It’s one of the best examples of a culture’s transformation I know. A true success story whose starting point was well, somewhat rocky.
About five years ago, the culture at East-West Ministries International was in a world of hurt, recalls Dave Gibson, Executive Vice President of Field Ministries, “We had a classic ‘Us vs. Them’ problem between our home office and our missionaries in the field.”
Jesus Christ left Christians with an extraordinary mission—to go and make disciples of every nation. The Great Commission is East-West’s driving force. In pursuit of this great purpose, East-West has established its own vision and mission that reflect our specific calling to multiply the Kingdom of God.
To glorify God by multiplying followers of Jesus in the spiritually darkest areas of the world.
East-West exists to mobilize the Body of Christ to evangelize the lost and equip local believers to multiply disciples and healthy churches among unreached peoples and/or in restricted access communities.
Jessica Garrett, Human Resources Director, notes that the BCWI Employee Engagement Survey revealed:
- Field staff needed more support and preparation for life and ministry, including more care and concern for spouses and children.
- Home office staff needed to better see how their day-to-day work impacted results in the field.
The Action Plan
- Survey findings revealed major culture themes to which key people were assigned to oversee key initiatives such as rewarding top performers and helping missionaries grow their donor base.
- For instance, field staff identified their training was inadequate to carry out demanding missionary work.
- Solution: Leadership created a two-week, pre-field training module that addressed six top needs of East-West missionaries. Field staff connected the dots between the issues they had raised in the survey and leadership’s response to serve them for more effective evangelism.
- A greater focus on prayer led to improved trust and integrity throughout the culture.
- Organization-wide communication improved as Dave Gibson started emailing a weekly “Monday Morning Memo” to all home and field staff, highlighting organizational wins, upcoming challenges and spiritual encouragement.
- A new Progress and Planning Review ensures that each employee receives a semi-annual “grace and truth” review of one’s work performance and spiritual health.
- When interpersonal conflicts arise, East-West holds up the “Matthew 18 Principle.” When a person raises a frustration with a colleague, the question becomes, “Have you gone to that person and discussed your conflict with him or her?”
Since 2012, we’ve gone from 101 missionaries on staff to 217, today.
Completing the Employment Engagement Survey gave East-West three valuable, meaningful opportunities to:
1) Listen to what their staff and field leaders from all over the world were thinking and feeling about our culture.
2) Thank their people for what each is doing, for participating and offering their feedback.
3) Tell their people they’ve been heard as our leadership prioritized which areas on which to focus, areas that produced early wins and contributed to long-term results.
From Dave’s perspective, “East-West has lived up to our “permission to play’ values which, in a nutshell asks, ‘Are we being generous with our staff and having fun?’
“Today, our people are experiencing a powerful sense of team play that’s far better than ever. Our recent annual field ministry conference was full of encouragement and devoid of toxicity.”
From Jessica’s perspective, “We learned to ask ourselves, ‘What does our everyday culture look like inside the home office?’ We’ve regained a sense of joy and laughter working together.”
“Home office staff now sees the correlation between their everyday work and the results of ministry in the field. Through Skype, ministry field leaders and front-line missionaries now join in home office staff meetings. They receive fresh updates on ministry operations and generous expressions of thanks and appreciation from home office personnel for their continued commitment to fulfill the Great Commission.
“Our recruiting efforts are producing more fruit than ever. Since 2012, we’ve gone from 101 missionaries on staff to 217, today.
Bottom line: “Organizationally, we’ve made healthy culture a goal in 2018. How are we going to continue to improve our culture? It takes leadership with the integrity to be honest and take a good look in the mirror, then hold fast to our intentions. Knowing that God is working in and through us, if we’re intentional and committed we’re going to get there.”
The Employee Engagement Survey
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