One of the things the most effective pastors do – regardless of whether or not their church has one – is to “Use The Water Cooler”.
It’s hard to describe the impact of this practice. Leaders who are managing change are, by definition, busy men and women. The good ones know that they must listen to their people so that they can understand, filter accurate information from people saying “what the pastor wants to hear” and communicate personal care and concern for the team.
There are lots of things you can do to create virtual water coolers, whether or not your office has a burbling blue machine with a tap.
-An “I read every email” policy from senior leaders.
-Town hall meetings whether or not your polity requires them.
-Focus groups where the leadership reads the transcripts.
-Open door policies within set office hours.
Now, these are good but none pack the punch of tons of informal, off the clock, in the moment unplanned conversations. Some of the very best leaders we have worked with schedule unscheduled time.
Yep, you read that right. They build into their calendars time for NO formal meetings, phone calls, or strategic planning. They simply get out of the office and into the “field” and talk to people. Staff during the week, volunteers on Sunday and in the in between times. Small groups or Sunday School classes.
Unscripted conversations, heartfelt ‘thank yous’ , and the simple visibility of the pastors all go a long way towards creating engagement, high morale, and loyalty – all key ingredients for culture change!