The Flourishing Culture Podcast Series
“Why Workplace Culture is Mission Critical“
May 24, 2021
Intro: Today we talk with the leader of an organization that will bring new hope and a better life to people who might otherwise have nowhere to turn. It’s a one-of-a-kind story that you need to hear, so listen in as he highlights the thing that is mission essential for his organization’s success.
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.
If you can share this podcast with others, and rate it, it would mean a lot to me. Thank you.
And now, let’s meet today’s special guest.
I’m so grateful to have with me Mike Johnson, the CEO of the Yakima Union Gospel Mission in Yakima, Washington. Mike, welcome to the Flourishing Culture Podcast.
Mike Johnson: Thank you, Al. It’s a real joy to be here with you.
Al: Mike, as you know, people in the Pacific Northwest are very familiar with Yakima and for lots of good reasons. The warm climate, the natural beauty, the luscious surrounding farmlands, I mean, all good reasons. I mean, it’s the capital of Washington apple growers, and a little less known fact, also known for growing lots of hops, which I think we understand what those are for. So for people unfamiliar with Yakima, Mike, give us a picture of your city and those who call it home.
Mike: Well, physically, you’re right. It is just a beautiful, beautiful place. And to give folks a better sense of the populace, we’re a city of about 125,000 and a county of about a quarter million. And to understand the life here in Yakima, it really is a tale of two cities. We’ve got these stable, multigenerational families and then thousands of H-1A guest agricultural workers. And we’ve got some really wealthy farming families that have been here for four or five generations. One of the board members, when I came out here, hired me. His great-great-grandmother homesteaded in this area in 1888. And so just amazing stuff, right? And that family has really prospered over time, and they’re very generous. But then you’ve also got a ton of poor worker families. And so it’s just really, it’s a very bipolar community in a lot of ways. It’s a truly wonderful place to live, with a violent-crime problem that’s only concentrated in two neighborhoods. And, you know, and so statistically, our homeless problem is exactly average for Washington counties with a population of 100,000 or more. But what passes for average or normal on the West Coast when it comes to homelessness is probably not normal in other parts of the country.
Al: You’re saying it’s higher here on the West Coast, Mike?
Mike: It’s a lot higher, actually. The state of California has half the homeless people in America. Homelessness is not distributed evenly across the country—
Al: Yeah, yeah.
Mike: —in any way. And the West Coast has the lion’s share of it.
Al: Yeah, right.
So, Mike, the Yakima Union Gospel Mission is dedicated to, as you say, bringing the unique hope of Christ to the struggling on the streets. So could you give us a real-life, real-time example of a person or a family, somebody that you’ve worked with, that enjoys the real hope because of the Mission?
Mike: Yeah. So the first person I thought of was Carla. Carla is one of our team members here, and she recently shared her story in a setting with a group of our supporters, and so I have her permission to share that with you, Al. And it’s just a really remarkable story.
Unfortunately, like a lot of our folks, it starts with growing up in a family marred by very high levels of abuse and neglect and substance use. Carla’s mom introduced her to drugs. I hear that often. By the time Carla was 15, she was an IV meth user, as a 15-year-old. And so in and out of jail, lots of problems associated with all of that.
At one point, while she was in jail, she started to get into her thirties and early forties, she decides to go into what we call the God Pod, which is a wing in the jail that is voluntary, that’s centered around Christian ministry. And she chose to go into the God Pod mostly just because the people in the God Pod were nicer, and it wasn’t quite so cutthroat. And she really met Jesus in there.
And that did not necessarily immediately and instantly turn her life around. She ended up relapsing and getting rearrested. And it was on that release from jail that time that because she had opened the door of her heart to Jesus and Jesus had come and moved in, that she was standing on a street corner here in Yakima, and she felt the Holy Spirit say, “Look, you can go that way and you can keep doing this, or you can turn left and walk down to the Mission and I can give you a new life.” And she turned left and walked down to the Mission.
She went through all these addiction-recovery program and graduated and then worked in other places. And then we hired her into one of our thrift-store team, and she now works in our adult shelter with the women who she’s trying to pay that change forward to. And she is so good at it. And she is just amazing. To watch her do her job is just to watch someone doing what they were born to do. It’s such a difficult job to do well, and it’s a very easy job to do poorly, and she does it so well. She’s just been an inspiration to all of us, not just because of the change, but because of what an extremely confident and effective professional she is, too.
Al: Yeah. Boy, that’s a great story, Carla’s story. Okay.
