Tag Archives: Leap Solutions Group

In this issue of our newsletter:

  • What is Leap Year?

  • Leap Defined

  • Leap Solutions Begins



Leap Year: 2024. Once again, the world literally catches up with itself by adding a day to the calendar. Have you wondered why we Leap every four years? The gift of an extra day evolved because:

  • It takes 365.242199 days for the Earth to complete its revolution around the sun.
  • Without an extra day in our calendars every four years, the seasons would fall out of sync.
  • With the seasons not in sync, the growing and harvesting of our crops would be impacted.
  • Without Leap Days, our calendar would be off by 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds every year. After 100 years, those hours would add up to 25 days, leaving us nearly a month behind the astronomical seasons.

These facts bring context to the logic of an extra day. While we enjoy the world honoring Leap Solutions with a special day, this gift allows us to ponder how we plan to use this extra day. We can utilize this day to reflect on our goals and appreciate another twenty-four hours to achieve them.




Have you really contemplated how one Leaps? Considering the concept of Leap(ing), you may recall the childhood activity of Leap Frogging or skipping. We may also consider the Concept of Leap as:

  • Literally, “springing through the air from one point or position to another”
  • Or to jump high or a long way; to move or do something suddenly and quickly; or even to increase suddenly and by a large amount.
  • Familiar sayings such as “Look before you leap.” “Leap of faith.” “Leap at the opportunity.” “Grow by leaps and bounds.” Giving ourselves the courage to Leap.
  • Or using faith: “Leap and the net will appear.” –John Burroughs
  • Or taking risks: “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.” –Henry David Thoreau



When I decided to take a Leap in 1998 to launch my solo consulting practice, I was nervous yet confident, having faith in my skills yet uncertain of my future. I knew I had to Leap, not just take a step. As Thoreau opined, I needed to leap in the dark for my success. I was leaving a mission-focused job to embrace the risk of depending on myself and not having the safety net of a steady paycheck. When sharing the news of my decision with colleagues, the frequent question of deep concern was, “What if it doesn’t work out?” to which I’d reply, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” My reply to their concern for my well-being was, “Well, I guess I’d need to find a job.” This was a risk and a Leap I was willing to take, even if it felt dark. As I developed the firm’s name and brand, I settled on Leap Solutions. From my perspective, just as I did to start the practice, I wanted to help clients to take a leap not a step. Besides, curiosity about what “Leap” meant was a great conversation starter (no, it isn’t an acronym).



This humble beginning in the world of consulting grew as I joined forces with Chuck McPherson in 2004. We merged our solo practices to form Leap Solutions Group. During the twenty-five years of helping clients Leap, the focus has been to embrace opportunity, address challenges, and take a leap (not a step). This confidence-forward approach empowers solutions, not band-aid applications that need a new replacement sooner rather than later. In other words, we want to sustain the client’s results and shift their paradigm. The concept of Leaping is not just on February 29 every four years, but a year-round activity.

As you ponder how you’ll spend the extra day in 2024, consider taking a Leap, either on your own or with our help. We’d enjoy the curiosity and exploration to figure out the Leap instead of a mire step to your future.



Are You Ready to Leap?


Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management, organizational development, executive search and recruitment, and human resources professionals who have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about: helping you feel passionate about what you do. We are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.

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It is time for Leap Solutions’ annual staff “Pond Picks:” our wishes, recommendations, and commitments to you—our loyal clients, associates, and friends—for making 2020 a year of ________. (Customized fill in the blank)

Our Staff Picks in the 2020 Annual Year-End Newsletter will cover:

  • 2020, The Year that was ______!
  • Staying Positive During a Time of Transition
  • The Year was 1995
  • Learned Appreciation Even in a Pandemic Time
  • Benefits Employees are Looking for in 2021
  • Why I’m Optimistic about 2021!
  • Your 2021 Productivity Vision
  • Avoiding the Squirrel

2020, The Year that was ______!

2020 has surpassed the number of adjectives I can even consider thinking about using. Although in theory with shelter in place and working from home, one could think it was a time to slow down, rest, and recover from the crazy lives that we all lead. Well for us here in Santa Rosa, I clearly got more than my fair share with two more fires, (2017 big and scary-2019 scary-2020 x 2 big but not as close to my house) a pandemic (first in a hundred years), an election with the magnitude yet to be fully felt, and death in my immediate family. Whew, a pretty crazy year I would say!

