Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Anonymity

The last sign of a miserable job is Anonymity.

Here is what Lencioni has to say about it:

Anonymity – People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualites by someone in a position of authority. As much as this may sound like an aphorism from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, it is undeniably true. People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.

Out of the three signs I feel like I do best at this one. The reason I feel I do this well is growing up in a pastors home my dad served in many churches where I was invisible. One of the lead pastors my dad served for 6 years as a pastor, elder and taught in the school didn’t even know my name. I remembering being very hurt that in a church of 200 people the pastor didn’t know my name. I later went to a church that I felt the leaders of that church based on decisions they made only valued what people did verses who those people were. They went so far as to say that you should lay down your dreams for the dreams of the senior pastor.

Based on those experiences in my life I made a decision to do everything I can to help people who are a part of the teams I lead know that they have value to me as a person. When people want to quit working in Uptown I never take it personally and always try to convey to them that if they are doing to much I am glad they had the courage to tell me because their personal health is way more important that what they do in Uptown. People who know that they matter as a person to you as a leader will make sure the people they come in contact with know that they matter to someone and most of all they matter to God.

So make sure you go out of your way to let people know you care about them. Talk to their kids ask them about their parents. Find out details and remember them, people love what they do way more if they know that you care about them and are not just using them to accomplish your goals. Our job as leaders is to bring the best out of our team and create environments where they can grow in the gifts God has given them so they can in turn create environments where life change can happen in the life of a kid.

Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Irrelevance

The next sign of a miserable job I want to takle is irrelevance.

Lencioni describes Irrelevance this way: Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone, anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not  find lasting fulfillment. Even in the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone.

This principle combined with immesurement has really made me rethink why, and how we do job descriptions in Uptown specifically and in Kidmin generally. If you talk to most kidmin’s including myself our job descriptions are largely task driven. This is the wrong approach with staff especially if those staff are volunteer staff. Paid staff have a paycheck to help motivate them. Volunteer staff need to clearly see who benefits from what I do. Tasks don’t communicate that.

Most people who volunteer in Kidmin think the kids are the ones who benefit from their work. When in reality often times it isn’t the kids who directly benefit from the work of many of our volunteers, yet if we haven’t communicated that clearly they are leaving every weekend feeling like they have failed. When you break down who benefits from the work your volunteers do it helps them see purpose.

This is one of the main reasons volunteers quit. The very reason people volunteer is to feel a sense of significance. We sell them on making the difference in the life of a child and give them irrelevance because of our ambiguity.

In uptown everyone’s job is make sure every kid that came this week wants to come back next week. Because we believe that life-change happens most often over time in the context of relationship.  Everyone contributes to that goal.

Small group leader – Kids benefit from their work
Logistics director – Teachers and Parents benefit from their work – not kids directly
Guest Services – Parents benefit – the faster we check kids in the happier parents are and the happier kids are.
Preschool Director, small group director – Both of them the person who benefits is me. 🙂

Knowing who benefits from our work makes it personal. One of the most basic tactics of war is to dehumanize the opposition if we don’t see a face when we are doing our work it’s very hard to face our work. Keeping a good volunteer always beats finding new ones.

Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Immeasurement

One of my biggest pet peeves in kids ministry is how we attack our very real need for volunteers. Every conference you go to there will be some form of breakout teaching you how to recruit more volunteers. At these break outs you will often hear tips tricks and how to’s to get more volunteers into your ministry to help with the kids. These usually vary from dinners, to cold calls, to fun events which your new recruits soon learn were just a bait and switch tactic. Are these bad ideas? No. Are they what I believe works for the long haul? Absolutely not. We live in a very short sighted culture, we value results and what have you done for me lately. Tricking people into helping takes a whole different set of skills than finding team members and building a team.

I believe nearly every volunteer issue falls into one of two categories. Culture and vision. If we worry more about creating a team centered culture that shares common values and vision, recruiting and keeping volunteers will not be a problem. One of those things that helps build that culture that makes volunteering irresistible is the ability to know how we are doing.

One of the biggest opportunities we miss as leaders is we that fail to put measurable goals our team members can use to see how they are doing. I can say this because I don’t feel I do this in a simple way, yet. Immeasurement as Lencioni calls it, is really all about not knowing “how” you are doing. In my experience healthy people want feedback. Every person who I have seen grow in the past few years has been because of a series of active coaching where I talk with them about hits and misses.

In Three signs of a miserable job Lencioni talks about how we need to give the people who work for us measurable goals, and by that he means goals “they” can measure. I think we have a list of things for each person who works with us but it’s often unspoken and unclear. If we can work to make goals clear our team members will not just report for duty and keep kids from getting hurt but they will be proactive.

Let me explain what I am thinking for our teachers. Most parents ask their kids two questions 1. Did you have fun 2. What did you learn. What if every early childhood teacher measured their success by how many kids laughed out loud and how many kids could leave knowing the bottom line. I think it could fundamentally change how teach, how we coach and how kids learn. If kids are not laughing and are not learning we need to ask why. Asking those questions will point us to what changes we can implement so kids laugh and kids remember the bottom line. If we want our volunteers to last, to love what they do, and create a culture that makes volunteering magnetic then we must learn how to measure what our people do. At the end of the day if everything was crazy and nuts if they can say “Wow, I did great today” or “Wow, I know what I need to work on for next time.” We win, they win, culture wins, and ultimately the kids win.

Measurement will look different for everyone but what gets measured has lots to do with who benefits from your work. Who are you serving…..but….that my friends is a topic for another day….like shall we say tomorrow?

Three Signs of a Miserable Job.

Just finished reading this book had avoided it simply because if you are happy with your job reading a book like this doesn’t look the best to your co-workers. I wish I would have read this book years ago. It was amazing. Patrick Lencioni is an extremely gifted writer. About 2/3 of the book is a fable the last 1/3 he delves into the principles he revealed in the fable. In the book Lencioni outlines the three things that every manager must do to make sure their employees love their work and do their jobs in a way that reflects that fact. I want to break down each sign and talk about how they apply to children’s ministry.  Below is a brief summery of the whole book done by getabstract.com.

Business books take many forms, but seldom are they fables. Patrick Lencioni breaks the mold with this charming book about a manager who turns his workers’ miserable jobs into fulfilling ones. He presents the fictional story of Brian Bailey, a big-hearted CEO who gets bought out, finds retirement dull and tries managing a seedy pizza parlor where the employees hate their jobs. Bailey quickly changes everything by the way he treats the shop’s people. Later he works his magic as the new CEO of a failing retail sporting-goods company with a ruinously high turnover rate, where his humane techniques turn things around again. Lencioni’s book is fun to read; its fable is touching yet credible. He reinforces important lessons all managers should know about getting the best from the people who work for them by providing empathy and recognizing the meaning of their work. If you are up for a parable,getAbstract recommends this engaging book. It spotlights a clear axiom: Treat people humanely and they will do as you wish – a valuable lesson for any manager or, indeed, anyone at all  (Quote taken from getabstract.com)

New Kids Pastor Toolbox

Where you need to start before you start

One of the reasons I blog here is to be to others what I wish someone was to me when I started. One of the things that would have helped me when I started was knowing where to start. So this post is sort of beginners toolbox for anyone who is new, just starting or about to start in kids or youth ministry. Hope these are helpful to you or to someone you know.

1. Producteev You need a to-do app you can trust that has the flexibility, that is collaborative and free. Preducteev does that all and some.

2. Read Beat the Clock – Drucker said it best.

Everything requires time. It is the one truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

Jim Wideman’s book on time is a must read for every new kids pastor.

(to see the rest select “continue reading” below)