Journey of Unemployment – Keep Working

I know the title seems a bit of a contradiction. If I am unemployed, how can I keep working? One of the things most of us think work is the activity we get paid for. In fact, the dictionary definition of work is:

Work – wərk (noun)

1. activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

2. mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

So we think of employment as synonymous as work. The truth is they are not the same thing. While employment requires work, work does not require employment. While most of us look at definition #2 above, when one is ‘unemployed’ we need to look at definition #1. This is not meant to demean the need for money. We all know we need money to live. But the key is to put on a new mindset.

I found I went through a series of stages when considering what work was and how I viewed it. I know it is not the same for everyone and it will be different depending on how long someone is without earning an income. So this is my journey.

Stage 1: My job is finding a job

I put myself into job finding mode as soon as the shock of loosing my job set it. It made me feel  productive. Everyday, I tried to establish a routine where every day I would search for new job openings on the web. I would then look on LinkedIn to see who I knew in the recruiting business. I would reach out and began to build my network in my new city. Each week, I would go on 2-3 coffee/lunch meetings trying to expand my network.

In the first couple of months, I must have met 20-30 people. I also spent time at unemployed networking events. Anywhere I could meet new people who could network me. The key in finding a job is to establish a broad and diverse network who will think of you when they hear about a job. I then would circle back with everyone I had met and continued to look. Until…

Stage 2: I will take something in the interim

I finally realized just looking for a job was draining and driving me crazy. It felt like I was in a drive across west Texas. For those of you who are not familiar with west Texas, it is flat and the road is straight. The same scenery for about eight hours. After a couple of months it felt like I was in a perpetual drive across the barren, unchanging landscape.

So I agreed to help out a start up. It was new and exciting. It was like seeing a snow covered mountain after the eight hours of monotony. I started out helping about ten hours a week. As the company evolved, I spent more time helping out. After a couple of months, I realized I had set my mind on something else and I stopped networking. My job search slowed down and this new activity took away from my primary focus. Find a job that will pay the bills. You see, the interim role was part time and did not pay very well. But it was nice to feel wanted.

Stage 3: Ask God what I should work on

There came a point I had to decide if I would go full time with the start up (at a extremely low salary) or step back and re-evaluate my time. I put it to God and was told to refocus my efforts. God told me I should keep a focus on finding a job, but He also wanted me to write. So now, I see my job as writing a blog and a book. Since I can manage my own time, I will do my job search in the morning and then spend time writing.

So while I am not employed, I am working. I am working on becoming better and learning a new skill. I have a long way to go, but I am finding contentment in having goals and destinations that are varied. I can choose to blog one day and write a chapter of a book another and edit my manuscript the next day.

I look forward to the day I will go back to being employed and getting paid for the work I do. However, in the meantime, I am enjoying working on something I enjoy. I guess it is a great life lesson which Solomon understood in Ecclesiastes 8:15.

 “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

Would love your thoughts.

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Recruiting like Jesus

The recruiting is a $150 billion dollar industry in the US and over $400 billion globally. Most companies realize there is a shortage of labor across the spectrum of jobs. While many companies have in house recruiters, many use external agencies to find the right candidates.

I have recruited and hired people as a manager and for other people. It is an interesting process to find candidates which fit the job description and will fit into the corporate culture. It can be fun and frustrating at the same time. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. However, not every interview goes well. I had one person come in and take a phone call in the middle of the interview. I have had people check their social media while interviewing.

Other challenges is wading through the volume of resumes that do not have any match to the job description. With over 90 million Americans out of work, you can imagine many people are grasping at any open job. I was recruiting for a administrator for a start up. It was a short term assignment that could go full time. The pay was good, but right in line with the market. I had over 200 applicants for this role. Having to look at every single one was difficult. A recruiter just can not spend more than a few seconds on each application or resume. So some highly qualified people will get missed because of the other noise the recruiter has to go through.

