Every organization has IT and IT’s a major influence in the success or failure of that organization. However, few actually invest time, resources, and leadership into IT. The same is true with churches and families, they both have IT.
IT is CULTURE. Culture: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institution or organization.
Take a moment and begin to think about the culture of your family, your church, and your workplace. You may not realize it, but it’s a big deal and it affects so many aspects of your life. So why don’t we pay more attention to culture, especially if we happen to be the leader of our family, church, and/or workplace?
You’ve probably been part of an organization where they actually had solidified values that were meant to shape the culture. However, reality showed that what was “written on the wall” wasn’t actually “happening down the hall”. You may have also been part of an organization where the culture was not intentionally determined and the environment was toxic. Crazy people and crazy actions were able to thrive… because the culture was crazy.
When I came on staff to Brentwood Church 7 years ago, I was unknowingly joining a toxic culture. This was disheartening since I had just left a toxic culture. Fast forward to today (SPOILER ALERT), I can honestly say that Brentwood Church has the best working/staff culture I have ever been part of. It didn’t happen overnight and was HARD work. I’ve had a front row seat to watch our Lead Pastor, Jon Dupin, lead our culture into a healthy and thriving place.
It didn’t happen overnight and was HARD work.
Here are a few thoughts on culture:
Every person either adds to or subtracts from culture.
If you are part of an organization, you are not a neutral part. You are either adding to (positive) or subtracting from (negative) the culture of your family, workplace, and church. By adding to, you are living out the values of the organization and are helping others do it as well. By subtracting, you are simply living contrary to the behaviors and attitudes that are desired in the organization.
If you are in leadership and have influence in hiring, this is essential. Each person you hire will affect culture. It’s important that you have detailed “culture questions” in the interview process to make sure the person can operate within unity of what is desired for your organization.
Culture has to be reinforced and protected.
Culture is a reality. Whether or not it’s intentionally shaped is another issue. You cannot passively shape culture into the desired position. Once an organization articulates what they want their culture to be (which primarily means deciding on values), they will have to constantly reinforce and protect it. The moment that you stop fighting for culture is the moment that it will begin to shift in a different direction.
The moment that you stop fighting for culture is the moment that it will begin to shift in a different direction.
1. Reinforcing your desired culture means:
• Living It: practicing what you preach.
• Teaching It: train people on what it is and how it looks within the organization.
• Displaying It: have a way to see the components of the desired culture.
• Celebrating It: when you see someone living out the desired behaviors and attitudes, reward and celebrate them.
2. Protecting your desired culture means:
• Having tough conversations: you have to address it when someone is subtracting from the desired culture. The longer you wait to have the tough conversation, the more they will begin to negatively affect the culture of the organization.
• Making tough decisions: if tough conversations are not having the desired outcome and not resulting in changed behavior/attitude, then tough decisions need to be made. This obviously looks different in a family setting than a workplace setting… and both of those are different than a church setting. But regardless, too many organizations have allowed individuals to derail a culture because they were not willing to make a tough decision.
So if you are a leader in any organization, it’s time to step up and lead the people into an intentional direction of health. Fight to both reinforce and protect the desired culture because you as the leader set the tone. It starts with you. And if you’re not the leader of a particular organization, choose to be someone who positively adds to the culture and be an example for those around you. When you do this, you’ll see that new opportunities will arise.