Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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The Biggest Risk I Took in My Career

Are you a risk taker? Some people are, but I’ve never been one to take big risks without looking at an issue from all sides, getting input on it, and praying about it. I remember one IT department leader telling us (about implementing changes into our infrastructure) that if we do our homework (testing, etc.) and something went wrong, he would be right there to support us. However, if we had not been diligent, and something went wrong (the change took the system down, for example), we would be dangling in the wind without his support (as he slowly waved a piece of paper back and forth).
One time, about a third of the way into my career, a mentor suggested a consultant position to me that if I was chosen, would have resulted in a promotion. However, the position would have resulted in a significant amount of travel. After my wife and I discussed this, we decided that the downside offset the advantage of the position, and thus I did not pursue it.
One of the risks I did take was when I applied for a leadership position that was a step up from the one that I was in. The position would be a challenge for me, and I would have to take a lot of difficult classes. On top of that, I loved the position I currently had (leading a group of Planners). I remember praying about this decision, and not getting any clear answer one way or the other. I decided to make the move and it was one of the best decisions I made in my nearly 38-year career.
But the biggest risk I took was changing departments exactly halfway into my career. Continue reading

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5 Ways to be a Servant Leader During Times of Significant Change

Organizations are continually pursuing improvement, and that’s a good thing. We all want our organizations to remain relevant, and you can’t do that without changing. However, the result of this is that our workplaces are always going through transformation. Sometimes that change is significant and it impacts jobs, perhaps those of the leader and their team. Those times are when leaders really need to step up and not check out. Here are 5 ways servant leaders can add value during times of significant change:

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. I can’t over stress the importance of communicating what you know about the change to your team during a time of significant flux. Email communication is fine, but more important is face to face. Be visible, walk around and visit with your team.  Sit down and visit if you sense that a team member would like to talk. Even though you may be busy, make this your priority.
  2. Listen. Very much related to you communicating what you know about the change is you listening to what is on your team members’ hearts and minds. My leader regularly holds “What’s on Your Mind” sessions. The sole purpose for these sessions is to give members of her teams the opportunity to ask questions and share what is on their minds. During periods of significant change, make time each day to listen to your team members to hear their questions and concerns, their feedback and about the impact the changes are having on them.
  3. Show empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – putting yourself in their shoes. Some leaders are good at this and frankly some aren’t. During times of significant change, it is imperative that servant leaders show empathy. The leader may or may not be personally impacted, but they must enter in with their team members during these times.
  4. Be intentional. The servant leader must be proactive, and do whatever they can to aid their team members during times of significant change. You may not be able to influence the change that is impacting your team, but you can do other things. For example, if jobs are being reduced or eliminated, a leader can:
  • Review internal and external job postings and share ones with team members that they may be qualified for.
  • Reach out to other managers who have openings on behalf of your team members.
  • Help prepare team members by reviewing their draft job postings, providing “mock interviews”, etc.
  1. Pray.  Most significantly, pray for your team members going through the change. Most likely each team member will see the change in a different way. For example, some may see the change as positive, and some may see it as absolutely devastating. And where they are in processing the change may differ from day to day. Lift your team members up to our Heavenly Father for protection and comfort during stressful times of significant change.

These are a few ways that servant leaders can add value to their teams during times of significant change. What others would you add to this list?


3 Ways to Face Change

Ken Blanchard Quote on ChangeWhat? Me… change?

I can see my wife Tammy smiling about the fact that I’m writing an article about change. Bill Pence and change do not necessarily go together. If you look up change agent in the dictionary my name would not be the first one you would see. But I have changed over the years – I’ve had to. We all have to. We live in a life of constant change – at work, with technology, etc. For example, I used to buy most of my books at the local Barnes and Noble and my music at the local Best Buy. Now, I purchase e-books that are instantly downloaded to my Kindle and digital music that is instantly downloaded to my iPod.

Change can be good or bad and people face change in a variety of ways. Here are three of them:

  1. People Worry About and Fear Change. In his book Pivot, Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes that people spend more time worrying than thinking constructively. He references a study which revealed that 95 percent of worries are unwarranted, though we don’t know that at the time of course. He states that worry is a total waste of time and will destroy your positive attitude, and it can destroy your life. Some people pray about change, while others become anxious about it. We fear or worry about change regarding jobs, relationships, health, etc. I have certainly worried or feared change. What kind of changes have you worried about recently?
  2. People Resist Change. As people face change they can resist or oppose change. They like things just as they are today. Can’t you hear them saying, “But we’ve always done it this way!” They would be OK if they still used typewriters, landline phones, and listened to their music on vinyl albums. They wonder why they can’t keep the boss they have a great relationship with and supports them so well. Or why do they have to move…..again? I used to be one who resisted change or was change averse. Would that describe you?
  3. People Embrace Change. I think the healthiest position on change is to embrace it. A big change for me was the death of my Mom when she was only 60 years old. I was very close to my Mom. I don’t think I would have ever changed departments in the organization I work at halfway through my career if I hadn’t lost my Mom. After that huge loss, a mere job change seemed small. Today, to help me with possible change I try to be proactive and get ahead of the change. In one instance when I thought I might need to reskill to be a Project Manager I sought out a mentor to help me prepare for that possible change (which didn’t happen). In another instance, when faced with a major change that would impact me, I volunteered to be a part of the group that would work out the details of the change (this didn’t happen either). In both instances, I tried to take action that would help me deal with and help to embrace these changes. What do you do to help embrace change?

Change is something that we are all facing. How do you handle change? Do you fear it, worry about it, resist it or embrace it?