While there are all kinds of tools, websites, data bases and networks we can leverage when looking for the right person, I wonder if we are missing out on a core heavenly principle that could simplify the whole process. Jesus had decided He had twelve slots to fill on his executive team. What does he do? Create a job description, find a personality test to ensure the best fit with his leadership style and set up a panel to interview to make sure each person would have the right skills and capabilities? Can you imagine if Jesus had done that? What did Paul do when he was looking for others to join him in his ministry? Did he post an ad at the temple?

In both cases, they used  heavenly eyes to see the person. They didn’t need to interview them, because God gave them the ability to see the potential in the person’s life. They saw what they were created to do and be. They then called that potential forth. With Jesus, He simply said to Simon, Andrew, John and James to “come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” No pre-screen questions, no asking their weaknesses, no multiple interviews over multiple months. Simple and straight forward. Jesus called forth the plan for their lives to change the world. Paul did the same with Timmothy. In Act 16: we find Paul wanting to take him along on his journeys. He saw through spiritual eyes. He then called forth Timmothy’s destiny to be a significant part of the early church.

Here is a suggestion to anyone who has to hire a person for a job. Pray over each resume. Let Holy Spirit lead you and ask to see each person with heavenly eyes. In this day and age, there is a need to post a job description to get interested candidates. However, begin by praying over the job posting and asking God to bring the right people for the job. Then make sure to pray over each candidate. Then try this. Make a note of who God tells you is the right person. Go ahead and bring three to five candidates in to do the interviews. I am going to guess through it all, if we are hearing properly, God will let us know who he best person for the job is. They may not even be seen as the most qualified, but will be the person who is best for the role.

Go ahead and give it a try and then let us know how it works out. I would love your thoughts.

A Good Name: Battle Bias in the Workplace

 

I always find it interesting the perceptions people hold. The perception becomes evident when a manager is asking for feedback during the annual performance cycle. HR loves asking for 360 degree feedback. Some managers, however, will only ask co-workers who will give either good or bad input. It depends on what they want to say in the performance review. One of the best ways we can make sure there is no perception bias is by making sure we have a good name. In Proverbs 22:1-4 (NASB) it says:

A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold.
The rich and the poor have a common bond,
The Lord is the maker of them all. 
The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it.
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches, honor and life.

We have an opportunity to make sure we have a good name; a good reputation. What is your reputation? What would someone say about you and your name? Do you know? Most of us probably don’t know for sure. We can hope others would say nice things about us. Too often we get so busy with life that we forget to step back and look at ourselves. Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “what is my life saying to other people?”

I spent six years in Asia. Over that time, I had the honor of meeting many wonderful people. While we were all culturally diverse, there was an openness to learn about each other. I met individuals from India, Philippines, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong. All were different and all had great stories. Each person had built a reputation and a name for themselves in the company. I knew who I should talk to about different topics, who could help him with others and who would be a sympathetic ear. I found out who had a heart for orphans, who had a love of travel and who was just plain fun to hang out with. It was a great time in my career and life.

Of course, all of these folks were able to get to know me as well. Because of the relationships that were built, I had the honor to share the gospel with many of them. One even accepted Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. It was a fruitful time of relationships and ministry. But it wasn’t until I was leaving Asia where I found out about my reputation. I found out what my name meant to those who he had built relationships with over a six-year period.

For my farewell party, I was given a word picture of the words my friends and co-workers felt best described me and my reputation. I was humbled to read words like trustworthy, empathic, creative, enthusiastic, kind, dynamic, genuine and passionate. It was insightful to read words like slapstick, fun, warm, poetry, jolly, sing, quiet and different. But it was honoring to read words like principled, committed, generous and Christian. Without this word picture, I would never have known what my name meant to others. It is not something we can fake. People will see through it.

So I ask again, what would others say about you? What is your reputation? Would they see Jesus in you? Is your day in, day out behavior consistently shining the light of God? Does your daily interaction with others reveal the heart of the Father who loves them? It can if you want it to. Let Jesus open your heart to a good name and a great reputation as a follower of Christ.

