Over the last few years, I have read a number of books and listened to many teachings on change. A few of the books that I have perused include Relaunch, Leading Change Without Losing, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. I learned quite a bit from these titles, especially those that were timely for what was going on in my life.

Most recently, I finished another book on change titled Switch: How To Change Things When Change is Hard. In this book Chip and Dan Heath lay out a framework to help make hard change a little easier. They grabbed the phrase of the first two from The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.

1. Direct the Rider.

The rider is the rational part of you. Your rider is good with thinking and planning and can, therefore, plot a course for a better future.

The challenge with the rider is that he can also see all the problems in a situation. Because of this, he can get bogged down in analysis paralysis. To help with change, we are told that you must direct the rider. This is done by scripting the critical moves and pointing to the destination.

Scripting the critical moves are giving your rider specific behaviors that need to be done. In one of the stories, they shared that someone was trying to help raise the safety level in an automotive plant. So, instead of simply saying, “stay safe,” which leaves a lot of room for interpretation, they made two clear directives: 1) everyone is required to wear hardhats and safety glasses, and 2) no one can expose any bare skin, meaning no one can wear shorts or short-sleeved shirts, etc.

Pointing to the destination means reaching the desired outcome. It could also be called your goal. For the automotive plant that would be every single person wearing the safety equipment and wearing the proper attire. This made it very easy to see when the destination was reached.

2. Motivate the Elephant

The elephant is the emotional side of you. Your elephant is the part of you that is more likely to make a decision based on feelings. In order to get your elephant to change we are encouraged to find the feeling, shrink the change, and grow your people.

In their book Dan and Chip relate some findings from John Kotter and Dan Cohen’s book Heart of Change:

Kotter and Cohen say that most people think change happens in this order: ANALYZE-THINK-CHANGE… in almost all successful change efforts, the sequence of change is not ANALYZE-THINK-CHANGE, but rather SEE-FEEL-CHANGE.

So instead of trying to present evidence that caused them to think (analyze) about something, present evidence that causes them to feel something.

Sometimes when we go out to make changes, the amount of work needed to accomplish the needed change seems overwhelming. This is where shrinking the change comes into play. In the book, they mention the Five-Minute Room Rescue. Instead of telling your child they have to clean the whole room, you tell them to clean for five minutes. Once the person starts to clean the room, there is a better chance that they will work longer than the five minutes, but you made the start much easier by shrinking the change.

By growing your people, you help your team to have a growth mindset. By doing this you potentially help people change the way they identify themselves. In one company they started to call their team members inventors, and over time the people started to come up with amazing ideas to move the company forward.

3. Shape the path.

If you don’t want to direct the rider or motivate the elephant, there is a third alternative; shape the path. To shape the path you can tweak the environment, build habits, and rally the herd.

Sometimes shaping the path by tweaking the environment is a less painstaking way to get the desired result. Think about grocery stores. They want you to stay in their stores for a longer period of time because that could result in more sales. So what do they do? They put the milk in the back of the store, so you have to pass through a larger portion of their goods.

The second thing you can do to shape the path is to build habits. I will let the writers of the book speak on this:

How can you create a habit that supports the change you’re trying to make? There are only two things to think about: 1) the habit needs to advance the mission, and 2) the habit needs to be relatively easy to embrace.

The final thing needed to shape the path is rallying the herd. Behavior can be contagious. There are YouTube videos where people are sitting in a room and all of a sudden a noise goes off and everyone in the room stands. Then the person who just came in the room would eventually stand, following the behaviors of the others. They, in turn, would encourage the next new person to do the same. If you can get a few people to start with change, it can catch on to others.

I am not sure what change you need right now, but it is easier if you direct the rider, motivate the elephant, or shape the path.

How have you seen these principles play out in your own life?

Most people have goals, but not everyone knows the essentials needed to accomplish them.

This week I spent some time on a coaching call with a team from a private lender’s office. Less than a month ago, I had shared with them the knowledge of how to create plans for their personal and professional lives.

In our most recent call, I went over some of the potential pitfalls they may face in trying to make their plans. These are the things that could prevent them from moving forward to achieve their desired outcomes.

