Giveaway: Managing People

UTF-8'en-us'9781470720698Today is the last of three giveaway posts. If you missed the first two, be sure to enter to win soon. All winners will be contacted this Friday. Now for today’s giveaway:

Today’s blog includes an excerpt of Practical Stuff for Pastors: Managing People. Remember, this resource is not just for pastors. If you are in any type of leadership, you’ll find many helpful (and very practical) tips throughout the book. Whether you keep it for yourself or give it as a gift, all you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment (on the blog or Facebook).

Direct Communication

If anyone should know how to communicate well, it should be the church. Our central mission is to be witnesses and to tell the good news. Both require verbal and non-verbal communication. Yet, few places suffer from poor communication as does a local church. Gossip and rumors can run rampant. Misunderstanding and mix-ups occur often. Pastors and church leaders seek answers to communication queries, such as:
How can I help build open and honest communication—among staff, between staff and volunteers, and among staff and church family? What are the signs of brutal honesty and veiled suggestions, and how can I avoid each extreme?
Should I have an “open door” policy or strict office hours?

How to Avoid Gossip: Best Practices for Open, Honest Communication
As a pastor, you are in the people business. You have to talk with and about other people—a lot. Before you ask for advice about someone, ask God to lead you to a third person who is trustworthy and God-honoring, willing to tell you the truth and able to hold confidences. Communicating openly and honestly about someone is easier said than done, so here are some guidelines to keep your advice-seeking from slipping into gossip:

  • If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it behind his or her back.
  • If you wouldn’t want someone to hear you say it because of what they might think about you (or someone else), don’t say it.
  • If it’s not the truth, is a stretch of the truth, or distorts the truth in any way, don’t say it.
  • If it dishonors someone, including yourself, and especially God, don’t say it.
  • If another person starts to lead your conversation into uncomfortable areas, set a good example of honest communication by using replies such as:

“I’m uncomfortable talking about that person without him being here to share his side of the story. Let’s figure out how to continue without what might end up being damaging gossip.”
“I’m not sure of the facts. I need to have a couple conversations with people before I can talk more about this.”
“Sometimes, my mouth gets ahead of my head. I need to take a deep breath and make sure I respond to you well. I will get back to you soon.” (Then, make sure you do.)

Excerpted from Practical Stuff for Pastors: Managing People. Copyright © 2015 Group Publishing, Inc.

(This chapter includes additional sections on Authentic Communication, Brutal Honesty or Cautious Sensitivity?, Tips for Healthy Communication, and more. Other chapters in the book include When and How to Say No, Team Development, Meeting Management, Mentoring and Coaching, and more.)

Giveaway: Dealing with Conflict

UTF-8'en-us'9781470720704Several days ago, Practical Stuff for Pastors: Dealing with Conflict released, and I have two copies to give away! Today’s blog includes an excerpt so you can enjoy a taste test. It’s not just for pastors! If you are in any type of leadership, you’ll find many helpful (and very practical) tips throughout the book. Whether you keep it for yourself or give it as a gift, all you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment (on the blog or Facebook). I’ll contact the winners at the end of the week. (This is one of three books I’ll be giving away this week, so check back daily!)

Recognizing Red Flags

What are the best indicators that a problem is brewing? When you see one, what should you do? When is it better to quietly watch, and when do you need to quickly confront the issue? How can you understand the way conflict works so you don’t get easily frustrated and overwhelmed?

Red Flags That Conflict is Coming

No two conflicts are exactly the same. No single red flag is a guarantee that conflict is coming. You might see a combination of factors or one red flag that is powerful enough to indicate a firestorm ahead. When you keep these warning signs in the back of your mind, you’ll connect the dots earlier in the conflict process and be able to address issues more quickly.

  • Consistently longer meetings. Long meetings might simply indicate many agenda items, or inefficient meeting management. However, when meetings consistently get longer, drawn out, and draining, it might be a sign of discontentment, which can quickly lead to conflict.
  • Quiet disunity among leaders or volunteers. Sometimes things seem to go well during meetings, and the minutes reflect general consensus. However, when informal “meetings after the meeting” grow longer and more frequent, there is cause for concern. Support for dissenting opinions may quietly snowball until they become the main topic of conversations in and out of official meetings and committees.
  • Lack of focus. When leaders spend their time maintaining status quo, conflict is often brewing under the surface. It might take a while to see problems, because most people like the relaxed coasting process. Eventually, someone will see the need to change and develop the courage to question the way things are going.
  • A buzz of whispers. Everyone seems fine when they personally speak to you, but you notice glances and whispers. People begin to avoid you. Bad sign.
  • Repeated questions and phrases. As people gather support for their cause, they repeat the same conversations with a variety of people. In your conversations with individuals, you’ll notice many of them using the same phrases or asking the same questions. This is a sure sign a small group of people have been stirring up others’ support and discontentment.
  • Wide open back door. It’s normal to lose a few people and families from time to time. However, when you see a sudden increase in people leaving, including those who have been committed for a long time, you need to follow up and ask questions as to what issues they might have been experiencing.
  • Key volunteers step aside. Some might tell you why they are resigning, while people who prefer to avoid conflict will quietly step down. Transitions are ongoing, but when there are spikes of resignations, be sure to investigate.

Excerpted from Practical Stuff for Pastors: Dealing with Conflict. Copyright © 2015 Group Publishing, Inc.

(This chapter includes additional sections on The Process of Conflict, What Should You Do?, Red Flags for Avoiding Conflict, and The Green Flag of Conflict. Other chapters in the book include Understanding Conflict Styles, Moderating Disputes, Handling Prickly People, and more.)