Understanding Organizational Behavioral Patterns


When I moved to Georgia, I first stayed for about 4 weeks with John and Mary Rakestraw. They became good close friends during my time in Georgia. Outside of church John and I golfed and did many things together. One evening we were in a grocery store together and I took note of something I had observed in John very frequently. As we walked up to the register, John called the cashier by her first name.

John had lived many years in this part of Cobb County. Yet, I was thinking, “How could he know so many people by their first name?” Everywhere we went, John always called whoever was waiting on us by their first name. There is no way he could know that many people by name – and remember them all.

My curiosity got the best of me. On the way to the truck, I asked John how he knew so many people and a learning conversation ensued. It turns out I was right. He did not know all of those people. His secret was no secret at all. As he approached the register that night and always John automatically looked for the cashier’s name badge. If she wasn’t wearing one he immediately looked at her register screen, where her name was often displayed.

John had trained himself to look first not at the line of people or groceries on the conveyor belt. John’s mind went immediately seeking to know the name of the person who would be waiting on him. Not only at the checkout counter, at restaurants, auto parts stores, golf courses, everywhere John went, he wanted to call that person by name. John had developed a very beneficial behavior pattern.

Behavior patterns are just what the name implies. Pattern is the regular, repetitive form or order of someone or something. Behavior is the way in which we act or respond. Therefore, our behavioral pattern is the regular and repetitive way in which we act and respond to life’s situations. Every person uses a behavior pattern to answer a question, produce an outcome, organize a confusing experience, or minimize stress in his/her life.

Just as individuals have behavior patterns, organizations do as well. In most cases an organization will take on much of the behavior pattern of the leader setting the pace for the organization.: i.e. in a church if the pastor is passive and non-confrontational, the church will likely reflect this behavior pattern as well. When you see a church that is actively involved in causes outside the church, you will likely find that is a behavior trait/pattern of the pastor.

Every organization has behavior patterns that both positively affect and some that negatively affect the organization and its mission. Identifying behavior patterns of an organization is tremendously helpful in determining strategy planning approaches. In the church it is essential to identify organizational behavior patterns. Some we may need to capitalize on, using these to accomplish our mission, The Great Commission. Conversely, behavior patterns with negative affects on our organization or our mission may need to be altered or eliminated.

Begin this week, seek input from others, observe for yourself, question practices of your church/organization. What behavior patterns can you identify. How can you improve your mission effectiveness by improving your behavior patterns?

Can you guess what the first thing I always do at a checkout line or in a restaurant?

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