In a recent survey reported in Forbes magazine, staff members and subordinates were asked what they wished their boss would do better. The number one answer by far: “Communicate with me.” To be fair, I bet those leaders are communicating with their team members; they just aren’t talking about the right things.
Sometimes Pastors don’t think of themselves as “the boss,” but we are. Even if you don’t have a paid staff, in the church, you lead volunteers who serve in “staff” type roles. So what would our teams say about our communication? I’m not talking about sermons; I’m talking about individual interaction and communication.
If the only communication with our team is what we want to talk about, then they probably don’t look forward to meetings. They don’t only want to hear what we have to say; they want to be able to share with us as well. They don’t want to just talk about “work,” they want to know that you care about them as individuals.
With that in mind, let me share with you 5 questions that I ask my team on a regular basis.
1. How are you doing in life: Spiritually, Emotionally, Physically, Intellectually?
This is more than the trite “how are you doing” we might ask while passing someone in the hallway. I genuinely want to hear about their current spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual state. Sometimes their answer is “I’m doing great” and that’s enough. But other times I’ve had the opportunity to help hold them accountable in areas they feel they struggle such as physical goals, or recommend a book that would help with an emotional issue they were walking through, or pastor them back to spiritual health.
2. How can I pray for you?
When I know how they’re doing, I know how to pray for them. One of my highest privileges as the pastor to my staff is to lift them up in prayer. It doesn’t have to be monumental prayer requests. I want the chance to pray for the health of a sick child, finances to purchase a new home, or the emotional distress of car trouble. I want them to know they aren’t having to shoulder their burdens alone.
3. What do I need to know about the areas that you lead?
This can include so many things. Maybe they had a recent “win” they want to celebrate with me, or maybe there is a volunteer causing trouble and they aren’t sure how to handle it. Perhaps they are considering a change in curriculum or have a budget concern. No matter what it is, this is my way of keeping a pulse on their area before larger problems arise and I might be caught off-guard.
4. What are you working on right now?
This is not a micromanagement question. I’m not as concerned with if they are doing tasks as much as if they are managing their present responsibilities with an eye toward the future that will help us be successful. Depending on their answer I may be able to redirect their efforts toward things that will serve the church better.
5. How can I help you?
Not every leader is comfortable asking this question. They think it makes them look weak, gives authority to those under them or exposes a flaw in the leadership. However, the opposite is true. It requires strength to admit that you may have made a mistake or overlooked something or to position yourself as a servant to those you lead. If there something I can do for one my team members, I want to do it, and I want them to know that I want to do it.
The answers to these questions help me know my team better. Over time they come to know that I’m genuinely interested in them. They open up to me. They trust me. What more can I ask for!