The Perpetual Pursuit of Perfection
Comprehensively defining God’s character is a simplified description of a task which may not be achievable on this side of grace. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001). But He wants His followers to try to know Him more, to understand His ways, His character, who He is. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001). With this exercise, Christians gain new knowledge about the Lord on an ongoing basis (continuous learning) and they also gain the potential to apply God’s character attributes in their personal and professional lives.
This discussion is simplified through the application of several components of God’s character to a case study regarding employee and customer relationship management in a professional setting (a bank). Specifically, the case study focuses on multiple interactions (supervisor (Ellen) and her subordinate (Ralph), subordinate (Ralph) and his team members, and the subordinate (Ralph) and his customers), the consequences thereof, and attempts to improve the results of said interactions.
With the Perspective of God’s Character
Considering this case study from the perspective of God’s character, this situation was almost handled properly. Ellen, the Branch Manager, expressed concern for Ralph and for the business as a whole. She did not believe Ralph was ready to assume a new, elevated management role as the Assistant Branch Manager. She clearly indicated that Ralph needed to improve, specifically “attention to detail, coaching and mentoring employees under his leadership, and treating employees as favorably as he treated customers” (Biblical Integration Exercise Case Study, n.d.).
Ralph was awarded the position due, in part, to a lack of qualified applicants. After six months, almost prophetically, the complaints started rolling in, complaints that affected Ralph’s team and the bank’s customers. Ellen counseled Ralph by demanding “…that Ralph focus effort on overcoming the implied weaknesses” (Biblical Integration Exercise Case Study, n.d.). Six months later, the complaints started again, and Ellen issued Ralph a verbal warning. This occurred again the following year, and Ellen issued Ralph a written warning. One year later, Ralph was fired.
Ellen knew and showed concern for Ralph, and she initiated counseling and disciplinary measures, a recognized best practice in the business world. “…it is unfair to other employees if a manager does not discipline a member of the staff or allows a toxic situation to continue. If a manager fails to act in time, the fallout can have far-reaching effects: lower productivity and higher risk of burnout among the nontoxic employees. Employee loss can increase by as much as 54 percent, a real financial burden considering the cost of replacing good employees” (Leonard, 2019). It is also a best practice in the Bible. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001).
Ellen’s primary failure, in her role as manager and in alignment to God’s character, is demonstrated in her failure to coach and counsel Ralph through a deliberate and specific performance improvement plan. “…the International Coaching Federation (ICF) definition of coaching: “partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential” (International Coaching Federation, n.d.)” (Villachica et al., 2019). This coaching, this professional development, must be personal and perpetual, a constant and consistent practice focused on improving the performance of the target individual, the manager, and the organization as a whole. “…employee engagement (EE) has been endorsed for its superior predictive power of performance and organizational behaviour (Barnes & Collier, 2013; Hakanen et al., 2018), thereby gaining increased attention of academicians and practitioners alike (Barnes et al., 2014; Verčič & Vokić, 2017). Its benefits trickle down to the marketing-oriented behaviours, too. For instance, it has been observed to have potential to affect employees’ customer-oriented behaviour (Qin et al., 2014), customer behaviour intentions (Chang, 2016), customer directed extra-role performance (Karatepe et al., 2018), and customer service performance (Menguc et al., 2017)” (Chandni & Rahman, 2020).
In many organizations, Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs) or Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) serve as the mechanism to frame these recurring discussions, set the plan, and pursue the right target metrics. “…quality indicators included in the QIPs serve both the decision-facilitating and decision-influencing roles in performance management” (Chan & Hsu, 2019).
God plans, and His plans are perfect. “My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001). “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001). “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001). His plans are also extremely specific. Read the specifications and instructions provided to Noah for the construction of the Ark, to King Solomon for the Temple, to Israel before their battles, etc. Ellen may have been more successful by mirroring God’s character, planning carefully for Ralph’s success with diligence and more consistent involvement (rather than in weekly or monthly iterations).
It is important to remember that Ellen believed Ralph was not qualified for the Assistant Manager position from the beginning of the conversation. She noted several of his weaknesses but did not take an active part in helping Ralph overcome these apparent obstacles. “…in the Christian tradition, God favours the weak, the poor, the widows, the orphans, and so on” (Peels, 2018). Acting with God’s character as a guiding framework, Ellen may have considered Ralph’s weaknesses as an opportunity for her to step up as a coach and an opportunity to improve the bank’s entire business system.
Without the Perspective of God’s Character