3 Priorities for Hiring Good Team Members

When adding people to your organization. Look for these three things (in the order listed!):

  1. Character
  2. Chemistry (organizational fit)
  3. Competency

Talent doesn’t matter if there is a deficiency of character or the person does not fit your culture.


organizational health is key!

Patrick Lencioni JAN 2016

Successful [Organizations] Start With Why

three ways you might be demotivating your staff

“The point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, to use yourself completely -all your skills, gifts, and energies- in order to make your vision manifest. Enjoy the process of becoming.” – Warren Bennis (from Susan Cain)

leaders eat last book with Simon SinekMotivation is something that we read about a great deal. Most of what I have read about motivation actually smacks of manipulation. One of my strongly held opinions is that you can’t really motivate people, but you can demotivate them very quickly. Many organizations look for, and find, motivated people which is what you should do. Unfortunately, they then go about demotivating them.

Simon Sinek, in his book Leaders Eat Last, talks about several subjects, but three things really stood out to me as ways we demotivate those we lead.

First, do you see people as a commodity to be managed in order to help grow the money/ministry? Great organizations see money as the commodity to grow their people. Want to demotivate your staff? See them as a mens to an end. See them as “human resources” to be managed just as you would money, buildings, machinery, and so on.

Second, take away their sense of safety. I am not talking about physical safety (although that is critical), but it is using stress, intimidation, humiliation, or isolation to “motivate” people that makes them feel insecure and lack a sense of emotional safety. Instead, give them a place based upon a clear set of values where everyone is valued and are provided a “safe” place to work.

And thirdly, take away a person’s sense of control over their job and watch their motivation plummet. In studies cited by Sinek, the lack of control over ones job is probably the greatest contributor to destructive workplace stress. Sinek goes on to say, “A supportive and well-managed work environment is good for one’s health. Those who feel they have more control, who feel empowered to make decisions instead of waiting for approval, suffer less stress.”

So, does the culture of your organization value people as people? Is your organization a safe place to work emotionally – for everyone that works there and not just a select few? And finally, do you actually empower people and give them control over their jobs? If not, maybe these are some of the reasons you are struggling with a demotivated staff.

Organizational health is critical to the success of your organization and these three areas are indicators of your health – how are you doing?

Have a great week!


are some staff/positions more valuable than others?

Good morning, looks like a beautiful sunrise here this morning!

Recently, I was asked if some roles or positions (people) more valuable to the organization’s mission than others.Following is basically how I responded. After you read it, tell me what you think.

I once very much subscribed to the theory that some were more important than others to an organization. And my opinion went very much along with the thinking that the higher up or more prominent they were, then of course the more key they were to the organization. Then as I matured, I began noticing who it was that really made things happen in an organization. Usually they were the quiet (often underpaid) people that kept the organization going and productive – and often in spite of the organizational “heroes”.

In business, one man told me that if you were in management not to get too proud of yourself because in reality you were just an overhead expense – it was the people on the production floor that made the money for the company. In the Army we quickly learned the value of the soldiers. They were the ones actually meeting the enemy face-to-face in battle, they were the ones loading the trucks, they were the ones preparing and serving the food, and so on.

If you are familiar with machinery, you know the value of a linchpin. A critical little piece of metal no one notices, until it breaks. In all organizations, there are linchpins – not noticed, but absolutely critical to the operations of the organization. (Check out Seth Godin’s book Linchpin)

Another analogy – that of a spear. It is often used in the military, but is true in most organizations. The edge of the spearhead is what actually cuts, yet it is a very small part of the spear. Yet no matter how sharp the spearhead, without a good shaft, it is useless. If the shaft is rotting it is in danger of breaking at a most inopportune time. So, the spearhead gets all of the attention, but in reality it is useless without the rest of the spear – just like an organization.

And finally, read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. An organization is a body with many parts. Note this one phrase, ” . . . the parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable, . . .” In light of that Scripture and that of what Christ said in Matthew chapter 20, I can no longer say one is more important than another.

As in Scripture, there are different roles, some with more authority/responsibility, but in Christ, no difference in value and no less important. The same is actually true in a healthy organization and, yes, the “lower” level positions are just as important as the senior leaders.

