A few weeks ago we conducted associate focus groups to get at what “makes us tick” as an organization. As you likely know, focus groups are guided discussions led by a researcher intended to uncover themes about the participants’ common experiences. Our groups, which were comprised of Y associates from around the region and across program areas, were led by the uber-talented Y board member Barbara Gassaway, who owns and runs a successful qualitative market research firm. The conversations focused on learning the reasons that people choose to work here and what it is that keeps them here. If you were among those who participated, thank you for your time. We will be sending you a detailed report soon, as promised.
While we certainly learned that we have some challenges to improve upon (and always look to do so), it was certainly gratifying to learn that there were clear unifying themes which bind and motivate us all to do the work we do. Not surprisingly, and is often the case with good research, it validated what we intuitively know and see day in and day out at the Y: that Y people are a special group, motivated to do important work that helps individuals and whole communities change for the better.
Here’s a small glimpse of what our colleagues told us:
“By working for the Y, I feel like I am part of a greater movement. I am part of a movement that advocates for change on behalf of those with less of a voice.”
“The Y is a community. It’s inclusive. It doesn’t judge. No one looks at you funny or treats you differently if you get financial assistance. You get respect no matter who you are.”
“The Y helps people grow into themselves and what they want to be.”
“The secret sauce of the Y is the people. It starts with the associates, fills into the members and then stretches into the community. It is definitely the people.”
As someone who has worked in a range of organizations and industries, I can tell you that it’s a rare thing indeed when the personal mission and values of the workforce line up so squarely with the mission and values of your customers and of the organization itself. We have our challenges, and we will continue to work hard to address them, but one important thing that we can all look to with pride is the commitment shared by the incredible women and men who come to work for the Y each day. Y associates are in a class by themselves as selfless doers who make our community stronger, healthier and more connected, for a better us.
I am immensely proud to work for, and alongside, 3,100 of the finest people you’ll ever meet. Thank you.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland