#258: Is Your Ability to Manage Change All That Important?

Plus Bonus Whitepaper

Man’s base of knowledge is increasing at a logarithmic rate; in the 1900’s it doubled every five years, and after the year 2000 man’s total knowledge will double every 20 months!

Manage Change - Buggy

As man’s base of knowledge grows, the pace of change also increases. A recent survey showed that the average worker processes 24 times more information now than just 10 years ago!

The person who is expert at managing change will have a distinct advantage in the 21st century. If you manage change and lead others to manage change, then you have the tools necessary to be a leader in your industry. If, however, you have a high “RC” factor (resistance to change) and are incapable of inspiring others to change you will be left at the side of the road as others speed past you.

If you don’t believe the pace of change is increasing, consider the following:

From the beginning of time until the early 1900’s man’s primary mode of transportation was on foot, or astride a burro or horse. Suddenly, the horseless carriage burst onto the scene, and man all but gave up walking, and his favorite steed was put out to pasture. Automobiles have become interactive computers with their passengers capable of covering in minutes the distance covered in a day by the horse.

But automobiles are nothing compared to the history of flight. Man went from the historic flight of the Wright brothers in 1903 to supersonic flight by 1947 to space probes in 1959 to the first manned space flight in 1961 to manned shuttle flights by 1981.

Think for a moment about these few changes and how the majority of change has occurred in the last 50 years. Entire industries no longer exist that had been major players in the world economy for hundreds of years. Entire new industries have developed in their place.

Increasing knowledge increases the rate of change. The life cycle of industries is compressing at a rate that is inversely proportional to the rate of change. That is, the faster the rate of change the shorter the industry’s life becomes. Dinosaurs are extinct because they failed to adapt. Is your company a dinosaur? Are you?

Moses & Change

Imagine, Moses is out there tending his sheep, and suddenly he sees a bush burning that isn’t consumed by the fire. A few minutes later God is explaining to Moses how Moses is to lead Israel out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery.

Sometimes leaders initiate change; sometimes it is thrust upon them.

After a lot of negotiating (plagues, famine, pestilence) with Pharaoh, Moses finally secures the release of the nation Israel. So, Moses set out as the former slave sheepherder leading a nation of 600,000 men plus women and children to the Promised Land.

Despite all the miracles they have just seen, the Israelites waste no time complaining to Moses about the conditions in the desert. They would rather go back to slavery than risk their lives getting to their own land!

Sometimes people undergoing change can see the benefit of the change, but they don’t want to endure the pain and suffering that may be required to achieve the end result. They would rather go back to the “old way” of doing things than work through the change in order to have a better future.

Over the next two weeks, the people complained about the food and the water. They kept thinking about all the meat and vegetables they had back in Egypt.

Even in the midst of change people will complain bitterly that the “old way” was better.

Moses, at his father-in-law’s suggestion, set up judges to hear the complaints and settle the disputes among the people. Only the most difficult cases were to be brought to Moses.

Leaders who are managing change must not get so involved in the details that they lose sight of the vision. On the other hand, leaders need to stay in touch with employees so that they understand what the people are going through.

Moses then receives instructions from God about the way the Israelites are to live (their laws). Moses gives the word of the law to the people and goes back up the mountain. As soon as he leaves them, they begin to make golden calves to worship. Despite the miracles of the parting of the Red Sea, their provision of food and water, and their military victories these people left unsupervised started worshipping false gods.

Change, especially significant change, requires constant supervision. Monitoring the organization’s progress on an on-going basis is the only way you can be sure to stay on track. Don’t initiate a major change with an announcement and then walk away from the people and expect them to manage the change on their own, they need leadership!

It took 40 years for the Israelites to make it to the Promised Land. Most of the changes you initiate will not take so long to complete. But you should be prepared to go the distance to implement your changes. When Moses set out from Egypt, he probably figured the journey would take 2-3 weeks, not 40 years. A leader who initiates significant change will have to deal with bitterness, complaining, unforeseen obstacles, and a myriad of other problems, but if the vision is clear, change can be achieved.

One Final Thought

Change is implemented in groups, but it occurs one person at a time. Remember that change creates stress because of the perceived change to the individual. A change that creates little perceived change will be met openly, a change that is significant will likely be met with high resistance. A perceptive manager understands that change happens to individuals and will adapt to help individuals see and accept the need for change.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 7-page whitepaper entitled, Managing Change—Your Key to Success in the 21st Century!

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion on managing change, including:

  • Examples of rapid change in industry,
  • 7 elements of the anatomy of change, and
  • 11 Steps to promote acceptance of change in your organization.

You can download the whitepaper here: Managing Change—Your Key to Success in the 21st Century!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you experienced organizational change in your career? What went well? What went poorly??

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Change

 

 

#256: What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!” (Part II)

What to do when you have to say, “You’re Fired!!” Last week we looked at whether a Christian should always forgive and never fire, or if there were circumstances that demand terminating an employee.

Fire, Terimnate

If you missed last week’s discussion, you can read it here.

Before making the termination decision, the Christian manager needs to have taken appropriate measures to bring an underperformer’s results up to acceptable levels. In the case of suspected fraud or other deception, the Christian manager needs to confirm the offense to a certainty.

