Tag Archives: culture

Turning Off the Always On Culture

In the mid-1980’s, my mother proposed that we as a family should write a book called How Do You Know It’s the Weekend If You Haven’t Worked All Week? This catchy title made sense to 50% of our family (not me) who at the time were struggling to find or keep jobs for various reasons.

Looking at today’s “always on” work culture, I think they would have done cartwheels in the street to have been so employed that work was at the forefront of their minds.

With Labor Day ahead and parish and school years beginning in earnest, turning off the “always on” seems counterintuitive. Sort of like inviting everyone to a party, then closing the doors five minutes before it is going to start (because the party hasn’t started, of course!)

How about we start the 2018-2019 ministry year with a few new and/or better habits.

  1. You know what to do with your screens. Turn them off at night (no notifications, no nothing.) Keep them in another room, not at your bedside.
  2. Corollary. Set some screen boundaries, tell your colleagues and students/youth/volunteers what they are, and ENFORCE THEM! Since few ministry professionals clock in or out, use your device as the way to do it. Set a time in the morning when you will start to accept and respond to email and texts, and set one for the end of the day. And make that one at least one hour before bed.
  3. Take the Monday holiday off. Off. Completely off. No work. Just you, your family and friends. That’s why they call it a holiday.
  4. On your days off, do one thing for yourself. Make a batch of Christmas cookies in September. Pull some weeds in the yard. Watch a silly movie. Self-care will keep you from burning out and up.
  5. Second corollary. Do something for someone else. This does not have to be big. Send birthday cards to your closest group of friends. I go to Hallmark and buy them in bulk (get extra points for future purchases!) and my goal is to send the card by the day of the person’s birthday. I’m not perfect about it, but my friends really appreciate it.

Pick one of these. Or pick something else. Just pick something. One small change that helps you turn off the work can bring big changes in your outlook and approach to the ministry that you do the majority of your time.

 

Complimentary or Complementary?

ColorI think of myself as “color-challenged.” I don’t often know what color to pick when it comes to shoes or paint or much of anything else, so I resort to the basics of the color wheel.

Limiting myself to the 6 options of the primary and secondary colors, the internal conversation goes something like this. “If the room is blue, then what are the adjacent and opposite colors?” Answers? Green and purple, and orange.

When it comes to leadership culture, I can be equally challenged, but find that I take a similar tack in addressing the question, “What kind of leader do I need to be in this particular situation and for this particular group?”

The summer issue of Harvard Business Review includes a “Defend Your Research” article on how leaders should complement their culture, not embody it. Sort of counter-intuitive, but I’ve seen it in action in my own experience. I find the answer is similar to my color challenge — go with the opposite or complementary skill set.

Does the program or office need someone who is task-oriented to right or steady or focus the ship? Then you are called to bring your organizational and administrative skills to the vision of the ministry so that it can be its most effective.

Does the ministry lack vision or direction, but has lots of great volunteers and doers who are generous and willingly give of their time and talent? Then you need to provide and communicate that vision at every turn, stay out of the proverbial weeds, and help them see how they plug into it and can make it concrete and human.

Start with recognizing your own leadership strengths and which specific skills they naturally support (are “adjacent to”). Then look at which skills are opposite yours — or complement them. How do you bring a balance of these complementary gifts so that your ministry can be the most successful and effective?