Ideas: Initiate a Program to “Celebrate the Mission’

This idea is excerpted from Barbara’s book “CARE Packages for the Workplace” (McGraw-Hill 1996)

The Idea:

In all organizations, the mission can become stale or even removed from the employees’ daily work life.  Creating a workshop or program to help employees recommit to the mission can work wonders to regenerate the spirit in a workplace.

The Idea In Action:

The 2900 employees of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, an 825-bed facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, felt the diminishing physical presence of their sponsor, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, so the Mission Effectiveness Committee commissioned a task force to develop a method for making the mission of the sisters come alive to the facility and all its employees.  This commission resulted in a hospital-wide program to bring Christian values into focus and to put the spirit of the mission into daily practice.

The goals of the one-day workshop “Celebrate the Mission” are:

  • To articulate the central values of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to all employees
  • To promote the Franciscan Missionary of Our Lady’s mission of a healthcare ministry:Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, as a Catholic health care facility, is committed to meeting the health needs  of the people of God with compassion, understanding, respect,  and dignity.  The Medical Center is further dedicated to providing the highest quality health care in a prudent and efficient manner, in accordance with the philosophy of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady.
  • To acknowledge and celebrate the creation of a vision by the sisters and the staff
  • To allow a deep integration of the mission into daily work decisions.
  • To ensure that all of Our Lady of the Lake’s 2900 employees experience “Celebrate the Mission,” the program is offered twice a month but is limited to groups of no larger than 35 persons.  Many employees, sisters, board members, and administrators facilitate “Celebrate the Mission” sessions.

The workshop focuses on a comparison of individual values, hospital values, and the values of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady with employees coming to the realization that although we come from many races, religion, and socioeconomic backgrounds, we all have one thing in common–our core values.

“Celebrate the Mission,” an article in Health Progress magazine in October1994 written by Pete Sullivan, Rose Marie Patin, and Tricia Pourciau, employees of OLOL, describes the process of the program:

A Message from the President  Each “Celebrate the Mission” program begins with a welcome from Robert Davidge, CEO and president.  This has proven to be one of the more powerful segments of the program.  Davidge shares how his life experience has brought him to better understand and share the sponsor’s mission.  As a result of these talks, employees discover more about Davidge’s values, goals, and feelings.

Sharing Thoughts In one of the day’s preliminary activities, participants write one word or thought they have about the program and place it on the wall of the meeting room.  Participants then take a few minutes to read others’ thoughts and words. As a closure exercise, participants write a thought about the day and place it on top of their earlier responses.  One participant summed many employees’ thoughts by beginning with “trepidation” and closing with “elation.”

Values  Program participants then develop a list of the 5 most important values that guide their personal and professional lives.  In small groups, employees discuss these values and come up with 5 values that they believe necessary for them to function as successful human beings. These conversations can become quite lively –for example, when employees debate whether ethical behavior is more important than financial security.

These values are then posted for all the groups to see.  In group after group, session after session, facilitators have discovered almost identical responses.  A majority of the groups have chosen “ethical behavior” as their most cherished value.  Other important values include family life, security, helpfulness, and workmanship.

Next, the groups briefly review OLOL’s mission and philosophy statements and identify the values stated in these documents.  They then compare the values they identified in their groups with the values found in the hospital’s documents.  Through this process, participants are able to correlate their personal values with those of the hospital.

History  To acknowledge and celebrate the creation of a vision by the sisters and staff, participants are introduced to the history of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. One of the sisters then describes her background and how she became one of the Franciscan Missionaries . She shares the personal struggles, challenges, and rewards of her religious life.  Participants begin to realize that they have the same feelings, goals, desires, wishes, and values as the sisters.

Board Member A hospital board member then addresses participants, helping solidify the partnership of community leaders with the goals and values of the sisters, the hospital, and employees.

A Commitment to Mission  In the final portion of the program, employees identify behaviors and attitudes they can improve in their professional life. Those employees wishing to make one or more positive contributions to the mission of the organization commit to continuing or changing a behavior or attitude to better promote and celebrate the mission.

If a participant wishes, he or she commits in writing, places the intention in a sealed envelope, and turns it in at the end-of-the-day prayer service. Approximately 2 months after they attend a “Celebrate the Mission”  program, participants receive their sealed commitment as a reminder of their pledge.

As the day closes, participants gather together to discuss their job roles and how these roles affect the organization’s mission.  If they wish, they may join in the prayer service.  Each participant receives a tau pin as a symbol of his or her commitment to the mission, just as St. Francis used the tau symbol as a sign of his conversion.

Karen Profita, says, “Celebrate the Mission has reduced turnover, improved morale, and even encouraged several employees to get their GED.”

Tips For Implementation:

One of the most important reasons why this program has been so successful is that it was developed and is presented by employees for employees.  It is also designed around input from all levels of the organization and fosters communication from the bottom up and the top down.  Another task force has been established to identify “Experience the Mission”–the next phase of the process to keep the values alive. The whole process can make a great difference not only in your organization’s spirit but in the sense of spirit and purpose of each individual who participates.  Many will go from being “slot fillers” to being truly committed to a mission larger than themselves.

Does your organization have an employee group charged with keeping the mission alive? Even creating a Mission Effectiveness Committee like Our Lady of the Lake can be a positive start.  I think every organization should create a position for a Manager of Creativity, Vision, and Values!

Barbara Glanz Biography

A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at bglanz@barbaraglanz.com and www.barbaraglanz.com.

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