1998 – 2000: The Beginning
The NMC formally started in 2000, created from the fusion of manager communities that had sprung up in regions across Canada following La Relève.
The original purpose of the NMC was to support managers to enable them to be more effective in their work. It accomplished this through networks across all Departments and Agencies, and promoting learning and development to address the specific needs of managers. The early years of the NMC saw strong support from senior leadership, in particular Michelle Comeau, then Associate Deputy Minister with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Michael Nurse, then Associate Deputy Minister with Public Works and Government Services Canada, who were the first two Champions for managers. They each brought passion and were instrumental in the creation of the National Managers’ Community.
An ADM Advisory Board was formed and has been a continuing presence, providing advice, guidance, and advocacy and always stepping forward individually and collectively as required. A small Secretariat office was set up in Ottawa, and each province, region and territory was provided with funding to hire a Regional Coordinator to support regional community building efforts and events. Manager Representatives from the each of the ten provinces, the National Capital Region, Northwest Territories and Nunavut were appointed as Council Members to represent their managers’ community, bring the respective views of their community to the Council, and develop strategy and direction for the NMC.
2001 – 2004: The Formative Years
During this time, the National Managers’ Community forged strong relationships with The Leadership Network and the Canadian Centre for Management Development. A number of federal government departments and agencies also provided significant funding and resources to support the NMC.
In 2001 the NMC partnered with Canadian Centre for Management Development to hold its first managers’ forum in Ottawa. This first event was a huge success, and became an annual event. Our partnership with The Leadership Network led to the development of Communities of Practice for Coaching and Learning Organizations, both of which have been so successful that they are still active and vibrant today.
Like today, the NMC’s relationship with Regional Federal Councils during its formative years was critical to its success. Most of the Regional Coordinators were and continue to be hosted by Federal Councils, who provide a significant amount of in-kind and program support. While this relationship has evolved over the years, the affiliation between NMC and Federal Councils remains strong.
In the early years, NMC supported a range of regional activities such as annual networking forums (National Managers’ Community Professional Development Forum along with regional forums), local learning events, and communities of practice. The NMC started to publish a series of learning resources and in 2003, launched its annual NMC Awards Program. Every year, 13 regional awards, and the Mike Nurse Leadership Award, are presented to worthy recipients.
In 2004, Ric Cameron, then Assistant Deputy Minister with Canadian International Development Agency, was appointed Interim Champion for the NMC following the retirement of Mike Nurse. Financially, the NMC was very fragile and vulnerable with funding provided by 33 departments and agencies under a levy arrangement that was voluntary and annual in nature with no assurance that funding would continue beyond the current fiscal year. The NMC’s annual budgets fluctuated from 1.3 million to 2.5 million. A number of Regional Coordinator positions were not staffed due to concerns about the future of the NMC resulting in little or no activity in some regions.
National Forum 2004, Québec City
2005 – 2007: Business Case Review and NMC Restructuring
Uncertainty related to the year-to-year funding model created problems for long term planning and made it difficult to attract and retain staff. It weakened the infrastructure to the point where it became difficult to sustain the NMC. Under Champion Ric Cameron, the NMC developed a five-year business case and proposed a new funding model.
As part of the renewal process, the Hay Group was commissioned to conduct an external review. Extensive consultations were held both within the NMC and externally through in-depth interviews with senior executives. The Hay Group report highlighted that the NMC was the only organization affiliated with the Government of Canada that worked exclusively for managers. The report also noted that the NMC had the capacity to reach the entire managerial community in the public service in a non-fragmented, holistic manner and was the sole body through which the entire community of public service managers could be addressed.
The report did recommend improvements to the organization, including enhancing governance, increasing partnerships, securing long-term funding, and increasing awareness and visibility.
The resulting strategic plan identified three strategic pillars – Community Building and Engagement; Learning and Development; and, Contributing to Policy Effectiveness.
In 2007 François Guimont was appointed as Deputy Minister Champion for the National Managers’ Community. Under his leadership, the NMC focused on increasing stability, implementing its new funding model that guarantees annual funding of about $3 million and further enhancing its governance structure.
2008 – 2009: Present and Future
In the fall of winter of 2008 and 2009, the NMC Governing Council focused its efforts on developing a strategic plan for the NMC for fiscal years 2009/2010 to 2011/2012 to guide its future. As the largest and most active community in the Federal Public Service -- 50,000 strong -- managers play and will continue to play a vital role in the renewal of the Public Service. And the NMC will continue to be a driving force in helping make Public Service Renewal a reality.