Friday, April 27, 2018

How do you measure the success of your organization?

I recently had an interesting conversation with the leader of a homeless ministry in the south. The city he is in has a large homeless population living in hidden places within the city. Because the weather is fairly mild it is a good place for homeless folks to congregate. The ministry he leads has a stated mission of helping these homeless folks get off the streets and into a stable living and working environment. This is also his desire.

His board however, measures something much different. They love to tell folks about the 40,000 meals they serve each year. The more meals served, the more successful they are in their view. On one level this is understandable. Feeding the hungry is necessary and it is a ministry. Helping the homeless become stable with homes and jobs is very tough, especially with the prevalence of drugs and alcohol within the population, to say nothing of mental illness. It can take years to help an individual move out of one world and into another.

The problem, of course is that focusing on the number of meals does not get to the heart of why the ministry exists. But because it is easy to count, it has become the measure of success for the board. The result is that more and more resources are focused on meals at the expense of the ultimate goal of the ministry which is to help the homeless leave the streets. By measuring the wrong thing - a good ministry in itself - the board sabotages its ultimate objective.

What you measure is what gets the attention in any organization. if you measure the wrong thing the attention is focused in the wrong direction. And it is easy to do. Everyone in leadership should regularly ask the question: "Are we measuring the right thing to ensure that we are moving in the direction of our mission and vision?" This means that we must do the hard work of figuring out what to measure and how to measure in order to determine whether one is heading in the proper direction and seeing success?

This is especially important in churches where our measure of success is often attendance, giving and buildings. But these are truly peripheral to the mission of the church which is more believers and better believers: Evangelism and Discipleship. That is harder to measure but it is possible to measure. Remember, what you measure is what gets the attention!

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Five factors that can create greater employee satisfaction

Every organization says that people are their greatest asset but not all invest the effort to ensure that their work culture and practices are designed to provide employee satisfaction. In some cases, this is not even a priority which indicates that a stated value is also a neglected value. When this is the case employees become cynical and discouraged rather than loyal and engaged. In fact, the level of employee engagement is directly tied to the investment that is made to ensure that the workplace is healthy.

How do I know this? I have often interviewed numerous individuals on staff in the course of a "cultural audit" of an organization. Usually I am talking to good people who often have significant frustration in their work. What amazes me is that senior management and boards seem to have no idea of the frustrations that are articulated. This includes fortune 500 companies, non-profits, churches and other businesses. There are also plenty of examples of healthy workplaces where the staff are engaged and satisfied. What makes the difference?

While there are many factors that separate loyal and engaged employees from those who are unengaged and rather cynical, let me suggest five factors that can lead to greater employee satisfaction or in their absence, dissatisfaction.

First, there are clear expectations for all staff as to what spells success in their work. Fuzzy expectations lead to a situation where a staff member thinks they are fulfilling their job but the supervisor does not which creates frustration for the staff member and the supervisor. When review time comes around there is not an objective standard by which to evaluate the staff member's work leaving the evaluation to the subjective opinion of the supervisor.

A good question to ask each of your staff members and their supervisors is this: "Are their clear parameters for this job and objective ways to define success?" If the staff member feels that the answer is no, or fuzzy, those parameters and definitions of success need to be revisited. 

Second, each staff member has a supervisor who takes an interest in them, their work, and is committed to helping them succeed. This makes perfect sense if an organization's greatest asset is their people. In fact, if this is not the case, this stated value is not a real value. 

What this means practically is that supervisors need to be trained in how to supervise well so that staff are served well. Too often, supervisors are given responsibility to oversee staff with little or no training as to what the parameters of their job are and how success will be defined for their supervisory role. This lack of training has a huge impact on their staff who count on their supervisors to help them succeed.

A good question to ask in every organization is this: "Can supervisors articulate the parameters of their supervisory role and do they know what factors define success? Have they been trained in their supervisory role?"

Third, staff have what they need to do their job well and a supervisor who will resolve problems they cannot resolve. Few things are more discouraging to staff than to have responsibility for a task without the requisite tools to complete that task with excellence.