Today ask a few trusted friends or family to write down 5-7 words that best describe you. When you get them back do the following actions:

  • Before you get any words back, write down what you think the best 5-7 words that describe you.
  • Ask God to tell you how He sees you and write those words down.
  • Read through all the words from the three lists. Are there similarities or differences?
  • Are you surprised by the words your friends and family shared? If so why?
  • Ask yourself, “are these the words I want to be known by?”

If you need to make any changes in your life so you can be known as a wholly devoted follower of Christ, go ahead and decide to make the changes. Ask God to help you and start being that person today. You can change your reputation!

The Ultimate Succession Plan

As a HR professional, one of the key tasks I have been in charge of over the years is succession planning. This is basically identifying the right person, lower in the organization, who can step into a particular role. While modern HR practices try to say there is a science to identifying, selecting and training the perfect person, my experience says it is much more art. There are all kinds of strategies to see who is the best person to step into a particular role. Some companies create a kill or be killed atmosphere and the strongest survive to take the job. Others don’t do anything and choose to hire from the outside anytime a position opens up. Still others spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to high priced consultants for their perfect predictive model.

It is easy to fall into any one of these camps, depending on your perspective and budget. I have met many CEO’s who only value the opinion if they are paying for it. One of the things they sell is the process to have data. With the age of data analytics, it is common for HR to put numbers to hard to measure things. My favorite is the number of people who are ready to step into a job now, in three years and in five years. Ideally, each of the jobs would have at least one person in each of those three buckets. An ideal model is one in ready now, two to three in the three year range and three to five in the five year range. In the past managers would put people in the buckets based on gut feel. The success rate was 50-50 at best. Now, there are models to look at performance and growth trajectory and potential for bigger jobs. They make you think there is science behind it, but at the end of the day, it still boils down to a level of gut feel.

There are so many companies out there trying to sell the ultimate succession plan. I am here to tell you there is a better way that does not cost thousands of dollars. Simply looking at succession planning through heavenly principles is the only way to ensure the right person is stepping into the right job at the right time. We can look at the perfect succession plan where God identified between Adam and Jesus Christ. You had 58 generations between them. While most companies worry about the next person, God was planning 58 people over 3000 years. That is what I call the ultimate succession plan. Before anyone tells me that a corporate job can’t be compared to Jesus, I agree. So instead of digging into this element, I do want to dig into the heavenly principle we do see elsewhere in the bible. Whenever God wanted a succession plan He would identify the person in advance who was going to step into the role. Then they would spend time with the person they were succeeding. Not just a little, but a lot of time. They were taught the in’s and out’s of the role. They saw examples of what the role entailed and how the incumbent handled them. They basically did this for a time. In many cases it was years.
We see this in the lost art of apprenticeship. It use to be someone would sit under a master craftsman and learn every aspect of the job until they were ready to take on the job. Now we see companies trying to accelerate this process through training, moving the person to different jobs and working on competencies they are lacking. Companies want this to last months. No wonder too many people struggle when they get the bigger role because they really are not ready for it. But the company foolishly thinks the person went through this or that leadership training and they are now the savior of the job.

Lets look at just a couple of succession plans that worked really well. You have Elijah who trained Elisha in 1Kings 19. God trained David to be the successor of Saul. Paul trained Timmothy to be his successor. Moses trained Joshua to be his successor. In all of these cases they spent time. The senior pouring into the junior. The junior watching, listening and learning. It was not a quick fix take a class and be the person. What if we took the heavenly principle of relationship and pouring our lives into people as the best way to ensure there are enough people to step into bigger roles around the company? I imagine if all of us took on mentors or mentees and were willing to invite them into every aspect of the role we would see true successors begin to rise. It may be slower, but I am positive the results would be beyond expectations.

One company I worked followed this heavenly principle without even knowing it. It cost a little extra money, but all of the executive roles (which they really focused on for succession plans) had a position called a technical assistant. This person was around the executive night and day for at least two years, sometimes longer. When the person was ready, they would almost get the pick of any job in the company. Many of these folks needed up in executive positions. So the concept works if we can look at it differently. No more building lists and slotting names. Instead, choose to invest in the lives of people and see the difference.

