The Reverend Doctor Gordon Moyes is superintendent of the Wesley Mission, the largest local-church organisation in Australia. He hosts the weekly television program Turn Round Australia and a four-hour weekly talk-back radio program Sunday Night Live with Gordon Moyes. He is president of the Rotary Club of Sydney, a member of the 1996 Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Youth Homelessness, and chairman of the board of several media and insurance companies. He has been married to Beverly since 1959 and has four children.
AIM: Why have you shown such an interest in management?
Moyes: As a minister of religion I undertook a study in the mid-1960s to see why churches in Australia do not usually grow beyond 250 people. In the United States churches often have between 5000 and 10,000 people. In South Korea, it can be in the hundreds of thousands. I concluded that it is because ministers are not taught management skills. So I went to some management courses at AIM and the Mount Eliza Business School.
AIM: Did you confirm that management skills are crucial?
Moyes: Of my own staff of 2000 people, 997 of them were doing advanced courses of some kind last year. I place a great deal of emphasis on leadership skills for women, because most are not given the opportunity to do management courses. In 1990, of the top 100 management staff, 15 were women. Now, 68 (of the top 100) are women.
AIM: What is your approach to human resources management?
Moyes: You cut from the bottom and lop from the top. Every year you should cut off the worst performing 5% of the staff, and look at the top 3% and either promote them inside the organisation or promote them out of it. I seek out the best jobs for the high performers so they can gain experience elsewhere, in the hope that they will come back to us. So far, I have a 100% strike rate. I believe in encouraging people to develop their career paths – with us or elsewhere – on the understanding that they will return.
AIM: What do you consider the essential elements of management?
Moyes: Management is primarily a relational issue. If you build good relationships, people will be committed to working with you. I hope when I employ senior people that they will spend all their lives with me.
AIM: What is your financial profile?
Moyes: We have a budget of $80 million. Our administrative costs, including fund raising, are only 6% of our overall costs which, according to the Federal Government, is the lowest overhead cost of any charity in Australia. I attribute this to effective use of computers. We also extensively use volunteers, which translates to a salary saving of $2 million a year. Training accounts for about 5% of our costs. If I break even, I am very happy: you cannot make a profit helping disabled people, the elderly or the unemployed. Instead, we set limits for losses: Lifeline can lose $200,000 a year, Creditline, a financial counselling service, can lose $250,000 a year, and we can allow child care to make a $2 million loss.
AIM: What is your management structure?
Moyes: It is very flat. We only have a chief executive, and a management committee consisting of myself and four general managers. Below that, we have a manager for each of 269 centres, who report directly to the committee. There are no intermediary managers.
AIM: How do you supplement your income?
Moyes: There are four sources of income for not-for-profit organisations: government support, the public purse, corporate support and church offerings. I realised when I started 25 years ago that these would not be enough, so we have added another stream. We have a number of full tax-paying businesses: furniture manufacturing, pharmaceuticals packaging, the largest citrus orchards in Australia, clothing shops, commercial laundry. These produce a surplus of about $6 million a year. We have also concentrated on wills and bequests.
AIM: Have you been able to expand your organisation as you hoped?
Moyes: Our largest services are Christmas and Easter, which attract respectively 50,000 and 20,000. It was 1000 when I first came. We conduct 45 services a week. We deal with several hundred thousand people a year who are homeless, unemployed, on drugs or dying: we have palliative care, hospitals, nursing homes.
We are also very large in training and have media outlets in radio and television.