One of the side effects of earning an MBA is that you listen to a bunch of geeky podcasts. I am a big fan of Planet Money and was particularly struck by a recent episode called The Laws of the Office which unpacked several theories about why things work the way that they do in the office environment. The team looked at the Peter Principle, a maxim that explains procrastination, and Goodhart's Law, among others.
Two things really stood out to me from this podcast as being particularly applicable to church leaders:
- What you say, matters: In each situation, the originator of the law, maxim, principle, or insight did not make it intentionally. Yes, they thought it was true and they saw value in the statement, but in some cases, these were tongue in cheek statement, irrelevant tangents, or throw away lines not to be taken all that seriously. For some, there is a bit of surprise that these statements have become as big of a deal as they are.
- Intentionality matters: Goodhart's law, tells us that when we set a goal that our team will find a way to meet it... sometimes at the cost of something important. One example of this was a supermarket placing a high priority on scan rates of cashiers. Some cashiers, in order to hit their target scan rate, ended up giving away difficult items to scan. They hit their target numbers, but hurt the overall profitability of the store.
As leaders, the things that we say and do matter. Being intentional with the words we say, the goals we set, and the people we invest in will have enormous ramifications for the churches we lead. This is true for all areas of our ministry, but especially true when we are preparing to bring on a new staff member. The goals, requirements, and non-negotiables that you determine for the position will automatically disqualify some incredibly talented people from your search, as will the way that you communicate who and what you are looking for to the world around you.
The best advice that I can give a church when starting a search process is to slow down. Take some time to truly dig into what you are communicating and the goals you are setting. Be intentional these two things and understand that they will cost you some great candidates (which is not always a bad thing). If you'd like someone to think through this with, I'd love to help... Click here to schedule some time to talk.