What are the metrics of success for your organization? The bottom line? Surpassing sales quota? An elevation in worship attendance?
What if the metrics we have created for our organizations put undue and unreasonable pressure on our employees to perform at an unreachable capacity? What if we have demanded so much of our staff based on an unrealistic job description that we are missing out on their true potential, which might lead to our organization thriving?
These are the kinds of questions that Kegan and Lahey ask in their book, An Everyone Culture. Focusing on organizational psychology, the authors examine the common mistakes that leaders make with the widely accepted practices of employee development that fall short of theirs and the organization’s potential. Ultimately, their goal is for companies to rebrand themselves as Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO). They paint a pretty remarkable image of possibility, “Imagine so valuing the importance of developing people’s capabilities that you design a culture that itself immersively sweeps every member of the organization into an ongoing developmental journey in the course of working every day. Imagine making the organization itself–and not separate, extra benefits–the incubator of capability.”
To make this conceptionally different organization a reality, the authors lay out the critical features necessary to attain a DDO, including taking the concepts to scale for everyone in the organization to engage, deliberately and repetitively nurture this culture within your business practices and individual development, and cultivating personal vulnerability to identify one’s blind spots.
As I reflect on my church’s capacity to be a DDO, several aspects of our culture give me encouragement that we are heading in the right direction.
First, I try to take a coach approach to leadership, asking questions in response to my staff’s challenges and inquiries instead of giving them my solution. Additionally, each staff person develops their own strategic S.M.A.R.T. goals, meeting with me each month to discuss where they are, the challenges they are facing, and the things we can celebrate.
Second, relational development among the staff is one of our priorities. Once per month, our entire team, including the facility management staff, gather for a lunch that has one significant rule, no work talk is allowed. Once every other month, our staff spend half a day together, engaging in a variety of activities, which has included rock climbing, TopGolf, a manny and peddy day, and so on.
Third, I have tried to cultivate a collaborative work environment. The goal is not to let anyone feel like they are working on an island unto themselves. We attempt this in three deliberate ways:
- Instead of developing a host of siloed ministry initiatives, many of our programs and events are intergenerational, allowing the staff to partner together in the planning and share leadership responsibility.
- Even in the case of staff members working on projects in their area of leadership, each person has the opportunity to bring their existing project before the staff for helpful tips, insights, and questions.
- No one’s work is off-limits from honest and grace-centered candor, including my projects.
- Each event, ministry initiative, and even sermon series is open to our monthly post-mortem, with each staff member sharing three things they’d keep and three things they’d change about the subject.
As Kegan and Lahey desire to see organizations empower their employees to have a sense of responsibility and autonomy in their personal and professional development, this book is an inspirational resource for those seeking to change their culture in practical ways.
 Kegan, Robert, and Lisa Laskow Lahey. An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization. (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2016), 5.