Category Archives: Team

Staffing for Excellence

hire church business staff

The Right Staff Will Create a Great Team

Hiring the right staff is so important to the health and growth of your organization. Whether you you are a church, a small business owner or the CEO of a large company, the right people make all the difference.  I have had and currently have the pleasure of hiring and working with some fabulous people (both at South Hills and in my business life). I have also had the disappointment and headaches associated with hiring people who were not a good fit for my team. Below is an article featuring an interview from Tony Morgan and William Vanderbloemen with some great tips to finding and hiring the right staff for your organization. The article is church specific, but the most of the information is great for the business world as well.

“An Interview with Tony Morgan and William Vanderbloemen”
by Dan Reiland

As an executive pastor I’ve been hiring staff for over twenty years. I’m still learning. My experience is extensive, but I still make mistakes. Let’s be candid, hiring the right people is complicated. There is no formula or textbook that can give you the seven steps to create a “happily ever after” story every time.

Since I like to learn, I asked two friends of mine, Tony Morgan and William Vanderbloemen if they would agree to an interview. They both have considerable pastoral experience and also have special expertise in hiring as part of a professional search firm. VanderbloemenSearch

Both William and Tony have come to 12Stone to teach a leadership lesson to our ministry staff, and they have become trusted advisors and good friends. Let me introduce you to each one, and then share the interview with you.

William is the president of the Vanderbloemen Search Group. He has over 15 years of ministry experience as a senior pastor of three churches ranging in size from 350 to over 5,000. He has also served as a manager of human resources at a Fortune 200 corporation, and learned executive search from a mentor with twenty-five years of top-level search experience. William, his wife Adrienne, their seven children, and two poodles (one small who thinks she’s big, and one big who thinks he is a lap dog) live in Houston, Texas. In his free time, William enjoys running, working out, and caddying for his kids, who are now better golfers than he is. As an avid social networker you can contact him at http://twitter.com/wvanderbloemen.

Tony serves on the leadership team of West Ridge Church near Atlanta. He’s also a strategist, writer and consultant who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact. For more than 10 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at NewSpring Church and Granger Community Church. Tony used to be in local government for about ten years before he transitioned into ministry. In his last role, he was a city manager where he was responsible for a staff of 150 employees and a $20 million budget. Tony and his wife, Emily, reside near Atlanta, Georgia with their four children–Kayla, Jacob, Abby and Brooke. You can follow Tony’s writing on a variety of topics including his disdain for country music at tonymorganlive.com.

1. Why is hiring the right people so difficult?

Tony – As pastors, we don’t hire that often and therefore we aren’t highly practiced at it. So, for many, that means not being very good at it. Further, our wiring as pastors tends to cause us to see the best in people and the good in general. That’s good, but we also need a discerning eye in order to assess the right skills for the right job, and be able to quickly spot those who are not the right fit.

William – People are afraid to make a mistake, and fear is a bad ingredient in the hiring process. For those I’ve met who are not afraid, they often rush into it and hire someone they know and feel comfortable with rather than doing a thorough search. In contrast, when you do a comprehensive job interviewing several top candidates your chances of making a good decision increase exponentially.

2. What are the costs and impacts of hiring the wrong person?

Tony – When you choose new staff members poorly you are often choosing to cause good people to leave your team. Maybe not right away, but the good ones will not stay if you begin to hire low-performance players onto your team. Hiring the wrong person causes loss of momentum. It’s destabilizing to the team, and you can easily lose 12-18 months of what could have been a highly productive season.

William – I recently read a study from the corporate world that said you lose a minimum of ten times the salary that you pay the person when you make a bad hire and need to fire them. I think it’s more in the church. The relational, political, and vision loss is so great that the total cost is nearly incalculable, especially the higher the level of responsibility. It’s almost better not to hire than to hire wrong.

3. What are the qualities you look for in sharp ministry leaders?

Tony – Off the top, I want to see a leadership gift, ability to build teams, and shared vision and values of the organization. Let me give you a fuller answer by directing you to a blog post that you might find helpful on this question. tonymorganlive.com

William – First, I believe this is much more art than science, so it really depends on what the church needs more than a set list of characteristics. I consider hiring as important as an organ transplant. Using this metaphor, nearly half of what I do is finding the right donor list, but more than half is making sure I find the right tissue match. If I don’t, the body will reject it. That said, in general, I like to see spiritual agility, loyalty to the mission and leadership, and their past performance really matters to me. That is the best indicator of what they will do in the future.