In one organization I worked with this frustration was articulated by the individual who was responsible for the use of facilities and reserving meeting rooms or venues for groups that needed them. What she lacked was a usable software program that would have made her job a breeze. Instead she was saddled with an antiquated program that took significantly more time.

She expressed her need to her supervisor numerous times but he resisted purchasing new software in the name of budgetary restraints (it was not really an issue). The staff member finally resigned in frustration which meant that the organization now had to find another individual to fill the responsibility and lost the valuable experience of the individual that left. It is a classic case of staff not having the tools necessary to do the job. And in the end, the organization lost.

A good question to ask every staff member is this: "Do you have the necessary tools to accomplish your job with excellence." You might be surprised by the response. 

Fourth, there is a culture of teamwork and cooperation within the staff that brings synergy and the best thinking and execution for the work at hand. The healthiest organizations have staff who work together to accomplish the mission of the enterprise. There are also work cultures where everyone does their own thing rather than working cooperatively with one another. The one who sets the cultural norm is always the leader or supervisor. 

Teamwork and cooperation does not just happen by accident. It is a culture that is intentionally created by leadership of a team, division or organization. And it is the responsibility of leadership to ensure that it is present and that staff understand the imperative of moving toward a goal together rather than separately. This may take training and dialogue but it should be an expectation of all staff. In healthy organizations you often hear the comment, "I love working with my team because we are committed to helping one another accomplish our goals." Conversely, job satisfaction of staff significantly declines when this is not the case.

A good question to ask staff is this: "Do you perceive that we work together as a team and that there is a cooperative spirit among us?" That might well spur dialogue toward a greater level of teamwork.

Fifth, staff are fairly compensated for their work. Many would wonder why this comes last rather than first. The truth is that for most employees their compensation is not the major factor in their job satisfaction as long as it is fair and equitable. Most people want to work in a healthy organization with people they appreciate over receiving a higher salary in an unhealthy organization where they don't want to come to work.

When doing a cultural audit of an organization I often ask employees if they feel that their compensation is fair and equitable. In healthy organizations the answer is generally yes and in unhealthy organizations the answer is often no - especially in church and non-profit environments.

A word to ministries and non-profits. It matters how we compensate our staff. Our compensation reflects the value we place on them. It is sad to see non-profit employees struggle with their income because in the name of meeting the needs of others we are unwilling to meet the needs of our own staff.

When compensation is fair and equitable, staff feel valued. When not, they often feel used. Non-profits love to keep their expenses low so that they can say that a high percentage of what they raise goes into services to others. But, when they are not fair to the staff who make the services happen it is not a value but rather a focus on their mission at the expense of their greatest assets. 

A good practice is to compare your salary structure to other similar non-profits in your area to determine whether your pay structure needs renovation.

Employee satisfaction is everything to any enterprise. They are the greatest asset because without them the mission will never be accomplished. When staff are happy they are engaged, loyal and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission. Pay attention to these five areas and you will increase the satisfaction of your staff.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Emotional Intelligence and it's correlation with organizational culture.

It is a given that the Emotional Intelligence of an organization is the sum of the EQ of its members. In other words, the organization's EQ reflects the general emotional health of its people. When I ask people about the culture of their workplace, they can quickly identify the positive and the negative aspects of their organization. What they often don't realize is that they are describing the EQ of those who work there. 

In effect, the EQ of the organization (which reflects the EQ of the individuals within the organization) creates the organizational culture. There is a direct correlation between EQ and culture. So, if one is going to change the organizational culture it becomes necessary to grow the EQ of its members. 

For instance, if one has a culture that is rife with gossip, back stabbing, unhealthy competition, conflict and people taking credit when they should not or blaming others when they are to blame one has a dysfunctional culture that reflects poor Emotional Intelligence among its members. The core issue is not the culture but the people who make up that culture and their level of emotional health.

The lower the EQ of the staff, the more dysfunctional the organization is. The higher the EQ of staff, the healthier the organizational culture. And the culture almost always reflects an organization's leadership as people take their cues from leaders.

