©2000 by Peter G. Bostock
Management Style: A Break from Tradition
by Peter G. Bostock
This handbook contains a compilation of suggestions and techniques for effective management. The author, a life-long member of the New Church, and an experienced manager, incorporates sound management principles gleaned from techniques taught to students at the Harvard Business School, leadership strategies taught to managers at General Electric, and forty four years of management service in a wide variety of settings.
While many of the management techniques and strategies referred to by the author are now becoming well known in the business community, they have their origin in the advent of a New Christianity and the publication of the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg. It is no coincidence that the American Revolution, heralding the birth of democracy in the New World, has coincided with the reception of the teachings of the New Church in America. Nor is it a coincidence that the rapidly spreading spirit of cooperation and teamwork—which has gradually come to replace the more authoritarian and hierarchical business practices of the past—coincides with the gradual permeation of the doctrines of the New Church into every aspect of modern life.
As a result, humanity is ready to operate under new, more democratic principles—principles that can enhance our ability to lead, to follow, and to be more productive. The task of the author then, is to share his knowledge and experience in the light of New Church teachings, and in a way that will inspire practices that are not unlike the use of good manners. This manuscript, then, is not a book of doctrine. Rather, it is a management handbook, based on New Church principles, and intended to promote the practice of real charity towards the neighbor—in any work environment, and especially in the Church. In this sense, and as we shall see in the next section, it is a break from tradition.
The Lord’s New Church was founded as a branch of the Swedenborgian faith in the 1930’s. The Church was founded and led by the Rev. Theodore Pitcairn until his death in 1973. His successor, Bishop Philip N. Odhner, led the Church until 1986 when Bishop Odhner turned the ecclesiastical leadership of the Church over to the International Council of Priests. Throughout its history, the government of the Church was typified by a benevolent leadership style. Although its governmental structure was documented, the welfare of the Church depended more on the benevolence of its leaders than on strict adherence to a written constitution or governmental structure.
In the early 1990’s a small group of individuals, consisting of priests and laymen, began to take control of the leadership of the Church and its financial resources. This came about by first taking control of the International Council of Priests and finally taking control of the Corporation. A similar problem had occurred within the Dutch Church. Although Church members strongly objected to the “takeover” there seemed to be no venue or mechanism for regaining democratic control of the Church. In the meantime, the takeover group continued to stack the International Council of Priests and Board of the Corporation with paid employees who were beholden to the controlling group. Individual members and priests who voiced opposition to the controlling group were fired from their jobs, excommunicated from the Church or otherwise forced out of positions of influence. This removal of "conscientious objectors" not only removed opposition to the controlling group but also removed potential leaders from the Church for the future.
In a desperate attempt to stop the run-away control group, the Church members repeatedly asked the government to organize an Assembly. When the government refused to do so, the Church members organized a World Assembly on their own. An Assembly is the time-honored mechanism for the members of the Church to give their assent to be led by the appointed/elected leadership of the Church. Over eight hundred members of the Church took part in the Assembly, either in person or by proxy. They overwhelmingly voted to reject the leaders then in power and to reestablish the leadership of the unincorporated Church. Six months later, at a special meeting of seventeen out of twenty-four ordained priests of the Church, all seventeen ratified the decision of the Assembly. The only priests not attending the special clergy meeting were the members of the control group.
The still alleged “leaders of the Church,” although deposed by the action of the Assembly, still remained in control of the financial and tangible assets of the Church. This problem is now in the courts and has not yet been resolved. However, whatever the outcome may be, it is clear that there is a need for an extensive reorganization of the Church government, as well as a handbook of suggestions for effective Church leadership/followership. This is the reason for this handbook.
In the next section we will take a brief look at the history of government in the New Church, with a special emphasis on this amazing bit of irony: in too many cases our most inspired, freedom loving members, when given positions of leadership and influence, have used the power of their position to limit the freedom of others. In short, lovers of freedom who have broken away to start their own groups, have almost always become at least as tyrannical—if not more tyrannical—than the tyrants they broke away from in the first place! We will try to understand why this is so. But more importantly, we will use this historical information as an important warning as we consider ways that we can insure a more democratic, cooperative spirit for the future.
History is full of examples of a dictatorial leaders and dutiful followers: a patriarch/matriarch and family clan, chieftains and their tribes, kings/queens and their kingdoms, dictators, popes, bishops, etc. Some may be more benevolent than others, but dictators have one thing in common: they all use the "the power of position" to lead as only they see fit.
One might expect that with the advent of Christianity and the New Testament, the style of government might have changed. Even more so, with the advent of the Heavenly Doctrines, with their emphasis on the sacred significance of every human being, on personal integrity, on the Lord’s love for the universal human race, on the Divine Humanity of our Lord and Savior . . . And yet there seems to be little evidence that this is the case, especially in the history of the organized New Church.
Take, for example, the case of Bishop William Henry Benade.
William Henry Benade was born in 1816, the son of a prominent Moravian Bishop. At the age of 24 Benade was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church. For the next three years young Benade served as a Moravian minister to congregations in Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA).