4. Describe a big hiring mistake you have made as a pastor in the local church.

Tony – I had a situation where I was hiring someone for a director level position in a specialized role. His resume said he was exactly what we needed. But some red flags came up during the interviews. He said he was a detailed and systems guy – which the job required. All other indicators, however, including his profile testing, said he was much more of a people person. The mistake I made was that I did not pay attention to my gut. I didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit promptings, the assessments, and what I was intuitively picking up in the interviews.

William – Well, I’ve made the classic mistakes. I’ve hired too fast and fired too slow. But one that comes to mind is that I hired three guys right out of seminary at the same time. They were my dream team, or that was my dream. They were sharp, but highly inexperienced. They were talented, but I didn’t realize how much training they would require and I didn’t have the margin to give it to them. I wasn’t able to carry out that responsibility and that was a big mistake.

5. Do you recommend talking about salary up front, or deeper into the process?

Tony – For me, the issue is about being called, and the salary factor comes in later. It’s about the right fit and whether or not God wants them on the team. If it’s a fit, I might consider adjusting the compensation, if we can, in order to get the right person. But it raises a red flag if the person is too interested in the financial package too soon.

William – It depends on the situation, but in general, I agree with Tony. I want to know if they are called, rather than in it for the money. On occasion, however, there are circumstances that call for discussing salary up front. For example, if a large gap is anticipated between what we offer and what they expect – we might at least address that in general up front, but then do real details later.

6. You both are pastors, but also serve as part of a search firm. In what ways does your company help us hire the right people?

William and Tony – The first one is time. Most pastors we talk to just don’t have the time to do what it takes to hire well. The second is that we are in touch with a broader base of people to choose from. One more benefit is that we’re good at it. We have much more time at bat. We are practiced, so we have developed some skills that most church leaders haven’t had time to cultivate. We help you avoid costly mistakes.

Thanks to both Tony and William. This is such an important topic! Hiring smart is the first step toward building great church staff teams!!

As a side note; we have used VanderbloemenSearch here at South Hills and have love the results. I highly recommend them!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”  – Larry Bossidy

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Success and Leadership Principles We Can Learn From Baseball

success lessons from baseball

Lessons from the Great American Pass Time

My son and I just completed our annual trek to visit baseball stadiums across the country. We are on a journey to see a major league game in each of the 30 stadiums. This year we were at 24, 25and 26! With so much baseball on my mind, I thought this would be the perfect time to write about the many leadership/success lessons to be learned from the greatest sport in the world. (I’m not biased at all!) I have sourced excerpts from two different articles for the information.

Baseball and Leadership

Baseball is a game of resilience. Last night: 0 for 4. Hit into a double play, struck out, grounded out and hit to a fielder’s choice. Tomorrow, you have to dig back into the batter’s box and go after it again. Positions of leadership require the same resilience and short term memory. You may get beat up pretty good today. Customer complaint, union grievance, three people called in sick, budget cuts and useless meeting. Tomorrow, you dig back in and go after again.

Baseball is a game of adaptability. First time up the guy blasted an inside fastball 450 feet into the left field seats. Second time up, fast ball away, slider away and cutter down. When methods do not yield the desired results, baseball players adapt. Great leaders are also adaptable. When a coaching method does not provide fruit, they change the approach. When they are not connecting with a team member, they examine and modify their style. Great leaders are situational adapters based on the needs of team members and the need of the organization.

Baseball is a game of inherent unfairness. The offensive player stands alone against nine members of the opposition. The batter has no idea what is coming. Even with best effort and contact, the chances of success range from 25% to 35%. Leaders face the same long odds. Their highest objective is to achieve victory and results when they face of group of competing goals.

Baseball is a game that rewards the clever. As with adaptability, baseball games often hinge on the smallest and most ingenious plays. A pick-off at first base. A hit and run with two outs. A squeeze bunt. Leaders too will be rewarded for cleverness. Rather than simply replicating the results of predecessors or maintaining the status quo, the modern leader is required to seek different and creative methods and solutions.

