Katie Davis started at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks (BBBS) in 2006 as a volunteer and worked her way through the organization to become the CEO in 2010. Driven, passionate, and detail oriented, Katie’s experience at each level of the organization helped her understand how the organization runs. Yet as CEO, Katie noted significant turnover issues and a lack of clear direction. Knowing the potential impact of BBBS, Katie knew it was time to work on the organization itself to ensure that it could maximize its resources.
In 2013, BBBS asked People Centric to perform a detailed Pathfinder Assessment on the organization to identify key strengths and opportunities. This study showed that BBBSO team members had strong passion for their cause and for supporting one another. The study also made specific recommendations for the organization. One recommendation was to revamp the weekly staff meeting to engage participants and become more goal oriented. During a staff retreat People Centric facilitated, the BBBSO team was able to talk through barriers among departments and how to better communicate with one another to make the most of the weekly staff meetings. Staff members were able to have very productive and authentic conversations while making progress toward growing as a team. Another recommendation was for the executive team to undergo a communication workshop to learn how to better work together and with their staff. People Centric also identified additional opportunities around Leadership Development, Staff Scheduling, Connecting the Board and Staff, and Budget Allocation.
In September 2014, BBBS engaged People Centric to perform Strategic Planning so our experts could help them prioritize all the opportunities listed in the Pathfinder. A cross-functional team was assembled and People Centric facilitated the discussion, exploring key questions for the organization. That discussion included these key questions:
- How many kids do we want to serve, and what are our methods to measure quality?
- What resources are needed to support our growth, and how will we obtain these resources?
- What do we need to do to grow and develop our staff and board to accomplish our goals?
- What partnerships do we need to explore / advance, and who should participate in them?
The discussions around these key issues were insightful and helped focus the entire organization. BBBSO established new standards for the experience that a “little” and “big” would have, and the organization decided to guard quality over quantity. This approach improved the results for their participants and volunteers. The group also discussed ways to establish sustainable funding sources. Finally, the team decided to explore new staff and board roles to help increase both employee and volunteer engagement.
Implementing a strategic plan while developing staff, raising the bar on quality metrics, and growing at the same time is challenging, but the staff utilized their new communication model to attack these complex issues in a united way. The organization redefined roles for the board and staff to align with agency needs, resulting in increased board and staff engagement. They also discovered new funding tracks, which helped stabilize the agency and let the team look to the future to determine ways it may expand. While the Strategic Plan was being executed and continually reviewed for progress, the leadership team continued to work on its own development by attending monthly Leadership Mastermind events. Participants in these sessions reported that attendance greatly helped improve their leadership skills and ability to manage staff within the organization. With the improved communication and leadership, the staff turnover reduced.
In 2015, BBBS recognized People Centric with a Community Partner Award. In 2016, BBBSO was named one of the top 16 agencies out of over 325 agencies nationwide. The Gold Standard Award is a way for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to recognize agencies that have demonstrated exemplarily high achievement and measured quality outcomes for the children and families they serve in their respective local communities. Katie Davis reported that the organization had “come a long way” and was ready to look further into the future and establish a long-term vision for success. BBBS engaged People Centric to help facilitate this long-range planning. BBBS and People Centric continue the partnership we forged in 2013.