HIRING & Researchers find interviews are useless, unless you test candidates on the actual skills and competencies required to do the job. Here is how. #ShowDontTell #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I spent many years on search committees in higher education. I’ve since discovered that one of the most important tools to ask potential candidates is to actually create a syllabus for a course they might teach. Many candidates may not know how to create a syllabus, but they can research it and create one.

By doing this, they show that they would be able to find information for which they did not yet have experience. And, the resultant syllabus will show the quality of their thinking.

This approach, what the author in the article below calls “show, don’t tell,” helps compensate for applicants that are good talkers or any biases of the selection committee. Read the article below about how Thomas Edison utilized a similar aspect when interviewing potential research assistants.

Thomas Edison Made Job Applicants Eat Soup in Front of Him. It Sounds Crazy But Modern Science Suggests He Was on to Something

by Jessica Stillman, Inc. Magazine, 1/12/21.

… First off, it’s important to know that study after study shows that interviews as they’re usually conducted are pretty close to useless. Asking people questions (even expert-recommended behavioral or hypothetical questions) tends to advantage slick talkers over the actually competent (though there are some tricks to minimize this effect). Interviewers are also notoriously swayed by biases and irrelevant details of self presentation.

What does modern science suggest instead? Perhaps not so surprisingly, just testing candidates on the actual skills and competencies required to do the job. A trial assignment, sample work project, or domain specific test far outperform just talking with candidates about their previous work experience, character, and goals.

Show, don’t tell.

… If you want to really understand who candidates are and what they can do, design ways to observe them solving relevant problems. You’ll always get a better sense of a person based on what they do than on what they say.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/hiring-job-interviews-thomas-edison.html

HIRING & Elon Musk’s Brilliant Hiring Strategy Uses The ‘2 Hands Test’–Instead of Degrees. #IncMagazine

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: The first consultation I ever conducted (over 30 years ago) was to help an embattled pastor transition out of a church that wanted to fire him. I was successfully able to do this and not surprisingly afterwards most of my clients were pastors or churches who needed or wanted to transfer.

As a result, I’ve been interested in pastoral transitions since a majority of my consultations over three decades may have been involved coaching ministerial transitions.

Two things I have found and utilized while serving as a senior member of a seminary faculty was 1. An applicant should have hands on experience. 2. Hands-on testing, whereby the applicant should be able to create something (e.g. a syllabus or preaching series).

To my surprise, Elon Musk uses the same formula. Check out this article for more details.

How Tesla and SpaceX discover top talent through this expertly-engineered process

by Kelly Main, Inc. Magazine, 1/11/21.

…Musk holds his conviction that skills matter more than degrees. In doing so, his companies, Tesla and SpaceX, attract and retain some of the brightest minds of our time from across the globe-no degree required. But the hiring process does require two things, which comes down to one thing: the ‘Two Hands Test.’

1. First-hand experience… In other words, education is not limited to what is taught within the walls of a classroom, but what is learned through first-hand experiences. And because of this, first-hand experience is sought as means of discovering talent with deep knowledge.

2. Hands-on testing … Sure, a job interview is a test, but rather than actually examining a candidate’s capabilities, many companies simply work to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge. However, this is a fatal flaw as there is a major difference between memorizing and parroting information and actually understanding how something works. To overcome this challenge, put candidates to the test with highly relevant hands-on testing.

To test candidates effectively, give tests (e.g., a task or assignment) that most closely matches what the role itself may encounter. To yield an accurate measurement of one’s ability to effectively perform the position’s tasks, be sure that the test’s scope is limited to the resources necessary to perform said test or task.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/kelly-main/elon-musks-brilliant-hiring-strategy-uses-2-hands-test-instead-of-degrees.html

DIVERSITY & Designing a Bias-Free Organization

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: As my clients know, I’ve spent 20 years helping churches grow into multiethnic congregations. In fact I wrote a book about how to do it with my friend Mark DeYmaz called reMIX: Transitioning your church to living color (Abingdon Press).

An important part of that transition is to stop doing certain practices that segment your congregation.

Here is a recent interview in the Harvard Business Review with Gardiner Morse on her book “What Works.”

The takeaway can be summed up in these thoughts:

simple changes—from eliminating the practice of sharing self-evaluations to rewarding office volunteerism—can reduce the biased behaviors that undermine organizational performance.”

Here is a portion of the interview …

“Designing a Bias-free Organization” an interview with Gardiner Morse, Harvard Business Review, 7/16.

Do whatever you can to take instinct out of consideration and rely on hard data. That means, for instance, basing promotions on someone’s objectively measured performance rather than the boss’s feeling about them. That seems obvious, but it’s still surprisingly rare.Be careful about the data you use, however. Using the wrong data can be as bad as using no data. Let me give you an example. Many managers ask their reports to do self-evaluations, which they then use as part of their performance appraisal. But if employees differ in how self-confident they are—in how comfortable they are with bragging—this will bias the manager’s evaluations. The more self-promoting ones will give themselves better ratings. There’s a lot of research on the anchoring effect, which shows that we can’t help but be influenced by numbers thrown at us, whether in negotiations or performance appraisals. So if managers see inflated ratings on a self-evaluation, they tend to unconsciously adjust their appraisal up a bit. Likewise, poorer self-appraisals, even if they’re inaccurate, skew managers’ ratings downward. This is a real problem, because there are clear gender (and also cross-cultural) differences in self-confidence. To put it bluntly, men tend to be more overconfident than women—more likely to sing their own praises. One meta-analysis involving nearly 100 independent samples found that men perceived themselves as significantly more effective leaders than women did when, actually, they were rated by others as significantly less effective. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to underestimate their capabilities. For example, in studies, they underestimate how good they are at math and think they need to be better than they are to succeed in higher-level math courses. And female students are more likely than male students to drop courses in which their grades don’t meet their own expectations. The point is, do not share self-evaluations with managers before they have made up their minds. They’re likely to be skewed, and I don’t know of any evidence that having people share self-ratings yields any benefits for employees or their organizations.

