Balancing Grace & Accountability – week two

Dr. Glenn Miller, host of the Leadership and the Church podcast, and CEO of Miller Management, is joined by his colleague Janet Fogh, Head of School, at Maranatha Christian Academy.

Balancing Grace with Accountability – Setting Staff up for Success

Glenn & Jennifer introduced this topic in last week’s episode. Today, Janet will walk us through how to set staff up for success by communicating well, setting proper expectations, and valuing employees.

Confidence, Trust, and Autonomy

Janet starts with the hire. “If you hire well, you will have confidence in the people that you hire.” A good hire produces confidence, trust, and autonomy. She trusts people to do their job and gives them the benefit of the doubt. Until they give her reason not to. Then it’s a little more challenging to get back to where they started.

Our host asks what happens when your new hire is going through something outside of work. How do you handle that situation. Our guests says she uses the “Clear is Kind” method. The basic method means: This is what I see, this is what I want to see, and how can I support you?

She also goes by the old philosophy of “you have to inspect what you expect.” Once you set up the method of what you want to see out of the person, check back in with them.

Employees want to know how they are doing – good or bad

Janet’s approach is to be direct and clear. She wants to address any issues right away. Some people like to cloak truth in grace, instead of being clear. But she cautions that approach could backfire. You might have several issues to go over, but if you spend too long cloaking with grace you might not get to all the issues.

This also applies to good news. If you have something positive to share with your staff, don’t wait!

“If you don’t have these hard conversations, they start to multiply,” says our guest. Now, you don’t have to make the setting uncomfortable, take them out for coffee, but have the hard conversation. As a leader, deal with the issues. Also, if you deal with it early, it keeps your emotions at bay. A leader’s responsibility is to tackle the accountability sooner, rather than later.

What’s more gracious, bringing the accountability sooner or later?

“I think we would be doing ourselves and them a favor by bringing accountability sooner,” agrees our host. But it doesn’t have to be harsh.

Our guest also reminds us to look at the ultimate goal or mission of your organization. As an Administrator at a school, is there learning going on in the classroom? If not, provide the steps for how to get there. And document all these conversations.

When you don’t document and conversations get misunderstood, you almost always pay a price. Our host mentions the importance of writing up a paragraph after these kinds of meetings to detail out what the meeting was about, and the next steps. Not to build a case for termination, but to provide clear directions. And yes, a copy would get filed in their Human Resources file.

What if you need to move to a higher level of accountability?

When our hosts asks what is the next step for those employees that have had multiple conversations over the same topics, where do we go from there? Our guest suggests a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). This is a serious step in their file. Detail how where the performance currently is, where it needs to go, and what happens if those expectations are not met.

Janet relays that the most difficult, and sometimes most necessary step, is to terminate employee. Even when in the moment makes you sick. (Because you care about your people.) You, the leader, must look at the whole organization.

As a pastor, stay with us here. 🙂 We know this isn’t on your “happy list,” but it’s not on ours either. We have to keep the ministry as a whole in mind; we don’t want it to suffer. And we don’t want our people to suffer either. “Good leaders have to make tough decisions.” – Janet Fogh.

How do you help your people be successful?

  • Most important is to take care of your people. “Everyone needs to know they are valued,” says our guest. She suggests a handwritten note once a year. You can delegate it down so you aren’t personally writing them all. But make sure the mission is clear: let the employees know why they are chosen for their team.
  • Another way is to involve staff in decisions. Might not get their way every time, but it let’s them provide input and shows that you value their ideas. Our host jumps in to say that sometimes one good idea leads to another good idea, etc.
  • Third, go over the ministry’s culture, mission & vision statement, and core values for both new and returning staff. Share the God stories. Teach employees about your family.
  • Lastly, Janet mentions that “Trust is the largest component.” Let employees know you will tell them the truth, but will also give them autonomy, because they are a professional.

A final thought for all leaders is to have fun with your staff! Work hard, play hard. Leaders lead by example. Show them you are able to load the truck as well as sing at karaoke night. 😉

Stay tuned for our third episode in the series of “Balancing Grace with Accountability,” coming next week.

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Special thanks to our guest, Janet Fogh, and our master of all things podcasting, Chris Miller, for this second episode in Balancing Grace with Accountability series.