Baseball is a beautiful when played well. The pivot at second base during a double play. A two hit shut-out. The towering magnificence of a three run, walk-off home run. Leadership is also a beautiful thing to behold when it is done well. All team members functioning within their roles like a symphony and the leader is the conductor. Minor adjustments are being made and the system is running on all cylinders. Performance is peak. Dysfunction is non-existent.
www.evancarmichael.com/Human-Resources/3485/Baseball-and-Leadership.html

Leadership lessons from the Baseball Field

Some would consider the 1971 Macon Ironmen High School Baseball team as the “Hoosiers” of high school baseball. The coach, Lynn Sweet, an English teacher with no baseball experience was the last resort for a group of players on the verge of having their program eliminated. The great thing about Coach Sweet is that he did not let his ego or those that scoffed at his unconventional coaching methods get in the way. He implemented a powerful combination of collaboration and authoritative leadership, which focused on the best result for the team and left individual egos on the bench.

Sweet had a special effect on all the kids. He threw batting practice and played pickup games with the boys; other times he let them run their own practices, watching from the bench, so they’d feel empowered by the independence.  He cultivated a teaching style which balanced discipline with collaboration and discussion, allowing all voices and talents to be seen and heard.

He believed that there’s a lot to be learned in defeat. And determined success by how much the kids enjoyed themselves, rather than just how much they won. He also fostered a sense of community and encouraged the boys to do things together outside of baseball, enabling them to build their relationships.

As a result of Coach Sweet’s leadership style, the baseball team of Macon High School went on to the 1971 Illinois State Championship. And even though he never measured success just by the number of games won, they beat many baseball teams. Teams from schools four times their size, with more resources, more experience and more exposure to competition. The one thing that Coach Sweet had over all of his competition was superior leadership. Through his balance between collaboration and authoritative leadership he was able to create a vision for the Macon baseball team that everyone else saw as impossible, including the players. But once he was able to have them experience success based on his unconventional coaching methods, the players started to buy into this impossible dream.

Though they did not win the State Championship, the experience for the coach and the players left a lasting leadership imprint for the rest of their lives. Coach Sweet is a great example for all of us. His actions exemplified those of a Conscious Leader™. Balancing collaboration with authoritative leadership in a purposeful and intentional manner, he allowed the individual talents to shine. Each player had the freedom to make mistakes and grow from their experiences. Furthermore, he made sure that the players were accountable to each other and played for the spirit of the team. Whether we are a coach, parent, CEO or manager it is our responsibility to understand our abilities and our team’s abilities and to create a compelling vision. True inspiration will lead the team to maximize their talent so the “team” can accomplish their vision.
info.farrleadership.com/bid/47190/Leadership-lessons-from-the-Baseball-Field

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“I know how I feel about baseball. That’s the easy part. But communicating with people is what’s important.” – Terry Francona

Encouraging Leadership

Encourage team

Encouragement provides the emotional fuel that enables people to hold longer, reach farther and dig deeper .

In a recent article Dan Reiland perfectly articulated  important role encouragement plays in the life of any true leader. I have found these principles true of any great leader I have ever been in contact with. It is one of the key qualities of a good leader, and so, I encourage you to be an encourager.

“51% of Leadership”

Encouragement provides the emotional fuel that enables people to hold longer, reach farther and dig deeper than previously believed possible. Encouragement is 51% of leadership. As a leader, your role is to lift people, to build them up and help them believe in themselves in a way greater than they have before. So let me ask you a question. Do others see you as an encourager?

Encouragement imparts courage. My call to ministry came from the highly encouraging leadership of Dr. Orval Butcher, then pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church located in a suburb of San Diego, CA. Pastor Butcher believed in me, perhaps more than I believed in myself at that time. I was a Criminal Justice Administration major in college, but God spoke to Pastor about a different plan for my life. I didn’t have enough faith or courage to hear God for myself in the early stages of my call. I knew I loved the church and invested huge amounts of time serving in the College Ministry but didn’t know if I wanted the “life of a pastor.” Pastor Butcher’s encouraging words made the difference and enabled me to hear God’s voice on my own.

Encouragement isn’t something that you do from a checklist of “things to do today.” It’s a way of life for a leader. Encouragement is not a soft expression from a weak leader. The toughest of leaders understand that it’s something core to sustained success. Essentially, encouragement comes from a deep love and belief in people and a desire to see them experience life in a better way.

• Leaders who are encouragers naturally draw people to them.