In 1843, Benade was introduced to the teachings of the New Church by T.J. Kramph, a German immigrant living in Lancaster. Benade was so taken with the Heavenly Doctrines that he began to incorporate them into his sermons. The sermons were well received—until Benade announced (from the Moravian pulpit) that the Lord had made His Second Coming in the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. As a result, Benade was immediately expelled as a Moravian minister.
Undaunted, Benade began a course of studies under the tutelage of Rev. Richard de Charms. In 1845 he was baptized into the New Church and "licensed" to preach her doctrines. A year later, at the age of 30, Benade was ordained into the first degree of the priesthood and began to take an active part in the life of the organized New Church. At that time he became a member of the Central Convention, an organization that had broken away from the General Convention. The leading issue in this break was the question of church government. Rev. Richard de Charms, the leader of the breakaway Central Convention, had vehemently opposed—and continued to oppose, even to his death—the idea of episcopal government. He strongly resisted the idea of a supreme bishop ruling over the church.
It is strangely ironic, then, that five years later, in 1850, Rev. William Benade would say, "If Mr. de Charms had been willing to be a member of the Central Convention, instead of desiring to be its ruler, it might have continued to exist, but as this was not the case, it had to perish." Whatever the situation may have been with Rev. de Charms, Rev. William Henry Benade launched a vigorous campaign to oppose all forms of hierarchical control, while championing the cause of freedom.
Even more ironic, however, is that by 1890 Benade seems to have entirely reversed his position on episcopal government. In fact he now began to refer to himself as the Bishop of the General Church of Pennsylvania. Although he had vehemently criticized Rev. Richard de Charms for wanting to be a ruler, Benade became the arch-champion of episcopal government and priestly hierarchy. He even went so far as to claim that the office of the high priest in the church, because of its exalted use, brings with it greater illumination. As Benade put it, the office of the high priest "has great power in giving illustration." He also believed that although the "lower priesthood" has a right to think and will in opposition to the high priest, it has no right to speak and act in opposition."
One pastor, who supported Benade’s hierarchical position said, "We as priests have not given the high priest his office; the Lord has; we therefore, cannot take the office away from him." But this was not the prevailing view of the priesthood. Those who dared to oppose Benade’s hierarchical views were accused of being in "self-conceit" and in the desire to direct the affairs of the church. Eventually, as Benade’s rule became increasingly erratic and tyrannical, the priesthood voted to remove itself from his leadership and set up a new, more democratic government.
On February 6, 1897, the priesthood elected Rev. William Frederic Pendleton as the first Bishop of the General Church of the New Jerusalem. In his opening address Bishop Pendleton said that the newly organized church body would champion council and assembly. "What is a church" he said, “without the free, rational cooperation of its members?” Under the new policy there would be freedom for individual views and actions. Mutual confidence and full cooperation would replace hierarchical authority and ecclesiastical tyranny.
Most of all, true charity would again be regarded as the essential of the church. At the First General Assembly (June 25-June 29, 1897, Rev. John Faulker Potts said, "With true charity among us, almost any form of government will be successful; but without that, there will be failure in any form of government." And true charity would be nothing less than a striving to govern as the Lord governs—that is, by giving. At that same Assembly Rev. L.G. Jordan summed up the new vision admirably when he said, "The Lord is not a Governor, but a Giver. ‘I am among you as one who serves.’" (See also HH 213-219).
While the New Church has continued to undergo numerous governmental challenges throughout its short and stormy history, few will dispute the fact that the Lord has given us wonderful opportunities to learn from our mistakes and to become a “city set on a hill,” the New Jerusalem descending from God out of heaven, the Lord’s New Church on earth.
Good leadership should not abuse “the power of position.” Rather good leaders will emphasize the authority of knowledge, logical argument and the illustration of use in directing the activities of others.
Over the years most leaders have depended on the power of their position as a means for managing those beneath them. To be sure, some are more benevolent than others, and some are outright tyrants. Such leaders begin to believe that they personally own the power. They forget that the power belongs to the position, and that the position also has a responsibility attached to it. They forget, or may never have known, that all power comes from God.
I call this problem the "Entrepreneurial Syndrome" as it can most often be found with successful entrepreneurs. Such people begin to believe that they are the only ones with enough intelligence to do the job. They stop listening to others. They become very demanding; and they insist on having their own way. Like the evil kings of the Old Testament, they do not seek wise counsel. Rather, they prefer the counsel of hypocritical flatterers who will deliver only “smooth messages.” They will not accept criticism. And they shoot the messenger carrying bad news
Although it is relatively easy to condemn leaders who have suffered from the Entrepreneurial Syndrome, we can also forgive them. Perhaps they did not know of any reasonable alternative. Perhaps they followed the example of an authoritarian father or a dictatorial leader. Perhaps they were simply overcome by the love of self and there was no outside force to check that love.
Good management depends on the use of knowledge and on a gentle appeal to reason—not on the use of position and power. Gone are the days of "You must do this because I am the boss and I say so." The authority of position and command should only be used in situations of physical danger or when time has run out and a decision must be made to avoid a significant loss.
