The Power of Mission

By Ted Dieck | Employers Intelligence - Employee Relations | Jun 29, 2022

A sense of purpose is essential to achieving your goals.  Here’s another example of a powerful mission overcoming the labor shortage. 

My son Max suggested lunch at the strangely named BLOC Coffee Company, while I was in Cincinnati.  The restaurant is oddly located in the Incline District of Price Hill.  It’s an area where the hip, artsy folks collide directly with misery and destitution.  That’s it.  To the east, Price Hill offers an incredible view of Cincinnati and the Ohio River.  To the west, there’s poverty without hope.  A sea of decayed mansions, built a hundred years ago. 

But, somehow, it works. 

A Happy Employee 

The food was great.
Service was good.
The restaurant was nice. 

And while we were eating, Jesse came near, cleaning the floors and scrubbing down the tables.  

I gave him every opportunity to ridicule lazy managers, who might be kicking back, while he was out front, doing the dirty work. 

He wouldn’t bite.  He told me how great the people were and explained how everyone had organized their workloads. 

Are you hearing this?  There are restaurants that only offer drive-through service, because they can’t find enough people to work for them.  

And here’s a guy enthusiastically cleaning a restaurant, before he hustles back to the cash register to take more orders. 

BLOC Coffee

We looked up the BLOC Coffee Company and quickly realized there’s something special going on here.  From their website:
“Our shop was formed out of a need. BLOC Ministries (Believing and Living One Christ) is an inner city ministry that wanted to create a place for people to gather.” 

Aha. So, it’s a ministry.
Or part of a ministry, actually. 

Handy that it would be located on Mt. Hope Avenue.
(Yes, that’s a real street.)

That Name

It’s an acronym.  The BLOC in BLOC Ministries stands for:
Believing and Living One Christ

Here’s their extended description…
Believing in the power of hope (Christ)
Living where we serve (in our community)
One-to-one (relationships and discipleship)
Christ in (in all that we do)

(By the way, I wouldn’t take these phrases lightly.  I think they mean it.)

Dr. Dwight and Stephanie Young began BLOC Ministries in 1998. 

BLOC Ministries

Again, from their website:
“BLOC was created to build connections and safe spaces for students, families and adults to thrive and succeed in spite of difficult circumstances.” 

Those “safe spaces” aren’t just for eating cookies and singing “Jesus Loves Me.”  

There’s some serious work going on here, starting with: “…drugs, teen pregnancy, crime, sex trafficking and other risks of urban streets.”

That’s some heavy lifting.
To my mind, their full slate of services describes the essence of serving as a Christian. 

The Strategy: Be There 

Key to their game plan… Showing up.
That’s easy to say.  Hard to do. 

Here’s how they describe it…
“BLOC is unique. Our staff live where we serve because we know that neighborhood needs don’t go away at 5 p.m. By living in the neighborhood and being a neighbor and friend, we develop the trust required to find out the true need of individuals.  One-to-One.  We acquire and refurbish blighted buildings so that our staff can live as neighbors helping neighbors, invested in these blocks – invested in their lives.  Living where we serve creates more space to be Jesus’ hands and feet daily.  We get involved in very practical ways and are on hand especially when times of crisis or celebration occur.”

The Big Reveal

So, Jesse wasn’t just cleaning some corporate restaurant. 

He was preparing the workplace for people who had nowhere else to go.
Here, they could work and grow as self-reliant partners to others.
And profits that the restaurant might generate would fund more of the battle against drugs, crime, and sex trafficking. 

Jesse wasn’t making a few bucks.
He was doing God’s work. 

Now, that’s motivation.
Apparently, coming face to face with death and destruction really helps you focus. 

W. Edward Deming thought so:
When [I understand] who depends on me, then I may take joy in my work.

Your Mission 

At the risk of being insensitive, I get that your organization is probably not a ministry. 

But much of the world seems to be living without any purpose at all.
Stay-at-home mandates can do that to you.
What’s your reason for going to work? 

I wrote about this in “Tell Me Why,” where I quoted Deming a lot. 

I’m amazed at how many people vacillate, or don’t even know what they believe.
The meaning of words changes.
Values are flexible, laws are uncertain, and authority is definitely suspect.  

It’s rare that I can have a meal with anyone under the age of forty without someone being warned that a certain phrase might be racist. 

How can anyone function like that?
I was around in the 60’s.
Good news:  A couple of words wouldn’t begin to describe racism. 

I offer you this… 

Start with the individual. 

Without character and motivation, corporate standards are just a slogan.
Totally negotiable. 

Last fall, I wrote about Adam Genei’s Keynote speech in “FABTECH Keynote Says It All.” 

From that posting:
Bring me character and motivation, he says, and we’ll provide the rest. He has built an entire company of leaders and leaders-to-be. These people cannot be intimidated by difficulties. They thrive on generating solutions.

Establishing Purpose 

Deming:  All that people need to know is why their work is important.

If you can live your message, and
Build a team that resonates with your values,
You’ll be far more likely to achieve your goals. 

There are Candidates looking for something they can believe in.
I’d be pleased to introduce them to you.