FREE FORM FRIDAY: Self-Evaluation Worksheet

20 November 2015

Self-Evaluation WorksheetWith the end of the year often comes evaluation season.   Both staff people as well as supervisors often hate them.  But they are an essential part of accountability so that all staff (including supervisors) are accomplishing what they were hired to accomplish.

This week and next I will present two evaluations forms.

This week’s is a Self-evaluation form, to be filled out by the staff person and passed on to the supervisor, preferably before the face to face evaluation.

Next week we will have a sample of an evaluation form for the supervisor to use in evaluating the staff person.

What sorts of self-evaluation forms for performance evaluations have you found useful?  Are there items excluded here that you think should be included?

You can find the Self-Evaluation Worksheet here.

FREE FORM FRIDAY: Conference Report Form

6 November 2015


Conferences and continuing education are big business across America.  According to the presentation, “Redefining Measurement for Continuous Learning” given by Todd Tauber at Bersin’s IMPACT 2014 conference, $150 billion per year is spent by American businesses and organizations in staff conferences and training.    The average spent per employee per year was $1,200, with tech businesses leading the way at $1,847 per year per employee.

In Fortune magazine’s annual list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” they state that these “Best Companies” have a 65% lower voluntary turnover rate than other companies in general.  While that arises from a number of factors, training and development play a big part in it.

The blog, “How Top Companies Make The ROI Case For Employee Training” at (from where these stats come) quotes Todd Tauber to say, ““In essence, learning and development is at the core of what high impact performing organizations do.”

The same is true for non-profits and churches.   But in many cases, staff members are sent to conferences and training and nothing that they learned is shared with their peers.  Great ideas go unimplented (or at least unexamined for implementation) because of what I call “conference siloing”. (Benefits and insights are enjoyed by part of the team in one silo, but kept from the rest of the team because they are in a different silo).

For several years I asked my staff to fill out and share with all staff a Conference Report Form.  Often, we would ask for a (brief) verbal report at staff meeting to go along with the written report.

A side benefit is that staff go to trainings knowing that they will be expected to bring ideas and insights back from the workshop/conference.  That piece of accountability is helpful in keeping staff from seeing conference time as vacation time to do what they want.   The organization is paying their way, they need to bring back tangible benefits from the training.   If not, either that training should not be attended in the future, or the staff person should have to justify future training requests and what they will get out of it.

The attached form is not the exact form that I used with staff, but is one that I have updated and improved (IMHO).  I have left it in Word format (rather than converting it to pdf as I usually try to do) so that you can directly take it and type into it.

Click on the link to find the Conference Report Form

Please put any questions or comments in the comments section below.

Reference: “How Top Companies Make The ROI Case For Employee Training” retrieved at

FREE FORM FRIDAY: Exit Interviews

30 October 2015

Exit InterviewThe reality of all organizations is turn-over.  People will come and people will leave.

Making the best of that often depends on a good exit interview.   In each of my last several positions I have implemented a formal exit interview questionaire followed up by an interview.

Attached are some of the questions I included on that questionnaire and then discussed with the exiting employee.


Find the file here: Exit Interview

12 Helpful Tips on How to Use a Secretary

29 October 2015


“He may act like he wants a secretary, but most of the time they’re looking for something between a mother and a waitress,” –-office manager Joan Holloway to new recruit Peggy Olson in Season One of Mad Men.

Secretaries/office admistrators can be a boon or a bane to church leaders.   I have had everything from volunteer secretaries who came in once a week to type and run the church bulletin for the upcoming Sunday to multiple secretaries who had both individual areas of responsibility as well as overlapping areas of responsibility.  I have had secretaries who, decades later, I still keep in contact with and consider as friends.  There are other secretaries who…well, let’s say I do not still keep in contact nor consider them as friends.

