Governance can be defined as: The combination of policies, systems, structures and strategic frameworkwhich a governing body puts into place to ensure that the leadership of an organization makes appropriate decisions.
Or, in less fancy, layman’s terms: Overseeing the control and direction of an organization. Governance models refer to how the authority chain and framework interconnect. These models ensure decision-making remains effective and that correct accountability is assigned to board members and/or managers of an organization.
With more competition than ever in the workplace, both nonprofit and for-profit organizations consistently find themselves faced with challenges as they seek to maintain success and stay on course. Deciding on a particular governance model can be a challenge in itself, as each organization is unique. There is no right or wrong governance model; at some point, every organization must decide which one fits them best. Many organizations adopt a combination of various board governance models that often evolves with time. When organizations face a new life cycle or phase, when operations become unstructured, when roles become ambiguous and board members dissatisfied with their roles, or when a CEO, a college president, a church’s senior pastor, or several board members leave, it may be time to reevaluate one’s governance model.
Adopting a new board governance model might seem daunting. But it needn’t be. Changing models is a bit like changing one’s lifestyle. Let’s say that someone has spent the past few years eating cheeseburgers and Fritos and watching Seinfeld reruns from the comfort of their couch every night. One day, they wake up and realize they’d like to change their life, get healthy, swap the burgers for green smoothies and the reruns for time at the gym, working on their fitness. They might feel eager, but understandably a bit overwhelmed. Where to begin? Which way to go first? This is a bit like that. Changing governance models entails abandoning well-established ideas and replacing them with new ideas and roles. This change takes time, energy, resources and resolve. It may feel confusing at first. But over time, clarity and greater ease does come. With the right model in place, any organization can succeed.
Let’s take a look at the five most common board governance models for nonprofit organizations.
Advisory Board Governance Model
Many nonprofit organizations choose to use the Advisory Board Governance Model. An advisory board is the platform that an organization’s president or CEO consults for assistance or advice. The president or CEO may carefully choose a team of trusted individuals as part of this board. Each board member possesses a set of professional skills and unique talents that will be useful to the nonprofit, and in most cases, they provide these valued skills at no charge. A quality advisory board can boost the reputation and credibility of a nonprofit. This is an excellent model for nonprofits concerned with achieving high fundraising and public relations goals. The advisory board may serve as the main governing board of a nonprofit, or the organization could utilize additional models that offer special expertise, such as a young professional advisory board. This model is often appealing to board members, because these younger members bring valuable contributions to the table, and meetings tend to be informal and task-oriented. While this model can initially be effective, challenges arise when board members face liability issues because accountability mechanisms become ambiguous. This model is not limited to nonprofit organizations. The Advisory Board Governance Model can be the first step in governance for small but growing for-profit organizations. It is an effective way to introduce new ideas from leading experts in variety of career fields.
Patron Governance Model
The Patron Governance Model looks very similar to the Advisory Board Model. However, it includes a few distinguishing factors. With the Patron Governance Model, boards comprise individuals who either possess a great deal of personal wealth or wield significant influence in the nonprofit’s field. The primary duty of this board is fundraising. Board members may contribute their own funds to the organization, or they might reach out to members of their network to contribute as well. Generally, under the Patron Governance Model, board members in this model have less influence over the president or CEO than with the Advisory Board Model, other than running the risk of losing funding. This model can be very helpful, but the board cannot be relied upon for governance tasks, like vision development and organizational planning.
Cooperative Governance Model
Many nonprofit organizations do not have an official president or CEO. In this case, the Cooperative Governance Model works well. Under this model, the board makes decisions for the nonprofit as a group of equals. This is a highly democratic model, as no board member has a higher standing or more power than another. This model is often used when the law requires a nonprofit to have a board of directors; it works best when each board member is able to show an equal amount of commitment to the organization. Challenges may arise, however, when personal morale declines. Under this model, there is no effective way to ensure accountability for individual actions.
Management Team Governance Model
The Management Team Model is one of the most commonly used governance models. With this model, the nonprofit acts similarly to a for-profit corporation. Instead of hiring people or teams to handle human resources, financing, fundraising and public relations, the board forms itself into committees to do these things itself. This model, which rose in popularity in the 1970s and has continued to gain momentum, is often used by volunteer organizations such as home school associations, Girl and Boy Scouts and other hobby groups. Challenges under this model arise when board members refuse to delegate authority and become micro-managers instead, resulting in inconsistent decision making and resentment and discontent among staff.
Policy Board Governance Model
The fifth common board governance model is the Policy Board Model, also referred to as the John Carver Policy Governance model. This model was developed by John Carver, author of Boards That Make aDifference. Carver, an esteemed psychologist who has co-authored five books and worked as a business officer in small manufacturing, understands both the business and psychology ends of organizations. He trademarked the Policy Governance model and has consulted with businesses in nearly 20 countries. Under his model, the board delegates much of their trust and confidence in operating the group to the CEO or president, and the CEO holds regular meetings with the board to update them on the nonprofit’s activities. With the John Carver model, there are very few, if any, standing committees on the board. Typically, the board is secondary to the CEO in overall power. The CEO is responsible for the staff, and the board typically does not interact with staff. However, the board and CEO work together as a team, meshing their skills and ideas. Members are often recruited because they have demonstrated commitment to the values and mission of the organization. Many nonprofits use this model, often combining it with other models to create a more specialized advisory team.
As with nonprofit organizations, for-profit (corporate) organizations use five common board governance models. The Traditional (Structural) Model is the oldest of the models, its use dating back to as early as the 1700s, when corporate structuring began. Many government organizations still use this model, as do many law firms. This model is built upon the concept that the board is the legal ownership entity and speaks as a board, while members of the board speak on behalf of the board but do not have an individual voice outside of the organization. The Board Chair is usually structured to be the official “voice” of the board, but only speaks in a way authorized by the board as a whole. Under this model, the board usually delegates responsibilities to the CEO or the board committee.
While the Traditional Model can be effective, it is no longer as widely used and presents some unique challenges. When the board delegates its powers, accountability and expectations sometimes become muddled. Another challenge arises when the CEO creates management operating committees that overlap with board committees which hold similar responsibilities. This can lead to confusion among staff about their roles, as board members cross boundaries between governance and operational management. Organizations still using this model have recently reduced the size of the board and sought board members capable of governing as a whole, versus merely representing constituents.