Even with all described above, I am surely thankful to those around me, specifically my wife, kids, business partner, and colleagues here at the worldwide headquarters of Leap Solutions. We have been very fortunate to support our clients through a huge variety of complex problems this year, specifically with the pandemic, business operations, and planning. I know personally that I had to quickly become an expert in the CARES Act, then moved right into PPP loans, and then continued sorting through furloughs, layoffs, and any other Covid related activity one can imagine. (too many to mention) All in all, Leap had a fantastic year with fantastic staff working with fantastic clients!

Everyone say “goodbye” to 2020 and let’s ring in a better year to come!

Happy Holidays

Chuck McPherson, Partner


Staying Positive During a Time of Transition

Throughout life, we continuously go through transitions. Whether it be small or large, transitions can be difficult. When encountering something new in our lives it can often be scary, stressful, and overwhelming, but if you tackle the situation in a positive way it can help make the transition easier. It is important to remember that you aren’t alone, new challenges only make you stronger, and times of transition are typically temporary.

Make sure to give yourself mental breaks. You can’t spend every waking moment thinking about your latest challenge. Tell yourself when you wake up that you will give yourself time to brainstorm your next step towards completing your transition, and then, give your mind a break. Take the time to do something you enjoy and that brings you happiness. For me, I love crafting, playing with my dogs, drinking wine, and talking to my closest friends on the phone.

Merry Christmas

Cassie Forman, Office Assistant


The Year was 1995

The year was 1995, I was a new executive, and began a long career of coaching leaders and emerging leaders. It was also the year I finished a hardcover book, “Love in the Time of Cholera”. Fast forward to 2020, I am now reading books electronically and coaching by Zoom during COVID-19.

Having shifted to the virtual coaching world, how different is it to coach online? Coaching others requires work to inspire, engage, and motivate individuals, increasing their creativity and helping them establish goals with accountability and outcomes. Coaching requires working with individuals and teams to encourage discussion regarding an issue, strength, concern, or problem. Framing the question, “What keeps you up at night”, then listening and guiding them toward a solution.

Face-to-face coaching gives you a feeling of being connected. We exchange information, note verbal and non-verbal cues, and interact with one another. Noticing and understanding these visual cues makes you a better coach. Learning the importance of an individual or team culture helps provide a safe environment where voices can be heard and acknowledged.

Studies suggest that 93% of one’s communication is non-verbal, watching, and observing the non-verbal cues allows you to gauge the coachee’s interest or understanding. Building trust is important and challenging over text or email. Trust is built face-to-face while providing a friendly environment for the individual to feel safe and boost their success.

So back to the question, how different is online coaching?

As coaches, we acknowledge this is a new era and overcome challenges to move into the digital community, one which will continue well into the future. With the advancement of personal computers, the internet, and cell phones, communications are different for many, yet at the same time familiar to others. Coaching individuals who feel isolated professionally and/or socially are encouraged to acknowledge the overwhelming feeling of being disconnected from colleagues and/or the company. We create a socializing experience to help people feel confident about video communications. As with in-person coaching, active listening skills are required to convey a message that reflects information and empathy that facilitates a discussion that brings out the best in the individual or team. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other online venues are the best alternatives to in-person communication. As coaches, we facilitate the feeling of “presence” to engage the individual and support their creativity. While we are not sure of the future, video conferencing will continue to be a part of our daily and weekly interactions allowing us to be face-to-face, be present, and engaged regardless of our physical location.

Remote video meetings and coaching is the new business model. As coaches, we work to design a new coaching experience that emulates in-person coaching that individuals and teams are confident that their objectives will be met.

Virtual Warm Holiday Wishes

Judy Coffey, Senior Consultant, Leadership Coach and Mentor


Learned Appreciation Even in a Pandemic Time

For most of our lives, we have rushed always on the move, doing one thing then moving to the next thing. As a result, we take many things for granted including health, life, freedom, job, school, family, friends, traveling, and more.

While 2020 has been a challenging year, there are many things we have learned to appreciate. The most important thing I learned during this complicated year was to appreciate the little and simple things of life.  I appreciate the small miracles that occur around me all the time and focus on the amazing aspects of people and situations.

Life is a miracle and being alive today and every new day is a precious gift. Today we appreciate being alive, family, job, friends, people around us, our house, and having food on the table to provide for our family. We appreciate technology, as it is the new way to be close to our friends and family and going to the park with our kids to give them a moment and a place to play away from their confining life. We appreciate our freedom today more than ever.

Today, being healthy is having all we need to appreciate and enjoy every day, every moment, our family, every smile, a cup of coffee, a sunny day, one song, dancing at home, cooking, hugging and kissing our kids, and even watching them jump on the sofas or running around the house. As long as we are alive and healthy, nothing else matters.

