Big Brothers Big Sisters Regional Convention

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is holding its Ontario Regional Conference June 26 and 27th.  The agenda looks engaging and focusses on the strategic directions of BBBS.  

I'm impressed by this organization.  Every year Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations across Canada mentor over 40,000 young people.  The impact is incredible.

I have the privilege of facilitating one of the workshops on June 27th.  I'm speaking on one of my favourite topics - policies and governance.  With the right policies in place, we enable employees to make good decisions.   Policies are also an important link between an organization's vision and its day-to-day operations.   The focus of my workshop will be on the characteristics of effective policies, including: why policies are important; the connection between mission, objectives, policies and procedures; and, guidelines for developing policies.  We'll develop a policy together regarding gift acceptance - a very timely topic for many charities and non-profits.



Decision Making – What matters?

There is no single decision-making process that will fit all organizations and all situations.  There will be times when you will want to make decisions based on consultation or collaboration with others.  There will also be times where it will be most appropriate for you as the leader to make the decision without input from anyone else.  

There are many excellent decision-making models out there.  But what key questions should leaders consider in whether you should involve others in the process. What factors really matter? 

1.    Magnitude of the Decision

Consider:  What’s the impact of the decision?  What makes this decision important and how?  How big is it (i.e. what’s the scope of the problem)?  Are there many alternatives?  To what extent are the alternatives known?  What are the possible outcomes of available choices?  What key risks need to be addressed? What is the extent of impact on key stakeholders?

When making the right decision is critical, consider seeking input from many resources to ensure that the objectives of the decision are well documented, that the alternatives are well researched, and that the right people are engaged in the process.  This will ensure the decision is informed and is of the highest quality.

2.   Availability of Information

Consider:  How much do you know about the decision?  To what extent can the decision be made on existing information? What information is missing?  Who needs to be involved in gathering that information?  Do you even know what to ask for?  To what extent have you involved the right subject matter experts?  What are the objectives of the decision being made? How will you measure that the objectives have been met?  What are the consequences of alternatives considered?  What trade-offs need to be considered?

Alternatives and outcomes should address what really matters.  If alternatives and outcomes are uncertain, the need for more information becomes more critical.  

3.     Support for the Decision

Consider:  How much support do you need in making the decision? Who needs to be informed about the decision? Who needs to be involved in the process, and how?  At what level of the organization can the decision be made, for example, does it impact the whole organization or just one unit?  Does the success of the decision require support from the executive or the team leader?  How important is acceptance of decision by the team members?  What will be the impact on the team and the overall morale, motivation, and satisfaction with their jobs?  Who is responsible for implementing the decision?  If you made the decision yourself, how well would the team support it?  How will the change be managed?

If building commitment is necessary consider actively seeking input and support from others in order to ensure a successful outcome. Involving team members in decision making can improve both morale and productivity and give people a stronger sense of team. It often results in more creative solutions.

4.     Alignment with other areas, goals, objectives

Consider:  What is the impact of the decision on other functions and areas of the organization?  How well aligned are people’s goals and objectives in the outcome of the decision? What impact will consensus have around meeting the goals of the decision?  What objectives and measures will define what really matters about this decision and its alternatives?  How will you manage the communication of the decision?

When commitment is needed from people who are driven by different goals and motivations, the consider building consensus around both the need being met by the decision as well as the limits on what alternatives should be considered.

5.     Managing Conflict in Decision Making

Consider:  How much conflict is there about the decision? What process needs to be put in place to effectively resolve conflicts and address concerns?  To what extent is consensus important to the outcome of the decision?  How well do the alternatives meet the requirements of the parties involved?  What measures will be put in place to monitor the impact and success of the decision or its outcome?

If people have strong feelings about their favored alternatives, give them the opportunity to share how they arrived at their conclusion and what information it was based upon.  The group can then evaluate the merits of this based on the objectives and success measures that were set for the decision.  

6.    Timing and Time Constraints

Consider:  When time is constrained, what steps can you take to streamline the decision-making process? When time is not constrained, can you use this as an opportunity to involved more people in the decision-making process in order to allow them to develop skills and gain experience in decision making?   What is the appropriate time to implement and communicate the decision?

When time is constrained take caution not to sacrifice on gathering relevant information or ensuring alignment and commitment from the relevant parties involved in the decision.  Establishing clear, articulate objectives and measures will help to streamline the process and ensure the intended outcome is met.