While preparing for this call I thought about three things necessary to achieve a goal.

1. Your What.

What are you trying to accomplish with this goal? I am not talking about a shot in the dark; like just wanting to become a better person. Your goals should be more specific than that.

Here are some examples of specific goals:

  • Pay off all my credit cards by Christmas.
  • Go on a date night every other Friday night with my spouse.
  • Workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6-7 am.
  • Lose twenty pounds in the next 90 days.

2. Your Why.

This is just as important as knowing the what. Once you know what you want to do, you need to ask yourself the reason for wanting to accomplish this; the real purpose behind it. It may be that paying off that credit card debt will enable you to have a vacation next spring. Or maybe you feel that having a date night every other week will bring the passion back into your marriage.

It’s important to know and understand your purpose for setting that goal. It will be the driving force helping you accomplish what you have set out to do. If you are struggling to figure out the why, I can recommend an exercise I learned from Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It is called, Complete the Sentence.

You take what you are wanting to accomplish and then fill in a benefit. You keep doing the exercise until you get right down to your real purpose. The more you do it, the more you get away from generic answers to the heart of the matter.

Let me give you an example. Let’s take the date-night goal. The complete sentence exercise would look like this: When I start going on a date night every other Friday with my spouse, I will_________. You fill in the blank. Now the first time you answer, you may write something like, “she will stop complaining that I never take her out.” Then, when you do the exercise again you may write, “she will be more interested in the things I am into.” You keep on doing it until you reach the real heart of the matter. The fifth time you fill in the blank you may write, “so we pursue each other like we did before we were married!”

3. Your Way.

You only set yourself up for success if you give yourself an avenue for accomplishing your goals. If you don’t give yourself a path to take, inertia will take over and you will go back to your old habits quickly.

For instance, if you want to pay off all your credit cards by Christmas you will need to lay some tracks to help you get there. Perhaps you decide that the way you are going to do it is by working out a budget for each month and begin using a cash envelope system. That is, you put cash in envelopes for gas, groceries, and entertainment. When the money is gone, you’re done till the next budget period. By doing this you are providing a way for you to make your goals actually happen.

You can begin to accomplish your goals by knowing the What, Why, and Way that suits you most. Take a look at your most current goals and see if any of these three are missing.

No one enjoys going through challenging seasons. While we would all probably prefer to avoid them, trying times do have some benefits.

A few years back, I was going through a rough patch. I was grateful I had faith in God because it seemed I would never be able to shake the way I was feeling.

Thankfully that season passed, as they all do. The challenges we face can vary from season to season. You may be experiencing a challenge in your relationships, health, finances, workplace, business, or emotions. The good news is, something beneficial can come out of your circumstances.

Scripture shines some light on challenges in Romans 8:28; “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Everything we experience is not good, but some good can come out of everything. I believe challenges provide clarity in four key areas of our lives.

[bctt tweet=” Everything we experience is not good, but some good can come out of everything” username=”justinsetzer”]

1. Convictions

When you go through a challenge, you may end up shaken to the core; what remain are your true convictions. Challenges have a way of sifting out beliefs that are not true convictions and strengthening those that are.

2. Priorities

This may be the most beneficial item on the list. If you are going through a relationship challenge in your family, all of a sudden you may realize that working overtime or going to the ball game with friends is no longer so important.

You may be given a great challenge to make your true priorities a priority again.

3. Friends

When things are going well it is easy to have friends, but when you go through difficulties the strength of your friendships is challenged. You discover who will walk with you regardless of what is going on in your life. If you find that you have one true friend, you should consider yourself blessed.

4. Perspective

The challenges we face give us a more well-rounded point of view. As you face certain trials, you can engage better with others who are going through similar experiences.

The best prayer during challenges may be, “God help me see things the way you see them.”

The aforementioned season I experienced didn’t kill me, but it did bring clarity to the four areas above. Remember this as you are facing your challenge: God can work it out for good. You may not love what is going on, but there is something you can learn and grow from in the midst of your trial.

Would love to hear how your experiences have brought out clarity in your life.

