Author Archives: Rick Dacri

About Rick Dacri

Rick Dacri is one of those rare individuals who can take difficult employee issues, sort through their complexities, and find solutions for employers that make sense. Dacri brings more than 25 years of experience in senior management, organizational development, and human resources, all in one package. He has consulted to a wide variety of industries, large and small, always brings to the table a practical approach, sound advice, and a sense of humor. Dacri is the president and founder of Dacri & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in helping business owners and managers improve the performance and productivity of their organization and workforce. Much of Rick’s success can be attributed to his ability to work with managers to get to the heart of their problems and provide them practical solutions with simple, straightforward steps for implementation. Rick is a recognized national speaker, speaking at conferences on leadership, organizational change and human resources. He is a prolific writer, authoring the book Uncomplicating Management and over 100 articles for a number of business publications. He is also a regular contributor to several industry associations’ journals and newsletters. He has been an adjunct professor at Clark University, Assumption College and Fitchburg State College, where he has taught courses in management, organizational behavior, and human resource management. Rick serves on a number of boards and has served as President of the Human Resource Association of Southern Maine, as the Massachusetts State Director for the Society for Human Resource Management as well as the President of the Human Resource Association of Central Massachusetts. Rick holds a MBA from Clark University and a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude from Assumption College. He lives on the coast of Maine where the sites, sounds and smells of the ocean give him inspiration and strength.

11 Tips to Dampen the Flames in a Crisis

5(This article by Rick Dacri was published in the Maine Town City County Management Association July 2015 Newsletter)

If it can go wrong, it will. While some municipal managers may prefer to take the tact that a crisis will never occur on their watch, the more seasoned professionals understand that unfortunately, Murphy’s Law trumps. It is never IF a crisis occurs, but more likely, WHEN will the crisis happen. Readiness must include anticipation, preparation, mitigation and communication. Not having a crisis intervention plan is like driving 80MPH in the dark without headlights and not knowing there’s a hairpin curve up ahead. The likelihood of a safe arrival is quickly diminishing.

So what should you do to prepare? Here are 11 tips:

  1. Accept the fact that a crisis will occur sometime: Playing ostrich is not crisis planning. Prepare for what could go wrong.
  2. Anticipate what could happen: Plant closings, major fire, drug bust, or economic calamity. All require a response. While you can never anticipate everything (think Zumba), know how you would respond in a crisis and develop contingencies.
  3. Decide who will speak: Whether it’s the town manager or the mayor, or the police or fire chief, know who will be the face and voice of the community. Remember, the first rule of crisis management is knowing who is in charge. Have a spokesperson ready.
  4. Know your audience: Understand that you have many stakeholders who want to know what is going on and they want answers fast. Your stakeholders include residents, employees, elected officials, media, regulators and more. Ignore them at your peril.
  5. Understand your strategy and message: Know what has to be said and say it. Don’t wing it. Gather the facts. Get your message out quickly and be honest and transparent. At the same time, there will be times when circumstances will prevent you from telling all.
  6. Prepare for the media; Understand they have a job to do and they are not your enemy—or your friend. Be straight with them. Have a clearly identified spokesperson ready. Get your message out before they formulate another one. Put out a clearly written statement. Obviously, if you have created a positive relationship with the media before the crisis, your job now will be a bit easier.
  7. Utilize social media: People get their information, good and bad, through social media. Residents, the press and employees quickly turn to twitter, Facebook and your website for instant information. Educate your stakeholders in advance that this is how you get immediate and reliable communication.
  8. Talk to your employees: be clear about your message. Remember, residents and the press will likely seek out employees to get the “inside scoop.” Make sure employees know what to say.
  9. Don’t ignore emotion: You’re not a robot. Depending on the issue, empathy, sympathy, remorse and even anger is appropriate. If the town made a mistake, apologize. If the community was harmed, a smile will not be the best expression to show.
  10. Have a presence: Show that you’re in charge; that you’re on top of the situation. Be truthful and in control. If you don’t have an answer to a question, let them know you’ll get it for them. And then do it quickly. Never be wishy-washy or reticent.
  11. Communicate well: Frequent, timely and with clarity—that’s how you must communicate. In a crisis, people demand information. Without it they’ll fill in the blanks, often with misinformation. Remain out front.

Crises will always occur. How you handle them will either dampen or fan the flames. Preparation will minimize the potential chaos and will often generate you good will during a difficult period.