Let me raise the bar of definition for encouragement. As a leader in a local church, if you are an encourager, when you are in a public setting, people will naturally migrate to you. This is not about a charismatic personality. It doesn’t matter if five people seek you out or fifty-five people seek you out. The point is that people will physically move to you because you cause their life to be a little brighter. I’m not talking about people who want permission, an extension cord or keys to the offices, but people who just want to be around you!

Let’s be honest, life is wonderful but it’s difficult. Isn’t it? Got bills? How’s your health? Do you have kids? Nough said! Life is good, but it has plenty of challenges. Life will press people down, so anyone who consistently lifts people up (sincerely) gains the ability to influence—meaning to lead!

If you are a leader in a local church and people don’t migrate to you, there is a reason. You need to discover what it is. Ask someone you trust, who loves you, and will tell the truth. For now, start encouraging others. Do it sincerely and often.

• Leaders who are encouragers communicate with a positive bias.

John Maxwell is the most positive person I know. He has high faith in people and sees life for its potential over its problems. He’s not delusional. John does know that life can be difficult. He just refuses to get stuck there. We were in Israel (February 2010) and John’s knee had been bothering him as a result of knee surgery. Climbing all the hills and steps from Masada to Jerusalem was a challenge! But not for one moment did that deter him from great leadership on the trip, serving people, (including Baptizing dozens of people in the Jordan,) and creating fun all along the way. You just never hear John complain. That’s the way it is with an encouraging leader, they communicate with a positive bias.

I’m not talking about a syrupy salesman type who promises the moon and delivers little, but a leader who knows a smile and a “can do” attitude goes a long way in any endeavor. I’m sure you’ve met leaders who seem to want to tell you how much work they have to do, how tired they are and how hot it is outside! They are not encouragers. Perhaps you have a lot of work to do, you may be tired, and it may be scorching hot outside where you live, but people don’t want to hear that. They already experience that themselves! I’m not suggesting lack of authenticity. You need to be real. You need a few close friends who you can blow off some steam with. But in general, if you want to lead, you must communicate with a positive bias. People need hope!

• Leaders who are encouragers are quick to invest generously in others.

I love telling this story about one of my mentors and encouragers – Keith Drury. He’s a professor in the Ministry Department at Indiana Wesleyan University. They call him Coach D! When I was a skinny kid with lots of dark brown hair, (My how things change), Keith demonstrated such generosity that marked my life for good. I was young and clueless in ministry and Keith was pouring leadership into a group of us young guys. I didn’t have any money and he knew there was a cool leadership conference I needed to attend. After our meeting, he handed me a book to read and stuffed it in my briefcase. When I later opened it, I found two one hundred dollar bills stapled inside with a note that said, basically, I believe in you, and see you at the conference!! I was blown away, that’s a lot of money but back then, it was a ton of money! More than the money was Keith’s investment of time and encouragement in me. The investment has dividends even to this day!

• Leaders who are encouragers know the value of spiritual encouragement.

Jump into the book of Acts with me. 19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Acts 11:19-24

Barnabas is a spiritual encourager. He intentionally looked for “evidence” of grace and encouraged the people about their spiritual progress, and to remain committed in their faith. Perhaps it goes without saying, but encouraging people in their faith is at the very epicenter of your role as a spiritual leader. Your main job is not to grow a church, it is to grow people. When this happens your church moves forward and the Kingdom advances!

• Leaders who are encouragers are grateful for what they have.

As a leader, I find that I am often not satisfied with “where we are” but I am consistently content with “what I have.” This is more than semantics for me. I don’t think it’s generally in the nature of a leader to be satisfied. Leaders are progress oriented. Yet, we must be content with what we have in the moment or gratitude is lost in the process. And gratitude is an essential attribute of leaders who are encouragers.

If you, as a leader, focus on what you don’t have, it will be very difficult for you to encourage others toward who they are to become. I call this competing leadership energy. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you can’t pour your energy into what others need because those others become part of the solution to get you what you want. When you are grateful for what you have, you naturally are freer to encourage others. Bottom line, you can’t encourage if you are not an encouraged person yourself.

Take all this in knowing that leaders, even the best of the encouragers, occasionally have a bad day. That’s normal. But a leader will do whatever it takes, to get through it and over it, and get back in the game. That’s my encouragement to you. You will have an occasional difficult day, but it’s all worth it. Get some counsel from a friend, shake it off, remember your calling and keep on going.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


Why Teams Fail to Meet Goals

goals success or fail

Why did your team fail to meet goals?