This quarantine has made me appreciate and think about and reflect on lots of things. I hope that you can do the same in your time at home. Take a moment to stop and think about things that really matter in your life.

Feliz Navida y Próspero Año Nuevo!

Maria Albor, Human Resources Associate


Benefits Employees are Looking for in 2021

What a difference a year can make!  My decision to Leap back to Leap Solutions in 2019 was the flexibility they offered.  Then the pandemic hit and caused businesses to become agile and flexible in order to survive!  Employees were “forced” to work remotely to safely distance and to become teachers to their school-aged kids who could no longer physically go to school.  Employees began working strange hours to get their work done and meet their family obligations.

With added stresses at home, employees are looking at their benefit packages to see if they are meeting the changing environment.  A new survey by Prudential Insurance found that 52% of employees surveyed would leave their job for one with the “right” benefits.  Health, dental, vision, and disability insurance remain a top priority but employees also want critical illness and cancer coverage with increased paid sick leave for workers with COVID-19.

Working from home, employees may feel they never get away from work so many want more time off.  Even if they cannot go somewhere, they want the ability to shut it all off for some self-care.  Mental health benefits have also become increasingly important. Implementing an employee assistance program (EAP) is an inexpensive way to support your employees who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

And when employees do return to the workplace, they want to know they are returning to a safe and healthy environment.  We recommend having a COVID-19 Prevention Plan which outlines your overall response to the pandemic outbreak.  Stay healthy and safe as we close a very trying 2020 and welcome 2021!

Christmas Joy to All

Tracy Emmerich, Human Resources Consultant


Why I’m Optimistic about 2021!

I was born into an Italian-American family in Northern California back in the late 1970s. We had a ritual of Sunday family dinners and holiday meals that lasted for hours with debates over politics, food, family, and friends. We had typewriters and rotary dial phones, we pretended to be “bionic” and were annoyed by siblings during road trips because we had “nothing” to do. We waited until Saturday for cartoons, lived in a world without Darth Vader, and moved the antenna for better reception.

Fast forward to 2019…fast food joints are on every corner, Door Dash is a thing, and keeping our eye on the prize with long work hours takes us away from our families. We all own personal computers, phones have evolved right before our eyes, we spend hours “liking” and “hearting” pictures and stories. We text while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting to see the doctor, or driving in the car all while not knowing where the time goes.

And then in 2020, we had a moment where we had to stop, look, and listen like when you learned to cross the street as a kid.

It’s during this time of the year that I have awakened to what this past year has taught me. For me, this year has brought me back to simpler times. A time to reflect. A time to cherish. While I may not revert to my rotary phone and typewriter, it is my vision in 2021 to be sickeningly grateful, maddeningly work to help my friends and family win, vigorously do less but be better, and present every day!

Wishing you a wonderful, cheerful Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year!

Jen Chelini, Executive Search Consultant


Your 2021 Productivity Vision

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us yet we have all thrived and done our best to stay focused and productive through this ambiguous time. There were times we all questioned how productive we are while at home in our PJs, homeschooling, and Zooming away. For 2021, I invite you to start off your year by creating your productivity vision. This exercise comes from the book, “Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less” by Michael Hyatt. The purpose of the productivity exercise is to create a clear vision of what you want your productivity to look like and feel like in 2021.

Productivity is described as a behavior; hence, we can change and modify our behavior at any time. We assume that if we are not always productive then we are not doing well, we are not doing our job, or fulfilling our responsibilities. We all, at least I do, love to collect tools, tricks, hacks, tactics, apps, and books on productivity. But what if we changed our perception of productivity? What if we changed our vision of productivity?

When you start your journey towards your ideal destination it is more likely that you will stay on track if you have a clear direction and know where you are going. The productivity vision is a way for you to get crystal clear on what you want your life to look like and why this is important to you.

  • You start by defining what your productivity ideal looks like;
  • You break it down into powerful memorable words that will keep you focused; and
  • You list why this is important to you and what is at stake.

For example, here is my 2021 productivity vision:

I am working 8 hours a day and dedicating my weekends to my volunteer work. I am spending quality time with my daughter building new positive habits and new traditions. I am jogging 3-5 days a week and I am in the best shape of my life getting ready for my next half-marathon. I am energetic and a positive influence on those around me. I follow my destination postcard and grow personally and professionally.

My three words to describe my vision are:

Healthy, Energy, Commitment

Why is this important to me? What is at stake?

