Employees And Ministry—Relationships Matter, But Be Careful
I think that everyone should have a ministry. I believe we are placed here on Earth to do good things for others. Whether the ministry is focuses on helping and making life better for others’ children, helping and making life better for the ill and injured, helping and making life better for crime victims or even crime perpetrators, it’s all beneficial and makes society better. I have said that you can’t marry a ministry if you want to have a happy life, and you can’t hire a ministry if you want to have a successful business. These are blanket statements that, of course, always carry exceptions under exceptional circumstances. A relationship with employees can provide an opportunity for ministry within a business.
Staying with the issue of the workplace, personal relationships usually act as governors of performance and productivity. No matter what my habits or proclivities are, say I am prone to take short cuts and to cut corners, I can overcome or transcend them if I am motivated by a personal relationship with an exceptional supervisor or business owner who expects me to perform. It takes a deeply personal relationship to supersede habits or biases.
I had a client, a business owner, who called and advised that one of his entry level employees was enrolled in a school program to learn a skill that, when completed, would make him eligible for a higher paying job in this company. He went on to explain that this employee was expelled from the educational program for cheating. He was considering terminating the employee because “integrity counts a lot around here.”
Part of the back story is that this business owner had a significant relationship with the school. I advised that the owner not terminate the employee, but rather talk to him. I told him that the employee was in a very vulnerable position: he had just shot a big hole in his future, and if his employer shoots a big hole in his present, he could be pushed to violence, to crime or to other places of personal doom. I urged my client to not fire the employee because the precipitating incident did not have a direct relationship to the job and, therefore, could expose the company to a Wrongful Discharge lawsuit. I advised him of an available option for a solution. An opportunity had opened to create a deeply loyal person and build a healthy human being.
I urged the employer to have a conversation with the employee that would go something like this: Everyone makes mistakes in life, and you made a big one at that school. If you give me one year of exceptional and high integrity performance, I will make a recommendation for you to be able to re-enroll in that school. The employer had that conversation, and over the course of the following year, a solid performance was delivered, and a loyal relationship was built. What made it work was the personal relationship that existed between the two people. That relationship was a ministry for the business owner.
However, it is hard to have a personal relationship with more than about 30 employees. Above that number, it is just too difficult to relate personally. If you, as the owner or supervisor, can’t establish that personal relationship with all the employees, then it is risky to expose the business to questionable types. The best predictor of future performance is past performance. If there are honesty issues, integrity issues, safety issues or serious interpersonal issues present, they are likely to continue unless they are mitigated by a personal and mutual commitment between two “accountability partners.”