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A New Year. A New Playbook.

2021 journal

Welcome 2021. What took you so long?

A new year – especially this one – causes me to think about what I want to accomplish over the next 12 months. I’m not talking about resolutions; I know I need to eat better and exercise more. What I want to consider is how to be better in 2021 than I was in 2020. What can I do to better myself, but also, how can I keep my team motivated, revived and excited about the work we’re doing?

For so many people, 2020 was isolating, lonely, even scary. While this pandemic is far from over, I’m committing today to help people get reconnected and re-engaged, whether that’s in a virtual environment or in person. Our organization’s culture is something we don’t talk a lot about, but it’s essential to retaining and recruiting talent. It’s vital to being able to provide exceptional experiences to those we serve.

CICOA implemented a program in 2015 called ICARE. It stands for Integrity, Courage, Accountability, Respect and Excellence, and it encompasses everything we do. I think about it this way: If in every interaction you have, every activity you take on, you do what’s right (integrity), by speaking up (courage), by taking responsibility for your actions (accountability), and by treating others fairly (respect), our outcomes will allow us to excel.

I love this, and I love the simplicity of it.

So how do we reinforce that culture and build upon it in 2021, after we’ve spent the last nine months focused on meeting the basic needs of clients during a pandemic?

Of course, our clients will continue to come first. But for us to deliver exceptional care and services to the communities of Central Indiana, we need to have a solid foundation, a clear direction and a welcoming, open culture at home.

I have four basic principles I am committing to live by in 2021:

  • Be cohesive. This is about having courage to speak up. The best ideas are born from great discussions and healthy debates. I want people to ask questions, to speak up with concerns. I welcome it. I want our team to be comfortable suggesting ideas. A healthy organization exists when there are open, candid discussions.
  • Be clear. Anyone else guilty of ending a meeting without knowing what action items you’re responsible for or how a new idea is going to be implemented? I’m guilty of this more than I’d like to admit, but I’m going to work on it. I want to be clear on what next steps are, who’s responsible for what and when it’s due. When we have a clear objective and we each understand how our piece fits into that objective, we’re going to create better outcomes. Clear?
  • Overcommunicate. I can picture my wife rolling her eyes at this one. Hear me out. Overcommunicating does not mean sharing that same tired story of how many homeruns I hit during little league baseball. I mean overcommunicating to ensure your audience is hearing your central message. In 2020, I sent out weekly emails to staff members. In 2021, I’m going to try to mix things up and do some video messages or simply pick up the phone to touch base with staff. We’re also going to expand Zoom lunch discussions to give staff a chance to talk on a variety of topics.     
  • Reinforce. It’s important not only to overcommunicate a vision, idea or objective, but it’s equally important to reinforce it, explain it and encourage dialogue. At CICOA, this is a team, and we’re all working toward the same goals.

That’s my playbook for 2021. What’s yours?


CICOA President and CEO Tauhric Brown
Tauhric Brown

As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.