Marli Rusen

Recognized Expert in Resolving Workplace Drama and Dysfunction

Marli Rusen

Marli Rusen brings years of extensive experience as a labour, employment and human rights lawyer to her current work as a workplace mediator/arbitrator, leadership consultant, trusted team builder and noted expert in resolving any type of organizational dysfunction.

Marli comes with a history in academic excellence: she was awarded the Gold Medals in Law (1993, University of Victoria) and Psychology (1989, University of Winnipeg) for obtaining the highest aggregate grade point average in each area of study.

After law school, Marli spent over 18 years as a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice (representing members of the medical profession) and labour, employment and human rights law (representing CEOs, CAOs and members of their leadership teams).

Marli continues to be an active, practicing member of the Law Society of British Columbia and provides objective third party advice to leaders on how to best assess, respond to and remedy complaints that arise in any area of their organizations – from staff dynamics to customer complaints to tensions on their executive teams.

Marli also engages in applied work with leaders and their teams, helping them to build (or re-build) individual and team dynamics in order to achieve enhanced productivity and overall success. Marli has assisted many organizations, including numerous businesses, health authorities, local governments, schools and post-secondary institutions, resolve their interpersonal disputes and team dysfunction in the following ways:

Marli commonly consults with senior leaders to “triage” allegations of misconduct, human rights or harassment complaints in order to identify the most effective way to resolve the matter properly while minimizing team disruption; Marli is commonly called in to mediate disputes between individuals or amongst teams by facilitating a focused, respectful dialogue. Through this process, Marli has preserved many business relationships and helped organizations avoid costly litigation; Marli has adjudicated numerous formal workplace complaints based on allegations of misconduct, discrimination or harassment; and Marli has developed a unique and highly sought after “niche” in helping individuals and teams “rebuild” mutual trust and communication after formal processes/reviews have been concluded.

Marli has used her vast and varied experience to develop proactive and timely "tools" for leaders and their teams to use to make evidence-based decisions and successfully resolve disruptive and challenging workplace dynamics. This has culminated in the publication of her book, “The MIRROR Method: how to build productive teams by ending workplace dysfunction” which shows leaders how to build productive and profitable teams through individual accountability. Marli attends numerous industry conferences to present key note speeches and workshops in her field of expertise. Marli’s training and workshops focus on the role and responsibilities of each individual in creating high functioning teams.

Marli presents to front line staff, leaders and teams on: establishing workplace respect; understanding and addressing human rights/discrimination; building interpersonal communication skills; establishing genuine accountability amongst teams; developing effective leadership practices; engaging in defensible decision –making; and cultivating constructive change management.

Marli customizes her work – from workplace training to specific interventions - to ensure leaders and their teams become stronger and healthier as a result of her influence and involvement.

    Topics 
  1. Walking the Talk of Respect: The Critical Role of Leaders in Building Productive Teams

    Too many theories on “successful leadership” offer very few tangible tools or takeaways. Leaders don’t need to be told they have issues or dynamics to address – they already know that.  What they need is hands-on guidance and support for resolving these issues. This is where Marli – and her evidence-based Mirror Method – come in handy. Marli has transformed her 20+ years as management labour and employment lawyer into practical tools, insights and advice for all workplace leaders  - from supervisors to CEOs  - on practical steps they should take in the face of costly, distracting drama and dysfunction. 

  2. “Say WHAT?” The importance of day-to-day communication in the success of your team.

    For over 20 years, Marli Rusen has worked closely with teams in workplaces, formerly as a labour and employment lawyer and now as an expert in diagnosing and treating costly drama and dysfunction.  Through her vast experience in listening to and learning from leaders and employees, Marli has developed practical tools on the critical “HOWs” of effective communication:  that is how information is communicated and how it is then interpreted, received and reframed.  Marli will provide practical tips and tools on how to engage in respectful communication – whether you are the speaker or listener – to help resolve specific workplace conflicts or simply build long-term trust and transparency amongst your team.  

  3. Changing our Attitudes About Change: It’s All About the How

    Ask any middle manager or front line staff member what exhausts them most about the modern workplace and they will say “constant change”.  Ask senior leaders what frustrates them most and they will say “resistance to change”.  Everyone has something to say about workplace change.  We know that the amount of change isn’t going to change –  but that doesn’t mean it needs to be painful. Marli has transformed her years as a workplace mediator, consultant and team facilitator into practical tools to apply in the face of workplace change.  Marli offers specific suggestions for workplace leaders who initiate change; middle managers who implement change; and front-line staff who must live with the change. Marli is convinced that people aren’t resistant to change – they are resistant to the way in which change has been implemented.  Marli’s tools will be invaluable to changing your approach to change.

  4. A Bad Day does not a Bully Make: Understanding the Difference between Disagreements and Harassment

    The term “workplace bully” is widely misapplied and misunderstood.  Every disagreement and dispute is now labelled bullying, often mistakenly and sometimes strategically.  Marli Rusen has over 20 years as a labour and employment lawyer and has trained hundreds of leaders and teams on respectful communication, conflict resolution and effective team building. Through her work, Marli provides teams with key and critical distinctions between conflict and harassment, disagreements and dysfunction, “feeling” offended versus being treated offensively. Marli also offers critical tips to teams on early and direct communication, why and how to address issues as soon as they arise and the overall importance of self-reflection, compassion and forgiveness in building truly respectful workplaces. 

  5. Walking on Eggshells by Day and Surfing Workopolis by Night: the Cost of Mismanaged Workplace Drama and Dysfunction

    Most people leave their positions – not because of their work but often because of those with whom they work. Through her 20+ years as a workplace lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, Marli has discovered that five “personalities” are commonly at the root of most workplace drama and dysfunction:  Aggressive Andy, Moody Martha, Perfectionist Pat, Terri the Triangulator and Negative Nel.  Marli will outline the costs and risks of allowing these “personalities” to take over team dynamics and recommend strategies to others on how to stop being emotionally captive to these individuals and start holding them accountable for their disruptive dynamics.

  6. Respectful Accountability: the Foundation to Successful Team Members and Productive Teams

    Historically, “old school” leaders focused on accountability, often at the expense of building respectful relationships. Nowadays, many leaders focus on respect and positivity, often at the expense of accountability.   Neither works in isolation.  Teams and organizations that strive to be productive, profitable and sustainable must embrace both respect and accountability.  Yes, it can be done – and Marli will show you how.  Marli has transformed her 20+ years of experience as a workplace lawyer, mediator and consultant into practical leadership tips and tricks that will help you significantly exceed your bottom line while keeping your teams empowered and engaged.