Because we don't often think of organizational culture as related to the EQ of its members, we become frustrated with our inability to deal with issues in our organizational culture. However, by teaching and coaching in EQ we can directly impact the culture of the organization in healthy ways. 

All cultures have positive and negative aspects to them. Take a moment and think about the problematic areas of the culture of your team or organization and armed with that knowledge, do some teaching and coaching in the requisite areas of EQ that are involved in the problematic areas.

For examples of the signs of good and poor EQ, click here.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

Friday, April 6, 2018

10 signs you are in a legalistic church

Legalism is pervasive in the church and it robs us of the freedom and joy Jesus intended for us. It was true in the early church, see Galatians, and it is equally true today. See this insightful article and think about the church you attend.

10 signs you are in a legalistic church - a thought provoking blog by Sheila Gregoire

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Leaders: the culture of your team or organization cannot be delegated

Every organization, every church, has a culture and the health of that culture is the responsibility of the senior leaders. If it is a healthy culture it is probably because leaders intentionally created it. If it is unhealthy it is probably because leadership has not made it a priority.

Sadly, many leaders do not understand how important the culture of the organization is and the impact it has on their staff and on the mission of the organization. The health of the culture impacts the joy of staff, the cooperation of staff members, longevity, loyalty and the effectiveness in accomplishing the mission. 

Great dreams and vision can be subverted by unhealthy cultures. Leaders who do not intentionally create a healthy culture and one that supports their mission ultimately fail the leadership task. In the many consults I have done with churches, non-profits and for-profits there is a significant divide between those with healthy cultures and those with dysfunctional cultures. As an outsider asking questions, staff are very forthcoming with their experience and observations regarding the organization's culture. 

When the culture is generally healthy, it is because leaders paid attention to it on a regular basis and their own behaviors reflected  that culture. When unhealthy, leaders often deflect the reasons to others, often to staff, forgetting that culture is one of those things that cannot be delegated by leaders to others. 

Where there is a healthy culture, staff love to come to work, will give more than they need to and are passionate about accomplishing the mission together. Where the culture is unhealthy the opposite occurs.

If you are a leader, are you paying attention to the culture you are creating? If the answer is yes, can you describe the culture you are want to see in your organization? Would the staff agree with your assessment and have you or a neutral party asked them? 

Cultural audits are not hard to do and will tell you a great deal.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

Monday, April 2, 2018

5 things that get in the way of our productivity

Sometimes it is the small things that get in our way from being as productive as we could be with the time that we have. It matters because time is our most precious commodity so the more productive we are the more time away from work we have. 

Here are five simple things that can get in the way of our productivity. They are everyday issues that can be managed for better personal results.

One: Not having a plan for the day
Sounds simple but many of us head for work without thinking through the issues we will face, schedule we have or things that need to be accomplished. A twenty minute review before the day begins, or even the night before can help us prepare mentally for what needs to be accomplished that day. Even having a standard half hour to review the coming day first thing after getting to work can help remind us of what needs to completed that day. A small thing, but we forget easily.

Two: Not prioritizing our work
Not all work is created equal. In fact, some work is more important than other work but unless we take the time to prioritize and identify the most important we will often settle into the comfortable and easy - rather than doing the not so easy but most important work first. Prioritization of our energy at work separates the average from the most productive. Every day we should be able to identify what work is absolutely critical for that day, important but not critical or neither important or critical.

Three: Procrastination
Most of us are tempted to procrastinate. Some of us specialize in it - even very bright people. Procrastination is used by some to force themselves to get things done up against a deadline. However, our best work is rarely done against deadlines but when we have time to think deeply. Procrastination as a habit is really about not wanting to live with appropriate personal discipline. That will filter into other areas of life as well. Procrastination is the enemy of productivity.

Four: Constant interruptions
When someone tells me that they love to multi-task what pops into my mind is that actually they are easily bored and don't like to focus. Our minds are most productive with focus rather than multi-tasking. This is why controlling our interruptions is a healthy thing do to, especially when focusing on the most important work which usually takes the greatest concentration. Don't allow an open door policy to get in the way of your productivity. Closing the door for a period of time has many advantages.