Al: Well, behind every effective mission program, Mike, I must believe there’s a talented staff person and a dedicated team, and it’s all about the employees, the workplace culture, that makes for a ministry impact, from my perspective, wouldn’t you say?
Mike: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it’s a general truth that workplace culture is sort of the secret sauce or what Lencioni calls the advantage, being a healthy organization. But what I would want your listeners to understand is that for our workplace, culture is mission essential. It is literally our team’s engine.
So, we work with clients who’ve got these severe levels of abuse and neglect, and they’ve not necessarily ever known healthy relationships at all. And without that, their likelihood of long-term recovery is really low. We have to not just help them get sober, right; we have to help them recover. And there’s this 12 Step saying, you can’t give away what you don’t have. And if what we’re trying to give away is entry into healthy relating, then that means we have to be relating in a healthy way. And if we aren’t relating in a thriving way in our own workplace culture, then how can you give thriving life to our clients? It can’t be done. You can only give away what you have. And so if we don’t have—I mean, everybody needs good workplace culture. But if we don’t have it, we literally fail at our mission.
Al: Yeah. I’ve heard of mission critical. You’re saying it’s mission essential. Yeah, that’s even more important. Yeah.
Well, so, this year, Mike, not long ago, you actually stepped forward, surveyed your employees with an Employee Engagement Survey, and you got their honest and anonymous feedback. And that’s kind of helped you pinpoint your cultural strengths, didn’t it.
Mike: Yes. I felt like we had a really clear idea of our values, but we didn’t really know for sure how well we were succeeding in operationalizing them. And we certainly hadn’t thought through the ways in which when they’re operationalized, those values translate into organizational strengths. Like, I’d not really thought of it that way. I knew these were things that mattered to us. They were really important for us to get right. And we wanted to know if we were getting them right. But when we did the Survey, it was really amazing to see the way in which getting those things right become organizational strengths, and then to see the way in which, you use the phrase the dependent variables, to see the way that the dependent variables are reliant on those things. It just—it made so many things more clear to us. It was stuff we needed to work on, but also the strengths. And that was really, really critical, too. I think it’s easy to think I need to do the Survey so I can see what’s broken. But it was beautiful to do the Survey and also see what was good.
Al: So your top cultural strengths, and there are several of them. I mean, inspirational leadership, outstanding talent, rewarded compensation, healthy communication, overall engagement. I mean, you did really well on all of those things. So which of these drivers would you say is really driving your workplace culture that’s contributed most to your ministry impact this past year?
Mike: It sounds self-serving to say inspirational leadership, but what I think I mean by that is not how awesome I am or whatever. But I think that what inspires people, what makes people want to do what they want to do is how values are at play, how life values are at play in their work. That’s what creates the meaning of work. And so what we want to do is succeed as leaders at inspiring our people. And so if we think of inspirational leadership as that way, then I’d say our core values, really clarifying our core values, having strong buy-in around our core values, living our core values as an executive team, but just really implementing around those core values at every level, in every way. Our core values aren’t just things that matter to us; they are our metrics. If we succeed at these things, like, this is our business process is implementing these core values. And so we have integrity as an organization because we really behave in concrete and measurable ways as we actually value the things we say we value. And so that’s what I mean by inspirational leadership. It’s like that stuff. And that’s Christianity, but it’s not just Christianity in general for us. It’s our core values of love, professionalism, and outcomes, and shaping everything around that, and us as leaders being subjected to that ourselves.
And part of that and what helps us with that is the second point, I think. We really don’t—we talk very specifically. We don’t do rank here; we do role. And so in the kingdom of God, there’s only one rank, and it’s servant. And so for all of our folks as the adult children of abuse, they’re very sensitized to power and how power is used. And so we really don’t want a culture here that is vertical; we want a culture here that is really horizontal. And so we say that every person is the most important person in the organization to their role. And then our quest as leaders is to treat, actually treat, every person that way. And I think those are the two things that I would say have been the biggest contributors to those areas being strong.
Al: So they only rank in the kingdom of God as servant. I like that, Mike.
Mike: Well, it’s why Philippians 2, when Paul says that the reason God exalted him to the highest place is that God hum—because Jesus humbled Himself to the lowest place. And the text literally says, “For that reason, He exalted him.” And so the reason He’s the king is that He was the greatest Servant.
Al: Absolutely. So, let me—we could talk about that for a long time. That’s really good. Yeah, servant.
But if you hadn’t surveyed your employees recently, you might have been left with little or just with subjective guesswork, I guess, is what I’m trying to say.