If you are a leader or a member of a team I am sure that you have set team goals.  The organization I operate begins to set goals in October and November for the following year.  These goals serve as a guide to direct us and as a thermometer to evaluate the progress of our organization.

If you do this (and I hope you do) you have probably experienced the frustration of teams not achieving the goals that have been set and you wonder why. Why is it that the team failed to meet the goal?  Why did they lose enthusiasm during the journey?  Where did the team or the leader go wrong?

Below are some reasons “why teams fail to meet goals:”

*  Too many goals
If you come away from your planning sessions with pages and pages of goals, most often the team will only meet a few, if any.  Make sure that you keep the goals focused.  Don’t set your team up for failure…set them up for success.  Make the goals slightly out of their reach.  This will cause your team to work harder and dream bigger.

*  Not enough accountability
Do you set goals as a leader and then fail to follow up on them?  If you do, then your team members will sense that that the goals weren’t all that important.  Set goals and then put into place a system of accountability.  Weekly or monthly is up to you, but make sure that you visit your goals and the progress frequently. This will keep your team accountable and it will cause them to take the goals more seriously.

*  Too much leniency
How do you react when a team member doesn’t reach a goal?  Do you simply say “that’s ok, you’ll do better next time.”  Obviously you want to be encouraging and not verbally badger your team, however they do need to feel responsible for not reaching the objective.  They need to understand that it is not acceptable and begin to possess a sense of urgency about the poor results.

*  No strategic plan to reach the goal
We spend time setting the goals, but little or no time creating a strategy to reach them.  That would be like a pilot leaving Los Angeles and setting his destination for Denver and not putting together a plan.  No flight schedule, no thought of fuel, no checking on weather conditions.  The pilot has a goal, but no strategy to successfully obtain it.  When you set goals with your team create a strategy to obtain the goal.  Break the big goal down into small steps and keep the team accountable to each step throughout the journey.  These small victories will motivate them to the end result.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

Inspiring Creativity from Your Team

Throwing Ideas

Get your team together and throw some creative ideas around!

Your team is a lot more creative than you give them credit for.  As a matter of fact, you are probably a lot more creative than you give “yourself” credit for.  Most of the time we do not realize our creative potential because we never take the time to truly be creative.  We rarely set aside a few hours with our staff, key leaders or team and simply “create.”  Stand in an empty room with a white board and say “what could we do that we are not doing now?”

One of the greatest joys I have is when I get to create with my staff.  When we begin to brainstorm and let ideas flow.  The process is thrilling as I watch my team begin to create, think differently and come up with ideas that have never been exercised in our organization.  A free flowing environment is a joy to be in and to lead. One of the greatest things you can do is to begin hosting monthly creative meetings, where you and your team are allowed to create in a non-threatening strategy session.  But if you are going to have these kinds of meetings you will need to have the following “rules of engagement” in order.  These rules are adapted by Craig Wilson from his talk on “Recapturing your creative spirit.”

1)  No blocking
When your team is having a creative strategy session there can be “no blocking.”  This simply means that you cannot continually put up roadblocks for the other person’s idea.  For instance if someone says “Lets do this or that.”  You don’t say “Where will we get the money or we don’t have the personnel.”  That is critical thinking and that is a step you take later.  Let people flow with ideas and don’t block them with reasons “why” it won’t work.

2)  Yes and…
When someone is flowing with ideas help the idea to grow by saying “yes and…”  In other words if you were working on putting together a banquet and someone had an idea, instead of blocking their idea say “yes and…we could also do this.”  When you use the principle of “yes and…”it helps to initiate creative momentum.

3)  More ideas
Take your ideas and have your team write them down on small post-its and put them all over the walls.  This will allow people to see the ideas that are flowing.  But once you have begun working on ideas, don’t stop; come up with even more ideas.  Often people get into a box and they begin to think only in beige.  The people on your team need to think in color.  As I said earlier, “your team is a lot more creative then you think.”

4)  Wild ideas
These are the kind of ideas that are almost embarrassing to speak out loud.  But they may be the ideas that your team needs to hear.  Encourage the people in the meeting that everyone has to be open about every wild idea.  You need the kind of ideas that others have thought before but were too afraid to voice.  Help your team to see the value of these crazy and wild ideas.

