GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & WFH? Do this one thing to retain your employees and avoid the Great Resignation by Bob Whitesel PhD

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EMPLOYEES & Invest in Them to Enhance Their Productivity

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy, Harvard Business Review, 10/07.

…To effectively reenergize their workforces, organizations need to shift their emphasis from getting more out of people to investing more in them, so they are motivated—and able—to bring more of themselves to work every day. To recharge themselves, individuals need to recognize the costs of energy-depleting behaviors and then take responsibility for changing them, regardless of the circumstances they’re facing.

…People tap into the energy of the human spirit when their everyday work and activities are consistent with what they value most and with what gives them a sense of meaning and purpose. If the work they’re doing really matters to them, they typically feel more positive energy, focus better, and demonstrate greater perseverance. Regrettably, the high demands and fast pace of corporate life don’t leave much time to pay attention to these issues, and many people don’t even recognize meaning and purpose as potential sources of energy. Indeed, if we tried to begin our program by focusing on the human spirit, it would likely have minimal impact. Only when participants have experienced the value of the rituals they establish in the other dimensions do they start to see that being attentive to their own deeper needs dramatically influences their effectiveness and satisfaction at work.

… To access the energy of the human spirit, people need to clarify priorities and establish accompanying rituals in three categories: doing what they do best and enjoy most at work; consciously allocating time and energy to the areas of their lives—work, family, health, service to others—they deem most important; and living their core values in their daily behaviors.

To help program participants discover their areas of strength, we ask them to recall at least two work experiences in the past several months during which they found themselves in their “sweet spot”—feeling effective, effortlessly absorbed, inspired, and fulfilled. Then we have them deconstruct those experiences to understand precisely what energized them so positively and what specific talents they were drawing on. If leading strategy feels like a sweet spot, for example, is it being in charge that’s most invigorating or participating in a creative endeavor? Or is it using a skill that comes to you easily and so feels good to exercise? Finally, we have people establish a ritual that will encourage them to do more of exactly that kind of activity at work…

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EMPLOYEES & Performance Incentives Fuel Church Staff to Stronger Results

by Warren Bird, LeadNet, 7/29/15.

Pastor Will Rambo could only imagine all the negatives that would come from implementing a performance bonus structure for the staff of The Orchard in Tupelo, MS, where Bryan Collier is the lead and founding pastor.“My first reaction was this is far too secular, too corporate and too businesslike,” Will says of the performance incentive plan. “I went into this pushing back hard.”

If the new goal-setting process and accompanying financial incentives weren’t handled well, Will could picture a church staff splintering and competing against each other, with a drive to get things done all for the sake of landing a bonus.

“I feared responses like people saying, ‘So will I get paid $5 per baptism?’ Will says, “or someone saying, ‘I need you to hurry up and do this so that I’ll get a bonus at year’s end.’ ”

Better Than Expected

Now, two years into the process, Will can gladly say his worst fears have not been realized. The 16-year old congregation has a church staff that is more engaged than ever, and is reaping the rewards of accomplishing even more together than any of them could have imagined.

“For years we’ve set goals, but they lacked follow-through,” says Will, also a senior pastor at one of the church’s five locations. “In this new approach, we moved to grander goals and dreams, those that require cross-departmental cooperation. We’re doing fewer things, but larger—a philosophy of less is more.

“Our staff is at the healthiest place they’ve been in our 16 years as a church.”

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SPIRITUAL FORMATION & Should Employees Be Given Spiritual “Development Days?” Yes! Here’s why.

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 6/24/15.

I was thinking about how organizations sometimes give employees “development days” to pursue education, attend conferences, etc.

But since I encourage 50/50 development, 50 percent on professional development and 50 percent on spiritual development, I believe one option might be that ouGBA_Med1r development days should also be divided equally. (For more on how to balance 50% of your employee’s development in the spiritual arena too, see my chapter “Missteps with Staff Education” in Growth by Accident, Death by Planning, Abingdon Press, 2004).

Here is my response to a former student on this issue. I hope this sheds some light on my thinking regarding how to foster 50/50 learning in our congregations.


Hello ____student name____;

I appreciated that you stated, “I have found that if I can keep the personal development days focused on personal skill development, there is a high interest. I am afraid that if it drifts towards ratios (i.e. 50/50) … interest may change.”

Thank you for your posting. You are correct, many employees are highly interested in developing their skills.

But, I am concerned that 50/50 learning be reflected in our development days too. Let me explain. Church Growth studies are critical, and should be part of the 50% professional development segment. But also spiritual development is needed in the other 50%, lets call this spiritual development.

I suggested to another student in your cohort that 15 days should be expected per year minimum for personal development. Thus, 7 days for professional development, and 8 days for spiritual development.

