Case Study: Allies, Inc.

Non-Profit Turns Communication Gaps into Big Achievements

The Client

Allies Inc., located in Hamilton, New Jersey, was founded with the purpose of providing housing and employment to the developmentally disabled, while enhancing their physical, social and emotional lives through pathways to independence. Over the last 17 years, Allies grew from two volunteers to an organization with 900+ employees state-wide. They built a strong network of programs and services providing their clients the support they need to achieve independent and full lives. They currently own and operate 180 group homes, along with a bakery, gift shop and two consignment stores that employ their clients.

The Challenge

Allies is no stranger to transformation. With the changing landscape in human services transitioning to a Medicaid-based, fee-for-service reimbursement system, Allies faced market challenges requiring even more focus on positioning their company for sustainability. Changes in compliance, how services are delivered, and their financial operations required attention from the management team in order to stay on track as an organization. In an effort to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the transition, Allies developed a plan to implement two new technology platforms; a scheduling management system and a document management-workflow process system. Elise Tretola, CEO of Allies, realized introducing two new systems to the organization would be a major undertaking. “We were struggling to get the systems up and running,” said Tretola. “We just didn’t have the experience on our team to get these projects completed on schedule,” she added.

At first we thought daily huddles were kind of silly, but now that we’ve seen tangible results from improved communications, huddles carry a lot more value.
Elise Tretola

Chief Executive Officer, Allies, Inc

The Approach

Tretola contacted us through a referral and inquired about help implementing the new systems. Following initial meetings to discuss goals and objectives. We worked with senior leadership executives to employ new strategies to stay on track with the implementation. Starting with a framework and using best practices-based methodology, Wright Impact Group Founder and certified Gazelle’s coach, Eileen Wainwright, helped the executive team clarify strategy and teach the principles and tools that accelerate achievement to get measurable,

sustainable results. With emphasis on growing company value with a strong, differentiated competitive strategy and culture of accountability, Wainwright coached the executives using tools and methodologies from Scaling Up, a planning and execution methodology fostered by Verne Harnish. This approach offers simple, practical and actionable tools to get everyone in the organization aligned. For Allies, Wainwright helped implement a number of methodologies including:

  • Management Accountability. Results based, accountability action plans were developed which gave them the tools needed to efficiently manage multiple large-scale initiatives that fundamentally changed the way business was conducted.
  • Talent Development. A ‘how to’ approach for conducting effective Talent assessments was rolled out and a common understanding of what factors contribute to high performing teams and tools to help improve engagement was established.
  • Driving Execution. One-on-one coaching sessions and round table discussions were held to clarify outcomes and meeting rhythms were established to synchronize the organization, enabling information to flow more quickly and accurately.

Wainwright is now facilitating Allies’ strategic planning, which entails reviewing their core values and core purpose, development of their 3- year strategy, and helping the leadership team establish priorities along with key performance indicators to measure progress and results. Monthly and quarterly meeting rhythms are in place to foster accountability, uncover barriers, coach on new methodologies and serve as a check-in to ensure the team is executing to the plan.

The Impact

The team at Allies has, without a doubt, become more efficient. Through a greater awareness of the importance of strong communications they have been able to drastically improve productivity. “At first we thought daily huddles were kind of silly,” admitted Tretola. “But now that we’ve seen tangible results from improved communications, huddles carry a lot more value,” she added. “A culture of accountability is one of the biggest successes they were able to develop,” said Wainwright. “They now know how to focus on taking a big vision and getting it down to an actionable plan that keeps them on track and accountable, without overwhelming the organization,” she added. Wainwright also did some executive coaching with the vice president of residential services, which lead to a recent promotion to chief operating officer, and onboarded a new senior VP of HR. “We were blown away by Eileen,” said Tretola. “She breaks things down and has answers; she’s absolutely fabulous,” she added.