4 Ways your Vision Can Support You in an Unpredictable Year

Published On: February 9th, 20214 min readCategories: Leadership, News

It’s a time of year when many organizations reflect on their vision, and in January, Family Service Canada members connected online to talk about planning for the year ahead. What became clear is that it’s tough to chart a route when the map keeps changing.

A Lot Can Change in a Year

It was January 25, 2020, just over a year ago, when Health Canada reported the first Canadian case of COVID-19. It’s astonishing to consider just how much has changed since then. Canadians’ circumstances and experiences have shifted dramatically. Many have sought support for new challenges or in response to increased complexity with the obstacles they were already facing.

At the same time, Public Health regulations quickly made historically in-person supports unavailable. During the conversation with Family Service Canada members, it was incredible to hear how quickly and effectively many adapted and adopted innovative new programs and online service delivery to ensure they could continue meeting Canadians’ needs.

Intention and Visioning for 2021

The rapid changes and adaptations experienced in the past year brought many questions about looking ahead. Ensuring your organization and staff can move forward with a clear strategy even while the ground is shifting under your feet is essential.

It’s February, and most organizations have already had conversations about their vision, but especially in a year with so much uncertainty, that conversation will need to happen a few times. Based on members’ experiences and our January conversation, we’ve put together four tips for working with your vision throughout an unpredictable year.

These tips focus on your organization, if you’re looking for personal goal setting, take a look at the resource we shared last month: Goal Setting in a Year of Uncertainty

1. Have a vision.

For as much as the unpredictability of the year ahead might make it hard to plan, it’s all the more reason to have one. A clear intention and vision provide guideposts for you and your staff, which is especially helpful when making tough (or quick) decisions.

For many of our members, their organization’s purpose remained constant in 2020. That continuous focus and alignment were helpful when working with staff to update or adapt programming. They knew they were trying to accomplish the same end but looking for a new way to approach it.

Many members also used their visions to prevent them from spreading their organizations too thin when new client issues came up. If they weren’t equipped to respond or doing so would be too far outside their purpose, they built partnerships with other organizations who were already doing that work.

2. Refer to your vision and strategy documents. Maybe more than normal.

Last year blindsided us. No one predicted the pandemic nor the scope and scale of the impact. And while the significance of the changes we’ve seen are way beyond what happens in a typical year, every year does bring change and circumstances that were unpredicted. Every year is unpredictable.

We don’t know what the year ahead will bring. Continually reviewing your organization’s vision and strategy, and communicating with staff, can help you stay on track. You might still feel like you’re going down a waterslide in the dark, but keeping your strategy top-of-mind can help you react quickly to unexpected turns. Your entire team will be better able to respond in alignment with your organization’s overall direction.

3. Be proactive and courageous.

It’s easier to stay on course when you know where you’re headed.

We know the economic, social, physical, and mental impacts of the pandemic are massive. There will be long-term implications, even if we don’t know what they will be. The changing situation in Canada will require new and innovative ideas that can grow and evolve. Holding on to “ways of doing things” may feel comfortable but limit your options. Holding instead to your intent and your vision means you can change a lot while still being true to your purpose.

Many Family Service Canada members made temporary changes that ended up being so beneficial that they’ve made the changes permanent. Online counselling, for example, has been viewed suspiciously for years. After being a necessity during the pandemic, it’s proved not only practical but often preferred by clients. It’s likely to stay as part of a permanent hybrid offering, with both online and in-person sessions available.

Try new things, run pilot projects, and be courageous. Canadians need supports that can evolve and adapt as their needs change. Not all changes will work. Some will fail but provide information to shape future decisions.

4. Foster relationships and build community.

Even with clear intent and vision, we can struggle to see and respond to challenges. It’s hard to understate the value of a group of peers who share similar experiences in those situations.

During the conversation with Family Service Canada members, there was much gratitude for the Family Service Canada network and the connections it helps us foster. We can count on each other for support, ask for advice, and share resources. Though the context of our agencies and each of our visions is different, we share a vision for nation-wide projects and increased collaboration. Our connections with each other have built our capacity as leaders and have strengthened our organizations.

If you lead a family serving organization in Canada and are not a member of Family Service Canada, consider becoming one. We’re here to share our knowledge and experience to support you. We also know that having your voice in our conversations will benefit all of us as we work toward advancing Family Services across Canada.

Click here to learn more about membership with Family Service Canada.

Thank you to Kim Morrison, Executive Director, Catholic Family Services of the Battlefords, for her leadership during the conversation in January and supporting the development of this post.

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