Since it was founded in 1960, the Bobby Dodd Institute has helped people with developmental disabilities and economic disadvantages. Named in honor of coach Bobby Dodd of Georgia Tech, a football legend and tireless advocate for people with disabilities, BDI annually serves approximately 519 Atlanta-area clients. The Institute's mission is to empower these people to maximize their employment potential while securing self-sufficiency, independence, and integration into society.
Finding Its Strengths
BDI is committed to being a great place to work. It has instituted what is known as Strength-Based Development for its employees, as outlined by the Gallup Organization's eight-step process: 1) identifying the strengths of each employee; 2) finding the right job fit for all employees; 3) developing great managers; 4) increasing employee engagement in both their work and in the company; 5) as a result of the employees' engagement, increasing the customer loyalty; which leads to 6) sustainable growth; 7) increased net assets; and 8) increased delivery of the organization's mission.
Last May, BDI closed down its facility to educate its 45 staff members about this new philosophy — a move that cost the organization $100,000. The goal of the training session was to gain buy-in from the staff and to show them the value of a strength-based organization. Management believed that such a sacrifice was necessary to build a staff that was committed to upholding the company's mission.
BDI distributed copies of “Now, Discover Your Strengths” to every staff member and gave them 30 days to complete the online, 180-item questionnaire that identifies the five signature strengths of each staff member. The results of each staff member's inventory were given to his or her immediate supervisor and to the human resources manager. BDI is now working to determine whether staff members need to be reassigned into positions that draw upon their strengths, or whether positions can be rewritten to take advantage of people's strengths. The Institute also is simultaneously working on developing great managers, in part by having the staff measure their managers.
Committing to the Process
BDI has found that the bulk of the momentum toward building a truly dynamic organization is contained within the first three steps of strength-based development. It is no secret that great organizations don't happen overnight. And that is just the case with steps two and three — they are both crucial to the process of building a strong, energized staff, and they aren't so much one-time occurrences as ongoing initiatives.
Stay tuned for more as BDI enters the final steps.
Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc. in San Diego, and best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (now in its 41st printing), 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, Managing For Dummies, and his latest book, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook. For more information, call (800) 575-5221.