How Not to Loathe the Culture You Are Leading

One of the dangers of a growing organization or ministry is the temptation to quickly bring people on to the team to meet the demands of the growth. Of course, there is nothing wrong with desiring to scale the team. As the organization grows, wise leaders expand the leadership base.

The temptation is to take shortcuts on ensuring those joining the team are deeply committed to the mission and values of the organization/ministry. The temptation is to settle, to quickly grab a person and put him or her in a role. When work is piling up, unread emails in the inbox are growing, and demands seem to be rising, the easy solution seems to be quickly putting someone in a role. But wise leaders know—likely they have learned—that putting the wrong person in a role is a short-term solution with adverse long-term implications.

Tony Hsieh (founder & CEO of Zappos) tells the story about his former company, LinkExchange, which was sold to Microsoft for 265 million. When the company was just getting started, Tony and his friends loved the culture. They worked together all the time, sometimes forgetting what day it was. As the company initially grew, they hired their friends, people who shared the same values and understood the culture of the team. But as they continued to grow, “they ran out of friends to hire.” In other words, people began to join the team who did not share the same values. And the culture quickly deteriorated, so much so that Tony said he no longer wanted to come to work at his own company. He now obsesses over cultural fit in his current role at Zappos, and rightly so. Over half of an employee’s annual evaluation is based on living their values, and he has said, “An employee can be a superstar in job performance, but if they don’t live up to core values, we will fire them just for that.”

While we often imagine that declining and crumbling organizations begin to fall apart because they have grown complacent, Jim Collins, in his book How the Mighty Fall, states that complacency is not the issue. Decline begins when the growth of an organization outpaces the organization’s ability to have the right people at the table.

Surely one aspect of “the right people” is a deep-seated commitment to the mission and values that drive the organization. As the organization grows, new people will be invited to join the team. If you move too quickly and fail to ensure the alignment of values, you may end up loathing the culture of the team you are leading.

How can you not loathe the culture you are leading? Do everything you can to ensure the people joining the team, at their very core, carry the DNA of the culture you envision.

Read more from Eric here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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3 Interview Guidelines for Finding the Best Next Hire for Your Church

Mistakes are most often made when hiring is based on surface characteristics like stage ability, resume experience or fashion sense, rather than on the foundation of church culture. Your values define your church’s culture. Therefore, values should form the basis of your staffing logic, whether the prospective leader is paid or unpaid. Well thought-through interview questions, based on values, could be the difference between a perfect match and the perfect storm.

The best values-based interview questions are those that do three things: 1) Hide the “right” response, 2) Reveal practice not thinking and 3) Mine for specifics. Let’s take a look at each technique and provide a simple illustration for each one.

#1 Hide the “Right” Response

Let’s imagine one of your church values is “Risk-Taking Faith.”

  • Ask…  If you knew that God would meet or exceed one goal you have right now, what would you ask for?
  • Not… What was the last faith risk you took?

Why? Because the natural tendency when being interviewed for a position you want is to frame the answer to what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Questions that state the value up front, don’t allow the candidate to reveal how the value is present – or not present – in their life and ministry.

#2 Reveal Culture in Practice, Not Thinking

Let’s imagine one of your church values is “Evangelistic Ethos.”

  • Ask… What do you know about your 5 closest neighbors (geographically) ?
  • Not… How important is evangelism to you?

Why? Because it is easy to talk about how things should be, and avoid talking about how things are. Questions that allow the potential staff member to speak to a value from experience not ideas, separate mere affinity from life application.

#3 Mine for Specifics, Not Answers

Let’s imagine one of your church values is “Doing Life Together.”

  • Ask… What was the last tough conversation a close friend had with you?
  • Not… Who are you doing life with?

Why? Because simple answers that are easily given leave little room for follow-up and become fairly useless in determining cultural alignment. Questions that generate responses with multiple follow-up possibilities (why don’t you have close friends? how did you respond to their criticism?) can produce a multi-dimensional understanding of the person in context of the church value at hand.

So remember, experience is important, but programs will change. Stage skills are huge, but presentation can be developed. Fashion is fleeting, but skinny jeans will eventually go out of style… we pray. When you hire by values, culture becomes the glue that holds your staff together.

Read more from Bryan here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

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10 Guidelines to Help You Find Staff and Build Culture

Recently I had the opportunity to teach at Exponential West. There were leaders from all over the country, churches small and large, and we talked about how to build a great team, and then how to keep a great team by paying attention to culture.

Here is the short version of what we talked about (and you don’t even have pay!)…

When Looking for Staff… 

  1. A Resume is Worthless — most of what matters in hiring someone is not found on a resume.
  2. You Can’t Train Character — Give your life to helping people find Jesus and reform their character. But when you are hiring, you need people who have proven integrity, especially with their tongue, money, and sex.
  3. Social Media is Your Friend — I’m giving you permission to stalk your next employee! If it’s on the internet, it is public. Look at their online persona to see how they think, what they think is funny, and how they treat others.
  4. Hire From Within — You know what you are getting; you know they understand your vision and philosophy; you know that the “chemistry” question has already been answered.
  5. Find Fresh Eyes — Occasionally you should not hire from within because you need a fresh infusion of ideas.
  6. Find Leaders, Not Doers — You have limited dollars, so you should typically spend your staff dollars on leaders who can build teams, inspire followers, and reproduce themselves over and over again.
  7. Pay Well — you don’t want people to come because of money, stay because of money, or leave because of money.

Building a Great Culture… 

  1. Make Time for the Three S’s — every week, carve time with your staff or leadership team to do three things: A) Tell Stories of what God is doing through His people, B) Spotlight an individual to let them get to know them and celebrate their unique contribution, and C) Give inside information (Stuff) or training that will add value to your team.
  2. Offer Employees Flexibility — Some positions need set hours (i.e. facility care shifts or preschool teachers). However, most positions should be flexible, focusing on outcomes (did you accomplish your job?) and not on specific hours (how long did you sit at your desk?).
  3. Being Fair is Not a Priority — Make decisions based on your vision and priorities–not based on fairness. News alert: I spend more time with my wife than any other woman. Why? Because she is my priority.

What would you add to either of these lists?

I’ll be expanding on each of these topics in my upcoming book (to be published by Thomas Nelson in July 2014). 

Read more from Tim here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens

For more than 17 years, I have been on staff with Granger Community Church. It has been a privilege to watch the church grow from a congregation of 350 meeting in a movie theater–to a world-impact ministry reaching more than 6,000 locally and tens of thousands around the world. Outside of my family, the most important place I invest my leadership, time and energy is to the staff and congregation at Granger.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.