Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Churches hire employees to help them fulfill their mission.
These important mission partners facilitate the process of making weekly church services happen.
Employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job. However, work culture can either help or hinder those efforts.
Organizational dysfunction happens when it manages its operation in a way that is not consistent with a healthy work environment.
Churches need to be healthy and managed in a way that encourages employees, inspires volunteers, and fosters credibility with members.
Why do we care so much about church employees?
When church employees work in a healthy environment, they will overflow those characteristics into how volunteers are managed and members are supported.
Dysfunction causes stress in the workplace which creates a domino effect.
Stressed employees become more inward-focused, are less productive, and become complacent. This complacency then overflows to volunteers and members.
A thriving church requires employees who are operating on all cylinders.
Great managers ensure employees work in a culture that is healthy and supportive.
10 Signs Your Employment Culture Is Dysfunctional
1. Difficult Issues Are Not Confronted
Most people don’t like conflict. And in a church office, conflict avoidance is common.
However, maintaining a healthy work environment requires that issues be acknowledged and addressed.
The longer an issue goes unresolved the more difficult it becomes to resolve.
Particularly when it comes to employees who are also church members.
For instance, let’s say you hired a new bookkeeper from your membership. You have given her a detailed job description, targeted goals, and deadlines. You find that she is making lots of mistakes, missing due dates, and simply not getting the job done.
Your responsibility is to try to correct the situation or end the employment relationship.
This can be done by further training, more frequent job expectation conversations, and follow-up.
However, if these efforts fail, you should act quickly, admit to a bad hire and move on.
2. Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Oftentimes an employee has the responsibility to share difficult information.
This information may have to do with how well the church is performing, meeting its budget, or managing church goals.
Employees who are brave enough to share difficult information should be thanked – not punished.
I always worked with the motto, “I can’t fix it if I don’t know it’s broke.”
When we thank those brave enough to share difficult information, we open the door to more thoughtful conversations about how to improve what we do.
For instance, Let’s say you have a new youth leader. This person was hired to improve the youth program and take it to new levels. However, after a year on the job, youth attendance is down significantly. The youth leader just happens to be a relative of someone on staff. When the news of the decline in participation is shared with leadership, it is met with resistance because of the relationship and falls on deaf ears.
These situations are difficult to maneuver, but employees who monitor church statistics need to feel comfortable sharing difficult information in the spirit of making things better.
3. Paranoia And Suspicion
Employees become paranoid when things are happening around them that they do not understand.
These instances often can be easily explained but a lack of communication can create an environment of paranoia.
For instance, employees crave feedback, and when there is no feedback on how well an employee is meeting job expectations, the employee often interprets that silence as negative feedback. This can result in making the employee feel like their efforts are futile or their job is in jeopardy.
The best way to counteract paranoia and suspicion is to communicate, communicate, and communicate. It is nearly impossible to overcommunicate and this constant flow of information sharing results in employees who are validated in their roles.
4. Fear Of Change
There is a saying, ‘change is constant’.
Never has this statement been more true. Just look at this year of 2020 and the sudden, drastic changes your church has had to endure.
However, organizations that operate in a fear of changing the status quo, paralyze themselves.
Change is how organizations progress to a new level and churches should recognize the need to modify its operations to adapt to a changing world.
For instance, many churches have learned how to change how it communicates with members, volunteers, and employees.
These communication changes have come with the use of social tools. Fear of change may slow a church’s adaptation of these valuable communication vehicles.
5. Wasting Time
Time is a valuable resource and employees should be trained to maximize their time at work.
Church employees have an added challenge of getting their work done in a condensed week because of the hours needed for weekend services.
Train employees to use their time wisely.
6. Inadequate Communication
Employees crave consistent communication.
Organizations that don’t communicate well create environments of stress, confusion, and low productivity.
For instance, when planning meetings take place, communicate with employees those exciting things the church hopes to do. If the planning results in a job change for employees, make sure they are included in the conversations about those things that could impact their job.
7. Unresolved Conflict
Unresolved conflict is an indicator of a dysfunctional workplace and can lead to a toxic work environment.
Conflict often happens at work when there are competing priorities and not enough time or resources to get the job done.
Sometimes there are simply personality clashes that need to be dealt with. These types of situations need to be addressed quickly.
For instance, if you get wind that two employees are bickering over resources, pull them into a conference room and mediate a conversation to resolve the issue. If they are competing for the same resources (people, time, or money), use your influence to bridge the gap.
8. Low Productivity
Dysfunctional work environments often result in low levels of productivity.
Employees who are frustrated because they are forced to endure inadequate work processes, are not communicated with, or don’t have the tools to do their job are often less productive.
These employees lack initiative and waste valuable time.
Support employee productivity by showing support, providing the necessary resources to do their job, and addressing workplace issues.
9. Breaches In Confidentiality
Churches are exposed to a lot of confidential information. Those who have access to this guarded data need to maintain the highest level of confidentiality.
Members, volunteers and employees trust a church with this sensitive information and expect those with access to honor that trust.
For instance, if a member submits an application to volunteer, and their background check reveals past behaviors that are concerning, those with access to this information have a responsibility to only share that information with those who have a need-to-know.
And not feed the rumor mill!
10. Withholding Information
Insecure managers often withhold information from employees because it somehow makes them feel more important.
They love being the first to know and often guard the information.
These immature leaders can create issues by simply not sharing information that employees may need to get the job done.
Train your managers so they are confident in their roles and supportive of their staff.
Why This Is Important
Church employees are the most valuable resource a church has. They ensure all of the other church support has what it needs to make weekly services happen.
Take the time to examine your church culture to ensure that it fosters engagement, encourages employees, and ultimately supports church efforts.
How many of these dysfunctions do you recognize?
Do you or your staff need additional training? Check out our Fundamentals Of Church Administration Training!