Five: Our smart phones
It may be that our smart phones are actually making us less productive rather than more productive. The same can be said for the constant interruptions of social media, all of which distract our minds from deep work and rob us of an amazing amount of productivity. With every interruption the mind must reorganize itself to refocus on the issues we were working on. In many cases vital thoughts or insight were lost because we allowed our smart phones to distract us.

All of us are susceptible to allowing things to get in the way of our productivity. In most cases, it is our own lack of discipline that allowed our productivity to be compromised. Being aware of those issues and sensitive to them can help us become more productive.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Missions and China's current political climate

As one who grew up in Hong Kong during the cultural revolution and witnessed the awful abuses of Mao Tse-Tung, I am watching with concern the return to one man rule in China under President Xi Jinping. His smiling visage hides a level of ruthlessness that almost always accompanies “one man for life” rule. China and Russia and the failed state of Zimbabwe all demonstrate the dangers of unchecked power.

  • China is on the leading edge of facial recognition  technology and is running some pilot programs in a few cities that they hope will allow them to keep track of the movements of its population and in particular individuals who they are concerned about.
  • China is punishing multi-national corporations who speak up about things China does not want in the media by shutting down their web sites, requiring executives to abjectly apologize and holding them hostage to doing things their way. In essence they are further stifling free speech.
  • China has started to demand that foreign corporations accept political officers from the party on their paid staff who would have veto power over employee placement and promotions. Of course the concern of a political officer is not the well being of the company or its competitiveness but the interests of the party.
  • China has been demolishing large churches in some cities under less than legal pretexts to ensure that the church knows who is in charge.
  • There has been the appearance of slogans (Mao loved slogans) to the effect that people need to put their trust in Xi Jinping rather than in Jesus. Of course this puts Xi Jinping in his own evaluation as superior to Christ.
  • Increasingly employment and promotions are tied to party loyalty and those who don't give the party primacy (Christians give Christ primacy) are being discriminated against, denied employment or promotions.
  • Don't be fooled by the anti-corruption campaigns in China. Here is the truth. Almost all senior (and many not so senior) leaders are corrupt. When you read about a wealthy business person or political figure being charged with corruption it almost never has to do with corruption but about removing from power those individuals who are a threat to the senior leader in power. Corruption charges are simply a pretext for getting your enemies out of the way while those who bring the charges are usually as corrupt as those who are charged.
  • China is making it much harder for those who are in country for mission purposes and they usually know who those individuals are. Visas for new personnel are often being denied. China is nothing if it is not pragmatic and those individuals or organizations who give them something they want are tolerated until their threat to the powers that be becomes greater than their positive contributions.
  • China works very hard to block internet sites that they believe are a threat to them. These can be religious, political or simply sites that promote free speech and the candid exchange of opinions. Tech savvy young people often find a way around these efforts, however. 
Remember that there is often a direct correlation between the accumulation of power and resistance to the church. Xi Jinping knows that Christians give ultimate allegiance to Christ rather than to the party, or more importantly, him. Thus the church and those who are committed to its growth are seen as threats and will be marginalized by those in power. This is having and will have a direct impact on mission efforts within China, both for the west and for the Chinese church.

Having said this, a few caveats are in order. China has more Christians then perhaps any other nation on earth today while at the same time being one of the largest people groups remaining to be reached. In addition, while mission efforts from the outside may be impacted by the current politics within China, it will not impact the growth of the Chinese Church no matter how hard authorities try. Even in the terrible days of the cultural revolution, the church continued to grow and it will in the years ahead.

Further, citizens of China are travelling abroad like they never have in the past which  means that they are not isolated any longer. My final caveat is that while these trends are present, the situation varies in different parts of China. What is clear to me is that what we have been used to in terms of missions in the past several decades is undergoing a fundamental shift. The next several decades will likely be significantly different than the past several decades.

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."