Motivating staff and volunteer leaders in the church or in any organization begs the question: How can we do it better? I believe David Rock, author and speaker, offers fresh insight from neuroscience about how we can best motivate others. He developed a paradigm based on five domains that influence behavior that he coined with the acronym SCARF.
The letters in this acronym stand for these domains that affect brain functioning and thus performance in our jobs and ministries.
- Status: a feeling of importance relative to others around us
- Certainty: a sense of predictability about the future
- Autonomy: a sense of control over events
- Relatedness: a sense of safety with those around you
- Fairness: a perception of being treated fairly
When a staff person, employee, or volunteer experiences SCARF in his or her ministry it actually increases a chemical in their brain called dopamine which has a positive effect on our moods and our thinking. When a leader intentionally tries to meet the SCARF needs of those around him or her the more he will see positive results in the areas below. The less these needs are met, the opposite will occur.
- intrinsic motivation
- change management
- healthy relationships
So how might a church leader meet some of the SCARF needs in his church or team? Consider these.
Status: Teach that every person has intrinsic worth and value in God’s eyes. Just because a person lacks certain skills does not mean his status in God’s eyes is anything less than someone who seems to be super talented.
Certainty: Keep your people informed about the future. Don’t spring new initiatives on them. Don’t blindside them. Give them sufficient time to process something new. Consistently do this.
Autonomy: Don’t micromanage. Give choices to your staff and volunteers within reasonable parameters. Let them own some decisions.
Relatedness: Provide plenty of time for your teams to do social stuff together. Encourage involvement in a small group. Intentionally build community.
Fairness: Make sure you treat everyone fairly. Don’t ever play favorites.
Motivating others will always test us as leaders. The SCARF model can help us become more intentional and effective in how we motivate them for Kingdom impact.
What have you found that has helped motivate those you work with?
Rock, D. (2008) SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. Neuroleadership Journal, (1), pp.44-52.