What do you think?

God was the original Human Resources Manager

Most companies have realized people are the most important asset. In essence, people are the competitive advantage of any company. Unfortunately, historically employees have been seen as a tool, no different then a machine or software. Few companies looked at employees as the reason the company survives. As competition has grown and the world had become smaller, companies have worked up to the value of employees. So much so that employee engagement is now a $1.5 Billion dollar business. The attempt to have employees love the company and thereby being more productive. Studies have show when employees are happy, they work harder and ultimately profits go up. So before you think that companies change of perspective on the value of employees is altruistic, realize it is business.

It will always be business with a company. A company is agnostic to the employee. The entity does not care about people, process, technology. The only thing the entity cares about is sustaining itself. Now the managers and leaders inside the entity known as a company can care about the employees. So it is important to keep the two separate. The company will never tell an employee to go home. In fact, it would want the employee to work as long as they can. Where the manager will not want the employee to work 24/7. It is just not healthy and is terrible for the coveted work-life balance.

The challenge managers have is only 32% of employees are engaged with the company. So they look for ways to increase that number. This is where Human Resources comes in. For fun, let me give a brief history of Human Resources as a corporate function.

  • 1930’s – Personel administration
  • 1940’s & 1950’s – Personnel
    • Professionalizing HR Begins
  • 1960’s & 1970’s – Employee Relations / Industrial Relations
    • Professional Degrees
  • 1980’s & 1990’s – Human Resources
    • Generalists in the Field
  • 2000’s and beyond – Talent Managers
    • Specializing in different HR fields (total rewards, HR Business Partner, Talent Acquisition, Learning & Development, etc.)

Over the last 100 years, Human Resources has evolved. The funny thing is work has been going on  since the creation of the world. The creator of the universe was the original HR manager. He laid out the guidelines for overseeing employees. So over the next few days I am going to use heavenly principles to show how HR should be done.

Unfortunately, HR is best known for policy and process. Even in this modern enlightened age of Human Resources, too many still feel they are the compliance police. “Thou shalt not do this” has been a consistent mantra over my 20 years in business. Imagine if Human Resources was something everyone did instead of a department in a company. Of course, Harvard Business Review made a case in the early 90’s to do away with HR. I am not proposing that at all. I think there is a value in having a function that manages the process called Human Resources. However, if everyone in the company worked according to the heavenly principles, HR would transform dramatically.

Why do we need HR at all? Because we have to work. Earlier this month, I had a post that went over work in the bible. Go to Post on Work for more information. For these next few days (I don’t know how many as I am trying to be Spirit led to write each day) I will focus on the different aspects of HR and show how we can be different. I am trying to focus on the employee, though I know there are some elements that are specifically for managers.

What we know is working is a gift from God. We are told in Ecclesiastes 3:13, “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.” So that is where we really need to start, whether in HR or as an employee. If HR would see that all of us are created in the image of God, therefore have value, I believe we would see a change in employee engagement. If employees recognized the value of working for something greater than a paycheck, they would see success beyond their imagination.

In Colossians 3:23-24, we are told, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” This is the holy grail of employee engagement. Working for God would be truly joyful. We would be truly engaged and not have to worry about programs or processes or parties to make us feel good about a company. This is a transformative concept that too many people and companies do not even look at. I long to lead an HR team that can have a workforce with this kind of perspective. For we know in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed.” Our careers will be successful. What an amazing thought!

Tomorrow, I will start exploring specific HR related topics.

What do you think? Any thoughts?

Characteristics of a Successful Employee: Quiet Accomplishments

Early in my career, the company I worked for required employees to write a monthly progress report. Each employee would send it to their manager, who in turn would consolidate and add their own accomplishments for the month. It would then go up with thousands of hours being spent on promoting oneself. It was an interesting notion to brag on yourself each month. Some people did it extremely well, while others hated it because they did not like talking about themselves.  I excelled at it because I found a way to highlight what I was doing without sounding too arrogant and even threw in humor to sound more humble than it was. When I became a manager, I made sure to highlight my employees success in a way that made sure to give myself credit for being such a good manager.

