4 Ways to Measure Chemistry When Hiring

I’ve had the privilege of hiring an entire staff when starting a church. Recently, I was the one being added to an existing team. In the process, I experienced several, uniquely different interviewing processes.

Based on my experience, here’s is what I learned: Chemistry is the hardest thing to measure!

There are the “3 C’s” in hiring: Chemistry, Character, and Competency. Though equally important, they are not equally easy to measure. Competency and character can be tested and/or vouched for by people who know the hiring candidate. But chemistry’s not so easy. Chemistry takes a little more time and can only be experienced.

With that in mind, here are 4 practices that can help you measure chemistry:

1. Don’t get in a hurry.

“Hire slow and fire fast,” says Craig Groechel – Pastor of LifeChurch.tv. The bigger the role/influence of the new hire, the slower the process should be. A slow process protects your church/organization/business and protects the potential team member. The faster you move the more likely you’ll leave God out of the process. And remember, chemistry takes some time to measure.

What’s a good time frame? For my current position, it was a 3-month process from the time I submitted my resume until I was hired. In my previous role, it was a 6-month interview process before I partnered with North Point Community Church. The extra time helps eliminate surprises.

My church’s leadership took two years to fill the ministry position I now fill. This two-year process included several nation-wide searches, in-person interviews, etc. There had to have been a temptation along the way to simply “fill the position”. I’m so grateful they didn’t get in a hurry so I can now serve with such a great leadership team!

2. Involve other people.

“I’m not a good interviewer of potential employees because I casts vision instead of discovering the candidates fit”, says Andy Stanley – Pastor of North Point Community Church. (Unfortunately, I think I’m that way.)

Find people within the church (staff, elders, key volunteers) who are good listeners and are discerning. Allow them to spend some time with the candidate and then value their feedback.

As a candidate with North Point I interviewed several times with an outside recruiter and then a lead team director. I then had extended interaction with several departmental leaders prior to partnering.

 3. Invest time/money to measure the chemistry

Some people are great on stage, one-on-one, or in group settings. The more environments you share with a candidate the more accurate your chemistry evaluation. Remember, a single environment or interaction can mislead.

Be sure you’re measuring chemistry not just competence. In one interviewing process I spent the weekend having my competence measured. In one day my wife and I literally went from one group of volunteers/staff to another group of volunteers/staff and then another group of volunteers/staff. In each place we were seated at the front of the room and the “locals” were already seated (anywhere from 8-20 people) ready to ask us “What would you do if ….” questions that lasted a couple of hours each. It felt like one firing squad after another. They were trying to measure our competence alone. Meanwhile, we left wondering if we had given the “right” answers but knowing we had no idea about chemistry. When they asked us to return for another weekend visit we politely declined.

Several years ago I was involved in the hiring of a ministry candidate with whom we needed to measure chemistry. After a few phone calls and emails we drove to his town (250 miles away), took he and his wife to dinner and then a Texas Ranger’s baseball game. Our investment included travel expenses, meals, game tickets, parking, refreshments, hotel, etc. We wanted to know if we’d enjoy “doing life” with he and his wife. Later we brought them to our town and hung out in social and ministry settings. Afterwards, we felt confident they were a good fit. Twelve years later they are still serving effectively in that role. That was time and money well spent.

4. Have a consistent process (Same place/Same people)

When interviewing multiple candidates, “experience” them in similar environments to get a more accurate comparative assessment. Include the same people in the interview process. (Some people naturally find the best in everyone and may not provide helpful feedback.)

Chemistry is sometimes hard to measure. Having a thorough process helps to protect us from avoidable but expensive hiring missteps.

These are are based on my experiences. What are some of your thoughts and experiences?

Own Your “Stomp”!

Have you seen the video of this NFL player “losing it” on Thanksgiving? YAHOO dubbed it “the stomp heard round the world”.

As troubling as that was his “explanation” below is more disturbing.

Let me offer this advise: Don’t judge Ndamukong Suh. You have some Suh in you. So do I. Your “stomp” may look different but we have all stomped. (Unfortunately for Suh, he has multiple “stomps” without accepting responsibility in his brief NFL career.)

Truthfully, I’ve made up excuses to deflect attention from my bad behavior. So have you. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes it’s obvious.

