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S6E23: The Road to High Employee Engagement and Flourishing Culture

S6E23: The Road to High Employee Engagement and Flourishing Culture

A lot of leaders would be glad if 60% of their people felt engaged in their work. Mark Maxwell, President of Prairie College leads an organization where 79% of the employees—nearly 80%--feel engaged. How do they do it? What’s their secret? Well, it hasn't always been that way. Listen in as Mark shares his fascinating story about inheriting a very unhealthy culture and turning it into a flourishing one.

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In this episode:

  • Some insights behind Prairie College's high level of employee engagement (03:02)
  • "We have a tremendous group of professionals who have a strong level of ownership in the school and our mission" (03:04)
  • "Prairie’s created purpose was to teach the Bible to young people, around the phrase “To know Christ and make Him known, penned in 1923" (04:08)
  • Putting Bible into Prairie College's curriculum (05:55)
  • High levels of engagement arrived because of transparency and harmony, those two major conduits of love (08:53)
  • "Give the worst news as quickly as possible and then deal with it; change course or get it corrected." (11:07)
  • How do you lay off half of your staff and maintain harmony? (12:10)
  • "If you're getting rid of the right people, they're going to love you. Start with the bullies, the self-righteous religious ones, the ones who are divisive" (12:22)
  • "The truth – we have spent a century watching God work things out here at Prairie" (16:21)
  • At what point, did Mark begin to realize why a flourishing culture was absolutely essential for an organization to fulfill its mission? (17:17)
  • "Really smart, hard-working, nice people at Gordon Capital in Toronto" (20:20)
  • "Good Character, Competent, Good Chemistry, Called" (20:52)
  • What does it feel like when a workplace culture is wrong? (24:20)
    • Silos
    • Professionalism shows up
    • Bureaucracy becomes an idol
  • You Rock Award (28:48)
  • "Attitude of gratitude. Thanking the achievers."(28:31)
  • A culture of encouragement (29:00)
    • Celebrate the wins 
    • Laughing at our losses
  • Do something to improve the human touch when combating professionalism in the workplace (32:29)
  • Prayed openly (33:17)
  • "Whoever does the cutting needs to stick around because they have the game plan from God on how to rebuild." (35:43)
  • "Profitability is a core value of nonprofit organizations. Profitability is a must if our mission is to survive." (37:44)
  • What do you say to fellow leaders wondering how to begin, who aren't looking for a way out, but a way forward for their culture and their organization? (38:54)
  • "Let's be sure to turn to God in prayer; he cares. If our work matters then he wants to be part of it. All we need to do is humble ourselves and turn to him—genuine surrender to God." (39:27)
  • "Transparency is mission-critical. Numbers are friends. Bad numbers are good to talk about. We build our own personal capital by talking about bad numbers, bad data."  (39:54)
  • Rumors trump facts (40:18)


Additional Resources

Watch Prairie College Celebrate their High Employee Engagement Score here.

Read the Transcript

Read a complete, word-for-word transcript of the episode.


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