Be Careful HOW You Make It Better. Personalize Your Values, Part 5

This is the fifth post of six in a leadership series, Personalize Your Values, all based on what I learned watching Dan Cathy’s surprise visit to a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. In case you missed it, here are the previous posts:

When I watched the President of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, make a surprise visit to one of their locations, there was a lot to learn. Watching him work the room, serve every customer in the restaurant, refill drinks, and more, was a site to behold. But what I might have loved the most was watching him pick up a napkin from the floor, walk to the nearest trash, throw it away … and move on.

Seems simple. But think about it. How many times have you seen a leader (not you of course, but another leader) see a problem and decide to NOT address it immediately? Sure, some issues need immediate attention, but that bucket is much smaller than many of us tend to think.

I learned this the hard way. As a Lead Pastor, I care immensely about our Sunday morning service experience. When something is not right, I want it fixed. You guessed it – immediately! Early in my time as a leader, I would text staff members incessantly during the Sunday morning experience, pointing out problems, issues, trash, and whatever else I could find wrong. I reasoned they wanted things done with excellence, too, so I was actually helping them.

What I discovered was that my constant evaluation was not winning any points with the team. We all wanted to make it better, but not every moment needed to be a “make it better RIGHT NOW moment.”

Dan reminded me: Leaders make it better … over time.

Here are three simple ways you and I can makes things better without losing influence and support of our teams:

1. Evaluate what you are evaluating.

If there is a fire in the building, act immediately. If there is a napkin on the floor, pick it up and move on. I have learned to evaluate personally and, before communicating or calling, to evaluate the urgency of my findings. Guess what? Most things just aren’t urgent. Most problems can be addressed later.

There are few things more defeating than a negative evaluation in the heat of the moment. Sunday is game day for us professional Christians. A great deal of work has been completed during the week in preparation. Unless the building is on fire – literally – I try to let our staff celebrate what’s going well and save the “areas for improvement” until later. This approach has make our church better and my relationships better.

2. Schedule regular evaluation meetings.

At Watermarke, we have systematically built evaluation time into our weekly routine. I can drop into any of these meetings if necessary.

I also meet regularly with my direct reports – anywhere from weekly to monthly, depending on their role. But my door is always open, as well. Our staff members regularly swing by to ask questions, talk shop, or just check in. I roam the offices and do the same. There are many times during the week for me to share an evaluation. Saving my feedback for a more appropriate time has paid dividends for me as a leader.

3. Trust your team.

If you do not trust your team, you might have hired the wrong people (or you might need to meet with a counselor). When Dan picked up trash in the doorway, he didn’t mention it to anyone. Why? I bet he believed the best about the local Operator. Again, seems simple. But we all need to be reminded that, if we hire great people, clearly express our expectations, and model the way, our teams will execute. Most of the time, we just need to trust and get out of the way!

If all else fails, just remember: Not everything needs to be evaluated immediately. Just pick up the napkin and move on.

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