One of the learning curves that most young leaders have is how to use (and not abuse) a secretary.  Let me share a few helpful insights:

  1. Clarify up front what the purpose of the secretary is: is she* there to do general church work primarily/only/also? What is fair to ask of her and what is not.  A helpful understanding of what is within bounds results in hurt feelings later on.  With multiple staff churches–be sure that the lines are clear about who can delegate what to whom.
  2. Generally, a secretary is there to do the tasks that do not take the specialized skills the staff person possesses, like photocopying, mailing, faxing, scanning, even typing things that can’t be OCR’d (or proofreading things that have been OCR’d).  It is not that the pastor/leader is above doing those things…it is that he/she needs to spend his time doing the things which only he can do.   Time spent doing the above activities takes away from the time that the leader has to do the things for which he/she was specifically hired.    The overall attitude should be that the you and she are partners.  She is not an underling.
  3. If possible, a secretary is a great “screener” of calls.  Most of my secretaries were instructed to inquire about the nature of the call (“may I ask what this is about in case I can help you?”) so that I didn’t take a call and then have to transfer it back to her for action, or (worse) explain to her what action needed to be taken after the call was completed.
  4. A secretary can organizing the leaders work expenses/time sheets of staff/other simple data entry.
  5. Have a weekly meeting with your secretary, generally separate from an all-staff meeting.  There are usually projects that the two of you need to discuss that do not concern the rest of the staff.  It needn’t be long–often as short as ten minutes–but it is a vital communication tool.
  6. Give your secretary permission to act on certain items–not only does coming to ask you take time away from what you are doing, but it slows down the decision/action process needlessly.
  7. Find some projects that your secretary has full control over. He or she will have more job satisfaction if a few projects are hers/his alone, instead of always being dependent on you for daily tasks.
  8. Ask your secretary’s advice before unilaterally making changes in church/office procedures.  She often sees a side of “unintended consequences” that you might not see!
  9. A more advanced skill is giving your secretary control over your calendar.   Allow her to see your calendar as well as make appointments for you.  Sharing this control is extremely hard for most leaders who see their calendar as totally their domain, but in reality in a partnership a good secretary can bring sanity to your calendar. There are features in Google Calendar and perhaps in Outlook that allow you to share your calendar with another person, including sharing only part of the items on your calendar.  (Often through the use of mutual “subcalendars”)
  10. Make sure that the secretary has a folder or notebook documenting procedures so that if she is ill or leaves suddenly how something is done is clearly documented.  How does someone book a room in the building? How does the secretary deal with benevolent requests? What is the policy for loaning out keys/security codes to the building? The list can be quite extensive.  To have to reconstruct this if a secretary is suddenly gone can lead to headaches, multiple phone calls and embarrasement about the level of professionalism in the office.
  11. Your secretary is your professional secretary not your personal servant.  A close relative of mine told me of being required to go buy crickets for the pastor’s children’s pet lizard and of running to the city offices to pay the pastor’s personal water bill.  Personal tasks are your responsibility, not your secretary’s.
  12. The primary offense that can lead to firing a secretary must be a lack of confidentiality.  The secretary can be a rumor production mill if she does not understand the importance of confidentiality.  Unfortunately many church people are often looking for the “inside scoop” and some secretaries are all to willing to share that.  This can totally undermine the relationship between a church and minister as well as a minister and secretary.
  13. (Yes this is a list of 12, but this had to be added): To proofread your work!!  A good secretary has solid grammar/spelling skills.  My hide has been saved several times by a secretary pointing out a grammatical faux pas or misspelled word.  If there are grammatical/spelling errors in this blog post, blame the fact that in my solopreneur business, I don’t ahve a secretary! 😉

There is certainly more that could and perhaps should be said, but those twelve are a solid foundation of how to develop a healthy productive relationship between leader and secretary.

In a future post, I intend to discuss the possibilities of using a Virtual Assistant as a pastor/non-profit leader. While that practice is relative common in the solopreneur businesses with which I am familiar, I have not heard of it being used in churches/nonprofits. It could be, to great profit.


*While admittedly sexist language, the number of male secretaries in churches is minuscule.



FREE FORM FRIDAY: How Well Do You Delegate?

