These are three insights I have learned:
1. Your vision and mission matter … a lot.
You probably have a vision and a mission statement that the ministry spent many hours to develop. In fact, odds are it’s posted on a wall … somewhere. But, here’s the thing. How well does your staff know the vision and mission? Do they guide your work? If your vision and mission are just dusty old words, that’s a problem. As Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish….”
Your vision and mission must be the “North Star” that guides your ministry and keeps your organization focused on key strategic goals and objectives. I believe this so strongly that at each quarterly staff meeting, I ask every staff member to write the vision and mission on an index card, sign it and give it to me.
2. How you handle conflict matters … a lot.
If you work with people, there will be conflict. Even the apostles had conflict, and they were closer to Jesus than anyone in history! So, the question is not if, but when, conflict arises, how will you handle it? And, better yet, can you put a process or framework in place to avoid as much conflict as possible.
The Bible gives clear guidelines in Matthew 18:15–17. But, I have also found something I call “The People Principles” very helpful in heading off conflicts and guiding discussion in difficult situations. In fact, when we hire new staff members, I review these principles with them during our first meeting. They are:
• Share your thoughts and feelings
• Encourage each other
• Support each other
• Forgive each other
• Speak the truth with compassion
• Admit our weaknesses
• Respect our differences
• Refrain from gossip
• Make teamwork a priority
One of the best books I have read to help manage conflicts at work (and at home) is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High (McGraw-Hill Education, 2nd Ed., 2011).
3. Trust between staff members matters … a lot.
If you watch a good basketball team play, you’ll notice that they’re experts at a very special ball handling technique called the “no look pass.” The player with the ball looks in one direction to confuse the defender and then passes the ball to another player in the opposite direction. It’s beautiful. But it depends on one thing: trust. The player passing the ball and the one receiving the ball must trust each other before the pass is thrown.
A Best Christian Workplace will operate much like a high-functioning basketball team. Work will move back and forth between departments without “silos” and with a high degree of trust that when something is handed off, it will get done in a high quality “no look pass” way.
One thing I did to help facilitate this type of trust-based environment at Care Net was to develop a “Care Net Trust Index.” I ask staff members to answer if they strongly agree, agree, are neutral, disagree or strongly disagree with the following questions:
• Staff in other departments are helpful when I make requests.
• Staff in other departments respond to my requests appropriately and in a timely manner.
• Generally speaking, staff in other departments can be trusted to live up to their commitments.
• Staff in other departments try to push work onto me that is their responsibility.
Tracking the responses to these key questions over time, and taking action based on the responses, will build the trust needed for an effective and God-honoring workplace. I believe strongly that by focusing on these three things, by God’s grace and power, you will be well on your way to being a best Christian workplace too.
Roland C. Warren has served as president and CEO of Care Net since 2012. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Warren’s career includes 20 years in the corporate world with IBM, Pepsi and Goldman Sachs, and 11 years as president of the National Fatherhood Initiative. This post is an excerpt from his article in the 2016 Fall edition of Outcomes magazine.
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