But it’s probably not possible to just eliminate all managerial activities that allow biased thinking.

Right. But you can change how managers do these things.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/designing-a-bias-free-organization?

INNOVATION & Creativity Conquers Uncertainty. Here’s How To Hire For It

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: years ago when I began my PhD work I began by finding and analyzing churches that are creatively sharing the Good News. One of the most important factors is hiring creative people. But hiring committees often err on the side of the safe bet. Here is an excerpt from a new research-based book that explains how do you spot someone that’s creative and get them on your team.

by Chaka Booker, Forbes Magazine, 6/1/20.

…According to an annual global study conducted by IBM, 80% of CEOs anticipate this increase in complexity, but only 49% believe their organizations are prepared to deal with it. The same research shows that creative thinking has become a prerequisite for success. Clearly, organizations need talent that see things differently than others. They need creative thinkers who can help move organizations in unanticipated and ultimately successful directions.

Interviewing for creativity

Determining if someone is creative isn’t easy. Even when asked to describe their own creativity, people find it difficult to do so. Steve Jobs echoed this sentiment during an interview for Wired magazine in 1996, “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

Most interview questions don’t acknowledge this reality and instead ask candidates to give examples of creative solutions they’ve generated in their work experience. These types of questions focus primarily on ideas and results, not on the process. Assessing ideas and results, however, requires understanding the candidate’s context. A candidate may describe something that was creative within their context, but to you it may seem lackluster. Or, vice versa, it may seem creative but was par for the course.

This is a problem you cannot solve. Regardless of your understanding of the candidate’s context, your opening question still needs to be a traditional one. Start by asking any of the following standard creativity questions: 

  • Have you had a project which required you to think “outside the box”? If so, what ideas did you generate and what was the result?
  • Have you come up with an innovative idea or solution recently at work If so, what resulted from the idea?
  • Have you faced a problem at work that you solved in a unique way? If so, what was the outcome?

Asking one or two of these questions is still valuable because it sets the foundation for addressing the challenge that Steve Jobs identified. Next you need to ask questions that specifically help you understand the candidate’s mental process.

The link between artistic and professional creativity

Creativity is hard to assess because it is a mind state that people enter to generate results. It is often more recognizable when examined via the artistic creativity exhibited by musicians, poets, dancers, or other artists. For this reason, a considerable amount of research on creative mental processes has been done with artists. Fortunately, artistic creativity and the creativity needed in the working world are related. Studies have shown that whether a person is a chief operating officer or a sculptor, a similar mental shift occurs when they think creatively. Dr. Joel Lopata, a Professor of Psychology and Creativity at The Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, found that, “When artists—or people in general—work across domains…they are in what can be called a distinct creative mental space, which is distinct and different from a rational, logical, and analytical state.”

Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/chakabooker/2020/06/01/creativity-conquers-uncertainty-heres-how-to-hire-for-it/#c928e4c7607d

STAFF & Ditch the Annual Performance Reviews. Do this Instead (and Unite Your Team). How Successful Companies Do It.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I suggest most of my clients initiate at least quarterly one-on-one meetings with their staff instead of an annual performance review. Read the article below to see why annual performance reviews have shown to be ineffective about 80% of the time. Discover instead how one-on-one meetings at least each quarter (where you discuss goal setting, growth opportunities and how you can assist one another) grows better employees.

by Marla Tabaka, Inc. Magazine, 11/30/19.

This SHRM study found that as many as 72% of companies still conduct yearly reviews even though 87% of both managers and employees find them ineffective. 

A Gallup study revealed that employees whose managers regularly communicate with them are nearly three times more engaged than those with managers who don’t communicate regularly. The benefits related to frequent feedback, goal setting, and growth opportunities far outweigh the value of an annual review. 

 Here are a few tips on how to make your transition smoothe.

Take notes.

Doing away with annual reviews does not preclude the need for documentation. Keep ongoing notes on your discussions and the action steps that result from them. In the case of an underperforming employee, this is especially important.

Discuss reward and compensation.

Tell employees when and if they can expect a raise. The absence of an annual review could leave employees wondering about their financial future with the company.

Don’t slack. 

It’s great when you stop someone in the hallway to acknowledge an achievement, but a scheduled meeting still needs to take place. I have one client who meets with each of her five employees weekly, some of my clients hold meetings with employees monthly, and some quarterly. Determine your schedule by considering goals for your culture, the stage of growth the company is in, and how employees are performing. Avoid putting off a meeting with an employee for any reason; this sends the message that they don’t come first.


These meetings aren’t about you; they are about the employee. Your time together is the perfect opportunity to ask them questions about their ideas and vision. Ask them for feedback about your leadership and communication style and let them voice their general concerns should there be any. 