In a healthy organization individual freedom is respected and protected. A person does not have to go up the organization to the top and then back down to some other person that might have knowledge or be helpful in accomplishing a use. Instead, personnel are free to deal with each other without the intervention of upper levels of management as long as they are acting within the scope of their responsibility, and as long as they are performing within their ability to accomplish the end result required by their assigned tasks.
A leader’s respect (or disrespect) for the various individuals within an organization, along with confidence (or lack of confidence) in their ability to act independently—without the special permission of the leader—has a powerful influence on an entire organization. The behavior of the leader will get passed down to the next layer and so on until the last one in line either pats the dog or kicks the dog.
The same is true for family behavior that can pass from parents to children and from generation to generation. When the great God of heaven and earth came down He showed us how to treat each other. He washed the feet of His disciples, and said to them, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:14-15). Governors in heaven "desire the good of all" (HH 217). The Lord’s example, when He came from heaven "down to earth" and washed our feet was a surprising break from tradition, and a new approach to management. Managers who care for their employees as the Lord cares for each of us, will inspire their employees to do similarly.
The philosophical separation of Love, Wisdom and Use is a basic tool for the development of management tools. It allows a philosophical method for separating the essential parts that lead to an end effect. Use is the end that is sought, the doing or building of something that is beneficial and which provides a step towards a heaven from the human race. This separation helps us determine whether our motivations are loving, our techniques are true, and our ends are useful.
In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says, "Begin with the end in mind." According to Covey "the end" for each of us is the end of our lives—what do we want to have accomplished when it is all over? What is the sum of all our efforts? What do we want to be remembered for? Who do we want to be remembered as? If four people were to speak at our funeral, and we had the chance to listen, what would they say about us? What was the point of it all? What was our aim, our intention, our end? It’s an important question.
Before we begin any project we should ask ourselves, "What is the end in view?" "What will be accomplished when it is all said and done?" It’s another way of saying, "What is the meaning and purpose of my life?" "What good have I done?"
It is important to consider the long-range implications of our actions—the end in view. But it is equally important to examine our immediate motives and intentions. What is our will, our desire, our ruling love in any given situation? What is the real reason we choose to do anything whether it is a business decision, or a decision to cook a meal for our family? This is, in the philosophical framework of the New Church, "the love" within our works. If these works are truly good, the inspiration, motivation, and desire within them will be from the Lord, and will become the center of everything that follows. It will lead us onward to select the appropriate tools and resources, and to learn the skills necessary for bringing that love forth most effectively into useful service. Parents who truly love their children will do all they can to learn about nutrition so that they may adequately feed them. Strong, healthy, well fed children will then be able to love the Lord and serve their neighbors with all their heart, with all their mind, and with all their strength.
This trinity of love, truth, and useful service is fundamental to all management. In itself it is a hierarchy with love being highest, truth serving, and use coming as a result. As we come together in business settings, or around the family dinner table, an awareness of this trinity—with love leading, truth serving, and use following is all important and will open the way for true charity to flourish. It is a God-given way for us to evaluate ourselves every day, and in every moment.
PLAN, ORGANIZE, IMPLEMENT AND MEASURE
Good management and leadership involve four fundamental steps: Planning, Organizing, Implementing, and Measuring. These steps should be followed regardless of the size of the task at hand.
The first and most important step (which usually is forgotten) is simply to plan. Planning is used to define what it is you want to accomplish in the end. The steps you plan to take in accomplishing the task. The people, equipment, materials, and money required for the task. And finally, planning must include the means by which you will measure the success or failure of the task – the result that you were intending when you started with the end in mind.
The planning establishes an objective basis for working with others to evaluate the task and to ask for help. This becomes a rallying principle behind which all can be united, and protects people from the whims of an arbitrary leader.
The next step is to organize. The plan describes the necessary people, equipment, materials, and money required to accomplish the task. To organize is to collect these things together or to arrange for them to be available to do the task.
Once the organization is complete, you then implement the plan along with the organization of the details. You begin to take action. Integrate the plan with the organization to implement the plan.
At this point, you begin the final step, which is to measure the results of the task against the plan. Did the final result of the task satisfy the intent of the plan?
The task is to go shopping for food.
1. Plan – Write a shopping list.
2. Organize – Get your hat, coat, the car keys, and your money, and don’t forget the list!
3. Implement – Put on your hat and coat, drive to the store, and buy the food on the list. Drive home and unpack the groceries.
4. Measure – check-off the shopping list as you unpack the groceries.
The task is to cook a meal for the family.
Plan – Write a menu: roast beef, potatoes, peas, and pie for desert. How much time does it take for each? For example: roast beef 1 hour, potatoes 1 hour, peas 15 minutes, pie 30 minutes to make it, 45 minutes to bake it. Start with the pie.
Organize – Get the roast out of the refrigerator. Collect the potatoes. Shell the peas. Collect the ingredients for the pie crust: flour, butter, salt, baking soda, etc. Problem, NO FLOUR! Do you go back to EXAMPLE 1 and go shopping again or do you change the plan and have something else for desert? Change the plan.
Implement – Cook and serve the meal.
Measurement – "WHERE IS MY DESERT!"
Large tasks can have within them smaller tasks that ultimately lead to the success of the larger task. But they all have to go through the same four steps for a successful conclusion. The usual "missing piece" is good planning at the beginning of the process. Without this necessary planning there can be no objective measurement of success.