This week we’ll look at the decision to terminate and how to handle that dreaded discussion that precedes the words, “You’re Fired!”

1) Know the law.

There are federal, state, and often, local statutes governing the dismissal of an employee. A Christian leader respects man’s law (Romans 13:1-5). In the U.S., under “employment at will” statutes, employers have the right to dismiss employees for any reason except when in violation of anti-discrimination or contract law.

2) Fire early.

My preference is to conduct the termination discussion early in the day and early in the week. The reason is simply so the employee can get busy moving on. I know some managers who prefer to fire employees on a Friday, but I think this just gives the employee a whole weekend to stew and stress-out before they can begin to move on with a job search.

3) Fire in private.

Conduct termination meetings in private. There is no need to embarrass an employee with a public dismissal. Jesus told the disciples to deal with people’s sin in private whenever possible (Matthew 18:15-17).

4) Keep it short.

Get all your facts together beforehand and be prepared to deliver a concise description of the issues.  Getting into a long discussion can turn into a debate that ultimately leads to frustration. Solomon said a wise man limits his words and restrains his lips (Proverbs 10:19).

5) Avoid arguing.

Some employees will try to fend off what they know is coming by shifting blame to others, blaming management, or even denying the issues. Avoid arguing with the employee. Arguing only serves to escalate the situation. Remember, Solomon’s advice about a gentle answer turning away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).

6) Offer an option.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to offer an employee the opportunity to resign rather than being fired. The option to resign allows the employee to save face and is most appropriate when the cause of the dismissal is performance related. I am less inclined to make the offer to resign when the termination is “for cause” (theft, falsifying records, etc.).

7) Be prepared.

Know the benefits that are due the employee. Is there accrued vacation time? Carry-over health benefits? Severance pay? Have all the facts and figures readily available to conclude the termination discussion.

8) Be humble and full of grace.

Regardless of the cause of the termination, Christian leaders need to approach an employee termination with humble hearts full of grace. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and need to consider how we would want to be treated if the shoe was ever on the other foot (Luke 6:31).

Every manager with employees will eventually face the decision to fire an employee We are commanded to be good stewards, and that includes our businesses as well as our ministries. We are not being good stewards of people’s God-given talents if we allow them to languish in a position that does not fit them well. We are not being good stewards if we allow a deceitful person to squander the resources of the organization.

Being a good steward requires that we be prepared to terminate employees, but when the need arises, we need to reflect a balance between God’s law and God’s grace.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What experiences good or bad do you have with terminating employees?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Management of Human Resources

 

 

 

#255: What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!”

I think any manager with a beating heart will tell you one of the hardest (if not the hardest) things they have ever had to do was to fire an employee. All the HR training in the world doesn’t prepare you for the flood of emotions that come along with the words, “You’re fired!”

Fired
Many thanks to Cody L. for asking this question about the Biblical principles surrounding the termination of employees.

Harold

Just a few days before Christmas I drove to Harold’s house early in the morning. I had to pick up his company car, and all his company supplies and records. Harold had falsified his sales results saying he had been making sales calls when he was relaxing at home. I had fired Harold the day before.

As a young manager, firing Harold was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. He was married. He had children. It was just before Christmas.  But he admitted falsifying records, so a “for cause” termination was my only course of action.

Kahlani

I picked up my boss long before the sun came up and we drove 150 miles north to meet Kahlani. Kahlani’s previous boss noted her lagging sales performance and tried to get her results up to par. She talked a good game—she said she wanted to do well—but she didn’t improve.

When I took over as her manager, I had no choice but to put her on formal probation. For three months, I worked with her regularly to help improve her sales skills. But she just didn’t improve.

As I drove north with my boss, I knew this would be a tough meeting. I had to tell Kahlani she had not met the requirements of her probation. As a result, I was terminating her employment.

As expected, the meeting with Kahlani was difficult. As my boss and I talked through her history of poor results, she finally confessed she didn’t like sales all that much. As we left her, she thanked us for the opportunity to work for a good company, for the time we had invested in helping her, and mostly, for freeing her to move on. It turns out she had wanted to quit for some time but didn’t have the courage.

Whether it is for cause, as it was with Harold, or because of poor performance, as it was with Kahlani, terminating an employee is tough.

Is There a Biblical Basis for Firing?

Christian leaders seem to have an especially hard time terminating an employee. They wonder, “How can I reconcile terminating an employee with God’s call to forgive?” There are many verses, from both the Old and New Testament, that support the call to forgiveness. Here are two examples:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).

So, if we are to forgive, how can we justify terminating an employee?

While the Scripture does not specifically mention terminating an employee, there are a number of verses that speak to the issue of removing certain individuals because of their behavior.

For example,

Proverbs 22:10 tells us to Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”

And,

Proverbs 25:5 advises we remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

Finally, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul chastises the Corinthians for boasting about allowing a sexually immoral man to remain in the church. He warned them that such immorality could spread and needs to be dealt with immediately.

“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

Resolving the Tension

There is tension between these Biblical teachings. On the one hand, we are called to be forgiving. On the other hand, we also have a responsibility to discipline bad behavior up to and including firing the offender.

