Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

Management 101: The Basics, Part 1

Dr. Jim Osterhaus

The Nitty-Gritty

Let’s begin with a quiz:

• An employee tends to stay with an organization because of that organization’s reputation and the generous benefits package she receives. True or False
• As a manager, you need to spend most of your time with your under-performing employees, to bring them up to speed. True or False
• The best managers are those women and men who, before they become managers, have performed their functions the best. True or false
• If an employee has a good attitude, but lacks the apparent talent to perform certain tasks, you need to send her to workshops to “bring her up to speed.” True or False
• To be a truly great leader, one must be able to supply most of the answers for the issues that perplex those who are led. True or False

What do you think? Well, they’re all false. But don’t be too discouraged if you had trouble with these. Most people do. In fact, most people, and especially those who have just become managers in one fashion or another, have a lot of trouble understanding the role.

I’m going to talk about management as though management was you’re only responsibility. I know, however, that as a minister, you have a myriad of responsibilities. But I want you to think during the next few visits we have together as if management were your only function.

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job

Let’s start with some thoughts published by Pat Lencioni:

• The only way to have a fully-functioning organization, any organization, is to build the kind of work environment that attracts, focuses, and keeps talented employees.
• Your job as a manager is to help build that environment.
• Managing people is your primary focus in your job as a manager, not an add-on.
• People liking their jobs is a critical aspect in building that environment. And it’s the responsibility of the manager to help them like their job.

Yes, you do have all the ministerial responsibilities. But you’re also a manager on the front lines, and arguably the most powerful in creating an environment for you people. Never forget that. In fact, arguably you’re most important function as a manager is to be a catalyst. In that capacity, you turn a person’s talent into performance, then steer that performance in the direction of the organization’s goals. The starting point is the talent each of your direct reports brings to the table. You as the catalyst transform these talents into useful performance.

You stand in the middle, between the organization and the employee. Your job is to achieve the goals of the organization. But your employees must feel that your primary focus is on them, and their success. So you must align the needs of the organization with the needs of the employee.

Sounds like a tall order? It is. If you have the luxury of hiring an executive pastor, or the equivalent, that person will function in this management role. But unfortunately, for the majority of you, you will have to function as the manager.

Achieving the goals of the organization and supporting employee success actually go hand in hand as primary components of a manager’s job description. I’m not talking about making sure my direct reports are happy. Your role as a manager is all about performance, not feelings. But as I said the first time we met, churches are interlocking organizational entities. And as you move to being an intentional manager, people will default over to the family organizational model and complain that ‘Dad is being too hard on us!

Now let’s look at the three things that Lencioni feels are critical to job satisfaction and success — that leads to people liking their jobs and ultimately caring about the organization.”

1. Relevance

• People need to be needed, and to be reminded of this every day.
• When people find they have no impact on other’s lives, they begin to die emotionally.
• Everyone needs to know their job matters…to someone, even if it’s just the boss.

Let me make it more personal. Think about these questions:

• Do you make a meaningful difference in anyone’s life at work?
• Do you as a manager make a significance difference in the lives of your direct reports?

Then let’s continue with two final questions I want to bury in your brain for future reference:

• Who am I helping?
• How am I helping?

The second principle:

2. Measurement

• Employees need to be able to measure their progress and level of contribution themselves. They won’t be satisfied if their success depends on the whims of another person.
• There is usually no lack of things that can be measured. But are there too many? And are they the correct measurements of each person? And is it immediate enough? (not some end of year bottom line that has no immediate impact).

Let’s talk about measurement. Employees need to first know what they do is relevant, and to do this, they need to be able to measure what they do. That’s not so easy for a church. Churches don’t do research projects with their built in measurements. You might just want to sit down with each of them and talk about short term goals and measurements.

• Need something regular and behavioral and something employees can measure themselves to let them know they’re doing a good job (e.g. for managers, tracking interactions with direct reports).
• Employees need to be involved in developing their own measurables.

Now notice that you should have them active in the measurement process. What does each employee need? And remember, these will vary from employee to employee, even those assigned to the same project. The church janitor may choose as a measureable goal certain cleaning or repair projects that can be measured. The youth director may want to measure how many meaningful one-on-one conversations he has with teens in a month.

3. Knowable (not anonymous)

• People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known, and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in authority.
• It’s much harder to leave a team when you know that people there understand you as an individual.
• The person who can have the most influence on this principle is the manager.
• To know your direct reports, requires you to know you make a difference in their lives.

This is where taking the time to walk around and drop into people’s offices or programs comes in. And, because you come from ministry environment, hopefully this will be intuitive for you. Remember what I began with. Your primary job as a manager is people. It’s your main job to help your people be successful. Most managers think this is technical – that the manager has to be the smartest guy on the block, and supply all the answers when direct reports run into roadblocks. But that’s not it at all. Sure, you can help with some program issues. But real managing has to do with the relational aspects of this. And sadly, that’s where so many managers fall short, because they just don’t get it. Your direct reports need to know you care about them.

• The best way to do this is simply to get to know them. Take time to sit down with each, and ask what’s going on with their lives. This requires empathy and curiosity. This is not a one time thing, but must be demonstrated over and over. If this seems irrelevant to you, then now is probably the time to bring in an executive pastor who can do the people managing piece.


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