When used in a church context, the word corporate can come across negatively. In reality, the word itself does not make things negative. Rather, it’s the idea that particular “corporate” practices can sneak into a churches culture and have negative results. Let’s look at three positive and three negative ways “corporate” culture could be working for or against your church, your ministry and your team.
Let’s start with the positive influences:
1. Corporate Culture can increase communication.
When done correctly, scheduled meetings, reviews and other communication structures can really help a church. I believe some church leaders shy away from meetings because they have experienced them poorly facilitated. But today, let’s focus on what a great meeting can look like! For starters, check out this Andy Stanley podcast where he talks about leading great meetings.
When it comes to reviews, the main goal is to have them. Our church has recently moved to a monthly review system, where we can keep short accounts with our direct reports on things they are actively working on. Regardless of how you do reviews, the bottom line is that you take the time to make them a regular part of your leadership structure. Great leaders need feedback. Give it to them.
2. Corporate Culture can help you have a good hiring process.
What does your hiring process look like? Is it documented somewhere? Does your team follow it? An important key to creating a healthy corporate culture within the Church is having a good solid process in place to bring new people onto the team. It is not so much about having all the right steps, (you will learn and get there) but rather that you are taking steps, putting practices in place toward a good process. Using a clear on-boarding process will show your new team members that you value doing things well.
3. Corporate Culture can help you with structure.
Very few people want to work somewhere that lacks structure. Yet, church teams can lack a good solid structure. Questions end up flying around and causing confusion. Who reports to whom? Who goes to what meetings? Who is required to submit what documents? How do I get that task accomplished? Who is responsible for what? These types of questions can kill creativity, kill forward progress and in the long run, will cost you your best leaders. Great leaders thrive when things are clear and when the path is laid out. Work to give your staff a healthy structure and they will respond well.
Now let’s turn our eyes to the negative influences:
1. Corporate Culture can bring red tape.
You have probably experienced it. You need to get something done but two committees and three subcommittees approvals stand in your way of planning your first meeting. Don’t let this be something that defines your ministry. There is no quicker way to frustrate and eventually lose top leaders than to make them fight through tons of red tape. Don’t get me wrong, oversight can be a good thing, but trust your great leaders to make the right call and only require approval for the absolute minimum. Your teams will thank you for it and the quality of your ministry will increase.
2. Corporate culture gives the mirage that people with titles have the best ideas.
This is not the case! I love what Steve Jobs says: “Who cares where the good ideas come from? If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice them.” It’s easy for organizations to fall into the trap of having the top leadership come up with all the ideas. Don’t let this be true for you. Your top leaders need to listen more than they talk. Make good hires and then put trust in them to come up with great ideas!
3. Corporate Culture can bring the “impersonal” touch.
As churches grow and begin to establish process and structure, the result can be the “impersonal” touch. One goal should be, as you implement more and more process, you should fight to have as many personal touch points as possible. This does not mean that everyone needs to have your Lead Pastor’s email or they need an invitation to a staff member’s house for dinner, but there are a few small things that you could establish. Such as returning phone calls promptly, requests for information should be followed up in a timely manner, and people should have a personal connection with someone from the church (paid or unpaid). These simple yet powerful steps will speak to your congregation, as well as create the “personal touch” you are looking for.
In conclusion, I believe that a key to integrating corporate culture is moderation. Any corporate culture influences can quickly turn from positive to negative or vice versa if they become THE THING you do. Remember, we are the Church. Process and structure DOES help us organize, but at the end of the day, people meeting Jesus is the goal.