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/ditch-annual-performance-reviews-this-is-how-progressive-companies-do-it.html

ETHICS & The ethical character of a church leader: What is “ethical character” and how should a turnaround leader use it?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Church Revitalizer Magazine, 4/26/18.

What exactly makes a decision ethical? 

It is best to think of ethical decisions as those that honor the “the spirit behind the law.” 

Definition: “Ethics” means operating in the “spirit behind the law” and not just the letter of the law.  Example:  Something can be lawful (a loophole for instance) but not ethical and thus does not honor the “spirit” behind the law. 

The “character” of an ethical leader requires a 3-pronged approach, as popularized by former president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and ethics professor Alexander Hill (“Just Business: Christian Ethics for the Marketplace [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997].)

Ethical leaders have a “character that embraces” three principles…

1. Right actions

2. Just actions 

3. Acting in love

Let’s briefly explore each.

RIGHT ACTIONS are actions in harmony with God’s Word, sometimes described as “holiness” or Biblical godliness. Here are two examples:

a. Being physically and emotionally separate from impure or or ungodly principles, practices and actions. Peter reminds us that as Christians we are to “be Holy without blemish” 2 Peter 3:11-12. EXAMPLE: the ethical leader spends time in Bible study, theology and history to be able to distinguish between actions that go against Christ and His Word.

b. Right actions are rooted in humbly serving others as exemplified in the servant leadership of Jesus. EXAMPLE: “If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.” 1 John 2: 4-6.

JUST ACTIONS characterize leaders who practice equal procedures, fair reward for merit, and protection of rights.

a. Equal procedures mean that regardless of where the person is in the company hierarchy or their cultural background, they are treated equally. EXAMPLE: The apostle Paul living in a highly bigoted and hierarchical culture said that in Christ said that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ” Galatians 3:28. Ponder for a second how revolutionary this was in Paul’s day. Embracing equal procedures means treating people the same regardless of gender, ethnicity and/or socioeconomic culture.

b. Fair reward means that a person is paid fairly based upon their performance (merit) when balanced with what the congregation can afford. EXAMPLE: Exorbitant salaries for church leaders cannot be justified by saying that: “We’ve always paid this much for that position.” Sometimes in church turnarounds, the pastoral salary was set at a time when the chruch could afford a larger salary. Fair reward means negotiating salaries that are equally fair to the organization and the individual. 

c. Probably the most important aspect is to protect the inalienable rights that God has bestowed upon his creation, including bodily safety, freedom from harassment.

ACTING IN LOVE is what sets apart the character of a Christian, because it means our ethical framework demonstrates supernatural love. Here are two areas where Christians often fail in their ethical behavior.

a. Shouldering others pain: This means when one person in the organization suffers, we all suffer and therefore everyone does something to address their pain. Luke tells us in Acts 2:42-45 that in reaction to Peter’s Pentecost sermon, “They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.” EXAMPLE: When a church is undertaking a turnaround, one of the most powerful examples occurs when leaders give up something to help others. A notable secular example occurred when Malden Mills, a textile factory was destroyed by fire. Their CEO refused to lay off his workers. Instead he paid the worker’s salaries out of his own pocket. He told the news media that the workers were, “part of the enterprise, not a cost center to be cut. They’ve been with me for a long time.  We’ve been good to each other, and there’s a deep realization of that.” (Manuel G. Velasquez, Business Ethics: Concepts and Cases, 5th ed. [Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Publishers, 2003], p. 122-124, 491-92.)

b. Taking action on others behalf: This means working and coaching others to help them improve rather than firing them to find someone else. EXAMPLE: In many churches in need of revitalization, there is often an unhealthy and historical “Burn and Churn” style of leadership. “Burn and Churn” means that leaders “burnout” the volunteers/staff and then  leaders recruit more volunteers/staff to replace them, creating an endless “churning” cycle of: recruitment-leavings-recruitment-leavings-recruitment-leavings-etc. However, “taking actions on others behalf” means noticing when people are struggling and coaching them to improve, rather than dismissing them. By taking more time to mentor volunteers/staff rather than firing them, builds upon the strengths of the volunteers’ experience, the volunteers network of friends and the volunteer’s feelings of self worth.

Below is an example case study. Can you spot what could have been done differently utilizing “right actions, just actions and acting in love?”

Sarah doesn’t know very much about her new job as the Director of Discipleship. The previous director suddenly left because of burn out. And though he had no more prior experience than Sarah, the church paid him more because he was a man and was perceived to be the sole provider for his family.

A little more than year into the job Sarah felt she was starting to understand her responsibilities. For most of that year Sarah was on the verge of burning out because she felt the mission of the church was so important that she often worked 60 to 70 hour weeks taking time away from her two young children. 

Her boss the administrative pastor came in to her office and explained to her that she wasn’t developing into what the church needed. Sarah felt blindsided, because the administrator had not worked with her to help her learn her job or improve on doing it better.

The end result was that in this church turnaround situation Sarah was fired with little consideration for her financial and emotional fallout. In the 18 months she had developed many friends among the staff and they empathized with Sarah, perceiving the leaders’ actions to have had failed to exemplify Christlike actions. The end result was that the church went into further decline. Instead of a turnaround church … the lack of ethical character in the leader resulted in at downward church.

