By: Jesse Takahashi
Say Goodbye to Summer, Welcome Fall!
I hope all of you had a great summer and a chance to do something fun with your families. My wife and I were fortunate to spend a week in Cancun, Mexico to celebrate our anniversary (without kids!). It is a beautiful place to relax and there are many wonderful sights and attractions for everyone. I couldn’t resist taking a selfie with the beautiful Caribbean as a backdrop.
I discovered it is also a very popular location for sea turtles. The government makes it a priority to protect the turtles which nest right on the beaches between June and October. It was quite a sight to see the large turtles come out of the water at night, dig in the sand with their huge flippers and lay 60-100 eggs, and then return to the sea never to see their young again. We were fortunate to be able to participate in a releasing of baby turtles back to sea.
As we enter the months of fall, audits and CAFRs are being worked on. For CSMFO, we are gearing up to begin the planning process for next year. On September 21 and 22, the leadership of this organization will be gathering in Anaheim, site of our 2016 Annual Conference, for our annual Planning Session and Board meeting. The day will consist of reviewing the progress of our strategic goals from the past year and also develop new priorities and goals for the upcoming year. It is also a great opportunity to get some F2F (face-to-face) time with those that we work with throughout the year, primarily through remote communications like phone and email. Next month, I’ll report on what was discussed at this session along with any new goals.
Opportunity is Knocking
The annual election will be coming up soon (around November). By the end of this month, I will form a nominating committee charged with putting together a slate of candidates for our annual election of President-elect and Board members. The next election will have two Board openings, one from the north and one from the south. In addition, we will be electing a new President from the north. If you have been an active CSMFO member and wish to have a more active role in the organization and how we serve our members, please consider sharing your interest with any current Board member and this will be passed on to the Nominating Committee for consideration.
Travels to faraway places
One of my duties as President is to attend the annual conferences for our sister state organizations. This month I’ll start off by representing CSMFO at the Washington Finance Officers Association in Tacoma, WA. Next, in October, I will be visiting the Oregon GFOA conference in Portland, OR. My last stop will be the Alaska GFOA in November, held in Anchorage, AK. I am eagerly looking forward to visiting with each state organization and learning about some of the issues they are facing as well as sharing with them what we are dealing with here in California. I will report on my travels to these Faraway Places in future reports.
Executive Director’s Message
By: Melissa Dixon, CAE
As President Takahashi’s message suggests, we’re heading into a busy time of year for CSMFO. Let me share with you everything that’s coming up in the next few months.
Strategic Planning Session
2016 Annual Conference Budget Approved
Preliminary 2016 Operational Budget
Soliciting Interest for Board Elections
Soliciting Interest for New Committee Members Exhibitors/Sponsors Prospectus Distributed for 2016 Annual Conference
Board Elections – Voting Commences
2016 Membership Renewals Distributed
2016 Annual Conference Registration & Hotel Block Opens Weekend Training
Board Elections – Voting Closes
Board Elections Results Announced
2016 Operational Budget Approved
2016 Committee Appointments Finalized
This, of course, doesn’t account for all the webinars, chapter meetings and other trainings that are coming up–we’ll stay hopping between now and the Conference! Watch the MiniNews, your email and our Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss out on anything!
Did you notice the CSMFO staff wearing CSMFO sweaters and polo shirts at the Annual Conference? CSMFO is now offering those items, plus fleece jackets, available for purchase through Land’s End.
Doing “Favors”: How Much is it Costing You?
by Sharon Rahban CPA, Rahban CPA & Consulting, Inc.
“I’m doing them a favor…”
Have you heard this before? This is a statement heard many times by managers when their staff voluntarily takes on the workload of colleagues in other divisions. And by the phrase “voluntarily”, I mean, that this staff person is not getting anything of value back from the person or division in which they are helping.
