For the past few weeks we have been doing a series on the Five Foundations of Accountability. This week Dr. Johnston is focused on the foundation of Clear Direction. What I appreciate about this foundation is how this applies to your volunteers or non-paid staff. Clarifying the mission of your church is vital in retaining volunteers and keeping them motivated.
Clarify the Goals and More to Build Buy-In, Elevate Accountability, and Encourage Your Team
When I lived in east Tennessee, I got a kick out of how people gave directions. It was a rural area where everyone knew each other and each other’s business for generations. As a result, they took certain knowledge for granted and used a sort of community-based short hand when they gave directions. For example, if you asked how to get to the restaurant by the lake, a person might tell you: “Go down old 11 until you get to where the Clayton boy had his accident. Turn there. Take that a ways past the creek and look for the blue sign (or sometimes they park the tractor there). If you get to the Johnson place or the tobacco shed that burned down last fall, you went too far.” If you were an outsider or simply unfamiliar with the area, those directions weren’t much help. They took too much for granted, and you’d be lucky to find the lake let alone the restaurant! You needed a lot clearer direction to get where you wanted to go.
In my experience, leaders often take certain knowledge for granted, too. They communicate with their teams, sometimes at great length, but they fail to give the kind of information their people need most and then wonder how their teams can lose their way.
If you’re trying to encourage your team and elevate their accountability, you need to give them the kind of direction that not only clarifies where they’re going, but also maintains their confidence that they are on the right track during the trip. If they’re confused about the destination or the route you have in mind, it won’t be long before they get sidetracked and lose their commitment to getting there. Consider these two tips for tuning your direction and raising accountability.
Describe a Clear Finish Line.
When the pressure is on, it’s disturbingly easy to mistake productivity for progress. Productivity is all about activity, and it’s a goal that’s satisfied when you look around the room and see everyone is busy. Progress is trickier and pickier. It’s a goal that’s satisfied only when the distance between Where You Are and Where You Want To Be disappears. So, it requires more than mere busyness; it requires the right activity in the right direction. Your team members can’t make wise choices about what they should or shouldn’t do if they don’t know exactly where these choices should take them. Without a clear and common understanding of the finish line, no one runs a race very well or very long. They waste valuable energy and emotion on irrelevant things, chase goals that are appealing but inconsistent with yours, or get distracted and wander off altogether.
Prepare Everyone to Play Together.
A clear finish line gets everyone moving in the same direction, but your team members also need direction from you in order to value things similarly and make consistent commitments en route. Remember, good direction doesn’t simply spur activity– that’s motivation– it creates concerted activity. That means that it prepares people to work in concert with one another, like an orchestra. It clarifies common boundaries and priorities so that everyone’s independent contributions come together seamlessly and produce something beautiful. Each team member may be instrumental to the team’s success but only if he or she is playing off the same page as everyone else. Clear direction helps your team members make consistent choices and meaningful contributions when everything is in motion. It the thing that turns a roomful of talented soloists into an orchestra. To foster that kind of harmony and elevate accountability make sure you include these three components when you give direction to your team: