In the spring of 2012, our 2011-2012 AIF Fellow Margy Elliott conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis for Calcutta Kids. Margy carried out long interviews with representatives of all of our stakeholders including all of the staff; beneficiaries; donors; former interns; current interns and volunteers. The management team along with the board of trustees has carefully gone over this detailed document and is implementing changes so as to promote and further reinforce our strengths, fix the weaknesses, take advantage of the opportunities, and close the holes on the potential threats. Over the coming months, we will share ways in which we have used the SWOT analysis to strengthen and protect Calcutta Kids.
One of the discovered internal weaknesses was a lack of communication between the field staff and management. Many staff members commented on the need for regular communication and regular staff meetings. So we started such monthly meetings in July and we’ve been having such fun with them.
We follow a simple agenda for these meetings:
- At the end of the previous meeting, a staff member is nominated to prepare and conduct the ice-breaking session at the beginning of the next meeting.
- We start off each meeting with a case study from the field—usually in the form of a PowerPoint presentation with photographs and associated text. The case is often meant to inspire the staff; share a lesson learned; or show how a particular counseling technique worked or didn’t work. As our work is divided into three geographical areas, each area has a chance to present once every three months.
- Job openings
- Program changes
- Data Feedback–we discuss the quantitative accomplishments of the past month
- Welcoming of new staff members; bidding farewell to departing staff
- Status updates on ongoing projects
- General explanation of accomplishments over the last month
- General plan for the coming month(s)
- Questions & Answers
- This is an opportunity for anyone in the organization to ask questions and raise concerns which need to be dealt with as an organization.
- Birthday Celebration & Welcomes and Goodbyes
- At these meetings we celebrate all the employees who have birthdays that month.
- While eating snacks and cake, we toast our departing staff members and welcome our newcomers.
At the October monthly meeting, Noah and Evangeline were in charge of the ice-breaker. The day before the meeting, we told every member of the team to come in to work the following day with a cooking knife (they dubiously obliged) and Halloween and pumpkin carving was introduced. The staff broke up into groups of 2 and made beautiful ‘jack-o-lanterns’. The following day, Area-In-Charge, Barnali took all the pumpkins and cooked them into a delicious pumpkin stew and the whole staff ate it for lunch along with home-made luchis. –Noah Levinson