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Five Culture Tips By Richard Todd

Five Culture Tips to Christian Leaders and Their Organizations

I love to ask organization leaders about their company culture. Invariably, the more successful the organization is, the more they are focused on their culture. For those that haven’t developed a strategy for their culture, the excuses are numerous: “We’re too small to care about culture,” “We don’t have time for culture,” or “Culture doesn’t matter for religious organizations; we’re all Christians.”

We believe that they are all wrong. Regardless of size or mission, avoiding culture can be a big mistake. For religious organizations or a diocese, a good culture can be the glue that keeps and attracts great employees, especially in an environment where pay can’t keep up with the for-profit and secular world.

Through more than 25 years at Innovest, we have had the opportunity to hone culture-driven practices that have made us successful. Without attracting and retaining top talent, we would have spent far more dollars on recruiting and training. While there is a small cost to developing and improving culture, it pales compared to the high cost of recruiting and retention.

Following are five simple strategies to improve culture. We recommend that these accompany a simple plan to define and improve your desired culture.

Pray for your organization and mission.

Whether for-profit or not, your organization’s true successes are a gift from God, it is always amazing to me when I see God’s hands in the direction of our firm. Of course, we have had failures and hardships – in the dog-eat-dog business world, I have been troubled by not winning a new client that seemed destined for Innovest. But, looking back, we were not ready!

Through our struggles, we became focused on getting better, and years later, these opportunities were granted to our great team. God cares about our work, our opportunities for our employees, and our work for our clients.

Be charitable.

At Innovest, we define our culture as “stewardship.” We are stewards to our clients (legal stewards, as fiduciaries), to our employees and their families, and to our community (the Kingdom of God). We formed a Charitable Giving Committee that creates opportunities for us to serve.

Each month, a large portion of our team provides their time and talent during a workday to serve others and create an incredible team-building exercise. We have fed the poor at our local Catholic Charities soup kitchen, packed boxes of food for the local food bank, offered a handshake and conversation to those on the street with Christ in the City, prepared medical supplies to be shipped to third-world countries for Project Cure, and painted a classroom for a local Christian school. If you are a nonprofit, I highly encourage work outside your organization to create goodwill in your community.

Offer gratitude.

Every weekend, I distribute an all-company email entitled “Why we love Mondays at Innovest.” It reflects accomplishments, big and small, that positively impacted our firm over the last week. As a CEO, I struggle with offering enough praise to those that deserve it.

This weekly communication lets me broadcast how thankful I am to so many. I encourage my colleagues to communicate positive things that happened during the week so I can include them. Examples include publicly thanking a team member for staying late to help another complete a complicated performance report, recognizing a consultant for handling a Saturday client board meeting, noting new clients and prospective opportunities, and praising a thoughtful colleague who helped another through car trouble. In our firm of 60 employees, I typically have 15-25 entries each week.

Instill 360-degree peer reviews.

At Innovest, not unlike many organizations, we work as a team. A crucial element of creating successful teams is an annual formal peer review. Anonymous reviews allow peers to evaluate each other thoughtfully. It is an important element of each employee’s annual assessment, created by their manager. If an employee is struggling, the 360-degree review will make it clear. Peers must also review those at the top of the organization. This has driven me to improve my management, communication, and leadership. Some of the most effective boards I’ve worked on have also created simple 360-degree reviews of board peers.

Create a Director of Fun.

Like any organization, Innovest can be intense. We have appointed an office manager, Carol, as our “Director of Fun.” Carol celebrates birthdays, throws internal weddings and baby showers, organizes our Christmas party, recognizes employee anniversaries and promotions, and so on. It can be easy to forget important events, but putting someone in charge of them solves that challenge.

Linking Sundays and Mondays is crucial for any organization. Key to our culture is that representing Innovest doesn’t end on Friday and resumes on Monday morning. And God’s Sunday should be lived out through the week. Our thriving company culture is key to retaining employees, where employees become best friends at work.


Rich Todd is the CEO of Innovest Portfolio Solutions, providing investment consulting services to faith-based organizations. Rich is the CEO and co-founder of Innovest Portfolio Solutions. He has more than 35 years of experience in investment consulting and currently provides consulting services to institutions and families. Innovest has over 300 clients with assets of $32 billion and nearly 60 employees.

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