Maybe that explains why we react so strongly to Suh’s immature denial. We’re privately glad our inconsistencies aren’t recorded in HD and replayed on TV and YouTube.

Here’s how you know if you have some Suh in you:

Marriage: When you think about improving your marriage does it usually start by working on your spouses weakness rather than your own?

Finances: Do you blame a spouse, former employer, financial adviser, business partner, or politicians for all of your current financial hardship?

Pain: When you replay the pain of your past do only see the faces of other people?

Why do we blame others completely even when we know we had some part in the problem? Because we’re tricked. By who? By ourselves!

The prophet Jeremiah warns us that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

Often the only reason our past remains with us is because we have yet to own our part in the situation. “The consequences of deceit are usually greater than the one of the truth.” – Henry Cloud

Until you identify and own your responsibility, you will be stuck in the past.

“As long as I get away with ______, I will not recover from __________.” Andy Stanley

The NFL should apply this principle. So should we.

Have you owned your part in your finances? Your marriage? Your past hurt? Your relationship with a co-worker?

Don’t stand up at the podium and say, “But I was just trying to catch my balance when THEY…”

Stand up & own your “stomp”!

Gratitude in a Broken World

Are you having a hard time expressing public gratitude because of private pain? As you hear expressions of gratitude this Thanksgiving maybe it only magnifies your pain.

Let me encourage you to take 18 minutes to listen to a man who relates to you. He shared his story this weekend at our church. You can listen to the entire sermon which might be helpful. If you’re short on time fast forward audio player to the 12 minute mark. I hope it encourages you. It did many of us on Sunday.

Click HERE. Click “Listen”. Enjoy entire sermon or forward to the twelve minute mark.

My Personal “Top 5” Favorite Tweeters

Yesterday I shared my personal “Top 5” bloggers. Today here are my “Top 5” tweeters.

1) Jon Acuff (Author & Dave Ramsey Team Mbr in Nashville, TN) – FUNNY, Creative, Authentic. This week, after a trip to Vietnam he tweeted, “Monday I tried to explain to Vietnamese villagers why my blog traffic is so important but they were surprisingly unreceptive.” @jonacuff

2) Rick Warren – Rick’s condensed insightful thoughts are made for twitter. This week he tweeted, “You are not an accident! Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. Ps. 139:14-16” @RickWarren

3) Dave Ramsey – Funny, personal, financial/leadership nuggets. Here’s a tweet from this week: “Give praise in private AND in public. My favorite: Recognizing team members in front of their spouse or parents.” @DaveRamsey

4) Tom Ziglar (Zig Ziglar’s son) – Common sense. Tweet this week, “If your ride through life is not as smooth as you would like it to be, blaming the road may not be the answer.” @TomZiglar

5) Stuart Scott (ESPN Host)  – Lots of “on the field” sports tweets plus Stuart openly shares his current battle with cancer. Tweet this week: “If CT scans every 2 or 3 months is needed 2 Fight Cancer then that’s what I’ll do. Even it means glowing green from radiation. #cancerhumor” @StuartScott

Not on twitter? Check out Michael Hyatt’s article “The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter”. In 20 minutes you’ll be COMPLETELY familiar and utilizing it for all of it’s wonderful purposes!

Already enjoying twitter? Who are some of your favorites?

My Top 5 Favorite Bloggers

Like you, my stage of life, job, and general interest influence my thinking. Technology makes connection with others easier and nosier than ever. Focus is key. Here are my “top 5” bloggers that I think are worth checking out.

1) Seth Godin (A top blogger based on traffic, Author, Marketing Guru) – Seth consistently challenges my thinking, keeps his blog posts short, and raises lots of money for charity.

2) Michael Hyatt (Author & Former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing) – Lots of good content about blogging, writing, and leadership. Plus, seems to be a good guy.

3) Tony Morgan (Pastor, strategist, author) – Oversees Campus Pastors at West Ridge Church, Dallas, GA. Incredible strategic thinker and innovative ministry leader.

4) Ron Edmondson (Pastor & Leader of Leaders) – Pastor of Grace Community Church, Clarksville, TN. Strategic, innovative, evangelistic. In one word = leader.

5) Pete Wilson (Pastor & Author) – Incredibly creative and humble Pastor of Cross Point Church, Nashville, TN. His posts are fun and insightful.

Bonus #6) Justin Taylor (Works at Crossway and Elder in his church) – Reformed in theology. Contemporary introspection in blogging.

