Working well with our subordinates

No favoritism with your subordinates

(Eph 6:9 NIV)  And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.

Treat our subordinates fairly

(Col 4:1 NIV)  Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

As a superior or an employer, it is natural to want to maximise profits and minimize costs. Yet we should not carry this to the extent that it is unfair to those who work for us.

One good gauge as to what is fair treatment to our employees is how we would like to be treated by our own superiors.

(Mat 7:12 NIV)  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Involving our subordinates in the plan

(Amos 3:7 NIV)  Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

(John 15:15 NIV)  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Jesus motivated His disciples in the ministry by letting them in on the overall picture. He told them His purpose of coming to earth and how this plan of salvation would be fulfilled by Him dying on the cross.

Jesus did not require His disciples to follow Him blindly, telling them that they will understand when the time comes.

Within the workplace there are constraints in terms of how much a superior can reveal to his subordinates. But by revealing what we can, we involve them in the mission of the company and can motivate them.

Allowing your subordinates to question you

As a leader, even the Son of God did not prohibit His disciples from questioning His actions.

(Mat 13:10-13 NIV)  The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” {11} He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. {12} Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. {13} This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

Jesus not only entertained the questions of His disciples, He also entertained the questions of others as to the way He leads His disciples.

(Mark 2:18-19 NIV)  Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” {19} Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them.

A leader who cannot tolerate his followers’ questioning is revealing an inner sense of pride.

Train them

(Prov 9:9 NIV)  Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

Jesus did not just go about His ministry. He trained others to do the same.

(Mat 10:5-14 NIV)  These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. {6} Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. {7} As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ {8} Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. {9} Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; {10} take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. {11} “Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. {12} As you enter the home, give it your greeting. {13} If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. {14} If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

Are you so busy going about your work that you do not have time to train others? Remember that our own performance is enhanced when our subordinates’ performance are enhanced.

Listen to suggestions from your subordinates

(James 1:19 NIV)  My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

(Prov 18:2 NIV)  A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

We may think that we know the work better than our subordinates. But everybody likes to be listened to. We can increase their morale if we listen to them and show that we respect their views.

Even though Moses was the leader of Israel, he was humble enough to hear the advice of his father-in-law. And that brought him great efficiency in his ministry.

Exod 18: 13  The next day, Moses sat as usual to hear the people’s complaints against each other. They were lined up in front of him from morning till evening. 14When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “Why are you trying to do all this alone? The people have been standing here all day to get your help.” 15Moses replied, “Well, the people come to me to seek God’s guidance. 16  When an argument arises, I am the one who settles the case. I inform the people of God’s decisions and teach them his laws and instructions.” 17″This is not good!” his father-in-law exclaimed. 18″You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. 19Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided. 20You should tell them God’s decisions, teach them God’s laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives. 21But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 22These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. 23If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”

Watch our tone

(Prov 15:1 NIV)  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

(Col 4:6 NIV)  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Even when we are not satisfied with the work of our subordinates, we should learn to voice our discontentment in a tactful manner. A harsh word stirs up anger which will make it difficult to work together in the future.

Be merciful to them

(Mat 5:7 NIV)  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

(Eph 4:32 NIV)  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Humans make mistakes and so will our subordinates. The Bible tells us to be merciful and forgiving towards others. That does not mean that we never point out their faults. That will not be good as well as they will never learn their mistakes then. It means, however, that we point out their mistakes in a gracious and forgiving manner, helping them to change. It means that we be patient towards them and give them time to change.

The promise of this act is tremendous. If we show mercy, the Bible says that we will be shown mercy. We too are humans and will make mistakes. We also want our superiors to be merciful towards us when we do.

Compliment them

Jesus did not withhold compliment when it is due.

(Mat 8:10 NIV)  When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

Charles Schwab, the successful businessman, said, “I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”

Use an incentive system

People are motivated by pain or pleasure, reward or punishment. We are created this way and Jesus knew it. He used this principle to motivate people to either do good or avoid evil.

He taught that those who do not have a relationship with God will end up in agony.

(Luke 16:24 NIV)  So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

He promised rewards to those who follow him.

(John 14:2 NIV)  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.