The Flourishing Culture Podcast Series
“How to Improve Employee Engagement and Well-Being Remotely“
March 22, 2021
Intro: Today’s episode gets us behind the scenes of one of the largest churches in the United States. Gateway Church has grown to over 40,000 weekend attenders and over 600 staff. They say that they are all about people. Well, listen in as today’s guest describes how they walk the talk with their staff and how they care about their spiritual, relational, and professional well-being.
Al Lopus: Welcome to another episode of the Flourishing Culture Podcast, where our goal is to equip and inspire you to build a flourishing workplace. As we all face today’s leadership challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe having a healthy culture is more important now than ever before. We are here to help you eliminate toxicity, improve your employees’ engagement, speed up new innovation, and grow your organization’s impact.
And before we meet our guest today, I urge you to subscribe to this podcast. As a result, you’ll receive our action guide. It’s our gift to help you lead your organization’s culture to the next level. To subscribe, simply go to bcwinstitute.org/podcast. Hit the Subscribe button and receive our free action guide.
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And now, let’s meet today’s special guest.
The bitter winter storms in Texas have captured our attention. In many cities and towns, families and businesses were hit hard. But I’m here to say that we’re overdue for some good news from the Lone Star State, and that’s why it gives me great delight to welcome Christyl Buchanan, the executive director of human resources at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. Christyl, welcome to the Flourishing Culture Podcast.
Christyl Buchanan: Al, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here!
Al: Yeah, great.
Well, Christyl, in the next few minutes I’d like it if you would take us behind the scenes at Gateway Church. A lot of people know about Gateway. You have some powerful evidence and even eye-opening stories of how Gateway has built a thriving and now flourishing workplace culture. The principles, strategies, the action steps that you’ll share with us certainly will be very insightful as you work for vitality, the vitality of any church, ministry, organization, or even a Christian-led business would be proud of. So how about that? Have I set the bar high enough for you?
Christyl: Maybe a little bit. But I really have to say what it comes down to and what I’ve seen and learned at Gateway is our leadership has set a really strong foundation for a healthy and thriving culture, and not just for our staff but for our congregation as well. And so the investment intention they give to our congregation, they want to give to their staff as well, in that, really, the building of the foundation are things—I don’t know what terms everybody used, but you mentioned we’re all about people—
Christyl: —and that is so true. And there are things that we call our social covenant—how we’re going to treat one another, respect one another, as a team. And then like most churches, we have our values and our mission and the things that we’re striving towards, and all of those things kind of mix into this is our foundation, what God has put on Pastor Robert’s heart and our leadership’s heart of who we’re going to be. And so I think all of those things permeate out into who we are on a daily and weekly basis. And if we’re making a great impact on our staff and our congregation, then we’re going to keep going in that direction.
Al: Yep. That’s great.
Well, before we get into all that good stuff, I’d like you to familiarize our listeners with Gateway. So what makes Gateway Church so distinctive? Tell us a little bit about Gateway.
Christyl: You know, hands down, I think it’s Pastor Robert. I was mentioning before, he just wanted to lay that strong foundation, and he was so intentional about it from the beginning. But he is one of the most humble, generous, and trusting leaders that I’ve personally experienced. And something that I’ve learned in not just my time at Gateway but when I go back over the course of my career, growing up in ministry, it’s going to come from the top down. And so if you want a healthy church and a healthy culture, then it’s going to start with your highest levels of leaders, and I feel like Pastor Robert has represented that and held the standard for all of us so well.
I think our culture is healthy because of what Pastor Robert, how he walks out not just who he is as Pastor Robert, who he is as Robert Morris, and who he is in his private life is who he is in his professional life. And he just reflects such a great heart and helps us cultivate an atmosphere where there is honesty and generosity and humility and genuineness, all of those things. So I think us as an organization, we’re trying to reflect the example that he set.
Al: Yeah. And I can verify that, yes, your employees feel the same. As you’ve recently, for the eighth time in a row, surveyed your staff, and yeah, high levels of trust, open communication, integrity, honesty, well-managed. Those are all high and improving as times goes on.
