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CASE STUDY: Area Agency Improves Communication with PHI Coaching

December 21, 2012

A new PHI case study shows how an area agency in New Hampshire has used the PHI Coaching ApproachSM to improve relationships among its staff.

Monadnock Developmental Services (MDS) in Keene, New Hampshire, began its culture-change journey in early 2011.

“We knew in principle the way staff should be treated by supervisors” said MDS executive director Alan Greene, but “we were floundering around a little bit.”
Working with PHI, MDS has spread the PHI Coaching Approach throughout the organization to help resolve MDS’s communication issues.

By the end of 2012, all 250 MDS employees — agency leaders, supervisors, and direct-care staff — will have participated in a Coaching Approach training tailored to their particular needs.

The trainings have made a clear difference, MDS staff say.

Director of Operations Mary-Anne Wisell says that MDS employees are less likely to jump to conclusions and more likely to solve problems collaboratively, while Training Coordinator Jessica O’Connor reports that direct support professionals (DSPs) feel more empowered and ready to take on challenges head-on.

Peer Mentoring Makes a Difference

Additionally, MDS has introduced a peer mentor program to further, what Greene calls its “lateral hierarchy” approach to staff organization.

PHI trained eight MDS employees to become peer mentors, each of whom earns a pay raise as well as the opportunity to earn a gift certificate if one of their mentees remains at MDS for a full year.

“Before peer mentoring, you were hired, and then it was like, ‘Good luck!'” said O’Connor, who manages the peer mentor program. But now, “new staff are hooked up with great DSPs” from the start, she said.

One constant throughout MDS’s culture-change journey, according to the case study, has been the unfailing commitment shown by MDS management to the ideals of culture change. PHI Organizational Change Consultant Kathy McCollett, who introduced MDS to the PHI Coaching Approach, says that commitment is the key to success.

“Leadership sees it as a priority and they don’t let anything get in the way,” McCollett said. “They’ve worked hard to develop this into a living program.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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