Decisions should be made based on facts and not on hunches. Start by imagining all of the possible outcomes of the decision. Ask yourself questions like, “What is the best and worst result that might come from the decision?” and “Who will be affected by this decision?” Good managers will collect the facts and then analyze them to see where they lead. They will then look to see what other facts might further enhance the ability to understand the situation. Continue this process until a clear decision emerges
For the most part no decisions will be made until the people involved are in agreement. However, there are situations when time is of the essence and a decision must be made. If a decision is not made, significant damage or loss may occur. For example, a tree falls on the roof of a church. A storm is on the way and an emergency decision must be made to prevent further damage to the building. There is not enough time to get everyone’s agreement. A good manager would go ahead and make the decision to remove the tree and repair the roof, knowing that he will be able to explain and justify his action to his colleagues and to other members of the church.
On the other hand, if the roof has deteriorated with age, and no planning has been done to replace the roof, and it now begins to rain, and the manager is forced to make emergency repairs, it is a clear sign that no one has planned ahead. What should have been a decision to plan for a routine repair made on a sunny day now must be made on an emergency basis at a high cost. Good decision making includes the process of planning ahead. When this takes place, emergency decisions—apart from the consent of others—will rarely occur.
Good leader make good decisions, not snap judgments. They take time to listen, to question and to research. Because they love the truth—even on the level of natural life—they will strive to separate opinions, hearsay, and idle gossip from the actual facts of the matter. Above all, because they have utmost respect for the people with whom they work, they will strive to bring about understanding, agreement and consensus before making a final decision on a matter.
When my son was twelve years old I gave him a new bicycle for his birthday. I told him that this was a lightweight bike with small tires and that if he hit a curb or sharp rock he could damage the bicycle. After giving him those instructions, I thought nothing more about it. In time I realized that my son was not riding the bicycle—a bicycle which he had wanted very much. On inquiring about this I leaned that my son was so concerned about damaging the bicycle and so worried about how I would respond, that he was afraid to ride it! Moreover he was afraid to come to me to talk about the problem.
Unless the leader of an organization makes an effort to communicate with members, the leader will often be unaware of what the members truly feel. It is not the nature of most people to volunteer unflattering information. This is especially true when leaders practice an authoritarian leadership style. As we have already mentioned, the Old Testament speaks of tyrannical kings who ordered the prophets to prophesy "smooth things," and they harshly condemned those prophets who delivered unpleasant warnings. It has been said that tyrants such as Napoleon and Hitler would routinely order the execution of those who brought them ‘bad news’—however true the news might be. So, it is understandable that people would be reluctant to volunteer information that is not soothing to a leader’s ego.
Again, it should be remembered that the leader’s job is to serve, not to be served, to inspire and encourage—not to have his ego flattered and his feelings pampered. A leader should be grounded enough and mature enough to handle—and even welcome—criticism. Good feedback is to be honored.
Being well informed will lead to answers and solutions that a leader could never have arrived at alone. In fact the working troops know what is going on and can figure out the right answer 85% of the time! Particularly where there are problems, the working troops usually know more about the problems and possible solutions than the leader might suspect. Unless it breaks a confidence, good managers will openly discuss problems with workers and seek their input. They will get out from behind the desk, visit others, and ask leading questions. The leader needs to be informed. Managers who trust the wisdom of their workers will find that workers will in turn trust the wisdom of their leaders.
When a task or job is to be done, specific responsibilities and lines of authority should be made clear, and the person who has overall responsibility and authority for the job should be identified. Committees, councils and teams are valuable ways for having people work together, but responsibilities and lines of authority must be clear, or there may be confusion about accountability. Consider the following example:
The boss’s truck has a flat tire. He asks John to go find a tire pump, and asks Tom to fill the tire with air when he gets the pump. Meanwhile, the boss goes off on an errand. When he returns he finds that the tire is still flat. John says "I found a tire pump and left it on the workbench." He believes that he has fulfilled his responsibility and is not accountable for the job not being done. Tom says, "I never received the pump, so I was unable to inflate the tire."
Who is accountable?
Before answering the question, it should be made clear at the outset that the leader of the group is ultimately responsible for the success of any given project. The leader may subdivide the responsibility down to other working members, but the lines of accountability must be kept clear. In the preceding example, the boss is accountable: he is still responsible for the repair of the flat tire. John did what was asked; but Tom was not able to do what was asked of him.
When delegating responsibility or authority, be absolutely clear about the instructions you give. "John, get a tire pump, and give it to Tom. And Tom, if there is a hole in the tire and you can’t inflate it, just put on the spare tire." Specific instructions like these would have been much more effective. Avoid vague, loosely defined responsibilities which can lead to communication breakdowns. Instead, delegate responsibilities, designate lines of authority, and communicate clearly so that people can be accountable for their actions.
Some assignments will allow for "on the job training" while other assignments will demand close supervision and careful instructions to insure professional performance. When assigning a task, a good manager will be able to weigh the benefits of "on the job training" against the risks that might be involved if a job is not done correctly. A good manger will think in terms of what is called "reductio ad absurdum"—which is a Latin phrase meaning "reduce it to its absurdity, or extreme."