But we mentioned it earlier, Gateway people. Your website address is www.gatewaypeople.com.
Al: So, worshipping, following, and serving God is all about people, isn’t it.
Christyl: It is. It is. I mean, I know I heard Pastor Robert has said this a few times, and I think this even came from the beginning of this tagline phrase that we continue to use is God’s all about all people, and so we’re going to be all about all people. I know, from what I’ve seen, in HR, in the super behind the scenes, that’s what Gateway strives for and towards in every single situation, that we want to be all about people.
Al: Well, the increased health and strength of your culture is really positive. Employee engagement for churches averages, the way we measure it, about 55 percent of the employees that are on staff at churches are engaged. One of the many takeaways of surveying your people is realizing that employee engagement, the percentage of employees engaged at Gateway, has risen from 64 to 74 percent. So three out of four of your people, instead of just half in the average church, are in that engaged category, based on the way we measure it.
So, how do you do it, Christyl? At Gateway, where does it begin? What’s so strong about employee engagement that you’ve built on?
Christyl: Yeah. Well, as much as I want to look on 2020 in a really negative light, and there’s a lot of things I don’t like about 2020, for our staff, it brought this really cool shift in our culture, from things of we used to be fully on site. Like, you were there Monday through Friday, working at your desk, meeting with people, collaborating, were highly, highly relational environment. And all of the sudden, out of our hands, that choice has completely turned, and everyone’s in their homes, doing school with their kids, and trying to keep up with work, and those big shifts that happened. And as we got into a rhythm, it was just really cool to see the impact of how our staff dove in and engaged, stayed connected.
And there were some really great things that I think led up to some of that prior to COVID hitting—Praise the Lord. I think He set us up for success—but then some really great things that came into place after March of last year.
So we have a system called 15Five, and we started rolling it out towards the end of 2019, getting our staff trained on it, set up, and that is an amazing system to use to keep your employees engaged. And so there’s three functions we use within it, and it’s a weekly check in. So you’re telling your manager how you’re doing, what you worked on, what you’re priorities are. Another part of it is giving each other high-fives. So it’s really giving people shoutouts. Anyone in the organization, you can give a high-five. And then the third is your one-on-one meeting. So when you’re meeting with your manager, you’re documenting those notes. So that tool is all about engagement. And we really wanted to find a great way to keep our staff engaged with their managers and what’s going on. So all of that led up to, then, March hitting. So we had that in place, ready to go, to keep that engagement strong.
But then, once we were remote, to add to that, obviously, we’re working remote. Pastor Todd started doing weekly video updates to all of our staff to say, “Hey, here’s what’s going on.” He’s praying for the staff. He’s giving high-fives, or shoutouts, to departments or individuals who are just doing a phenomenal job turning things to the online focus and putting COVID protocols in place. And then, how do we continue to have fun in the midst of so many people feeling isolated, and how do we reach the community with so many restrictions?
And so all of that, there was just this coming together and collaboration on our staff like we really never, I don’t think, we’ve had before. You know, I said we are a highly relational team, and we do collaborate, but there was something really special about 2020 that I think just brought us together in a really unique way, and it caused our staff to, I think, be more engaged than they ever were.
Al: Yeah. We all come together in a crisis, don’t we. That’s interesting, Christyl, that you say that. And we have noticed, and our listeners might be interested, that a number of organizations have improved the health of their culture over 2020, even through all of this COVID business.
But then there’s something you mentioned earlier called the Fun Squad?
Christyl: Yeah. So, it’s kind of my baby. No one asked for the Fun Squad, but it was that whole, you know, we’re isolated, so how do we get together to make this happen? How do we get together and have fun isolated? So I took the initiative to reach out to a group of our staff, to say, “Hey, I’m creating this thing called the Fun Squad, and so I’m looking for fun, creative people that are willing to come alongside me and help me make some things happen.”
And so we did things like in April, around Easter, said, “Submit your most awkward family Easter photo.” And so we dropped that out to the team, and they’re submitting, everybody’s seeing the pictures, and then we’re picking a winner and giving them a prize. And so we kept it going from there, either different challenges or funny videos that we put out.
