I first heard William Vanderbloemen talk about staff culture during the 2018 XPastor Seminar in Dallas where we were both doing breakout sessions. (His was way more interesting than mine). I knew in my gut that staff culture needed to become a bigger focus for me at our church because I could already see the cracks emerging as our team sought to keep up with a rapid growth curve following the opening of our new building. By the time that “Culture Wins: The Roadmap to An Irresistible Workplace” was published a few months later, we had experienced 30% growth in our weekend gatherings and I needed what this book had to offer.
The premise of the book is obvious enough. Vanderbloemen makes the argument that the culture of your team will always win out over everything else. It’s stronger than your strategy, your product, even the abilities of your staff. So the goal is to clearly define your team culture and then recruit, train and build around that culture.
Award Winning Team
The Vanderbloemen search group has won all kinds of awards for having a great work culture and this book is in a sense, a chance for the company to say “Here is what we do from a team culture standpoint”. But in writing the book, Vanderbloemen took it a step further and interviewed a ton of other leaders of companies and organizations known for having a great team culture. So what you have is a mix of what they do, and what they’ve seen other companies do. Vanderbloemen makes it clear that in many aspects of team culture, it’s not a matter of right or wrong, but rather as he says “what is your kind of crazy”.
Assessing Health and Establishing Your Culture
There is a great section on questions to ask yourself to assess the health of your team culture and it’s packed full of great ideas along the way. Vanderbloemen then gets into what I think is the most helpful part of the whole book as he unpacks the set of staff cultural values that his company created and honed over several months and how his company instill those values with new staff while keeping them in front of their existing staff. I loved the concept of using inbound marketing software to create a drip campaign targeted at your new staff! Totally stealing that idea for our team as we seek to improve our on boarding process and take it further than HR paperwork and issuing a computer.
Life Cycle Of A Staff Member
Part three of the book gets into the life cycle of a team member from the first interview all the way to sending them onto their next job. For Vanderbloemen, that whole process is built around their staff cultural values. Even a persons review and pay is tied to how well they are living up to the companies stated culture.
All In All, Worth the Read!
I’m a process guy, so I would have liked to see more of the actual steps they took to establish their cultural values. And I would have liked a discussion about current vs. aspirational values as well as a more thorough “next steps” type of bibliography. But all in all, this book was an incredible catalyst for my own thinking and research for our church. It’s rare to read a book and find that so much of it is immediately applicable to your situation but that’s how I felt as I read Culture Wins. I underlined way more than normal and I filled the margins with notes to myself for later and other thoughts to apply to our particular situation. As I devoured the pages of this book, my brain was on fire with ideas. I genuinely learned a great deal and it hit me at the exact perfect time for our team and the intentional staff culture that we are trying to create.