Why We Is Better Than Me

Most leaders want to see their business or cause reach more people, especially if they strongly believe in its purpose and vision. We get frustrated when we don’t see the expected results and are left wondering why. Much of the time, it’s not because of a lack of desire, skill, or passion. There is something else that may be holding you back in your desire to reach the next level for your organization.

I was in my late twenties when I became the lead pastor of a church. To be honest, the ministry had been through a challenging season before I started to lead. To make matters worse, I didn’t know what I was doing.

There came a point, while I was leading, that it was “Make it or Break it” time. I knew that change needed to happen. Our organization decided to take some time to evaluate every person and every program, to make the necessary changes in order to re-launch the church.

During the evaluation process, I believe I was the one who changed the most. I realized that I could not get us to where God wanted us alone, but that it would take a team.

Looking at the life of Moses, there was a time when he was trying to complete everything himself. His father-in-law, Jethro, noticed this fallacy as we see in Exodus:

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?’ Moses replied, ‘Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God.’ Exodus 18:14-15

Moses couldn’t see his mistakes because he was too busy. He was wearing himself and others out—therefore, he was unknowingly holding back progress. Moses was encouraged to find a team.

“Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to Him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them His instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.” Exodus 18:19-22

We have a hard time letting go because of these three things:

1. We don’t think others will do as good a job. Moses probably thought he was the only one who could make rulings since he was the one to whom God spoke. He was wrong, and so are we, when we believe we are the only one who can do a decent job.

2. We are insecure. Many don’t hand over responsibility because they are afraid of others getting some of the attention. You will never attract high-capacity people if it always has to be about you.

3. We haven’t successfully delegated. The key word here is “successfully.” We may have delegated tasks creating followers, but we have not done the right thing by delegating authority, which creates leaders.

You cannot attain a breakthrough because you need help from a team. One of the first things I did was to appoint key people who could lead areas of the ministry. Now, this is still a work in progress, but much headway has been made. God brought in great leaders, and subsequently, our mission is being achieved.

I encourage you to read Exodus 18:13-27 and go over the reasons listed below that can help bring your desired breakthrough.

1. You can handle more collectively than you can individually.

2. There are many areas where others are stronger than you.

3. More people will be taken care of (i.e. more can be accomplished).

You alone may not be able to bring the breakthrough you desire, but a team working together can go further than you could imagine. If you need help in the area of delegation check out my free ebook.

Question: What do you need to delegate and who do you need to empower to accomplish that?

Do you ever get the feeling you need to start or stop doing something? I believe we all have experienced this.

I recently met with a key leader. During our bi-weekly meeting, we discussed our normal three evaluation questions:

  1.  What has been your biggest win(s)?
  2.  What has been your biggest obstacle(s)?
  3.  What hot topics do we need to discuss?

During this talk, the conversation shifted. We discussed the effectiveness of the different areas he led. The shift went from simply talking to evaluating an area.

This was when I introduced him to three words that would help him in his evaluation process. In fact, these three words can help you improve not only at work but at home as well.

1. Keep. What do I/we need to keep doing?

These are the areas of your life or business you need to keep doing. These areas are important to your future success.

For your business, this may include staff meetings, one-on-one’s, dynamic customer experience, etc.

For your personal life, this may include personal devotional time, exercising, consistent date nights, etc.

2. Start. What do I/we need to start doing?

There may be things you or your team are not doing but should be doing. These are the new things that will energize you/your team to reach your desired outcomes.

For instance, if you want to have a culture of leadership development at your organization, but there is no defined plan to make that a reality, that would be something that needs to start.

The things you start should help connect where you are today to where you want to go.

3. Stop. What do I/we need to stop doing?

This can be the hardest, but most important, question to ask. Are there negative habits you or members of your organization must stop doing?

For your personal life, this may include activities that negate your most important relationships. You may have gotten into a habit of bringing your work home with you, and it has affected your family life. That may need to stop.

For your business, this could include you stop allowing employees to bypass their department heads, and go straight to the top when they have questions or concerns.

The keep/start/stop process has effectively been used by countless individuals and organizations. The process was designed to be used for feedback and is, therefore, very effective when used with a team, whether that is your family, department, or volunteer team.