Other posts you may like:

  1. Municipalities: Top 10 Tips to Ensure the Board & Manager Maintain a Strong & Effective Relationship
  2. Succession Planning in Municipalities Assure Steady Flow of Talent
  3. Managing Your Career: 9 Musts for Continuous Success

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Filed under city, communications, crisis management, ICMA, media relations, municipalities, social medai, town

Executive Director Position Open, Northeast Public Power Association

help-wantedThe Northeast Public Power Association (NEPPA), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is seeking candidates for the position of Executive Director. Reporting to the Board of Directors, we are looking for a dynamic, forward thinking leader with demonstrated record of successful business, utility or association management. NEPPA, located in Littleton, MA, is a private, non-profit association representing over 70 consumer owned utilities in New England. NEPPA provides a variety of services to its members including education and training, legislative advocacy, publications, and member representation and communication to its members on the activities of ISO-New England.
NEPPA prefers candidates with 10 years senior management experience in business, utilities, or association management, ideally in public power. The successful candidate will have demonstrated financial, management, project management and legislative experience; and the ability to work effectively and with transparency with its board of directors, members, employees and elected officials. The right candidate should possess a Bachelors degree.

This is a unique and exciting opportunity for the career minded manager, who thinks strategically, works collaboratively, listens attentively, and who can make tough decisions. NEPPA is facing some unique challenges over the next five years: a need to upgrade its training to meet the ever changing requirements of our industry and to provide the highest safety standards for our members; continuous outreach to our members ensure their satisfaction; and advocacy and education on issues, legislation and regulations affecting our members and industry. NEPPA desires an Executive Director who can hit the ground running, lead a vibrant team of employees, in concert with the Board and to provide fresh leadership to this highly recognized association.
NEPPA’s offices and new training facility is located in Littleton, MA. Littleton is a bedroom community west of Boston. It has an excellent school system and is close to nationally recognized medical facilities and has easy access to major sports teams, theatre and the arts, and outdoor activities including beaches and skiing.
NEPPA offers an attractive salary and comprehensive benefit package along with the opportunity to grow your career. To learn more about this position, call Rick Dacri, Dacri & Associates Executive Search, at 207-229-5954 or rick@dacri.com.

To apply, email your resume, cover letter and salary history, in confidence, by August 3, 2015:

Rick Dacri
Dacri & Associates, LLC
Executive Search
207-229-5954
rick@dacri.com

NEPPA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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Massachusetts: Final Earned Sick Time Regulations

2000px-Flag_of_Massachusetts(Post written by attorneys from Fisher & Phillips, June 23, 2015)

On June 19, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General published the final regulations concerning the new Earned Sick Time (“EST”) law that will go into effect on July 1, 2015. These final regulations differ somewhat from the draft regulations submitted in April and provide clarification and additional detail to aid with implementation.

The Basics
Under the EST law, all employees in Massachusetts must be allowed to accrue and use up to 40 hours of EST in a calendar year, subject to certain conditions set forth in the law and the regulations. Under the previously announced “safe harbor” provision, companies that utilized a policy under which certain employees received at least 30 hours of paid time off as of May 1, 2015 will be deemed compliant relative to those employees and any other employees to whom the policy is extended on a proportional basis. Additionally, starting July 1, all use of time, whether under the law itself or under the safe harbor provision, must be job protected and is subject to the law’s anti-interference and anti-retaliation provisions. A summary of the law can be found here.

Key Changes And Distinctions Between The Draft And Final Regulations
EST May Run Concurrently With FMLA
The final regulations state that EST may run concurrently with leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and other state leave laws. The draft regulations had stated that EST must be “in addition to” FMLA and other state leaves.

Additional “Travel Time” EST Use Added
The law provides four purposes for which sick time may be used: care for a physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition; caring for a close family member with such a condition; attending medical appointments; and addressing the effects of domestic violence. The final regulations add a fifth category: EST may be used for “travel to and from an appointment, a pharmacy, or other location related to the purpose for which time was taken.”

“Same Hourly Rate” Defined
The law states that EST must be paid at “the same hourly rate” as the employee would earn for their work. Given the numerous ways employees can be compensated outside of an “hourly rate,” the final regulations set out more specifically how this “same hourly rate” should be calculated:

  • hourly employees are paid their regular hourly rate; those who earn two or more rates are paid an average “blended rate” based on their previous pay period;
    salaried employees are paid a rate based on the total compensation divided by hours worked in the previous pay period. For exempt salaried employees working 40 hours or more per week, the employer can assume 40 hours rather than using actual hours worked. However, employers cannot make that assumption for exempt salaried employees regularly working less than 40 hours per week or salaried non-exempt employees;
    employees paid on a piece-work or fee-for-service basis must be paid “a reasonable calculation of the wages or fees the employee would have received” for the work if the employee had worked;
    commissioned employees, whether commission-only or base rate plus commission, must be paid the greater of their base wage or the minimum wage; and
    tipped employees must be paid the minimum wage.

