Positivity is not taught—it is caught. You cannot develop a better atmosphere on your staff through coercion or pressure. You have to sow it, tend it, and allow it grow naturally. As you set a consistent example, you will find positivity blooming everywhere.
Here are 10 suggestions for spreading positivity throughout your church staff:
1. Practice thankfulness
Thankfulness is double-edged. It builds up the individual who is practicing it, and it helps others feel genuinely appreciated. Yet it is not enough to merely feel thankful. You need to communicate that gratefulness to others.
Begin by scheduling a couple of thankfulness sessions in your day. These are moments when you think about what is going on and recognize some of the work and contributions you appreciate. Then send an email—or, better yet, stop by that individual’s desk and say thanks—and be specific about the work you are acknowledging.
2. Offer sincere compliments
Mark Twain famously said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” He understood what scientists are beginning to understand. Compliments activate the reward system in the brain. When people receive a compliment, it improves their productivity and even boosts their cognition.
A compliment is a sign of praise and encouragement, even when we do not personally benefit from what we are acknowledging. It can be as simple as, “I appreciate your consistently good attitude” or “You always seem to exude peace and charity.” These kinds of compliments help make people feel visible and noticed.
Pro tip: Avoid complimenting anyone based on their appearance.
3. Smile more often
In many work environments, you do not see a lot of smiling. If you do not have a reason to do it, smiling can feel unnatural—even phony. But there are good reasons to smile anyway. Smiling has been proven to make people happier—this happens even when you are faking it.
But you are not the only beneficiary. Smiling relaxes others and makes you approachable, drawing people to you and enabling you to connect with them more comfortably.
4. Consider the power of your words
The writer of Proverbs put it succinctly: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov. 25:11, ESV). Knowing what to say and when to say is like gold to a leader. In fact, Proverbs also has this reminder: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (18:21). What you say can build up or tear down in a heartbeat, so choose your words carefully.
Make it a habit of using words in a timely way that offer grace and build people up. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
5. Be mindful of written communication
You probably do a lot of your staff communication through emails, instant messaging services, and texts. These have the potential to introduce all kinds of communication issues. Because they tend to facilitate off-the-cuff interaction, it becomes easy to make little mistakes that you are unaware of until it is too late.
Remember that tone and intention can be misread in writing. So when you receive digital communication, give the sender the benefit of the doubt. If there are multiples ways to read the tone, choose the most generous. Adversely, when you are communicating with someone else, never shoot off a response out of frustration, and do your best to ensure that it reads in the mood you intend.
6. Encourage and foster relationships
Teams mesh well in healthy cultures, but that does not happen by accident. Your staff needs to know each other well enough to be comfortable and open. You can do this through team-building exercises, service projects, and fun get-togethers outside work.
Another helpful idea is to take two people to lunch. Choose a couple of people who might not have a regular opportunity to interact, and facilitate a conversation where they can get to know each other a little better.
7. Bring healthy treats
Bringing in treats is a great way to build team spirit. Unfortunately, people typically bring in things like cookies, cupcakes, or donuts. Everyone loves them, but as the day progresses, everyone’s energy crashes. Why not bring in find some healthy alternatives that will build morale and keep everyone’s energy up?
Consider things such as:
- Yogurt parfaits
- Fruit trays
- Chips and salsa or hummus
- Dried fruit and nuts
8. Focus on your mission and values
Trust and autonomy are fantastic elements of any amazing work environment. Micromanaging people builds mistrust, destroys morale, and puts a lid on future growth. In the end, micromanagement is what you do when you do not have confidence in your team’s ability to make wise decisions.
When you consistently reinforce your mission and vision, you give your staff a rubric, which empowers them to make their own choices. This creates a culture where people are trusted to assess a situation, make decisions, and take responsibility for the outcome.
9. Monitor your reactions
Working with leaders who wear their emotions on their sleeve can be demoralizing. Sometimes they are in an excellent mood and the atmosphere is great, but when they are frustrated or defensive, watch out! In a workplace like that, team members spend an inordinate amount of time trying to monitor the environment and ensure things run smoothly.
To sow positivity, it is imperative that you are mindful of ways you respond to various kinds of stimuli. This is more difficult than it sounds. Sometimes people are simply not aware of how they come across. Find some people you can trust to give you feedback on the ways you tend to react.
10. Become more flexible
Flexibility is quickly becoming an important consideration when people look for work. They want a schedule that is accommodating. Spend some time thinking about how, when, and where people do their best work. As much as it is possible, offer people more control over their work time, location, and schedule.
If staff members’ ministry takes place on Sunday mornings, then obviously they need to be present on Sunday mornings. But throughout the week, maybe it is possible for people to work some days in places that makes more sense for them and their families.
Create an environment people hate to leave
You want to transform your church culture into a place where people are not in a hurry to shove off at the end of the day. It is not impossible to build an atmosphere that people enjoy. Find things each day to laugh about, and create opportunities for humor and frivolity in your environment. Your staff will ultimately appreciate working in a low-stress environment.
Looking for more resources on leadership?
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