After years of serving the homeless community in downtown Vancouver, the non-profit group Mission Possible was frustrated.
While they could measure things like the number of meals they served, they couldn’t draw a clear link between their programs and “how and if the lives of individuals had improved.” (1)
In 2007, new CEO Brian Postlewait began to closely study the organization’s operating model and wondered if they were making the biggest impact possible.
After examining their mission and core values, Mission Possible began to move toward a social enterprise model by offering employment services to their clients.
As their mission changed, they faced new challenges. Simply telling their clients to do something, like show up for their shifts, wasn’t always effective. Clients needed to be enabled to solve their own problems, so they could go on to successful employment in the future.
Harnessing the Power of Coaching
Recognizing the shift that staff needed to undertake, Postlewait onboarded our team at Essential Impact to help staff go from advising to coaching. Current CEO Matt Smedley shares their new coach approach below.
“We no longer do advising, we only do coaching to help our participants achieve things for themselves. We are helping people work through a self-directed job search such as, ‘How are you going to find your job? What are you going to do?’
When issues arise, rather than saying, ‘You should do this,’ we try to help people work through, ‘What are you going to do about it? How are you going to solve this problem for yourself?’
I have seen individuals have really significant changes through that process, just through those types of conversations.
It has a great impact when we utilize that method; a differentiation from a lot of the service providers that are in this neighborhood where people become dependent and become really stuck and immobilized by the way that we provide care. We are trying in no way to allow that to happen here.
We want people to continue to move and to continue to grow their capacity. It really comes down to what an individual is willing to do for themselves. That is the extent in which we can help them.” (2)
Making the Culture Shift
Over the span of two years, all front-line staff learned the Excelerator Coaching Model through 24 hours of training offered publicly by Essential Impact over 3 days, and then the senior leaders continued to master their skills by completing the 36 hour Mastery program over 5 additional training days. They also continue coaching with a mentor coach in order to keep strengthening their skills in this new way of helping clients.
Mission Possible now uses the tagline “People, Purpose, Paycheque” and helps street entrenched individuals to trade dependency for opportunity. (3) They offer a number of employment opportunities that are supportive and flexible to help prepare people for employment success.
In keeping with their social enterprise mission, they only take on contracts that enable them to bring in income, while also positively impacting the downtown Eastside neighbourhood.
Some of their contracts include providing security, cleaning up discarded needles, and cleaning up graffiti. Since the shift in their focus took shape, they have helped hundreds of clients with training and transitional work opportunities.
At Essential Impact, we passionately believe and know that coaching is beneficial for everyone: be it CEOS at Fortune 500 companies, or people overcoming addiction, mental illness, or major life trauma. We continue to work with Mission Possible to train new staff and provide continuing coach training.
Learn More in Full Case Study
Mission Possible was recognized with a Social Enterprise from the Trico Charitable Foundation. The Trico Charitable Foundation “seeks to close gaps in society by provoking innovation and building capacity in social entrepreneurship.”
Mission Possible was recently the focus of a case study written by Dr. Kyleen Myra and Kerry Rempel for the Trico Charitable Foundation. Click to read the full case study of Mission Possible’s shift towards a social enterprise.
Quotes copied from the case study
2017 Trico Foundation
Published by Trico Foundation
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