- Opportunity recognition
- Resource acquisition
- Venture creation
- Organization expansion and growth
Archives for October 2012
The most important reason is that letting your organization be a miserable place to work is just plain wrong. Employee satisfaction and engagement is an intrinsic good that everyone ought to care about — especially Christian ministries — because it is the right thing to do.
For those still not convinced (though if doing the right thing isn’t important to you, maybe you shouldn’t be in the workforce…), here’s a great combination of the ethical case and the business case in one paragraph (from the article I linked to yesterday, Entrepreneurs Must Save America):
People say that America will beat China because the U.S. is full of innovators and China isn’t. What do you think?
Clifton: For one thing, that’s not true. China can innovate. But they don’t have a culture that understands the power of engaged workers. Right now, they just out-low-cost-manufacture the world. But that won’t last forever. Their wages will keep going up, and jobs will go to other places — to Southeast Asia, to India, probably some to Africa, maybe some to parts of the Middle East.
But for now, it’s safe to say they’re winning the jobs war?
Clifton: Definitely. Yes, they’ve got the momentum right now.
Then why does it matter if China has engaged workers?
Clifton: Because engagement is a precondition for the state of mind that creates entrepreneurs. Miserable workgroups chase customers away. Miserable workforces don’t create any economic energy, so those companies are always cutting jobs. America will not come back and win the world unless we have the most spirited workforce. Spirited workforces create new customers. New customers create new jobs.
The 3 things are:
- Personal management: how to get things done and know what the right things are to get done
- Career management
As a result, most of us need to learn these on our own, on the job. If you really try to figure them out and do them well, it’s a painful process — especially if most of the people you are working with are in the same boat (which, since these things aren’t taught well in school, is usually the case).
There are good seminars and courses and training workshops on each of these areas for those in the workforce, especially if you work at a large corporation. The leadership teaching that is out there is often pretty good, because it emphasizes that leadership is about building people up just as much as making things happen. But even that is less effective without a broad set of foundational knowledge already in place that you can relate it to. If you start learning about leadership, for example, at 28, when you are put in a leadership position in your organization, you are still 14 years behind where you could have been (or 20 years behind). This makes the journey that much harder. Same with learning how to manage your career and manage yourself, even if you encounter the need to learn these much earlier (toward the end of college or shortly after).
I’m not saying that there aren’t excellent leadership opportunities available in the educational system; there are. And, that does a lot of good. (So things aren’t nearly as bad as they could be!) But I’m talking about explicit teaching on what leadership is, how to do it, and so forth, in addition to actual leadership experiences.
This has large costs to us as a society, as so many people end up spinning their wheels trying to figure out what direction to go long-term with their career, trying to figure out how to manage themselves, and learning how to lead that they could have spent actually leading and, in terms of their career management, avoiding some wrong turns.
And it’s not just the education system that has dropped the ball here. Churches have too. Churches are mandated by God to be led well and to develop leaders (that’s the meaning of Isaiah 32:1-8, if you understand it correctly, among other passages). Because of the priesthood of all believers, this means teaching all believers how to lead well, not just those in ministry. Yet, strangely, much of the time the church opposes leadership development because of the notion that it is somehow worldly or unspiritual.
This is a long-term problem. Obviously I have lots of thoughts on how this could be fixed, but this is enough for now.
Actually, schools tend to teach almost nothing on how to do knowledge work — that is, on the actual process for high performance workflow management (as opposed to the specific skill sets for various jobs, such as creating financial statements, etc., etc., which is taught in abundance).
Here are three things that you especially never hear, but are true:
- You will have to spend more time than expected doing seemingly strange and mundane tasks like organizing your computer files (or trying to figure out how you want them organized!) and figuring out where to capture and store all the various ideas you have.
- If people make fun of you for this (like my pastor has!; good-naturedly), ignore them. These are essential components for knowledge work, and your actual ideas, plans, and work products are better if you can keep yourself organized.
- This is because, somehow, in the process of organizing your ideas and knowledge work inputs and outputs, real work gets done beyond just the organizing (though that is important in itself).
People often ask me “if we are supposed to seek to work within our strengths most of the time, what about our weaknesses?” The question is about more than simply “how do we manage our weaknesses.” Rather, the question stems from the (very good) observation that God especially uses weakness in his kingdom. Does this change anything about the way we should go about our work? Should we, for example, conclude that we should not seek to focus on our strengths most of the time?
I have many thoughts on this, and actually have written a short book (unpublished, and not yet fully polished) on a Christian view of strengths where I also deal with this question in some detail. (That book was originally a very, very long chapter I originally wrote for What’s Best Next.) I hope to publish that book at some point, once What’s Best Next is taken care of.
But for now, here’s a chief part of the answer: There are plenty of weaknesses within your strengths themselves. You don’t need to worry about making yourself weaker than you already truly are.
And, if God has a special weakness he has ordained for your life to make you more fruitful as you have to rely on his power to live in light of it and overcome it, he’ll see to that, as he did with Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Further, what’s interesting from Paul’s experience is that he was actually quite diligent in asking the Lord to take away his weakness (see verse 8). That is the Christian response. It is not Christian to try to make ourselves weaker than we already are. That’s presumption, not Christianity. The Christian response to suffering is to first ask the Lord to take it away. But then in instances where he doesn’t, then the Christian response is to accept it and, indeed, glory in it, as Paul did, as a (forced!) invitation to rely on a greater strength — namely, the strength of Christ (vv. 9-10).
Let me just say one more thing. I would suggest that, perhaps, the notion that we ought to avoid focusing on our strengths is actually somewhat prideful. For it assumes that your strengths are stronger than they really are. You focus on your weaknesses when you are forced to. That’s what makes them weaknesses. A weakness that is “chosen” is not, typically, a true weakness.
Use your strengths. God has given them to you, and you in fact have an obligation to use them for the good of others — that’s what justice is: the strong using their strength on behalf of others (note also the biblical exhortations to do this in 2 Corinthians 8 – 10; also the command in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 as it applies to money and the Parable of the Talents). Please don’t worry about being “too strong.” You’re not. And when God does bring (even greater) weakness your way, first seek to remove it and ask him to remove it and, if he doesn’t, recognize it as an opportunity to rely on God in a different way, and rejoice in that.