Letter: Lead with openness and kindness

After attending the organizational review at the last Valemount Council meeting, I am a little numb. My concern is about the process.

I was disheartened by the personal attacks during the public comment period. Many of them came from business owners.

I understand business owners are in leadership positions taking risks, delivering benefits and services to the community and used to calling the shots. And when decisions don’t go their way, they are quick to blame red tape and all levels of government. No one wants to understand that regulations are in place to serve the interests of the broader community and for long term gain.

I was troubled that none of the council members spoke up when the public comments got nasty. To me, this whole process feels like bullying a staff member. There are anti-bullying legislations in place by BC’s Employment Standards Act and WorkSafe BC against just this.

I value kindness and a dignified approach to asking difficult questions and making decisions. Evaluating a CAO can be done like any other employer has to. It doesn’t have to be a public slaughtering of the person. It can be done behind closed doors by making notes of all activities during council’s time as employer, providing adequate verbal and written feedback and documenting the employee’s responses. And if there’s still no improvement in performance, then make a decision based on your experience as employer and not someone’s opinion of what competency should look like or what you’ve heard.

I value not only the decisions leaders make but more importantly how they arrive at them. How does council have a discussion about any issue? Is their mind made up before listening to diverse voices and not just the ones who always speak up? Do they consider and seek input from all walks of life? After all, council is responsible to the entire community and not a select few or to the political views they hold. Their strength lies in being open, flexible and inclusive.

There seems to have been so much energy spent in bringing down the current CAO and this has taken away energy from work to be done. There’s lots of issues to address like seniors’ needs, affordable housing and more community building projects.

I would like to see leaders and staff work from common ground starting from what they agree on. I request an end to ill feelings as it leaves a lingering after-taste even for those not directly involved.

Sincerely,
Rashmi Narayan
Valemount

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