We have a girl on staff that is hilarious. Her name is Ruth. And so she walked around with a facemask and a microphone, and we called her Ruth on the Street. And she’s just running up to staff, asking them random questions. We met with our—even our strategic team, we put them all physically distanced apart and videoed, asking them questions about each other. “Tell us who’s always late to meetings, or who’s always carrying a cup of coffee around, or who’s the best singer of the group? And so we were finding ways to just have fun in the midst of isolation but also just a hard year, hard year for a lot of people. So we wanted to bring a little fun and a little laughter. So that’s the Fun Squad, near and dear to my heart.
Al: Okay. Well, I’ve got a fun story, too, but yeah, let’s keep going. That’s great.
Al: Yeah. Great. That’s fantastic.
So, the 15Five, weekly check ins, high-fives, one-on-one meetings, I mean, those were all kind of put in place. You were going that direction anyway, then COVID hits. And that’s a perfect recipe for a COVID situation, with weekly videos and the Fun Squad.
And I’m curious. People are wondering, What’s a weekly check in, and how is that different from a one-on-one meeting?
Christyl: Yeah. So, the weekly check in, the rhythm of most oversight meetings at Gateway is every other week.
Christyl: And so this is a real quick snapshot for a manager to see. You rate your week between one and a five. Was it hard? So I’m putting out a one. Or was it the best week I’ve ever had? I’m putting it at a five. As managers, I know I personally love it; I’m seeing that quick snapshot. “Okay, they had a good week.” Or “Oh, they’re a little in the middle. Let me follow up on that.” And so it’s a great way to keep a pulse on your teams on an ongoing basis.
But then within that, that weekly check in, you’re listing your priorities. “This is what I worked on,” or “This is what I accomplished or didn’t accomplish for what I set for the week.” And then another part of it is we drop in one to two questions for our staff, and that was actually really amazing during the early seasons of COVID but what we’ve continued to utilize. So we put out a question in everybody’s weekly check in, to say, “What’s the hardest thing about working remote?” And so we got all of that feedback from our staff, and then HR compiles all of that, puts recommendations, gives it to our leadership, to say, “Hey, here’s the areas they’re really struggling with. How can we help them? What can we implement or change to support our staff during this season?”
And so there were some really cool things that came out of asking those questions, looking for that feedback, to support our staff. But then ongoing from there, it’s just been a great resource to do a survey for looking at doing something new. “Give us your feedback on this event that just happened. Did you enjoy it? What were your takeaways?”
So that’s one way we’ve used in that check in. But another cool thing about it is we really want to use it so that employees are engaging with their managers. Are you connecting? Are you aware of what’s going on? Are you having good dialogue?
So anyway, we love—I could talk about 15Five all day. We love it.
Al: Wow. And one-on-ones you have every other week for 30 minutes, or what’s the plan for that?
Christyl: It varies. Each department has different needs, and some do a big team meeting once a week. So I would say on average you have a one-hour one-on-one meeting every other week.
Al: Yeah, okay. Yeah, fantastic.
I trust you’re enjoying our podcast today. We’ll be right back after an important word for leaders.
We’d like to invite you to BCWI’s next webinar. Many Christian-led organizations struggle to be innovative. At BCWI, we’ve researched the key difference makers between organizations likely to stagnate and those that reinvent themselves and thrive in the midst of uncertainty. We know that innovative organizations increase impact and sustainability. So mark your calendar, Wednesday, March 24, for a free, live, one-hour webinar. We’re calling it Three Steps to Create a Culture for Innovation: Building Sustainability Today to Flourish Tomorrow. Again, join us Wednesday, March 24—the third Wednesday in March—at 1:00 p.m. Eastern or 10:00 a.m. Pacific. Please register at bcwinstitute.org.
And now, back to today’s special guest.
One of the things that we saw in the Survey results just this year, and again, it was probably in November-ish timeframe and so we were already six or seven months going in COVID at that point, and we really saw that community was a big factor, that the community amongst your staff really was healthy. So what goes into building a healthy workplace community at Gateway? What did you experience?
Christyl: I’m sorry. I might end up being just a little bit repetitive on things, but it’s because I so believe in them!
