WORKSHOP: There Is Always An Organizational Culture, But Is It the One You Want?


Marc Lavoie, Training and HR Consultant, On Purpose Training and HR Consulting Services
Deanna Thompson, Executive Director, Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS)

There is always a workplace culture, but is it the one you want? Establishing a culture vested in well-being, accountability and performance is no easy task. In fact, it’s not a task at all, it’s a continuous journey of transformation and evolution. Vision, leadership and HR are merged into a code of conduct that defines who we choose to be as an organization and how we treat each other. Our presentation will share with you our lessons learned and provide some hands-on tools for those thinking about or looking at how to transform their workplace culture.


  1. A Roadmap: Essential to our journey was a plan to address concerns and vulnerabilities. More important was the creation of a process aimed at building on our strengths and placing the responsibility for maintaining culture squarely and comfortably on the shoulders of our Senior Leaders. And then on every employee and volunteer that we work with. Take Away: Essentials Roadmap.
  2. Investing in Relationships: It’s too easy to cross our fingers and hope it all works out. How do you invest in relationships?  What does that really mean? If relationship is essentially communication, then what can communication teach us about the form and content of relationship? Your language determines how you think. Our approach involved a whole brain thinking method as the doorway to relationship building, self-leadership and performance management – our backbone to accountability. Take Away: Assessment Tool.
  3. Aspect of Leadership: Culture flows from the top down, and then from the bottom up. It’s difficult to transform culture if the leaders in the organization do not see themselves as vital vehicles for individual and collective growth. "A stuck leader is a stuck culture." Coaching support is essential to the leader development process. Our Executive Director will share her personal story – the challenges and opportunities that await leaders willing to make the journey to self-discovery and personal transformation. Take Away: Do’s and Don’ts Insight List.


Owner/operator of On Purpose Training & HR Consulting Services, Marc Lavoie is an independent Leadership Coach, HR Advisor and Training Specialist with a passion for organizational development and behaviour. Marc helps leaders run business more smoothly by tackling the often difficult challenges of employee relations, tough conversations, effective program design and a human approach to workplace fairness and performance management as personal growth.

With more than 20 years' experience in the human service field, Marc believes that high-involvement leadership, which values engagement, candid conversations and shared accountability offers the best approach to participative management.

"Management is first about human beings and then about becoming capable of joint performance. The future we crave so desperately can be found in the way we choose to treat and work with each other. Leadership, engagement, innovation and achievement all flow from that one simple truth. In this light, true leadership could never just be a style, a tactic or a strategy. By requisite, true leadership is a fundamental way of being."

Deanna Thompson is the Executive Director of Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). A graduate from Mount Royal College, Deanna went on to complete her Bachelor of Management Degree in 2009 at University of Lethbridge. Since 2010, Deanna has lead of one of Alberta’s fastest-growing animal welfare agencies in Alberta. As an advocate for animal welfare, she has dedicated her life to improving animal welfare through collaboration, cooperation and continuous learning. 

Under Deanna’s leadership, AARCS opened a 3,000 square foot quarantine shelter in Calgary in 2012, which resulted in dramatic growth for the organization. In 2017, the organization expanded operations to a 13,000 square foot facility, including a 3,000 square foot in-house veterinary hospital that features x-ray, diagnostics, dental and two operating suites. The organization current employs 17 staff members, including veterinary staff, behaviour staff and more than 1,400 volunteers and foster homes.

Focusing their efforts on rural areas of Alberta with limited or no animal services, AARCS rescues and adopts out approximately 2,500 cats and dogs each year, with the majority of their animals being cared for through their vast network of foster homes. With a vision of a Compassionate World for All Animals, AARCS focuses much of their work on improving animal welfare through Spay/Neuter & Disease Prevention Programs, Trap-Neuter-Return, Pet Assistance Programs, Emergency Foster Care and Humane Education.