Alternative Accrual Schedule
The final regulations provide Continue reading

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DOL Publishes New FMLA Forms

(This post was written by attorney Kai McGintee, Bernstein Shur on 6/10/15)McGintee

With summer right around the corner, the federal Department of Labor hasn’t taken off on vacation quite yet. Rather, the DOL has been hard at work issuing new Family and Medical Leave Act notices and medical certification forms for employers to use. The new DOL forms are good through May 31, 2018:WH-380-E Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition. (Click for Forms)

WH-380-F Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition
WH-381 Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities
WH-382 Designation Notice
WH-384 Certification of Qualifying Exigency For Military Family Leave
WH-385 Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Current Servicemember — for Military Family Leave
WH-385-V Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave

The forms are substantially similar to the DOL’s prior versions. The only notable change is that the DOL added a reference to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in its instructions to health care providers on the certification form for an employee’s serious health condition (WH-380-E). Specifically, the DOL added the following: “Do not provide information about genetic tests, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(f), genetic services, as defined in 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(e), or the manifestation of disease or disorder in the employee’s family members, 29 C.F.R. § 1635.3(b).” Employers who use their own medical certification forms rather than the DOL version should be sure to add this instruction for GINA compliance purposes.
Although the DOL had at one time created a form for employees to use to request FMLA leave, that form is a thing of the past. Because no magic words, let alone a form, are needed to request FMLA leave, the DOL did away with its model request for leave form. Employers should remember that for foreseeable leave, an employee only needs to provide “verbal notice sufficient to make the employer aware that the employee needs FMLA-qualifying leave, and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.” For unforeseeable leave, an employee only needs to provide “sufficient information for an employer to reasonably determine whether the FMLA may apply to the leave request.”
Once an employee requests leave, the employer’s responsibilities under the FMLA are triggered if it has “knowledge that an employee’s leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason.” As a result, when any doubt exists over whether an employee is seeking time off for a reason that could qualify under the FMLA, employers should err on the side of caution. If an employee mentions illness or injury as the reason for an absence, then the absence “may” be FMLA-qualifying and the Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities should be provided to the employee. Although Maine has its own version of FMLA, the state has not developed its own forms. Accordingly, Maine employers who wish to utilize the federal forms for Maine FMLA purposes should specifically advise the employee that the federal form is being used for that purpose, and that mere usage does not confer federal FMLA rights. New Hampshire does not have a separate state family medical leave law and therefore follows the federal FMLA.
The DOL FMLA forms are simple, fairly straightforward, and legally compliant. As long as employers use them consistently and correctly, administration of FMLA will be a warm summer breeze!

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The Critical Relationship Between the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen

UnknownPost was written by Rick Dacri and was published in the New Hampshire Town and City, May/June, 2015

The job of the town manager or an elected official is not easy. But, when things are operating well, people are working cohesively, residents are happy, and results are being achieved, then it’s good to be in local government.

Results begin when three elements are in place: a positive working relationship between the board and the manager, a shared mission about what the town wants to accomplish, and a commitment to move forward together. The relationship ensures that a collegial rapport occurs based on trust and shared values. The mission guides the town’s allocation of limited resources: money, talent and time. And commitment pulls everything together. Absent any of those components, everything collapses like a two-legged stool.

That collapse often occurs when priorities become unclear, the manager becomes unsure where the board is headed, or individuals are moving in different directions. Therefore, a comprehensive or strategic plan is necessary to provide focus to both the board and manager. The key is to get the manager and the board members on the same page.

So how do you forge an effective relationship while meeting the town’s mission?