This is a trap that many of us fall into within the business world. How do you promote yourself so you get the right visibility for your accomplishments. Too often someone above us will take all of the credit and where does that leave us? In my career I have seen both sides where poor performers were great at promoting themselves while great performers were terrible at it. In many cases it came down to the integrity of the manager to highlight who was really doing the work.

That is the ultimate rub, isn’t it? As humans, in a business context, who are we going to put our trust in to help us get that step up? You will find many articles about mentors and coaches. Tons of resources and surveys about managing upward and the value to ones career. While there are many different ways to be known in your workplace and the world will tell us no one else will do it. So we need to toot our own horn. We have to shout our accomplishments from he rooftops to be seen and heard. Otherwise we will be relegated to the dark corners of the office.

We know what the world says we need to do, but what does God say? What heavenly principle can we apply to this conundrum? Luke 18:10-14 gives us a peek into the answer in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

As in most heavenly principles, Jesus tells us we do not need to shout our successes and accomplishments from the rooftop. If we focus on doing the best job we can and let others sing our accolades, then we are much better off. Jesus even tells us if we are “content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” This is encouraging to those who have been hurt by a manager or co-worker who has taken credit for your work. I have had that happen and it is not a pleasant experience. However, in Luke 6:27-30 we are told, “Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.”

Here is the thing, while in the natural this heavenly principle seems to be at odds with how business works, we need to look at where our real recognition comes from. We should all long to live a life that is pleasing to God and honoring to Jesus. We should bring His love into our workplace. When we live according to His principles, Jesus will give us favor with those in authority. We do not need to brag about our accomplishments as our Father in heaven sees what we are doing and is smiling at us. We will find success in Him. It may translate to worldly success. Even if it doesn’t we know we are living for eternity and honoring God.

What do you think? Would love your inputs.

Characteristics of Successful Employees: Helping Others

It never seems to fail when I am under a tight deadline is the opportune time for people ask for my assistance. I am sure it is not always the case, but it really does feel that way. Can’t they see I am really busy with something? Can’t they see that I have my headphones on to drown out all other noise and am completely focused on the task at hand? Or do they really see the big neon sigh above my head that says, “Come on it and disturb me. I have nothing better to do!”

During the stressful times of a extremely tight deadline, it feels like an inconvenience to help someone else. Why should I be civil when they are insensitive enough to interrupt me when I am in a groove? I can imagine this line of thought was going on in the parable of the good Samaritan. Let’s take a look at it, found inLuke 10:25-37.

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Too many times, it is easy to be like the priest or Levite when someone is in need at the office. The easy answer is to say we are too busy or even make up a crisis that needs immediate attention. Besides, we have our own work that we are accountable to deliver. In most companies, that kind of behavior is not necessarily frowned on. Some companies value teamwork above results, but not many.

The world will say to stay focused on ourselves. Besides, we are now in a selfie world so being others focused is not in style anymore. However, the heavenly principle is to help your neighbor. Who is our neighbor? In the original language it meant anyone who is not the immediate family. While our neighbor is the person who physically lives next to us, so is everyone who works at our company and shops at our grocery store. We are to be like the Samaritan, be willing to go out of our way and be inconvenienced for those around us.

Some might call it good teamwork and it would be, but this goes beyond the person on our direct team. It goes to anyone who can use our help to be successful. Adopting a selfless attitude and put away the selfie attitude when others are in need is an ideal way to be successful as an employee. It may not provide immediate recognition, but over time we become the person others can count on. That is the kind of legacy that will bring us success in the eyes of God.

Let me know what you think. Have you had success being selfless? Let us know.

