Are You Hearing the Whole Truth in Your Workplace?

Published March 7, 2019


CultureLeading Organizations

FACT: The higher your position, the less likely you are to hear the truth.

I’m not suggesting people are lying, but are you told the full story? Regardless of how approachable you are, your leadership position holds a level of power that causes people to want you to like them. Yet unfortunately, few people risk telling you the necessary truth.

Therefore, it’s important to tap into the power of listening in your workplace. Read on to learn three breakthrough listening strategies inspired by Jeff Lockyer that can benefit every ministry organization—like yours!


The Challenge

Five years ago, the workplace culture of Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines, Ontario was hurting. Lead Pastor Jeff Lockyer remembers: “God had called us to put ourselves in closer proximity to people out of a desire for justice and compassion.”

The higher your position, the less likely you are to hear the truth.

Jeff said the staff culture indicated we had a different collection of workplace experiences. “The BCWI Employee Engagement Survey” zeroed in on the fact that, while some were thriving, others were borderline toxic,” said Jeff. “The health of our culture and our ministry calling was at stake. We needed to ensure all our departments, all our people, were led by the kind of leaders who could advocate for healthy, thriving workplaces.”


The Strategy

Jeff began to unfold a clear sequence of three action steps that would soon transform their culture, and all three were directly tied to the power of listening.

1. Listen to the data
“The first thing behind our culture turnaround was that we listened to the data. We needed to listen to our people,” said Jeff. “Their honest feedback was captured in our low-to-borderline scores that said our culture was hurting.

After we saw our low compensation-benefits scores, our board went to work, and we came up with a new and better plan. The fact is, if you care enough to listen to the data, you can make very practical, positive and significant changes to your people’s day-to-day workplace experience.

What convinced me was that I could actually feel the score. I know what a 3.80 (“Critical”) feels like. I know what 4.25 (“Flourishing”) feels like. When people resonate together with feeling their culture, you get more buy-in. We did!”

2. Listen to what your people need

By listening to the data, Jeff said he learned to listen to what people on staff wanted and needed to flourish. They wanted better communication that would give them a voice. “They did not want passive leadership from us,” he said. “They wanted to be involved in the decisions that affected them.”

It’s the difference between serving cake and baking cake. Jeff said as people got into the messiness of the cake-baking process—providing real-time input on organizational decisions as leadership was in the process of making them–everyone became more transparent with each other. “In a sense, we began to bake our future together and to taste a better culture as a result,” he said.

3. Listen to God

“Third, as our culture began to practice healthier communication and grow outstanding talent, we kept listening for God and where God was working inside each of us,” he said. “At the end of the day, this attention you need to pay to your culture isn’t an HR issue, it’s a spiritual issue, a discipleship issue.”

As leaders, we’re constantly inviting people to change and be transformed, because that’s the Gospel. Through the risen Jesus, change is possible. The attention you need to pay to your culture isn’t an HR issue, it’s a spiritual issue, a discipleship issue.


The Results

Today, thanks to the power of listening and the transforming power of God at work in their culture, Southridge now scores in the top 1 percent of all churches surveyed by BCWI.

It’s important to tap into the power of listening in your workplace.

Jeff said, “More than anything else, our ongoing culture journey and transformation has given us the integrity of experiencing—and modeling—the gospel. It’s allowed us to look at the brokenness and darkness that’s existed among our leadership and workplace environment. Looking at, and listening to the good, the bad and the ugly of our culture has shown us that God wants to grow and sanctify us—personally, as teams, as a culture, as an organization and as followers of Christ. As church leaders are inviting others into life-change, it’s critical that your life is changing too.”

Amen. So be it.

About the Author
This is the author headshot of Al Lopus.

Al Lopus


Best Christian Workplaces Institute

Al Lopus' passion and Best Christian Workplaces Institute's (BCWI) vision is that the Church and Christian-led organizations set the standard as the best, most effective places to work in the world. BCWI is widely known for its faith-based staff engagement survey and organizational culture transformation initiatives. They serve to equip and inspire Christian leaders to create a flourishing workplace.