The Carver Board Governance Model, common among nonprofit organizations, is also popular among corporate organizations. In the words of John Carver, who, again, popularized the model over the past 20 years, this model is a “rigorous academic approach to a practice area that has had very little research over the years.” The Carver Model addresses two fundamental concerns: the board defining the organization’s goals, and creating policies by which the board and management team must abide. The board’s prominent role is to create policy to guide management and also guide the board in its governance work. John Carver suggests that, under this model, a competent board chair member should have the freedom to take action in the area of governance.
Challenges in this governance model arise when the board focuses its time on building policy rather than actually attending to other pressing responsibilities. While creating policy (such as how many meetings to implement a year) is helpful to create structure, and can potentially protect the board and organization, this model doesn’t always help to establish clear expectations or ways to measure success. This model works best when an organization looks beyond policy and creates a comprehensive strategic business plan and budget.
Every great organization creates and implements a strategic plan that aligns with their Board of Directors’ vision for the future. Learn more about IHN HR’s Strategic Planning Processes here:
Under the Cortex Board Governance Model, developed by John Por of Toronto, the board focuses on clients, community, legislation and best practices of similar organizations, so they can define the standards they wish to adhere to in their own organization. The board’s main role under this model is to clarify and set outcomes, so they can measure success. The board may set up an accountability framework, identifying which roles the board, CEO, staff or other members should assume. This model helps ensure transparency and accountability, as it helps organizations establish clear outcomes and measurements of success. Challenges with this model arise, however, when board members don’t fully understand the business and must rely on the management team to do much of the research. This model can also be tricky when organizations do not implement mechanisms or report structures to measure performance against new outcomes. However, these things can be developed over time. Focusing on what is important, versus what is convenient, is key for organizations that use this model.
The Consensus Model, alternatively known as the Process Model, stems from the idea that all board members are equal, with an equal vote, responsibility accountability and liability for decision making. This model recognizes, however, that board members offer different areas of expertise, knowledge and wisdom. Under this model, board members must decide how issues will be discussed, how differences of opinion will be handled, and how members will reach a consensus on timeliness and agenda management. Many small, family-owned businesses or corporations with no shareholders use this governance model. Challenges arise when roles remain undefined, necessitating that issues must be sorted out among the CEO and board members. When disagreements arise under this model, board members often turn to Robert’s Rules of Order or the Parliamentary Rules of Order for guidance.
Competency Board Governance Model
The Competency Board Governance Model, sometimes referred to as the Skills/Practices Model, is also used in organizations. This model focuses on development, and ensures that all board members possess appropriate knowledge and skills. Relationships remain a key factor under this model, with special focus on communications and trust. Board members are often assessed to ensure their behavior matches the expectations of the organization, and that they work well together, as a team. While this model is very appealing for many organizations because of its relationship-driven quality, it can run into challenges when clear policy is not implemented. Having an experienced board member mentor newer board members can be an effective strategy.
If this information is new to you, or feels overwhelming, please don’t let it be! Choosing the best board governance model for your nonprofit or for-profit organization doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. Your organization is unique and one of a kind. Therefore, your model will be as well.
Here are some questions to consider when reevaluating your governance model or establishing one for the first time:
Do we have a clear understanding of the purpose of our organization?
What are our organization’s basic values?
How do we measure our organization’s success?
What are our financial resources, and will these resources be reliable for the next several years?
Do we believe our organization should be run as a cooperative, or a collective? In other words, should staff participate with board members in the governing?
How much time is each board member wiling to devote to the organization?
What is our expectation for board member meeting attendance and commitment?
How will we hold board members accountable?
How useful is each committee we have? Could we eliminate any?
How will we handle disagreement?
How much trust does the board place in the CEO or president?
How satisfied are our current members with board performance?
As board members, to whom do we wish to be accountable?
In the words of John Carver, “A carefully crafted, conceptually rigorous purpose of governance … forms the heart of board effectiveness.”
What is the heartbeat of your organization? What really makes you tick? Remember, it need not be a one size fits all. Your organization is unique, complete with a distinct purpose, vision, skillset and team. Take some time today to ponder which one of these board governance models might work best for you.
Concerned about the Board Governance Model at your organization? The benefits of having a trusted partner to guide you and your team to excellence is invaluable. Contact us today. You—and your employees—will be glad you did.
Rise with us by implementing our high-performance human-resource programs. E-mail us here.
Mark A. Griffin is president and founder of In HIS Name HR LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter
Post-COVID-19 recruitment has been unquestionably hard for employers, with many struggling to find quality employees in the aftermath. Religious-exempt employers have had an especially difficult time.
Organizations such as Biblical higher education institutions, Christian ministries, camps, and churches have found that mainstream secular platforms no longer assist them in target hiring. For example, Christian employers frequently used Facebook to connect with potential candidates, but in recent years many social media programs stopped allowing recruitment ads that target Christian applicants. Keywords such as “Bible,” “Jesus,” and even “pastor” are flagged as well.
Handshake, the most prominent job portal for college students gives universities the opportunity to block religious employers. Here, at In HIS Name HR, we have experienced this firsthand.
These setbacks have left Christian employers discouraged, wondering how they might maintain their voice and find quality candidates in this even more challenging environment. We have an answer.
Yes, a new day is dawning, and help is on the way.
The day is coming when employers can cast their net to the right side of the boat and watch as it quickly fills up.
Welcome to Job Shepherd, a platform that will change all this for you.
Job Shepherd was created to meet the demand by Christian employers, including ministries, camps, churches, colleges, and Christian for-profit companies in their search for qualified job candidates.
Job seekers can once again identify opportunities in sales and marketing, office administration, pastoral work, counseling, worship leadership, and higher education positions, like provosts and executive leadership.
Job Shepherd offers job seekers free guidance to find the right position within the right organization, one aligned with their values. With a few simple clicks, job seekers can explore a vast array of opportunities in any of these fields, and find themselves one step closer to the career of their dreams.