How do we resolve the tension between these Biblical teachings?

We must balance law and grace.

We must reflect God’s grace as we help those who are struggling to perform at acceptable levels.

We must also protect the organization by taking immediate action with those whose behavior brings harm to the organization.

Next week we’ll examine more specifics on handling the termination interview in “What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!” (Part II)

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What experiences good or bad do you have with terminating employees?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Management of Human Resources

 

 

 

#250: Is Mentoring A Rewarding Strategic Choice Today?

Plus Bonus Whitepaper

The idea of mentoring is not new. Mentor was a character in Homer’s Odyssey. As a friend of King Odysseus, Mentor was given the job of teaching and caring for the king’s son, Telemachus.

Mentoring Strategic Choice

Mentor may have provided the name, but the concept had been around for a long time. Examples of mentoring are found throughout the text of the Bible. The first example is in Genesis; God is mentoring Adam. Moses mentored Joshua. Elijah mentored Elisha. Barnabas mentored Mark and Paul. Biblical examples of mentoring are not exclusive to men; Naomi mentored Ruth, and Elizabeth mentored Mary. Jesus mentored the twelve disciples.

Today’s business is in need of a resurgence of strong mentoring systems. Discouraged and disgruntled employees hop from one job to the next looking for work that is intellectually stimulating, fun, and economically rewarding.

Nothing will stop some employees from job-hopping, but a strong mentoring system can reduce turnover by increasing job satisfaction and productivity among current employees.

Mentoring as a Strategic Choice

As a leader, manager, or professional you must understand that mentoring is a strategic choice.

A good mentoring system does not happen by coincidence. You must take care to create a mentoring system, nurture it, and build it into the culture of your organization. Mentoring must become a part of the weave of the fabric of your corporate culture. If you are not willing to do whatever is necessary to create and protect an environment where mentoring can exist, then you would be better off not to start.

The Mentoring Relationship

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines a mentor as, “a trusted counselor or guide, a coach, a tutor.” The phrase “a trusted counselor” is key. It defines the relationship between mentor and mentee as one in which there is a bond of trust. Also, a “counselor’s” role is to provide guidance – not remold the mentee into their likeness.

The relationship between mentor and mentee is similar to that between a teacher and student. A teacher seeks to educate a group of students. A teacher is judged successful if they can impart knowledge to the student. The student “trusts” that they are receiving accurate and timely information.

As a mentee, you should look for a mentor who:

  • Is someone you can admire.
  • Is someone who believes in the importance of people.
  • Is someone who believes in and is committed to the mentoring relationship.
  • Is someone who has a positive outlook.
  • Is someone who can provide experience, perspective, and guidance.

As a mentor, you should look for a mentee who:

  • Is someone who is willing, and teachable.
  • Is someone who can apply what they are learning.
  • Is someone who is committed to the mentoring relationship.
  • Is someone who will respect you as a mentor.
  • Is someone who will be accountable.

These ten points can be summarized as mutual respect, wholehearted commitment to each other, the willingness to teach, the willingness to learn, and accountability.

One Final Thought

Building a mentoring system will not be an easy task. It will require careful thought and delicate nurturing. But if you succeed, you will have happier, more productive employees and managers.

Jesus was a mentor to the disciples. We should be mentors. Encourage someone else to do works greater than yours.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Mentoring — A Lifestyle for Growth.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of mentoring, including:

  • A broader discussion of the mentoring relationship,
  • The five essential attributes of a mentor,
  • The importance of allowing a mentee to fail, and
  • Six steps to help you start a formal mentoring program.

You can download the whitepaper here: Mentoring — A Lifestyle for Growth.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you participated in a formal or informal mentoring program as a mentor/mentee? How did that relationship help/hurt performance?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Human Resource Development

#241: How to Prepare Your Organization to Recognize A Shifting Paradigm

Plus A Bonus Whitepaper

Horses as the primary mode of transportation, candles used for lighting, wood used for cooking and heating, windmills for pumping water, wind-up mechanical watches, and mimeograph machines, are all extinct. These were not bad products, but none the less they are gone.

Shifting Paradigm

What happened? Paradigm shifts occurred. Technology made new products possible, new products replaced old products, and in many cases, created whole new markets.

The ability of leaders to recognize these types of paradigm shifts in the future will make the difference between companies who are successful in the 21st century and those that are just hanging on.

What is a Paradigm Shift?

The greatest paradigm shift of all time came when Jesus preached the gospel. The impact of that simple message has been felt throughout the world. People changed, societies changed, and governments changed, all because of one man and His message.

The word paradigm comes from the Greek paradeigma which means “model, pattern, example.” In his book Future Edge, author Joel Barker provides his definition of a paradigm: “A paradigm is a set of rules and regulations (written or unwritten) that does two things: (1) it establishes clear boundaries; and (2) it tells you how to behave inside the boundaries in order to be successful.”

Think about some “minor” industry changes. What would you have done if you had known about the following technology paradigm shifts in advance?

  • FAX machines,
  • Personal computers,
  • VCR’s, Laser Disks, and DVDs,
  • Cable television,
  • Cellular phones, or
  • Streaming audio & video?