Christyl: But part of that, I think, it just goes back to that healthy foundation. And what our leadership, what Pastor Robert built in the foundation was our social covenant, and it’s how we’re going to treat one another, talk to one another, how we’re going to respect and value one another as a staff. So social covenant, hands down, I think a big part in creating that community.
But then all of those things of I’m just so grateful the Lord aligned 15Five going in, to keeping that connection, the impact that our staff spoke to, Pastor Todd and his care. Seeing his face on a video every single week for months on end, it was creating that of we’re going to stay engaged. From the top down, we’re going to say engaged together. We’re going to reach our community but continue to build community here. And then, of course, I have to give a shoutout, again, to the Fun Squad of how we kept the fun going, engagement, and connection to our teams.
So I think that’s a huge part of continuing working towards, How do we create community in such an isolated season?
Al: Yeah, that’s great. And I love your social covenant, for sure. In fact, anybody that wants to know what the social covenant is at Gateway, go to our blog and type in “social covenant” under the Search figure, and you’ll see a blog that has exactly what it is. We’ve been appreciating that for a long time.
In fact, I was doing an interview in a Christian magazine recently, and they were talking about, What are some of the foundations of healthy Christian workplaces? And I said, “Clearly, employee values,” and I called out the social covenant at Gateway as an example because it’s not top-down values; it’s a community, the staff kind of believing in the values and monitoring the values as they work with their workmates. And if somebody isn’t following the covenant, then everybody, whoever’s in the meeting or in the situation, can kind of call a foul, as I recall, is the way you describe it.
Al: Yeah, yeah.
Well, I bet that you’ve got more than one inspiring before-and-after story of an individual team or maybe a department that experienced a breakthrough that led to a new level of enjoyment, collaboration, effectiveness as a group. Tell us a story.
Christyl: That’s a big question, so I don’t know that I have a specific department to name. But, really, over the last several years there’s been a lot that shifted, some of it within our leadership but just a restructuring. So as things shift within leadership, that affects other depts. And almost anytime you have a change in leadership, they’re going to look, Are we structured the best way? Are we set up for success for where we are now but also where we’re going? Finding, I think, within all of that, we really found where departments were best positioned. So maybe they were under a particular leader before, and we just realized that’s not the best fit. They need to be under technology, or they need to be with our central ministries group, for them to really flourish and be effective.
But also, within that, we saw certain leaders transition and get them in a place that matched their best skill set for the role that they’re in. And that made such an amazing impact on departments. And what I really begin to see, Gateway’s just continued to grow, grow, and grow, and we, as an organization, have continued to adapt to those changes and those growth, but you get to a place sometimes where maybe where someone functioned in a leadership position well when you had 50 staff or 100 staff or 300 staff. It may not be the same once you get to four, five, six, fourteen hundred staff. So to continually make sure you got not just positions but departments structured well and be open to adapt and change for all the things that are ahead.
And so I think kind of the collective of all of those that have moved and shifted over the last few years, it’s been amazing to see the impact. I’m thinking of our LP department and some changes that happened with them in that restructuring, and they’re coming back to say, “This was amazing. This is just what we needed. There’s so much clarity. We feel like we can do our jobs better.” And those stories are great. That’s what you want with those kind of changes and transitions.
Al: As I listen to you talk about this, I’m curious, then, about you, Christyl. In your leadership role, what’s inspired or challenged you to learn and grow?
Christyl: Yeah. It’s a great question. I think for me, what I’ve seen and what I’ve been learning in my time at Gateway is it’s so valuable to have self-reflection, to say, “Okay. I’m going to pause. I’m over the HR department, and now I’m overseeing staff care and organizational training. God, have You still positioned me here? Have You still called me here, because if You have, then You’re going to equip and empower me to do this role.” So I think self-reflection, asking the Lord, “Am I still in the place that You’ve called me to be?” is so important.
And I think in the church world in general, we definitely see it at Gateway, we have to be ready to adapt. And I have adapted more times than I can count at Gateway in my different roles that I’ve been in to just be ready of we’re going to do what the Lord speaks, and when He speaks. So I think being able to adapt to the needs that your organization has is so crucial.
