Transforming Church Team Blog
resourcing leaders…reenvisioning the future

The Basics: Part 2

Dr. Jim Osterhaus

The Focus of Great Managers

            Let’s switch over to some points that Marcus Buckingham makes (First, Break All the Rules). He used to work for the Gallup organization which has done some important research into good management practices.

            Remember, we’re trying to get the pieces that are critical to building a work environment where people thrive and the work is accomplished. So let’s turn to Buckingham’s  questions, ones that must be answered in the positive by your direct reports, as you build a vibrant work environment.

  • Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  • Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  • Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Note how these dovetail nicely with the points Lencioni made. Now I want to point out several points that are companions to these principles.

Things You Must Do Well…

            You Must be able to Sing. . . especially this refrain:

  • This is why we’re here (the mission)
  • This is what matters most to us in this church (the values)
  • This is where we’re going (the vision), and
  • This is how we’re going to get there (the strategy, and how your project that you’re doing now fits in to the mission, vision, and values).

I don’t really expect you to sing. It’s just a metaphor. But you do have to sing this refrain over and over: the mission of your church, the values or what matters most, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.”

      “Why that song?” you might asked. Because that song allows your people to position their work. Imagine showing up to a job day after day and never really having any sense of why your particular job is important, how it fits into the whole picture of your church. But that is exactly what happens over and over again with people. They trudge off to work, put in their 40 plus a week, gather their pay check, and have no idea how what they do fits into any larger scheme.”

      That is bad, especially if you’re trying to build a top flight work environment. So keep this song in mind at all times. It must be song over and over. Now look at this:

You’re a Coach. Direct the Action

  • First, Select Your Players
  • Set Expectations for Your Players
  • Motivate Your Players

Develop Your Players    

Hopefully this will build on all that we’ve already been saying. So let’s take each one in turn.

First, Select Your Players

            “Let’s think first about getting the right players for your team. Two points to consider when hiring:

Think about what the job requires

–        What is the mission of the organization?

–        How does my unit contribute to that mission?

–        How does this particular job contribute to the mission?

–        What are the particular elements of this job that are critical?

What talents are critical to the fulfillment of this job?

–        When interviewing, listen for specifics. The best predictor of future behavior is frequent past behavior. Ask open-ended, behavioral questions.”

Behavioral interviewing avoids the ‘yes/no’ answers that yields very little useful information. Behavioral questions puts people in situations, and requires them to explain fully a situation. Here’s some examples:

  • Relate an experience where you asked for help in your workplace.
  • What kinds of people give you the most difficulty. Why them?
  • Describe the kind of work that gives you the most satisfaction.
  • Describe the kind of work you like the least.
  • Describe the worst conflict you experienced in a work situation, and how you handled it.
  • Describe, as specifically as possible, the characteristics of an ideal supervisor that would optimally motivate you.
  • Describe the most important feature of a very satisfying work day for you.
  • What personality traits or behaviors in others do you find difficult to accept or like?

So you need to know what the demands of each job are. Then you’ve got to get the people with the right talents. Let’s talk about talent. Buckingham defines talent as an innate ability, which means it can’t be taught. All of us are born with brains that contain unique abilities to filter reality in certain ways. And, there is a limit to how much rewiring can be done to a brain. You can teach people new skills (the how-to’s of a role), point them to new knowledge. But talents are a different matter.

Buckingham has three categories of talents:

  • Striving talents: the why of a person – what motivates?

            Achiever: a drive that is internal, constant, self-               imposed

           Kinesthetic: a need to expend physical energy.

          Stamina: capacity for physical endurance.

          Competence: a need for expertise or master

  • Thinking talents: the how of a person – how does a person comes to decisions?

            Focus: an ability to set goals and use them to focus.

            Discipline: a need to impose structure onto life.

           Arranger: an ability to orchestrate

  • Relating talents: the who of a person – how does a person relate to others?

            Woo: a need to gain the approval of others.

            Empathy: ability to identify the feelings of others.

           Relator: a need to build bonds that last.

            This is by no means the complete list. Just a sampling.  Buckingham’s point is that managers often hire people because they have a great attitude, but don’t have the talent to pull off the job. They’re then sent to endless workshops to hopefully bring them up to speed, but this never works. ‘You can’t put in what God left out’ someone once said.

People Don’t Change That Much

            Emblazon that in your brain, it’ll spare you a lot of grief as you attempt to select and develop people. In fact, the very best way to know how a person will perform in the future is to know how they’ve performed in the past. That’s basically what your interviewing of people needs to be about.”

Set Expectations for Your Players

            Let’s move on now to expectations. As a coach, you’ve got to be able to be clear with your team about the expectations. So let’s see what’s here. Did you know that fewer than 50% of employees claim they know what is expected of them at work? That’s an amazing statistic! And I find that over and over in church situations where I work, there are no clear expectations laid out for the staff. So let’s plow into expectations. Several points that are critical here:

  • Define the Right Outcomes. Don’t dictate how work should be done! There is no such thing as a ‘best way’ to do anything. Your first instinct must be to trust the people you’ve selected, and let them, in their own uniqueness, get to the outcomes you have clearly delineated for them.
  • Define how each employee will contribute to those outcomes.
  • Communicate those expectations continually.

–        Meet with employees 4/5 times a year to check progress, offer advice, and agree on course corrections.

This brings us to performance evaluations. If they have them at all, most church performance evaluations are subjective to the point of being worthless. Performance evaluations should be comprised of specific criteria that is observable and hopefully measurable (remember what we said in the last blog about measurable). A list of about 15 competencies is a good number, with four behavioral anchors under each to be scored by the manager (you) and the direct report prior to the face-to-face conversation. Probably five or six of the competencies will be those that are expected of everyone on staff. And the rest will be targeted at each person. Here’s an example:

Is curious and seeks to learn (competency)

  1. Seeks a wide range of learning experiences.
  2. Continually seeks clarification by asking good questions.
  3. Demonstrates, over time, that changes have been incorporated into his/her behavior.
  4. Shows curiosity for a wide range of subjects.

In the next blog we’ll talk about how to motivate your people.


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