Last November, when we focused on organizational health (you can see a list of the articles in the series at the bottom), we conducted a survey in the style of Examen. We wanted to create an opportunity for participants to be able to reflect on their organizations from several different angles with an emphasis on what they noticed.
Given the number of participants and situations (most with organizations, several not with an official organization), the results were wide ranging. Here are summaries from three of the questions:
Question 1: What do you notice about your org’s health?
1. There is a range of health amongst those who participated. Some organizations are quite healthy and some are struggling; so, there is no one big “Your organization should” that applies to everyone. Suggestion: Like an annual physical, take the pulse of your organization yearly to notice potential problems before they grow. Be willing to address areas that are already problems.
2. We noticed a relationship between consistency and health. For example, people reported a correlation between healthier organizations and more communication. On the flip side, an example of lack of consistency is when leaders say one thing and do another (for example: we value rest, and then not resting). Suggestion: What’s one area you could grow in consistency?
3. The survey confirmed that there is a growing value for member health and growth in organizations.
Question 2: What are you grateful for in your organization?
1. Community! People are grateful for friendships, shared goals, and caring for the members.
2. Good leadership. In particular participants mentioned leaders who communicate, having a shared sense of purpose in the organization, and the role shepherding has played in their lives.
3. Support systems. Participants reported being grateful for health care, donor receipting, vacation policies, and retirement options.
Question 3: What do you notice is a problem in your organization?
1. Communication—This came up often, but in vague-enough ways that we are going to conduct another survey specifically about communication. We want to help members of organizations and those of you in leadership have communication resources and tools beyond, “You need to communicate!” (That’s not very helpful when you don’t know where to start!)
2. Poor leadership—Again, this varied given the organization, size, and location, but we all can agree that leadership is important.
3. Mindset—How an organization or members think about cross-cultural work:
—Crisis is the norm for us
—“Warm body syndrome” – it may be a poor job fit, but the organization seems willing to take people who aren’t a good fit just to have a body
—Making too many exceptions because what we do is SO important
—Needing more professional attention long-term
—Needing a change in mindset around children and around diversity
—Unwilling to invest in growth and debriefing
—Pace! Inconsistent messages (“Rest … wink, don’t really rest!), not enough time for pause and connection, isolated and unsupported (no one saying “Good job!”)
Thank you to all who participated in the survey. As I mentioned above, we plan to conduct a survey focused on communication so that the results are more helpful than simply, “Communication is important.” A desire to pray for leadership also came through in the results, so we are working on prayer resources for you that will be available later in the spring.
What surprised or encouraged you in these survey results?
Here are the articles from the series:
How to handle loss at the hand of your organization
Three parts every healthy organization must have
Does your field have good soil?
How does culture interact with organizational health?
How can I help someone experience healing in my organization?