A different type of conversation

Over the past few weeks, we have been gathering wisdom from leaders about how they are approaching their “Position Focus” with their team members. We usually emphasise the minimum of three conversations for setting out and reviewing annual plans, but so much has changed over the past months, perhaps we need to refocus the Position Focus.  Here’s what we’ve heard from leaders about their emphases during this time:

Worth more than many sparrows

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” – Matthew 10

Roosevelt famously said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is never more true than in conversations with our team members. I have personally been very close-up to the impact this pandemic is having on the emotional and mental health of others. There is sometimes a tendency to jump straight into the “business” of a Position Focus conversation, but now is a crucial time to make sure your team members know that you care about them as people, not just as productive staff members. Asking questions about their health, sleeping patterns, family, adjustments of home life, losses they’ve experienced, fears they have, along with the moments of joy, discovery and refreshment is a great starting point.

Bite-sized time frames

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”  The words of James 4 have never felt so poignant. No one that I talk to in any sector of life or business seems to have any certainty about long-term or even annual plans right now, so let’s make sure our conversations reflect reality. What do you feel is an appropriate time frame for setting plans right now? Some leaders have suggested 90-day goals are helpful.  Others are just thinking of month-by-month rolling goals. Another way of approaching it is to decide not to decide. Have small achievable goals up until Christmas and re-evaluate your approach then.

Celebration time

Let’s face it, many of us are not great at celebrating well when we are in a room together, but it feels even harder now. One leader helpfully stressed the importance of recognising milestones and celebrating achievements right now. For many, there is a “sameness” about days that drains us, so setting up those “Ebenezer” stones and declaring, “Thus far the Lord has helped me” (1 Sam 7v12) can provide helpful energy. 

Growth in the desert

Whether from isolation or family tension, from being stressed and overworked or struggling to figure out ministry, most people, by this point, are at the lower end of their emotional spectrum.  But the Lord so often uses our ‘desert’ times for His purposes that we dare not miss his lessons.  Gently, inquisitively, without judgement, the Position Focus conversation is an opportunity to explore what God has been saying during these past days. Many of us have struggled with our devotional times and extended times with the Lord. Whatever their experience, cheering your team members on in the race will be invaluable. Some will have been so overwhelmed with new digital ministry opportunities that these months will have been a Key Developmental Assignment in itself. For others, the spaces in the coming months will be an opportunity to explore development that they may not have considered before. Your coaching questions at this time could be transformational.

WHAT (how and when) 

One favourite piece of advice to come through this wisdom gathering encouraged: “We need the WHAT to stay clear while being flexible on the HOW and WHEN. These conversations with our team members matter more than ever. Amidst the uncertainty of life and the world, bringing clarity to what God has called us to and reminding ourselves of why we are doing what we do helps to maintain an essential sense of purpose and direction in a sea of chaos. Having secured the anchor of the WHAT enables us to be more responsive to opportunities that may look a little different and may take a little longer than expected, but still get us there. Abundant grace, both with ourselves and with our team members, is called for as we tentatively set and review our Critical Ministry Objectives. Several leaders have mentioned that this is the time for experimenting and being comfortable with things not going to plan: “failing quickly” and starting over. This will inevitably require more frequent conversations as you track with your team members a little more closely than usual.

I’m sure you have more to add. If you are a Cru / CCCI staff member and are on Workplace, please read and join in the conversation:

Paul Cheesman

Paul Cheesman is a Leadership Development and HR specialist for CCCI / Cru and is known as our Global HR guru. He’s based in the UK and works with LDHR leaders worldwide.

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