  • My health
  • Time with my daughter
  • Commitment to me and others
  • Personal and professional growth

Here is the link to Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus tools where you can find the worksheet and other tools. I highly recommend the book for your 2021 reading list.

And now I leave you with one question: what a vision can do for your productivity in 2021?

Feliz Navidad!

Susana Morales, Organizational Development Consultant


Avoiding the Squirrel

In the wonderful Pixar movie, Up, one of the characters is a golden retriever, Dug, who wears a special collar that allows him to speak. One of the on-going comedic references in the movie is Dug’s constant facing of distractions which are identified as “squirrel”. Poor Dug is the perfect example of how people who are faced with many decisions on what to do next and can’t focus on them, end up being distracted whenever a new option crosses their path. Hence, the term “squirrel”.

Among Team Leap, the term squirrel has become a way to joke with one another whenever we become distracted from what is in front of us. With the variety of client interactions we have, current and new projects, and the promise of new projects when inquiries arrive, we have experienced the squirrel.

Working from home and with limited in-person contact, our world is experiencing a lot of squirrel activity. When you add in the distractions caused by makeshift offices, shared bandwidth, online school, or interacting with the new pet, it is so easy to get distracted and watch the squirrels emerge. If you can relate to this feeling, perhaps it is time to work on a new habit and create the anti-squirrel experience. Creating a new habit takes time and practice. Here are a few tips I have used to keep the squirrels at bay.

  • Start and end each day with the development of to do’s or desired accomplishments for the day. Outlining and stating them helps you create a rhythm or flow for the day. It allows you to prioritize and put first things first.
  • Block out time for your typical interruptions, you know the ones you can count on in your new world. Meals, checking in with colleagues (your version of getting a cup of coffee in the office and stopping by someone’s desk), launching the kids with school, checking emails, settling into your workday. Whatever your routine, allocate time so you focus on the routine tasks and can then shift to bigger things.
  • With the routine addressed, plan time blocks to work on projects and to-do items. Create a flow of what is the most time consuming and needing your top attention versus easy to do and not time-consuming.
  • Work on your top priorities when your energy is strongest. This allows you to feel most engaged and have the best outcome for you.
  • Celebrate (at least in your mind) what you have accomplished at the end of each day. Acknowledge when you have kept the squirrels at bay and from entering your work environment. Learn from when the squirrels interrupted your plan.
  • Practice the habit daily. It will become more comfortable as you experience success and tweak your approach as needed.

Start 2021 with a new approach to your distractions and instead of bending to the will of the squirrels, conquer them, and stay focused.

Warmest Wishes for a Special Holiday

Scott Ormerod, Partner



Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management, organizational development, and human resources, and executive search and recruitment professionals who have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about helping you feel passionate about what you do. Our HR specialists can help you get a handle on the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, programs, and legislation that may impact you and your employees. We are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.

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[NOTE: Leap Solutions Group is presenting a webinar for the California Special Districts Association on Tuesday, September 1, 10-10:30 am on the topic of virtual strategic planning. If you’d like to join us, here is the link to register for the webinar:

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, every day brings new information, concerns, and challenges regarding the spread of the virus, its economic and social impacts, and government directives. Leap Solutions remains dedicated to keeping you informed and empowered by delivering relevant, up-to-the-minute information and resources.

Our organizational development specialists are here to help support you with your online strategic planning, team development, executive coaching, training, program evaluation, and community engagement. Essentially, we can convert anything that you need in support of your business to a virtual experience. You still want to accomplish your plans, goals, and outcomes. We are here—virtually to help you achieve them.


In this issue of our newsletter we will cover:

  • Why strategically plan virtually?
  • What has changed in the virtual planning approach?
  • Questions about the virtual planning approach.
  • Are You Ready to Leap?

Why strategically plan virtually?

When the pandemic hit in mid-March, we were in the midst of numerous client strategic planning processes, with more about to start. Reaching out to our clients, we asked, “What are your thoughts regarding the next steps in the strategic planning process?” The answers ranged from Let’s put it on hold for a bit to Let’s move forward. However, how can we move forward in light of sheltering in place?

Great question, since every business in the world was struggling with how to complete work in progress or launch new business activities. Being Leap Solutions, we put on our solutions hat to dream up a virtual way to a strategic plan.

With the typical, in-person strategic planning process, we’d convene a group of our client’s leadership team to dream up the process, determine how to engage stakeholders, assess the environment scan (the tracking of internal and external trends and occurrences that bear on its success, currently and in the future), identify planning participants, set the planning timeline, and reach agreement on the scope of work. We followed this with numerous on-site planning team meetings, retreat facilitation, data collection and processing, values and mission reviewing, vision setting, priorities and goals identification, tactics focusing, and plan, document, and implementation map creation–all core activities to a living and implementable strategic plan.