5)  Critical thinking
This is where you begin to take all the ideas that have been voiced by the team and begin to work them out into a plan of action.  The thing you will notice is that you don’t need to say “this idea won’t work,” or “that was a dumb idea.”  You won’t need to say this, because the team will just naturally begin to discuss the ideas that resonate in each of their hearts.  The process of elimination will happen without you having to push for it.

Why don’t you schedule a time with your team right now.  Set aside a couple of hours and work on a project together or some goals for the future.  Have a big white board to write on and a pad of post-its for everyone.  Let them begin to write ideas out, place them on the wall and let the creative session get big and wild.  You will have a blast and your team will begin to realize their creative potential.  The end result will be that the floor of beige will open up in your organization and loud, vibrant colors of creativity will come bursting through.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:

“Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. Effective leaders are able to shake up their thinking as though their brains are kaleidoscopes, permitting an array of different patterns out of the same bits of reality.” –  Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Building a group of climbing companions

reaching the topwith a team

Having the right team exponentially increases your chanses of a sucessful climb

Exert from In Search of Higher Ground

Whatever your Higher Ground may be, starting a business, advancing a career, financial freedom or whatever your dream is, your greatest asset and richest experience will always be people. Never underestimate the need of people in your life. I have a friend who runs a very large organization and has multiple people under his supervision. Recently while talking with him, he told me that he has made a habit of investing in people’s lives. Over the past 25 years he has written on the average of 40 handwritten letters per day. Letters to friends, colleagues, employees, executives, customers, family, and anyone else who came to his mind. I began to think about all of the people he has invested in. People that he has encouraged when they were down, said thank you for a job well done, and said congratulations when they had accomplished a task. He has undoubtedly built a large network of people that believe in him, because he first believed in them.

With all of the investing he has done in people’s lives, I wonder if when a need arises in his life, how long it will take for people to rally to his side? If he needed financial assistance, wanted to build a team, needed advice, wanted to open a door that seemed to be shut, or was in need of a favor, he could very easily have hundreds of people by his side ready to help when he called out. Why is this possible? Because he has invested in people’s lives…

My friend has not made the tragic mistake that many make. First, he has not burned any bridges. In other words, his life has been spent living with integrity and investing in people’s lives. People often burn bridges with others and soon they find themselves without a bridge to cross. (We will talk more about how to build bridges a little later in this chapter.) Second, he has not looked at one person and said, “I don’t need you, or you don’t matter.” He has realized that every person is loaded with potential. When you negatively or positively affect people, you not only are affecting them, you will ultimately affect who they influence…

Everyone has potential to do great and wonderful things. They are unique creatures of God that are made to do wonderful works. The job of someone who “connects” with others is to help them understand and believe in their abilities. To help them realize they are a well of fresh water that is waiting to be tapped.

When you think of the familiar saying, “What goes around, comes around,” you tend to think of negative actions. If you are dishonest, lie or cheat, in the end it will come back to haunt you. But have you ever thought of using this familiar saying with a positive action? For instance, if I sow seeds of success in other people’s lives, then according to this adage I will reap success for my own. This is true! If you will help those you are connected with succeed in their lives, you will never lack success in your own.

Until Next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Finding what motivates the people on your team

find what motivates

The people you work with are not copies of each other!

I have two wonderful children whom I adore.  They are fun to be with and make me laugh.  I couldn’t imagine life without them.  I have learned however, that they respond differently to my approaches to them.  They laugh at different things, respond differently to various forms of disciplined, are encouraged in different ways and are motivated by different methods.  I cannot get the same results by doing the same thing to each of them.

The same is true with those you work with – they are motivated by different things.  The way you encourage and motivate one is not the way you may do it to another.  They are different people and they have been made differently by their creator.  So it only seems logical that you would want to find the most effective method for motivating them.  These principles are true no matter the size or type of organization you lead.

Hear are a list of seven ways people are motivated.  I am confident one or more of them will fit everyone on your team.

1)  The need for achievement
Some are motivated by success.  When you give them a task and they complete it, they are ready for the next assignment.  They are primarily self-motivate and the satisfaction of accomplishments motivates them even more.

