Saturday, November 12, 2011

Skills? Heart? or both? What do you look for in a dynamic team member?

Recently a ministry leadership team asked me to help them with a challenge they are facing with a member who seemed to have lost heart. The leaders were burdened with needing to help their team mate while helping the ministry steward resources and relationships.  
The leader's behavior sounded like this: 
            "...______ is just not the person we hired..." 
            "...when dealing with challenges _____ has gone from a tenacious problem-solver to victim..." 
We talked and prayed about what to do, and while preparing to regroup, I read the following article referred by LinkedIn non-profit org management. It helped me help them...

Should you hire for Skills or Spirit - FC Expert Blogger Michelle Randall,, Nov. 8, 2011
"Companies spend a huge amount of time and resources crafting business strategies. Even so, most of these strategies end in failure.
     Because people represent the potential of the business, high-growth companies need high-growth employees. Employee development is the key ingredient in breaking through to the next level of growth. Employees have to develop new skills that allow them to perform at higher levels so that they can quickly deliver on the potential of the strategy and the company itself.
     While it’s certainly possible to hire for new capabilities, there are tremendous benefits of promoting from within. Just a few benefits include: retaining technical knowledge; honoring the informal, social fabric of the organization; and fostering the culture of the company.

Employee development needs to be included in both strategy creation and execution. There are two main ways to assess people and their development: skills and spirit.
     Skills are things that can be trained. A leader can be coached on how to become more influential and engage their team to achieve great results. An employee can be trained technical skills such as engineering, accounting, and marketing that they need to do their jobs really, really well.
     Spirit refers to the “soft” skills that can’t be trained effectively. You have to hire for them. These are hard to find but are necessary for a company to function smoothly.
One of these skills is teamwork--the ability to put the needs of the group ahead of personal desires. Another is heart, as in “put your heart into it.” This describes true commitment and passionate engagement. Employees with heart take ownership of their jobs and go the extra mile. 
This same balance needs to exist within individual senior managers. A VP of global marketing at a IT company recently asked me about this. He told me that one of his senior managers had great skills and was a decent leader, but he wasn’t showing any heart—he just didn’t seem to care about the company. The VP said that the manager’s bad attitude was starting to wear off on his entire team.
     My reply was clear and simple. I told him that if the manager’s heart wasn’t in it, there were two options: move him into a purely technical position or let him go. Senior managers are a microcosm of your company. They are the role models for other employees. As such, they need to have both skills and spirit.
     Integrating strategy and people accelerates the potential growth of any organization and is critical for high-growth companies."

Ministry Application
So how can you use this information in your ministry? 

If you're hiring, PAY ATTENTION to MORE than the skills and experience part of their resume! In the interviews listen for answers that display their passion and that reveal the things that STIR their SOUL! "Hire for talent (spirit), train for skills," was what my friend Terry DeLaPorte always said. (Terry was a Christian business leader I had the privilege of working for until he changed jobs to his new assignment in heaven.) 

Ministries often review the list of experiences, education, and skills before they check out the applicant's passions. Watch out for being blown away by achievements and forgetting to find where their passion lies — it's a BIG MISTAKE! 

If their passions don't align closely with your Vision and Mission, you will likely discover mismatches later in the employment experience, and then you're going to have to FIX a problem you could have prevented! All of us have seen situations where it was harder to release someone and hire their replacement, than it would have been to find the right person the first time.

If this person is already on your team, and you're still reading this, you already know you have a problem. In your feedback conversations you need to ask some 'dive deep' questions, like: 
     "What about this (our) ministry gets you up in the morning?" 
     "If you were able to work anywhere and make a decent living doing it, what would you LOVE to do?"
Listen to their answers, waiting to hear the heart — the passion in their bones. What a person is passionate about, they will DO no matter what happens. What they do to make a paycheck will not engage them at both levels. You'll get a measure of their skills because they're getting a paycheck in return. But if you want heart / passion as well as skills, you need to make that clear! 

Don't tell me you FORGOT to mention this when you hired them? 
Ooops! Now, before you can require both of them, make sure you are applying it to your own activities as a leader of your team. You may have to declare a "new day" at your ministry, and then put into practice a measure of both SKILLS and HEART — making a point to highlight both when giving feedback. Start with yourself — ask for feedback, "Do you see me just doing my job? Do I still have a heart for this work?"

If you encounter a mismatch between your team member and your expectations, you need to offer the opportunity to this skilled person who seems to have lost heart to seek the Lord to find it. 
Jeremiah 29:11-14a 
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord..."
Can your ministry afford to let a leader who has lost heart go, before offering them the opportunity to find it?
Think about this: how did Jesus tell us that the Gospel spreads? 
        It starts at Jerusalem, then goes to Judea, and Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the world.
  • If what we are ministering doesn't work for me (first), and our team [Jerusalem], how can it work for those we serve [in Judea and Samaria], and out into the world? 
  • What doesn't work for the leadership team, won't work in the ministry, and you can't demand that God bless something He doesn't love. 
  • Start with your own practices and prayers to get your heart right — maybe you need to answer that question personally, "If I could do WHATEVER and make a living at it, what would I do?" When you can display real (not fake) passion for your work, you have the stuff to instill that passion in your team mates. 
  • You find (rediscover) YOUR passion, and then you can ask for it of your team mates. Let them see what passion looks like in you, then you can add that to your MUST HAVE list of qualities. 
In today's world, HOW we minister is more visible than WHAT we minister. The way you do ministry counts just as much as the stuff of your ministry. 

So, start with your own relationship and work out from there, moving from complacency to passion-revealed takes skills and heart. Effective, Kingdom-focused ministries will display both, all the time.