What has changed in the virtual planning approach? 

  • What and How – Not the process but how Leap would accomplish this new approach.
  • Why – As we planned for the shift, we also discussed the why, as we considered the impact of the pandemic and whether a strategic or operational plan was needed.
  • When and Who – The when was all about the project timing, and the who dealt with the people available to support the planning process.
  • Where – The where, of course, was all virtual.

This initial conversation about the famous “W’s” and “H” was very strategic as well. Mid-March was not a great time for organizations to pick up or start their planning process, as businesses were focused on their employees, business sustainability, the viability of current strategies, and even survival. As the world moved into April and we became clearer on how government programs, such as the Payroll Protection Program and SBA emergency loans, could support business, our current and new clients responded with next-step questions.

Questions about the virtual planning approach.

The following are some of the top-of-mind questions we received, along with our answers. As consulting thought-leaders, we had to answer these great questions from our clients both creatively and with the mindset of a new frontier for strategic planning.


Should our planning be strategic or operational in light of the pandemic?

To answer this question, we asked a question back. What is the current state of your business and what, in your estimation, is the impact of the pandemic on your business strategies? For some, it was uncertainty and layoffs or furloughs with COVID impacts, for still others it hopefulness, emerging opportunities, and adapting old practices to new strategies. These were just a few of the responses. Based on the response, our guidance was to challenge the traditional mindset by asking if the pandemic was providing opportunities not yet understood. For instance, listening to our clients in early April, we heard of organizations changing their business model, moving from in-office to home office operations, reaching out to customers to understand their emerging needs and adapting services for them, and organizations exploring their current product or service offerings, and even adding new services. We saw clients implementing a quick adaption process being ready and adjusting rapidly. Readiness for planning determined if operational planning or strategic planning was best at the time. Some clients shifted to operational and put strategic planning on hold, while others did a combination. Impacts on their business model and readiness to shift, if needed, helped drive the planning approach.



What components of the scope of work need to be modified in the virtual planning approach?

Initially, we identified the timeline as the first component to discuss. We wanted to reach an agreement on whether or not a shift of timeline was needed due to urgency, availability of participants, and other business priorities.

We evaluated data gathering and analysis for the environmental scan to see if we could still utilize our intended approach: surveys, stakeholder interviews, World Cafés, and other information-gathering convenings. Our adaptable clients were intrigued by a virtual approach. While online surveys are not different in our new world, we could improve, stakeholder interviews with more people adapting to online meeting tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. With the stakeholder interviews in the non-COVID world, we’d typically arrange to meet them in their office or speak over the phone. In the COVID world, the improvements we discovered from an online meeting included a more intimate connection as the participants are in their homes, with time on their hands and a willingness to participate. And this type of connection there is a greater chance to engage as you get a better understanding of them and what is important to them. Stakeholder input is invaluable because they are most invested in the success of your organization with a strong interest in the outcomes and the impact in their lives.

The other challenge was conducting a World Café and seeing if we could address engagement with online meeting tools that allow for breakout rooms, polling, and other facilitation tools. We suggested online tools such as Groupmap to provide group discussion and instant recorded feedback (voice or data). We love that the Chat Room and video recording features help us retain and document our data. Automated data gathering helps immensely as we dissect and report on the data. World Cafés are very adaptable to the online environment with these tools, however, the dialogue is what shapes the data gathering as the tools are simply tools.

Within days, we found that all components of the planning scope of work could be adapted in the virtual world. Some processes, such as data gathering and participation levels, even improved as we quickly acknowledged and accepted that the barriers of an online experience due to the limitations to gather in person did not change the desired outcome.



As for stakeholder involvement, should we look at a smaller level of participation? What tools should we use? How will we get their feedback? How can we sustain their engagement?

The first question is how many stakeholders do you want to engage and at what level of active input? Are your stakeholders widely dispersed (even over time zones)? How do the identified stakeholders provide value to your planning process? What is the best outcome you can imagine from the stakeholder participation? These foundational questions allow you to set the stage to achieve your desired outcomes for stakeholder participation.

Once we know the conceptualize the stakeholder participation, we can assess the number of desired stakeholders. Smaller is not necessary, as with online tools it is fairly simple to engage a larger number of participants. Surveys and online interviews can easily be conducted. World Cafés require a larger time commitment but can be streamlined with online convening tools. In comparison with the logistics of an in-person gathering of stakeholders, the online tool logistics are less complicated for the organizer because your command center is your laptop or desktop and can be accomplished from anywhere without travel.