Mike: A lot of it, if we’re honest, really.
Al: Yeah. Just using a shotgun instead of a rifle, you know. So, didn’t you think the organization like yours could be in jeopardy with its own culture and influence by not surveying?
Mike: Absolutely. And I am so glad you asked that, because I said earlier our core values are love, professionalism, and outcomes, and that last value, outcomes, means that we refuse to be unclear about how faithful we are being to our Lord in how we’re serving our purpose and our clients and our donors and each other. And so if we are going to have this core value of love and professionalism, then the outcomes core value means we have to measure, we have to know are we succeeding in being loving, are we succeeding at being professionals for our clients and coworkers to rely on? And if we don’t measure that stuff, those things specifically, what we’re really saying is that yeah, outcomes are—it’s nice, but it’s not really a core value, because we don’t hold ourselves to it. And so if we didn’t do these Surveys, we would be betraying our own values, and we probably wouldn’t see the strengths that we saw, either. So I really felt like we had gotten to the organizational point where it was stable enough after some initial—some of the change that comes after CEOs—it was nice and stable and that if we didn’t do this, we risk losing the momentum, all the momentum, that we have around implementing our core values. So, yes, you’re right. We would have jeopardized our own culture if we didn’t do the Survey.
Al: And Mike, you mentioned—core values has really been a key theme of our discussion so far. And leaders are, in many organizations, well, they’ve got those values on the wall, and maybe they were inherited from a previous leader. What did you do to help create and come up with these three core values?
Mike: So glad you asked, really, because this is such a thing that’s very close to my heart, is the role that core values plays in an organization and the role that the leader has in clarifying and living them out. And so what I think, at least, is that core values bring organization are the things that has to matter to us for us to fulfill our organizational purpose.
If we were a freight-forwarding company, our core values wouldn’t be love, professionalism, and outcomes. They might be accuracy and timeliness, or other things, right? They’re the things that have to matter to you for you to fulfill your purpose. When I leave, our core values shouldn’t change, because they’re not an expression of Mike’s preferred work style. They’re an expression of the purpose of the organization. They should be continuous and uninterrupted.
And so what we did was we said, “Hey, what has to matter to us for us to succeed at our mission?” And we said, “These are the three things that have to matter to us.” We have to love our folks. We can’t just serve them. We have to love them, because we understand that their abuse and their trauma has sort of sent them into early drug use. Love is the only thing that heals, and these are folks that need healing. But these are folks with really complex PTSD, and we’re going to have to be competent professionals and know what we’re doing. And then we really have to measure, because we feel like our ongoing capacity to do stuff is based on our stewardship. And so that’s how we ended up with these core values.
And we beta tested them around a lot. And they, at one point, maybe we talked about relationship and professionalism, or other things like that. We really settled on these things. And we talk about them all the time, and everything we do is measured against them. If something goes wrong, we’re like, which one of our core values got screwed up? And we do core-values awards, and everybody knows them. And it’s not just they know them and they’ve memorized them. It’s, like, this is us. This is the texture of what makes us us, is these things.
Al: I trust you’re enjoying our podcast today. We’ll be right back after an important word for leaders.
Female: As we come through the COVID-19 crisis, leaders everywhere are asking, how do we understand the tensions our employees are experiencing coming back to work? How do we keep our employees engaged, hold on to our best talent, and position ourselves to thrive as an organization going forward? If you’re looking for a way forward, the Best Christian Workplaces Institute can guide you onto the road to a flourishing workplace.
The first step to begin the journey is our well-known Employee Engagement Survey. This proven online tool pinpoints where your organization is already strong and where you can improve your employees’ workplace experience, resulting in more productive people. That’s right. You’ll have more engaged, productive, and fulfilled people. Time-consuming guesswork won’t get you there. Instead, let us help you with a fact-based, hope-inspiring action plan that only our Employee Engagement Survey and skillful coaching can provide. Sign up now to begin the journey to build a flourishing workplace culture and a thriving organization. Find out more at bcwinstitute.org.
Al: And now, back to today’s special guest.
Moving and just looking here at the last 14 months with COVID, it’s been a stark reminder for every organization that things are far from perfect. And it seems like it really just comes out when there’s a little stress in the system, and especially when you’re working in the world of homelessness, because you’ve seen the poor really impacted even more with COVID. So as a part of the Survey and the anonymous feedback, there was an employee that wrote that he or she would like to “See more collaboration between teams, knowing each other better, hearing from our leaders’ or hearing from other leaders’ coordinating efforts.” These were themes that an employee wrote. So why is it so important to give people the freedom and safety to speak up in their own workplace?
