A community foundation seeks to be as good on the inside as
it is on the outside.
The following story was shared by John Vercelli, director of
corporate programs at The Coaches Training Institute (CTI).
The Marin Community Foundation (MCF), a large, California-based
philanthropy with 44 employees
MCF wanted to move toward a more intrapreneurial culture that was
less process-driven and more outcomes-focused. Many employees
avoided having difficult conversations with colleagues, so MCF also
wanted to increase employee communication.
The foundations culture was initially driven by consensus, process,
and problem identification. Leaders wanted to develop a culture
that fostered open, honest, and productive communication resulting
in collaboration and innovation.
In 2008 MCF began to implement the culture change. First, the
foundation formed a culture change committee with members from a
variety of organization functions and employee levels. The
committee communicated the initiatives desired characteristics,
behaviors, and processes; senior leaders endorsed these
Employees reviewed the committees findings and provided feedback at
an all-staff retreat. The foundation then hired CTI to facilitate
coaching and deliver training organization-wide. CTI conducted
initial training with MCFs supervisors, at which time the leaders
agreed to model a set of behavior commitments or coaching
principles. These principles included information on how to
communicate effectively, make difficult decisions, and foster
engagement and innovation. CTI then taught the coaching principles
to all employees through a series of training workshops.
After initial training, CTI followed up with the culture change
committee, facilitating several discussions to ensure that top
executives were effectively modeling the new behavior. To reinforce
learning, CTI also presented booster shot all-staff training
sessions at six- and nine-month intervals, as well as targeted
one-on-one coaching. Leaders integrated the culture change into
small group meetings and performance reviews.
MCF conducted a survey to assess the changes impact. Employee
relationships improved significantly, and supervisors began to
better support employees to find their own solutions. Employees now
participate in meetings with energy and passion. They speak up and
take responsibility; proactively work together to overcome
interpersonal conflict; and seek clear understanding of roles,
responsibilities, and authority.