As outlined in the tools section below, there are a vast number of online tools you can use to gather stakeholder feedback. You can address a stakeholder’s familiarity with the online tool with pre-session workouts to acquaint them with the tool. To support the convening, you can appoint a co-facilitator or meeting producer whose role is to handle all the logistics of the online environment such as admitting participants to the meeting, monitoring the Chat Room, setting up and launching the breakout rooms, running the Powerpoint presentation, muting and unmuting, all to ensure a smooth, flawless meeting execution. While in session, the co-facilitator can even support the orientation to the online tools in real-time. This support role also includes troubleshooting, covering technical blimps (like your Internet service hiccupping), recording the session, and timekeeping. Even in large groups, such as the large community business group we participated in with over one hundred participants in the general session and breakout groups, the engagement can be very strong with the right tools, well managed.

While the online engagement can provide instant stakeholder feedback using such tools as polls, breakout rooms, and convening software, we also recommend post-session feedback, with verbal feedback at the end of the session or an online survey. The questions should be short, direct, and aligned with planning objectives. You want to respect the time commitment of stakeholders and make it easy for them to give feedback. Showing appreciation for their time as well as sending them post-meeting information are simple acts to value their time and contributions.

Finally, engagement is most dependent upon how you set up the interaction. Make it simple, easy, and rewarding. Less is more should be a driving principle to your engagement. Efficient questions, clear data, and accurate reporting reward your stakeholders for their participation. Again, in COVID, we are seeing a high level of willingness from stakeholders to participate and make a commitment to the process.

With one international, professional group, we see participants from many corners of the world, all managing to COVID and wanting a sense of community and interaction. Engagement is high and maintained through both small and large group participation. The breakout rooms of international colleagues have a common thread of people wanting to connect, share their experience, learn from others, and apply it to their environments. We find a high level of experiential learning and the willingness to try new things to support engagement.



Our priorities are shifting under COVID. Should we plan for this shift over the life cycle of the plan? Should we have a priority focused on COVID or a theme throughout? How can we reflect on a rapidly changing pandemic situation in our plan?

If we look into the crystal ball of our future, it would seem that our state of COVIDness is not going away anytime soon. Listening to the epidemiologist experts, this virus and the needed vaccine is 12-18 months in the making. It seems likely that it will be with us throughout 2021 and perhaps into 2022. We don’t know for sure. What we do know is its impact right now. Major companies have already announced work-from-home strategies for their workforce through the end of 2021. For your organization, the question of the impact of COVID over the life of your plan is important to address. We are currently recommending that organizations consider it a major environmental impact that will affect the organization for at least two years, and should be a component of the plan over the plan duration.

During the priority and goal identification of the strategic plan, COVID should inform the planning. For instance, if you are exploring how to drive your business development or new product/service offerings, you should consider the impacts of COVID. Are you seeking new customers or do you want to secure more business from existing customers? What are the unique opportunities due to COVID? What are the limiting factors? What innovative approaches can you consider? One of our clients was reviewing the state of their plan one year into its implementation. The client was wondering how to secure new business. We discussed innovative, creative solutions such as hosting webinars on the topic of best practices in their industry and how they are applying those practices to projects that need modifying due to COVID protocols. Another client who is in the midst of their strategic plan determined that marketing and communications need a higher profile because the audience they serve is a group of high school students and without the student presence in the classroom, outreach is more difficult. They are exploring online convenings to hold information meetings about services, engage with school counselors, and ensure the students know they are here to help.

Another topic was team retention and engagement during the shelter in place. To help our clients, we analyzed past team engagement activities and looked at adapting them to online. These discussions evolved into the incorporation of COVID realities into their living strategic plan over the next two years. The bottom line: it is best to integrate COVID into all aspects of your current strategic as well as operational plans.



What tools are available to conduct the planning process with a dispersed and virtual team?

As teams adapt to the virtual, online planning environment, available tools are prolific. Online group facilitation and convening tools have existed for years. Leap has used Facilitate.com for many years to convene large and small groups to build consensus and drive business decisions. Groupmap is another example of a convening tool. No matter the tool, the concept is the same: state a question, gather input, theme ideas, prioritize ideas, and reach consensus. Online tools also allow for onscreen and offscreen chats, breakout rooms, polling, and whiteboards. Google Jamboard is a collaborative digital whiteboard that allows a group to deep dive into a concept in real-time. You can use it as an online post-it note brainstorming tool, as well as to reach a consensus on ideas.  A key to success with the many tools available is to master the tool and train participants in how to best use it for their planning process.

