The “Pay It Forward” Program in Action – Volunteers of America-Oregon

In 2019, as part of Marshall Goldsmith’s commitment to “pay it forward,” Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching® (MGSCC) created a pro bono coaching program designed to support leaders of nonprofit organizations who can’t otherwise afford corporate coaching rates. MGSCC-certified coaches provide six-month coaching engagements without charging a fee. As a result, many leaders of nonprofit organizations doing good in the world have benefited.

Volunteers of America Oregon

VOA Oregon is one of the first behavioral health nonprofits in Oregon, having existed for over 125 years. It has approximately 300 employees in the Portland Oregon metro area and provides a vast array of health and human services ranging from childcare to residential treatment to domestic violence support services. VOA-Oregon plays a pivotal role in supporting Oregonians in especially challenging circumstances.

Through the MGSCC Paying It Forward program, Mike Wiebe, VOA Oregon’s VP of Human Resources, has been coached by MGSCC-certified coach Aaron Wheeler. As measured by MGSCC’s Mini-Survey, results of this engagement have been dramatic. The Mini-Survey measures the perception of the leader’s improvement on a stated goal by the stakeholders who have been involved with the leader’s effort to improve. Stakeholders complete an anonymous online survey where they provide their perception of the degree to which the leader has advanced.

Wiebe’s goal was, “How to delegate and meet the needs of others effectively.” Wiebe strongly believes that as an HR professional, he should adapt to support others in the organization vs. making them adapt to HR. “Other people in my organization,” he says, “have a wealth of personal and professional knowledge and expertise. I want to help them maximize it.”

From the MGSCC coaching process, Wiebe found that it “challenged me to become a better leader. It pushed me to develop skills and figure out ways I can improve.”

According to Wiebe, a key component of MGSCC coaching is feedback/feedforward. “It’s often tough to give and to receive critical feedback,” he says. “The person giving it may be hesitant and the person receiving it may become defensive.”

According to Wiebe, the MGSCC process of combining feedback with feedforward can overcome that resistance. “Using this approach, my coach was able to gather candid input from others about what I was doing that was working and what needed to improve. Thereafter, and on an ongoing basis, I directly gathered this input myself from my stakeholders.

“Using this process, I expressed thanks for their input. I implemented many but not all suggestions. For those I didn’t, I still thanked the person and explained why. At all times, the conversations were constructive – never defensive or hostile, and always goal-oriented.”

Wiebe also values what he calls the “trusted space” between coach and coachee. “With my coach Aaron, I felt I could share what was going on in my world with someone I trusted and who was truly interested in understanding me and helping me improve. My coach both challenged and supported me.”

Based on this positive experience, Wiebe recommended the process to one of his colleagues, VOA Oregon Program Director Greg Cussen. MGSCC-certified coach Jakub Grzadzielski coached Cussen and Wiebe served as a stakeholder. Again, as evidenced by the Mini-Survey, the engagement was a success. There was substantial growth and development as perceived by both Cussen and his stakeholders.

Wiebe recommends MGSCC coaching for all levels of organization leadership, “From the top to newly minted supervisors and to those in between where there’s an opportunity for leadership revitalization.” The goal he says, “is to move from good to great. No matter how successful you are, there’s always another level you can achieve. MGSCC coaching challenges you to get there.”

“I love this project!” states Marshall Goldsmith. “In my recent New York Times bestseller, The Earned Life, I focus on the importance of making sure our achievements are connected to both our higher aspirations and our joy in the process of what we are doing. Jathan Janove and the team are focused on doing a great job, for a higher purpose and enjoying the process.”



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