2 min read

395: Building a Legacy: Workplace Culture and Fundraising in Higher Education

395: Building a Legacy: Workplace Culture and Fundraising in Higher Education

Today, we dive into how to maintain focus on continuous improvement in a Flourishing Workplace™ with Prairie College president Mark Maxwell. We'll explore how to build a strong employee engagement culture and sustain long-term success.

 

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In this episode:

  • Prairie College's Mission and Student Impact
    • Prairie College aims to prepare students to meet the greatest needs of the world, often through international trips and cultural exposure. (04:16)
  • Student Stories
    • Charlotte, Mark's daughter, participated in a challenging nursing trip to the Amazon jungle, emphasizing the mission's impact. (04:32)
    • A digital-media student thrived on an international trip to Vietnam, using photography to tell impactful stories. (06:22)
  • Prairie College Overview
    • Located in Alberta, started 102 years ago by Mark’s grandfather. (07:32)
    • Current enrollment is about 480 students, with many online or in non-resident programs. (07:48)
    • Distinctive feature: all four-year majors include extensive study of the Bible. (08:14)
  • Focus on Prayer and Communication
    • Prayer Practices
      • Weekly prayer meetings were enhanced to increase participation and importance, leading to nearly 100% staff attendance. (10:25)
      • Prayer has driven team unity, gratitude, and a shared mission. (11:15)
  • Monthly Family Meetings
    • Held on the first Wednesday of every month for one hour to discuss enrollment, revenue, donations, and other important topics transparently. (12:33) 
    • Emphasis on transparency and open discussion of sensitive subjects. (13:27)
  • Leadership and Cultural Practices
    • Emphasis on Prayer
      • Regular prayer and spiritual connection are integral to the college’s culture and leadership practices. (14:55)
      • Prayer meetings are seen as essential for organizational harmony and mission clarity. (15:17)
    • Executive Team Practices
      • Executive meetings start with a song, scripture reading, and prayer. (17:19)
      • Emphasis on spiritual foundation and prayer in leadership routines. (17:30)
  • Continuous Improvement and Avoiding Complacency
    • Focus on harmony rather than unity; complementing each other's strengths. (18:33)
    • Regular assessment of new hires for cultural fit and contribution to team chemistry. (19:35)
    • Emphasis on asking for help and expressing gratitude to build a supportive work environment. (20:07)
  • Conflict Resolution and Decision-Making:
    • Mark emphasizes the importance of creating an environment where employees feel they belong and can express diverse ideas. (24:22)
    • They encourage multiple ideas and deliberate over the best options, rather than seeking unanimous decisions. (24:37)
    • Example: Faced with budget cuts, Mark felt challenged but ultimately recognized the team’s input and made successful decisions. (25:50)
  • Importance of Open Communication:
    • A culture of fear inhibits expression of ideas. Mark recommends reading "The Art of War" and "The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership." (27:42)
    • Fear has a place but should be balanced to ensure accountability without stifling innovation. (28:02)
    • Mark meets with new employees to set expectations and emphasizes the importance of character, competence, chemistry, and calling. (28:28)
  • Fundraising and Internal Culture:
    • The importance of internal culture in successful fundraising is highlighted. (32:37)
    • Mark shares the journey of raising $100 million for renovations and expansions at Prairie, crediting the groundwork of previous years in human capital development. (33:46)
    • A grassroots approach and a dedicated campaign lead contributed significantly to their fundraising success. (34:21)
  • Adapting to Change and Avoiding Ruts:
    • Mark stresses the need to avoid ruts and constantly improve processes. (37:59)
    • He discourages repetition of past methods if better alternatives exist and promotes effectiveness over professionalism. (38:43)
  • Spiritual Practices:
    • Mark shares his personal spiritual routines, emphasizing flexibility over rigidity. (40:29)
    • He listens to the Bible and aims to read through it regularly, noting the importance of engaging with scripture in a meaningful way. (40:45)
    • The management team starts meetings with a song, reflecting a unique approach to integrating spirituality at work. (44:00)

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