With the foundation of an online interactive program such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, the complimentary tools support the group dynamics of in-person gatherings. While technology can be a barrier for some participants less savvy with online experiences, pre-meeting workouts with participants can address the barriers. Helping all team members feel comfortable with the tools reduces the technology bias and can even up the participation field.



Can we still finish this plan within our desired timeframe?

The answer clearly moved to YES that we could accomplish the planning process in the desired timeline.

With the plan participants working remotely, we found that scheduling the meetings is much easier, particularly when we have the scope of work and planning timeline well defined. It allows the client’s team to set all the convening dates in advance and sketch out their planning assignments between meetings.

The planning schedule can work best with up to two-hour meeting blocks. As the facilitator, Leap manages the agenda, runs the meeting convening software, takes notes, keeps to the timed agenda, and ensures all team members are participating in the process. We have also learned that reaching the timeline goal means scheduling the planning meeting every two weeks, which allows for the planning assignment to be completed between meetings.

We have been conducting strategic planning processes for nonprofit and special district organizations during the pandemic. When working with a group of volunteers, the learnings have been very similar in how the planning is accomplished. As volunteers are employed or even active retirees, they appreciate a set, consistent time to convene, along with a well-defined agenda to ensure progress. When we planned the approach with one nonprofit, we had initially planned for a one-day retreat to launch and execute most of the planning activities. Then COVID-19 interrupted this concept and we moved to four two-hour online convenings, with a shorter retreat at the end of the process. Another client moved to seven two-hour meetings, followed by two short retreats to present and then finalize the plan.



Are You Ready to Leap?

Now is the time to strategically plan virtually. Not to plan is to allow life to just happen and to respond reactively. Moving the process virtually requires additional planning and a shifting of the logistics, but the outcomes match what we can accomplish with in-person planning. Think about shifting your planning process to the online world. Are you ready to Leap?



Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management, organizational development, and human resources, and executive search and recruitment professionals who have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about helping you feel passionate about what you do. Our HR specialists can help you get a handle on the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, programs, and legislation that may impact you and your employees. We are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.

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From the ongoing #MeToo movement to nightly TV coverage of high-profile courtroom trials to the 2020 Oscar-winning movie Bombshell…there’s no question that sexual harassment is on our collective mind. We’re seeing just how damaging harassment can be to an employee’s long-term emotional, physical and economic wellbeing, and we’re recognizing that harassment can lead to decreased productivity, increased turnover, possible legal costs and potentially irreparable harm to a company’s reputation.

The time is now to protect your employees and your company by actively creating and fostering a harassment-free work environment.

It’s the Law…and It’s an Opportunity

As you know, Senate Bill 778 requires employers with five or more employees to complete sexual harassment prevention training by January 1, 2021. That means you should implement the trainings in 2020 in order to be fully compliant by that date.

But sexual harassment prevention training can be so much more than the fulfillment of a government mandate. Done well, it can be a vital opportunity for employers to instill employee faith in your organization’s ability to competently and professionally handle matters of harassment and to boost employee confidence in your absolute commitment to an inclusive, respectful, safe and responsive workplace.

Educating Employees with Harassment Prevention Training

Harassment training helps ensure that no employee feels unsafe at work. At its core is your anti-harassment policy, which is not only helpful but required for any size organization. The experts at Leap Solutions can help you establish an easy-to-understand, comprehensive written policy that is in full compliance with current federal, state and local requirements.

An effective policy for preventing harassment, discrimination and retaliation will:

  • List all protected classes and characteristics (including race, national origin, sex, gender identity, gender expression and transgender status)
  • Define and provide concrete examples of harassment
  • State unequivocally that unlawful harassment is prohibited by all supervisors, coworkers and third parties
  • Outline consequences for violating harassment policy
  • Explain how employees can complain of harassment or report observed harassment
  • Allow employees to report harassment to someone other than a direct supervisor
  • Require supervisors to report all complaints to an appropriate representative
  • Establish protocols for prompt, thorough, fair and impartial investigations (including careful and objective documentation of witness interviews, factual findings, conclusions and steps taken)
  • Assure that investigations will be kept as confidential as possible
  • Confirm that employees will not be retaliated against for complaining or participating in a reporting process or investigation
  • Include procedures for timely, fair remedial action if misconduct is found (note: the behavior need not rise to the level of a policy or law violation to warrant a remedy, and remedial measures might include counseling, training, a “last chance” agreement, demotion, salary reduction, bonus rescinding or termination)
  • State that employees who file a complaint will be notified about the status of the complaint, the results of any investigation and actions taken

Quality harassment prevention training clearly and compellingly communicates the details of your policy and informs and educates your employees about the ins and outs of what does (and what does not) constitute harassment. It reinforces the steps to take in the event that harassment occurs, and it confirms that the company can be trusted to respond with diligence and candor. Moreover, training conveys that you genuinely care about your employees—and about doing everything you can to eliminate harassment from the workplace.