The list of industries created in the last ten years numbers in the hundreds! The list of industries that are gone also numbers in the hundreds. Companies that want to survive well into the 21st century had better be adept at managing change, and able to forecast paradigm shifts.

Don’t Trust the Experts!

Often, experts who develop technology don’t even understand the import of their actions. Simon Newcomb, a noted astronomer, said in 1902, “Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.” In 1913 the American Road Congress reported that “It is an idle dream to imagine that…automobiles will take the place of railways in the long-distance movement of…passengers.” Thomas Edison said in 1880 that, “The phonograph…is not of any commercial value.” If you want to recognize paradigm shifts you might want to look to someone other than the “experts” for answers.

Getting Started

If you are a manager and you want to develop an organization capable of forecasting, recognizing, and taking advantage of paradigm shifts then the following points will be helpful:

Forecasting

Get a group of individuals together and have them write “future” scenarios. What will this industry look like in 20 years, 50 years? These “future” scenarios will help you see major paradigm shifts. If you’re in the home building business, you may see the concern for the environment as a precursor to a major shift in home building technology; new heating systems, new building materials, new super insulation materials, etc.

Get another group to write about what problems exist in the industry today, and to forecast future problems and needs. For example, if you’re in the plastics business you might consider oil supplies as a future problem. You might see pollution control legislation as a problem. You might see a need for a new type of plastic that will meet certain consumer needs, etc.

Flexibility

As managers, we tend to focus on problem-solving. In the crush of our workloads, we tend to be very comfortable with current solutions to problems. What we don’t realize is that there are new ways of doing old things and that we must be willing to accept these new solutions, even while the old solution is still working.

Search and Reapply

Search and reapply is a big opportunity area for most businesses today. One department gets a good idea and uses it to solve a problem, but nobody else in the organization ever hears about it. We need to create systems for publicizing ideas throughout our organizations. Next, we need to teach people to constantly look at the way other people do things as fertile ground for ideas that will help them do their jobs better.

Listen

As a manager, you need to understand that the people who have the ability to spot paradigm shifts are probably working for you right now:

  • They are the young people who have not been so socialized by years of experience that they are capable of seeing things a different way.
  • They are the experienced people who just took on a new job.
  • They are the odd ducks who are always challenging the status quo, never content with the way things are; they are forever trying to change things.
  • They are the inventors who get ideas and build prototypes. They often don’t even realize how valuable their ideas are in terms of solving other problems.

Now that you know who is most likely to spot paradigm shifts, make it a point to listen to them, and record their ideas. You never know when what seemed like a silly idea for one project will turn out to be a brilliant solution to another project.

One Final Thought

Any organization that wants to be successful in the 21st century will need to be:

  • future oriented; capable of anticipating changes in technology and consumer needs,
  • innovative; not only in the way they apply technology, but in the way they approach it, and
  • focused on quality; total quality will be the bare minimum in the next century.

To be successful, you will need all three of these components; not one or two, but all three. Getting to the point where your organization has these attributes may represent a major paradigm shift, so you might as well start right now.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Shifting Paradigms – Building an Organization that Leads Change.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of shifting paradigms, including:

  • Understanding what a paradigm shift is,
  • The Swiss Blew their Opportunity,
  • The Fall of Books and Magazines, and
  • Forecasting Paradigm Shifts

You can download the whitepaper here: Shifting Paradigms – Building an Organization that Leads Change.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What are you doing to recognize and leverage a paradigm shift in your business?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Skills | Change, Innovation

#237: If You’re an Ox, Don’t Team Up with A Donkey!

The Danger of Yoked Relationships

The issue of yoked relationships in business is one of those Biblical principles that are easy to comprehend, but difficult to administer in real life.

Yoked Relationships Ox

This is especially true when a sure-fire opportunity to make an enormous amount of money comes via a partnership with a nonbeliever, and you must make a decision in the cold, hard dawn of reality: do you, or don’t you?

The verse that causes all this controversy is 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?”

So, what exactly does the phrase, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” mean? Let’s start back in Deuteronomy 22:10 where Moses instructed Israel, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.”

The yoke was a heavy beam that was strapped across the upper shoulders and around the neck of the animals to tie them together. The yoke was then harnessed to a plow or wagon. As the animals walked, the weight of the wagon or plow pulled on the harness through the center of the yoke between the two animals.

The selection of animals to be yoked together was given a great deal of thought. For example, animals of the same type were paired together; oxen with oxen, donkeys with donkeys.

The animals also needed to be about the same size and strength. If one animal were taller than the other, the smaller animal would bear the greater load and soon become tired. If one animal were stronger than the other, it would pull ahead of the weaker animal.

And finally, the animals needed to have a similar temperament. You were asking for trouble if you tied two strong willed animals together. One needed to be a leader, the other needed to be willing to follow.

If all these conditions were not met, the animals would be “unequally” yoked, and would not be able to get as much work done as a better-matched pair of animals.

So, what do Moses’s instructions to farmers and Paul’s to the Corinthians have to do with us in today’s business? Plenty!

What Constitutes a Yoke?

