This week Nativity’s Strategic Leadership Team (there are 6 of us) took a day for an off-site retreat to reflect on and assess how things are and where they are going. Our retreat was not prompted by any major issue or particular problem, but by the consistent, ongoing evaluation that characterizes any healthy, growing organization.
We spent a lot of time discussing the topic of staff culture. Every organization has a culture, because it is simply the sum total of how a group functions together. Every group has a culture, but very few have intentional ones. And fewer still have cultures that are healthy. And yet, healthy cultures are the ones people want to be a part of and function best in.
As our friends at the Vanderbloemen Group (vanderbloemen.com) like to say, a commandment of churches should be: “Thou salt build a contagious culture.”
I’d like to share 5 characteristics of a contagious staff culture we’re trying hard to build at Nativity.
Know Yourself First
Knowing yourself is the first step. You can’t share what you yourself don’t have. The most important, but often forgotten point being: Don’t try to change who you are- develop who you are into all you can be. Lead from your God-given identity. If you’re in a leadership position, build a team who are good at things you’re not. And make sure they invest time in getting to know their own personalities and one another’s too.
Know what You Want Your Culture to Be
Before you can successfully drive any particular culture through your organization, you have to articulate it. Maybe a value in your culture is hard work. But if people don’t want to be at work, that value is doomed. Together articulate what you love about what God is doing for you and your church, and what God is calling you to do to advance that culture in your staff workplace.
Then, keep talking about it. There’s nothing worse for staff culture than bad communication. More and more, healthy organizations utilize personality tests to determine how individuals best communicate with the people they work with. We use Meyers-Briggs at Nativity, and I really can’t tell you how helpful it has been at times in those meetings when tempers run hot or things are going in circles.
Set It Up for Success
Culture is set by office space. Is that a joke? Nope. A contagious staff culture requires a designated work space, that is arranged in thoughtful, artful ways. A lot of parishes I know are limited by office space and spread people out in various locations or even different buildings. This is a mistake. People need to be together to ever hope to be a team.
Consider doing performance reviews based upon values. Here’s an easy way to think about it: If people are rewarded based upon how well they live out values of the culture, they’ll know the values.