This may be frustrating for a manager to hear. What may be equally as frustrating to a manager regarding this phrase is that not only has precious time been given up without fair value in exchange, but that most likely the manager was not consulted before this action was taken (or even worse, before the precedent was set).
Many times as a manager I have discovered that staff cannot get their daily tasks, or special project work done on time; a compaint I have heard from many managers. There could be many factors contributing to this problem. For example, the workload is sometimes simply too great to be supported by the number of employees assigned, or, there always seems to be at least one new major endeavor taken on by the department each year, a key employee leaving, or a key contractor failing to perform. However, many times I have come across one factor that persists. This factor is staff’s voluntary time spent repeatedly completing the work of colleagues in other divisions. I have heard this time and time again, and at times, I have caught myself volunteering to do this as well.
Why do we do this? When encountering this situation, I will ask my staff what brought on this voluntary effort? The answers I normally receive are:
- The colleague in the other department was not properly trained
- The colleague was trained several times, but still does not understand what is expected or needed
- The colleague has had some training, but refuses further training, and claims that a certain task is not part of their job description
- The task was passed onto the volunteering-staff-person by their predecessor, or by other coworkers, and part of the original training included the expectation that this type of work would be done for colleagues.
- The staff member sympathizes with his/her colleague for having too much of a heavy workload, and feels that he/she is being kind by offering to complete the work.
- The colleague convinced the volunteering staff-member that this is part of his/her duties, and the volunteering-staff person did not confirm this with his/her manager,
Can there be any advantage to performing this type of voluntary work? I applaud the effort to remain customer service oriented, as there are benefits that follow such types of voluntary efforts. Benefits include:
- Those completing the work may be looked upon as being more capable, trustworthy, a team player, and easy to work with.
- The person doing the work may feel a greater sense of accomplishment once all tasks that they’ve embarked upon are completed,
- The person doing the work may feel happiness due to the fact that they were able to help someone else.
- Many take the following phrase to heart: “If you want something done right, then do it yourself”.
DISADVANTAGES AND COSTS:
All of the above feelings are a delight to experience. However, at the end of the day, here are the disadvantages and costs of continuing the status quo:
- If your department’s deliverables are not met timely, you will ultimately pay the price.
- The status of always being behind and trying to keep your head above water will always create obstacles for accomplishing department/organization goals.
- Hiring additional staff, and training them, adds costs as well.
- Staff that spends extra time doing work for others (or the counter-parts who are not doing their own work) may not be learning new skills to eventually propel their own professional development, or to advance the success of the department in the future.
- Animosity between staff and their colleagues can increase possibly leading to a hostile work environment. Animosity can spread to those colleagues who are not participating in providing the voluntary work, but who end up bailing out the person who is. This situation can indicate faulty or incompetent leadership in other areas of the organization, where professional growth or accountability is not encouraged.
- Important boundaries for segregation of duties may be crossed, risking fraudulent behavior and conflicts of interest.
- All of the above can lead to short term and long term losses for your department and organization.
Further, as time goes by, Finance divisions are expected to do more with less. They are expected to gain greater efficiencies through technology, streamlined processes, and with skilled and resourceful workers.
Therefore, as a manager, it can be greatly frustrating to hear of staff performing voluntary work for their colleagues, when there are so many of their tasks that are still pending to complete their deliverables. What resources can you go to in order to make a permanent change? Below are some recommended actions that can be taken to streamline and segregate work. If you have exhausted these resources described below, and have arrived at a dead end, you may need to simply accept the volunteered work and wait for an opportune moment to make a permanent change.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A MANAGER?
Can you prevent this problem from coming up in the first place?
- If you have any new or old policies or procedures that need to be written (or rewritten), then complete those ASAP. Keep the completed policies and procedures in a central location.
- If a new organizational endeavor affects one or more departments, ensure a detailed list of duties and responsibilities is prepared, circulated and agreed upon ahead of time.
- Ensure agency-wide training efforts are offered to all employees, regularly.
- Attempt to record agency-wide training efforts for future use.