Mike: Man. So three years ago, we were a really deeply siloed workplace, and we’ve improved a lot, but not enough. We really have to be better knit, but it’s hard across five different locations, not to mention each department’s daily urgency. So, like, everybody in each department has this “end homelessness 365.” Yeah. And so the urgency of each person’s work can silo them into their own individual side. We’ve made a lot of progress in these areas. But what was really neat and encouraging was to hear, whoever this person was, saying, basically, “You’ve given us a taste of this. Now put the whole plate down in front of us. Don’t just give us an appetizer. So give us more.” And so I just sort of took it as a challenge. If I can’t help lead us to greater teaming and deeper relationships than we’re already underneath the glass ceiling, that’s not good enough for me.
But on top of all of that, for us, at least, doing what we do, we have to be a safe place for our clients, right? We have to be a place where the Carlas can come in and unpack all that stuff they’ve been through. And we’re really sort of an adult orphanage, for these grown-up children of abuse and violence and addiction.
And so how can we create a safe place for our clients when our own teammates don’t feel safe to speak up? Giving them a way to do that, and showing them that the execs really do care when they give us that feedback, it’s essential to our own mission accomplishment with our clients. That’s the thing and most people don’t get is the role that workplace culture is just the engine of mission accomplishment. And I know it’s true in ours, but I think it’s true in most organizations, actually.
Al: Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. Maybe that’s why I do what I do.
But as a follow up to that, you know, what has your leadership done with anonymous employee feedback, suggestions, in the areas of collaboration, communication, and onboarding, some of the things that we’ve talked about?
Mike: Well, so, what we saw is that that feedback piece landed most significantly at our sort of manager and director level. And we looked at some of how we were running our meetings with those folks, and we sort of were chagrined to admit to ourselves that the VPs were doing most of the talking. And we sort of felt like we were doing, before we saw this stuff, we thought we were doing a successful job helping bring everybody into the room and helping them know what was going on. But we weren’t letting them hear from each other. We were soaking up all the oxygen in the room. And so we changed those meetings.
And so now instead of VPs doing some of the briefings, the directors and the managers are doing some of the briefings about what they’re working on instead of their VP representing them, so to speak. And so folks are hearing from each other more.
We had just done a training on coaching, and so we’ve added into these monthly leadership team meetings a practice on coaching, where we break up into a triad, and there’s the coach and there’s the person getting coached and then there’s the observer. And so there we are in our monthly manager/director meeting, and we basically stop for 20 minutes, and we break up into the triads, and we encourage them to be a cross-department, and then they sit with each other, not with us, with each other for 20 minutes. And somebody could say, “Okay. This is a thing I’m working on.” And the other person from a totally different department gets to ask coaching questions and practice the coaching process. That is now being built into that, because, so now they’re getting to work on problems, but they’re doing it without us, and they’re doing it with each other, and that creates that kind of cross-collaboration there, knowing each other better.
We’ve changed our training plan for our managers and directors. Our next session was supposed to be about leadership, but the Survey showed us that we’re killing that. Like, we’re great. We’re good on the leadership side. What we really need to work on are these really practical supervisor skills. And so we’ve changed the training plan around that.
And then we’ve made some changes to our onboarding, to place more emphasis on giving new employees the full connection to the whole organization all the way around the department so that they feel more connected and they see what’s going on in other places. And so it was an hour meeting, where we told them all about it. But now it’s an actual tour, where they go and they meet people and they see stories.
And so we felt like we needed to do is show our folks we were listening. And it’s sort of nice. It’s like a building inspector. A building inspector won’t let you build the house wrong if you’ll just listen to what they tell you to do and do it. And I feel like our employees will tell us how to build a great organization, in a lot of ways, if we just listen to them.
Al: Those action steps, having been in the debriefing, those action steps just came right out of the data. And those are exactly the kinds of action steps that kind of address what just showed up. And that’s fantastic.
Mike: Well, and the fun thing is that it exemplifies our core values, right?
Mike: So our core values are about outcomes, is we have to measure what we do to know how well we’re doing it. And then we need to—because our clients are counting on us to help them in ways they can’t help themselves, we have to be good at what we do. But we don’t know if we’re good at what we do unless we measure.
