Leader to Leader, Leadership, Ministry

Know Your People

February 2, 2017 | Posted by Randy Raasch

It was an honest comment, but one that really hit me. A member of our staff said, “The way things work around here is that you are given a responsibility and then left alone.” Some people would take this as a compliment.

This was not meant to be a compliment. The inference was that I fail to become involved in the work of my direct reports.

As I thought about that comment for the rest of the day, I recognized that my style of managing others was based on how I like to be managed. I work best when I am given a task and the room to accomplish it. I do not need micromanaging. Unfortunately, I tend to believe no one else does either.

I have a wonderful staff of competent people. Each one is responsible for a significant area of ministry. My management style has always been, “Here’s your ministry area. I’m here to make sure you have the resources to get your job done. I won’t get in your way.”

Some really thrive with this type of environment, knowing they have a lot of latitude, but can come to me at any time. I always felt that I was conveying a message of confidence in their abilities. I did not realize that some perceived this as my being too busy for them.

I have come to learn that not everyone operates under the same style and expectations. There are those who thrive when given a task and can run with it. There are also those who desire more clarification and input. When I fail to provide greater direction and communication, these people can feel ignored, forgotten and underappreciated.

What is necessary is that those who lead others must identify their needs and preferences. For those who simply need to grab the vision, we can, and should, give more room. For those who desire more clarity and communication, we must give them more time and feedback.

I have learned my lesson. Our staff meets each Tuesday morning as a group, with the exception of the third Tuesday of the month. I reserved that day for anyone who requests my undivided attention, one-on-one. It is in this meeting that together we can address concerns, answer questions, and provide clarity and feedback. I conclude these individual meetings with a question and a comment. “Is there anything we haven’t covered that we need to address?” “Remember that you can come to me at any time. My door is always open to you.” I also stop in routinely to simply ask how things are going.

The bottom line is this: know your people and meet them where they are.

Randy Raasch
Randy Raasch has served as pastor of First Immanuel Lutheran Church of Cedarburg, Wisconsin for 27 years. He has been an adjunct professor of theology at Concordia University Wisconsin since 1990. His personal mission statement is, I serve God by serving others.