For example, if you are talking to a professional gardener, you can simply tell him to weed the garden. But if you tell one of your children to weed the garden you may need to be more specific. You will have to tell the child what the difference is between a weed and valuable plant. You may also have to instruct the child about pulling the weed out by the roots so that it doesn’t grow back. Although you can safely assume that the professional gardener will not step on the valuable plants while weeding, you may need to gently remind your child about this. The art here is to give just enough information to get the job done, while still allowing it to be a learning situation. Remember, every genuine learning experience has within it a chance to fail. These experiences are part of that all-important on-the-job training that makes work fun and challenging. It is one of the best incentives for high performance and is deeply satisfying.
There are times, however, when the risks are so high that you will not be able to allow for a "learning experience." For example, suppose your son is driving your car and the car overheats. Steam is coming out from under the hood. He calls you on the cell phone to explain what has happened. You tell your son that there is some water in a jug in the trunk. You must now make it clear to your son that he must let the engine cool before he can open the radiator to add the water. Otherwise he will be seriously scalded. How will your son know when the engine will be sufficiently cool? You cannot leave this to chance or experimentation. In other words, the risk is too great to be a "learning experience." So you explain further that when he can squeeze the radiator hose and it is soft he may then safely open the radiator cap to add water.
The father needed to think ahead to the extremes ("reductio ad absurdum"). In the best case the son successfully adds water to the radiator and goes on his way. In the worst case, the son becomes seriously burned and needs immediate medical attention. On the job training can work well when the risks of failure are not great and when danger is minimal. On the job training can also be a deeply rewarding experience for managers and those who receive the training. There is adventure, discovery, the satisfaction of acquiring new skills, and the shared joy of learning something new.
Clearly there are many cases where confidentiality is needed to preserve and protect the freedom of the individual and/or the freedom of the organization. Secrecy, however, can be used to cover over poor management, self-serving deeds, and gross corruption. As it is written in the Gospels, “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true, comes to the light, that it may be seen that his deeds have been wrought in God” (John 3: 19-21).
Good managers, therefore, will be aware of the harmful effects of secrecy and do all they can to promote healthy communication. As I mentioned in the section on making good decisions, communication must be based on fact, not on hearsay or on rumors that are whispered in secret. Managers who strive to obtain the relevant facts will help to reduce the confusion and destruction that inevitably follows in the wake of gossip.
In any organization there will be some topics that will necessarily be confidential, such as contributions that are made to a non-profit organization, or sensitive details about one’s family life—especially when personal counseling is involved. The ability to respect confidentiality builds trust. Secrecy, however, and especially the inordinate secrecy that occurs when management practices are kept hidden spawns distrust. Generally, the more secrecy there is in an organization, the greater the distrust. Remember: confidentiality builds trust; secrecy destroys it.
In any organization, there are different jobs to be done. Like pieces of a puzzle each job must contribute to the whole, and all of the basic functions must be included for the organization to perform its overall use. Furthermore, each person in the organization needs to know what the job of each is and how best to interface with those around them.
This is the primary purpose for job descriptions.
A job description must be stated in clear and specific terms, so that performance reviews can be objective and fair. Well-written job descriptions can be used to measure and evaluate whether or not the requirements of the job have been fulfilled and/or exceeded. Job descriptions can also be used as a basis for promotions, pay raises, and the identification of further training that might lead to career advancement.
Job descriptions should concentrate on the end product (the use) rather than a description of how to perform the duties of a job. For example, the treasurer of an organization should be asked to keep accurate records that are easily read, and which keep clear accounts of the transactions of an organization. The job description need not go into the details of bookkeeping and standard accounting practices, but it should clearly reflect what is to be accomplished, the responsibilities involved, and the authority that accompanies the position. It may also include a statement about the basic skills required for the job, including the ability to work with other people in a charitable and productive manner. A good job description is like a good map; it clearly explains where the organization is going. But it also includes specific directions for an individual’s role in that part of the organization’s journey. It says. “You are here.”
There are a number of things that can be considered as incentives for getting a job done. Money is usually the first thought that comes to mind. Certainly, financial rewards are a powerful incentive for someone starting out who needs to reach a comfortable level of income. However once this level is reached, money ceases to be a significant motivation. Therefore, other incentives should be considered such as comfortable surroundings and friendly coworkers.
The most constant and positive incentive is the feeling that you are learning on the job (see “On the Job Training”). It has been found that when people feel they are learning and growing it is a significant positive incentive. The learning process can continue indefinitely. Learning can come from many sources and in many forms. Just as we continue to learn and improve in the other life—and get great delight from this—so too will an individual continue to learn and improve in this life when they are doing what they love.
The way a job is delegated can make a big difference in the ability of the worker to get the job done. As I mentioned in the section on “Job Descriptions,” it is better to describe what the person is to accomplish rather than how to do the precise details of the job. Good managers, however, will ask how the worker intends to do the job as a cross check to see if the assignment was clearly understood and whether there is a reasonable chance that the job will be done.