- Understand the tone of your organization at the top. Has an appropriate control environment been established?
- Has the organization taken advantage of all available technological resources? Can reports be compiled or called to perform some or all of the tasks that would otherwise be done manually?
- Has an auditor or outside consultant already commented on the situation?
- Do you regularly communicate with your own staff, regarding the costs of setting the precedent of taking on voluntary work from other divisions?
- Do you regularly communicate with your own staff the importance of investing time in training their colleagues as opposed to taking on their colleagues’ workload?
- Do you regularly communicate with your staff the order of priority of their tasks?
- Review all job descriptions regularly or before filling vacant positions and ensure they are clear, detailed, and complete.
- Before an employee completely separates from the organization, ask him/her to list their duties and/or procedures in writing, and review them to ensure that inappropriate duties are not passed on to their successor.
If you cannot prevent the problem, then I recommend the following actions: Confirm with your staff person exactly what type of work is being done on behalf of their colleague(s), and verify that this work is not part of their own job description, and that it is a part of their colleague’s job description(s).
- If the job descriptions are vague in both cases, or if no job description within the organization covers this task, then have in mind what the job descriptions should include and attempt to make those changes with the necessary parties. If this attempt is unfruitful, then:
- Determine if there is a conflict of interest that exists due to the vague job descriptions, or risk of fraud. If so, then express this concern in writing to the appropriate authorities, to HR, and to the CEO’s office or auditor, if appropriate.
- If the job descriptions are not vague, communicate to the worker and supervisor, the expectation to adhere to their own job description.
- However, if the worker or his/her supervisor still refuses or simply doesn’t understand what is expected of them, consult with HR or the CEO’s office to determine what your options are. A course for disciplinary action may need to be considered.
- Clearly communicate in writing the costs and dissatisfaction/unacceptability of circumstances to the worker who is delegating their work and to his/her supervisor. This may need to be done more than once.
- Can you convince the worker and his/her supervisor that the work is in the their own best interest to perform? Can you explain the consequences of the work failing to be performed voluntarily by your own staff?
- Document offers to provide more training, training schedule, syllabus, and procedural notes if any, and circulate to the worker and to his/her supervisor
- After training(s) have been performed, follow up in writing regarding what was covered during the training, what materials were provided, who attended, and what is expected to occur from now on. Follow up to gauge compliance with the expressed expectation.
- Determine what are the costs if this work is simply not done, or if it is given a value of “low priority” to your own staff
- If the workload of the delegating-staff-person is simply too much, you may decide to speak with his/her supervisor separately, or encourage that staff person to do so. You may also decide to help that staff person, but may be able to come up with a preferable or more optimal arrangement in terms of timing.
If all of the above are attempted, and are unfruitful, then your staff person may be stuck with this additional voluntary work. If there is a risk of fraud in addition to being stuck with the additional time dedicated to this work, you may need to implement a higher level of monitoring, to mitigate the risks of fraud. This could indicate a greater problem with the control environment established by top-level managers. In that case, the task in question may be the least of your concerns.
During a time-crunch, finding out that you have staff members voluntarily performing work, that is outside the scope of their immediately needed tasks, can be surprising, frustrating, and seem like another obstacle to overcome in accomplishing your department’s deliverables. Luckily there are steps that can be taken ahead of time to prevent this situation from occurring, or at least from occurring frequently. There are also steps to take once a precedent may have already been set or once reliance on a particular employee has been placed. With an effective demeanor, persistence, and strategy, it can be possible to make permanent changes regarding organizational workload distribution. But at the same time, there may be situations where a roadblock is reached and a fair or equitable distribution of work cannot be attained. This situation could be made worse by having an environment which allows conflicts of interest to arise by not enforcing a proper separation of duties.
It still may be worth it to pursue the various methods to make a permanent change and use it as an investment of time for future time-savings for your staff, and for preventing fraudulent behavior. This could trickle upwards to your own time-savings giving both you and your staff the opportunity to propel your professional goals as well as to advance the goals of your organization.
How you can experience CSMFO’s treasure chest of opportunities in March 2016?
“What be happenin’, Matey? You be needin’ to find hidden treasure?” Just imagine walking around your Disneyland CSMFO conference and stumbling across not just one treasure, but many. Treasures will be all around you, and all you have to do is follow the map. Every great treasure hunt involves clues, it can deliver thrills, perhaps danger, but often with a sense that things will work out happily in the end. But you must save the date of March 2-4, 2016.
When you get your treasure map, follow the arrow as you search “A Finance Life for Me” with many hidden gems. Your CSMFO treasure hunt includes renewing old friendships and making new friends and creating shared memories of our annual event. We have chosen the discovery of treasure as a means of putting your “Life of Finance” in today’s perspective. Follow the map for it may lead you to: 1. choose one of several unique pre-conference sessions on Tuesday; 2. meet up with friends and share time walking the local golf course or hitting tennis balls across the net on Tuesday; 3. catch the early-bird session trainin’ opportunity on Wednesday morning; 4. hit the Exhibit hall to learn more about what services could be used by your agency; or 5. search out the Opening General Session on Wednesday to hear an outstanding Keynote Speaker.
With all that searching as you follow the treasure map you may grow ‘famished’, so; 6. head to the vendor hall ‘whar be th’ grub’ or as they call it, ‘dessert,’ and later in the day for a vendor reception with food to ‘stave off me hunger’ after you’ve fed your thirst for technical knowledge from several breakout sessions. There’s gold in them thar hills. As you head into a new day at the conference on Thursday, don’t let your guard down because. . . . . .To Be Continued!
Welcome New CSMFO Members!
- Matthew Anderson, Chief Financial Officer, Silicon Valley Clean Water, Peninsula Chapter
- Hector Arreola, Fiscal Technician, Mojave Desert AQMD, Desert Mountain Chapter
- Jay Baksa, Financial Analyst, Dublin, East Bay Chapter
- Chris Browning, Payroll Accountant, El Segundo, South Bay Chapter
- Darlene Colaso, Human Resources Director, Napa, North Coast Chapter
- J’on Dennis, Audit Manager, Lance, Soll & Lunghard, CPA’s LLP, Central Los Angeles Chapter
- Julia Erdkamp, Manager, Client Services, MuniServices, LLC, Orange County Chapter
- Mariana Grajeda, Accounting Supervisor, Alameda County Water District, East Bay Chapter
- Shawn Jones, Interim Director of Fiscal Services, Palomar Community College District, Inland Empire Chapter
- Jerry Legg, SVP – Business Development Officer, River City Bank, Sacramento Valley Chapter
- Michele Logan, Management Analyst, Pasadena, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
- Bridgette McInally, Accounting Manager, Ventura, Channel Counties Chapter
- Doaquin Mosley, VP, Treas Rel Mgr, Gvnmt Bnkg, Rabobank N. A., Inland Empire Chapter
- Armando Nunez II, Public Safety Budget Analyst, Los Angeles, Central Los Angeles Chapter
- Audrey Ramberg, Finance Director, Redwood City, Peninsula Chapter
- Vina Ramos, Accounting Supervisor, El Segundo, South Bay Chapter
- Patricia Reavey, Director of Finance and Administration, Alameda County Transportation Commission, East Bay Chapter
- Jody Scott, Accounting Manager, El Segundo, South Bay Chapter
- Kimberly Siemen, management anaylst, Pasadena, San Gabriel Valley Chapter
- Justina Tien, Accounting & Financial Analyst, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, South Bay Chapter
- Victor Velasquez, Department Manager, FP&A, Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange County Chapter
Intermediate Governmental Accounting, Vallejo
– 11 September, 8:30am – 5:30pm
– Instructed by Susan Mayer
Power of Fiscal Policies / Long Term Financial Planning, Fresno
– 24 September, 8:30am – 4:30pm
– Presented by Bill Statler
Sacramento Valley Chapter Meeting
– 10 September 10:00am – 1:30pm
