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Blog: Blog2

Clarity of Roles Blog

"I stop by the public works shop and give the summer staff donuts every Friday to say thank you for their hard work."


The comment was made innocently enough, and the Councillor who said it clearly didn't understand why the weekly visit was an issue.


"Does your CAO know about these visits?"


The CAO wasn't aware and just shook their head.


While the Council member wasn't going to the public works shop with ill intentions, there may be some conversations going on with the summer staff that shouldn't be. It may even be as simple as asking why grass in a certain area of the community hadn't been cut that week or asking how they feel about their jobs. These conversations can lead to the summer staff not understanding who their supervisor is or feeling like they have to complete the tasks that the Councillor is mentioning to them, evidently creating confusion with tasks internally.


Role clarity is an issue that we consistently see in municipalities. Most of the time, councilors get elected after having only served on working boards in the past. They are used to helping at BBQs, selling raffle tickets, and doing bottle drives. Once they are elected, there is a learning curve to understanding that they are moving into a high-level oversight role. The role of Council is to decide on the organization's vision, mission and values, decide on their high priorities and allocate funds for those priorities. They also must remember that the administration must complete many operational day-to-day tasks.


For a Council to be successful, it must understand that it is the decision-makers, and it is up to the administration, particularly the CAO, to decide how to accomplish the goals set by the Council.


Once Council and administration clearly understand their roles, they can move towards the future in a clear direction.

Would you like to share your thoughts or discuss how this issue is affecting your community? You can reach me at 


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