And so what’s been fun about this for us, Al, at the VP level, at the exec level, is that doing the Survey, letting these managers and directors see us get this data, and then they see us make changes associated with the data, they’re driven by the data, they’re seeing us model our core values. It’s actually leadership development, you know, right there on display. And so it’s sort of like a double benefit. It improves the organization, and it also develops our folks by showing them, look, this is how you do it. You go get data, and then you make changes on the basis of the data. That’s our core value of outcomes at work.
Al: What that just reminds me of is how on-the-job training is how people learn, and how people learn is by observing others do it. And I really love what you’ve just said about that, because it’s a living example. People learn, learn from others, and on-the-job training. So that’s perfect.
You know, I know Christian leaders who are listening to this podcast right now. I mean, it runs small organizations with a couple of employees and some of them have thousands of employees. And these leaders tell me that the Survey process and the renewed investment in workplace culture has caused them to grow professionally and spiritually as leaders. What’s one way that you’ve grown as the Mission keeps improving, as you’d like to say, as we like to say, on the road to flourishing?
Mike: Man. Well, I had to go to this one department and just apologize. So I said we were really siloed about three years ago. We were also fiscally inverted. And so the organization was challenged in a variety of ways. And it’s a great organization, but it had faced some challenges, too. And there was this one department that was just doing great. They were sound, and they were the non-squeaky wheel that got no grease. And so I spent all this time trying to get everything else that wasn’t working right, like, working right. And I read in some of the feedback, in the open-source feedback, “I’m not sure the CEO even knows the names of the people in our office.” And it struck my heart so deep because I knew what department they were talking about because I didn’t, because it was true. And so I went over there, and I just said, “Guys, I’m sorry. We did this Employee Survey thing, and it has really made me see how much I’ve neglected y’all. And here’s why, but that’s not an excuse. And so I just want you to know I repent. And will you please tell me your names?” And I go back in there almost every day now, and I know all their names now, and I treat them like I treat everybody else, right? I just left them behind, you know? It was awful.
And so, man, my brain doesn’t ever really turn off very well, and so I can fall into this trap of thinking that my contribution to the organization is based on the stuff I’m good at or just the sheer amount of energy I bring to bear on something, which is a lot. But what the Survey showed me is that really the most important things that I can do are model our values and show our people that they matter. And I wasn’t doing that well with this one department. And so I feel like I’ve really grown through that process because it’s made me remember that God doesn’t need my help. It’s not like He’s sitting around saying, “Oh, I could really do some things if only Mike would figure stuff out.” Right? The Mission doesn’t need me to figure stuff out nearly as much as it needs me to be a loving and engaged leader. And so, yeah, the first anniversary of growth is the way the thing hit me between the eyes with a two by four.
Al: Yeah. That’s right out of the data. That’s a great reaction, Mike, and I’m sure that they appreciate that very much. Yeah.
Mike: Well, it’s been fun. These are neat people that I didn’t know as well, and now we know each other better. And it’s actually created joy, and that was joy we were all missing out on. And it’s not replaced with nothing. There’s no neutral experiences. There’s good ones, there’s bad ones, but there really aren’t neutral ones. And so we weren’t having the joy of walking together in good fellowship, and, therefore, we were having the pain of alienation. It wasn’t like there was just nothing. Yeah. It’s actually been wonderful.
Thank you, right? Literally, from Mike to Al, thank you for showing me that I needed to do that, because my life is better and their lives are better because of it.
Al: So, Mike, as we start to wind down our time, what’s one significant ministry challenge and opportunity the Mission has facing you right now?
Mike: Well, it’s outcomes. I really believe that. So, I think we have to be an organization that our community views as being able to produce change, not just in the life of an individual person struggling with addiction and homelessness, but the community, at least this community, really wants to see less homelessness because we’re here. And that’s not historically been a function that missions like mine have taken responsibility for. And so we made it our job to be able to help one person change, not necessarily to change the state of homelessness in our city. And the truth is that contemporary urban homelessness is downstream from, like, four meta trends that started in the ‘60s, 60 years ago.
And so if we’re going to fulfill this expectation that our community has of seeing less homelessness because we’re here, we’re going to have to get creative. We’re going to have to do a better job being a shaping influencer at the policy table. We’re zero percent government funded, and so in the past, our Mission just wasn’t at the policy table. Now we are.
