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YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka: Creating An Organizational Culture to Serve Our Communities

Since becoming CEO of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in June, I’ve enjoyed spending time with staff, reaching out connecting with the various communities we serve, and meeting more than 450 staff, volunteers and key leaders in our communities. As a result of these outreach initiatives, three areas have emerged that need to be considered as we move forward with a new strategic plan for 2012-2017: culture; operational excellence and communication.

In my next few blog posts, I am going to address each of these themes in a series, beginning with culture.

Building Strong Communities

Your YMCA has roots that go back more than a century. Now more than 60,000 people in 25 diverse communities in the County of Simcoe, the District of Muskoka and Parry Sound, each with their own culture and individualized needs are part of your Y. This diversity creates a unique set of challenges.

Your Y should be recognized as a community leader in lifelong health and personal growth. In fact, our Mission Statement affirms that goal; “The YMCA is a charity that excels in strengthening our communities by providing opportunities for all to grow in Spirit, Mind and Body.”

YMCA Organizational Culture

From my outreach and meetings, I heard and observed that we have to focus more efforts on building our culture. I am committed to creating an organizational culture that understands its role in our communities that is mindful of who we are, and who we are serving. It is a culture that embraces our values of honesty, respect, caring, responsibility and inclusiveness. It is open and transparent for all.

Although we are very proud of our accomplishments our culture needs to be less about telling people about our accomplishments and more about listening to people share their story about how the YMCA has made a difference in their lives. One of the first steps in changing our culture is to listen more and give more people a chance to engage in conversation with us. With listening, we begin to get more of an “outside-in” perspective and a better idea of how we are perceived and the roles we might play in a community.

We will continue to work hard to develop an organizational culture that understands and serves our communities. We will strive to make our YMCA leaders more visible and accessible within all of the diverse segments of the communities we serve. We will work hard to connect, adapt, communicate and grow our culture to build strong communities.

Your feedback and ideas are a valuable source of insight into how the Y can create an organizational culture to serve our communities. I welcome your thoughts and comments as we work together to focus on this initiative.

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