23 October 2015


Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out. -Ronald Reagan

I don’t problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion leaving tasks in someone else’s lap doesn’t just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive.–John Ortberg

One of the critical pieces of leadership is delegation.  There are many reasons not to delegate: and many of them deal in the area of fear and pride: 

  • Perception that you don’t have enough time to explain the task to someone else
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of not getting credit
  • Losing tasks You enjoy
  • Believing that you can do it better
  • Fear of delegating yourself out of a job
  • No confidence in team members

An important tool is Lothar Stewart’s questionnaire: How Well Do You Delegate.  I would suggest you take it yourself, but also ask your team members to take it and then discuss it together.

The form is here: How Well Do You Delegate


What Constitutes an Unhealthy, Cult-like Church?

18 October 2015

A week ago two parents in a New York church beat one of their sons to death and grievously wounded a second son because at least on of the sons was trying to leave the congregation.

Periodically we hear of these dangerous churches that use abuse and fear to control people. There are extremes on both sides: those who say such abuses never happen and those who say that such abuses are rampant in churches.

Several years ago, the Spiritual Counterfeits project published a list of 37 questions to ask that would indicate whether or not a church has cult-like tendencies. It is a helpful list for all of us: church leaders and church members to keep in mind:

Click here to read the list.


FREE FORM FRIDAY: Communication Self-Evaluation Chart

9 October 2015

Principles of Communication

So many problems within non-profits and churches (as well as in for-profit businesses) comes from a lack of good communication skills. Sometimes it is a lack of emotional intelligence.  Other times it arises from lack of basic communication skills.

This Friday’s Free Form is a small self-inventory on Principles of Communication.

It can be a good place for an individual to self assess, or for a team to discuss their own results in a bigger question on communication within a staff.


You can find the form here: Principles of Communication




FREE FORM FRIDAY: Meeting Assignment & Decision Worksheet

2 October 2015

Meeting Assignment and Decisoin Worksheet

(Note: Each Friday, I plan on sharing a form with you that I have found useful.   Feel free to link to this page to share it with others.)

It has happened at more meetings than I care to admit.  We have talked about a lot of items on the agenda (and some off) and the meeting is coming to an end. We seem to have accomplished a lot. Too often, however, when people leave several things happen that hamper positive results:

  1. People volunteer or are assigned to do something and they don’t write it down and forget to do it before the next meeting.
  2. Someone is assigned to do something, but they think that someone else is going to do it.   In fact, neither will.
  3. There is information needed that the group needs to get from someone,but no one is specifically assigned to do so.  What is everyone’s responsibility is no one’s assignment and no one gets the information needed by the team.
  4. In the discussion people are identified who need to be brought into the loop, but no one is specifically assigned to do that.  Again, it doesn’t happen.

Several years ago I designed the attached worksheet/form.  As the chair of the meeting, I wrote down on the sheet who was going to do what after the meeting was completed.  Then right before the meeting I reviewed the list with everyone so that everyone is on the same page as to who is going to do what.  Last the list is given to an assistant or secretary to email out to everyone.

It proved to be a very effective tool. I hope it is just as helpful to you.

Click to download form:Meeting Assignment and Decision Worksheet

Multiple Intelligences: What’s Your CQ?

23 September 2015

Everybodys a genius pin

My dad introduced me to collecting slogan/campaign buttons. He had a collection (actually pretty small I later came to realize) of buttons (the kind that you wear, not the ones used to fasten your clothes).  He had some that contained cultural references and some that were related to political campaigns. (Many who know me well, know that this sparked a life long interest in campaign buttons from presidential campaigns old and new).

One button in my dad’s collection that I specifically remember was an adaptation of a quote by Albert Einstein (“Everyone’s a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid.”)

The button was (if I remember right) put out by General Electric (note the red capital GE) and said, “Everyone’s a GEnius…only in different subjects”.

What was a nice slogan in the 1960s really has proven to be true.  Today we have the concept of Multiple Intelligences.  And that concept is really encapsulated in that slogan button from the 1960s.