Download the article here: ARTICLE ©Whitesel – Ethical Character of Planter (Church Revitalizer) and here: https://issuu.com/renovate-conference/docs/2018_april_may_cr_magazine_final_adb6f267542cdb

INNOVATION & Steve Jobs quote: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/16-top-quotes-to-inspire-a-rare-remarkable-type-of-leadership.html and https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/this-classic-quote-from-steve-jobs-about-hiring-employees-describes-what-great-leadership-looks-like.html

HIRING & Rural Pastors’ Myers-Briggs Correlated w/ Church Size/Health

Commentary by Prof. B: There are many research-based and valid ways to look at pastoral suitability.  Martin Butler has looked at various leadership traits and behaviors in his exhaustive research.  Kenton F. Hinton D.Min. offers a somewhat different and interesting correlation between the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and whether a pastor can grow a church. The following is gleaned from his presentation to the 2017 annual meeting of the Great Commission Research Network held Oct. 19, 2017 at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY.

Caution: These findings were part of a DMin project by Hinton and based upon a sample of 28 rural churches led by Anglo pastors.  Though the results mirror other research (notably Finke and Stark), the reader must be careful to apply this cautiously outside of the sample context. One of my colleagues at the presentation stated, “This proves what works in Johnson County in Southern Baptist Churches” (ET).

Here are some of the takeaways.

ESFJ pastors

  • mostly grew a church.
  • top spiritual gifts (ranked): faith, prophesy, pastor, encouragement
  • strongest skill set: preaching

ESFJ pastors

  • mostly plateaued a church.
  • top spiritual gifts (ranked): pastor, giving, encouagement, faith
  • strongest skill set: pastoral care

E/ISTJ pastors

  • mostly declined a church.
  • top spiritual gifts (ranked): teaching, wisdom, knowledge, pastor, giving
  • strongest skill set: teaching

(Hinton didn’t expand on other MBTI categories)





HIRING & 12 Qualities Research Discovered Makes Pastors More Effective #Butler&Herman

Commentary by Prof. B: The following is an introduction (with at the end an opportunity to download the complete article) to Butler and Herman’s seminal research on  behaviors and traits that lead to ministerial effectiveness. I have summarized the results for churches in an article I penned based upon Butler and Herman’s research here: LEADERSHIP TRAITS & Research Offers Alternative List of the 12 Qualities of Effective Leaders. Here is the introduction to the original Butler and Herman research.

Finding Effective Pastors

Introduction by D. Martin Butler, Ph.D.

My doctoral dissertation was written on the topic of ministerial effectiveness. Although the research is now more than a decade old, it still reflects the core values of a post-modern world. Many of the eleven competencies reflect post-modern ideals such as servanthood, shepherding, visioning, multi-talking, etc. The instruments used in the study have continued to be utilized in various leadership situations and continue to show validity for predicting leadership effectiveness. Most notable, the religious instrument used was based upon work done by the Association of Theological Schools. As recently as 2002-2004 the conceptual framework of the Profiles of Ministry was re-visited and the characteristics expected of ministers reflected in that instrument were overwhelmingly endorsed by laity and clergy alike. It is impossible to know if a study made of Nazarene pastors today would yield exactly the same eleven competencies spelled out below, but neither has evidence surfaced from any research that renders the results invalid for the 21st century Church.

I won’t bore you with asking that you read then entire dissertation, but the following is a copyrighted article I co-authored with my research advisor. It was printed in a journal entitled Nonprofit Management and Leadership. I include it below for your educational benefit, but remind you that it is copyrighted by the journal and should not be reproduced.

What you will read below is a summary of my research. The bottom line is that I discovered key laypersons in Nazarene churches were looking for certain leadership competencies in their pastors. Those eleven competencies become the focal point of the remainder of the course. The article is a bit “dry” because it was written for a scholarly publication, but I hope you catch the essence of my research.


Ministers of local congregations are in positions somewhat similar to the chief executives of other local nonprofit organizations, except that ministers are also expected to respond to the specifically religious needs of their congregants. In this research we assess how especially effective ministers in one denomination differ from less effective ministers in both general leadership skills and specifically religious leadership skills.

The especially effective ministers were identified by applying three selection methods, resulting in an unusually careful selection of a sample of especially effective leaders. The results show that the especially effective are more skillful managers, problem solvers, planners, delegaters, change agents, shepherds, inspirers, multi-taskers, students, servants and demonstrate themselves to be persons of integrity…

Read more in the article, Effective Ministerial Leadership,

If you are a Wesley Seminary student, Off Campus Library Services can provide this to you free of charge.

HIRING & Here Are My Comments on What Research Says Are 11 Questions You Be Asking Candidates

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Hiring a new employee is a momentous decision that I have helped many churches and university committees tackle.  Here is a list of 10 questions I try to ask with a commentary on each.  The 10 questions are based upon the hiring questions from James Kerr’s article in Inc. Magazine (bulleted points by James Kerr, Inc. Magazine, 8/8/16).  My thoughts are in red.

Here are 10 questions that should be used to assess the quality of the leaders in the place and to help in the selection of those to come.

By James Kerr, Inc. Magazine, 8/8/16.

(Comments in red by Bob Whitesel PhD).

1. The leader works to understand their industry and contribute to its evolution through their company’s work? You want leaders that are sincerely interested at the work at hand and those can become movers and shakers within their industries.

It is important she/he be a “mover and shaker” in the future of their field.

