Why would a president dare question the importance of growth for his or her organization? After all, growth is the driving measure of success…isn’t it? Meet one leader who stopped to ask if growth was actually hindering his organization’s effectiveness – and then came up with a strategy to make sure that at the core of growth was a healthy culture.
Founded in 1997 with a vision to bring the good news of Jesus Christ while helping individuals and communities work their way out of poverty, HOPE International has grown a large international staff serving in 16 countries on 4 continents. In 2008, Peter Greer became president, bringing experience as a microfinance advisor in Cambodia, technical advisor for Self-Help Development Foundation in Zimbabwe, and managing director for Urwego Community Bank in Rwanda.
“Our workplace culture was built around growth. While I believed then (and still do) that growth is a good thing, growth is also a danger if it’s the primary thing you’re going after,” said Peter.
“Growth that’s built without underlying quality, great systems, mission fulfillment and great people would mean we’d be forced into a major course correction and clean up—which would only hinder HOPE International from fulfilling our God-given mission.”
Growth is a good goal, but it becomes dangerous if it’s your primary pursuit.
HOPE International used a breakthrough question to clarify the vital role its culture played in boosting and sustaining the organization’s effectiveness.
As Peter explains, “While we valued our ministry impact, we had never really paused to ask, ‘Are we seeing in ourselves the things we aim to bring about in the individuals and communities we serve?’ We needed a broader initiative that asked, ‘How do we build a healthy staff that builds a healthy organization that, in turn, can make a healthy impact in the lives of the families we serve?’”
To that end, HOPE International developed their 5-C Model of a Healthy Staff. The goal: To demonstrate Inspirational Leadership—one of the eight factors of a thriving, flourishing workplace environment—and build a culture of healthy Christians who are strong and growing in five areas:
- Christ: knowing and abiding in God
- Community: living in supportive and accountable community
- Character: demonstrating integrity
- Calling: knowing and presenting God’s purpose for one’s life with credibility, clarity and passion
- Competencies: attaining the necessary gifts, skill and knowledge to lead people in accomplishing God’s purposes through HOPE International
Today, the upside of HOPE International’s healthy culture is there for all to see:
In 2016, BCWI surveyed 253 faith-based organizations and churches, revealing that 54% of workers considered themselves actively engaged at work. Compare this number to 89% of employees at HOPE International who say they are actively engaged at work.
Recently, while Peter was traveling overseas, an anonymous staff member sent his wife, Laurel, a gift certificate so she could treat the couple’s three children (and herself) to ice cream.
It was a simple act of love and compassion that a grateful husband, father and president describes simply as, “Taking the teachings of Jesus seriously by loving our international neighbors as we love each other throughout the organization.”
“When you love the mission and care for your colleagues who, like you, are committed to excellence, it’s hard not to be engaged at work while doing God’s work.”