Empowering People with Harassment Prevention Training

Even with today’s heightened awareness, all too many harassment victims and bystanders feel conflicted—they may be embarrassed or ashamed, unsure of whether an incident qualifies as harassment, worried they won’t be believed or the company won’t take appropriate action, or afraid of social and/or professional retaliation. Instead of reporting, they might avoid the harasser, deny or downplay the gravity of the situation, or simply try to forget, ignore or endure the offensive behavior.


The best harassment prevention training, however, can make a world of difference by empowering employees at all levels to:

  • Respectfully speak up, in the moment, when they see or experience something they find offensive
  • Broaden self-awareness and recognize when and how their own behavior, however well-intended, might be perceived as inappropriate
  • Readily identify the kinds of language and behaviors that could be considered harassment
  • Know their rights and confidently report any harassment they encounter
  • Understand their obligations as bystanders
  • Safely intervene when they witness harassing behavior
  • Find practical, smart ways to encourage and support coworker victims
  • Remain confident that their fellow team members will stand behind them if an incident occurs

Tailored harassment prevention training further empowers managers and supervisors to:

  • Pay close attention to employees and employee reactions, both spoken and unspoken
  • Recognize different types of harassment
  • Address inappropriate behavior calmly and expediently
  • Understand the responsibilities inherent to positions of influence
  • Build relationships in which employees feel secure voicing concerns
  • Refer to a set standard when a harassment complaint is made

Finally, harassment prevention training empowers and equips company leaders with systems, tools and resources to:

  • Support victims
  • Protect against false allegations
  • Avoid legal liability
  • Handle any and all complaints promptly, confidentially and fairly


At Leap Solutions, we’re as dedicated to protecting your employees and reducing and preventing harassment in the workplace as you are. We can customize trainings to your specific workplace and your unique employees, and you can count on our seasoned facilitators to engage your employees with real-world scenarios, specific and relevant situational examples, and expert answers to all manner of questions.

As you can imagine, the lasting benefits of Leap’s harassment trainings extend well beyond the workplace. After completing the training, individuals experience far greater self-awareness and are better equipped to identify and appropriately respond to harassment anywhere it might take place.


Building Community through Harassment Prevention Training

Best of all, training builds community. When everyone is well informed and on the same page, and employees in all positions are consistently held accountable, every individual plays an essential role in the collective solution to harassment and the creation of safe, considerate happy workplaces.

Call us to learn about custom and/or group harassment prevention training opportunities, or sign up online for one of our pre-scheduled 2020 trainings—we offer morning and afternoon sessions for both supervisory and non-supervisory employees and in both English and Spanish.


2020 Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training

All sessions will be held at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau 3589 Westwind Blvd Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training  – SPANISH

  • Date: Wednesday – April 8, 2020
  • Time: 8:30 am – 9:30 am (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 8:30 am – 10:30 am (supervisory employees)

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training – ENGLISH

  • Date: Wednesday – April 8, 2020
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (supervisory employees)

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training  – SPANISH

  • Date: Wednesday – June 10, 2020
  • Time: 8:30 am – 9:30 am (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 8:30 am – 10:30 am (supervisory employees)

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training – ENGLISH

  • Date: Wednesday – June 10, 2020
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (supervisory employees)

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training  – SPANISH

  • Date: Wednesday – September 9, 2020
  • Time: 8:30 am – 9:30 am (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 8:30 am – 10:30 am (supervisory employees)

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training – ENGLISH

  • Date: Wednesday – September 9, 2020
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (supervisory employees)

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training  – SPANISH

  • Date: Wednesday – December 9, 2020
  • Time: 8:30 am – 9:30 am (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 8:30 am – 10:30 am (supervisory employees)

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training – ENGLISH

  • Date: Wednesday – December 9, 2020
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm (non-supervisory employees)
  • Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm (supervisory employees)

For questions, please contact:

Tracy Emmerich
Leap Solutions Group

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