2)  The need for power
These people love to be in charge.  They are motivated by the opportunity to make decisions and direct projects.  They like to lead and persuade others.  When put in the proper balance, these individuals may become your greatest asset.

3)  The need for affiliation
These individuals derive satisfaction from interacting with others.  They enjoy people and find the social aspects of the workplace rewarding.  You can motivate people like this by giving them opportunities to serve on a team, task force group and so on.

4)  The need for autonomy
These people want freedom and independence.  If you can trust them, then you allow them to set their schedules and make a variety of choices.  They work better independently and will produce more if allow them to operate on their own.

5)  The need for esteem
These individuals simply find motivation from praise and recognition.  Give them ample feedback and public recognition and they will stay motivated and become great producers for you.

6)  The need for safety and security
These people crave dependability.  They want a steady income, health insurance and the security to know that they will be taken care of.  They most likely will not be your risk takers, but if you give them a sense of security they will be loyal and productive.

7)  The need for equity
These people want to be treated fairly.  They are most likely to compare work hours, benefits, pay, offices and privileges.  Treat them fairly and they will treat you with great results.

Until next week,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE WEEK:
“The person who knows “how” will always have a job. The person who knows “why” will always be his boss.”
Diane Ravitch

When Dealing with Difficult People

Dealing with difficult people

Don't give them the satisfaction of lowering yourself to their standard.

Regardless of your profession, you will always deal with difficult people. People that rub you the wrong way, get under your skin and stand on your last nerve. People that bring more joy into your life when they exit the room, then when they enter. The question is not whether you will have these people in your life; the question is how you will handle it?

In dealing with these types of people the objective is not about who is winning or losing or who is right or wrong. The objective is about understanding. Stephen Covey once wrote, “Seek first to understand, before trying to be understood.” These words possess the solution to dealing with difficult people. Because even when a person is wrong, they still felt there was a reason for them to get upset.

Here are a few tips that may help you when dealing with difficult people:

1) Don’t join the fight
Difficult people can often yell, be sarcastic, be critical, and say harsh words to you or about you. Do not join in their game. Don’t give them the satisfaction of lowering yourself to their standard. You have to do what’s right even when they do what’s wrong.

2) Let them talk their feelings out

They may need to vent a little and you may need to listen. You may not agree or you may feel they’re in the wrong, but their emotions won’t be satisfied until they’re expressed.

3) Seek to understand
Why is it that they act the way they act? What is it inside of them that creates this problem? Are they insecure? Do they need recognition? Are they hurt from a past relationship? People act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs about themselves. Understand this and it will help you along in the process.

4) Ask them for advice
People love to hear themselves talk and they love it even more if their opinion is being valued. If there is a problem, ask them what they feel the solution is and what steps need to be taken to resolve the problem. Even if their solution makes no logical sense, it will allow them to be involved in the resolving process.

5) Apologize when necessary
You need to take a hard look inside of yourself and discover if there is anything that is creating a problem or causing difficulty for the person. A good leader always looks in the mirror before they look out the window. What part of the problem might you be contributing?  Is there anything that you could own and take responsibility for?

People are your greatest asset and it’s your job as their leader to keep your people moving forward with optimistic energy. People are going to be difficult, personalities are going to clash, because that is a part of life. But, if you will work hard at working with people, then people will work hard for you!

Until next week,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“Instead of giving people a piece of your mind, give them a piece of your positive attitude.”

– Ben Franklin

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? Part 1

Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader and leadership

How often do we make mistakes that are not much smarter than 5th graders?

The Fox Network has a T.V. game show titled “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?”  The game is hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy and the game works like this.  Adult contestants have to answer a series of questions that are found in the text books of elementary age students ranging from 1st- 5th grade.  The more questions they can answer the more money they can win.  There is also a small panel of actual 5th graders that the adult contestant can call upon (only 3 times during the game) for help.  The humor of the show is that the 5th graders have the correct answer more often than the adults.  A matter of fact, the 5th graders rarely miss a question.  When the contestant doesn’t reach the million dollar prize, he or she must look into the camera and say “I am not smarter than a 5th grader.”

While watching the show recently I began to think about the title in the context of leadership.  How often do we make mistakes that are not much smarter than 5th graders?  As I talk to leaders everywhere, I am amazed by some of their stories of foolish decisions and actions made in the corporate world.  These foolish mistakes have been made by all of us, including me.  I have listed some things you can do to help you avoid the most common leadership blunders.

