Almost every job description contains those four words that seem so innocuous: “other duties as assigned.” When Beth Hyser joined us as Resource Development Manager in 2015, she expected to spend most of her time writing grant proposals and developing new relationships in the community. But her arrival also coincided with the launch of organization-wide initiatives through NeighborWorks America, and Beth is the type of person to roll up her sleeves and take on new challenges. So it is that she ended up leading NeighborWorks Home Partners through transformation and teambuilding that have changed the way we approach our work and expanded our capacity to serve our communities.
NWHP was participating in NeighborWorks’ Sustainable Home Ownership Program (SHOP) at the same time we were receiving technical assistance for Operational Efficiency. This meant simultaneously studying delivery of customer service and understanding how to make our operations lean with minimal waste.
Our staff grew to expect exercises at our staff meetings, usually with post-it notes involved. We delved into every little aspect of operations (What is the best location for the copier to reduce wasted time and steps? How should we manage the ordering of supplies? Why do we have so many paperclips?) But we were also were able to zoom out to the big picture of why we exist and who we are here to serve.
By the end of 2017, NeighborWorks Home Partners had a much different look. Internally, we shifted our language and focus to think of the people we serve as customers rather than clients. Technology was incorporated to streamline customer service. A new website was launched to make it easier for customers to engage with our organization and manage their own documents and appointments. And our organizational structure changed as well. Not surprisingly, Beth found herself in a position to take on another challenge and is now leading our service delivery staff as the Chief Program Officer. We can’t wait to see what she does next.