Many of us are familiar with the concept of IQ (Intelligence Quotient).  Misunderstood and abused though it be, it is still a helpful tool.  Others may be familiar with EQ (Emotional Quotient, or Emotional Intelligence) as coined by Daniel Goleman from Harvard Univ. Less familiar, perhaps is one’s AQ (Adversity Quotient)-which measures a person’s ability to respond to adversity. This predicts who gives up and who fights back and wins.    (I think there should be a DQ: the ability to find ice cream no matter where he/she is).

Recently I was introduced to CQ.  Now there are a several characteristics called CQ, although they are somewhat related:  Creativity Quotient (the ability to generate innovative ideas and manifest them from thought into reality), Cultural Intelligence (the capacity to be effective in diverse cultural contexts) and Curiosity Quotient.

I briefly want to focus on CQ: Curiosity Quotient.

Earlier this year PWC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers) released a survey of more than 1,000 CEOs asking about leadership traits that they see as increasingly critical in our world.  Holding solid places on the list were “curiosity” and “innovation”.

Comments in that survey included:

  • Business leaders who “are always expanding their perspective and what they know—and have that natural curiosity—are the people that are going to be successful.”—Alan D. Wilson, CEO of McCormick & Company.
  • What attribute CEOs will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead? “I would place my bet on curiosity.” –Michael Dell (Dell, Inc.)
  • “These days, a leader’s primary occupation must be to discover the future… [It is] a continual search.” –Ron Shaic, CEO, Panera Bread.

Leaders who are curious and inquisitive can “can set an example that inspires creative thinking throughout the company”, according to Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. “If you’re the boss, and you manage by asking questions, you’re laying the foundation for the culture of your company or your group,” Grazer writes in his book, A Curious Mind.

Part of the problem is that many leaders have gotten where they are by providing solutions and fixes, not by creating new questions!  Curiosity doesn’t come naturally to how many leaders have learned to lead.

How can the leader become more curious?  Some say that you can’t.  You either ARE curious or you aren’t.  I reject that.  I believe that all of us can grow in whatever areas we need (and desire) to.

Jonathan Wai in Psychology Today has listed seven ways to begin to become more curious:

  1. Read widely and follow your interest
  2. Polish your mind with the minds of others (related to the above, this involves not just reading books but by dialoguing with people who challenge and inspire you)
  3. Visit a physical bookstore or library and browse the shelves
  4. Be willing to ask dumb questions
  5. Put a lot of ideas and facts in your head: Don’t rely on Google
  6. Be an expert who is interested in everything
  7. Don’t just focus on puzzles but on mysteries

Do you think that people can grow in curiosity or is it a trait that is inborn and pretty much static throughout one’s life?   If the former, what things have you done to grow your curiosity?



Warren Berger, “Why Curious People Are Destined for the C-Suite.” “Retrieved from

Jonathan Wai.  “Seven Ways to Be More Curious” Retrieved from

Of Course They Want an Affair…Ministers and Relational Anorexia

10 September 2015


I have debated quite a while about whether or not to blog on the Ashley Madison controversy. Until today I saw no benefit in it. But after coffee with a non-profit leader/friend today, I felt compelled to add one more voice to the mix. Unless you have been under a rock the last month, you know that internet hackers stole and released the names of between 32-39 million paid subscribers of the Ashley Madison website which exists to help people hook up to have sexual affairs.

And that included an unknown number of pastors/ministers.

Two weeks ago Ed Statzer of the Southern Baptist denomination said that from his conversations with different denominational leaders, he expected about 400 pastors to resign on Sunday, Aug. 30.  I have not heard reports of mass resignations, but I am sure that some of it happened. At least one minister has committed suicide because his name was released as being on the Ashley Madison list.

While the naive are shocked (“Shocked, I tell you, shocked!”) by this, I am profoundly sad but not shocked nor overly surprised. Does that mean that I am cynical that lots of pastors are sexual deviants and cheaters? Not at all. I am not surprised because of the culture within the church which I have seen with my own eyes (and experienced in my own life) of relational anorexia. Anorexia is “an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.” What does it have to do with relationships and sexual infidelity?