Of the sixty-six times that the Bible refers to a yoke, it is only used eight times in conjunction with animals. The other 58 times the word “yoke” is used it is regarding a burden or relationship with people and God

A yoke then is any relationship that formally ties two people together where the actions of one can directly affect another.

We have three basic legal forms in today’s business; proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. In a proprietorship with employees, there is a relationship between employees and the employer. In the corporation, there are employee/employer relationships, as well as relationships with stockholders. In the partnership, there is a relationship between the partners and the employees.

Is Partnership a Yoke?

There are at least eight legal forms of partnership. Generally speaking, they can be divided into two classifications; general and limited.

In a general partnership, partners are active or have the right to be active in the partnership. In the limited form, a partner only has an investment interest, without any right or say in the operation of the business.

General partnerships, regardless of the legal form, constitute yoked relationships because there is a formal agreement between two or more parties regarding the operation of a business. Clearly then, general partnerships constitute a yoke. Believers should avoid general partnerships with nonbelievers.

Limited partnerships do not usually constitute a yoke because the limited partner has no say in the operation of the partnership.

Is Stock Ownership a Yoke?

For most of us the answer to the question, “Is stock ownership a yoke?” is “No.” A few shares of a company held as an investment do not constitute a yoke. You could, after all, dissolve the relationship with a simple call to your broker.

But what if you hold a majority stock interest in a company and are an employee? What about a closely held corporation where there are few owners who have equal shares?

The guiding principle is this; does the relationship bind you legally to the company or other shareholders? If you have a majority stock interest and are an employee, you probably have a legal fiduciary relationship.

If in a closely held corporation, the intent is to create a relationship between shareholders for the purpose of sharing responsibilities and profits, then you have a partnership whether the word partnership was used or not.

Is the Employee/Employer Relationship a Yoke?

The employee/employer relationship does not constitute a yoke. The employer has authority over the subordinate employee.

As an employee, you need to maintain your integrity in all business relationships. As Colossians 3:23 reminds us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Your work should be your witness to the world.

The possible exception to the employer/employee relationship as being a yoke might exist when an employee is under a contract to the employer. For example, an actor, model, consultant, etc. If an employment contract is involved, you might find yourself in a yoked relationship. Be very careful with employment contracts, and remember the guiding principle; is the purpose of the relationship a partnership?

What About Existing Relationships?

The advice to not enter into a relationship in the future is easy to take, but what about relationships you’re in already? Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians gives us some insight as he discusses what to do in a marriage relationship (1 Cor. 7:12-13), “…If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.”

The principle is if you are in a relationship with a nonbeliever you should stay in it unless the relationship threatens your spiritual values. Paul goes on to say, “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances…” (1 Cor. 7:15). If a nonbelieving partner wants to leave the partnership, you should let him.

What do you do if the nonbelieving partner is a family member, perhaps a parent, or a child? The same principles apply. If you are in a relationship that does not compromise your spiritual values, you should try to make the relationship work, “…each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him” (1 Cor. 7:18). Perhaps the relationship you’re in is just where the Lord wants you to be to accomplish His work!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Yoked Relationships—If You’re an Ox, Don’t Team Up With A Donkey.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of yoked relationships and five tips for creating a successful partnership.

You can download the whitepaper here: Yoked Relationships—If You’re an Ox, Don’t Team Up With A Donkey.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you been unequally yoked in a business relationship? If so, what made the relationship successful or what made it difficult for you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills |Structure/Organization

#232: Who Should Climb the Ladder?

How to Determine Who Is a Good Promotion Candidate

It is a rare manager, who, in the span of a career does not wonder how a boss or a peer got their current position.

Woman Ladder

Perhaps that is what led management guru Peter Drucker to say, “The attempt to find “potential” is altogether futile.” In his book, Management Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, Drucker goes on to say that trying to pick out good future managers in a field of candidates is less likely to succeed than just taking every fifth person in the organization.

These situations give us pause to think of Peter’s principle; “Everyone rises to their level of incompetence. The only reason our system does not collapse is that not everyone reaches their level of incompetence at the same time!”

Most managers want supervisors who will get the work done, who will find creative solutions to problems, who will save the company money, and who will develop employees to their fullest potential.

So how do you decide? How do you figure out amongst those fresh, eager faces who will ultimately be the best new supervisor, manager, executive?

While there are no guarantees with anyone, there are ways you can assess individuals to help make your decision of whom to promote the most intelligent one possible.

The assessment process is comprised of three basic steps;

  • Review the candidate’s work record.
  • Interview the candidate.
  • Interview the candidate’s internal and external customers.

This assessment process is complex and will require considerable effort to complete, but will yield supervisors more likely to succeed in their new careers.

Review the Candidate’s Work Record

The place to start evaluating the potential of a candidate is their current work record. The best reflection of what a person will do in the future is what they have done in the past.

Examining the following four areas will help make the first cuts:

1) Attendance record. Review the candidate’s attendance record. Look for consistency.

2) Prior performance reviews. Review the candidate’s prior performance reviews. A strong candidate will show continual improvement.

Look for consistency in their performance over time.

3) Steady growth in job skills. A strong candidate is one who continues to improve in their current job. They ask questions seeking to expand their knowledge of the business. They look for ways to improve that are beyond the scope of their current jobs.

