CV #11 Vanderbloemen Search Group: United in their Purpose to Staff Churches
COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Founded: In 2008 by William and Adrienne Vanderbloemen in Houston, TX. William combined his 15+ years of experience in ministry, with his expertise in HR to create the first staffing firm for churches, ministries, and faith-based organizations.
2017 Revenue: 5.8 million | Employees: 40
Purpose: To staff the church.
Values: Broadband Love, Unusual Servanthood, Wow-Making Excellence, Ridiculous Responsiveness, Solution-Side Living, Ever-Increasing Agility, Stewardship of Life, Constant Improvement, Contagious Fun
Community: While their purpose is already community-driven, Vanderbloemen Search Group is working on official engagement programming outside of their roles. Today, they take service days with the whole team and volunteer in local non-profits in Houston.
LET THE TOUR BEGIN
For Vanderbloemen Search Group, religion in the workplace is a norm. Their clients are churches, ministries, and faith-based organizations and many of their employees are naturally drawn to their mission “to staff the church” because of their own religious beliefs. While I was curious what impact religion in the workplace has on Vanderbloemen Search Group’s company culture, Client Success Manager, Katie Bivens summed it up well: “We all come with different beliefs. I think what brings people to Vanderbloemen is to help the greater good of the church.”
During my visit, I had the opportunity to speak with Katie, along with Co-Founders, William & Adrienne Vanderbloemen. I also had the opportunity to experience their Friday standup meeting, where everyone from the company gathers and shares updates about the week and nominates someone who exhibited one of their nine core values. Here are some of the unique takeaways from my visit:
1. Theology on Tap
In the early days of Vanderbloemen Search Group, the team would go across the street to a local bar together and have a beer, while William shared the nuances of a Christian denomination. Now that they’re a much bigger team and in a new office space, this is no longer feasible; however, they continue their monthly “Theology on Tap” sessions at their office to reinforce their commitment to continuous learning.
2. A Backwards Approach to Hiring: Why You Shouldn’t Work Here
Towards the beginning of their multi-step interview process, those involved in hiring, will actually try to talk the candidate out of working at Vanderbloemen Search Group. The reason for this is because they want to give candidates an honest look at what it is like to work in a very unique environment. William believes that by breaking the mold of a regular interview, the candidate is put at ease, their guard comes down, and everyone can better assess if the candidate is a cultural fit for Vanderbloemen (and the candidate able to see if they want to work at Vanderbloemen). Furthermore, it helps the candidate to more easily realize and accept if the company isn’t the right fit. This is especially important in finding out how open-minded a candidate is, since Vanderbloemen Search Group staffs Christian churches of all denominations.
For example, William may share two recent searches that vary vastly from one another with the candidate. One may be very conservative: perhaps the pastor believes that abortion is a sin and that women cannot be pastors, whereas another search, may be the complete opposite. William might say to a candidate – you may not want to work here because you would need to be comfortable doing both searches. Then sees how the candidate responds.
3. Integrating Employees into Company Culture Through Email Workflows
Vanderbloemen Search Group knows all about content marketing and personas. To add a fun twist to their on-boarding program, they send informative and funny automated on-boarding emails for new members of the team. New employees will receive 2-3 emails a day with topics ranging from how to set up your email signature and salesforce accounts, to sharing the context of many of Vanderbloemen’s inside jokes. The email campaign is a fun twist to regular paperwork, and gives new hires an insight into the company culture.
4. Raising Self-Awareness as a Team
As part of their onboarding, Vanderbloemen uses the Insights test. William described it as a mix between Myers Brigs and DISC because it helps individuals dive deep into their personalities, how they process information, make decisions, and communicate. The Insights test increases self-awareness and helps individuals understand how they relate to one another as a team. To help illustrate this, Vanderbloemen Search has the “Insights Circle” on their wall, with cutouts of where each team member stands. This serves as a visual representation and reminder to the team that everyone has their own style and when you understand it, you can use it to better communicate.
5. Putting Out Fires: All Hands On Deck
Every Friday, Vanderbloemen Search Group has a company all-hands meeting where they do an update on progress and challenges of the week. At the end of the meeting, William, asks the team what the “fires” are? In other words, what executive searches need “all hands-on deck” to help close the search? The team decides on the “fires” and break off into various groups (these groups were determined by birthday month) and all focus for 15 minutes on finding contacts for that search. In addition to pouring everyone’s brainpower into a few searches, it’s also a great way for folks who aren’t involved in the search side of the business (accounting, finance, etc) to be a part of the core of the company’s business.
6. Building Culture Through Summer Suppers
Similar to McCrea’s Candies – the company that eats together stays together – Vanderbloemen has started a summer supper series. Throughout the summer, Adrienne and William invite 5-6 team members from all different areas of the organization to eat together at their dining room table. To inspire meaningful conversation, they take out a card deck of ice-breakers with fun questions like, “What’s the best invention ever made?” and “What’s the first thing you think about in the morning?” As William and Adrienne shared with me, it’s an awesome way to keep the small company feel, as they continue to grow.
In addition to these takeaways, I also learned that for Vanderbloemen Search Group, religion is just another part of bringing your whole self to work. What’s most important is that you are open-minded, have a commitment to continuous education, and are united in your purpose as a team