I would propose that we should not be all that shocked by the numbers of pastors who have resorted to Ashley Madison type of contacts because so many of them are starving for meaningful and intimate relationships. Ashley Madison is not primarily about sex. It is primarily about relationships.  (Please note what I said…I didn’t say it isn’t about sex.  It is.  But for many it is primarily about relationship foremost.   The sex is the packaging it comes in). 

The stats have been widely quoted (I also have quoted them numerous times) regarding pastoral burnout. Included in the sad statistics are the findings that 70% of pastors reporting having NO close friends. Correspondingly 56% of pastor’s wifes–this survey erroniously presumes that all pastors are men–have no close friends.

Is it because pastors are social misfits and sociopaths? Um…no. It is because they have learned both by training as well as experience that to have close friends in the church is incredibly dangerous. Contemporary churches places pastors on a pedestal that no one can long stay on if they are completely transparent with those in the church about their heart and struggles. That doesn’t mean they are perverts. It means that they are humans. Humans who are susceptible to temptation and sin just like every other person. But to admit that susceptibility to anyone who is not totally confidential or who is in a position to affect the employment/leadership of the pastor is just too big a risk for most pastors to take.

The message of the church whether taught in seminary…as I was…or through painful experience…as I also have been…is: “If you have close friends in the church you WILL get hurt. And it will usually result in job termination.”

And so millions of pastors live in relational isolation. Even if they are close to their wives, there are intimate subjects that most men will not discuss with their wives because it is too threatening to the self-esteem of the spouse. (“I am increasingly viewing porn on the internet.”  “I find myself sexually attracted to the leader of the worship team.” etc.) And so the struggle goes inward. They may even be a part of a “men’s group” or an “accountability group” or an intra-denominational support system (groups of pastors of the same denomination supporting one another or a bishop or general superintendent who is charged with “shepherding” the ministers under his/her jurisdiction.) But many ministers have found that those groups are far from confidential and far from judgment-free. Over and over again, revealing temptations or even minor slips has had negative vocational ramifications.

And so they stay isolated.

But human beings are not made that way. A reworked verse from Genesis 2 comes to mind, “It is not good for pastors to be alone.”

But most are alone, and so the prospect of finding a relationship: even a false relationship based on mutual guilt is tempting. A site promoting affairs like Ashley Madison is like the old arms race between the US and USSR: M.A.D.. Historically, both the US and the USSR had way more than enough nuclear weapons to obliterate each other off the of the face of the earth. It was, in the parlance of the 1960s and 70s, M.A.D.: Mutually Assured Destruction. If someone is having an affair with another married person there is the hope that that person won’t tell because each will, in the process of revealing the affair, destroy her/his own marriage.

As I have said in several contexts, “False intimacy feels like real intimacy, at first.” But it is not real intimacy.   It feels emotionally rewarding.  It feels exciting.  Sexually, it feels good. But it is deadly.

So do I have a solution?

I don’t know. I suspect that the culture of the church is really too dominant to change (about that I AM cynical). And I suspect that too many ministers have been burned to suddenly (and frankly foolishly) become totally transparent with their congregation or congregational leadership.

Perhaps it looks like interdenominational pastors groups. Perhaps some interdenominational structure for support and accountability is possible. I don’t know. I would covet your thoughts on that.

However…I do want us to get past the notion that the numbers of pastors who fall into sin in places like Ashley Madison are sexual deviants and hypocritical perverts. They may be hypocritical, but it is a hypocrisy arising out of relational desperation. There is no safe place to go and so they stay isolated until they turn to illegitimate places to feel comforted, heard and even loved.  It may be Ashley Madison…it may be somewhere else.   I am not minimizing the sinfulness of the actions. But I think it is important to see the motivation for many that leads them into sinful relationships.

It’s not primarily about sex. It’s about meaningful, intentional, accountable and confidential relationships. Something of which there simply are not enough.   When too many can’t find the real thing, they will go looking for the counterfeit.   And it is destructive.

Thoughts? Disagreements? Ideas? Solutions? I would covet your input.

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