The 6 Most Common Questions Regarding the Challenges of Building Culture @ Work (Part II)


Part I

“What is culture?” People would likely have a range of responses to that question. How would you respond? Like many things, you know it when you experience it, but it’s hard to describe. Further, what does culture mean in a work context? How is it measured and how is it understood? 

Based on working with Christian business leaders across Canada, here are the six most common questions regarding the culture of their organization. Perhaps you have asked these same questions.


4. How do I successfully let people go?

Let’s assume that you have hired well, but there may be challenges on the back end. The relationship is coming to an end—maybe they have not grown with the company, or they have lost their initial passion. How to fire someone, in a good Christian manner? This may require the wisdom of Solomon in his prime (he had a lot of wisdom but did not end on a high note).

Does firing the person mean going beyond legal requirements? Christian leaders may want to provide more than what is legally required and provide some transition support. They may also have a dialogue with their employee to ensure there is no ill will. A simple test to ensure things have ended satisfactorily: Would the person cross to the other side of the street if they saw you coming?

Parting ways with people is one way to shape a corporate culture—it impacts those still in the company. When done well, the parting of ways can be a good thing for both sides. Why? A person perceived as a poor personality fit may thrive in a new environment. Interestingly, a boss may think that the employee is “the problem.” Then the “fired” employee goes on to their next opportunity and thrives. Maybe the boss was the problem.


5. How do I care for my people?

This whole issue relates to how business owners treat their employees generally and the nature of the corporate culture. An employer can think, How much do I care for people? Do I extend grace? Is the employer concerned about having the employee transition well into their next opportunity? If employers want to end the working relationship but delay it, is that good for anyone? The issues get complicated when there are overlapping circles, such as if the employee is a relative, a Christian, or a fellow church member.

How much of an issue reflects the actions of the business owner? Were expectations clear? Katy Granville-Chapman, a previous speaker from the ELO Oxford Program, highlighted that “clear is kind”—you are not doing anyone favours by not providing clarity around a person’s role in an organization. Further, “standard operating procedures” (SOP) are needed to give direction.


6. How do I deal with partners when I grow apart from them?

One common situation where these problems emerge among business leaders is in the context of partnerships. Many entrepreneurs and business owners have partners—and an equal number have challenges. People grow in different directions over time, and, in other instances, they may have had different aspirations.

There are many situations in which a partnership can become complicated.  Perhaps the dynamics are impacted by having family members that one partner wants to get into the business. Or, perhaps, partners develop side interests which then become too time-consuming and distracting. Even great partnerships find it difficult to survive endlessly. The same dynamics that occur in the hiring process and building a team also apply to the relationships between partners.

In conclusion, a company cannot grow unless it attracts and retains good people and develops a good culture. It’s possible, but not easy. Often, outside professionals are required. Everyone is familiar with situations where the leader of an organization can have a huge impact on the success of the organization. People are likely more of a competitive advantage in today’s environment—no one constructs a team easily. To successfully address the six questions posed in this blog is a great starting point.