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Management Incubator Brings New Leaders Together to Benefit Parker House

Everyone needs a place to play, and now children of Parker House will be able to enjoy a new haven. As part of our final 2015 Management Incubator program, teams of new and soon-to-be managers worked with Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge, an organization that continues to be a strong Success Labs community partner.

VOAGBR is a nonprofit community organization that focuses on supporting abused and neglected children, at-risk youth, people living with developmental disabilities or chronic mental illness, the homeless and others in need. Parker House is a therapeutic group home and one of the programs of Volunteers of America’s Reilly Center for Children and Families. The program provides residential treatment in a safe, family-like atmosphere where young victims of child abuse can heal from past trauma and prepare for family-level care.  The children use the backyard for relaxation and recreation.

Team 1: Making Plans and Changing Plans

The first team was in charge of improving the patio and relaxation area. After visiting the home, they spent four weeks brainstorming ideas, raising donations and setting a budget.

There was a hitch, though. One of the team members, Rebecca Bayham, accounting supervisor at Celtic Marine Corp, explains: “Initially, we had several ideas, but after consulting with the program director at Parker House, we realized some of our ideas wouldn’t work. We didn’t want to provide the children with anything that could be used to harm themselves or others, so we had to do some thinking outside of the box.” After making adjustments, it all came together.

“I thought this group wouldn’t have much to do, maybe plant some flowers in the flower bed,” says Susan Butler, director of the children’s programs at Parker House. But she was surprised and pleased with their attention to detail. The group got a cover for the barbecue pit and tables with umbrellas for shade. “They tried to do things the kids would like to take care of.”

Team 2: An Unexpected Challenge

The second team was tasked with improving the play area. “We decided to divide and conquer by each team member researching the cost and feasibility of our potential project components,” says Brian Newman, ecological scientist with CK Associates. The team’s planning was challenged, however, when they wanted to install a basketball goal.

“We assumed that backboards were universal mounting, but apparently they are not,” Newman says. After returning the backboard and getting another one, they found that backboard mountings are unique not only by brand but also model.

“We had to petition the other group for the additional funds to purchase the entire goal kit, which included the backboard and pole,” Newman says. “Fortunately, the last backboard worked and Parker House has an extra basketball post in the event they ever want to install a second goal.”

Butler says this group also purchased pavement stencils for basketball courts, hopscotch and other games. “All in all, it was wonderful,” she says.

Participants: Learning Self-Awareness

Through the exercises and activities, participants in the Management Incubator say they became more aware of how their own actions and reactions affect other people. Bayham says learning how to give and receive positive and constructive feedback was helpful. “I have made an effort to apply the things I learned to my work environment, and I have already received some positive feedback from those I work with,” she says.

Newman says he enjoyed working with people with other personalities, backgrounds and skills to accomplish something new together. Doing so highlighted the importance of taking all points of view into consideration, he says.

Community Partner: A Win-Win for Everyone

Butler says this project makes a big difference for the people Parker House serves, as well as for the leadership training participants. She especially appreciated how willing the participants were to get involved with the group, down to letting one eager-to-help child plant some flowers. “I see it on both ends — it’s a good experience for everyone involved,” she says

The Management Incubator series is finished for 2015, but we’re already planning our 2016 programs. For more information, contact Shannon D’Gerolamo.

Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.

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