– Speaker: John Farnkopf, P.E., Senior Vice President at HF&H Consulting and Robb Grantham, Vice President at Carollo Engineering
Central Coast Chapter Meeting
– 10 September 12:00pm – 1:30pm
– Speaker: Jasmine Nachtigall, President and CEO of GovInvest
San Gabriel Valley Chapter Meeting
– 16 September 11:30am – 1:30pm
– Speakers: Ted Price, GOVINVEST
Jasmine Nachtigall, GOVINVEST
Central Valley Chapter Meeting
– 17 September 11:30am – 2:00pm
– Speakers: Tim Seufert, Managing Director, NBS
Inland Empire Chapter, ASPA and CMTA Division 8
– 17 September 11:30am – 1:30pm
– Speakers: Betty T. Yee, California State Controller
“Engaging Employees Effectively”
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time, Wednesday, September 16, 2015
cosponsored with the Cal-ICMA and CSMFO Coaching Programs
*** Advance registration required for this no-charge webinar:
1. What are the causes of disengagement?
2. How have agencies succeeded in boosting engagement?
3. What are things that employees can do at any level in their organization to improve results?
* Bob Lavigna, author “Engaging Government Employees” and Director of HR, Univ. of Wisconsin
* Adrienne Lothery, Strategic Services Manager, Colleyville, TX
* Ken Nordhoff, City Manager, and Fran Robustelli, Asst. City Manager and HR Director, Walnut Creek, CA
Audience: all local government professionals and up and comers
“Navigating Ethical Issues in Finance”
2:00 – 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 7, 2015
CSMFO Coaching Program
Advance registration required for this no-charge webinar:
Finance professionals at all levels of local government have important ethical responsibilities. Whether you are in accounting, billing, procurement, budgeting, financial planning, or treasury, ethical issues arise. Invite your team to join you for this important discussion.
* What’s the critical role finance professionals play in establishing and maintaining ethical standards?
* What are some important ethical issues and how do you navigate them?
* What resources and support are available to help you do the right thing?
* Dave Mora, ICMA State Liaison, retired City Manager
* Ronnie Campbell, Finance Director, Camarillo, past president CSMFO
Audience: all local government finance professionals
Don Maruska, Master Certified Coach
Director, CSMFO Coaching Program
See “Coaching Corner” at www.csmfo.org/coaching
Don Maruska & Company, Inc. – enjoy being your best
895 Napa Avenue, Suite A-5, Morro Bay, CA 93442
805-772-4667; fax: 805-772-4697; www.DonMaruska.com
Author of “How Great Decisions Get Made” and “Take Charge of Your Talent” www.TakeChargeofYourTalent.com
The California Society of Municipal Financers Officers (CSMFO) is a community of individuals who dedicate their lives to civil service and promote excellence in financial management through innovation, continuing education and professional development. Those who volunteer to support the CSMFO mission—on a committee, at the chapter level or as a member of the Board—will tell you the value they receive from their active involvement with CSMFO is immeasurable.
For those individuals who are ready to take on a greater role and begin contributing to the strength of the government finance profession, we invite you to volunteer for one of the many opportunities available, and CSMFO will make every effort to fulfill your request. We also understand you may have questions about these volunteer opportunities before you commit, and we encourage you to reach out to CSMFO’s Executive Director, Melissa Dixon, who would be happy to answer your question or direct you to the appropriate CSMFO leader.
Submit your requests or questions to CSMFO’s Executive Director, Melissa Dixon at 877.282.9183, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling out the form below.
CSMFO provides government finance professionals with numerous resources for enhancing and advancing their careers. Visit the job opportunities page of the CSMFO website for a list of current job openings.