Paul Martin's Articles

Fired: Performance Problems or People Problems?

In a society where performance is trumpeted, the cold truth is that people problems can be job fatal at most nonprofits. Nonprofits normally don't fire team members due to performance problems. Mostly, nonprofits fire team members due to people problems. Today, emotional Intelligence (EI) is more important at non-profits than for profits (and it is becoming extremely important at for profit organizations). Why?  Non-profits are normally focused on mission. Anything that distracts from that mission, like team-member conflict, is job fatal.  Nonprofits are unique because they are often led and staffed with people who are so mission-minded that they lack EI. Not the Wrong Leader, Just Needs New Skills In my work with nonprofits over the last 25 years, leaders and mid-managers are often hard-working, task-oriented people with discomfort when trying to guide employees with the small corrections that a coaching-leader uses.  Often, a task-oriented person works loyally and long hours for a minist ...

Be excited about how God created you

  We're all different--and that's good! God handcrafted each one of us into the person He wants us to be.  He has given us experiences unlike anyone else on planet Earth to help shape our character.  Be excited about how God lovingly created you! But there's a catch.  Often, we bump into co-workers, family members and friends that just rub us the wrong way.  We just don't seem to connect as well as other people do.  Researchers tell us that we'll understand and communicate well with about 25% of the population.  As for the remaining 75%, we just have to work harder. Purpose: The Motivation for Working Together If we believe God created us for a unique purpose, we also will believe that He created others for a unique purpose, too.  It is our job to find ways to connect and communicate with the 75%.  Learning how others like to communicate and work can be a challenge--but it is a great challenge to take on. In I Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul outlines how the ...

America’s Most and Least Bible-Minded Cities

How does your city rate on Bible-mindedness? 

Barna and American Bible Society researched 96 major U.S. cities on Bible-mindedness over seven years. The area where I live is #27, but many of the areas where I work are much farther down the list.  There are some surprises, too.

City Ranking
Dallas 27
Atlanta 28
Knoxville 1
Tulsa 36
Houston 39
Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA 8
Orlando/Daytona, FL 64
Seattle-Tacoma, WA 69
Los Angeles, CA 68
New York City, NY 85
Providence, RI/New Bedford, MA 96

Helping Leaders Make Good Decisions In An Indecisive Time

Over the next few weeks, the Average-Leader will try to defer a decision until after the election.  Above-Average-Leaders know that the best time to get an advantage is when others freeze. How do you help Average-Leaders gain an advantage while others stay slow?  Some ideas: Keep leaders focused on their objective, not the distractions.  Many of us believe this election is pivotal, but we more deeply believe that the objective we have in our organizations is of far greater importance.  On the day after the election, the leader will still need to move toward their goals and objectives.  A good question to ask leaders who are caught in pause mode: “If your objective is more important than the election results, what can we do today to pursue your objective?” Recognize the outcome of the election has little to do with short-term issues.  If the leader’s organization needs more income—a very safe assumption—they will likely still need more income on November 7.  The circ ...

Daddy, Why Is Grass Turning Brown Again?

My friend’s son asked that question.  We were excited that his son was starting to understand the cycle of seasons—in the fall, the grass turns brown. In the spring, the grass turns green. When you understand the changing seasons, you’ll also know how to prepare your home and your car.  You’ll know which clothes to have ready for chilly mornings in the fall or winter. When you’re three years old, you can start keeping up with seasons to help you live. What if we discovered that there are ‘macro-seasons’? Macro-seasons could be longer stretches of time for cycles to occur.  What if the cycle was about the same length as a human life?  It would be hard for us to see, but once we recognize the pattern, we could better relate to people seeking Christ, to people looking for products and to people finding fulfillment in giving generously to non-profits. The Pendulum Swings Pendulum by Roy Williams and Michael Drew shows that these ‘macro seasons’ are real.  Pendulum looks at history and ...

Giving listeners and donors a voice

"...people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals". - David Ogilvy In radio, we like research. Research is like the facial expressions of a congregation to the pastor at the pulpit, it gives our listeners a communication path back to us.  That’s the way we hear a representative sample of our listeners. Whether perceptual research, music research, quantitative or qualitative research, research chronicles the history of our listener preferences.  Research can become our digest of history for our listeners. What about the voice of our donors? Over the last several years, Advocace studied donors from Christian radio stations in personal interviews with our team, as well as online, telephone and mail surveys.  The discoveries from these research studies shape the interactions we plan with donors.  For instance, in our meetings with hundreds of donors to Christian radio stations, we discovered that a majority of large-gift donors do not have a c ...

Time, Quality and Money in Your Ministry

Another deadline passed and the manager called to ask, “What do I do with this employee?”  No, it wasn’t the employee’s fault. I know the manager well.  He is a perfectionist.  His staff knows it.  He doesn’t. When he assigns work to a person, he expects perfection and will critique it until it is ‘right’.  His staff will make it as perfect as possible, recognizing that deadlines matter less to their manager than perfection.  His staff is proud of their work product, but disappointed that they cannot satisfy their boss’ requirement of perfection. Public Enemy Contrast these two maxims: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23 The perfect is the enemy of the good. Voltaire I used to think that a perfect product was the duty of all Christians—but that ...

Making Decisions In A Funhouse

As I walked through a tourist area, something caught my eye: It kind of looked like a reflection of me, but the image was warped and distorted.  It was a funhouse mirror!  Wow!  What if I used that mirror to shave in the morning?  What a disaster it would be! If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. You and I make a lot of decisions that impact other people every day.  If the information that we use to make those decisions is inaccurate or misleading, we could make a mess of things.  Whether spending money on a capital improvement or deciding on the kind of development campaign, getting clean data is the first step. We’ve discovered management data can take three forms: Clean. Clear information that speaks to the core of the issue.  The data is trustworthy, speaks to the issue and is simple to understand. Incomplete. Information that is obviously missing key components.  As managers, we see that the data is not to be trusted. ...

What Made You Successful Yesterday Can Make You Obsolete Tomorrow

Over the weekend, I looked at the notes from conferences, corporate training events and seminars over the past three plus decades.   A session title from 1982: “The Changes Coming To Retail” caught my eye—funny thing, there was no mention of Wal-Mart or No one told me this in high school, college or grad school, but knowledge has an expiration date. I find it hard to know when that expiration date occurs.  Knowledge is a lot like when Steven Wright asks, “How do you know when cottage cheese goes bad?” Reappraise the Value of Knowledge Just like a valuable stock or mutual fund, it is healthy to reappraise the value of our knowledge everyday.  Four aspects help me know what knowledge to increase or decrease its influence on my decision-making: New technology, including new applications of existing technology—Is the piece of knowledge antiquated by readily available technology.  For instance, a donor’s home phone number is ...

Are You a Powerful Leader or a Blaming Manager?

"My boss made me cut your pay." A manager told his team that the home office called and was unilaterally cutting their pay. It was a tough announcement--and the manager lost his team's allegiance over it. The manager thought that if the team members blamed the corporate office then they would let him off the hook for the bad news. He thought the team would trust him. They didn't. When the manager told the staff that corporate changed the compensation policy, he inadvertently told his team something else: the manager had no power. From then on, team members started sending notes to corporate bragging on their successes--behind the manager's back. Sure, he was frustrated about the team circumventing him. But he never needed to lose the trust. He never needed to lose the power. All he needed to do was take responsibility for decisions. He needed to own the decision--even if it was unpopular, he would have his team's respect. True leaders own decisions. Mere managers blame others. Mere managers blame corpor ...

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