And like I was saying before, just the needs of departments, is my team that I have the privilege to oversee, are they well positioned? Are they well structured? And continue to explore and look at if we need to make changes. And do I have the right leaders in place for where we’re at today? Am I growing myself so that I can help grow and develop them for where we’re going.
Al: And I love that you can’t expect your team to grow unless you’re growing. In fact, oftentimes, when the leader stops growing, then the organization or the department stops growing. So, you’re absolutely right.
So, I’d like to touch on maybe three specific strengths of Gateway culture. These, we call them drivers of a flourishing workplace. And the first one is rewarding compensation, and when you look at your top ten—and I’ve heard Pastor Robert talk about generosity, but you’re living it—and compensation is more than a salary, for sure. So how has Gateway paid attention to make progress about compensating and providing benefits for your people?
Christyl: Yeah. That is an ever-evolving topic in conversation. I mean, even this week—it’s so funny you’re asking this question—because even this week we’re having conversations of we need to revamp our compensation structure, and we need to get back out there and do some more research and make sure that we’re positioned well, that we’re paying our employees well, because we want to continue to care for them. Are we meeting the needs of economic growth and cost of living for the areas that we’re in?
And so it’s definitely a high priority on our heart to have competitive compensation but also amazing benefits. I think Gateway offers amazing health benefits to our staff, what they cover for premiums, and assistance with deductible reimbursement, and then just providing a wide range of offerings of, “Hey, here’s some resources we think could be of benefit to you and your family.”
So I think just, like, compensation with benefits, we’re constantly looking at, Are we offering the best of what our staff needs today and at the best value? Those are very strong and heavy on our heart and is usually on our project list of things to work on.
Al: Yeah, great.
And how about a story about how compensation has really been important, even through the pandemic and, more recently, with these winter storms—snowmageddon, as you call it.
Al: Any good examples?
Christyl: Yes, we do call it snowmageddon. Yeah. In 2020, I mean, it almost makes me want to be emotional in this moment, thinking about the generosity of Gateway, not just to the communities that surround us but, hands down, to our staff. We have a large group of part-time employees that support weekend services, from children’s workers to café and bookstore. And when they shut down all the buildings and shut down services, we had a group of people who no longer had a job. But Gateway said, we’re going to continue to pay our employees, and we’re going to figure this out each step of the way. So for those part-timers, whatever their normally scheduled hours were, if it was 10 hours a week they generally worked, or 15, we were going to continue to pay them.
But also in the midst of that, we were trying to figure out, How can they now support Gateway remotely? And so if we were delivering food to a community, all right. Log your hours helping us deliver food. There was so much that went online of making phone calls. At one point we made a phone call to every single member in our database, just to check on them and see how they were doing. So we divided and conquered as a staff to make all of those phone calls to check in on people. We have text channels that people message into, so having people set up to respond. And so a lot of our part-timers got set up to help support in that, begin working and doing some things remotely and from home. But for those who just couldn’t, Gateway made the commitment of until we figure some of this out, until things begin to reopen, we’re going to continue to pay you your normally scheduled hours. So it was just amazing to watch all of that unfold and see the generosity from our leadership.
Al: Yeah. Fantastic.
You know, another driver of our FLOURISH model is inspirational leadership. That’s much more important than even compensation when it comes to staff engagement. And tell us about inspirational leadership that’s clearly, you know, a couple of the items are near the top of your top ten, Gateway’s well managed, there’s a high level of trust between leaders and staff, and certainly that starts with Pastor Morris.
Al: So your staff has confidence in how the church is managed and who it’s managed by. So share with us one or two insights about what’s behind inspirational leadership with Gateway Church.
Christyl: I love that. I mean, you mentioned Pastor Robert, hands down, all those things I said before about him. But he has an amazing team, and we call them our strategic team, and they support all areas and functions at Gateway. And Pastor Todd is at the helm of that team, leading the way. And that group, hands down, they set the standards for us. They hold us accountable. They represent the heart of Pastor Robert so well.
