Not too long ago, I read an article by the Vanderbloemen Search Group entitled, 10 Ways to Lose Great Staff Members. It was informative and revealed some helpful approaches to retaining quality leaders. Vanderbloemen’s piece inspired me to write a similar post with a little different spin.
While misguided standards and practices are detrimental to keeping great staff members, the inverse is also true. Sound approaches and values can weed out and protect an organization from bad personnel. Unhealthy staff members just can’t function, hide their toxicity or survive in a healthy environment.
I’ve been around leadership for the entirety of my life. My Dad was a senior pastor and I’ve been in the crucible of full-time vocational ministry for the last 15 years. I’m currently the lead pastor of a local church and I fully understand the importance of keeping a great staff member and the blessing of losing a bad one.
So, if you want to lose a bad staff member (and you may not even know you need to), here are six ways to do it:
1. Don’t Say “Yes” All the Time
Lazy, inefficient leaders require instant gratification. But not every request warrants or deserves an affirmative response. Some things need to wait and some probably don’t need to happen at all. Great staff members accept and understand that hearing “no” is part of the leadership journey and can open the door for a bigger “yes” later.
2. Set High Goals and Motivate Them to Achieve
Poor leaders are naysayers. Health care expert, Tricia Cunningham once proclaimed, “The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.” People that want to excel are not contrarians to possibility and potential. They can take coaching and motivation that will help them achieve great things. If your goals don’t scare you a little, it’s time to adjust them upward.
3. Embrace Challenging Times
Difficult circumstances, especially those of the traumatic kind, reveal character, depth and endurance in team members. Poor leaders are overwhelmed by life and just can’t get going when it takes a demanding turn.
4. Hold Them Accountable
It is true that great leaders are inspired by the freedom to fail, but they also realize that perpetual failure and willful negligence is not indicative of excellence. A poor leader calls accountability “micromanagement” or “meddling” and will demand that you constantly tolerate their subpar effort.
5. Consistently Talk About Growth and Change
Poor leaders, like mosquitoes, flourish in stagnation. It’s the perfect environment for reproduction and continual sucking of the life blood from your organization. Growth and progression require confidence, faith and humility. Movement changes things, which dictates higher levels of leadership and decision-making. As the saying goes, it separates the adults from the children. The Christian life and seeking to be like Him is transformative. Losing a leader who doesn’t want to be a part of that is a good thing.
6. Create a Prayer Culture
When a team prays together, they grow closer to God and each other. Prayer is intimate and can be unsettling to someone not interested in authenticity and relationship. People that you want on your team, in the trenches with you everyday, are not afraid of being vulnerable and seeking God through purposeful prayer.
March was a paradoxical month. It was strangely difficult on one hand but beautifully enlightening on the other. I had surgery and spent a lot of time incapacitated, weak and away from any sense of normalcy. However, God never fails to teach even when we’d like for him to choose other means. Here is what I took away from the third stanza of 2014:
Growth is Growth
Sometimes we grow through mistakes and correction. Other times we mature through investment and mentoring. Then there are the outlying seasons when external factors invade and we learn through pain and heartache. God can use it all for his good and for our development as people. Growth is growth regardless of how it comes to our lives.
Tough Times Can Bring Unexpected Friends
It is true that hard times show who our real friends are and this truth typically points out those that couldn’t hang with us. But tough times can also uncover a few friends that we didn’t expect, a person or two thought to be on the fringes that step up when we need it most. Gaining an unexpected friend is like finding a hidden treasure.
Building a Team Pays Off
A good team doesn’t happen by osmosis. It is hard work. You gather people that have character, competence and dedication and you try to remain optimistic about the future. You coach, invest and encourage. Then something happens that tests the resolve and character of your team. People come together, big things get accomplished and your crew surpasses all expectations you had for them. That’s when the hard work of building a team is worth every second.
I’m prayerful that my daughter would never have cause to say the following 6 things:
1. Please Spend Time with Me
There are few things more valuable in the life of a child. Quality time can be a difference maker in their emotional and spiritual development. Proficient event planning or doubling as a character at Disney is not necessary to make an impact. Just being together often will pay life long dividends.
2. You Don’t Practice What You Preach
Duplicity is a killer. Nobody’s perfect but honesty and transparency must be central. It positively shapes the behavior and worldview of a child especially when it comes to morals, ethics and values. They are always watching the action that comes after the words.
3. Being At Home Is A Bummer
It’s proven that children are affected by the moods of their parents. Life is not always puppies and kittens, but a nurturing attitude seen in Mom and Dad creates a safe environment and laughter makes home a desirable place.
4. We Never Talk About Stuff
Raising kids well involves probing into their daily world and asking questions about their lives, relationships and activities. It’s not a bother, it’s parenting. It demonstrates care and opens healthy lines of communication.
5. You Stopped Praying
It’s easy to start praying when they are small but it is another thing to keep praying as they get older. Prayer is often a kid’s first grasp of a relationship with God so continuing it as they mature can be vital to spiritual growth. It also maintains intimacy with Christ and each other. The family that prays together… you know the rest.
6. Do You Love Me?
If this question comes down the pipe, chances are it’s too late to clear it up in one moment. This undoubtedly came from a pattern of behavior and words or omissions of the same. This statement should never be dismissed regardless of its validity.
Fred Phelps, the founder of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS died of unknown causes last Thursday in his home. Phelps entered the public eye in 1991 when he and his church began organizing malicious protests against homosexuals, jews and evangelicals like Billy Graham, who he deemed a false prophet. WBC also staged demonstrations at military funerals, stating that soldiers deserved to die for defending a corrupt government.
I even had the misfortune of an encounter with Phelps’ contingent while on staff at Liberty University in 2000. I was walking across campus on a normal afternoon when I spotted an angry crowd of people standing along the main thoroughfare. As I shuffled past, they were shouting unintelligible things and holding signs that contained some repulsive, off-color stuff. The scene was every bit random as it was disturbing.
I later learned that WBC was still miffed over an anti-violence forum that Liberty hosted the previous year involving evangelical leaders and representatives of the gay community. They apparently hated the thought of a peaceful dialogue between opposing views on sexuality and a change in the way both sides approached each other. So they loaded up the van and decided to come yell offensive things at naive college students.
Upon hearing the news of Phelps’ passing, this disgraceful memory of his followers came rushing back to me along with this thought: hatred and animosity never convinces anyone of anything. It doesn’t rightly move people. It is the improper motive of a truth bearer and a false representation of Jesus and his grace poured out on the cross.
But the world does move at the sight of love. It bends before it in awe. That’s why 1 Corinthians 13:1 emphatically states that we can be as eloquent as a poet, but without love, we will resemble a loud, exasperating noise with no substance. Noise is all I heard that day on the sidewalk. It was agonizing clatter that failed to inspire, motivate or effect lasting change because it did not have a mere breath of love.
The only thing Fred Phelps ever convinced the world of was his abject bigotry, affection for conflict and the fact that, although he called himself a Christian, his life and leadership were wildly incongruent with the person of Christ. The world is convinced that is his legacy. Noise is all they heard.