Need to Hire? Check Your Culture

March 15, 2023

Peter Drucker, a celebrated management consultant, once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

If you’re one of many churches trying to hire new leaders, forget recruitment strategies that might have worked for you in the past. They have most likely been eaten for breakfast!

The current hiring landscape comes with a whole new set of rules. There are roughly twice as many open positions in the U.S. as people wanting to fill them, and the demand for top talent is intense. Job seekers can be very selective as they consider their next job move, and their motivations are quite different from what they were just a couple of years ago. 

Culture before staffing

Before you even think about posting your latest job announcement, check your culture and ask one of the most important questions: Who are we? Identity awareness determines culture and drives health.

A recent Glassdoor survey revealed that 86% of current employees and job seekers research company reviews and ratings to decide where to apply for a job. 

If job seekers detect a disconnect between what others are saying about your organization on social media and what they see in your job postings, they’ll move on before you ever get the chance to talk to them. 

A healthy culture is your currency 

What attracts star employees? A healthy culture.

Your church culture is the sum of your people’s values, attitudes, priorities, and preferences as shaped by their individual and collective experiences. This involves not only your leadership and staff but also your regular attendees. 

With the pandemic accelerating turnover in church staffing and membership, pastors all over the country are left wondering where their pre-pandemic church has gone. 

If your church looks different now, take a hard look at your culture and get proactive about cultivating it. 

How? You’ll find some tips to help you start working on your culture in an article I recently wrote for Forbes. 

Here are a few more points particularly relevant to church leaders.  

  1. Check in with and unite your culture shapers.

Church leadership, pastors, group leaders, support staff, and ministry volunteers are all culture shapers. 

Other culture shapers are those who—because of their age, experience, membership tenure, or sheer force of personality—shape the culture of your church. 

Be sure to invite all culture shapers to the table to identify shared values and priorities. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • What do we do and why does it matter? 
  • Are the values that serve as a foundation for our work easily articulated and understood? 
  • How do we make our values more visible across our organization?
  • Does a large part of the congregation agree on these? 
  • Is every demographic represented in the discussion? 
  1. Check trust levels and communicate clearly. 

A healthy church culture requires a foundation of trust and transparency. 

If your church has experienced a high degree of turnover, redouble your efforts to build trust and create opportunities for honest two-way communication. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • What are the parts of our culture we’d rather not talk about?
  • Do we encourage honest, open communication—even about the things we’d rather not talk about? 
  • Have we created a safe space for dialogue and the exchange of ideas?
  1. Align culture with people’s experiences

Church leaders and influencers shape culture, but employees and volunteers apply it in the day-to-day,

Whatever you and your leaders resource, measure, monitor, and celebrate… your staff and volunteers experience first-hand how these affect their work and impact the overall mission of the church. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • Do we value our staff not only as workers but as people? 
  • Do we create healthy teams where people thrive? 
  • Are our teams adequately resourced? 
  • Do we know and build on what motivates our employees?
  • Have we created systems that frustrate, slow things down, or lead to sideways energy? 
  • Are we stubbornly holding onto outdated policies? 
  • How can we adjust policies to better align with post-2020 work norms and preferences?
  1. Check (and repair) your reputation

The way your church is perceived by your staff, attendees, and community will either draw people to you—or make them walk the other way. And those who walk away often aren’t quiet about it.

Read social media reviews about your church, create feedback mechanisms for those attending your church remotely, and invite those you see on Sundays to share their church experience with you. 

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • What do stakeholders and community members say about our organization? 
  • Have we checked peer review sites like Yelp or Glassdoor to learn from those who have an opinion about our organization? 

Culture work is worth it

Culture checks and adjustments require time and a great deal of effort. 

Is it worth it? Yes, without a doubt. Because if you don’t know who you are and where you’re headed, you’ll be hard-pressed to attract the leaders you need to help you get there. 

Slingshot Group

We take the guesswork out of nonprofit and church staffing.

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