Thanks for getting me thinking.
Dr. Whitesel


TELECOMMUTING & Millennials Say They’ll Relocate for Work-Life Flexibility

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “For your company to improve morale, innovation and impact you must embrace employee flexibility. Read this Harvard Business Review article for more research that shows employee flexibility is especially critical to keep talented Millennials in your work force.”

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EMPLOYEE PROBLEMS & Why Compassion Is a Better Managerial Tactic than Toughness

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel; “What do you do with that underperforming student? Or perhaps they are an underperforming employee? Research shows that compassion and curiosity are the best ways to help them get back on the effectiveness track. So, rather than increasing the severity of your punishment, take an interest in what they are going through and show compassion. Research shows that when employees feel you have empathy they will work harder towards shared goals. Read this Harvard Business Review article to review the research.”

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EMPLOYEE REVIEW & Understanding the Annual Review Phases #LifeChurchTV

by of LifeTV, 3/17/15.

We created a web-based tool called Develop.Me to guide our staff development conversations. It allows team members to set goals and meet with their leaders throughout the year to track progress. Though staff development is ongoing, we have an annual review that serves as a launchpad for the next year’s growth.

Sample Annual Review Timeline
Here’s an outline of the three phases of this annual review. Ours happens at the beginning of each year, but yours could happen when it works best for you…

Self Review… a team member reflects on their growth over the past year and rates their success in Develop.Me. Then, they set up a meeting with their team leader to review their goals and progress… The team leader’s responsibility during this meeting is to simply listen. This isn’t the time to conduct the actual review or provide feedback. Just listen to the progress and concerns your team member brings to you. These phases help create a safe process for team members and leaders to grow..

Leader Review … a formal performance review and rating of the team member.

Between the Leader Review and the Response Phase, we block off a period for our Human Resources team to make sure everyone’s reviews are locked in and no one has fallen through the cracks.

Response Phase … the team leader and team member together again for one last meeting. In this conversation, they discuss the leader’s constructive feedback and begin creating the development plan for the upcoming year.

This final phase sets up the goals for the new year. The team member inputs their new goals into Develop.Me, and the team leader approves them.
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EMPLOYEES & They Often View Their Happiness Differently (& 5 Things You Can Do)

By Bob Whitesel

Recent research has shown that leaders often misperceive what their employees want.

Look at these comparisons:

  • Employees want to succeed in their work – more than their employers think they do
  • Employees want flexible hours – more than their employers think they do.
  • Employees want their home time and off hours respected – more than their employers do.
  • Employees want to discuss their compensation – more than their employers think they do.

The answer for these misperceptions is better communication and team-building. Below are some of my recommendations.

1). Listen to your employees. Even when there is a decision to which they don’t have required input, still go to them and listen for their viewpoint. Listening to others viewpoints has been shown to create unity and team-building. See my book “Staying power” chapters 1-2, 6 as well as my book “Preparing for change reaction,” the chapter titled “Go slow, build consensus and succeed.”

2) Respect your employees’ non-work hours. Don’t text message, email or call them at night or in their off hours. If you want to send something put it on a delay through your email program and send it during office hours. They may be checking for emails from family/friends and see an email from their employer with an intriguing headline that is too tempting not to open. Then it may wind up robbing them of minutes or even hours in the evening as they respond and/or ruminate on it.

3) Take some time out of the workday to just fellowship with your employees. Go out to lunch, etc. but do not count this as time off and require extra work hours. You’re actually working, working on building relationships.

4) Ask them what they feel they should be paid. Often the only time we ask employees what they feel they should be paid, is when we hire them. And then we don’t ever ask it again. As this survey shows, the employer usually thinks their employees are happier with their compensation than the employees usually are. Compensation should be an annual part of your review of the position. If you are asking to review their performance – they should be able to talk to you about reviewing your compensation for that performance.

5) When you see your employees at a social event, go out of your way to connect with them over your peers. Often times I will have the choice of sitting with my colleagues for lunch or joining some of the students I teach. I usually err in favor of the students, because they need time to discuss things with me. And there will be other opportunities to connect with my colleagues. So when you are in a social environment and have an opportunity to connect with colleagues with whom you feel more comfortable or employees who are more disconnected, choose those whose connection needs to be improved. Yet there is a caveat here, don’t stay too long or connect too much in social settings. But let them know you are accessible at such social opportunities (mainly be a listener).

Read more of the 2015 Workplace Trends report at …

EMPLOYEES & The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study

The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study, 2/2/15: “Survey Finds Disconnect Between Employers and Employees On Work-Life Balance”

While 67% of employers feel workers have work-life balance, 45% of employees disagree.