2. The leader communicates the firm’s vision and strategies and helps their team to better understand how they contribute to the achievement of Company goals? You want leaders that understand, buy-into and can communicate the firm’s strategies to their people.

A good communicator.

3. The leader demonstrates executive presence and is comfortable working at all levels of an organization? You want leaders that have the poise and confidence to be effective in all circumstances.

Who understands and is well read on the views of today’s younger generations.

4. The leader is an exceptional trust-builder? You want leaders of high integrity that you can be counted on.

This is a key.  It should be someone of whom the committee senses they can trust to do the right thing for the team (not just for the organization).

5. The leader inspires followership and can build a strong team around them? You want leaders that people want to work for and with.

Who understands different types of leaders and can build a team with what she/he is given.

6. The leader is a thought leader that can introduce new ways of “thinking” and “doing”? You want leaders that are always pushing to be better.

Who is an ‘organic intellectual’ (Antonio Gramsci) who makes difficult ideas easy to understand, e.g. may have written easy-to-read books on difficult subjects.

7. The leader is an outstanding communicator, skilled at both listening and messaging? You want leaders that can communicate effectively, so that there is no doubt about what is important.

Does she/he listen? Or do they run headlong with their own projects.

8. The leader routinely provides feedback and coaching to their team? You want leaders that are always working to make their team better.

Are they a conflict-avoider? Do they welcome criticism?

9. The leader rewards outstanding performance and knows how to reward the “right” people? You want leaders that recognizes talent and rewards people based on results, and, not on effort or out of favoritism.

Will they ask staff to do things without compensation, because the staff will do so? Instead, will they help move an organization where staff and volunteers do not feel taken advantage of.

10. The leader can demystify complex concepts and teach them to their teams? You want leaders that can teach people how to be the best that they can be.

Someone who brings out the best in the team they are given.

Original bulleted points retrieved from … http://www.inc.com/james-kerr/top-10-leadership-assessment-questions.html

HIRING & Top 10 Leadership Assessment Questions You Should be Asking a Potential Hire

Here are 10 questions that should be used to assess the quality of the leaders in the place and to help in the selection of those to come.

By James Kerr Inc. Magazine, 8/8/16.

1. The leader works to understand their industry and contribute to its evolution through their company’s work? You want leaders that are sincerely interested at the work at hand and those can become movers and shakers within their industries.

2. The leader communicates the firm’s vision and strategies and helps their team to better understand how they contribute to the achievement of Company goals? You want leaders that understand, buy-into and can communicate the firm’s strategies to their people.

3. The leader demonstrates executive presence and is comfortable working at all levels of an organization? You want leaders that have the poise and confidence to be effective in all circumstances.

4. The leader is an exceptional trust-builder? You want leaders of high integrity that you can be counted on.

5. The leader inspires followership and can build a strong team around them? You want leaders that people want to work for and with.

6. The leader is a thought leader that can introduce new ways of “thinking” and “doing”? You want leaders that are always pushing to be better.

7. The leader is an outstanding communicator, skilled at both listening and messaging? You want leaders that can communicate effectively, so that there is no doubt about what is important.

8. The leader routinely provides feedback and coaching to their team? You want leaders that are always working to make their team better.

9. The leader rewards outstanding performance and knows how to reward the “right” people? You want leaders that recognizes talent and rewards people based on results, and, not on effort or out of favoritism.

10. The leader can demystify complex concepts and teach them to their teams? You want leaders that can teach people how to be the best that they can be.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/james-kerr/top-10-leadership-assessment-questions.html

DIVERSITY & 3 Steps to Start Designing a Bias-Free Organization

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Subtle practices in language, hiring, promotion and programming in an organization can unintentionally lead to unintended and unexpected biases. Read this seminal interview with Iris Bohnet, director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, cochair of the Behavioral Insights Group and author of the book, What Works, about how researchers have discovered how to foster a more bias-free organization.

Designing a Bias-Free Organization

by Gardiner Moorse, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2016.

Iris Bohnet thinks firms are wasting their money on diversity training. The problem is, most programs just don’t work. Rather than run more workshops or try to eradicate the biases that cause discrimination, she says, companies need to redesign their processes to prevent biased choices in the first place.

Bohnet directs the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School and cochairs its Behavioral Insights Group. Her new book, What Works, describes how simple changes—from eliminating the practice of sharing self-evaluations to rewarding office volunteerism—can reduce the biased behaviors that undermine organizational performance. In this edited interview with HBR senior editor Gardiner Morse, Bohnet describes how behavioral design can neutralize our biases and unleash untapped talent…

HBR: Organizations put a huge amount of effort into improving diversity and equality but are still falling short. Are they doing the wrong things, not trying hard enough, or both?

Bohnet: There is some of each going on. Frankly, right now I am most concerned with companies that want to do the right thing but don’t know how to get there, or worse, throw money at the problem without its making much of a difference. Many U.S. corporations, for example, conduct diversity training programs without ever measuring whether they work. My colleague Frank Dobbin at Harvard and many others have done excellent research on the effectiveness of these programs, and unfortunately it looks like they largely don’t change attitudes, let alone behavior. (See “Why Diversity Programs Fail” by Frank Dobbin.)

I encourage anyone who thinks they have a program that works to actually evaluate and document its impact. This would be a huge service. I’m a bit on a mission to convince corporations, NGOs, and government agencies to bring the same rigor they apply to their financial decision making and marketing strategies to their people management. Marketers have been running A/B tests for a long time, measuring what works and what doesn’t. HR departments should be doing the same.