And I’m so grateful for Todd, Pastor Todd. I have, you know, in being in HR and a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, I have had the privilege of sitting in many meetings with him and some fun meetings and great meetings, but some challenging meetings. And regardless of the setting that it’s been or the topic or the difficulty of it, he is vulnerable. He is relational. He is always kind. I’ve been in meetings where I’m losing my patience and he isn’t. He just stays so steady, and he’s really fun, a lot of fun to be around. And really, that strategic team is not just representing Pastor Robert, but represents Pastor Todd so well. And I’m just grateful that he’s been at the helm, leading this group, especially through this last year.
Another thing about Pastor Todd that I love is that you can put anything on the table, and there’s a lot of places where they say, “No, you can’t ask about that,” or “No, you can’t ask about that person or that situation,” or “No, when we’ve made a decision, we’ve made a decision.” He has always said, “You can put anything on the table. You can ask any question about any situation or person. It doesn’t mean maybe you’re going to get the response you want or the answer you’re looking for. But there is always an openness of you can put anything on the table.” And I love that about him, but also our strategic team as well, of they walk that out with their teams, and it’s really amazing to see.
Al: Yeah. I’ve looked at your leadership team over the years on your website, and I’ve just always been impressed with the quality and the experience that your leadership team brings to the church, a lot of business experience, especially in the operational areas. And that excellence, again, number three on the top ten is well managed. That’s because you’ve got highly competent leaders, but also spiritual leaders that, as you say, are relational. They’re spirit driven. And that’s true. I enjoyed an afternoon with Pastor Todd Lane, just a year and a half ago, when I was there visiting, and a really capable guy. So, yeah, you’re fortunate, no question.
Well, let’s talk about a third driver, Christyl. This has just been a great conversation. Let’s talk about fantastic teams. And so in your mind, why are well functioning, productive teams so vital, and why are they so vital in a large church like Gateway? How do you make sure that your teams are vital?
Christyl: Yeah. Well, I think it goes back to the tag line from earlier of we’re all about people, and that can be a lot easier said when there’s 50 people or 100 people, not that there still aren’t challenges. But as we’ve grown in a church of 40,000 plus, how do we continue to be all about people in every situation? How do we continue to be all about our congregation and then all about our staff? And we have to be internally that way if we’re going to be externally. So you can’t put on a facade and be all about people on one side and not the other. And I think something that we’ve continued to grow in is we have to communicate well. The larger we get, with all the many different teams and areas that are overseen and built up, we have to communicate, and we have to collaborate well. And if we’re not doing that, we’re going to be slowing down the ministry that God’s called us to do. And there’s definitely a time and place to slow things down and pause, for sure, to reassess and to adjust. But we have to stay in a place of being ready for rapid growth and what God has. And if we’re going to do all the many things, that amazing vision that God’s put on Pastor Robert’s heart for Gateway and our strategic team’s heart and what they’re seeing, then we better be willing and ready and able to work together to get all of that done.
Al: And again, looking at your results, we asked the question about team work across departments, and it’s really a strong score and a contrast to other churches. And I often find, and our leaders are interested, I’m sure, I find that when you have a strong leadership team, that really facilitates cross departmental teamwork, and as you’ve described, you’ve got that at Gateway, that’s for sure.
Well, Christyl, this is really just been a lot of fun. Really enjoyed everything that we’ve learned as we’ve talked about your culture. You know, it starts off, as I think about, we’ve mentioned it several times, you’ve mentioned it, it’s all about people at Gateway. And, you know, I oftentimes think and have seen the health of the staff of a church today predicts the health of the congregation tomorrow. And knowing that you’ve got a healthy, growing staff, and growing in terms of not just in numbers, but in development of themselves and discipleship as well as competence, that that leads to even a good chance there’s going to be a growing congregation in the future. And so, and you’re doing that through the 15Five program.
Al: Okay. So you got a name on it. Yeah. You’ve got the 15Five program, so weekly check ins and high-fives. We didn’t focus on the recognition, but just recognizing good performer’s really important, one-on-one meetings. And then in COVID, those weekly videos that Pastor Todd provided to keep everybody up to date. And then the Fun Squad.
Christyl: The Fun Squad.