4) Ability to get along with peers. A big part of the new supervisor’s job will be getting work done through others. A good indication of this ability is how they get along with their peers.

Interview the Candidate

If you have the responsibility of promoting someone to the supervisory level you need to make sure that they have the interest and the skills to do the job. The best way to do that, in addition to reviewing their work record, is to interview them for the job. (You wouldn’t offer a job to someone just from reading a resume, would you?)

The promotion interview can take place all at once or over a period of days. If you cover the following six elements, you will increase your chance of selecting the right person the first time.

1) Make sure the person is interested in supervision. It is not true that every individual who does good work in their jobs wants to be promoted. Do not make this assumption!

2) Explain reasons for the promotion. A promotion candidate needs to know why they are being considered for additional responsibility. Don’t assume that they know why. They may, but tell them anyway. In other words, discuss all the success criteria you have established for a supervisor and how this candidate meets those criteria.

3) Outline new responsibilities. To supervise effectively, one must be able to plan, organize, direct, and control work processes. This is significantly different than the worker who is responsible solely for the completion of a task. The candidate needs to understand and accept the responsibility for managing the people involved in the production of the work, as well as the work itself.

4) Determine their views on supervision. Spend some time with the candidate discussing their views about supervision. After all, a worker’s ideas about supervision have been molded mostly by the people that have supervised them. Ask how they view the role of supervisor as different from that of the worker. Ask what they consider as being good and bad characteristics of a supervisor and why.

5) Discuss to whom the new supervisor will report. In these days of matrix management, the question of who you report to is not as simple as it might once have been. The candidate needs to understand who they are accountable to and for what.

6) Discuss the people who will be the new supervisor’s responsibility. Remember, the supervisor is responsible for managing the people doing the work, so they need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of those who report to them.

Interview the Candidate’s Internal and External Customers

The best way to find out how the supervisor candidate works with people is to talk to their internal and external customers. The most obvious group is their peer group.

But many others can provide valuable insight into the potential of an individual. Talk to other people who have contact with the candidate like supervisors or workers in other departments. If your candidate has contact with customers or suppliers, ask for their feedback.

One Final Thought

The job of finding and developing talented supervisors will forever be a difficult task for management. Even the diligent manager who follows each of these guidelines is not guaranteed success. People are not always what they seem. People change. Businesses change. The person who is just right for the job this year may be inadequate in the next decade.

Nonetheless, it is up to you to separate the wheat from the chaff, and in doing so, find the supervisor that may one day become the president of the company.

If you are still having trouble deciding on a candidate, consider Paul’s instruction to Timothy regarding the selection of overseers (1 Timothy 3:2-4). In describing the characteristics of a good overseer, Paul used words like temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, and free from the love of money.

If you think about it, these are traits that should apply to all of us, all the time. Make it a point to review this list every morning. It will help keep you focused in the right direction.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, Who Should Climb the Ladder? How to Determine Who is a Good Promotion Candidate.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of how to determine who is a good promotion candidate.

You can download the whitepaper here: Who Should Climb the Ladder? How to Determine Who is a Good Promotion Candidate.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled to make decisions about who to promote? What criteria did you find helpful?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Human Resource Development

#224: Effective Leadership: Employ, Equip, Empower, and Get Out Of The Way!

As the Bob Dylan song goes, “the times they are a changin.” Managing a business in today’s world is an exercise in managing change. What worked phenomenally well in 2010 won’t work in 2020.

Effective Leadership

To meet the challenges that lay before us, leaders must learn new, more effective ways of managing rapidly changing, diverse groups of employees.

Way back in 1966 Peter F. Drucker wrote The Effective Executive, in which he makes the point that to be effective executives must learn how to harness worker resources like intelligence, imagination, and knowledge, and convert them into results.

The Effective Leader

So, what can you do to develop the future-oriented effective leadership style? You need to learn how to employ the right people, put them in the right jobs, give them the right training, empower them to get the work done, and most important of all, get out of their way so they can work!

1. Employ

The first step of the effective leader is to learn how to hire the right kind of people. In companies where employees are empowered, the employees are often responsible for the first one or two interviews. Team interviews that include employees and managers are becoming more common. After all, who knows the work better than the people doing it every day? Employees can be a valuable resource in hiring people who will fit the corporate culture and strategy.

Companies that are still relying on just the Human Resources manager for all hiring decisions are not utilizing the employee assets within the company. A real disaster is set-up when upper management takes control of hiring decisions at entry levels, to the exclusion of input from employees and first level managers. Hard as it may be to believe, this is still being practiced by some Fortune 500 companies today!

2. Equip

The second in becoming an effective leader is to get the right people in the right jobs. Paul wrote to the Romans, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).

Clearly, we need to be sensitive to people’s gifts and skills and do our best to match them to jobs that use their skills.

Once you have your people in the right jobs and you are focusing their talents on their jobs, you need to train them to do the best job possible.

In a recent survey of training costs, it was found that companies had budgets for training that ranged from $50 per employee per year to $4,000 per employee. Whose employees do you think are the best prepared to meet the challenges of the future?

