenting something to a broad audience, let’s celebrate her achievement, her topic and her progress rather than her outfit.  Let’s carry on the intelligence of the message and the importance of the subject matter rather than wonder where she bought that skirt. Support each other in our achievements, in our goals and in our struggles.

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Where do you get your energy?
Date: April 14, 2015
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The last 6 months of consulting and working from home has allowed me some time to truly look at my life and what motivates me, what inspires me, and what gives me energy.  I was always so focused on climbing that corporate ladder and attaining the next big title, that big bonus or a bigger office with a better view, that I never had a chance to truly look at what I wanted to be when I grew up.  All I knew was that I wanted to wear a suit, make a lot of money and “be somebody.

I always enjoyed my work in both Economic Development and Oil and Gas.  I enjoyed working with great people and taking on new challenges. I enjoyed feeling like I had achieved a lot and that I was on an upward path.  BUT…I was tired a lot.  My moods were up and down a lot.  I looked at jobs across the street a lot.  One would think I would have taken theses a clues that maybe I wasn’t as happy or fulfilled as I kept telling myself.

Since leaving oil and gas and starting consulting with my Father’s company, I’ve learned some key things about myself.  I can only spend a couple days in a row in my home office before my mood slowly starts to decline.  I get a feeling of defeat, I stress about where that ONE next job is coming from and I focus on my fears about taking the leap into consulting.  My energy levels go down very fast, I sleep in later and my time on Facebook and other social media venues increases significantly.  All it takes is one lunch or coffee with a colleague and all of a sudden I see the opportunities again.  I see the possibilities out there, the avenues for ALL my next projects.  My energy levels increase and sometimes significantly if the meeting was with someone who shares my level of passion.  I am ready to take on the world by storm!  When I sit back down in front of my computer the e-mails stream, I hit the phones to reconnect with other old colleagues and potential new customers and I madly write all my ideas on the whiteboard in my office.  And usually I phone my Father later that evening to share all the ideas and progress that were formed that day and to warn him to “hold onto his shorts, because we’re going to take over the world.”

I know now that I have 2 or 3 days to ride out the energy from that one meeting before I need to head out and re-fill my energy tank.  This is a funny concept that I never considered until now.  Partly as I think about what gives me energy, but also something that I learned from my 3 and a half year old daughter Maya.  About a week ago she said to me “Mom, my energy is in the red, I need a snack and a nap.”  I laughed and said, “what do you mean your energy is in the red?”  She said “When I lose energy it goes in the red and when I have lots of energy I’m in the green.”  Brilliant!  I’m sure she saw this on a cartoon of some sort or maybe they taught her that in preschool, but either way, it’s brilliant, yet so simple.  I am starting to recognize when my energy levels are getting close to red.  Instead of a snack and a nap (oh wouldn’t that be nice), I need thought provoking conversation with colleagues and friends.  I need to think aloud with someone and plot my next move.

So now that I’ve shared where I get my energy, where do you get yours?  Can you pinpoint when your energy is in the red and do you know what gets it back into the green?

As always, thanks for reading my “musings.”

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