Job Shepherd, however, doesn’t stop there. In this portal, job seekers will find an abundance of additional online career help, including articles that share career advice and provide free tips on resume writing, career development, and interview skills.
These invaluable resources are always free for job seekers.
Employers seeking quality employees have just as much to gain. Job Shepherd offers a plethora of job postings to enable employers to find their ideal hires, as well as free articles on how to identify and secure great employees. Additional employer resources are available as well.
It would be the understatement of the century to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the flow of information in the workplace. It hasn’t simply disrupted communication in the workplace; it has rewritten the landscape of how managers and employees interact daily and how employees do their work. When it comes to a productive, efficient and effective workplace, nothing can replace robust communication between everyone. It builds trust, sets realistic expectations and gives everyone a sense of orientation, even—and perhaps even most importantly—when times are tough.
That is why it’s more important than ever to not only maintain communication with employees but improve it, as much as possible. HR departments, managers and employees all play a critical role in making sure that the lines of communication stay open and are used often. How do you do that? Consider this.
The pandemic has left people detached, distracted, and hopeless beyond belief. The unpredictable layoffs, dismissals, lack of income security, and compromised productivity have created an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. One report suggests that about 655 million full-time jobs worldwide were lost in the first two quarters of 2020 alone.
This lingering fear of losing a job or business, or negative changes in monthly income has affected the psychological well-being of employees and employers alike. Adjusting to the new form of work while maintaining one’s sanity and staying safe from the virus is a huge challenge that has negatively affected communication within most organizations.
If you are experiencing some or all of these same difficulties and need some winning tips, we can help. This article brings valuable insight to help employers learn communication development ideas from a Christian perspective as well as effective tips for employees to acquire the support they need from their employers.
Acquiring Support the Right Way
Since the start of the Covid pandemic, employees worldwide have experienced a lack of support from their employers in the area of communication. This has greatly affected employees’ mental framework and productivity.
Many employees and managers alike have chosen to keep communication to a minimum, assuming it would prevent unnecessary conflict. But keeping concerns bottled up inside is an exhausting way to handle a situation. Speaking one’s mind will help relieve stress and also reveal unrealistic assumptions. But concerns must be appropriately voiced for effective results. To avoid a negative impact, follow these 5 strategies:
1. Voice Your Concern in a Timely Way
The first thing for workplace harmony is choosing the perfect time to share a concern. Discussing issues during a meeting or when leadership is interacting with others may be a big no-no at your organization. The most effective way in ensuring non-confrontation is to schedule a time with your leader and have an honest one-on-one discussion with them. Make sure the time is right, as it will set the course for productive conversation, allowing your employer to listen to you attentively and respond. Many leaders are more receptive in an individual setting vs. a group format when an employee goes out of their way to communicate.
2. Avoid Being Vague
If you are intent on finding a solution or you have concerns, be specific to avoid sounding negative or unserious. Instead of generalizing the problem, discuss the details, as generalizing diminishes the seriousness of your case. The more specific and clear you are, the more benefits you will likely achieve.
3. Keep Solutions Ready
The most effective employees are those who see a problem come up, identify a solution, and seek approval to implement. Employees who repeatedly raise problems without suggesting solutions tend to diminish their reputation, so try to be solution oriented. Suggesting a solution along with the problem will make you look like a problem solver and helps leaders be more receptive to considering your point.
On the other hand, those who perpetually complain hurt only themselves. Complaints are not limited to employees; leaders can be negative as well, especially given the pressures and restrictions of Covid-19. So you need to know when best to present something as a problem and when to visit your superior to seek their opinion and advice before you work on something.
4. Let the Employer Decide
You cannot force an idea or a solution upon your organization. Voice your concerns in the form of a request vs. a demand, present some suggestions, and leave the final decision to senior leadership. Even if you do not get your request approved quickly, it will be on the record for future concerns. Most employers want to hear concerns, and presenting them respectfully creates a greater chance of implementation.
5. Ask Others to Voice Their Opinion
If it’s an issue that affects others, encourage them in a respectful way to speak up for maximum results. When more people are affected by a problem, the chance of leadership taking action also increases. Together, all can help leadership understand the totality of workplace obstacles.
Communication Ideas for Employers
To make sure the organization is operating well and heading towards its intended goals, employers need to pay attention to the communication within their organization as it relates to the development, care and support of its employees. This is most important during this difficult Covid-19 pandemic period.
Below are 9 critical takeaways for leaders and human resource management to ensure added productivity and development, even in times of crisis.
1. Communicate Often, More Than You Think Is Necessary
Over-communication is rarely the problem in any organization. That is why is it important to communicate frequently. According to the Harvard Business Review, those who work remotely don’t feel like they are being treated equally. This is where consistent communication can make a dramatic difference.
Communication is key to success, especially during tough times. Constant reminders, motivation, and communication reduce employees’ concerns and help them stay on top of their tasks. The way communication is maintained with employees can have a dramatic impact on an organization during tough times. So, keep it transparent and regular. Consider developing a communication strategy that allows your HR team to take the lead to communicate key information on a regular basis. Doing so can help reduce the stress your employees may have of the unknown.
2. Have One-on-One Discussions With Your Staff
Having one-on-one discussions with your staff allows you to put your Christian values to work. Being tolerant and treating employees with grace shows that you value their growth and are willing to helping them develop to their full potential, regardless of circumstances in the outside world. Your staff grows, your company grows.
3. Be Empathetic
Empathy goes a long way and can buy you a lot of goodwill. Remember, everyone is working and building their careers, and concerned for their future and stability. People will continue to make mistakes in their work. This is where empathy can show that you care and are worthy of their trust. This leads to more honest and open communication.
4. Watch for Nonverbal Cues
The signs of stress or impending problems are often more easily seen than heard. In the age of video calls, watching for nonverbal clues can give you an edge when anticipating challenges. By being alert to and addressing these clues, not only are you being proactive but you show that you care enough to pay attention. That can go a long way toward bolstering communication between employees, managers and HR.
5. Give Employees Options to Have Their Concerns Addressed
Communication is a two-way street and by making it easy for employees to have their concerns heard and addressed, you are proving with your actions that you care. One-on-one conversations, suggestions boxes, easy access to HR and an open-door policy to managers are ways to show that employees matter. When people believe their voices matter, they speak.
