I’m stealing this topic (pulling from his wisdom, and adding my own twist) from one of my fellow Organizational Growth coaches, Pastor Eric Scott. He shared these thoughts last week at the LQ Leadership Summit hosted by America’s #1 Confidence Coach, Dr. Keith Johnson.
When people connected to your organization start complaining, you need to listen. Not all complaints are irrelevant – especially if you are hearing them from people who are not “known” to be complainers. Yes, we all have that one or two customers that notice the one smudge on the door but ignore the fact that the car that wouldn’t start when they towed it in now runs like a sewing machine. We all have that one employee or volunteer that is great at what they do, but tends to be a bit self-centered and, ergo, thinks things should be done differently. FYI – that doesn’t mean their complaints are not valid.
When complaints begin to surface increasingly, it is (past) time for the leader to evaluate whether something needs to happen that isn’t happening – are there OUTWARD signs of positive growth or changes, or has the atmosphere of the organization become stagnant? If there is insufficient outward signs of growth, you can be sure there is inward conflict present. The leader needs to take this opportunity to mobilize the troops:
- Be open to change. You are the leader – and human. I promise you are doing a few things in a less-than-excellent manner. Someone else may have the perfect solution, if you are open to hearing it and implementing it.
- LISTEN! You can ask complaints to be reworded as suggestions for areas of improvement – Then SHUT UP! Take notes! Repeat it back to the person. Let them know their input is valued and respected – and then value and respect it!
- Improvements are the responsibility of both the leaders and the members/staff. Even if the majority of your “staff” is volunteer labor, don’t be shy about expecting accountability from everyone. You’ll go further with a smaller, committed, accountable team than a larger one where no real requirements or expectations are enforced.
- Related to that thought – train people to be your future leaders (management, pastoral, decision makers), because success means growth, and growth means you will need more people to help carry the responsibilities of leading. PLUS – an organization that is known for mentoring people into great leaders, to the point of having a surplus of them, is invaluable to the decision makers around you (local government, large employers, community organizations, etc.).
- Often, stagnation is a result of lack of focused purpose. Is your organization’s purpose clearly being communicated to everyone involved with its fulfillment? Has it been clear in the past, but you’ve lost focus and have allowed other things to pull your focus away from it? How far away? Has your plan for moving forward with that purpose run aground? Are you allowing other issues to cloud your decision making, forcing stagnation?
- You and your team are going to need help to get back on the right track. A certified organizational growth coach is a great source to help you do just that. By coming in with an open mind and a point of view unclouded by relational issues and history, they can often quickly pinpoint where to start and have you seeing momentum quickly, which will encourage both you as the leader, and everyone around you.
Again, a big thank you to Pastor Eric Scott for sharing his #1 Success Secret/Leadership skill he learned this year.