Monday, August 6, 2012

Conversations Not Confrontations

In elementary school I remember the entire class being punished because of the infraction of one person who would not come forward and admit to what he or she did. Instead, all of us got punished. I've seen that happen in churches and church staffs, too. Because of one person's actions, an edict is issued or a policy is passed which applies to everyone.

Church policies have their place but my experience is that when you have formal policies, then you need "policy police" to enforce them. At worst, that can lead to a culture of negativity or fear or confrontation. Many church policies are created in reaction to one incident in an effort to prevent future situations. My experience tells me that often these are over-reactions to one occasion. Instead of passing policies, let me suggest that church leaders act as leaders and confront the person that caused the situation.

Actually, confrontation has negative connotations but there are positive ways to have a confrontation. So, intead of using a negatively-tinged word, I'll switch to the word "conversation." Rather than have a confrontation, have a conversation.

A conversation - a constructive, positive, "one-minute-manager" conversation - can do a lot to salvage the employee or volunteer in ways that a policy can never do. In fact, the person that caused the incident may never associate that his action resulted in a policy. Policies require time and discussion among a bigger group when that may not be necessary.

So, please talk with people - have conversations. Help the person understand how his words or actions were received by others, how what she did caused confusion, pain, or even disruption in the organization. Show that person how he could have handled it better or what she should have said. Do this in a conversational way, not confrontational.

At the end of this, you will have saved loads of time in not passing a policy when then requires further policing. You will have gone straight to the source of the issue. And you will have had a conversation which will lead to better communication among everyone in the organization.

Lead On!

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