Characteristics of Successful Employees: The Small Things Matter

I find myself listening to a speaker to reading about a person who has been very successful. As much as I hate to say it, sometimes I find myself thinking how they are so gifted they must have just fallen into success. The reality, like anyone in a career, rarely does success come on instantaneously. It is usually built over long hours managing the smallest details. Those just entering the workforce do not have the appreciation of building a reputation, learning the details, navigating the politics and delivering results year in and year out.

A key characteristic of a successful employee is found in the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10).

“Imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

We learn in this parable the importance of the small things or in this specific story the one coin. When we pay attention to the little things, like the one coin, we have a better chance of being successful in the bigger things. If the woman had only paid attention to the nine coins, she would have lost one coin and been poorer for not caring. When we don’t care about the small things in business, we will also be poorer.

I had a manager that was a stickler for spelling on presentation slides. If there was a period out of place or any word spelled incorrectly, I had to fix it. Even if it meant re-printing the whole packet. In my manager’s mind, the one spelling error ruined the whole presentation. Instead of the person paying attention to the information they were being told, they would instead get distracted by the spelling or grammar error.

I know that seems like a silly point to bring up, but apply it to any situation in business and it becomes clear that the little things matter. A decimal point on a financial statement or a check can be significant. A wrong number on a customer order or a manufacturing run can have big consequences. The wrong skill in hiring a person can cost the company thousands. Pay attention to the small things and success will naturally follow. This does not mean only pay attention to the small things. Clearly the big things matter as well. However, long term success is built over time and keeping an eye out for the one coin will make a big difference.

What are your thoughts? Any stories you care to share?

Characteristics of a Successful Employee: Non-Comparison

I worked for a company who had a pay philosophy called meritocracy. Basically it meant if you performed better, you would receive more money than someone who performed average or below average. While everyone loves the concept, in reality, most people do not fall into the high performer category. Usually the person always thinks more highly of their skills than reality. When this happens, the individual is dissatisfied with their pay.

The reality is companies are able to pay whatever they choose to for a job. Factors have to go into it like the skills required, the availability of labor, the value to the company, etc. Unless a company is trying to attract the best of the best, most shoot for the market rate. Then they can move or down based on the experience and skills of the individual.

In my career, I have seen every kind of difference in pay and have seen too many people get hung up on what other people are making. It always amazes me to hear someone complain that someone else is making. They agreed to the salary when the accepted the position. From there it is just addition. If you join a company and agree to a low salary, then it will take a long time to catch up to others who negotiated a better starting salary. We have a clear heavenly principle revolving around being satisfied in your commitment and not comparing yourself to others. The parable of the workers in the vineyard is found in Matthew 20:1-16.

“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.

“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.

“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’

“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.

“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’

“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’

“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’

Here we see the employees who signed on first be upset when they worked all day and received the same wage as the person who only worked one hour. Even though they agreed to the wage as a fair wage for the day, they felt slighted because the owner decided to be generous with someone else. I am sure they were thrilled to have the job all day and it was only when they compared themselves to someone else when they became dissatisfied.

My experience tells me that money is never a motivator., but can always be a demotivator. It is the concept of until.  A person who is happy with the salary they negotiate and are usually happy to have a job until they hear what the next person is getting. Then the complaining begins and employee engagement starts going down. We need to be happy with what we negotiate and if we are not, find a new job and negotiate a better deal for ourselves. But while we are work, we need to stay focused and not worry about anyone else. Especially around salary. If you live in non-communist countries then you can expect salaries to be different. Having lived in Russia, I know what it is like where everyone doing a particular role gets paid the same amount. It doesn’t matter how well they perform. There is no pay for performance mindset in a communist country. The job is worth a certain amount and that is what you will be paid.

So worry about yourself and do the best job possible. This will help your engagement and output for the job you were hired to do. Success will come, as will salary, when you demonstrate you are the right person for the job and can over deliver to the expectations.

Let me know what you think.

