The Importance of Knowing Your Flock
- July 2, 2012
- Rick Boxx
A survey by a professional network for executives discovered that many CEOs apparently do not know their people nearly as well as they think they do. For instance, almost 10 percent of executives that were surveyed responded that work-and-life balance was important to them, but very few of these CEOs believed it mattered much to their subordinates.
However, many of the subordinates also were questioned, and the research revealed their interest in work-life balance actually was more than twice the level the CEOs expected.
Based on the disparity of the survey’s findings, it appears these leaders have some work to do in gaining a better understanding of the needs and wants of the people that work for them.
In the Bible’s New Testament, Jesus commented on the importance of leaders having a strong, growing relationship with their followers. Drawing a comparison to the world of agriculture, Jesus stated in John 10:14, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me."
From personal observation, Jesus understood how wayward and helpless sheep can be without the vigilant care of their shepherds. Jesus knew His flock well, and knew that they needed to know Him also. Applying that principle to the workplace, it seems equally important for us to devote the time and energy necessary to know the men and women under our supervision – and for them to get to know us better.
I have known of numerous instances in which CEOs and top executives would set aside a few minutes each day and stop by the workplaces of various employees, getting to know them, inquiring about their families, and seeking to determine how they doing, both personally and professionally.
Another passage from the Bible, in the Old Testament, provides another analogy to caring for sheep. These verses give another good reason for being diligent to gain a good understanding of the people working for us in our organizations:
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family and to nourish your female servants” (Proverbs 27:23-27).
Knowing the “condition of your flocks” – the people you are responsible for shepherding – will help to ensure they are as productive as possible, that they perform their respective jobs well, and that they will remain content in your employ.
So if you are in a management role, you would be very wise to take the time you need to know and understand your people. Ask questions, listen, and offer them the opportunity get to know you as well. When faced with many pressing deadlines and details, this might seem inconvenient or bothersome, but the dividends gained from your personal investment of time and concern could be substantial.
Copyright 2012, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from "Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx," a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.
1. If you are an executive or manager, how well do you think you know the people that work for you? How well do you think they know you?
2. What steps could you begin to implement, even today, for gaining a better understanding of the people who report to you in your organization? Do you agree that it is even necessary and important to do this? Why or why not?
3. Why do you think the Bible uses comparisons or analogies to sheep and shepherds for describing the relationships between leaders and their followers, whether in the workplace or other settings?
4. In what ways would you – and your organization – benefit from executives, managers and employees having greater knowledge and understanding of one another?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 18:15, 19:20, 20:5, 24:5-6, 27:17, 28:2; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Matthew 7:12