leadership

What's the Big Deal about a Day Off? Really.

It’s easy for many of us to just go, go, go. After all, this is the one and only life we have. Once we discover how we’re wired, what our talents are and what our purpose is, it’s time to "get to it," right? Maybe. But we often burn up the wonder of discovering why we exist because we don’t know how to exist without working every day of the week.

Why is it so difficult for us to unplug? To take a “day off?”

Here are five reasons we often lean in to our own demise.

*Note: if your work is in a church, feel free to replace “work” with “ministry” if that helps you.

Getting to Answers Without Questions. Really?

Are questions better than statements?

Of course, the “right” answer is “yes.” Which is precisely the challenge of asking questions: We think we already know the answer. I admit it. I often do.

When I do, my arrogance spews observations as judgements (This can be especially true with family or others close to me. Ugh.). My narrow-mindedness is expressed as nothing more than biting accusation dressed up as "truth-telling." And my claim to “truth” leads me to directives and corrections with little room for push-back or open human-to-human dialog. This confession is no fun.

Surely I'm not alone in this. 

Your Team Wants You to Ask Yourself These 10 Questions about Trust

The more conversations I have with clients, family and friends, the more I’m thinking about trust these days. Seems there’s precious little trust actually being experienced in work places and homes. Let’s start by defining trust.

My online dictionary states that trust as a verb means: to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or someone.

Conversely, the same dictionary defines distrust this way: to doubt the honesty or reliability of; regard with suspicion.

My experience confirms that people know quickly whether they are trusted or distrusted; whether their supervisor believes in their strengths or regards them with suspicion. People know when their leader hovers, limits, takes back a responsibility or removes authority.

It’s in You. And Your Team. Let’s Access It.

You know it’s good - your leadership, your team, your work, your life - but, there’s a gnawing sense that it could be better. More focused. More replenishing. More you.

I only have a few spots left

10 Reasons You're Not Ready to Welcome New Guests

You don’t intend to not be ready. You really want everyone to feel welcome. You even have some greeters at the front door. People are shaking hands, and they appear to be friendly. 

However, every weekend people walk into churches across America and feel less than welcome. They don't know what to do or where to go. They feel like strangers.

Here are 10 reasons you and your church may not be ready to welcome new guests to your weekend service: 

  1. Your culture is developed for “family” and every weekend is a reunion. Unfortunately, guests can sense when they aren’t treated as family.
  2. You have a “friendly” church. Unfortunately,...

Dear Anonymous. Grow Up.

I admit it. Sometimes I’d like to vent and spew my opinions – without my name. After all, it’s easier. No one can challenge me. No one can offer a rebuttal. It’s a lot easier to be anonymous. And it’s also more cowardly.

…the stabbing, unkind, self-righteous, all-knowing criticisms and complaints that come from Mr. or Ms. Anonymous demonstrate a lack of willingness to dialog and a spineless mockery of courage. Most every time, these anonymous commenters, by their very content, reveal they

Innovation: Exploring Sequence - An Update

My last post was about using a creative process I hadn't tested. And get this - this topic had to do with sequencing steps. I crack me up.  

Just hours after posting the idea, I led my connections staff team through the exercise, creating some of the process on the fly. The result? Crazy creativity, fresh ideas and engaging conversation. The process was so helpful, we extended our meeting an additional half hour and decided to continue the exercise in our next weekly meeting. In fact, some of our ideas overlapped the work of another team, so we've decided to pull our teams together in the next meeting. 

 If you're feeling behind, read my earlier post here, then come back...

Good? Caught up?  

Here's the approach we've taken so far:

 

Guest Services | The Basics

I've been asked lately about some bottom-line "musts" to establish and/or take guest services excellence to the next level. This isn't an exhaustive list (that's why I wrote a few books on the topic), but these core essentials will provide a foundation to make your serve to guests excellent and personable.

Dying on the Battlefield of Well-Roundedness

Yesterday I grabbed the Xbox controller again, as I have the past several weeks since my daughter, Liv, and her boyfriend, Jacob, have been back home for the summer. Every time I play Call of Duty, I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten worse – not better – than the last time I played.

Yesterday I finished third place (Yes, that’s the same as last place when three people play, but third still gets a ribbon in most contests. It just sounds better to me.) every game we played. Finally, in utter disgust of my inability to coordinate my hands and eyes quickly enough to avoid being killed before taking out my two “enemies,” I declared, “This is my last game.” Death is death. I was dead. And I was done.

I don’t have the natural talent to kill imaginary enemies on my TV screen. I can do it. But, I’m not good at it.

Gaming isn’t my sweet spot.

I watch people, particularly leaders, painfully strive to be good at everything.

Broken Systems Break Service

broken-chain.jpg
 

I've had some unbelievable customer service experiences that left my head spinning. So have you. You know those experiences that leave you asking, "Did that just happen?"

I have a very good friend who recently encountered "one of those." Her cell service suddenly went south: missed calls, no rings, no voicemail, inability to virtually use the phone as a phone. What follows is the actual chat conversation. "Sprint" and "Eva" are the phone company representative. "You" is my friend, the bewildered customer.

Sprint: We received your information and will connect you with a Chat Specialist soon.

Eva J.: Hi.

Eva J.: Thank you for contacting Sprint. I am happy to help you.

Eva J.: Please hold a moment while I access your account.

Eva J.: Thank you for waiting.

Eva J.: Please let me know the complete address of the location where you're getting the issue.

You: (Address provided)

Eva J.: Ok.

Eva J.: Please allow me a moment to check the details.

Eva J.: Thank you for being online.