I would love to hear from you, “What is something you need to keep, start, or stop doing.” Leave a comment below and begin the conversation.

A Free Guide on How to Empower Others and Focus on Your Priorities

If you believe in your organization or cause, you probably want to reach more people. However, there is one issue; as individuals, we are limited in how much we can accomplish alone. In the midst of our day-to-day activities, we get stuck doing things that are not our highest payoff activity.

It was in a season where I was wanting to move forward the mission of the church I lead that I created “Discovering the Process of Delegation.” I wrote it for both me and my team. Seasons of frustration can result in a season of innovation. Most of the good content out there on any subject came from the writer’s struggle with a topic or situation, which was precisely the case with this eBook.DelegationCover3

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There I was, wanting to move forward so badly, but instead, I was getting caught up doing activities that would be better suited for someone else. I have a real tension to manage though; most of the work at the organization I lead is done by volunteers. So I can’t just dump what I don’t want to do onto them, simply because it is not fair. For this reason, I believe we should delegate tasks to others according to their passions and skills.

What I was lacking was a clear process to get the results I desired. So, I created it in this eBook with accompanying worksheets. “Discovering the Process of Delegation” is not only a short eBook, but it also includes step-by-step instructions to help you empower those around you. Yes, although you may have attempted to delegate before and possibly failed, the issue is that you may not have delegated correctly.

“Discovering the Process of Delegation” will help you:
* Understand the principles of delegation
* Know the rules for effective delegation
* Empower your team
* Decide who the person to delegate to is
* Discover your highest payoff activities

I have included two worksheets that will help you track a path of effective delegation. I seriously believe that the results you can get from following the steps laid out in this eBook can transform your organization.

In exchange for the book, all that I ask is that you subscribe to my email list. This will help you stay up to date with the best content I create. I would also love your feedback on the book.

 

 

3 Questions on How To Handle Criticism

If you are moving forward in life, it won’t be long before someone criticizes something you say, do or don’t do. Though it is never easy, I think it is possible to handle criticism with dignity, poise, and grace.

In early 2015, things were really looking up at the church where I serve as Pastor. People were coming to church, lives were being changed, and God was helping our church family grow.

But in spite of all the good things happening, one simple comment brought my world crashing down. Someone came up to me one day after service and shared with me their dislike of something we did during the service. That one comment took me from high to low. I know the person who shared with me has a good heart and was simply trying to be helpful, but the negative comment shattered my world at that moment.

As much as I wanted to just brush off that comment and forget all about it, I decided to use it as a teachable moment for myself. I have learned that we cannot discount criticism from other people as it can help us to grow, even if it’s hard to hear. I encourage you to lean in when you are criticized and evaluate the criticism from a logical, analytical standpoint so that you can learn, grow and become better because of it instead of sad, frustrated, or angry.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself when you face criticism so that you can use it to improve and become even better in your life:

1. Is there any truth to what is being said?

This is an extremely important question to ask yourself when facing criticism. We may not like what we hear or the manner in which the criticism was expressed, but we should not ignore the truth behind the words. This question is best answered once our emotions have subsided and we have the ability to think objectively about what was said.

2. Are they a foe, fan, or a friend?

We need to ask ourselves which one of these three categories the critics fall under so that we can determine the validity of the criticism and understand how to move forward.

 FoeMichael Hyatt calls these people trolls: “These people have an agenda. They are out to hurt you— or at least use you for their own ends. They want to lure you into a fight. I have had three this week. They taunt and mock you. They are unreasonable. If you engage them, they will only distract you and deplete your resources. The best thing you can do is ignore them. As someone once said, ‘resistance only makes them stronger.’ You will never satisfy them. Just keep doing what you know you are called to do.”

Fan: Fans are those who always tell you that you are doing a good job. We all enjoy encouragement in the things we do, but these people may simply be telling you you’re amazing because that’s what they do. Remember that fans may be people who don’t know you well enough to give critical feedback.

Friend: A friend is someone who wants the best for you and is not afraid to give you honest feedback. A friend knows you well and has a desire for you to reach your God-given potential. When friends give criticism or feedback, make sure you pay close attention to it and use it to improve.

