As a 34-year employee of the Federal government, including 20 years as a manager, I saw all kinds of behavior: professional, unprofessional, and downright abusive. In retrospect, this probably strengthened my faith to rub up against all these difference personality types. That doesn’t preclude me from wishing I’d known then what I know now by long-time study of God’s word.
While most people are doing their best given their background, personality type, and training, each of us can improve under the right conditions. As believers, we need to learn how to create an environment which brings out the best in our bosses, our peers, and our employees.
Label Behaviors, Not People
For years, I didn’t understand the difference between labeling a person as a gossip versus labeling that person’s behavior as gossiping. This is a subtle but important difference that opens the door for change. If you say, “Judy, you are a gossip,” case closed. She can’t easily shed that label. But if you say, “Judy, that sounded like a gossipy statement. Shouldn’t you check with Sam to see if that’s true?” Judy would have a chance to correct her behavior. Instead of passing on negative news about others, she can check back with Sam and find out the truth.
Love Imperfect People
If you wait to find a perfect co-worker or employee, you will never find one. As Christians, we are called to love people where they are … just as Christ loved us. “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8).
Instead of just playing the victim when a boss or co-workers accuse you, take time to understand their points of view. Correct the record, but do it with love – as if you were the one who needed correction.
Leaders are Human Too
In some cases, we are less tolerant of bad behavior from our supervisors or managers. Perhaps we feel that their elevated salaries or status should require perfect, mature behavior from them. Not so fast. There has only been one person who did life correctly from start to finish. When we suggest improvements to our boss, whether it be procedural, policy or whatever, we need to do it with humility. A great attitude facilitates change. Harsh answers stir up anger.
If your boss tends to helicopter over you, chances are that he or she doesn’t trust you to complete the task on time, complete the task with the required quality, or meet the customers’ expectations along the way. Communication is key to fixing helicopter bosses. Keep them in the loop, and give them updates as key increments of the project are completed.
Acts of Goodness
If you get off on the wrong foot with anyone at work, heal the relationship. Acts of goodness or kindness toward that person will do more than a mountain of words and good intentions. Follow through. Let them see your heart by what you do.
Doing all these things will help you create an atmosphere of success. Keep learning about management from a Christian perspective, and you will find the advancement and satisfaction you desire.
Editor’s Note: Check out Taking God to Work: The Keys to Ultimate Success by David Winters and Steve Reynolds. Find out more at takinggodtowork.com.