December 22, 2020

134: How to Bless Your People with Mark S. Young

In Genesis 12:2 God says, “You are blessed and you shall be a blessing.” This particular interpretation is a modern read, but one that is quite interesting to consider in the context of contemporary life regardless of your faith orientation, or lack thereof. What does it mean to be a blessing to your team members? How can we approach being a manager as if it’s our chance to elevate and honor our colleagues?

Today’s guest is Mark S. Young. Mark is passionate about strengthening the experience and opportunities for the professionals who help make a thriving workplace, both in the Jewish community and beyond.

For 20 years, Mark has held leadership roles in human resources, education, and leadership development for Jewish organizations and other non-profits. Bless Our Workforce, Mark’s first book, builds on his previous writing and presentations on how to best invest in Jewish community professional talent, including his $54,000 Strategy series on ejewishphilanthropy and his 2016 ELI Talk: Mah Tovu.

Mark and I talk about what he’s learned in the process of writing his new book Bless Our Workforce about how to invest in and support the talented staff on your team. We touch on a number of different ‘blessings’ as he calls them and how you can apply them to your people, even when working at a distance during COVID.

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Read the related blog article: Be A Blessing To Your Team.

Key Takeaways:

  • When we invest in our teams, our organizations become more productive, healthier, and profitable.
  • In order to help our staff, we need to know what they need to do their best work and what work feeds their creative drive and motivates them.
  • Instead of squeezing people into a rigid job description, hire talented, quality people and fit a job around their interests and needs.
  • When people’s needs are met at work, they feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves. When people are committed, they’ll more happily do the more mundane tasks to help the organization thrive.
  • Sit down with teammates individually and get a sense of their needs and interests. Ask about their journey; What brought them to this organization? What mentors did they have that inspired them? What motivates/demotivates them and how do they feel about their work and compensation? Whether or not you can actually raise their pay, that information will still be valuable.
  • If you don’t feel ready to have a personal conversation, start off small with what feels most comfortable. Maybe just ask one question, or create a group conversation where everyone shares their journey.
  • To promote collaboration, look for ways to invite your team to give input on issues affecting the greater organization, even if it doesn’t involve their specific role.
  • Especially during COVID, when many methods of operation will need to be reevaluated, ask for feedback from your staff about how to build systems that benefit everyone.
  • During current times of instability, your staff needs to feel like they matter more than ever. Feeling like they are part of something greater than themselves will help build their strength and resilience.


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