Training your employees is a two-step process. First, there is the industrial training that keeps the employee up to date on your industry. Second, there is skill improvement training. Neither one of these is a one-time investment. Rather, it is a continual process that must be kept up over the life of the employee.

Ecclesiastes gives us an excellent view of the importance of training, “If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success” (Eccl. 10:10). If you have ever chopped wood with a dull axe, you know how much work it is. You work harder, it takes longer, and it requires much more determination to get the job done. Training will keep your employees like sharpened axes; capable of doing more, in less time than your competition.

3. Empower

Companies are getting the word; teams can be more productive than individuals. The rebirth of America’s large corporations has upper managers talking about making their employees intrapreneurs; people empowered to make decisions without approval from five levels of higher managers.

In America’s small companies we are hearing about “virtual corporations” where a handful of employees run big businesses by outsourcing talent, subcontracting, and making decisions without the safety net of expensive layers of higher managers.

The crucial steps in empowering your employees include;

  • hiring the right people, to begin with,
  • making sure that they are in jobs that best utilize their talents,
  • training them until they are the best they can be (and keeping them well trained), and finally,
  • making them accountable for decisions that affect their work.

Employees who are responsible for the productivity of their work group are more likely to take an interest in the output of other employees. If they understand that all sink or swim together, as a team, they will fight to survive.

4. Get Out of The Way

The biggest single reason that efforts to empower employees fail are that managers do not get out of the employee’s way and let them get the work done!

The manager “mother-hens” the employees, second guesses them, and sets-up their decision making so it comes out the way he wanted all along.

According to Mr. Webster, empowerment means to give someone authority. The definition does not suggest that a manager is to abdicate responsibility. And it is between giving authority and maintaining responsibility that most managers fail.

You must start by giving employees the right information, giving them the time and the resources to analyze potential decisions, and the support of management to carry out plans.

What constitutes the right information? For every company and every situation, the answer is different. Think about what information you would need to analyze a problem and decide. If you are managing a factory, giving workers production and profitability numbers for their department would be a good start.

One caveat from companies who have tried this. Break into employee empowerment gradually if you can. This is a new skill area for most employees, and they will need some practice to get good at it. Let them work on a few focused issues to build their confidence.

One Last Thought

Effective leaders of the future have difficult shoes to fill. The world is a complex place, and the rules of the game are changing all the time.

As difficult as this work is, remember Paul’s instruction to the Philippians, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Effective Leadership: Employ, Equip, Empower, and Get Out of the Way!

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of how to develop as an effective leader of the future:

  • 9 points of contrast between the past and the current/future work environment.
  • Two steps managers need to take to meet the challenge of the changing environment.
  • A broader description of the four elements of being an effective leader in the future.

You can download the whitepaper here: Effective Leadership: Employ, Equip, Empower, and Get Out of the Way!.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How has the work environment changed in your industry over the past few years? How has your own leadership changed to meet the needs of the changing work environment?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Leadership Development

 

#221: Surprise! Someone Is Preparing to Lead A Rebellion In Your Organization!

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Being a leader is like playing “King of the Hill.” King of the Hill was a game we played as kids.

Rebellion

There was a mound of dirt on the playground. Whoever is at the top of the hill is king. Everyone else playing the game tries to knock the king off the top of the hill, and then they become king. That is until the next person comes along and knocks them off the hill so they can be king.

Being a leader in real life is a bit like playing king of the hill, but the stakes are much higher. Those in positions of leadership are regularly targeted by rebels who oppose your leadership. It can happen to anyone, even those appointed by God to lead His people. For example, rebels challenged Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership on several occasions.

God called on Moses & Aaron to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. They were not gone long before a rebellion led by a man named Korah threatened the entire nation. If it happened to Moses and Aaron, it could happen to us!

Here’s the backstory of Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16).

Korah’s Rebellion

A prominent man named Korah assembled a coalition of 250 other leading men to challenge Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership of the Israelites.

Korah accused Moses and Aaron of exalting themselves above everyone else. Korah wanted the people to have more input because God dwelled with them all and God had described the people as a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:3-6).

What Korah said publicly in accusing Moses and Aaron was designed to rally his supporters, but it hid the real reason for his rebellion. When someone rebels against a leader there is usually a stated reason and a hidden reason for the rebellion.

The Stated Reason

In Korah’s case, his stated reason was he wanted more democracy inside the camp. He wanted the people to have a say in running things because God lived among all of them and described them as a kingdom of priests.

His logic was, “If God lives among the entire nation of Israel who does Moses and Aaron think they are elevating themselves above the rest of us, telling us what to do?”

The Hidden Reason

Korah’s real reason for starting the rebellion against Moses and Aaron was hidden. He didn’t want to be someone who just helped the priests in the service of the Lord. He wanted to be a priest!

His logic was, “If we are all priests as God says, why should Aaron and his people be the only ones to get to offer sacrifices to God? I want to be a priest and offer sacrifices too!”

What Drove Korah’s Rebellion?

Understanding what drove Korah’s rebellion gives us an important clue to what causes rebellion today.

Korah was envious of Moses and Aaron. God had appointed them to lead the nation, and Korah wasn’t satisfied with the role God had assigned him. His envy drove his selfish ambition to be something God had not called him to do.