6. Develop Feedback Mechanisms
Create a secure channel to communicate and encourage feedback from employees. To gain organizational feedback, allow employees to utilize several means of communication, such as reaching out to HR, talking to a senior or manager (open-door communication), or providing anonymous suggestion channels. Offering various methods allows the concerns to reach the right authorities and encourages the employees to give feedback, which helps immensely in professional development. For more intense leadership development feedback, consider HR Impact 360, a program where leaders are assessed by their direct reports, peers and superiors.
7. Ease the Work-from-Home (WFH) Experience
As we all know, maintaining productivity is challenging while working from home. Therefore, employers who can arrange for equipment to support working at home will help employees succeed. By now, most organizations have implemented software and tools (Zoom, Slack, etc.) to help employees perform without much hindrance. On the other hand, holding meetings and discussions on time that limit the effect on their family can ease the WFH experience. Opting for audio vs. video calls when few people are needed can also speed up things.
8. Provide Job Security
One of employees’ greatest fears, based on our conversations with them, is the possibility they might lose their jobs and have their careers derailed. Being a leader, it is difficult to navigate this territory. Many states are “employment at will,” which means employers and employees can part company at any time for very little reason. And employers must be careful not to insinuate job security in precarious times. Be cautious about assuring employees that their jobs are secure. And if you know it not to be the case, let them know in advance to give them enough time to prepare.
9. Keep Plans Transparent
These unprecedented times call for leaders to be extra composed as their subordinates look to them for cues often timed for strength and inspiration. When appropriate, share strategies and planning with employees and communicate the organization’s performance focus so that employees can, if need be, modify their work accordingly.
10. Encourage Participation in Group Conversations
A study done by Baylor University, a private Christian school, found that younger staff were less likely to offer an opinion or participate in a discussion if the more senior staff remained silent. Due to the perceived hierarchy and their “place” in the organization, people didn’t feel free to speak. By making it clear that participation is encouraged and expected, you can improve the quality of your group discussions.
Need Specialized Guidance?
The pandemic has transformed the way organizations operate, and for these changing times, you need better and more specialized strategies. In HIS Name HR helps implement effective HR plans and programs for organizational success. Our experienced HR leaders ensure that your organization enjoys improved productivity and better employee relations in just a short period of time.
If the pandemic has you stressed out, let our 10 years of serving clients nationwide benefit you. We are the leaders in human resource consulting and outsourcing services from a Christian perspective. Let our experts assist you in these hard times and save yourself from unnecessary pain and stress!
Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In HIS Name HR LLC. He has over 25 years of HR experience. Follow him on Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn.
In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance human resource programs. E-mail us here.
HR practices that can best help your “Kingdom-Minded” organization and business protect its mission in today’s hostile world.
Where: The Bridge 1977 Bay Road Milford, DE 19963
When: Thursday January 27, 2022 11AM-1:30PM
Join us for an event on best HR practices for your business or ministry! Enjoy a wonderful lunch while networking and connecting with other Christian professionals in our community.
Presenter Mark Griffin has seen it all in his more than 25 years of Human Resources experience gained by working with a wide range of organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies to Christian Colleges, Ministries and Churches.
Leading an organization with Christ-centered values makes organizational sense.
Mark will share why he believes Christ-centered organizations experience:
Higher quality products
Fewer employee morale issues
Safer work environments
Better perceptions by customers and vendors
Mark will also share how he helps organizations develop HR practices that reflect their core values and still build a high performance organization.
Topics to be Covered
Creating a high performance culture through practical HR competency development
Where most organizations go wrong engaging employees
HR tools for creating success
Employee policy manuals
Codes of Conduct
Employee relations and communications
Counseling and discipline procedures
An overview of labor laws
About The Presenter
Mark A. Griffin, MBA President and Founder In HIS Name HR LLC
Mark is a human resources professional with 25-plus years of experience in both public (Quaker Oats Company, Kodak Inc., Merck Inc.) and private companies (Woolrich, Conestoga Wood Specialties, Valco Companies Inc.), Mark is passionate about building high-performance workplaces by utilizing best practices while leading organizations with strong values.
Speaker, accomplished HR consultant, and the author of How to Build “Kingdom-Minded” Organizations and College to Career: The Student Guide to Career and Life Navigation, Mark A. Griffin encourages leaders to build values-led organizations during these increasingly complex times. Mark and his wife live in Lancaster PA and have two adult children.
Post-Covid-19, workplaces are now settling into a new reality.
For nearly 80 years, Wycliffe has helped people around the world translate the Bible into their own languages. Wycliffe believes that the Bible is God’s Word to us, and something that everyone should be granted the opportunity to understand in a language and format that speaks clearly to their hearts. Nearly 2,000 languages around the world are still awaiting a translation project to start. Once people receive Scripture in their own language, lives often change in amazing ways. People are transformed as they discover Jesus Christ and enter into a right relationship with God. That’s why Wycliffe Bible Translators exists: to help speakers of these remaining languages experience the Bible for themselves.
Finding organizations with professionals who are doing an excellent job in this area can be difficult. But with God, divine appointments happen to me often. I had the opportunity to meet with Jennifer Holloran, Chief Operating Officer for Wycliffe Bible Translators. During our discussion it became very apparent that Jennifer’s leadership, as it relates to employee development and engagement, would benefit us all if it were shared.
Mark: Jennifer, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. I think what strikes me upon reading the culture of Wycliffe is how intentionally you are working to integrate your MVVs into your HR practices. As you know, we have built our firm, In HIS Name HR, on this practice. That’s because an organization with a well-crafted MVV always seems to keep its employees focused. Can you tell me how you have ensured your employees remained energized and focused in the face of this chaos we call Covid-19?
Jennifer: Thanks for asking, Mark. In many ways, Wycliffe was particularly blessed in the timing of the start of Covid-19 regarding this issue. We had completed an update to our mission, vision, and core values in March 2020, a process that involved gathering feedback from our global staff and working with our Board to craft wording that would serve us for this next season of ministry. So, as we entered the Covid-19 pandemic, we had already developed these guiding statements before finding ourselves in lockdown.
