“This is Too Corporate.”
I heard those four words again not long ago. I was with a group of church leaders in another state, and the topic of training guest services volunteers came up. One of the staff repeated what a previous volunteer had told them shortly before stepping away from the team:
“This is too corporate.”
In other words: “Your training manual / onboarding process / constructive feedback / ongoing coaching is harshing my vibe, and I’m not gonna take it anymore.”
(I’m being hyperbolic and putting words into the mouth of a volunteer I’ve never met, but bear with me, because I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee and I’m punchy.)
I’ve heard these words – or words like them – myself over the years. “You shouldn’t have to train people to be friendly.” “Why can’t this just be more organic?” “We don’t need this…we’re already friendly.”
And in one sense, I totally get it: if we’re using the manners our collective Mamas gave us, friendliness to the outsider ought to just naturally erupt out of us.
But most of the time – if we’re honest – it just doesn’t.
3 reasons “This is too corporate” is a bad rationale:
1. It removes a baseline of expectations.
Training our people on hospitality is never intended to make them pre-programmed robots, spouting off canned one-liners in rapid succession throughout the morning. No, the training should be designed to show every volunteer how they fit in the bigger picture of our guest experience journey. Our training should not be seen as the ceiling, but the floor. It should serve as the baseline minimum standards from which our volunteers can riff, create, and connect to their heart’s content.
2. It assumes we shouldn’t improve.
If I can empathize with the “This is too corporate line” at all, it’s because I too get aggravated when I have to shelve my weekly plans for a staff training session or a “lunch and learn.” (I’m a big fan of the lunch. Not so much the learn.) And if I’m honest with myself, the reason for that is pure pride: “I’m so busy doing this thing that I can’t possibly imagine I can get better at this thing or learn some other thing.” To hijack and repackage a quote from my friend Todd Adkins, that kind of attitude will give a leader a short shelf life.
3. It bases the comfort level on the wrong person.
I am so incredibly grateful for our Guest Services volunteers who show up every week to park cars, open doors, and pave the way for the gospel to be clearly heard. I would not have a job if it weren’t for these dear saints. But my job is not to make my volunteers comfortable. Just the opposite: I want to stir up a level of discomfort in them so that our guests are comfortable.
You can’t have both. The moment a volunteer settles in, stretches out, and does what’s comfortable for them is the moment a guest is left to fend for themselves. Andy Stanley famously said that the gravitational pull of the church is always towards the inside. We have to create the kind of tension where our staff, vols, and leaders are more concerned about our guests’ comfort than their own.
Do you hear the “This is too corporate line” or something like it? How do you respond?