Early follow-up on workers is often necessary to see if progress is being made or whether they need further help to get started. If they are going in the wrong direction—or have not gotten started at all—they may need assistance in understanding what is required or how to go about it. Follow-up is a good means for teaching and should not be used to condemn a lack of performance. Follow-up should be done at the place where the worker does his job, or at least in a neutral location. When workers are called into the boss’s office, they may feel that they are being criticized instead of helped. However, when managers go to their workers—rather than having their workers come to them—they provide an important symbol of their willingness to assist their workers. Good managers keep before them, always, the truth that we are here to serve, not to be served. As the Lord said. "I am among you as one who serves."
Another reason for going to the workers is to make sure that they are not driving themselves too hard. The assumption that all people are basically lazy simply isn’t true. There are some people who will work so hard that they will literally kill themselves. Good managers are aware of this. Therefore they will not only teach and encourage their workers to do their best, but they will also be careful to protect the well-being of their people. Good mangers are also good shepherds.
When I was a much younger man I was part of a six-man team at Cape Canaveral, Florida. I was working for the Defense Systems Department under a federal government contract to develop the missile tracking system for the first manned space shot. This was to be done in two and a half years and six of us had full authority to get the job done. Working together as a closely-knit team, things were going well until an overall manager was brought in to increase efficiency.
Some of us were transferred to other departments, and my friend, Earl Rivercomb, was given my job as well as his own as his responsibility. A year later I was asked to check on Earl because the government inspectors no longer accepted the quality of the products produced under his supervision. When I visited with Earl I could clearly see that the stress had been too much for him and that his workload had been increased to impossible proportions. Earl had quietly accepted it all and was trying to do his best—but he must have felt that his best wasn’t good enough. Two weeks later I found out that he had died—he shot himself.
Sometimes people are already at their limit, and leaning on them to do more can be destructive. Sensitive managers, coaches, teachers, pastors, and parents know that there is a fine line between encouraging people to do more, and understanding where their limitations are. The Lord declared that there are times when we must rest, and that we must allow others to rest. "Remember the Sabbath day" He said, "and keep it holy" (Exodus 20:5).
Publish the pay rates of every employee and then be willing to negotiate with any one who feels that they are under paid. As the Lord says in the Gospel according to Luke: "The laborer deserves his wages’ (10:7). If there are problems, address them openly. For example, suppose an employee comes to you complaining about their pay rate relative to what others are being paid. They give you several reasons why they should receive more pay. What should you do?
I have had situations where people have come to me in a furious state, ready to tear me and the organization apart. Fortunately, I had learned a simple process to help defuse anger and establish trust while negotiating a dispute about appropriate wages. By the time they completed the process, they knew they had been heard, they felt they were being treated fairly, and they were willing to remove those claims that were unfounded or exaggerated. This is the process that I used. It is a basic strategy for dealing with many forms of complaint:
1. Write down each point, and make sure that the other person agrees that you have written it down correctly. Do not address any of the points—just write them down and make sure that the person agrees. Continue this process until you have written down all of the points that the other person can think of. Make sure you understand the problem.
2. Address each point to determine whether it is valid or not and whether it should be used in support of an argument for a pay raise. Then compare these points to other known facts (job descriptions of other people, levels of responsibility and authority, and so forth).
3. If the points are valid, then make a recommendation for a raise to personnel at the next higher level of management where the final decision will be made.
4. If the points are not valid, they should be thoroughly discussed until the person asking for the pay raise comes to see for him or herself that their points are not valid. You may also agree to disagree, in which case the person is invited to take their appeal to the next higher level of management.
5. If the person asking for the raise does not agree with the decision of the manager, an appeal can be made to the next higher level.
This is an example of how a request for a pay raise might be handled in an open organization. While the negotiation process should be kept confidential, lest it degenerate into gossip, it should become a matter of public knowledge as soon as the negotiation reaches a conclusion. A good manager will be able to clearly and fully explain why a raise was given or not given. In this regard, it is clear that publishing all employee pay rates and job descriptions helps to create a healthy working environment, frees people from the misconceptions spawned by secrecy, and fosters better management.
Good managers will not promise future benefits or pay raises. This is because the person receiving the promise often assumes that the raise, or the benefit will be bigger than the one that is actually given. As a result there is disappointment. The only promise that a good manager will make, is the promise to assist and encourage employees in their jobs, while providing a regular performance review designed to increase efficiency and promote greater job satisfaction. A raise in pay or an increase in benefits must always be tied to cost of living increases, successful job performance, and increases in duty or level of responsibility.
Sometimes it is necessary to change a person’s position in an organization, or simply to fire them. If it should come to firing, there are three steps.
· Inform the employee that their performance is not satisfactory and give them a detailed explanation of what they have to do to bring it up to an acceptable level. The employee should not feel threatened with the loss of their job as an incentive to improve performance. A specific period of time should be agreed upon as to when the next performance evaluation should be made.
· When the specific period of time has elapsed, meet with the individual again, and determine whether or not the performance has improved. If they have reached a satisfactory level of performance, they may return to work on a non-probationary basis. If they have not reached a satisfactory level of performance, the individual must be told that if performance does not improve significantly they will be removed from the job. Again, a specified amount of time should be agreed upon for the next performance evaluation.
