We asked 12 BAM Practitioners how they have gone about developing their company culture and what values and behaviors they have intentionally tried to instill. Their responses showed six clear themes: 6 ways to develop company culture. [Read Part 1]
Part 2: 3 more ways practitioners told us they develop company culture
4. Staff Orientation and Training
Communicating expectations upfront about culture and the biblical foundation for company values is a powerful way to set the stage for a strong ‘culture identity’. Regular discussion and staff training reinforces the culture and values that are being communicated and modelled.
Our business is in a Muslim country which has minorities of all the major religions. Everyone we hire is asked in their final interview, “We operate this business according to the principles in the Bible, is this a problem for you?” We have Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists all working for us. No one has ever turned down a job because of this question. Having laid this foundation, it paves the way for prayer and using the Scriptures openly in our office. It gives us opportunities to teach godly values in all we do. – Patrick, Asia
Staff orientation is something we use to manage expectations upfront – even before making employment offers. We share the mission, history and culture of the company, along with the role of faith at the company or the personal testimony of the founder. This is all to ask if the person is “willing to come into this type of environment”. We get a verbal agreement that they are joining a faith-based or values-based company and embarking on a journey to challenge and grow themselves. We’ve found this is essential to manage expectations and open the door for follow on spiritual impact. From there we take an hour weekly during work hours, where the company is shut down, to break into teams to discuss and set goals around biblically-based principles – Mark, IT, Asia
We meet weekly as small groups to work towards character development – Ben and Yumi, IT, Southeast Asia
We’ve had a company-wide one hour meeting once a week where we have discussed our values (Love, Beauty, Justice, Integrity, Excellence). Each week we take one of the values and discuss how it relates to our work at the company and how it relates to our lives. We have often used Bible verses as “proverbs” to help illustrate points and the meetings are usually interactive which can mean small group discussions, skits, games, etc. – Peter, Manufacturing, Nepal
5. Use Rewards and Incentives
Use encouragement, rewards and material incentives to motivate employees towards behaviours and attitudes that are in line with the company culture that you wish to create.
Some of the values we try to instill are Honesty, Love and Kindness. My staff want to please me, they want to do well, and to hear me encourage them. – Anne, Food & Beverage, Southeast Asia
I do not see policies and structures doing much at all to integrate a positive corporate culture. This might just be my situation in a country like Indonesia, but these things have never got me very far at all. Modelled behaviour and motivating initiatives work much better. Building a reward or bonus system into this seems to work well for us. Rewarding people for achieved goals and positive behaviours and attitudes goes much farther than a list of rules or regulations with punishments for failure to meet them. We really go the extra mile to try to build a family atmosphere that encourages and trusts each other. This gives people room to make mistakes and learn from them, while pushing them as far as we can towards the goals and targets of the company. If we have them working in teams and the whole team either achieves the goal and gets the reward (or does not) this builds the family atmosphere and deepens the level of trust. Get them working together on a team towards a goal! – James, Construction, Indonesia
Our performance reviews monitor the extent to which our staff model the values and they are only promoted when this is visible. This doesn’t necessarily mean they buy into the faith element, but it does mean they need to show evidence of the behaviours. – MH, Asia
6. Sharing Life Together and Serving Together
Culture is passed on through people and therefore through establishing strong relationships within the company. Nurturing a context for relationship-building and sharing is therefore a key for culture development. One of the most powerful ways to build a sense of team and cement relationships is to get out and serve the community together as a company.
Break bread together! We have a simple, inexpensive lunch provided for the staff with the environment and expectation to spend time sharing life together and not just talking “shop”. – Mark, IT, Asia
An important issue for me was the commitment to harmony, unity and fellowship within the team of about 12 people. The leadership team was formed by four people: my wife and me, and two local believers – owners of the business, who we were coaching. We had regular meetings with them to discuss business, but also to have fellowship or even fast together when things became rough. We had regular prayer meetings at the beginning and we had a retreat twice a year for 1-3 days, and this helped a lot. – Hans, Retail, Angola
We have a weekly team breakfast which also informally functions as a prayer meeting. We have a mix of Christian and non-Christian staff, so we have structured it as more of a time of sharing, but we always have one of our believing staff pray for the things the others have shared. – Steven, Service Company, Thailand
Prioritising of family and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is one of the cultures I want to encourage. I make a point of pro-actively asking team members how their families are going and if the current work arrangements are working for them. Another value is prayerfulness. The team is often working remotely so praying together can be challenging – for a time we used an online project management software to track prayer points for individual team members and the organisation as whole. When we all come together we always set time aside to pray. – Jai, Retail, Australia
One of the most important behaviors we are trying to ingrain is kindness or goodness. We implemented a volunteer program where we dedicate the last Friday morning of the month for the entire office to go out and help people and organizations that are in need. Through helping others and encouraging acts of kindness, we have had a greater impact in our staffs’ lives and the community. We know God is being glorified and believe through showing goodness, evil is overcome and barriers are torn down. We pray that hearts will be open as He draws all people to Himself. The program is set up so the staff brings up ideas and initiates what to do and they become the team leader of the activity and others sign up to join in. At first we chose the activities, but we wanted our staff to be intrinsically motivated and take ownership of the activity. Through this program, the President of the city’s biggest district (similar to a Mayor) took notice of our company and approached us to see if we could sponsor 12 disabled children to return to their special needs schools, as previous funding had ended. Part of our goal is to bring other companies alongside us and enable them to do good, so we reached out to other IT companies and were able to establish a 50/50 partnership to fund these children to go back to school. We are in awe of the open doors and the impact our small company is making within the various level of government and within the IT community. – Ben and Yumi, IT, Southeast Asia
Compiled by Jo Plummer for The BAM Review, with many thanks to the 12 BAM Practitioners we talked to.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.