Set clear expectations and accountability standards: After all, if you want the manager to drive the organization where you want, develop a map. Be clear, specific and direct.
Understand your manager’s needs and expectations: Boards need to take time to get to know what makes their manager tick. Know the individual’s personal and professional goals, objectives and stressors and what can you do to help alleviate them.
Provide a timely performance review and know the market for executive compensation: Late reviews and salaries that fall below their peers are two areas that cause the greatest resentment, resulting in breakdowns in the relations and turnover. In a market with a shortage of good municipal management talent, this can be a catastrophe.
Set realistic performance goals: the strategic direction of the town will only be achieved when this is done well. The genesis of all goals should be the town’s strategic plan.
Provide ongoing feedback on performance: It’s lonely at the top. The manager needs input from the board. An ongoing dialogue is essential.
Support the manager’s development: Grow your manager. The world is constantly changing and your manager must be able to keep up. A stagnant manager with last year’s ideas is not going to move your organization forward.

There is a fundamental, almost systemic tension between the roles of the board of selectmen and the town manager. Who is in charge? Absent clear guidelines and a process to address roles, responsibilities, and strategic direction, conflict arises. Struggles for power and control emerge. As with any conflict, the solution is to get people talking and listening. Regardless, embracing the collective belief in the mission of your town is a powerful magnet to draw people together, allowing them to rise above ideology and personal agendas for the collective good of the town. A strong commitment to this belief and a passion to make it work allows most to make the relationship piece work. It happens everyday in well run communities.

Other posts you might like:

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Municipalities: Top 10 Tips To Ensure the Board & Manager Maintain a Strong & Effective Working Relationship

UnknownPost by Rick Dacri. Originally published in the City & Town Magazine of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, May/June 2015

  1. Establish a clear, mutually agreed upon mission for the town and define values from which to operate. Take the time to discuss vision, strategy and policy. If your focus is simply surviving today, you’ll likely stagnate. Effective boards understand the importance of strategic planning as a means to steer the organization.
  2. Identify clear, annual goals and needs along with a time frame to complete. Develop a vision for your community. Dream big and move forward, one step at a time.
  3. Establishment a clear division of responsibilities and accountabilities for the board and manager. Be specific about boundaries and control. Governance must be clearly delineated and understood. You can only have one town manager at a time.
  4. Establish a forum for ongoing open communications and planning. Build open discussions into your calendar. Set up formal times to meet, both formally and informally with the manager to maintain focus and to nurture the relationship.
  5. Establish methods to resolve conflict in a respectful, open and honest manner. Conflict will occur. Set up a process to address it, and, if that doesn’t work, bring in outside professional help.
  6. Establish priorities with the understanding that they must be reviewed on an ongoing basis since the town’s challenges are ever changing. We live in a rapidly evolving environment. The board and manager must be nimble. The strategic planning process helps to anticipate the expected challenges, threats and opportunities before they emerge, but external and internal changes can occur that will change the picture.
  7. Develop methods to establish trust and support, where everyone adheres to the plan and each of you “has each other’s back.” Trust is a critical element in any healthy relationship. Without it, things fail. Work to continuously build trust and get help when repair is required.
  8. Develop and implement an effective annual performance evaluation system that is an ongoing process. There should be no surprises in annual evaluation if communication has been healthy, ongoing and honest. No business relationship can occur without clear accountability standards. A performance evaluation can be an excellent tool for this. Establish a formal process. Provide each board member an opportunity to contribute. Focus on the future and avoid creating a “report card” system. And encourage informal feedback throughout the year.
  9. Develop a process to bring newly elected board members up-to-date on what has been established and agreed upon amongst the current board and manager. Board orientations bring new members up to speed quickly, allowing them to make an immediate contribution.
  10. Create a board of selectmen self-assessment. This is a tool designed to help clarify roles and responsibilities, assess board performance, seek ways to improve and plan for the future. Outside professionals are often engaged to help boards develop such a mechanism.

Other Posts You Might Like:

  1. How to do Quality Manager Evaluations
  2. Recruitment: Landing Your Next Manager
  3. Succession Planning in Municipalities Assure Steady Flow of Talent

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New Massachusetts Minimum Wage Regulations Contain Significant Changes

hammer1(This post was written by attorney Diane M. Saunders of the firm Ogletree Deakins, on April 28, 2015)

While the January 2015 increases in the Massachusetts minimum wage for regular and tipped employees have received considerable attention and publicity, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) also issued new minimum wage regulations to little fanfare. The new regulations have been somewhat of a “sleeper,” even though they are a marked departure from existing law in some areas. They include substantial changes to the prior regulations in the areas of employer notice and recordkeeping requirements, employee uniforms, and deductions for lodging and meals. They also include new language on the topics of working time, on-call time, travel time, and indirect deductions.

In brief, the key changes in the new regulations include: Continue reading

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