· When the specific period of time has elapsed, meet with the individual again, and determine whether or not the performance has improved. If they have reached a satisfactory level of performance, they may return to work on a non-probationary basis. If they have not reached a satisfactory level of performance, they are taken off the job. They should be told specifically why they have been taken off the job and informed that they have the right of appeal. They may be offered a more suitable job for their talents, or they may be asked to leave the organization.
When members of an organization do not satisfactorily fulfill the requirements of their position, they hurt the organization in at least two ways. First, they are taking wages for a job not done; and secondly, they are occupying a position that could be used to "grow" a person who could become a valuable asset to the organization.
When my children were young and we lived in a small New Church society, my children asked me how to behave in social gatherings with adults. This what I told them:
First I suggested that they introduce themselves. I told them to make sure that they knew the other person’s name. Next, I told them to start a conversation about the other person with the intent in mind that when they finished the conversation they would know at least one good and useful thing about that person. Some day they may be called upon to work with that person or they may need help in performing a use and want to ask for help. The more good things they know about other people the better society uses can be performed.
The children followed this advice and became quite skilled at the technique. In fact they have told me that it has been very useful through out their adult life.
Sometimes the members of a small group may treat one another reasonably well, but as a whole they do not treat the rest of the organization with similar respect, understanding and courtesy. In fact, they may fool themselves into believing that they are good fellows because they are considerate and able to make compromises within their small group. Sadly, while they may be busy "patting one another on the back," the larger organization may be suffering greatly under their management. This becomes a special problem when a small management team begins to separate itself from the organization which it serves.
Good leaders must rise above the allurements of a "mutual admiration society" and find friends, friendship, and support in a common acceptance of use among all who are involved—both the managers and those who agree to be managed. It is out of a mutual love of performing uses that true friendship and true support is formed. When use rules, the Lord rules. True use is the end objective of good management and leadership.
It takes three steps or encounters to get a new idea across.
· First: Introduce the idea but do not give enough information for the idea to be rejected. Allow time for the recipient to think about the introduction and to formulate questions about the idea.
· Second: Discuss and answer questions about the idea to fill out the whole picture, but do not ask for judgment on the idea.
· Third: The recipient makes a judgment on the idea. If the idea is accepted, it may be taken as the recipient’s own idea or it may come back in an altered form that further improves on the idea.
Attempts to get ideas across and receive judgment in a single step usually lead to a negative response and usually kill the subject for future consideration.
Avoid thinking that lawsuits are a good solution to most problems. They are not. Lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming, and seldom provide the results that you expect. They should only be used as a court of last resort. The process runs by rules that the lay person seldom understands; what is supposed to be justice doesn’t always come out that way. Therefore, learn to negotiate.
When there are differences of opinion in an organization, the technique of negotiation is an important tool in bringing together differing points of view. Negotiating does not necessarily have to be an adversarial process. In fact, it can be a delightful and creative approach to solving problems, reconciling differences and arriving at a negotiated settlement where all parties experience the feeling that they have "won." This is called "win/win" negotiating. As shown above in "communicating new ideas" it is important to leave time for new ideas to be received. As the process of negotiation goes forward there are times when you may agree to disagree while allowing for new ideas and new approaches to be developed. This is a time for friendly give and take, a time in which no one "pushes" their ideas or gets emotional.
The art of effective negotiating involves three simple points:
· First: Decide what is the best end result you might expect, what is the marginally acceptable end result, and what is unacceptable.
· Second: Construct a scale or grid of successive steps starting with the best result and moving down towards less acceptable positions. Each person involved in the negotiation constructs their own scale or grid.
· Third: Never make a "deal." A deal is not "win/win." For example, a poor manager might agree to give someone a raise if they agree to stop pestering him. That’s a "deal" not a negotiation. In a negotiation a person would receive a raise based on merit and based on the idea that this raise will create incentives that will bring greater results to the overall operation. A negotiated settlement is satisfactory to all people involved, and can be explained to the other members of the company or congregation because it is based on firm and clear reasoning, and is in the best interest of all people.
Should you be unable to reach a successful settlement in a negotiation process, and you get into a fight, make sure you can win. Don’t just bruise your enemy and have him get up twice as mad. He will be much harder to put down the second time. Forgiveness is fine—even seventy times seven—but, even while you are practicing forgiveness internally, you have to finish the fight. If it means getting the best lawyer you can, do it. Continue to forgive, but don’t allow them to wreak havoc.
When people are upset their ability to think and reason is greatly diminished. We see this clearly in the case of children. If they are angry or otherwise upset, the ability to teach them and reason with them is greatly diminished. It is usually a waste of time to deal with them under these circumstances. The same is also true for adults. If in dealing with adults, you are angry, or attack them verbally, you may put them into a fight or flight mode and thereby reduce their ability to think and reason. With a sensitive person even a raised voice can have this negative effect. As one person said, "When you yell at me, I can’t hear a word you are saying."
If you want to work effectively with people, you have to keep people calm and in the best mode for them to think and reason on a rational basis. Keep in mind that "affection produces thought" and when our affections are those of fear, anger, or discouragement, the thoughts that they give rise to will not be rational or productive ones. In fact, they may embody retaliation. An evil tree cannot bear good fruit.