James warned us of this very thing when he wrote, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

How Did Moses Respond to the Rebellion?

Moses responded to the rebellion in a way that demonstrated he understood Korah’s public accusation as well as Korah’s selfish ambition:

  • He humbled himself before the Lord. When Moses heard the accusations against he fell on his face before the Lord (Numbers 16:4, 22).
  • He interceded for the people in prayer. When the Lord was ready to judge the people, Moses prayed asking the Lord not to punish all the people for the sins of the few (Numbers 16:22).
  • He faced his accusers directly. Moses reasoned directly with the rebels explaining what they were doing was in direct opposition to God (Numbers 16:5-11).
  • He left the final judgment to God. When the rebels refused to back down, Moses left final judgment of who should lead the Israelites up to God (Numbers 16:16-55).

Leaders beware! There will be those who, out of envy and selfish ambition will rebel against you. They will speak falsely. They will lie about you. They will say and do whatever it takes to become king of the hill.

The first step in thwarting a rebellion is to understand its cause; envy and selfish ambition. The second step is to respond like Moses; humble yourself, spend time in prayer, face your accusers directly, and know the final judgment will come from God.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has anyone rebelled against your leadership? What steps did you take to manage the situation?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skill | Conflict Management

 

#220: It Turns Out You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

It turns out old dogs like me can learn a lot from the young crop of Gen Z students emerging from our college campuses.

Old Dog New Tricks

This was my fourth year teaching a class in Sales and Sales Management at Azusa Pacific University. This year’s class of 40 dwarfed last year’s class of 20 students and was equally divided between juniors and seniors.

Feedback from the students last year made it clear they wanted a diverse mix of teaching methods. Given their short attention span, hour-long lectures in a three-hour class just didn’t cut it. Variety is not only the spice of life; it is absolutely necessary for a classroom of Gen Z’s!

My goal this year was to really mix it up by making the class far more experiential and less dependent on lecture:

  • To create a simulated workplace team environment, I divided the class into eight teams of five students each based on their Strengthfinders results. Students were assigned to groups so that each of the four Strengthfinder Leadership Domains (Executing, Influencing, Relationship, and Strategic Thinking) were represented in each group.
  • The teams worked together on two major assignments: creating a sales training manual for a company of their choosing and teaching their fellow students by presenting the contents of one chapter of our text.
  • Role play exercises in six of our 13 sessions were designed to give the students an opportunity to practice selling skills in the classroom.
  • In one class session, students were required to present key learnings to the class gleaned from a published article on sales.
  • Three sales training videos demonstrating elements of the sales process were used to show how selling skills discussed in class came to life in a selling situation.
  • Short quizzes were given covering the material in each chapter every week. Scheduling quizzes as we covered material ensured that students stayed up to date and eliminated the need to “cram” for a midterm or a final exam.
  • Students were each required to write six short case study papers over the course of the semester.

Overall, the objective of this mix of group and independent work assignments was to give students an opportunity to learn while also developing their presentation skills with the support of their peers.

What I Learned from Their Feedback

I give my students a feedback form during our last class session asking three questions 1) What was helpful that we should keep doing, 2) What was unhelpful that we should stop doing, and 3) What would you do differently?

1) What should we keep doing? The interactive exercises, especially the role plays, were a hit with the majority of the students. Students also liked having the weekly quizzes following the lecture because it helped reinforce what they learned that week.

2) What should we stop doing? Long (45-60 minute) lectures were mentioned several times as pushing the limits of their attention span. Allowing student groups to teach a chapter was not as effective as I’d hoped because other students felt they didn’t learn as much. Finally, the training videos were somewhat dated and failed to impress this YouTube generation.

3) What would you do differently? The class had a number of excellent suggestions for improving the learning environment in the class. Several students thought a guest speaker who was currently in a sales role would be a great addition to the learning experience. Doing even more role plays and doing them in small groups rather than as a whole class was suggested to allow more people to get more practice. Finally, several students suggested in-class discussions of the case studies as a way of reinforcing what was taught in the text.

What I’ll Do as a Result

As always, the student’s feedback is a valuable tool for me to improve as a teacher and to develop a learning framework that will be beneficial for the majority of the students. My plans for next semester include:

  • Reducing the lecture time even more to allow more time for interactive role plays and class discussion.
  • Maintain the weekly quiz schedule and the requirement to write case studies.
  • Devote time during the class to discussion of the weekly case study.
  • Bring in a sales representative one week to teach the class and talk about their personal experiences.
  • Abandon the dated videos. I’ll look for something that is relevant to the material in the class with a higher production value.
  • Rethink the way the team projects are completed. Although it was intended to get them to work together, this group did most of their “teamwork” independently and then just assembled the results.

Lesson for Leaders

Peter exhorted believers to “…use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

Leaders, to be effective, we need to learn and adapt to the changing environment. We need to stay on top of our game by using the gifts God has given us to serve others.

Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this year’s class is that every class is different. What worked well last year may not work well at all this year. Building relationships and engaging with the people in our organizations is the very best way to ensure that we are serving them well.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What lessons about developing and leading people have you learned from others?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Human Resource Development