All who are part of the organization are important and should be valued. If their position is not needed, if they are not trained well, if they aren’t a good fit for the job, if they really don’t belong in the organization, if they don’t have the tools to do their job, if there is not enough money to pay them well – it is not their fault! Those are all management decisions and not of the staff member. Joseph Juran often stated that at least 80% of all [problems] are caused by management. He also went on to say 100% of firings are management caused. Yet, so often, those lower in the organization pay a heavy price for the poor decisions of management.

Now, no matter how hard we try and with the best of systems, organizations do bring on the wrong people. However, the healthy organizations take ownership of their mistake and do not penalize the employee for the organization’s mistake. They work hard to find a place that does fit the employee.

Look at one of my posts sharing something from the Ken Blanchard Company, he states that power is held in trust. As leaders we are stewards of the lives of others – others who are precious in the site of The Lord. This is not to be taken lightly.

So, I do believe that while we may have differing levels of authority and responsibility in an organization, no one is more valuable than another – in a healthy organization.

I would be interested in hearing your take on this as I imagine there are many of you out there that may disagree.

Blessings on your day!


successful and mediocre organizations – the difference

Good morning! Enjoying a cool August morning here in southwest Michigan. Today, I get to work with a special group of people at Life Action Ministries.

What is it that distinguishes the excellent organizations from the mediocre ones? Is it innovation and creativity? Is it better marketing? Is it better financial management? Is it more passionate and dedicated people?

Yes and no. Primarily no. Actually those things above and more are actually the outcomes of something more fundamental. Read what Patrick Lencioni has to say:

After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are.The Advantage

I agree. So, is it time to do a health checkup on your team or organization? How healthy is your organization? What do you need to do to get it healthy? Start by reading Lencioni’s book The Advantage.

Hope you have a blessed day!

Three Things to Consider for Your Formal Communication System

Good morning! I am traveling some this week and having the pleasure of being part of a team that is coming alongside an stream Niles 2013organization that is doing good in the inner city helping them to better manage their organization. Great group of folks. I am writing this sitting on the side of a hotel bed – not the best way to write!

Communication among people is an art and a science and one that is so hard for us to master. Within an organization it gets even more complex. I have found that within an organization you can have people who have good relationships and a fairly strong informal communication process, but you still suffer because there is a weak formal system of communication.

As a leader, you need to establish a robust formal system of communication within your organization. Some things to consider are:

1. Frequency and regularity – people need to be communicated with more often that we as leaders often want to do so. They also need to know that the formal communication will be regular and reliable. If you are supposed to have some type of information meeting every Friday – do it and don’t skip a meeting. Especially don’t skip several meetings.

2. Remember that each of us don’t take in information the same way, some prefer to hear it, some read it, and so on. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are taking advantage of the many and varied mediums or channels that are available to us to communicate more effectively.

3. Say it and then repeat it at least seven times in various fashions. Just because you understand it doesn’t mean your team understands. Research shows that you need to repeat something important at least seven times for people to start geting it. So repeat yourself often and do so in various communication channels.

Be intentional and set up robust formal communication processes to keep your team informed. It is critical to the success of your organization.

Have a great Wednesday!

The First Step to Organizational Health

After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are.”* – Patrick Lencioni, The AdvantageThe Advantage Book

Like I once did, you might have thought that what really made the difference between organizations was innovation, creativity, “smarts”, great strategy, marketing and so on. Not so according to Mr. Lencioni. And from my experience (not nearly as extensive as Mr. Lencioni’s!) I completely agree. I have encountered so many organizations from companies, to churches, to non-profits that have great, smart, talented. passionate people and they are operating like they are in quicksand. What is lacking is organizational health – they are dysfunctional in much the same way some families are dysfunctional.

Additionally, after becoming immersed in the culture of my new employer, Ambassador Enterprises, I have an even deeper understanding of the importance of organizational health. At Ambassador, we have some core “sayings” such as, Relational Effectiveness Drives Organizational Performance and one of our core goals is creating A Community That Cares and A Team That Performs. Notice that “A Community That Cares” comes before “A Team That Performs”. That order / priority is very intentional and very important. We are very focused on organizational health and as a result it is a community that cares and is a high performing team of professionals!

