When Lead Pastor Glen Elliott saw the survey report revealing just 3 out of every 10 staff enjoyed coming to work, he knew he had two choices: Cringe and do nothing. Or take the courageous, potentially painful steps that would change the culture for good.
Find out what happened next. . .
“Five or six years ago, God gave me a very clear Spirit-led hunch that I needed to get real with the toxic health of our culture. The subtitle of Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything in Business, told me we had no time to waste.
“Our poor communication threatened our ability to trust one another and work together. It had to turn around, but it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Glen’s middle name should be “Transparent.” He says, “Early on in Pantano’s culture transformation, I learned you can change your culture for good by making one or two improvements at a time. And it had to start with me.” Here’s how Glen and his leadership team did it.
1. TRANSLATE your thoughts into easy-to-grasp ideas.
“I began sending out a short email every two weeks. I simply called it ‘My Thoughts’ because I wanted to share with all our staff what was going on in my head, the things I was musing about, praying over and imagining for our church. It was a good first step to get everyone on the same page.”
2. COLLABORATE before the plans are made.
“We created a set of four simple questions that defined how we could think, explore, dream and work together to improve our culture in ways that would ultimately increase our ministry impact. It’s so basic to spark and sustain collaboration, which is so needed and so essential if people are going to effectively fulfill the distinctive mission and vision God’s given every church.”
Is the potential action or decision congruent with our Playbook?
Who should I/we process this with BEFORE a decision or plan is made and implemented?
Who (individuals and groups) will be affected by the action or decision? When and how will they be affected?
What needs to be communicated to whom and when?
3. COMMUNICATE leadership decisions to all the troops.
“For all the great decisions being made in our executive leadership team, we weren’t forwarding them to our people. Our solution was this: At the end of our executive team meeting, our last item of agenda is, “What do we need to take to our teams?” Then, each executive team member takes the items my assistant has recorded to their teams that same day.
Consistently clear communication contributed to a new level of mutual trust we all began to feel. As Pastor Andy Stanley says, ‘We choose to give trust and refuse to go the place of suspicion.’”
4. CONCENTRATE on making each new hire better than before.
“The journey and progress of a healthy culture means you can never sit still. Along the way, we’ve learned that it’s who and how you hire that makes such a huge difference if you want to continue to grow and sustain a flourishing culture.”
5. RECALCULATE the true value of every person in your culture.
“When we started valuing, measuring and improving our culture through the BCWI Employee Engagement Survey, one big area of dissatisfaction was our maintenance and facility staff. Today, these dedicated people are superstars who leverage the appeal of our culture, because they’re the ones who interact with countless volunteers and event participants after hours. Every valued person and team can strengthen your culture.”
- By taking these courageous steps, Pantano Christian Church experienced a 200% increase in employee engagement. Today, 9 out of every 10 staff love coming to work. That’s 90% employee engagement vs. 52% engagement for the typical Christian organization.
- Says Glen, “If you give attention to your culture, your people will see that you care because they’ll see how much their feedback matters.
- “In his classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins drove home the fact that being a Level 5 leader requires humility and boldness. You need both if you’re serious about building a healthy culture where people love coming to work and where the ministry God has entrusted to you is being done for his glory.”