Boston, MA and Los Angeles, CA, February 17,, a research and advisory membership portal servicing forward-thinking HR professionals, and CareerArc, a global recruitment and outplacement firm, today announced the results of a new study entitled, “2015 Workplace Flexibility Study.” Following a national survey of 1087 professionals, both employed and unemployed, in addition to 116 HR professionals, 67% of HR professionals think that their employees have a balanced work-life, yet almost half (45%) of employees (35% of job seekers) feel that they don’t have enough time each week to do personal activities. One in five employees surveyed spent over 20 hours working outside of the office on their personal time per week – a clear indicator of suboptimal work-life balance.

Technology may be to blame for the amount of work performed outside of the office: The survey found that the majority of workers–65% of employees (67% of job seekers) say that their manager expects them to be reachable outside of the office, 9% by email (7% for job seekers at their previous job), 23% by phone (27% for job seekers) and 33% by email and phone (34% for job seekers). From the HR perspective, 64% expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time, 18% by email, 3% by phone and 26% by both email and phone.

Taking work home after office hours may be the norm, but formal workplace flexibility programs–wherein employees have the option to periodically work from home without coming into the office–seem to be benefiting both employees and employers. 87% of HR leaders believe that workplace flexibility programs lead to employee satisfaction, while nearly 7 out of 10 HR leaders use workplace flexibility programs as a recruiting and retention tool.

The study exposed employee and employer preferences on issues of work-life balance, flex programs, and benefits.

Additional highlights from the report include:

Companies are investing more in work flexibility programs in 2015.

Workplace flexibility is more important to employees than employers think. 50% of employers ranked workplace flexibility as the most important benefit they believe their employees desire, compared to 75% of employees (and 74% of those unemployed) who ranked it as their top benefit. Employees, job seekers and HR professionals agree that paid and unpaid time off is most important to employees (72% of HR vs. 79% of employees and 74% of job seekers). Both employees (61%) and job seekers (66%) ranked financial support, such as tuition assistance, as being most important after time off.

Employers are seeing benefits from their flexibility programs. The top benefits organizations saw in their work flex programs were improved employee satisfaction (87%), increased productivity (71%), and that they retained current talent (65%). 69% use their programs as a recruiting tool and 54% said that their programs positively impacted their recruiting.

Boomers don’t benefit from their flexibility program as much as younger generations. 62% said that the demographic that benefits most is Gen X compared to 35% of Gen Y and only 3% of boomers.

Employees care most about compensation yet employers think otherwise. 37% of employers said that the type of work that employees do is most important to them, compared to the money they make (24%). On the other hand, 31% of employees (24% of job seekers) said that the money they make is most important followed by the type of the work they do (22% of employees and 23% of job seekers).

There is a large opportunity for employers to strengthen their employment brand by offering outplacement and career transition assistance to their employees. 71% of job seekers answered that they were likely to choose a company that offered outplacement (career coaching and transition services for laid-off employees) over a company that did not if all else (salary, role, etc.) was equal. As a benefit, outplacement assistance was more important to potential employees than health and wellness benefits, community volunteer initiatives, tuition assistance, or culture change initiatives such as team building. Outplacement trailed only workplace flexibility and time off for jobseekers evaluating employer benefits. Approximately one-third (34%) of the organizations surveyed with 500+ employees currently offer outplacement assistance to it’s laid-off employees.

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EMPLOYEES & New Evidence Why Employees Are Burned Out #Forbes

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Research shows that employers think their employees are less stressed and less burned-out, than they actually are. This is a good reminder for leaders, that people are usually not as happy and as motivated as we assume. Look at the three suggestions in this article leaders can undertake to help employees from burning out.”

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MANAGEMENT & What Peter Drucker Knew About 2020 #ORGANIXbook #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Peter Drucker said that every hundred years or so society reinvents itself due to some new innovation. The shift to an electronic, information society is apparently what he foresaw. Read this article to understand important shifts such as:

1) embrace employee autonomy,
2) build a learning organization,
3) actively prune what is past its time,
4) create a sense of purpose
5) and remember be more mindful of those left behind.”

For details, read Rick Wartzman’s overview in HBR.

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EMPLOYERS & 5 Things Your Employees Are Afraid to Ask You

“You don’t want to answer them–but you have to. If you don’t, you’ll put your company in jeopardy.”
by Laura Garnett, Inc. Magazine, 4/9/14

Excerpts include:

“Do you see me as a long-term part of the success of this business?”

Manager dialogue: Share your vision of the company along with your vision of where you see this employee fitting into that vision. If, however, you don’t see the person as part of your vision, you should share this as well and why. Maybe it’s because the person is the best at what he or she does and you see the person doing that in a variety of business arenas, rather than just yours. Either way, addressing this question opens the door to a motivational conversation that engages the employee in a meaningful way about the company’s future and the employee’s.

“Can I work from home–or anywhere else I want–as long as I am achieving great results?”

Manager dialogue: If this employee’s role allows the flexibility to work remotely, why not trust the person to create a specific work schedule. If you are feeling tentative about it, allow him or her to work remotely for a short period of time as a test and have the person track the results and present back the findings.

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