Archives For Staff Development

Worlds Best Employee MugWhen I was a young leader I embraced a faulty leadership paradigm. I believed that I should be able to do the jobs of my direct reports. I insecurely thought “If one of my leaders quit, I should be able to step in and do their job.”

After a few years I came to realize how limiting such a paradigm was. If I can do the job of each direct report, then I have leaders just as limited as myself working for me.

I eventually decided to start hiring people who were better at their job than me. I learned it is better to think “God help me if they ever quit.” rather than “I’ll be fine if they go.”

That change in my hiring paradigm dramatically improved the quality of leaders I attracted. So much so that I eventually employed leaders who built a better organization than I ever could on my own. Which soon led to me to think, “Would my staff hire me?”

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Top of BottleI love the vocabulary Les McKeown uses to describe the roles of people in an organization: Visionary, Operator and Processor.

In short…

  • (V) Visionaries think big, generate ideas and become irritated by details.
  • (O) Operators are action oriented and don’t like to be micro-managed.
  • (P) Processors devise systems and procedures that enable an organization to deliver consistent results.

Most often startups begin with the dreams of a visionary and the “make it happen” skills of an operator. Once the company begins to succeed a processor is brought on board to systematize operations.

Of the three, operators bring a high functional value to organizations. These are the implementors, the “git-r-done” kind of people who bring about the dreams of visionaries.

I’ve been privileged to work with a few gifted operators during my leadership of nonprofits. People who lived to execute a program, or launch an initiative or pull-off a fundraising campaign.

I’ve also been guilty of letting operators take on more than they can do. I have mentioned incomplete projects in staff meetings and allowed the operators to say, “I’ll take care of it.” I have had operators meet with me about their problems and by the end of the meeting they’ve committed to find solutions to my problems.

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tensionOpinions about rules tend to polarize in two camps: the rule-keepers and the rule-breakers.

Ideologically, rule-keepers tend to see rules as moral imperatives and rule-breakers see them as the control mechanisms of those in power.

While ideologies drive much of how people assess life, they do not strictly determine how people functionally live life.

Functionally, most people live as both rule-breakers and rule-keepers. For example, a great rule-keeping employee may break every rule of personal health from improper diet to inadequate sleep. As Alan Bennet said, “We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn’t obey the rules.”

The fact is rules are often written around important ideals, but have to be followed with consideration for what’s real. That reality creates a tension in us, no matter which rules-camp you most identify with.

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passing baton

One of the biggest staffing challenges churches face is leadership transition. There is a lot of room for misunderstanding and hurt as one leader steps out and another leader steps in.

I have overseen the transition of leaders, and I am currently a leader going through a well-planned transition. Side note: This post is dedicated to the families and leaders of the church I currently serve.

Here are five signs of effective leadership transition:

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Layoff NoticeLayoffs are always hard.  Especially in churches and nonprofits where employees tend to work with their hearts as much as their heads and hands.

I have had to let people go, and I’ve been let go.  So I know the feelings of the employee and the employer.  Both sides are gut-wrenching, but when it comes to letting people go pastors/employers have to take the greater responsibility.

3 Responsible Actions When Letting People Go

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Paying CashIn North America, we live in a wage-based society where individuals sustain themselves and plan for the future based on expected income. Church employees live in that same society.

While nothing is ever guaranteed, it is important for church employees to have fair compensation and knowledge of how and when that compensation can change.

Just as churches teach people to be good stewards in their finances, churches should also be good stewards in their compensation.

Here are some best practices for church employee compensation:

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Mom and Pop StoreWhen I was a kid there was a restaurant my family would go to on Sundays called the Dainty Del.

It was the classic mom-and-pop restaurant with the dad out front greeting customers and the mom behind the counter working the cash register.

Often start-up and small-size churches are run using a similar “mom & pop” model.  The out front spouse is the people connector or communicator while the behind-the-scenes spouse is the task worker who gets things done.

There is a reason why this husband and wife team fosters growth in many churches, and there is a reason why it limits the growth in those same churches.

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Conference Room ShotWhen I get one of those emails inviting me to bring a team to a conference.  I admit it. I get excited.  I like taking a staff of people to an inspiring event.

But is inspiration the only thing you’re suppose to bring home from a conference?

In this podcast I share How to get the most from a conference with you staff.

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I talk about breaking the Discover-Apply-Failure-Reflect Cycle that often happens after conferences.

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Stack of BooksIf you lead then you have done it.

You have read a book it was so helpful that you had to share it with your staff.  And then…nothing.  No feedback.  No changes.  You later see the book on their office shelf and wonder, “Was it helpful?”

On this podcast I talk about the best way to share a book with your staff.

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Young Leader 2

In this podcast I talk about about hiring and working with young leaders.

[pullquote]Many employers know how to harness the energy of young leaders but few know how to grow young leaders.[/pullquote]

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Here are the talking points from the podcast:

  • I share a recent reconnect with a former employee of mine that reminded me how important it is to grow young leaders.
  • A young leader is a 20-something who may be recently out of college and lacking long term work experience.
  • Young leaders often make up in energy what they lack in experience. It’s important to grow a young leader and not just benefit from their energy.
  • I have hired several young employees over the course of my career, many of them for leadership positions.
  •  If there is a wrong way to hire a new employee, I have done it.  I’ve made all the mistakes at one point or another.  I am thankful for fellow leaders and even employees who cared enough along the way to share with me the inadequacies of my hiring practices.
  • I share how one employee gave me an exit interview that changed my hiring practices.
  • I explain why first-chairs should NOT manage the hiring process, especially first-chair pastors.
  •  Two reasons why the mindset of “Waiting on God to give you the right person” is not a beneficial hiring strategy.
  •  3 EXIT GOALS to keep in mind for when a young leader leaves your organization.

 1. They should leave better because of you and not in spite of you.

 2. They should leave better and not just better off.

 3. They should leave knowing they are better than you at something.

Here is Melissa’s tweet


Follow my former employee Melissa Hawks and her current boss Matt Craig and his company Beast Social Media.  Check out the Beast Social Media group online.

Join the Conversation: Were you ever a young leader? Were you better because of or in-spite of a senior leader?

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