Sunday 12 December 2010

Member Care and Lausanne 3: Blog Two

Mixed Blessings:

The Lausanne 3 Conference brought together some 4000 people this past October in South Africa. Here are excerpts from one of the seven MCA blogs at the Global Conversation portal at Lausanne 3.

The main question of this blog: Do we and our organizations
have the necessary capacity/safeguards in place to promote health?
Yes, No, or Probably?!

Virtue does not have to be so painful, if it is sensibly organized.
Charles Handy, Understanding Voluntary Organizations

How healthy is your church, mission, NGO, etc? Here are five brief quotes about organizational life to help explore this question. Remember: in mission as in life, we reproduce who we are.

These quotes are taken from a special training day on Organizations and Member Care at Fuller School of Psychology—The audio video and written materials are available for free via this link:
Quote One: Health Checklist--Signs of Organizational Health, Kelly O'Donnell (2008)
What are some of the core characteristics that would make you want to be part of a team, department, or organization? Here are some items to consider. What else would you add? Everyone loves to work in settings like these, but remember, like healthy families, they take a lot of work to develop and maintain!
• Mutual respect among staff
• Fair pay/compensation and fair play especially in light of power differentials
• Opportunities to make contributions
• Opportunities for advancement and personal growth
• Sense of purpose and meaning
• Management with competence and integrity, including sharing • information
• Safeguards to protect individuals (staff and customers) from injustice
• Responsibility for actions: owning mistakes, not blaming others or covering up
• Honesty in communication and public disclosures: not slanting the truth or exaggerating
• Accountability for personal/work life: seeking out feedback and ways to improve, not ignoring or pretending
• Others:"

Quote Two: Organizational Culture--Stress and Trauma Handbook: Strategies for Flourishing in Demanding Environments, John Fawcett, (2003, World Vision)
“…the most stressful events in humanitarian work have to do with the organisational culture, management style and operational objectives of an NGO or agency rather than external security risks or poor environmental factors. Aid workers, basically, have a pretty shrewd idea what they are getting into when they enter this career, and dirty clothes, gunshots at night and lack of electricity do not surprise them. Intra-and inter-agency politics, inconsistent management styles, lack of team work and unclear or conflicting organizational objectives, however, combine to create a background of chronic stress and pressure that over time wears people down and can lead to burnout and even physical collapse.” (p. 6)

Quote Three: Seven Strengths for Faith-based Organizations--Governance Matters: Balancing Client and Staff Fulfillment in Faith-based, Not-for Profit Organizations, Stehle and Loughlin, (2003) (Note: Reframed positively from the authors’ list of “Seven Deadly Sins”)
• Competent leadership/management (structure, authority, decisions, evaluation etc.)
• Supportive leadership and management
• Clear strategic direction
• Clear roles and responsibilities
• Clear expectations
• Good fit for staff including ongoing training
• Forgiveness is not confused with accountability (pp. 31-34)

Quote Four: Organizational Politics--Understanding Voluntary Organizations, Charles Handy, (1988)
“Because power is a forbidden topic in organizations, and particularly in volunteer organizations, there is seldom any proper discussion of two key aspects of organizational life: the place of competition and/or conflict and the role or meaning of democracy in work. If they are talked about at all it is under the heading of organization politics, and in this context ‘politics’ is assumed to be bad. Such myopia is misguided. Organizations are communities, societies in their own right. They cannot avoid the questions [concerning power/control] which beset all societies.…To push these issues under the table is not to solve them; to brandish grandiloquent slogans –‘we are all one family’ or conflict has no place’—only outlaws discussion of the topic without adding to an understanding of it. If organizations [such as our mission and member care organizations] are going to be effective social institutions, they need to grapple with these issues, which are not going to disappear as long as human beings live and work together.” (pp. 75-76)

Quote Five: 12 Key Items Related to Staff Satisfaction, Longevity, Productivity--First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Buckingham and Coffman, (1999)(See the book summary at
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
6 Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?

Reflection and Discussion
1. How does the "Probably" video clip relate to your life and work?

2. Which "mixed blessings" do you see present in your organization or setting regarding member care?

3. What items in this entry can be helpful for you to discuss in yourorganization/setting?

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