What does behavioral science tell us about what to do, aside from measuring success?

Start by accepting that our minds are stubborn beasts. It’s very hard to eliminate our biases, but we can design organizations to make it easier for our biased minds to get things right. HBR readers may know the story about how orchestras began using blind auditions in the 1970s. It’s a great example of behavioral design that makes it easier to do the unbiased thing. The issue was that fewer than 10% of players in major U.S. orchestras were women. Why was that? Not because women are worse musicians than men but because they were perceived that way by auditioners. So orchestras started having musicians audition behind a curtain, making gender invisible. My Harvard colleague Claudia Goldin and Cecilia Rouse of Princeton showed that this simple change played an important role in increasing the fraction of women in orchestras to almost 40% today. Note that this didn’t result from changing mindsets. In fact, some of the most famous orchestra directors at the time were convinced that they didn’t need curtains because they, of all people, certainly focused on the quality of the music and not whether somebody looked the part. The evidence told a different story…

What are examples of good behavioral design in organizations?

Well, let’s look at recruitment and talent management, where biases are rampant. You can’t easily put job candidates behind a curtain, but you can do a version of that with software. I am a big fan of tools such as Applied, GapJumpers, and Unitive that allow employers to blind themselves to applicants’ demographic characteristics. The software allows hiring managers to strip age, gender, educational and socioeconomic background, and other information out of résumés so they can focus on talent only.

There’s also a robust literature on how to take bias out of the interview process, which boils down to this: Stop going with your gut. Those unstructured interviews where managers think they’re getting a feel for a candidate’s fit or potential are basically a waste of time. Use structured interviews where every candidate gets the same questions in the same order, and score their answers in order in real time.

You should also be thinking about how your recruitment approach can skew who even applies. For instance, you should scrutinize your job ads for language that unconsciously discourages either men or women from applying. A school interested in attracting the best teachers, for instance, should avoid characterizing the ideal candidate as “nurturing” or “supportive” in the ad copy, because research shows that can discourage men from applying. Likewise, a firm that wants to attract men and women equally should avoid describing the preferred candidate as “competitive” or “assertive,” as research finds that those characterizations can discourage female applicants. The point is that if you want to attract the best candidates and access 100% of the talent pool, start by being conscious about the recruitment language you use.

What about once you’ve hired someone? How do you design around managers’ biases then

The same principle applies: Do whatever you can to take instinct out of consideration and rely on hard data. That means, for instance, basing promotions on someone’s objectively measured performance rather than the boss’s feeling about them. That seems obvious, but it’s still surprisingly rare…

How can firms get started?

Begin by collecting data. When I was academic dean at the Harvard Kennedy School, one day I came to the office to find a group of students camped out in front of my door. They were concerned about the lack of women on the faculty. Or so I thought. Much to my surprise, I realized that it was not primarily the number of female faculty that concerned them but the lack of role models for female students. They wanted to see more female leaders—in the classroom, on panels, behind the podium, teaching, researching, and advising. It turns out we had never paid attention to—or measured—the gender breakdown of the people visiting the Kennedy School.

So we did. And our findings resembled those of most organizations that collect such data for the first time: The numbers weren’t pretty.

Here’s the good news. Once you collect and study the data, you can make changes and measure progress…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/designing-a-bias-free-organization

CULTURE MATCHING & Why People Like to Work Alongside People Like Themselves

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Kellogg School of Management researcher Lauren A. Rivera found that management teams work best when there is a degree of cultural matching between participants. This implies that though team members come from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, once they have forged a team with a similar mission and vision the result in a new team culture, which then affects selection of additional participants.

Churches that want to break down ethnic, racial and cultural barriers must be aware that some cultural matching will be required to help people work more effectively as teams. But, if reconciliation is a church’s goal (and I believe it should be) then cultural matching with emerging team cultures can assist in that process and should be designed to create a “reconciliation culture” in the new team.

Read the article below (and at the link) for more insights upon cultural matching.

Hiring as Cultural Matching: The Case of Elite Professional Service Firms

by Lauren A. Rivera, American Sociological Review, 77(6) 999 –1022, 2012, pp. 999-1022.

This article presents culture as a vehicle of labor market sorting. Providing a case study of hiring in elite professional service firms, I investigate the often suggested but heretofore empirically unexamined hypothesis that cultural similarities between employers and job candidates matter for employers’ hiring decisions. Drawing from 120 interviews with employers as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, I argue that hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity. I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture—particularly in the form of lifestyle markers—matters for employer hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on culture, inequality, and labor markets.

cultural capital, culture, hiring, homophily, inequality, interpersonal evaluation, labor markets

Read more at … http://www.asanet.org/journals/ASR/Dec12ASRFeature.pdf

HIRING & Why People Like to Hire People Like Themselves

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  A student once asked about why I require students to utilize 3-5 outside scholarly sources to support their statements.  I do this for two reasons.  First, a graduate school is based upon research, so students must not just conjecture but actually support their ideas from the words of juried scholarly sources. Secondly I require 3-5 sources (per week only) because scholarly sources are so easy to find today.  Let me give an example before we delve into the issue of hiring.

First, here is a student’s statement (with thesis) and my response regarding how (in less than 3 seconds) I found a juried (i.e. scholarly) source to support their thesis.

