Health and Growth

Culture Trumps Competency, Every Time: 3 Ways to Tie Compensation to Culture

Health and Growth

Culture Trumps Competency, Every Time: 3 Ways to Tie Compensation to Culture

One of the most challenging questions about building an irresistible culture at your organization is how to make it sustainable and scalable. What do you do to make it stand out and cause team members to perk up and pay attention?

There are many practical ways to do this - everything from celebrating examples of culture lived out on your team, to physical displays like putting them on the wall of your conference room.

But the thing that really gets the attention of most people? It’s money.

When you tie living out your organization’s cultural values to a paycheck, people pay attention. It’s a tangible way to communicate the seriousness of your organization’s culture. That’s when culture gets real.

This might sound like an uncomfortable concept, especially in ministry - and in a way, it is. Talking about money has long been a really personal subject, and a lot of people have been trained to see it as directly tied to performance. 

Performance and ministry are also hard subjects to reconcile. How do you measure an employee's’ performance when his or her goals are tied to discipleship and evangelism? Furthermore, how do you tie compensation to goals related to something only the Holy Spirit can do?

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It’s tough, which is why tying culture to compensation can work so well. It motivates your employees in a fresh way, but still with a way to quantifiably measure results. It creates an atmosphere of accountability for living out cultural values, and it helps you identify key culture problems.

If you compensate people based solely on hitting their numbers or other goals, you could be encouraging great results but with bad behavior. On our team, we recognized we could offset this potential issue by making culture a key part of compensation.

Here are three practical ways we tie compensation to culture:

#1. We have crystal clear cultural values.

Our cultural values are established and communicated to everyone. 

In fact, each employee has a plaque on their desk with all nine core values. Every time they look at it, they’re reminded of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. 

If you don’t have cultural values in place, you won’t have anything solid to measure culture against. What you end up with instead is unclear measurements against unclear values. If you’re going to tie compensation to how well someone lives up to your values, you have to first make sure they’re clear on what the measuring stick is.

#2. We tell our stories regularly about how our values are lived out.

Telling a story about how a peer lived out culture is a vital part of creating motivation and accountability, which are incredibly important structural pieces to shifting to a culture-driven compensation methodology.

Without motivation, your people won’t live up to the culture. Without accountability, they won’t continue to live up to the culture.

Related: 4 Ways to Build a Culture of Generosity in Your Church

An employee should be able to tell a story that illustrates how he or she lived out the values of the organization. An individual’s reflection of those values through those stories should be measured and documented throughout the year, not just in an annual review.

Have someone from your team regularly contribute a “core values spotlight” during staff meetings, highlighting a way that they saw a part of the culture being lived out. Establish a way for employees to call it out in each other - one small way we do this is through an app where employees can award each other “culture badges” that are collectable on their profile.

This sets in motion a year-long process of infusing culture into everyday tasks and work—culture permeates into everything you do.

Additionally, if you have someone who is doing just enough good work to not get fired but something is still off - having a rhythm around talking about culture and highlighting it will also highlight where potential trouble spots are with employees who aren’t a good culture fit. This will help you identify problems well before they become major issues.

#3. We have a structure for staff performance reviews that points back to culture.

At the end of the year, whether or not an employee has lived up to the culture well or not is no surprise. There’s something to look back on. Think of it like a savings account—you’re regularly putting something in, so later, when you want to buy something, you have something to spend. 

When you regularly think about culture, you live it out. You’re putting something of value in, and knowing you’re doing it affects how you do your work. When you have multiple reviews—perhaps in April, September, and the end of the year—you’re checking on your progress. If something needs to change or improve, an employee knows well before their conversation with their manager about compensation. Doing this builds up a measurable record, and it ensures everyone is on the same page well before the end of the year.

Over to you

The roadmap to creating an irresistible workplace isn’t necessarily easy to follow, and you have to be willing to put your money where your mouth is. That means tying compensation to culture. Culture trumps competency, and it trumps performance. 

Goals will ebb and flow—some seasons will be great, and others not so much. But cultural performance doesn’t depend on anything but your own actions in relation to the values of the organization so that your team can reach the full potential God has called it to be.

Editor's Note: This is a guest post by William Vanderbloemen. William is the founder & CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, an executive search firm that helps churches and ministries build great teams and build winning cultures. The following article is adapted from his book Culture Wins: The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace.

Expert Tips on How to Effectively Launch a New Online Giving Tool

Make it accessible so people can give in the way that is most comfortable to them. Don't make it hard for people to give money.
Some people like to give online, some like mobile, some like text. Whatever they like, let them give in that way if you can.
Brady Shearer
Talk about it every single week. Consistently promote it on every platform. 
Be patient. We all resist change.
Michael Lukaszewski
Launch it to your staff, your leaders, and your volunteers (in that order) and help those groups use it before you launch it publicly.
Teach it in your new member class.
Allow for people to sign-up right on the spot via their mobile phone (or through a laptop or iPad for those that don't have a mobile device handy).
Justin Dean
On launch weekend, have volunteers and staff accessible with iPads to walk people through how to set up an account and get recurring giving configured.
Daniel Irmler
On a regular basis, tell stories from members who are using and loving it. 
You don't don’t need a big production value shoot. Keep it simple by using an iPhone (horizontal) and a decent mic.
Invite your congregation to take out their phones and download the mobile giving app right in the service.
Nik Goodner
Explain the why behind the change and highlight the benefits of the new system. 
People like to be "on the team".
Kevin Ekmark
I always tell people, "you need to clean your house before you invite friends over". It's crucial that your giving platform is easily found, whether it's on the web or in the church. 
On the web, making sure that your website is mobile friendly (Google and Bing both recommend mobile responsive design) can be a huge help. You can also incorporate bots from Facebook or a service like Intercom to help walk people through online giving on your website. When necessary, a human can jump in and help too. This helps complete the process from being found online to completing the online giving.
Logan Fields
Tell them the real reasons. Giving members are concerned with what's best for the church and not just what they individually prefer. Transparency.
"This platform will allow us to better manage finances and spend less staff time on the books and more on people." etc. The temptation is to treat members like consumers who we need to impress instead of team members. Treat them like equals who you assume are interested in what's best for the church/ mission and people will likely rise to it.
Kenny Jahng
Launch a $3.16 campaign. Ask people to all give just $3.16 to a weekly or bi-weekly blessing fund. Then, pick one person or cause to bless IN TOWN and go give that person all the money collected.
  • It could be the all volunteer firefighter squad in town. "We'll take all the $3.16's collected and go buy a meal or treat and drop off for the firefighters who volunteer."
  • It could be a widow the church knows about - bless her with something new for her home or hobby or pets.
  • Single mothers - supply them with a night out. Or pay for a house cleaner or a handyman for a couple of hours.
  • Special needs families - pay for evening out for the parents and child care for the special needs kids so the parents get a break.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
This works incredibly well because you are teaching generosity / outward posture to your people on a consistent basis and getting people to give on mobile- while making it about PARTICIPATION vs AMOUNT. You'll have people regularly trying out the mobile option as well as pre-register them in the system.

There you have it! Some amazing tips, right?

Which tip stood out the most to you … or looked to be the craziest?! Share with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you! powers mobile, text, and web giving for
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Culture Trumps Competency, Every Time: 3 Ways to Tie Compensation to Culture powers mobile, text, and web giving for
churches and ministries.

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