However, even that good timing would not have been enough to keep people engaged over 2020 and into 2021, especially given the many dividing issues that have come up on top of the pandemic. While we consider all of our guiding statements important, we have given particular attention to our core value of Loving God and Loving Others in response to this difficult time. We put out regular content to our staff through a spiritual formation series we call Deeply Rooted, we talk about this value frequently in our staff meetings, and we bring our staff back to the core of who we are and what we do, regularly.
While we would not say that we have done this perfectly, and the hybrid work environment makes alignment more challenging, we strive to help our staff stay unified and focused on what matters most.
Mark: We know that some of the ways in which we now do our work in our organizations, given the pandemic, have persisted and become normalized. What types of changes do you see to what we might call the “new normal?”
Jennifer: I think we have all realized that the hybrid work model is here to stay. Similarly, for organizations like ours that work in a global space, many questions remain about the future of work travel for face-to-face relationship building and problem solving. We have all found ourselves stretched by finding ways to build and maintain relationships, and to grow and strengthen our community and culture with our staff, in this season. We all have to become better at clearly defining our organizational culture in this kind of environment, because we can no longer rely on some of the methods we have used in the past.
I also believe that we will continue to wrestle with the challenge of staff engagement and staff retention. I recently had the opportunity to attend an HR conference where much of the discussion was about “The Great Resignation,” as the impact of the pandemic is causing people to think about how they want to spend their lives. This reality creates both a challenge and an opportunity for us. It means we need to become even more intentional about building trust and instilling purpose in our staff.
For nonprofits and Christian organizations, we have the opportunity to attract and retain staff in this environment because we offer meaningful work that makes an impact on the world. We can do this much more effectively when we have clarity about our mission, vision, and values. When we know who we are, and what we do as an organization, and we can articulate that clearly, it helps people to opt in and stay committed.
There’s one other aspect I want to mention here: The last 18 months has taken a real toll on people. Burnout, stress, anxiety, and depression are realities for many people, including ours, as they adapted to a changing work environment and shouldered concern for their families, friends, and churches. We have an opportunity to shine here by showing care for our staff above and beyond what they do for our organization. Let’s remember that our staff are more than just their work. If we can get into that habit now, it will serve us well today, and into the future, beyond the pandemic.
Mark: Were you able to establish new work patterns that promote engagement to help employees effectively deal with and overcome feeling isolated?
Jennifer: For many years, Wycliffe has had a combination of staff who have worked remotely from headquarters and staff who have worked completely in-office. So, we had some patterns established before the start of the pandemic to help people stay connected. Instead, what the pandemic has taught us is that we had a lot of work to do in the area of staff experience. We have always had staff who participated in events virtually, served on virtual or hybrid teams, and primarily stayed connected with organizational information through digital means. However, it was humbling and beneficial for those of us accustomed to an in-person experience to discover what it felt like to participate in the organization remotely.
Today, we talk more about how to make sure that any organizational event or activity has the virtual experience in mind. We see the work of connectedness as a two-way street. As leaders, we have a responsibility to make accessible pathways for virtual connection and make those pathways as inviting and inclusive as possible. At the same time, we need our staff’s commitment to show up, read the information that’s sent out, and participate, so we now talk about that with our staff more.
Mark: How are you building team cohesiveness when many employees work remotely?
Jennifer: One way we work on team cohesiveness is to emphasize the importance of teams with our managers. We see teams as one of our most important avenues for culture building. For us, that includes asking our managers to host weekly times of team prayer and devotions and encouraging our managers to attend and debrief organizational events together with their teams.
Team cohesiveness involves helping teams work effectively together and binding the team together, from top to bottom. We see that as a combination of top-down and bottom-up: cascading communication down through our layers of leadership and encouraging feedback up the supervisory chain to invite thoughts, ideas, and concerns from multiple levels of the organization. Now, I realize that accomplishing this always sounds easier than making it an ongoing reality. Still, we believe it is a goal worth striving toward to help us operate together effectively as a team.
Mark: Did you find it necessary to revamp most of your employment policies due to Covid-19? How were policies and procedures added or changed to reflect current practices?
Jennifer: The policies and procedures we have found most impacted by Covid-19 include those that have to do with workplace safety and flexible work arrangements. Immediately upon the initial lockdown, we instituted many safety practices to help our essential workers come into the office safely. In addition, we have continued to adjust our policies and procedures around workplace and public safety as needed, based on CDC guidelines, local Covid-19 community transmission numbers, and the advice of medical professionals keeping an eye on the latest research findings.
On the flexible work arrangement side, we have found that Covid-19 has served as a catalyst for good conversations about what matters most to us regarding in-person vs. remote participation. For now, we have settled on a 60/40 policy for staff at the headquarters (60% of their FTE in-office and 40% remote). Alongside that policy comes new expectations for managers as they learn to measure productivity and hold people accountable while creating a sense of community in a hybrid setting with their direct reports. We still have much to learn as we see how these policies and practices work in real life.
Mark: How have you been able to develop programs to support leadership in its ability to manage a distributed workforce?
Jennifer: Like many organizations, this area is heavily a work in progress for us as we continue to learn more about effectively managing remotely. We have tried to provide support through technology like Zoom, Slack, Google Workspace, and other connectivity options. Additionally, we have encouraged healthy rhythms in the life of managers with their teams—regular one-on-one check-ins, team meetings, etc.
Our leaders oversee very different kinds of teams—some have entirely in-person teams because of the type of work they do, some have hybrid teams, and others work with globally situated teams that have to manage significant time-zone and connectivity differences along with the everyday challenges of remote teaming. Rather than establish one kind of program to fit those different scenarios, we have worked toward guidelines within which managers have a lot of flexibility to address their unique situations. We want managers to be part of the creative problem solving needed to create workable solutions for the future.
At the same time, we also see the need for a stronger focus on leadership development. We cannot expect leaders to thrive in increasing complexity if we have not helped them build a solid foundation in leading themselves and leading others, and, for senior leaders, leading the organization. So, we give attention to developing a leadership development program that will ensure our leaders have a solid platform of leadership principles on which to stand.