Eva J.: I understand that you are having the network issue in your area and you are not able to use the phone services. I am sorry for the inconvenience you have gone through. Its a known network outage in your area and we have already reported it to our technicians and they are working hard to get it fixed. Its in the final stages of fix and is expected to be resolved very soon.

Eva J.: The Estimated Time of Resolution (ETR) updated by our technical team is: 06/22/2013 19:00:00 CST

You: I beg your pardon? I will continue to have virtually NO cell phone service until JUNE? That is not "very soon"

Eva J.: I understand your concern but the Sprint is working on to upgrade it's signal strength, so you're getting the issue.

You: I appreciate that "the Sprint" (where are you writing from anyway?) is working to upgrade it's signal strength but I am having serious difficulty accepting that I will continue to be billed for a service that is virtually unusable.

Eva J.: I am sorry for the inconvenience experiencing by you but it's a technical issue and resolving by our technical team.

You: Eva J, this is not "inconvenience". This is paying for a service that is not working. What would you do if you were in my place? You're telling me you're sorry but not giving me any options. As I see it, you are essentially telling me to find another service, is that correct?

Eva J.: I understand your concern and if I were at your place then may be I would have also reacted like the same.

Eva J.: The upgradation is for the betterment of the services and you'll get the credit for the known outage systematically.

You: I appreciate your time but this situation is unacceptable. I no longer have access to a land line at home which makes my cell service reliability imperative. You are leaving me no option but to cancel my Sprint service and sign on with another carrier.

Eva J.: I can assure you we are working to not only fix it, but improve your overall customer experience in the area.

You: Yes, I hear you saying that, but what you're also saying is that I will not have dependable service until June of this year. That is not acceptable.

Eva J.: As your calls are dropping, so I can offer you 100 anytime minutes for free and when the services gets corrected then you'll get the proactive credit from the system automatically.

Eva J.: Is there anything else I can assist you with today? 

You: Sorry, I'm at work and was answering my other phone.Ok, so your offer is to give me 100 anytime minutes? You already know, if you have my account in front of you, that I pay for unlimited minutes so this offer has no interest for me. My only interest is in having dependable service. Can Sprint provide me with dependable service by Monday, April 1, 2013? If not, I will need to cancel my service with Sprint. Can I do that with you or must I contact another area?

Eva J.: Yes. You have free minutes on your account but the anytime minutes can be used to call on landline numbers.

Eva J.: I am sorry but I cannot confirm you that you've updated connectivity and network on and after April 01, 2013 and the account can be closed by our accounts team only, so we can arrange a cancellation callback from here or you can also contact our Account Services team directly at 1-888-211-4727. When you call, select option 2 to make changes to your account then press 5 to cancel.

You: I will do so. Thank you for your time.

Eva J.: You're welcome.

Eva J.: Thank you for choosing Sprint - we appreciate your business!

eriously. 

When systems prevent serving the people we're set up to serve, our systems are broken. When anything - anything - gets in the way of people experiencing the Story of Jesus in our churches, something is broken.

Your Teams Are People, Too

We know it, no one needs to remind us. Or do we need to be reminded? The volunteers and staff who make up our ministry teams matter as much as the people we're serving. Our teams are people, too.

As I've had conversations with volunteers and staff on my various teams over the past couple weeks, I've been reminded. People matter. People need value. These people are my first "customers" or "guests".

Just this past week or so, I've been reminded - they will experience value when:


    Life-Sucking Silos, Part 2

    In Part 1 of "Life Sucking Silos" I outlined a few primary ways we focus our staff and volunteer leaders on the main thing, preventing silo ministries or teams who operate as stand-alone entities within the local church (read it here).

     

    Don't worry about relationships; focus on ministry. Don't take the time to get to know people. There are goals to accomplish, souls to serve. Who has time for relationships?

    • Fail to build relationship with your leaders and you'll have a

    Volunteer Culture: It Won't Just Happen, Part 5

    In the last several posts about creating and cultivating a volunteer culture, I’ve pulled from my second book, Lasting Impressions: From Visiting to Belonging, to review some common myths that prevent people from stepping up to serve in the local church (or any organization).

    Myth #2: “Volunteering Requires Too Much Time.”

    • This myth may or may not be true in your church. If the only way to volunteer at your church is by serving every week for hours at a time

    Volunteer Culture: It Won't Just Happen, Part 4

     MYTH #1: “There’s no room for me; it’s all being done already.”

    • You and I know nothing could be further from the truth. Unless it's really true, of course. Maybe your staff is doing it all. Maybe you've structured things in such a way that there really are not new opportunities for new peeps.

    Volunteer Culture: It Won't Just Happen, Part 3

    When your church decides to intentionally develop a culture where it's normal to volunteer, where it's natural to serve, it's easy to make it all about the task. And when it's all about the task, we can make it all about our church. It's all too easy to forget that it's first about Jesus and people. I know - shocking. Earth-breaking. But true. Here are a couple examples.

    • The objective, the task alone drives the recruitment of volunteers. 
      • Often churches look at the ministry goals in front of them and go into recruitment mode to get the task of ministry done. And why not?

    Volunteer Culture: It Won't Just Happen, Part 2

    In our local churches we sometimes operate in a fantasy land, ignoring the reality that our people are living outside the four walls of the church. We create programs, activities, and opportunities for people to volunteer their time and talent as though our people are sitting around with nothing to do.

    When we do ask them to step up and participate, we're often vague, and sometimes shaming.

    It's as though we think people walk through the front door of our church saying,

    Volunteer Culture: It Won't Just Happen, Part 1

    I’m often asked what it takes to move a local church from staff-led ministry to ministry led and carried out by teams of volunteers. It's certainly not an overnight process to make such an intentional change. 

    Here’s part one of several responses to the question: how do create a culture of volunteering where people choose to step up and serve?

    It starts with vision