There seems to be a universal rule out there that goes something like this,
If thou wantest something, thou shalt put a wack-load-of-effortitis into getting it.
But what happens to most of us when we finally get that thing? Think about it for a moment. What happened to that Bow-Flex you bought? That machine that was going to revolutionize your life? Or what about that Juicer that was going to make you so healthy? It went from being on the counter, to being under the counter, to being in a box in your garage. Am I right?
It’s funny, most of us don’t mind putting the effort into getting something that we want, but once we get it, it’s easy to put it aside and focus on that next big thing that’s on the horizon.
If you’re not careful, the same will happen with your job.
Do you remember the amount of energy and mind space that you put into getting that job of yours? You prayed about it. You researched it. You weighed the options. You candidated. You name it, you know you did it. But since getting that job, where has your energy and mind space gone? Is it in the work that you know you were called to do? Or do you find yourself drifting?
It’s one thing to lose your job because of laziness and lack of performance. (The only advice that I can give you on that point is that a worker deserves their wages. Buckle up your bootstraps and get your work done). However, it’s a whole other thing to lose it unexpectedly. And that’s what I want to help you with today.
Here are 3 ways to prevent unexpected transition (a.k.a. 3 ways to avoid losing your job):
1. Set Expectations and Record Progress
Job descriptions are fluid – especially in ministry. I can guarantee you that your job description will change multiple times over in your first year, so don’t work off of a static document. Get a clear picture as to what’s expected of you from your boss, your peers and those you’re leading. Don’t assume that you know what they expect of you, and also don’t assume that they know what you’ve done. So set 30, 60 and 90 day goals after those conversations and report on your progress. This iterative process will allow you to adjust your goals as you work and create an environment where everyone is happy with the working relationship.
2. Communicate Clearly and Regularly
In your first 90 days of work, make sure you’re having weekly meetings with your boss talking about your progress and whether or not you’re meeting their expectations. If you’re the Lead Pastor, make sure you’re doing this with your board, elders, or denominational leaders. Beyond the first 90 days, make sure you continue to do this, but the frequency can probably change to bi-weekly or monthly meetings, supplemented with quarterly reports and semi-annual reviews.
Not only will these regular meetings be the place where you can talk about progress, but they will also give you the time and environment required to build trust. Trust is critical. Once you build trust with those you’re working for and with, it’ll be that much harder to unexpectedly lose your job. And that leads me to the last point.
3. Focus on Horizontal and Vertical Relationships
It’s one thing to build trust through formal work interactions, it’s a whole other thing to do it outside of the office. So make an effort to spend time with your boss outside of the office. If there’s an opportunity to go to a conference together, then volunteer yourself for it. There’s no better place to build trust than when you’re traveling and being yourself. But make sure you don’t just focus on building a relationship with your boss. Horizontal relationships are as valuable, if not more valuable, since these are the people who will watch your back and vouch for you, if need be.
This is not a fool proof method. In the end, you may do those three things and still unexpectedly find yourself in transition. Whether it be downsizing, economics, or politics, there’s no absolute guarantee against the unexpected – regardless of where you sit in the organization!