So we really do know how to end people’s homelessness, but we’ve got to scale it better. We’ve got to lead better in policy. We’ve got to be really innovative. We have to change our sense of what it means to be representatives of Jesus on this issue of homelessness. It’s not just to our client; it’s to the whole community watching us. And if the people of Jesus can actually fix stuff that nobody else knows how to fix, then we get to be like Joseph or Daniel, who could just do things that their contemporaries couldn’t do, and the name of God will be enlarged. And so I think that’s our biggest challenge is to step into reducing the actual amount of homelessness in our community, even though we don’t have the policy levers. I don’t think it’s impossible, but I think that’s our big challenge.
Al: Yeah, wow. That’s creative thinking, and that’s big thinking, and that’s really what is necessary. Good for you.
Well, as you face this challenge, Mike, what would be your prayer that we can all, all of us—our listeners, BCWI, all of us—how can we join you in prayer as you face this challenge?
Mike: I’m a little worried this is going to sound like a suck-up answer, but it’s not. I would really ask for your prayers that we faithfully implement the lessons that we got from the Survey. Most of the time I think people know the right thing to do, but actually doing it is still sort of hit and miss. And so we know what we need to do now, but we actually need to do it. So, we have diets that we don’t stick to, right? Well, this is the diet we really need to stick to because people are counting on us. If they could save their own lives, they wouldn’t be in a mission. And if their lives don’t get saved, they die.
And so you mentioned COVID. We, in a normal year, we would lose about 16 of our shelter guests to death during the course of the year, and then during COVID, it was 40. And it wasn’t because of COVID; it was because of overdoses. We had only one COVID fatality, and we had well over twice the number of losses in our shelter guests.
And so it really is life and death. We have to be better. And we’re good at some things, right? But we need to be even better at those things, and we need to be better at the things that we weren’t as good at. And if we don’t, the consequences are real and severe.
And so I really do mean it when I say, like, my prayer request is that we would implement the lessons that we took out of the Survey. That’s what we need to be working on, and doing that will be really important for people counting on us.
Al: And it will show positive outcomes to your guests. Yeah, exactly.
Well, Mike, you know, I’ve really enjoyed everything that we’ve talked about, and I really appreciate the way you’ve kind of described inspirational leadership. I love there’s no rank. We only have one role. Is that the way you put it? There’s—
Mike: So, we all have roles. There’s only one beat. There’s only one rank, and it’s servant. We all have various roles. And the role is just what you’re responsible for. And it doesn’t—I’m responsible for the whole organization, but that doesn’t make me any smarter than anybody else, necessarily. If I didn’t come to work today, no one would know. But if our cook didn’t come into work, everyone would know. So you tell me who is more important.
Well, I’ll bet you there’s something you’d like to add that we haven’t talked about. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Mike: Oh, my. You could give me the low outside and just softball, just let me hit it out of the park. What I would just say is that I would want your listeners to know how absolutely critical it is as a leader that you operationalize your core values, or you will just never be trusted. If your core values are just words on a wall, why should anybody trust you? because you’re saying one thing and doing something else, and why should anybody trust somebody who says something and does something different? And so if your organization isn’t operationalizing your core values, doesn’t shape how you actually act on a day-to-day basis, your capacity as a leader to develop a flourishing organization will be intrinsically and forever limited. And so I would just say to everybody, like, operationalize your core values.
Al: Yeah. Great advice.
And how about one final thought, one encouragement you’d like to leave with our listeners.
Mike: Man. Here’s something I feel like I’ve learned here, which is that what makes us a Christian workplace is how we treat each other. Am I loving my neighbor as myself when my neighbor happens to be my coworker? There’s this story I think of. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the story is that on the Apostle John’s deathbed, you know, they brought him up in front of the church on a stretcher and asked him if he’d say any final words. And everybody gathers around to hear him sort of whisper or croak out his last words, which were, love each other. I think that’s a pretty good way to stop right there.
Al: Yeah. There you go.
Mike: Love each other.
Al: Love each other.
Mike Johnson, CEO of the Yakima Union Gospel Mission in Yakima, Washington, I want to thank you for being so open and genuine with all things that matter, and I really sense your integrity. And as you say, let’s do what we say we’re going to do with our values. And appreciate your true commitment to all of your colleagues and, most of all, your Christlike devotion and commitment to serve and touch hundreds, thousands of lives in the Yakima Valley. So thanks for taking the time to be with us. You’ve inspired me today, Mike, so thank you. And you’ve spoken into the hearts and minds, I know, of all those who have been listening. So thanks so much for joining us on the Flourishing Culture Podcast.
Mike: I hope it was a service to the folks that are listening.
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.
Remember, a healthy workplace culture drives greater impact and growth for your organization. We’ll see you again soon on the Flourishing Culture Podcast.