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Doug Lagore: Dealing with the pressures of senior staff departures

Whether someone is a CAO in a community of 2,000 people, 50,000 people, or more, municipal administrators face similar obstacles. One of those challenges, as Doug Lagore explains in the following video, is dealing with a seeming increasing number of senior staff openings.

Lagore, who spent some 35 years as a CAO in local governments in Alberta, B.C., and Northwest Territories before working as a municipal government consultant, said the large number of leadership openings these days can be largely traced back to one thing – politics.

Navigating the Pressures of Politics

Politics is different these days, Lagore said, with certainly social media playing a significant role. This is especially true, he added, when factoring in the growing influence of social media.

“Politicians have more access to information. I’m not suggesting for a minute you should keep information from them, but they often do their own research and have conflicting views from something from where you administration is coming from,” Lagore said. “Depending on the source, it could be misinformation. So it is a real stick-handling process to work through those politics.”

Senior staff turnover, Lagore said, causes “a rippling effect” that adversely impacts municipalities. For one, staff members get used to a particular style, begin to count on it, and then have to face a new reality when their manager is suddenly gone. That confusion, Lagore adds, can also lead to added stress on staff members who become worried about if they are the next to go. They also, he added, take that stress home, which complicates issues there as well.

Staying Safe Out of the Spotlight

To help ease this situation, Lagore points to certain tools designed to help local government leaders deal with the pressures of today’s municipal workplace. One bit of advice Lagore offers to municipal administrators – stay out of the spotlight.

“A sign of success is keeping your name and picture out of the paper and being able to drive around the community afterward and see things you have had your fingerprints on,” he said. “You don’t need your name on the building, you know you’ve got your fingerprints on it, that’s satisfaction enough.”  MW

Municipal consultant Doug Lagore sat down with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner prior to the 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Quebec City, to discuss the challenges facing municipal administrators in today’s political climate. 

✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Evert Akkerman’s article: Bridging the employee engagement gap. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

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