Mr. Lencioni states that there is an important first step to a healthy organization – a cohesive leadership team. He goes on to say, “The first step a leadership team has to take if it wants the organization it leads to be healthy—and to achieve the advantages that go with it—is to make itself cohesive. There’s just no way around it. If an organization is led by a team that is not behaviorally unified, there is no chance that it will become healthy.”*

And at Ambassador, we would go on to say that if you want a healthy leadership team, you need individual leaders who are healthy. You need leaders with high Emotional Intelligence, who are mature individuals, and who care deeply about community.

Is your organization healthy? Why not? What are the dysfunctions you are seeing? How can you help your organization become healthy?  How about you? What are your opportunities to grow and become a healthier leader?

Today – resolve to become healthier and stronger. Quit struggling in the quicksand. Get out and make a difference.


*Lencioni, Patrick M. (2012-08-21). The Advantage, Enhanced Edition: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (pp. 8-9, 19). Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition.

Is It Time for a Checkup?

Good morning, it is finally a little cooler here in southwest Michigan. For a while I felt like I was back in the South!

How are you doing? No really – how are you doing? Not just at work, not just at home, but in all areas of your life? Do you know how you are doing? Or do you just have a vague sense that maybe some areas of your life may be just a little out of whack? Or maybe a lot?

Most of us have an annual physical which gives us a snapshot at that moment of how we are doing  physically and the doctor may give us direction on how to deal with some of the results. So why don’t we do that for our lives? For all aspects of who we are?

What we do here at Life Action for all of our staff is that we do an annual checkup, but it is an overall Vitality Assessment. Once a year, we require our staff to take at least one half day and we allow a full day to go somewhere quiet where they can concentrate and meet with the Lord and work through a Vitality Assessment that was developed by one of our leaders here at the ministry. The Assessment walks you through ten major parts of most people’s lives and gives them a snapshot of how healthy they are in each area.. Following are the ten areas:

1. Your relationship with the Lord 

2. Your marriage

3. Family

4 Key relationships

5. Physical Health

6. Rest & Recreation

7. Moral Purity

8. Service to others

9. Financial health

10. Your work life

Of course, you could break up your life in different segments, but the point is that you are examining your life and then addressing the areas that God puts His finger on. After the assessment, we require our staff members to choose someone (they don’t have to be on Life Action’s staff) to walk with them as they address whatever they learned during the assessment.

So – is it time for you to have a checkup?

Have a blessed week!

What Happens in an Unhealthy Organization

People suffer under bad leaders.  Plain and simple.  People suffer in unhealthy organizations – including unhealthy Christian organizations.

I have the privilege of serving in a healthy organization that is striving to grow healthier and stronger, but I have served in unhealthy organizations in the past and I have tried to help some unhealthy organizations.  This is a bigger problem in ministry that we may imagine.

Bad leaders make for unhealthy organizations.  Unhealthy organizations, especially churches and ministries, are limited in their impact, often drift off course, are not good stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to them, and are not good for the people in the organization.

I have posted a few times on Patrick Lencioni’s book on organizational health entitled The Advantage.  Great book and if you are interested in becoming a healthier and stronger organization, you need to add this book to your toolbox.

Ed Stetzer has written a post on what an unhealthy church or ministry looks like.  Too often I have seen the same thing.  Following are six signs of an unhealthy Christian organization from Ed’s post:

1. The church or organizational culture does not value those serving, just those leading and the function of the organization.

2. The leader is the only one who is allowed to think.

3. The organization or church thinks everyone else is wrong and only they are right.

4. People rationalize that the good they are experiencing is worth the abuse they are receiving.

5. People often know of the glaring character problems of the leader, but no one can speak truth to power.

6. Many times, the leader gets a pass for the fruit of his/her leadership because of some overwhelming characteristic: preaching ability, intelligence, ability to woo others, or more.

Click here to read all of Ed’s post – it will be worth your time if you are concerned about the health of your organization.

Hope you have great week serving our Lord!