Successful employee-Respect for the person in authority

“Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

Search for leadership books on Amazon.com and you will find almost 190,000 titles. Which is dwarfed by the number of management books. Just on Amazon.com there are over 1 million titles telling people the best way to manage people, manage themselves, manage things. With twenty years of experience and having read dozens of business books I have yet to come across any book that gives us insight to how God wants us to work and be successful. There are so many different leadership principles, management models and matrixes. Many of them are very good, don’t get me wrong. However, it is man’s attempt to explain what success looks like for the average person.

Isaiah 55:8 God says, “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” So it would make sense that all of the books on leadership, management and personal growth would leave the reader wanting something more. I have read a number of books where I loved the concept, but there was not enough depth to do something with the idea. Instead of looking at the latest leadership guru, I want to look at leaders in the bible who God said were good.

Looking for the right individuals to study, I made sure to establish one rule to evaluate their characteristics and behaviors. They must have served and individual. While all of them served God, they had a human leader they also served. In a modern context, they were people who had a manager and they were employees. Having the employer-employee relationship, allows us to look for characteristics and behaviors that each person demonstrated. In all cases, they found success in their employment, even when it looked like the odds were against them. The other item I looked at were commonalities between them. While we can look at favor of God and leadership ability as common characteristics, I wanted to look beyond the obvious. How did they handle themselves, what set them apart from others doing the same job? How did they behave that went against the trend and what might still be applicable to us today? The employees and their managers I will be examining over the next few days are:

Employee                                 Manager

Joseph                                         Potiphar, Prison Warden, Pharaoh

Daniel                                          5 kings of Babylon

Esther                                          Hegai, King Xerxes

Nathan                                         King David

Nehemiah                                    King Artaxerxes

Each one of these individuals have interesting stories and they are all vastly different, though on the surface it may appear they are similar. For example, while Joseph and Daniel both served kings, Joseph started out as a slave, the a prisoner before getting to the palace. While Daniel began serving in the king’s palace from the beginning. We can read both stories and on the surface, they both served kings and had God’s favor. What else would you need to know? When we dig a bit more into the specifics of their stories, and the others, we find details that we can learn from.

The first characteristic or behavior that I want to bring forward is a core foundational item. Without it, one may find a level of success but can have a very negative and limiting effect. All five of these individuals had an understanding and respect for the person in authority over them.  

I know this a strange place to start. However, based on current events, I actually believe it is more important than ever to begin here. If you don’t respect the person in authority over you then you will never give your all to the job or you will undermine your manager. Either way, the employee is the one that ultimately looses out. If we look at who managed each of these individuals, only King David was a leader we would want to follow. The kings of Babylon or the Pharaohs of Egypt were to be feared and in many cases, hated. They had the power to kill someone at their whim.

Respect is something that is usually earned. Respecting the person in authority over you is about voluntarily subordinating yourself to them. While the five individuals were really in a submission position, they chose to give obedience to the person they were accountable to. Usually, time and relationship allows us to know someone enough to give them respect. Most people come into a job and will respect the authority of their manager out of fear. Their manager is the one who can give them raises or fire them. The five individuals respected their managers because they understood the core principle of authority.  We are all under authority of God in heaven, however, while living, we are subject to those in authority over us; having the legal right to order us. It has to do with rank, power, office, position and hierarchy. The five understood this concept and took it to a new level. Let’s look at how each of them addressed their manager.

 

Nehemiah in Nehemiah 2:3 said to the king, “May the king live forever!

Daniel in Daniel 6:21 said, “May the king live forever!

Esther in Esther 5:3-4 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

“If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”

Joseph in Genesis 50:4-5 said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him,  ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

While all four examples show a deep respect for the authority of their manager, Nehemiah and Daniel went well beyond respect. It was almost to the point where they had true affection for their manager. Daniel says this after he is thrown into the lions den. That is a level of respect for the authority over his life that is not easily found in todays world. It was from this deep level of respect they had for their manager where everything else flowed.

Tomorrow we will look at more characteristics which are common among the five individuals. I would love to hear your thoughts, inputs, questions, so that we can have a better understanding of God’s plan for our success at work.