The student said:

Thank you (name) for your resource and thoughts on my post. I think that is a hard thing to do for a few reasons. First people want those that are less confrontational and sub-consciously pick those that are like them.

I responded:

Good comment (name).  I agree. But, to earn even more points, be sure to a cite a scholarly source for the following thesis you stated, “First people want those that are less confrontational and sub-consciously pick those that are like them (source __________).”

Here is a source that I found (in about 3 sec.) by searching for the words: “hire people like them:http://www.businessinsider.com/managers-hire-people-who-remind-them-of-themselves-2014-5

You should use this system of searching for key words to easily find sources like this to score more points in graduate school.  Dr. Whitesel

Now, here is the article to answer the question in the title:

If You Want To Get Hired, Act Like Your Potential Boss

by , Business Insider Magazine, 5/29/14.

… Drawing from 120 interviews with employers, as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, Kellogg School of Management professor Lauren Rivera has found that hiring managers want recruits who have the potential to be friends.

“Hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting,” writes Rivera. “It is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but culturally similar to themselves.”

In other words, you have the same tastes, experiences, leisure pursuits, and social markers as the person across the table.

Rivera’s research found that companies might have notable levels of demographic diversity — it’s not only white dudes who work there — but still have deep-level homogeneity. Folks might have different skin colors, but they still grew up in the same handful of zip codes, attended the same elite colleges, and play the same sports…

Read more at … http://www.businessinsider.com/managers-hire-people-who-remind-them-of-themselves-2014-5

HIRING & How to Hire Without Getting Fooled by First Impressions

by Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review, 2/22/16.

Key takeaway: “So in order to find the best candidates, you have to unsee the pseudo cues that grab your attention but are irrelevant to the job. Fine-tune your vision to pinpoint the real cues that matter for performance. Instead of “going with your gut,” use analytics to hone in on the right type of candidate.

Take all your past data on who has succeeded and failed in the role (or similar roles, if this is a new position) and analyze each person’s characteristics in a regression.

Which independent variables (GPA, major, extracurriculars, interview answers) predict success or failure? If you let the data speak, you’ll learn the hidden profile of success so you can distinguish the real cues that matter from the pseudo cues that don’t — so you can cull through the pile of resumes and the hours of interviews more efficiently.”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/02/how-to-hire-without-getting-fooled-by-first-impressions

HIRING FROM WITHIN & My Top 3 Things to Avoid If You Are Hired from Within the Organization

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 10/15/15.

A student once shared that he was hired from within the organization to fill the lead pastor role.  I have written (Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT to Kill a Growing Congregation, pp. 109-120) about why this is often a strategically wise practice.  And, research confirms this.

However, hiring from within also brings caveats.  Following the student’s comments, are my top three things you must avoid.

Joshua D. (a student) wrote, “This article is very encouraging.  I have been at KSM for 15 years as music pastor and Administrator and just found out Monday, as of January 1st I will be taking the Senior Pastor position.  This class could not have come at a better time.  Thank you for investing in us.”

My response about Top Three Things to Avoid:

Congratulations Joshua, I have a couple suggestions I make students:

RULE #1:  Even though you’ve been at the church a while, a “listening tour” is the first thing I would do. Tell the people that though you have been around for a long time, you want to have fresh eyes and fresh ears to hear what they haven’t told you before. This is because in this new position you have a new relationship! So don’t get defensive or answer them yet. Just go to them privately and ask them, “What do I need to hear from you?”

RULE #2:  Secondly tell them you’re going to go slow before you make any changes. Remember going slow and building consensus is the secret to making change happening in a unifying manner (see research and examples in the chapter, “Go Slowly, Build Consensus and Succeed” in Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change in Your Church, pp. 151-169 which you can download here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow. Also, you will find even more extensive examples in Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About ItAbingdon Press.)  Even though you have been at the church for some time, some people may have felt that the previous later wasn’t open to their ideas. And, they will immediately start to politic you. You do not want to be perceived as taking sides. So listen to them and explain to them their ideas must go through proper channels (baords, vetting by people affected, etc.). Get them working with others who they’ve been at odds with in the past to move the idea forward.  Do not becomes the champion of the new idea or you will be perceived as taking sides. Taking sides on methodology (not theology) is one of the most dangerous positions a new pastor can find her or himself in.

RULE #3:  And this brings us to the third point: don’t get in between people with different opinions – but rather get them working together to solve their differences. As you remember in my book Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change and What You Can Do About It(Abingdon Press) that when a new leader comes into a position (even if they been a leader in the church for many years) there will arise a new activity of politicking to get the new leader to support their side. You must remember … don’t get in the middle. Research shows the best thing is to get them working out their differences between each other without you in the middle (again download this chapter for the research footnotes: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 8 Go Slow.) So don’t, repeat don’t, let them put you in the middle as a go-between between them. Do not be a mediator or negotiator. Force them to meet with one another and to come up between them with a third option. The secret is not for you to be the negotiator, but for them to conduct negotiations face-to-face. That way there is no communication filter or opportunity for them to blame you for miscommunicating their position. So don’t be a go-between – be someone that gets people to talk out their differences with each other (and without you there 🙂  Of course they must still bring it back to you for affirmation. But don’t affirm a compromise, until they work it out themselves.

