How to Instill Guest Services DNA to Your Entire Staff
Church staffs are infamous for building silos. Most of the time, it’s innocent: we get busy working in our corner of the world, and we forget that there are other ministry leaders running alongside us who would benefit from knowing what we do (and vice-versa).
But in a worse-case scenario, silos mean that your ministry is limited to the walls of your ministry. And in a guest services world, that’s harmful. After all, if the parking team and seating team understands the “win” behind caring for your guests, but your kids team and worship team doesn’t, well…that doesn’t ultimately help your guest. And if your finance team doesn’t understand why you spend so much money on your first-time guest bags, well…that might mean no more gifts for your guests.
So how do you transfer your DNA to other staff members? How can you help them understand the importance and the impact of a strong hospitable culture, regardless of the team they lead or the title they hold? Here are a few things we’ve been experimenting with on our team:
1. Create a hospitable culture from their first day on the job.
Most vocational first days are a mixture of excitement and letdown: excitement because we don’t really know what to expect; letdown because what we get usually isn’t what we expected.
The truth is, we don’t often plan well for our new employees’ first days. And our church was no exception. Last year we revamped our new employee orientation, approaching it more from what they need to feel rather than what we need them to know. Our Guest Services team worked closely with our personnel team to make the first week something special. We provide new team members with a “first day ambassador:” a friend who is assigned to them for the day, we find out their favorite snacks and have them available as a small treat, and we craft the normal tedium of orientation meetings around the exciting parts of our culture.
I recognize that our staff is on the larger side – meaning we host orientations every month or so. But creating a culture of hospitality is entirely scalable. And you can set an expectation for new staff just by making sure they’re treated well from day one. So the question for you: how can you create a powerful moment for your new staff member?
(For more ideas on this, read chapter two of The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath.)
2. Make your guest services training a requirement for all staff.
At our new staff orientation, we ask a few of our staff teams to spend some time talking about what they do, how it creates our overall culture, and what this means for the new hire’s role, regardless of what their role is. My team talks about the why behind guest services, and how a healthy, guest-friendly culture applies to our workweek (pick up the trash, answer your emails, etc.)
But we take that ten minute conversation one step further. A couple of years back, we started making our guest services training mandatory for all staff members. (I swiped this idea from Christ’s Church of the Valley, who requires all of their staff to go through both their hospitality and security training.)
Twice per year I’ll provide lunch and a customized training for our newer employees. We take them through our normal Guest Services training that our volunteers experience, plus we include some high-level staff training that helps them see the thousand-foot view, and helps them understand why a strong guest services culture is a gospel issue, not just a standalone ministry. The “aha!” moments that this training creates has been invaluable to us, and has helped all of our team see that first impressions isn’t just for first timers, and a hospitable culture isn’t the responsibility of one ministry area.
3. Have ongoing “teaching moments” in staff meetings.
A ten minute orientation talk and a one-time mandatory lunch isn’t enough. Look for opportunities to drip your guest services culture on an ongoing basis. My goal is to look at the what of any new staff procedures through the lens of the bigger why, and as those procedures are communicated, my team will sometimes jump in to add the why to the what.
For example, if we’re scheduling an office or campus clean-up day, my team might piggyback with the facilities team to talk about seeing what our guests see. If we’re rolling out a new phone system, my team might join the front office team to talk about the importance of actually returning phone calls. (Spoiler: you should.)
[related post: Make the Maintenance Guy a Guest Service Pro]
4. Practice what you preach.
It’s one thing to talk about the importance of guest services, hospitality, and quality. It’s quite another to deliver those things to your own staff team month after month, meeting after meeting, event after event.
So make it a habit of making the most of office culture, staff meetings, and other “in the family” events. Don’t tell your team that they should dress up their tables for meetings, but have nekkid tables in your own. Don’t expect your staff members to be alert to new guests on the weekend if you’re just barely getting by on quality during the week. Demonstrate what you want them to replicate, and don’t let your normal routines be too terribly normal.
5. Make yourself available as a resource.
Finally, DNA transfer happens best when it follows your example. For that reason, play the role of the servant-in-residence and serve your staff any way you can. That might look like helping your student team think through the outward focus of an upcoming event. It could mean helping to train your kids volunteers or small group leaders on how to be more hospitable in their own ministry. Or it could mean that you organize a parking team and serve at an event that you have nothing do with. I believe that serving begets serving and quality begets quality. If you take the lead, others will eventually follow.
[related post: Q&A: How Do I Get Beyond the Guest Services Silo?]
How do you transfer DNA from your ministry to other ministries on your staff team?