Bible League Canada has a God-sized vision: to reach the world with the gospel message of God’s Living Word. Yet, their culture needed to grow healthier to make good on its mission. Kudos to President Paul Richardson and his senior leadership team who refused to take any needless short-cuts and buy in to the mistaken notion that an organization can create fulfilled employees, or fruitful ministry outcomes, but never both results at once. Then things got really interesting, really fast.
Bible League Canada partners with Christian ministry organizations, training 140,000 nationals in more than 40 countries, worldwide, with the living Word of God through children’s ministry, starting new churches, adult Bible-based literacy programs, and work within the persecuted church.
In November 2016, the BCWI Staff Engagement Survey revealed Bible League Canada’s culture to be squarely in the ‘critical moment level.’ “The survey report confirmed what we had perceived about the state of our culture,” says Richardson. This admission, shared by senior leadership, set in motion a process that led to a win-win outcome that recognized and celebrated the natural link between the organization’s fulfilled employees and their increasingly fruitful ministry.
Three actionable insights contributed to a transformed culture:
“Had we not followed up on the survey findings, we would have remained a solidly average culture—with a sour after-taste of having let the chance to aim at excellence slip away. This would have negatively impacted our staff morale, our productivity, and our ability to attract and retain the right people to our ministry.”
Adds Richardson, “In all transparency, we shared the results with our entire staff team and asked them, ‘Who would like to be part of the task force that actually crafts the prioritization and strategy to move forward toward building the kind of workplace we all want?’”
Michael Joshua, Vice President of Finance, was tasked with ensuring the entire staff completed all it intended to do to improve the culture. “It was pivotal that we gave our people the opportunity to evaluate the opportunities for improving our culture so that, together, we could determine what needed to be changed.”
Focus groups identified the three top strengths of the culture, as well as the three areas that most needed to improve. Leadership then used these recommendations to develop a work plan of 20 action items.
Says Joshua, “Because the BCWI survey responses are 100% anonymous, our team had zero fear of backlash. Therefore, staff were completely frank about how they felt. This set the stage for open, honest conversations about how Bible League Canada could be a fulfilling place to work that generated fruitful ministry.”
Adds Richardson, “Telling each other how we felt, while truly listening to each other, revealed that getting everyone in the room, free to ask the right questions, gets remarkable outcomes.”
Culture is all about the ministry—getting the work done–and caring for the ministers.”
Just twelve months after their first survey, the culture has risen to the highly ‘flourishing level.‘ Richardson touches on four clear results:
- “Today, we’re seeing positive effects of greater overall staff engagement in how people respond to one another and a new-found enthusiasm and commitment to ministry growth.
- “Our people have become more confident and empathetic with each other, both across departments and throughout the organization.
- “With God helping us, we’re building the kind of place where staff like to work. And they’re encouraging their friends to apply.
- “What we’re seeing God do in the 40-plus countries where we’re involved is truly special. Last year an average of 18 churches were planted every single day in these countries.”
While no organizational culture is perfect, Bible League Canada continues to do the work to sustain its healthy culture. As Richardson puts it so well, “Culture is all about the ministry—getting the work done–and caring for the ministers, making sure the people doing the work are cared for and fulfilled as well.”
It’s Your Turn!
- Take the opportunity to improve your culture.
- Take ownership of what needs doing.
- Be open to say what you think and feel.
Which of these three things do you want most for your culture?
How to Build Outstanding Teams!
Jim Reese, President/CEO, Atlanta Mission
The Employee Engagement Survey
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