WEEKLY SABBATICAL & Productivity Increases When Time Off is Made Predictable—and Required

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: You think we would understand the importance of a regular sabbatical, when even God who would seem to never need it took a day off after creation. Yet in our ministry worlds we sometimes don’t get a reprieve from emails and work related duties. Yet research shows that having “required” and “regular” time off makes a team more productive. Read the research here.

Making Time Off Predictable, And Required

by Leslie A. Perlow and Jessica L. Porter, Harvard Business Review, 10/9/09 (view here: 8.95.)

People in professional services (consultants, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT, and the like) simply expect to make work their top priority. They believe an “always on” ethic is essential if they and their firms are to succeed in the global marketplace. Just look at the numbers: According to a survey we conducted last year, 94% of 1,000 such professionals said they put in 50 or more hours a week, with nearly half that group turning in more than 65 hours a week. That doesn’t include the 20 to 25 hours a week most of them spend monitoring their BlackBerrys while outside the office. These individuals further say they almost always respond within an hour of receiving a message from a colleague or a client.

Yet our research over the past four years in several North American offices of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggests that it is perfectly possible for consultants and other professionals to meet the highest standards of service and still have planned, uninterrupted time off. Indeed, we found that when the assumption that everyone needs to be always available was collectively challenged, not only could individuals take time off, but their work actually benefited. Our experiments with time off resulted in more open dialogue among team members, which is valuable in itself. But the improved communication also sparked new processes that enhanced the teams’ ability to work most efficiently and effectively.

Predictable time off is the name we gave to the designated periods of time that consultants were required to take off…

(Lessons learned, included the following:)

Lesson 1: Impose a strict time-off mechanism

To get hard-driving consultants to agree to take time off during an assignment—not just when there happened to be a break in the work but at predictable times—we had to establish a mechanism that made it clear to everyone how time off must be taken: either a full day or a full night each week for everyone on the team, which was scheduled at the start of each project…

Lesson 2: Build dialogue into the process

In each of our experiments, we used explicit tactics to generate conversation around the time-off goals in particular, and around work processes more generally…

Lesson 3: Encourage experimentation

Beyond creating a safe space for open dialogue, we found it imperative to encourage people to experiment with new work processes. Ways of working that would have previously gone unquestioned were suddenly fair game for reconsideration…

Lesson 4: Insist on leadership support

Individuals won’t willingly engage in these experiments unless they are able to suspend their disbelief. For that to happen, people need to know that there is value in trying; that they will be respected for participating; and that they will bear some responsibility for the success or failure of the experiment…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2009/10/making-time-off-predictable-and-required

REST & Should Faithful Long-time Volunteers Take a Break?

by Bob Whitesel, 5/20/15.

Sometimes my students share their frustrations with long-time volunteers who at some point give up and just want to take a break from volunteering.  Because we still need these leaders (and in addition they are highly skilled) we often dissuade them from taking such leaves of absence.  Here is how one student described the situation, “What do you do with individuals who have had a long history of faithful service but after feeling burned out they now only attend and virtually are doing nothing to serve in the church?”

Well, I may surprise you, but I believe that dear faithful saints should at some point rest from their labors.  I see God giving us an example of this in the Sabbath that He Himself took (if there was someone who did not need this, it was Him 🙂  Thus, I have no problem with dear long-working saints wanting to enjoy their twilight years and/or taking time off to enjoy the church in harmony and peace.

I think the problem is exacerbated because there are usually few people ready to replace them.  This in my mind is not their fault, for the newcomers are usually a different generation than the long-serving volunteers, and the experienced workers don’t naturally relate to them.  Thus, they do not reach out to them.

I believe the fault lies with our training and assimilation systems.  Most churches do not have training for new leaders, as well as small groups to give new leaders a support system.  Thus, we rely upon long-working saints from our church culture to not only do their volunteer work, but also reach out across a cultural gap and recruit new volunteers who are unfamiliar with church culture.  The task is too large and the gap to wide for busy volunteers.  And thus, church leadership must step in with leadership training designed for new attendees.

Plus, because most church leadership training is focused upon existing volunteers this makes volunteers feel even more overwhelmed, as they try to juggle their volunteer work with more (required) leadership training.  Thus, I suggest we go easy on training for existing leaders, and focus more of our attention on the training of potential or new leaders.

I often ask my students, “Do some of you have avenues that foster such neophyte leadership training?  If you do, share them here and let’s inspire potential leaders for fruitful ministry.”  How about you?  If such programs don’t come to mind, how about doing some sleuthing on the Internet and finding some programs that develop new volunteers.  It will probably be more productive than trying to retrain burned-out ones.

TIME OFF & 5 Surprisingly Good Reasons to Pay–Yes, Pay!–Employees to Go on Vacation #IncMagazi ne

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “30 years of consulting has proven to me that the Christian world has failed at maintaining work/like balance. Yet, research shows that employees who take time away from the office, are more productive. (Remember God rested after working six days.) Reread Genesis 1-2 and then read this important article. It is time we follow God’s model and begins to increase our missional productivity by revisiting what it means encourage and strategically embrace rest.”

by Minda Zetlin, Inc. Magazine, 3/3/15.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/5-surprisingly-good-reasons-to-pay-yes-pay-employees-to-go-on-vacation.html

REST & Reasons Your Pastor Needs a Sabbatical

Reasons Your Pastor Needs a Sabbatical
by Thom Rainer

“The word ‘sabbatical’ has different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. It has one meaning in the academic community, another meaning in its biblical usage, and still another in many secular settings.

For the purpose of this article, I define sabbatical in simple terms. It simply means time off for rest and/or study. The time can be a few days, a few weeks or, on rare occasions, a few months.

The pastor is given paid leave for rest, rejuvenation and, perhaps, deeper study. I would love to see churches of all sizes provide this requirement of their pastor, even if it’s only for a few days.

I have the opportunity to work with lay leaders and pastors. I have a pretty good view of both perspectives. And I am convinced that more lay leaders need to insist their pastors take regular breaks even beyond vacations…”

Read more at … http://www.churchleaders.com/mobile/pastors/pastor-articles/173243-thom-rainer-reasons-your-pastor-needs-a-sabbatical.html?p=1