Restructuring and Revitalization for Organizational Rebirth
When both the board chair (Matt Podjeski) and the vice-chair (Ron Payton) of Room at the Inn, an emergency homeless services provider in St. Louis, describe the organization’s past situation as “dire,” you can assume there was pain at all levels. “When the board started talking about strategic planning two years ago, I knew that this board, in its current state, could not even think about planning strategically for the future,” said Podjeski. “That’s when we reached out to Painefree Coaching & Consulting.”
Payton and Podjeski agree that Room at the Inn had the wrong people in leadership roles, an ongoing power structure that paralyzed the organization, and a board that wasn’t prepared to work through these challenges. “We were experiencing operational and leadership crises,” said Podjeski. “We were floundering.” Payton adds that the board was not accustomed to addressing the types of decisions it was being asked to make. “Our board processes needed to be strengthened,” he said. “We had talented, committed board members. We just needed the tools to help us become more effective.”
Room at the Inn initially hired Painefree to conduct an organizational assessment and to help guide the strategic planning process. These projects revealed significant people problems; thus, the organization asked Marissa to recruit an interim executive director to start fresh. “The Painefree team was quickly able to assess our areas of weakness and provide relevant data to prepare us to make the best decisions,” said Podjeski. “They guided us through an informed decision-making process, the end result of which was that a new leader was needed.”
The interim executive reported directly to Marissa while the organization continued to correct. Then, when it was time, Painefree recruited for the permanent executive director and presented top candidates to the board. Once a leader was chosen, Marissa was retained to coach the new executive director for six months so progress could continue. The Room at the Inn also engaged Painefree to facilitate two board retreats—something they felt was essential with new leadership and a new slate of board members.
“With Marissa’s solid understanding of board and organizational dynamics, she was able to help us to help ourselves,” said Payton. Podjeski adds that the new leaders were key: “Competent leadership set the tone,” he said. “All of a sudden we had goals, accountability, and structure throughout the organization and the board.” In addition, the Painefree team helped allay employee fears during this time of major transitions—and encouraged collaboration and contributions through the restructuring.
“The Painefree team brought tremendous value to our organization; they made us more efficient and, because of that, we recognized that we should be considering other service delivery models,” said Payton.
“This proactive approach and strategic focus would not have been possible before.”