Mark: I meet with many executive leaders who, in private, admit they are really worn down, losing steam. All of the divisiveness and emotions that have permeated the world in the past 18 months are a lot for many of us to take. What one piece of advice would you share that has helped you motivate key leaders as we try to navigate toward what may become our “new normal?”
Jennifer: Mark, I wish more executive leaders would admit this openly! It shows that executive leaders are human too. But, seriously, my advice is: Don’t feel alone. I believe most executive leaders are feeling the fatigue of the past 18 months. We have been called to lead during a very challenging season.
Two pieces of advice have been beneficial as I have worked with leaders during this time. First, give yourself grace. Take the steps you need to take to lead from a healthy place, not just for you but also as an example to your organization. That could mean examining your energy level and your priorities and applying what you learn to your calendar.
Second, view the changes that have happened around us as an opportunity for creativity and innovation for the future, rather than as a temporary stopping place before going back to “the time before.” We cannot go back to the world as it was before. Instead, we have an opportunity to rethink some of our past norms and practices that have not have served us well—maybe upon reflection, those practices weren’t healthy or well-aligned with our mission and values. Instead, we can institute new ways of working that truly reflect who we want to be and how we want to reach our mission and vision.
Mark: We at IHN HR believe that the most successful organizations have their MVV integrated into their HR practices, ensure it is used in recruitment, build it into their annual goal and review process, and also make it a focus within career development. Can you tell us how you are accomplishing this?
Jennifer: I agree with you, Mark. I would take this statement broader, in that our mission, vision, and values must drive our strategic priorities and our supporting operations, with HR serving as a critical player in helping our people encounter our guiding statements repeatedly. Now, I can tell you—we don’t do this perfectly today, but we are currently in the process of reviewing all of our HR policies and practices to make sure we have designed them to support where Wycliffe needs to go in the future.
When I say “all HR policies and practices,” I would encourage HR practitioners and leaders to think beyond the obvious ones, like recruiting, onboarding, and performance management. We need to look for alignment in the less obvious aspects, too. For example, when we have to help our staff resolve conflict, do our methods reflect and reinforce our values? If we have to conduct a layoff, can we do it in a way that communicates our values in the process and potentially leads the former staff person to stay committed to our mission and vision, even if they no longer have the employment connection?
Mark: Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to meet with me today. We will pray for continued blessings over Wycliffe Bible Translators’ employees, their families, and all who meet the Lord through their efforts. May the Lord continue to bless you, so you prosper in all you do.
Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In HIS Name HR LLC. He has over 25 years of HR experience. In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance human resource programs. Follow him on Facebook, Twitterand LinkedIn.
In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance human resource programs. E-mail us here.
Integrate — Creating Successful Training and Development
In our final example of integration of MVVs into HR practices, we will explore Training and Development (T&D). In the past 25 years, I have watched T&D dwindle to an almost nonexistent state in most companies. I could write a book on the impact of not investing in the development of your people, but you might find it boring. It is what it is, and it won’t change all that soon, unfortunately. But, as leaders of organizations, we must decide how we are going to right ourselves and guide our employees to work in alignment with our Missions, strive for our Visions and operate within our organizational Values.
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you are addressing the T&D needs of your organization without going overboard:
Discover what is needed
Define what needs to be addressed
Seek the resources to accomplish the T&D
Initiate the T&D
Follow up to ensure it was worth the investment
Discover what is needed
Do some basic fact-finding and discover the gaps within your organization. Simply going through a job description review project can help you discover what skills and abilities are lacking in your team. Summarize these by category and you will start to discover trends across your organization. Take it even further and include a development aspect to your performance review process, and document what development is needed by each of your employees. When you couple this with rewriting your company’s job descriptions, you will take it to a greater, more desirable level of detail.
Define what needs to be addressed
Without a good outline of what gap(s) needs to be closed, you have the potential to be scattered all over the place. Take the list of items that you captured during your assessment stage and better define what is needed. Employees stating they need ‘communication training” is, frankly, too broad. Do they need public speaking classes? Would they benefit from e-mail etiquette guidelines? Or is it interpersonal conflict resolution training that is needed? Just saying we need “communication training” paints in overly broad strokes.
Seek the resources to accomplish the T&D
I am not generally an advocate of online training. While it may be good for some, I do not believe it is effective for the majority of employees. My experiences have demonstrated that people learn when there is real interaction. There is more than one way to develop and train an employee. For years, it has been customary to send people to seminars. That just does not happen much anymore.
Think outside the box.
A few years back, I was supporting a company that tragically allowed many immigrants to work without the benefit of English as a Second Language training for several years. When I discovered this, I was frankly outraged that these folks were never given the resources to better themselves. When the gap was discovered, I identified a resource, hiring a gentleman who had recently returned from Asia and who had been immersed in this same immigrant culture. He developed a curriculum to deliver and help these folks speak English for less than $1,500. Now, that is what building a ‘Kingdom Minded” organization is about. Ignoring the needs of your employees is not.
Follow up to ensure it was worth the investment
Another creative solution to a problem such as this is tasking an employee to become a trainer within an organization to deliver a topic that is relevant to the need that was discovered. One organization was lacking financial management skills within the company’s leadership. The American Management Association’s program, Finance for Non-Financial Managers, was delivered by an HR leader. Doing it in this fashion saved the company tens of thousands of dollars by avoiding sending managers out to seminars and also allowing the customization of the materials.
Was it worth the investment? The CEO said it was.
The CEO in this case witnessed an increase in the attention to detail of certain executives, an embrace of principles not so easily understood before, but it also gave him insight as to who were the “A” players versus who were the “C” players.
You’re probably wondering by now how this all fits into the integration of your organization’s Training and Development and its relation to the MVVs of the organization. I believe it dovetails, such as in the example of the Asian immigrant employees.
When you honor your employees by developing them, they will honor you.
When you honor your employees by training them, they will honor you. And when God is reflected in your heart and the way you respect your employees by not only paying them correctly and protecting them with benefits, but truly caring about their development, your employees will see Christ in you.
So don’t look the other way when it comes to T&D. Your employees will see you in a whole different way.
We value your contribution. What training and development programs have you worked with that were successful? Why were they successful?
