Confidence and good morale come from ...
- knowing what's expected
There's a big difference between demanding and expecting. In 1 Cor. 13, we read that love does not demand its own way. Yet, we know that God expects us to keep His commandments. Expectations are goals. Expectations are also parameters for reaching those goals. Expectations have consequences if failure occurs. Demands, on the other hand, are a disrespectful insistence that there is only one way to do something, i.e., your way. Employees and volunteers have a right to know clearly what's expected of them while being given the freedom to accomplish it using their own unique sets of gifts and their own wisdom learned in their particular sets of experiences.
Is there confusion? Do the expectations change unexpectedly and without the employee/volunteer's permission? These sabotage success.
- spiritual growth
When the spiritual needs of the staff and volunteers are being met while they work and serve, they feel fulfilled and are eager to continue. Likewise, their spiritual growth needs to be encouraged and nurtured so that their service to the parish continues to thrive and grow. Do they have enough opportunities to put aside the tasks of doing ministry in order to be ministered to? Do you know when they need to be ministered to, or are you so busy or so oblivious that you cannot see the crosses they are carrying? A little concern about their needs goes a long way to uplift them and boost morale.
- opportunities to do what they do best
Are your staff and volunteers being distracted from doing what they do best? What would they excel in if given the opportunity to focus on it? Ask them! There's a lot of untapped potential in every parish, not because people are unwilling to give their time and talent, but simply because they've been asked to do something else. We all become most successful and we accomplish the most amount of good when we get to focus on the tasks we do best.
- affirmation and recognition
Public recognition and praise as well as affirmation given privately builds confidence and longevity. Although most people feel embarrassed by it, they starve without it and become easily discouraged. But be careful: If the praise smells insincere, it will actually do harm and no good at all. Insincerety is perceived when the praise comes from someone who continually gives more negative criticism than affirmation.
- genuine concern
Staff and volunteers need to feel cared about by their supervisors and the pastor. Negative criticism is perceived as helpful (rather than as an attack or put-down) when it comes from someone who obviously cares about the individual's personal struggles and needs. This concern is only obvious, though, when it's a consistent behavior pattern and when time is taken to notice the needs.
- being heard
"My opinion counts." Do the staff and volunteers feel this way? It's expected that the supervisor or pastor has the final say in making a decision, but when a person feels listened to, they feel respected. Disgruntled assistants and trouble-making team members can be won over into peaceful cooperation when they're consulted in a collaborative atmosphere.
- making a difference
Anyone who sees the fruits of their labors feels envigorated to continue producing more good fruits. But the fruits are not always visible. The difference we make is not always apparent. Give positive feedback whenever possible.
- short-term projects
Especially while working on long-term goals and year-long endeavors, short-term projects that enhance the long-term work create quicker feedback and more immediate satisfaction. Give authority with these smaller assignments. When people feel trusted to work autonomously, not only does their confidence grow, but so does their leadership skills.
- long-term projects that have time to mature
When larger projects are allowed to be developed carefully, built slowly, and gradually matured, those involved in making it happen not only feel trusted and valued, but they also feel relaxed in the present moment. Stress is created by rushing into big projects. Worse stress is created by running hurriedly through the day-to-day work of the project because there's too much to be done. If the team is encouraged to slow down and not worry about how fast it all gets done, what surfaces are good details that otherwise would have been overlooked. These extra touches add to the success and value of the work, which in turn adds to job satisfaction.
- training and more training
On-going opportunities to attend workshops and other learning experiences, paid for by the church, builds confidence, productivity, and efficiency as it renews the energy. Then, gather those who attended the training for a debriefing of what they found valuable. Build an action plan during the debriefing based on their input.
- feeling like a valuable part of a community
Do any employees or volunteers feel alone in their work? Forgotten, abandoned, or neglected? Does anyone feel ganged up against? Or backstabbed? Or alone in wanting to take a stand to right an injustice? Build a collaborative environment by giving people a safe place to confidentially vent their frustrations, air their concerns, question a supervisor's decision, or seek advice on how to overcome a difficulty or uncertainty in their work. Give them the freedom to expose their struggles without being judged.
- having fun
All work and no play makes a dull parish. When was the last time your staff got away from the office to have fun together? Not at the parish picnic. Away. Bowling, perhaps, or a deep sea fishing trip. Something that makes them laugh. Volunteer ministry teams need to have fun together, too, but they usually don't work all day at church like the staff does. A collaborative spirit in the office is enhanced by a spirit of fun outside the office. And laughter is very healing, envigorating, de-stressing, and morale boosting.