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02 Dec '12

Markers of grace filled organizations

Posted by T.J. Addington in grace, organizational culture, organizational health
A culture of grace is something that we aspire to in the ministry world. The question is what does a grace filled organization look like? Some of the answers may surprise you.

Grace filled organizations treat their people well starting with clearly defined job descriptions, expectations and regular and clear feed back. You ask, what does that have to do with grace? Everything! Without these elements, staff do not know what their boundaries are or where they are empowered which creates frustration, can get them into inadvertent trouble and is really a culture of uncertainty. A culture of uncertainty cannot be a culture of grace.

When there are performance issues, grace filled organizations take the time to have candid discussion with staff to determine how to solve the issue. In many ministries, in the name of grace, such conversations don't happen because we don't want to create conflict. However, ignoring performance issues is not grace but a great disservice to a staff member. 

Once the issues have been identified, the question is "how can we help this individual succeed?" Maybe it is coaching. Maybe they are in the wrong lane and it is restructuring their role. It could even result in a job and organization change to get them into a place that is compatible with who they are. Facing up to issues with staff and handling them honestly is a marker of grace. Avoidance is not!

When something goes wrong, grace filled organizations don't ignore it but conduct an autopsy without blame. They want to identify, what went wrong, why it did so, and what could prevent it from going south in the future. The focus is to understand but not to cast blame. Sure someone is responsible but simply blaming people does not solve future issues. If there are candid discussions to be had one needs to have them but the goal is redemptive not punitive. I find many staff, especially who are new to our organization surprised by this philosophy. They are not used to it but deeply appreciate it.

Grace filled organizations go out of their way to be of help when staff members face critical issues in their lives. Staff are not means to an end but deeply important for who they are and people made in God's image and members of the team. This can mean any number of things, even breaking normal protocol. People matter and our commitment to fellow staff shows when they face a crisis. Is it an irritation to us or an opportunity to be Jesus to them? How we respond makes all the difference.

Finally, grace filled organizations treat everyone with respect. There are no little people in an organization characterized by grace. Our interactions are not determined by where someone is in the organizational chart. It is the whole team, no one member of the team that makes ministry possible. The measure of my respect of people is not how I treat those above me or beside me but how I treat and interact with those who are below me in the organizational  chart.