Intentional Clarity Protects Culture

Corrosive SignDefine bimonthly.

Go ahead, define it.

Theresa and I were reading over a job description earlier this month where the phrase preach bimonthly  was used. As we discussed our thoughts on the document, I told Theresa that I thought preaching bimonthly was a little much, while she thought it wasn’t enough. After staring at one another, trying to figure out how they could be so wrong, we came to the realization that our definitions of bimonthly were different… which led us to the dictionary. Unfortunately, the dictionary was no help:

Definition of BIMONTHLY

1: occurring every two months
2: occurring twice a month :semimonthly

Do you see where this could get a little sticky?

Few things are more corrosive to a healthy organizational culture than ambiguity. Ambiguity of purpose, process, or accountability (I really tried hard to squeeze a third “p” in there) will quickly turn a high performing team into a fractured, siloed, collection of people looking out for their own best interest. The only way to combat ambiguity is through the relentless pursuit of intentional clarity:

  • Purpose: A clearly defined vision that allows people to understand what is most important to the organization is key to sustaining a healthy team culture. Clarity around purpose helps your team focus on the best things, and allows them to say “no” to good things that do not fit your purpose. Interested in creating a clearly defined vision statement? Start here.
  • Process: A clearly defined process answers the “how” to the purpose’s “what and why.” Organizations get themselves into trouble by not actively pruning and adjusting their process to ensure that it keeps the team focused on the overall purpose. Clarity around the process is only achieved by relentlessly asking why until you understand the purpose behind each part of your process. This is hard work, but well worth the effort. This is especially important when inheriting legacy systems… a great resource in these situations is David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around!
  • Accountability: The church world has a love-hate relationship with accountability. We all know that we need it, but we feel mean when we try to hold people accountable. As a result, there is a random, haphazard approach towards holding people accountable to expectations, and everyone loses. Setting clear standards for job performance, behaviors, and attitudes, and holding people accountable to them are a key to maintaining a healthy, stable team. Church leaders need to intentionally model accountability in order to develop this in their teams… who are YOU accountable to?

Where is ambiguity corroding YOUR team culture?



About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.