There are situations where you have to allow the problem to come into full bloom so everyone can understand the problem and then help with the solution. Even though you may see the problem clearly, there are times when you will need to wait. For example, if you notice that someone on your management team is quite headstrong and is not a team player, you may have to wait until others notice these tendencies as well. If you are too quick to point out his weaknesses, others may rush to his defense. Also, if you alert the individual to his own weaknesses before he has run into some of the consequences, he may be defensive. Like an alcoholic in denial, sometimes people need to experience a little of the damage that can result from their destructive tendencies before they will accept help. Sometimes you have to let people go down before they will allow you to help them get up.
Make lists of everything you plan to do. In fact as you work through the following suggestions, many things will come to mind that you plan to do. List them as you go. Short-term lists, long term lists, home improvement lists, project lists, shopping lists, telephone call lists, and so forth. Lists keep you organized and focused. Being able to cross things off gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Do the quick and easy list items first and it will help you keep moving to do the other items on the list. The long-term lists are the most difficult to accomplish. If you do not manage your time and energy, the short-term list will take over and your may never get to the more important long-term list.
Keep accurate, up-to-date accounting records. Keep a running log of work accomplished and a companion log of work that is ahead. These two logs are time management tools that help keep the workload in balance. Just as you have to judge the actions—not the words—of others, you also need to judge your own actions. Keeping records provides the basis for a more objective evaluation of one’s self.
Run meetings efficiently.
Have an agenda or start the meeting by making an agenda. Bring closure to one subject at a time. If action is required, make sure the persons responsible understand their assignment clearly and have accepted the assignment. Keep some type of record of the meeting, minutes, recording or personal notes. Keep the meeting rolling but don’t roll over anyone.
While we are divinely warned "Judge not less ye be judged" we are also told to "judge with righteous judgment." To judge righteously means that we do not decide whether a person is good or evil, but we do try to assess motives, abilities, and usefulness so that we can encourage people to do the work that will bring the most happiness to themselves and to the group in which they function.
You can’t just look at a person and make a judgment, nor can you make a judgment merely on what a person says. But it is possible to make a judgment by observing the way individuals relate to each another, and to the larger group.
When you look at the individuals within the group you can make certain judgements about their motivations, their abilities, and their talents. Every person, regardless of their level in any given organization needs to develop their skill in making this judgement of others. But they need to be fair and accurate in doing so.
There are tools and frameworks that can be used to provide a basis for judgment within an organization. Such things as job descriptions, titles, and assigned duties all establish a basis for judging the activities of the individual against agreed upon objective criteria.
Any successful enterprise requires a number of people working together—people with a wide variety of skills and talents. If you happen to be a person with a gift for creativity, and you want other people to work with you, you need to be careful that you do not overwhelm others with your "bright" ideas. Sometimes, other people may just be trying to stay afloat, and keep things running smoothly—and your new ideas may be too much for others to handle.
It is recommended, therefore, that you practice some internal monitoring of your own ideas before passing them along to others. Be self-critical, and filter out the wild ideas—offering only those that you feel might be truly useful. If you do not do this, you may be perceived as a person who is forever pushing his ideas onto others. This can be difficult for others to handle and they can build up resentment against you. They may avoid helping to implement new ideas--or worse, they will purposely work against you and undermine your ideas, no matter how valuable they may be.
You may see very clearly the way to implement a particular program, or the need for a new approach, but unless you introduce your idea with the utmost care and concern for the viewpoints of others, you will draw a negative response and your idea may never get off the ground. It will be rejected even before it is fully understood.
Remember, you don’t succeed alone. Working with others requires some judgement of the other people’s personalities and their ability to understand your vision. Avoid bruising them unknowingly. Your bright idea—no matter how brilliant—may be interpreted as an insult to the intelligence of others.
If you are the leader and you think that the grand success of the organization is due solely to your efforts you may well be ill with a bad case of the Entrepreneurial Syndrome. Even though you are given all thought from the Lord and He gives you the freedom to think and act "as-from-self" still you need to remember the neighbor and the Lord as the true source of success.
I graduated from the Boy’s Academy and after one year at the Academy College entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where I graduated as a mechanical engineer. I joined the General Electric Company (G.E.) where I entered a three-year intensive Manufacturing Training Program. This program rotated assignments every six months, changed plant location every year and included management night school for the three years. My first full time assignment was as a member of a management team that was to invent, develop, design, build, install, and operate the missile tracking system for the first manned space shots at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The team approach was a management experiment and it worked very well. The job was completed on time, two and a half-years, and under budget for $85,000,000. During this work-assignment my training continued in Professional Business Management for an additional three years. As a result of the successful completion of the tracking system I was promoted to Manager of Manufacturing of the Defense Systems Department at age 29.
I derived a great deal of satisfaction and success out of my G. E. experience. I was particularly pleased that the vast majority of the management training I received and used was fully in accord with my religious beliefs.
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It is my sincere hope that these suggestions and techniques will be helpful to those who are entrusted with leadership positions within the New Church. And may they be used to glorify the Lord—the Good Shepherd—who leads us all.