3. What do I do with the criticism?

No matter who was critical to you or the manner in which they spoke their words, you can grow from the incident. Remember, growth only occurs when resistance is added.

If you know the criticism given is true, you need to ask yourself, “What can I do to better myself in this area?” This is a key for you to get better from the criticism instead of bitter.

If the criticism is not true, you should ask yourself if the person who shared it with you knows you well. If the answer is yes, you may want to have a follow-up conversation with them to clear the air. If the answer is no, you may want to simply brush off the comments and move forward.

Regardless of what you do, don’t let bitterness take root when someone is critical of you. Yes, this will require you to be intentional, but feedback can be a great catalyst for growth. Some of the toughest criticism I have received has resulted in some of my most beneficial growth.

How can this post help you with handling recent criticism? Would you add anything to this list?

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

Four questions that will help you decide whether or not to let someone go.

Letting an employee go is never easy, but it is even harder without a clear process to think through.

There are many reasons to let someone go— perhaps you are restructuring, trimming your budget, or eliminating divisions within a company. This post, however, deals with performance-based issues.

In my early twenties, I got my feet wet managing multiple stores in a growing pizza chain. In this type of business, employee turnover is rather high. I distinctly remember an owner in the company asking me to go into one of the stores and fire the general manager, who happened to be my boss at the time. I always felt a responsibility to God and the owners of the business to properly manage the place.

I have headed teams in both the profit and non-profit arena for over a decade, and I have learned a lot along the way. While I have never enjoyed letting anyone go, I realize being a team leader means parting ways on occasion. I believe these questions will help you decide whether to make that difficult decision.

1. Have I given them clear expectations?

Without clear expectations, you may think your employee isn’t doing anything you want while he may feel as if he is doing an excellent job. The problem may not be with the person; it may be a clarity issue. It is not fair for you to expect something from the employee that you have not made clear. Dr. Mark Rutland, former president of Southeastern University, once said, “If the key to quality is meeting expectations, you owe your employees a clear explanation of exactly what you expect.”

A little work on the front-end makes your expectations clear. Consider having an employee initial all the pages of their job description as part of the onboarding process. You can use this document as you go through one-on-one meetings or 90-day and annual reviews. The job description can also come in handy when you need to coach the employee on opportunities for improvement or celebrate a job well done. If you are considering letting an employee go, there should be multiple documented conversations about their poor performance and where their shortcomings will lead.

2. Have I given them the resources needed to accomplish what is expected?

Once we have made our expectations clear, we must set our teams up for success by providing the resources necessary to meet our expectations. Conferences, coaching, podcasts, and books are all great resources to develop our teams. When you let someone go, you should feel as if you have done all you can to help that person succeed.

3. Would I hire them today?

This question has to be asked after you’ve answered the first two questions. It may be tough to answer, but it will reveal how you truly view the employee’s performance. Something attracted you to hire them initially; is that quality still there? If you can say yes, there is a chance you may be able to better utilize that person in a different role or department. Sometimes we have the right person in the wrong position.

4. Why do I want to let the person go?

Is our issue with the person’s performance or is it something personal? Someone simply rubbing you the wrong way is not a reason to fire them. In order to be an effective leader, you need to be able to work harmoniously with many different personalities.

If you have worked through these questions and still believe you should let your employee go, it may be time to part ways. I have learned that a person can be a good employee, just not your employee. Believe it or not, many will do better because you let them go. Multiple times I have seen people push themselves after being let go and find a much better opportunity elsewhere.

When it is apparent this is the route you must choose, you should have the hard conversation sooner rather than later. I heard somewhere that you hire slow and fire fast. Follow these tips to part ways amicably:

  • Be clear. Bring the documented proof- performance reviews, disciplinary reviews, etc. – to the meeting.
  • Be gracious, but honest. You shouldn’t be a jerk when you let people go, but you should be honest. This conversation may be a catalyst to a future breakthrough in their life.
  • Be generous. If it all possible within company policy, give your employee a severance package. This can vary greatly depending on the reason for firing, the number of years at your company, the person’s position, what was agreed upon in the employment contract, etc. I believe it is a good idea to lean toward the generous side.
  • Be legal. Make sure you are following all laws- state and local- when it’s time to let someone go. I am not in charge of an HR department and I am not a lawyer, so get input from these two sources if you are unsure of what the law says.