I use Google Reader to skim these blogs and others. Generally, this enables me to view all blogs in about 15 minutes a couple of times per week.

FMI: You can check out this blog ranking of “church blogs”.

Who are your “must follow” bloggers?

Thursday, I’ll share some of the people I most enjoy following on Twitter.

Just Because People Follow You Doesn’t Mean They Trust You

Ever known a leader who was leading by position only?

Steve Carell made the character Michael Scott a household name from the sitcom The Office. (BTW, it’s just not the same without him.)

Michael Scott was a leader by position only. In the sitcom the other characters didn’t respect Michael even though he was the leader – the office manager. In this case it was due to his lack of competence. His office staff followed him but didn’t respect him.

Sometimes people lead by position only because of a lack of integrity. That’s when people follow but don’t trust.

A friend of mine served with a pastor who by all public appearances was a man of integrity. However, privately the pastor was being less than honest with the church finances. His entire staff was aware of it and eventually it was handled in an appropriate way.

Here’s the interesting thing. The pastor was a nice man, with a high Scripture IQ, a good speaker, and a caring person. Despite his talent and kindness, the staff was aware of his financial indiscretions. Their challenge was hearing their pastor speak on integrity. Soon they found themselves following a person they didn’t trust.

You want to be a person people follow. You also want to be a person people trust. You can be one without the other.

“Moral Authority” is a concept I learned from Andy Stanley. When we lead from our moral authority (actual integrity) vs. our position (title) people can follow AND trust. (You can download a free message here by Andy Stanley on this topic.)

Before taking my current position, I talked with several people about the church leadership of my current church and one word that continually came up was “integrity”. That meant so much to me. I was going to be moving my family across the country and nothing, not the church model, the preaching style, or church growth projections mattered as much as the integrity of the leadership.

If you’re a leader are people following you because of your position or because of your moral authority? One way you can find out is by asking people who know you well, “Am I trustworthy?” Also, do the people that follow you ever ask for your input in areas outside of your job responsibilities?

Becoming a trustworthy leader is a much higher goal than just becoming the boss.

Are You Approaching Your Faith Like George Costanza?

If you’ve watched Seinfeld then you’ve probably enjoyed the famous episode of Independent George vs. Relationship George. The character George Costanza lives life one way with his circle of friends (independent George) and he lives life another way with his girlfriend (relationship George). In his warped way of thinking, as long as the two George’s stay separated life is good.

His “dilemma” is that the two world’s are colliding when someone from his circle of friends (Elaine) begins to hang out with his girlfriend.

Here’s a short clip from that famous episode:

Question: Are you approaching your faith like George Costanza?

Think about it. Most of us go to church and love how we feel when we leave church. We’ve seen friends, worshiped with others, and heard truth from Scripture. What’s not to like?

Then Monday morning comes which probably includes working with people who live differently, think differently, and value differently. Good people who don’t filter their lives through Scripture.

The dilemma is on Sunday you hear the Pastor speak about living a life of integrity but then you go to work and the primary value is increasing the bottom-line regardless of the cost. Integrity is a distant value if it’s even on their radar. Two different worlds.

So you adjust. You connect where you can by talking about news, sports, weather, shopping, technology … You know, the non-eternal stuff. Privately you try to manage the tension between the truth you heard on Sunday and the “real life” you experience during the week.

Much like Independent George and Relationship George, you have “Sunday world” and “rest of the week world”.

The Apostle Paul experienced this same tension. He knew the importance of joining the two worlds. He realized that simply sharing life (faith stories) with other Christians was how you accomplished it. (Rom. 1:11-12)

How do you join these “two worlds”? The most practical solution is a community group (small group).

Community groups bridge the gap between truth and real life. It’s where the two worlds collide . . . in a good way!

In community group you can wrestle with life in personally specific ways (impossible in a corporate/Sunday environment). You can include people inside and outside of the faith to really further the joining of these two worlds.

So how about you? Are you approaching your faith like George Constanza? Do you have two separated worlds? Or, do you invest regularly in meaningful relationships where these two worlds are allowed to collide?

Does Your Ministry Stick to the Pan?