1)  Focus on more than yourself

Often leaders make the mistake (consciously or sub-consciously) of focusing on their personal gain and what is best for them.  A true leader is not only concerned about their well being but also shows great concern about the individuals and organization they lead.  William Rando, who runs the Office of Teaching Fellow Preparation and Development,” at Yale University said that you must always ask, “What are my students going to do today?”  He was simply expressing his intelligent opinion that if you are going to lead you must be concerned about the life of those you are responsible to lead.

2)  Praise publicly and reprimand privately

Sometimes a weak leader will attempt to flex his or her authority muscle by reprimanding publicly rather then privately.  Don’t make this mistake.  You don’t want to degrade the people on your team.  Make it a practice to praise them publicly.  Be generous about your praise.  It doesn’t cost you anything and the pay back is great.  Also, when reprimanding, do it privately.  There is no need to make a spectacle of the person in whom you are dealing with.

3)  Be clear about the process and purpose of your organization

On a recent trip to Disneyland with my family, I was once again, impressed with this incredible company.  The cleanliness is outstanding, the atmosphere is wonderful but above all I am impressed with the clarity of purpose and of process.  The purpose of Disney is for families to come and enjoy a clean, safe environment, but the processes are obviously clear as well.  The entire organization from parking, to trams, to the entering and exiting of the lines is all a process designed to support the purpose.  What a lesson for all of us who hold the position of a leader.  Make your purpose and process clear so that the entire organization can follow.  You want everyone to repeat that purpose and process in a matter of seconds and to keep the leaders and the organization focused on them.  Failing to do this is a mistake that many leaders make.  They make the assumption that because it may be clear in their head that it is clear and simple to everyone else.  Try this out right now.  Take a small napkin and pretend that you are explaining your purpose and process of the organization to someone who has never seen it.  Can it fit on a napkin?  Can you articulate it in a matter of seconds?  If your answer is, “No” to any of these questions then you probably need to re-think your purpose and process through.  It must be clear and simple.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
“You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing.”
S.I. Hayakawa

How to Bring Clear Vision to the Organization You Lead

Leaders create clear vision

Make the changes necessary to create clear vision

I want you to imagine for a moment that you have hired a consultant to work with your team.  This consultant has complete access to each member and no question is off limits.  The consultant comes in early one morning and begins at one office, working his way through each office, stopping to ask each member of your team some very specific questions.

Questions like:
What do you think is the purpose of your organization?
What is the mission?
Why do you exist?
What is the “Strategic Process” that helps you carry out your purpose?

How do you think the answers would come back?  Would it be clear, precise and would there be continuity between each member’s responses?  If you are like most organizations the honest answer would be no.  If that is the case for you then you must ask yourself, how can I expect my organization to gain momentum, focus and clarity if the members don’t possess it themselves?

I was reading a book recently that emphasized the power of “Simple Vision.”  This book talked about how organizations grow quicker with a “Simple Vision” then with an elaborate vision.  The simpler it is the more powerful it is.  They referenced companies like Google.  They shared that Google’s home page is simple with just a few words, while other search engines such as Yahoo has hundreds of characters on its home page.  Google is said to be used by the largest majority of people using a search engine.  People want the simple process.

Can you imagine the power of your organization having the ability to state in just a few words the purpose and process of the company?  Most of us would say we have a purpose, but it is multiple words that no one has bought into and there is no simple process that goes along with it.

Here are two questions to ask yourself and your team:

a)  Why do we exist?
Do not look to other companies or organizations for a preset purpose statement.  Create it from your own heart.  In just a few words (possibly 10 or less) what is the purpose of your organization?

b)  What is our process?
How do we establish our purpose?  If you were a fast food chain, you might have a purpose that says “delivering quality food with customer care.”  That is a simple purpose to why you exist.  Now your process may be to “Make it fresh, make it quick and make it with a smile,” or “Buy great products, make it when it’s ordered and treat the customer well.”  This is just a simple process that you do over and over to assure success.

Ask your team members these simple questions.  Wrestle with them for a while and let them become a catalyst that springboards you to an organization that is clear, precise and simple.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:

“Luck?  I don’t know anything about luck.  I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do.  Luck to me is something else;  hard work – and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.”
– Lucille Ball