Al: That’s right, yeah. We talked about the foundational elements of relationships and the social covenant that you have. You know, I oftentimes hear, “Well, why should we have articulated staff values? You know we’re all Christians, aren’t we?” I said, “Well, no.” It’s really good to articulate staff values such as your social covenant. And again, the strengths that you’ve shown through the surveying of your staff with rewarding compensation and inspirational leadership and fantastic teams, just three areas to highlight some of your great things. It’s just been a great conversation.
You know, is there something we haven’t really talked about that you’d like to mention?
Christyl: The thing that comes to mind is a little bit like a series of questions. And when I meet with other churches, and I connect with a lot of our HR contacts within Texas specifically, but other church leaders, and I think that big thing is, Do you know the foundation of your culture? And if you do, that’s amazing. But have you communicated it? You know, I talked about Pastor Todd a little bit. He communicates. In talking about our social covenant and our values and our mission, I mean, it’s almost quarterly, he’s having a conversation with our staff of, Do you remember these things? Do you know our values? And he continues to point us back to it. And so he’s re-communicating it. So it’s not just, Is it written down? Is it in a file somewhere? But if you have it, are you communicating it to reestablish it? And if you are, then are you holding people accountable to it?
And so within our—we kind of summarize our whole culture or our DNA is we’re spiritual, relational, and professional. So do we point people back to and hold them accountable to, Are you spiritually healthy? Are you relationally healthy? Are you professionally healthy and being effective in your job? So you’ve got to hold people accountable, I think is another piece of it.
And then, like we talked about, Do your highest levels of leadership, do they really set the example for that culture? And all of those things I think make a really major, major impact. You can say we’re a generous organization, but if you’re not giving anything away, then are you really? So what are those things? If we say we’re generous as Gateway, but we’re actually holding everything and not giving away to the community or compensating our staff while providing good benefits, then maybe we’re not actually generous. So if we’re going to say we’re generous, we’re going to give things away to the community and to mission work, and we’re going to give great benefits to our staff and compensation, whatever that looks like for the individual, make sure you’re really representing what you say in your culture. So I think those are the main things that come to mind that I’d want to share.
Al: Yeah. Well, thanks. Yeah. Walk the talk, right?
Christyl: Yep, walk the talk.
Al: Well, okay. Then, Christyl, how about one final thought, one bottom-line thought that you’d like to leave with our listeners today.
Christyl: Being in HR, I kind of want to give a shoutout to any of my HR people within the church. But I think any advice I’d give to them would just be really generally would apply to anybody, just encouragement. Know that you got this. Walking out ministry, whether you’re in HR operations or front line at services on weekends, engaging with the congregation, God’s placed you there. He’s gifted you and talented you for this moment in this season. And if you’re like me in any way and have felt very unqualified, I can speak to the testament of God’s faithfulness in my life and has equipped and qualified me for moments where really I shouldn’t have been. And so He’s going to continue to do that for you. So I’d say walk and trust, continue to use your voice and whatever giftings and talents, creativity, whatever it might be, no matter your age, use your voice and keep learning. And what I always tell my team is always, always, always be kind.
Christyl Buchanan, executive director of human resources at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, thanks for being so open and transparent about all the things that we’ve talked about, all the things that matter in the health of a staff culture at a church. I love your integrity, your genuine commitment to your colleagues. I mean, that really came through. And most of all, I appreciate your devotion and service to our loving God. So thanks for taking the time out of your day to speak with us and into our lives and so many listeners’. Thanks, Christyl.
Christyl: Al, thank you so much for the opportunity. I so appreciate it. Such an honor to be on here and get to talk with you today.
Al: It’s been great. Thank you.
Outro: Thank you for joining us on the Flourishing Culture Podcast and for investing this time in your workplace culture. If there’s a specific insight, story, or action step you’ve enjoyed, please share it with others so they can benefit, too. Please share this podcast with friends on social media, and show your support by rating, reviewing, and subscribing wherever you listen.
This program is copyrighted by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute. All rights reserved. Our writer is Mark Cutshall. Our social-media and marketing manager is Solape Osoba.
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