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Staff Talk: What Do You Want?

Learning to navigate staff relationships so that you are healthy and happy can be a difficult road.  However, it is a road that is possible to navigate.  It all starts with defining the culture and atmosphere you want to work in.  That sounds too simple, doesn’t it?  It sounds simple, because it is simple.  Before you can ‘work on it’ you need to know WHAT you want.  Don’t be afraid to be specific.

For example, you might say that you want your work environment to be one that is fun, or respectful, or harboring trust, or where accountability is practiced.  Whatever you want, you need to sit down with a pen and paper and figure out what it is that you want.

I think of it like this: If someone were to walk into your working environment and observe your team; what would they tell you it looks like?  It may seem silly to say this, but the time taken to define what you want is often put off.  But it’s worth your time to figure this part out.

But what does it look like within the context of the three working relationships we have at work?

Those I Lead ->  What would you want people to say about the department you lead, or the department you manage?  One key thing to remember for those I lead: involve them in helping to define what this should be.  I’m not saying that you let them define it, but you let them have a voice in the conversation.

Those I Cooperate With ->  If someone evaluated the relationship between you and a staff peer, what would you want them to discover?  As I cannot make those I work with do what I want, this becomes inwardly focused.  I have to ask myself these questions: What could I learn from those I work with?  What could I offer to those I work with?  What could happen if I got along with those I work with?  Invest the time necessary to see what you want from those you work with.

Those I Follow -> How would you define a healthy relationship with your senior leader?   Much like those I cooperate with, this one is inwardly focused.   I ve talked to so many people at churches that are unhappy with their relationship with their Senior leader; but few of them can tell me exactly what they even want out of their senior leader.   What is it that you want.

We could sum up this opening principle by saying that before you get to the DOING part of navigating staff relationships, you DEFINE what you want.

So here s the question to you: What do you want from those you work with?   Comment NOW!!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Jill Crew · September 8, 2011

    My favorite and most rewarding teams I have been part of were teams where everyone was valued. When everyone in the room knew their ideas held weight and they mattered to the team… our ministry was at its best.  

    • Jonathan Cliff · September 9, 2011

      I could NOT agree more with you.  Giving power to those in our meetings to hold weight and matter is a great tool as a leader.

      And being able to speak into areas that don’t necessarily fit my job description is important to helping me meet my creativity needs.