Do you need to clarify your expectations, give employees some needed resources, move someone to a different position, or let someone go?

Change is a word that gets some excited but makes others cringe. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, change is going to happen.

I became the lead pastor of a church when I was 29. It was the same church I had attended since my early twenties. While the ministry had experienced many years of success, it also had a few challenging seasons before I became the pastor.

A few years into my tenure, I realized the church needed a major overhaul. In the fall of 2013, I called a leadership meeting to discuss this. I shared my heart about the need for change. We decided we would evaluate every person on staff and every program in the church, and after making the needed changes we would re-launch the church.

I thought the change process would take six months and then we would be ready to re-launch. Instead, it took sixteen months. Once we re-launched, we saw new life come to the church. The process definitely challenged me and taught me a few things about leading change in an organization.

1. Change is hard. There, I said it. When you decide a major change is needed in an organization- especially one that has been around for a while- the course will be tough. Change is hard, but the consequences of staying the same are harder. I heard someone say you have to decide between two pains— the pain of change or the pain of slowly dying.

2. Change must begin with the leader. If you personally are not growing and changing, your organization will not change; change begins at the top. During my season of change, my leadership skills grew by leaps and bounds. I read books, attended conferences, prayed earnestly, and got help from peers and coaches.

3. Not everyone wants change. You may wrongly believe everyone in your organization will agree on the need to change, but this is often not the case. When people don’t see a need for change, they may resist it. There are always some who enjoy things the way they are. Many times those resistant to change have the loudest voices.

4. Not everyone will still be there after the change. This is always a tough one. It’s never easy when people are no longer part of a church or organization. While you should never intentionally push people away, some people will leave when things are not the way they were yesterday.

If you are truly making some big changes, chances are you may have to adjust roles or let some people go. I heard Joyce Meyer say that every time the bus stops, someone gets on and someone gets off the bus. This is something you are going to have to be all right with.

5. Not everything has to change. Before we re-launched our church, I thought everything needed an overhaul. After evaluating, I realized some things still served our ultimate purpose. In the end, many- but not all- things changed. The change is needed only if it helps us move towards our desired outcome. We should never change simply for the sake of change.

6. Change is worth it. The last few years have been incredibly challenging, but well worth it. Yes, it was tough and some members weren’t fans and left the church, yet the fruit that came, in the end, was worth it. We are a few years past that first meeting, and I am so glad we moved forward.

There are a lot of things I am still learning, but here are a few tidbits to help you lead change:

1. Be clear on why you need to change. If you are not clear on why change is needed, no one else will be. For you, it could be a shifting market, a change in culture, or that the organization has hit its life cycle. If you are not clear and passionate about why you’re changing, you may not make it through the process. The why behind the change is more important than the what. People need to know why we can’t stay where we are.

2. Get buy-in from key people. Before telling everyone about the change, you need buy-in from key stakeholders. These may be direct reports, managers, board members, or key volunteers. Give these people time to think about what you are proposing and give you feedback. I believe it’s best to make decisions together. Scripture tells us there is safety in the multitude of counsel. Once they have bought into your ideas, these key people can add keen insight and be your greatest champions of the vision.

3. Over-communicate change. You can’t talk about your desired change in one meeting and expect everyone to get it. It may be something you have been thinking about for months or even years, so not everyone will get it the first time. Talk about the change in your meetings and emails, on social media, and via other communication outlets. Give your employees or members of your organization a chance to absorb the information in various forms.

4. Celebrate the small wins. We need to stop and celebrate the incremental changes happening along the way. This will communicate your desired change but in a different tone. Sending someone a thank you note, rewarding your team with dinner, or publicly acknowledging a job well done goes a long way. It communicates, “This is exactly what we are looking for.”

When you start on the journey to change an organization, change may not be immediate, but it will be well worth it.

What step do you need to take today to make the needed changes in your organization? Are there any other points you would like to add that is not listed here?