Integrate — Creating Meaningful Communication Processes
The first question most management teams have after creating a new Mission, Vision and Values statement (MVV) for an organization is: What do we do with it? Integrating into all aspects of your HR processes is paramount to the success of your MVV. The heart of these processes typically lies within the communication processes and employee relations materials of the organization. Since HR typically controls this function, it becomes that much easier for them to communicate the MVV statement effectively.
There are countless avenues to share and ingrain your MVVs within your organization, as well as clients and customers. These can include but are not limited to:
Your organization’s newsletter
Your organization’s website
Brochures in the front lobby as a takeaway for visitors
Postings in employee break and meeting rooms
Hand copies to applicants during employment interviews
Your organization’s marketing materials
The reverse side of your organization’s business cards
Inclusion in the packaging of all shipments
If it is important enough for the company to include in the employee handbook, the recruitment process, the performance review process and the employee job descriptions, then it is certainly important enough to include in the above areas as well.
Several years ago, I worked with a company where more than a few of the employees were nervous about sharing the company MVVs with people outside of the organization. Their fear was that the Christian overtones in the MVV statement might offend customers in the Middle East. Others were nervous that prospective employees might be offended or misinterpret our intent.
When the smoke cleared and time went by, employees started to realize that the advantages far outweighed the disadvantages; it did much more good than bad.
Ultimately, the majority of employees supported it, and, as a result, customers displayed a newfound confidence in us, and our integrity. The customers from the Middle East never complained, and we received more compliments than complaints from applicants. I believe that is how God works. When we stand for Him, unashamed, anything is possible. When we don’t, we are subject to a not so nice outcome.
What will you do? I say, be a difference maker, and be bold in your faith. At the end of your life, what will you tell God? I will say, “Father, I hope You can see I was not afraid and tried to be Your good and faithful servant.
How have you chosen to share your MVV with your employees? How about the community and your customers/clients? Let us know by sharing your comments below. Thank you.
Probably one of the least liked HR processes of all organizations is the dreaded performance review. However, it does not have to be that way. Performance reviews should be beneficial not only to the organization but to the employee.
Key components to a successful process include:
Built-in commitment to your MVV
Shared goals and objectives throughout the organization
Employee ownership of career and job performance
Simplistic but meaningful processes
Solid guidelines and commitment from senior leadership.
Commitment to your MVV
If you want your Team to fulfill your Company’s Mission reach your Vision and operate within your Values, you must build these into the Performance Review process. When you do, it shows the organization that leadership believes in the MVV so much that they have included it in the measurement of employment performance. Ensure your goals and objectives are aligned with your Missionand Vision; if they are not, you must question why they are in place. Most organizations that we support appreciate us walking them through a simple Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis to help develop goals for the organization. In the area of Values, always build your values and other important values into the behavior section of the Performance review form; we will discuss behaviors in more detail later in this chapter.
Shared goals and objectives
In high performing organizations, including those that I have worked for, have all had Performance Review processes that were aligned to shared goals and objectives through the organization. Typically the scenario worked like this: The CEO would develop four to six goals and objectives that would then be approved or renegotiated by the board of directors. Those goals would then cascade through the organization all the way down to, for example, the third-shift sanitation employee at the plant in Arkansas. The employees would then align what they needed to accomplish within their scope of authority against the goals of the person(s) above them.
The review process primarily focuses on annual goals, and very little on the mundane aspects of day to day work that is reflective of what the job description dictates. The daily work should be accomplished, and, if not, the employee should be managed through disciplinary procedures.
I have had the experience of employees approaching me earlier in my career at the end of the performance review cycle. Oftentimes, their approach was because they never had met with their managers even one time during the course of the performance cycle.
Make no mistake: they are at fault as much as their inept management.
Employees must take ownership of their careers, their development and their performance. Those who do not simply will not survive in this economy. Part of ensuring that they take ownership, and helping them to understand it, is ensuring that the process is clearly defined, i.e., that the employee is obliged to prepare performance form materials, and be proactive in scheduling a performance review meeting with their manager if the manager is not. If the manager still fails to meet with them, the employee has an obligation to go to HR or, absent HR, the manager’s superior. Doing nothing should never be an option.
Simplistic but meaningful processes
Twelve-page forms and manuals that exceed sixty pages will just not work. Ensure your process includes easily understood documentation, and a review form that does not exceed a good resume length, that is, two pages. Keep the form limited to four to six operational goals and three to five behavior-based goals.
Never have a process that is void of behavioral objectives.
I have had the misfortune to work with several teams that insisted upon only production-related goals. They killed each other in the process to achieve them, and, when challenged, they would always say that they were not being measured on niceness, but solely on how many widgets they made! Balance your performance scorecard, and you will have better results.
Solid guidelines and commitment from senior leadership
When we describe “solid” guidelines, we mean guidelines that are not created in a vacuum, by one person high on a mountaintop. Guidelines should be developed by a cross-functional group of employees from a variety of areas within the company. This brings a rich blend of thoughts and experiences to the table.
Regrettably, most of the HR people that I have worked with during my career are just not capable of coming up with such solid guidelines without assistance.
It is a sad statement to make regarding my profession, but I gave up defending much of the deficiencies I discovered years ago.
Senior Leadership must buy into the process and support it. If they don’t, it is doomed to certain failure.
Years ago, I worked for a company in which, no matter how hard the CEO worked on convincing the president of a particular division to manage the performance review process, this president would balk. The division president’s lack of commitment transcended the organization. The process became a joke, and no one nurtured it. I look back at the company now and wonder if things could have turned out differently. They have closed half of their plants, and shed several thousand employees. It might be a stretch to link this to lack of leadership in embracing a performance review process, but I do believe that, if Innovation was a top goal for the years heading into the downturn, that company could conceivably have created new products to sustain employment for those who were laid off. Sad, but this is often the case. Managers: stay committed!
What has been your experience with performance review systems? Do you like them? Hate them? We would like to know. Please leave us a few comments to broaden our knowledge. Thank you.
