Please share a success story from your work in the last month. Last year, I asked staff to respond to this request in a meeting. And the response I got surprised me: silence.
Unfortunately, staff could not identify one; not because they hadn’t done great work, but because they were lost in process, policy and procedure, losing focus on the reason we exist. To address this, I implemented a practice often used by nonprofit organizations – the Mission Moment.
To remind us why the board is there to support the organization, board meetings open with a staff or board member sharing a specific story about a client and how the organization improved their life in the last month. This helps the organization in several ways. First, board members feel more committed to the organization because they have a real life example of how the organization is changing lives. Second, when board members are asked by outsiders what the organization does or why they serve on that board, they have a concrete example so people truly understand what the organization does, not just the mission statement. Additionally, we often got bogged down in the details and lose sight on the reason we exist and why we are there to serve. Finally, it focuses the team on the mission at hand, reducing the opportunity for strife because the meeting and the discussions involved become about the people we serve. Asking for Mission Moments at your work can yield similar benefits.
A good Mission Moment is a story about a person, the obstacle(s) they faced, and how the staff of the organization helped them overcome the obstacle(s). This isn’t a time to share program overviews or the latest data. It’s time to tell a 3-5 minute story about a person and how the agency’s work helped him/her.
At my office, we now often start meetings with Mission Moments. We tell these stories not just in meetings but through videos on our YouTube channel, through a blog on our intranet and in our annual report. Staff members see what success looks like and how their work changes lives.
How do you keep staff focused on your organization’s mission? I would love to hear your tips and best practices in the comments below.
Meredith Benton is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.