Why work with a certified coach?

I had a client ask me recently about the benefits of working with a coach who has credentials.  

Coaching can cover a host of specialities, such as life coaching, career coaching, business coaching, executive and leadership coaching, conflict coaching, wellness coaching, etc.  These specialities may require very different credentials.  And there are dozens of coaching credentials out there.  Some of them are competency based and others that are just based on self-declaration.  Further, some coaching schools are accredited and others are not.  

If you're looking for an executive or leadership coach here are some of the benefits of working with a certified coach whose credentials came from an accredited school:

  • Certified coaches use a proven methodology.  
  • They typically complete rigorous training and practice requirements as part of their certification.  
  • They often have completed further study and specialization as part of a commitment to continuing education.
  • They are typically bound by a code of ethics.
  • They understand the importance of professional confidentiality and of making clear agreements with their clients about it.
  • A credential increases professional credibility.

Our coaches at Aspire do have professional coaching certifications.  However I believe that the best credential is a satisfied customer.  So, when you are looking for a coach consider someone who has both the professional competencies and a successful track record.

Creating a Coaching Culture

If coaching is about developing a person's best, their goals, their best practices, connections and resources, then creating a coaching culture could similarly enable the organization to be its best, establish common goals, develop its best practices, draw connections across the organization, and best utilize its resources.

There are many ways to create a coaching culture, like

  • asking your employees the right questions,
  • integrating coaching into your people strategy,
  • making managers accountable for coaching their teams,
  • dedicating time to connect with your employees,
  • asking more questions than you answer, and
  • leading by example.  

Coaching is a powerful way of being.  Our credentialed coaches are committed to excellence in their profession and will work with you to create your coaching culture. 

New CRA Charities Education Program

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced a program November 2017 to conduct in-person visits with registered charities to provide them with information and assistance in understanding their obligations and give education tools to help charities fulfill their obligations and maintain their registered charity status.

A charity could be selected for a visit under the Charities Education Program for a number of reasons:

•it is newly registered

•information from its Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return

•common areas of non-compliance, such as receipting and reporting issues

You can read about the program on the CRA website.  Click here 

Ontario Legislative Changes Impact Not-for-Profits

Let’s face it.  Governance is not an easy thing to do, especially when faced with so many changes in laws and standards.  Two significant pieces of legislation were passed by the Ontario Government recently that impact not-for-profit organizations.  At the same time, the government announced that it will be hiring numerous enforcement staff in order to ensure that employers are implementing the legislative changes.  

These amendments may effect a number of your governance and operational documents including by-laws, policies, procedures and board development materials.   Let us help you work through the impact of these changes.

What's changed?  The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017  amended Employment Standards, Occupational Health & Safety, and Labour Relations laws.  The Bill received Third Reading November 22, 2017 and Royal Assent on November 27th.  

Ontario Government also passed the Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act, 2017 which, among other things, amended the Corporations Act (Ontario), the Not-for-profit Corporations Act (ONCA), and the Charities Accounting Act.   The Bill received Third Reading November 1, 2017 and Royal Assent on November 14th.   The amendments to the Corporations Act enable Ontario not-for-profit corporations to benefit from some of the ONCA features prior to its proclamation.

The changes impact:

  • Wages (e.g. minimum wage, mandates equal pay, etc.)
  • Entitlements and leaves (e.g. doctor’s notes, new domestic and sexual violence leave, critical illness leave, family medical leave, personal emergency leave, parental leave, pregnancy leave, shift refusals, etc.)
  • Record-keeping
  • File retention
  • Members’ meetings by electronic means
  • Electronic notice of members’ meetings
  • Natural person capacity and powers
  • Objective standard of care for directors and officers
  • Director’s consent to act must be in writing and be kept
  • Extraordinary sale, lease or exchange of the undertaking of the corporation
  • Adoption of pre-incorporation contracts
  • Removal of directors by majority vote
  • Lower approval threshold for members to waive an audit
  • Directors not required to be members, if so provided in by-laws
  • Use of proxies
  • Court may appoint directors if corporation has neither directors nor members
  • Export continuance protection

We offer a complimentary one-hour consultation to meet with you and review your governance documents in order to identify high level areas of risk.