HIRING & Six trends in church staffing #Vanderbloemen

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Hiring the right staff and pastors are some of the most critical things that churches get wrong. And as a consultant, of course I am pleased that this research by the leader of the nation’s largest pastoral search-firm points out that hiring a consultant is an important step. But more than that, here are field-tested ideas about how to develop a healthy staff that leads to an expanding church.”

By William Vanderbloemen, Church Executive Magazine, 7/31/15.

…Probably the most common question I get from senior pastors and executive pastors at client visits is, “What’s everyone out there doing?”

Smart churches are spending more money on fewer people…I am seeing smart churches pay more for a few top notch staff and hiring fewer of them.

Quality, higher-salary candidates might cost a few more dollars in the short-term but many churches find that they are more likely to make a higher impact in the long-term. Instead of hiring a pastor who can do the work himself, many churches are looking for a “leader of leaders” who can recruit, train and lead volunteers to accomplish the work.

Hire coaches. One client told me: “William, I need a coach for our team. And coaches just don’t touch the ball.”

Hillsong Church in Australia is a great example of this principle. You will find that the folks down under spend an inordinate amount of time training leadership. Their intern program receives enormous time and attention. Their training focuses on leadership development and not any one particular skill set. The result? When I’m visiting “down under,” I’m amazed at how little they are doing on as small a head count as they keep. Additionally, the leaders on staff are almost purely interchangeable among departments…

Get social. While you are reading this article many of you are also checking your email, tweeting and updating your Facebook status. Churches are recognizing this trend and are placing more and more emphasis on communications and social media, even in the form of a chief communications officer…

If you look at church history, you’ll see that every seminal Kingdom breakthrough has happened on the heels of a communication breakthrough. Rome built roads and Paul was given a route to run missions. Alexander’s conquests created one common form of Greek, and the New Testament came together. The printing press is invented, and the Bible’s printing ushers in a Reformation…

Hire from the inside and the outside. One of the best places to find good staff is inside your own congregation. We recommend hiring from within as a first option. In the 1980s Corporate America attempted to put a heavy emphasis on hiring only from within and in a lot of ways American churches followed suit.

But the trend we see among churches are those who also look outside their own congregations. Looking inside is not healthy if it is the only practice. I’ve witnessed plenty of inside hires that didn’t work out. I tell clients that I was born and raised in the Western culture …

Read more at … http://churchexecutive.com/archives/six-trends-in-staffing

HIRING & Why A Church Cannot Hire Itself Out of Trouble. But, there is the alternative!

by Bob Whitesel, 6/22/15.

A student posited this very keen observation, “I would like to think that churches cultivate their own pastors.  But in looking at the people I know from other churches and from my own church, this is not happening.”

Hiring your church out of trouble.

My personal thinking is that this is a customary strategy churches follow because of what I call “the professional fallacy of leadership.” By this I mean most churches try to hire a professional to get us out of trouble, or in other words: “hire the church out of trouble.”  This is a strategy whereby a church, rather than getting more of the congregation involved, tries to hire a more effective leader than they had previously. Subsequently, the lay and organizational problems of the church never get resolved and everyone looks to the new pastor to be the rescuer of the church.

Why it fails (three reasons).

The “hire the church out of trouble” strategy fails because of several factors:

1) Pastor is viewed as the savior of the organization.  This strategy puts undue expectations upon the pastor, and if the pastor doesn’t address the church’s internal organizational and laity problems, the pastor gets blamed.  This may be the reason there is so much pastoral turnover. They, instead of Christ, are seen as the savior of the church and if they don’t save it from a slow death, their leadership is blamed.

2) Communication and decision-making bottlenecks.  This strategy also perpetuates the “sole proprietorship” of organizational behavior where the church is run like a “mom and pop store.”  Because all major decisions have to go through the pastor, progress stalls because of information/permission bottlenecks. Again, because the church hired the pastor to get them out of trouble, they blame the pastor if their organizational behavior doesn’t change.

3) Good turnaround leaders will be poached by bigger churches.  But, a key weakness in this approach is that once you find a pastor that “fits” your church’s personality and potential, then that pastor will be the hiring target of larger churches and/or the judicatory overseers (district superintendent, presbytery, etc.).  This perpetuates an ecclesial system of continual pastoral transition, which hurts smaller churches because their competent pastors are constantly being hired away.  Unless the pastor fights to stay, then smaller churches will always experience ongoing pastoral transitions and remain weak.

The solution?

1)  Create a robust leadership apprenticeship program in your church.  Make leadership development a hallmark of your church.  For instance, make every volunteer, board member and small group leader have an “assistant” they are apprenticing.  Have them give to their supervisor the name and the supervisor should ensure every leader is apprenticing someone.

2)  Allow grassroots teams to make decisions and learn from their failures.  Because many church leaders are trained professionals, we like to teach people how to avoid failure. But this prevents emerging leaders from learning from their mistakes.  Accept and encourage mistakes, but keep them focused on progress.

3)  Develop home-grown leaders. They know your organization well, are less likely to leave and have a team they have developed over time.  Look for leaders who have been raised up from within your organization. For instance, a youth pastor can grow into a young adult pastor.  Then a young adult pastor can grow into a young married pastor.  Eventually that young married pastor can become the pastor of middle age adults and eventually the senior adults.  I have seen it done many times, and the history and proficiency it creates is amazing.

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.”

Read more at … http://s.hbr.org/1cq0da6

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.
Read more at … http://open.church/ideas/46-develop-me-understanding-the-annual-review-phases