Working in retail management you see a lot of turn-over of employees. One organization I worked for was no different. In certain areas the turnover rate was higher than others. Our store however, had a lower turnover rate in those areas than other stores. People asked why? How could our store have higher retention rates than other stores within the organization sharing the same structure, policies, pay-scale, upline management, and corporate mandates?

I believe at least part of the answer resided in the management team. Not that we were better than other store management teams, but some of our team simply practiced better relational skills. Doug Josenhans and I worked in the same store together for six years. Doug was the Sales Manager and I the Operations Manager. We knew each other’s job so well we could do either one in our sleep. Yet, this was not the key to the organizational culture we developed within our store personnel.

I believe our main key to retention was relational skills. We built a Relational Organization culture. Yes, there were corporate regulations, policies, and mandates to follow. But where there was room for leniency, we gave it. Where there was a need for firmness, we issued it. When discipline needed to be doled out, we faced it. We worked to build relationships with the ninety plus employees at our store. We promoted from within. When we saw potential for advancement, we took the time to invest in an employee.

Continually watching for growth opportunities in our employees, we worked with each one and encouraged them to reach beyond themselves. Cross training between the different departments was as natural as clocking in and out for each shift. Every employee learned how to work different areas of the hardlines store, learning the product, how to use products, materials, and tools. Gaining knowledge and skill in the use of our merchandise for our customers and personal use was significant.

Not only the labor involved inside the store, we also showed personal interest in the lives of our employees. Not that we buddied around with them after hours on a regular basis. But we showed genuine interest in their families and personal struggles, hardships, and celebrations. Employees, younger and older came to us for life advice. I had people come to me for spiritual advice, biblical understanding, and prayer.

During that six years Doug and I had four different General Managers whom we served under. If the General Manager had a similar mindset as ours, and believed in relational culture of leadership, things were great, the store thrived and the manager was generally promoted to a larger volume store in a larger market. When the manager was looking to climb the corporate ladder or had low people skills, the morale of store employees and management. Those managers were moved out fairly quickly.

Were Doug and I perfect? No, not even close. Were we great leaders? Probably not. Yet one thing we had was a drive for building a relational culture within the organization. And we liked to have fun too. Building a relational culture is more than personal relationships. It includes helping others grow toward his/her potential, providing opportunities for others to grow out of their job into another.

Creating a relational culture in a church, like other organizations, is critical to being effective and fruitful in fulfilling our mandate from God to fulfill the Great Commission. Building an effective culture within your church or organization is based on shared values, behaviors, policies and regulations (written and unwritten), vision, values, and assumptions.

What can you do this week to build a better organizational culture withing your organization/church?

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