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of managing organizations is the act of recruitment. It is not necessarily difficult only on the candidates; it’s also difficult on organizations as well. Even though we are living in tumultuous business times, with real unemployment exceeding 10 percent in almost every city in our nation, recruitment is still a challenge for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
Lack of skilled candidates
Wounded and hurt applicants lacking trust of any organization
Having too many candidates to choose from makes it difficult to know where to begin
Salary expectation alignment; many candidates are accustomed to more
These are all hurdles to climb over but organizations that have a well thought out process and strategy will prevail in hiring the best candidates to accelerate the performance of the organization. The entire process of building a “Kingdom Minded” company revolves around including your Mission Vision and Values into every HR practice as practicable. The recruitment process is not excluded.
In developing your strategy, you should weave into the process several concepts that will help recruit the best candidates to help you manage within your Mission, reach your Vision, and operate within your Values. Your process should include:
Networking your vacancies to trusted sources
Using employee referral systems to increase your candidate pool
Use consistent hiring methodology when recruiting candidates
Always include your MVV in the recruitment process
Networking. Most companies, because of turnover within their HR department, or a lack of HR professionals within the company, do not have a formalized network to which they can announce vacancies. This is a concerning drawback to the process. Organizations should consistently mine for talent and the community should be aware of the organization and have a general idea of what they do and what their hiring patterns are. Organizations should spend time marketing themselves as a great place to work; this is also and effective form of marketing to potential customers. People want to buy products and services from organizations that treat their employees well. Start networking with churches, Christian colleges, LinkedIn groups, alumni associations, nonprofit executives, mission organizations, seminaries — the list could go on forever! The problem is that many organizations do not create such a network list. Network today; it will pay dividends in years to come.
Employee Referral Systems Nine out of ten companies I meet with do not have either a formal or informal employee referral systems for candidates. If they do have one, it is stale and not yielding any results. This is unfortunate, because people want to work with people who match the company culture, and know how and want to get the job done. Reinvent this program or develop it if you don’t have one. The easiest way to do so is to bring together a cross section of employees for half an hour and ask them straight out: would you refer your friends to work here? If not, why not? And what do we need to do to make this an environment that you would want to refer them to? Delve into what the referral reward should be in the program. Some miserly HR folks suggest one to two hundred-dollar bonuses. Considering a Monster board ad is three hundred dollars, not to mention the hassle of screening 10 to 20 candidates to get to one good candidate, don’t you think this is a bit stingy? Reward your people!
Consistent Hiring Methodology Lack of a consistent hiring methodology will get you burned. Getting an EEOC or Human Relations commission charge becomes not an “if” proposition but a “when.” But, stepping outside of the legal concerns, why not take the high road right off, and ensure your practice is beyond reproach? When recruiting, always have a job description, always have interview evaluation sheets, and always have decent but not copious notes of the candidate selection meeting when all interviewers give input. I have experienced some embarrassing situations at all levels of the organization where a document to support hiring or not hiring candidates didn’t even exist. If you don’t have this in place, make sure you keep your checkbook handy. You will need it.
And, finally, include your MVV in your process. You see, when candidates see this, they are intrigued, especially when the presenter presents it in a way that is exciting.
Candidates love to see people with passion and energy around their Mission.
Organizations have lost their mojo. Show candidates your passion! Most people want to work for a company that has direction. They are tired of the lack of leadership in government, in corporate America, and their local schools. The last thing they want to do is join a company that is weak and non-directional. Show them your passion through your MVV!
Explain to each candidate your Values, where they came from and why you have them. Let them know that you are a company founded on Christian principles. Most often the reaction I get from candidates when they hear this is, “Wow! Finally a place that might treat me with dignity and respect.”
Don’t worry about offending anyone. You are not pushing your values onto them; you are simply demonstrating what they are. I have had candidates say that they are not Christians, but that working for a company like ours would help them understand Christianity better. Exposing people to Christ — that is what we all desire.. That is the work God really wants us to focus on.
What have been your experiences in recruitment? Are there any best practices you would like to share? Be a difference maker today. Please contribute to the community and help others learn from your experiences. Thank you.
Employees complain when you don’t have a handbook, but, when you have one, they don’t want it! An employee handbook is very easy to create, but probably the most overlooked aspect of employment documentation. One thing is for sure: if a company has multiple shifts or multiple locations or just multiple employees, an employee handbook can certainly help keep all employees on the same page. Handbooks are always a delicate subject.
But when done right, and with employee input, this tool can make a difference.
Make it reflect your Mission Vision and Values (MVV)
Make it relevant
Keep it simple
Keep it legal and legit
Reflect your MVV. Your handbook should be an absolute reflection of your MVV, which essentially amplifies your culture. Someone who is unfamiliar with your organization should be able to pick up your handbook and see your heart within its reflection simply by the tone and the guiding principles you lay out for your employees. The front of the handbook should contain your MVV, followed by the President’s message as to why the MVV is important to the company and how it was created.
Make it relevant. Having reviewed hundreds of handbooks over the years, one thing is certain and that is that most are horrible. They are irrelevant, often don’t convey the culture of the organization and are more about preaching or dictating than guiding.
Keep it simple. A handbook should not contain every scrap of information about the company. Worse yet, it should not contain every possible scenario in which an employee violation could occur. Keep it simple and you will have a greater impact than if you over-complicate or over-stimulate the reader. Many employees I’ve spoken with over the years tell me that, if a handbook is interesting, they will read it to learn more about the company, but, if it just rambles on over policy and procedures, most will put it down after two pages. The ideal handbook will inspire the reader to learn — learn more about the company.
Keep it legal and legit. Always ensure you include the appropriate legal clauses. There are far too many to list here but a few that come to mind speak toADA, FMLA, Employment at Will, EEOC etc. You want to make sure you cover your bases.
In closing it is important to note that having a handbook is oftentimes the only opportunity for employers to memorialize what is expected of employees. But always include what employees can expect of you! A handbook should never be a one way street of core policies of the organization; if it is, you will chill the warmth right out of the organization, a chill you will live to regret.
We Value Your Comments. Thank you for taking the time to read our post in this series on how to build “Kingdom Minded” Companies. Please share your thoughts and experiences on employee handbooks. How did the ones that you have used fit your organization? Did they match your culture? Did they drive the behaviors the company and employees desire? Thank you for contributing to our community, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.