My wife Ginger recently baked a “sad cake” (chewy coconut, brownie-like pan of goodness). Initially, she was disappointed because the cake stuck to the pan. Then we discovered that it was still melt-in-your-mouth good. How pretty the cake looked was only important to the baker – Ginger. We didn’t want her improving the process if it impacted the taste. The taste was most important to the rest of us.

You face the same temptation if you’re a ministry leader. You want a prettier (maybe larger) ministry. After all, who wants a ministry that sticks to the pan?

A couple of years ago I attended The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas pastored by Matt Chandler. Even though the church was already among the fastest growing in America, if I were judging by appearances alone I would say it was unimpressive.

Here are some of the unimpressive things based on appearance:

– Auditorium was older, dated looking, small and modest

– Worship lighting and slide background loops were limited and simple

– Message slides were not terribly clean or clear looking

– Children’s ministry was held in detached, portable buildings and had a simple look

– All environments were noticeably plain

Despite the unimpressive appearances Matt came up on stage about 10 minutes before the service started and said, “If you’re saving a seat for a friend who’s not here yet they’re not coming. We’ve just closed the parking lot because we’ve reached capacity. So text them and let ‘em know you’ll have to meet for lunch and they should plan on being here earlier next week.”

What the ministry lacked in polish they made up for it with effectiveness! Here are some of the effective non-visual elements that stuck out to me:

– Worship was engaging and utilized professional-quality musicians

– Matt’s message was . . . well Matt Chandler-esque

– Children’s ministry leaders were friendly & helpful explaining our child’s experience and the take-home handouts

– Host team was friendly and personally escorted my wife to every child’s class room

– Overall buzz on the campus was electric

It was obvious that they made a choice to focus first on the effectiveness of their ministry and later on appearances. (Later they bought and remodeled an old grocery store and created incredibly engaging environments). Their process took years.

So how do you protect effectiveness while making improvements?

– Discover what’s already effective. Articulate it. Don’t settle for “things are just going well”. This is a hard process but it’s critical. Identify specifically what God is currently blessing.

– Build a fence around what’s already effective. Protect it and nurture it. It’s a tragedy to hobble effectiveness while chasing pretty.

As long as we’re effective, there are worse things than having a ministry that sticks to the pan.

BTW, that pan of sad cake lasted about two days at our house. 🙂

I’m a Fortune Teller!

Last week I was at a teller’s window at my bank. (BTW, most banks in Texas have a drive-thru but in California that’s rare.) So while I’m standing at the teller’s window I hear the customer beside me say to the teller, “I’m a fortune teller. I read palms and can see people’s future.” The teller smiled and nicely said, “Oh yea?!” After a couple of awkwardly silent moments the teller politely said, “I’m sorry this card cannot be used here.” Embarrassed the fortune teller left the bank.

I know what you’re thinking. “If she was a fortune teller shouldn’t she have seen that coming?” Stop thinking that way. That’s not nice.

But you should know that I AM a fortune teller. Well . . . sort of.

I don’t know your goals but if you let me see who’s influencing you, I can predict your future. And, you can predict mine.

“Your friends determine the quality & direction of your life.” – Andy Stanley

Solomon said, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Prov 13:20)

Do you want to develop a more positive outlook? Are you wanting to become a better leader? Do you want a closer relationship with Jesus Christ?

Solomon suggests two steps: 

1. Choose wise relationships

Wise people know the difference between right and wrong and do what’s right even when it’s hard.

2. Eliminate unhealthy relationships.

If you sleep with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas.

Fools know the difference between right and wrong but choose to do what is wrong.

“At some point, you have to realize that some people can stay in your heart but not in your life.”

I don’t know your goals but let me see your friends and I can predict your future.

Blog Announcement

When I decided to start blogging I thought it would be smart to heed the advise of a couple of bloggers who do it well. I sought the advise of Ron Edmondson and Michael Hyatt.

Michael suggests all bloggers pre-write several blogs. (I wrote 25 blog posts before launching the first one.) I try to maintain 15 or 20 blog posts “ahead”. This discipline helps me be more creative.

Ron Edmondson told me to start slow to ensure the pace was sustainable. That’s great advise starting any endeavor isn’t it?

So I pre-wrote blog posts and have started slow (3 blogs a week on average). In the process, I’ve discovered a personal rhythm for publishing my blog posts.

So I’m officially announcing that my plan is to publish 3 posts a week on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Unless, of course, I do something else.

Thanks for being part of this ongoing conversation!