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Imagine The Possibilities’ Program To Strengthen Organizational Culture For DSPs 

Submitted By: Cassie Foxen, Quality Experience Director, Imagine the Possibilities; Michaela Morris, Public Relations & Communications Specialist, Imagine the Possibilities

This program from Imagine the Possibilities provides opportunities for regional leadership to implement meaningful culture-building experiences with their direct support staff. 

Within this program, Regional Executive Directors create a Culture Plan curated for their specific region, which will engage the unique needs of their areas, the organization’s values, and the culture they wish to promote. These plans include initiatives that fulfill their mission of empowering people to reach individual achievement. These Culture Plans are put into action in a variety of ways, such as showing our appreciation for one another through our Impressions and Kudos Points program on our internal communication portal, hosting training activities that provide our teams with the skills they need to move forward in their career, and actively seeking feedback from our team. In all, these plans focus on team appreciation, team building, creating a positive environment, and providing ways for frontline staff to give timely feedback. 

The Impact Of Culture Plans

Employee retention continues to be of utmost importance to Imagine the Possibilities. Within one year of implementing culture plans, the organization reduced turnover rate by 17%. In 2023, only halfway through the year, turnover has decreased by an additional 2%, compared to the same time in 2022. 

The essential component to evaluating the success of these culture plans is how staff satisfaction has changed overall. With the last employee survey having over a 62% completion rate, 91% of staff feel ‘valued as a member of the Imagine team and receive recognition for a job well-done,’ 95% are satisfied with their job and enjoy working, and 99% report a sense of commitment to their job. Imagine the Possibilities has an increase in the number of promotions involving DSPs, transitioning to supervisor, and programming positions at the agency. 

Steps To Implement A Culture Plans Program

Organizations can work to improve their own team culture by following these action steps: 

  1. Organizational leaders survey their frontline staff, striving to identify areas where current gaps exist.  
  2. This survey should begin a conversation within leadership about how to address these gaps. This team reviews surveys, evaluates current resources, and creates a plan to address the focus areas needed for their organization.  
  3. Organizational leaders meet with their teams to review survey results and the action plans being implemented.  
  4. After implementation, further discussion and revision of the Culture Plan can be addressed as needed. The plan can also be used to identify checkpoints, track data, and adjust as needed. 
  5. The data collected from this evaluation measure should identify successful and unsuccessful interventions, creating a clear path forward. 

It is recommended that organizations utilize a survey tool (example: Survey Monkey) to examine the culture needs while maintaining anonymity for participants. Organizations could choose an alternative format of having an outside entity complete an evaluation of company culture and provide their expertise as to the needs of the team. 

Challenges You May Encounter Involving Culture Plans 

Here are some elements that may negatively impact your implementation of a Culture Plans program:  

  • The staff’s trust in confidentiality. 
  • The staff’s trust in leadership to take their feedback seriously. 
  • Possible burnout of staff and the pressure of having another task to complete. 

There are several ways an organization can combat these negative elements. First, be upfront with staff about intentions, letting them know how this survey will be used, how their information is kept confidential, and the key areas that action plans will address. Then, it is essential to follow through consistently, honoring and implementing the information received.  

Another challenge for large organizations is “large organization bias.” When there is a large organization, it is easier and more manageable to have a consistent plan across the board and to have one department entity tracking these plans. This works great for cohesion in some areas. However, Imagine the Possibilities has found that allowing for creativity and regional team/individual dynamics empowers individuals and teams to find solutions that work in their unique context. From experience, Imagine the Possibilities encourages others to not be afraid of having plans look different from team to team, but instead focus on uniting all teams with an agreed-on set of impact areas to achieve. 

“I feel appreciated by the incentives, recognition on Impressions, and how leadership promotes the bonuses that we get in a positive atmosphere that makes me want to come to work!”

Rojeana C., Imagine the Possibilities

About Imagine Possibilities 

Imagine the Possibilities is on mission to empower people to reach individual achievement. We do this by providing quality community-based services for people with disabilities. We prioritize creating opportunities for every person and need, meaning that these individually designed services enhance the capabilities of each individual. We believe in showing dignity and respect for all while celebrating life in our community!

You can learn more about Imagine the Possibilities by visiting the organization’s website: 

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.