Most pastors, like me, were not trained to deal with the many intricacies of staff management and training before becoming the leader of a church staff.
Hiring Without Regrets
(Four part series)
Hire Right Every Time (part 1 of 4)
Most pastors, like me, were not trained to deal with the many intricacies of staff management and training before becoming the leader of a church staff. I didn’t begin to discover all the issues and problems inherent in selecting staff members until after becoming a pastor. I quickly realized that getting this issue right would be a primary factor in whether we were going to develop successfully as a church.
I had the privilege of being a church planter twice. Our first church was during our college years. My wife and I planted a church that quite honestly was unintentional. The church was launched as the result of ministry we found ourselves providing to some needy urban kids who began to invite their parents to our Friday night meetings. Our second church plant was very intentional and turned into an 18-year pastorate. It was in that second church plant era that I learned, admittedly often the hard way, how crucial it was to become highly skilled at evaluating potential staff and making the right call to hire the right personnel. In those years I learned one very valuable lesson: it is a lot easier to bring someone onto the team than it is to remove him or her if I make the wrong selection in the hiring process There were times in those early years as I was learning to hire effectively that I was forced to release a staff person with an apology from me for allowing them into a position they had no chance of succeeding in. These repair jobs are painful. Most pastors grieve over even the thought of considering releasing a pastor friend.
Human nature usually produces staff conflicts at some point. Taking the time to develop an effective staff system will give you the resources to deal with these staff problems as they arise and help you avoid the debilitating impact that unresolved problems can have on the effectiveness of your church. The devil's playground is a staff without clear guidelines, policies, and yes, those cold sounding procedures. A friend of mine and a great leader is fond of saying to his team members "A good understanding makes for a long friendship." This little bit of wisdom is gold for any relationship whether you apply it to work, ministry, marriage or parenting. Taking the time to clarify clear policy, boundaries, and expectations is the stuff great staff teams are made of.
By putting the proper systems in place you can avoid most of the problems associated with hiring staff members, and enjoy the tremendous benefits that the right people can bring to your church.
Effective staff systems will help you manage the entire staff process from hiring to firing. Your staff systems will provide you with many important benefits, such as:
*Assisting you in hiring the right number of people for the right positions to achieve your church’s objectives.
*Providing you with guidelines for effectively dealing with staff members who are not accomplishing their ministry assignments to a satisfactory level, or whose attitudes are causing spiritual, moral, or other internal problems.
*Providing a firm foundation for every phase of the recruiting and hiring process to help you deal more effectively with situations and challenges that are an inherent part of being a Senior Pastor.
*Supplying the necessary documentation to reduce the possibility of effective lawsuits based on discrimination or wrongful discharge.
*Helping you to foresee and plan for staff needs.
*Helping you hire the right person the first time to avoid costly hiring mistakes.
*Helping you reduce turnover by identifying reasons for turnover so you can address the problem to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen.
*Providing staff members with the systematic feedback they need to grow and improve, benefiting both them and your church.
Next Week: Always Hire The Same Way
Submitted by Russ Olmon, President of Ministry Advantage
Always Hire The Same Way (part 2 of 4)
Many pastors are not certain how to hire a qualified person for a position. [This is part 2 of Hiring Without Regrets.] The key is to develop a process that the church is committed to follow every time without exception. On my team, I emphasize how serious we are about following an effective process for hiring by saying, “Even if Rick Warren applies for a job here he must go through the same process we use for hiring everyone else.” The reason for using that highly unlikely example is that it communicates that if our hiring process is true for Rick Warren, it is going to be true for anyone we consider hiring on our staff.
I learned over the years, that while it’s almost always preferable to hire from within (we will discuss this later in depth), it is also easier to make a mistake hiring from within. This is what I call the illusion of familiarity. The fact that we know someone simply because they are a member of our church can lure us into thinking that we can take short cuts in the hiring process. But an effective hiring process is designed to prevent us from overlooking key issues, sometimes even obvious issues. A number of years ago we needed a staff person for a primary area of ministry. Because this position included a focus on discipleship, a few of the Elders on the Board recommended that we consider a man who was currently serving as an Elder and had a proven passion for discipleship. We spoke privately with the Elder under consideration who definitely wanted the church staff position if it was available. Because this man was so well known, had served many areas of the church faithfully, and had some obvious passion for ministry, we by-passed our normal hiring process. Within 90 days there were serious problems with the Elder we hired as a staff person. One of the unintended consequences was that the new staff person felt a degree of pressure to perform as an employee that he had never felt in all his years as a volunteer. Not only did we nearly rupture our long-term relationship with him, but we nearly lost him as church member.
So, regardless of hiring from within or from the outside, an effective hiring process must be well designed including the recruiting process, screening and interviewing processes, but it also must be non-negotiable every time with every potential candidate…even if that candidate were (tongue-in-cheek) Rick Warren. The following graphic is the model we practice and that I have taught hundreds of church leaders to consider, modify, and contextualize as needed.
The Stakes Are High
Effective hiring is a critical aspect of building a great church. The right people with the right qualifications can increase ministry effectiveness by bringing valuable experience, needed spiritual gifts, skills, new ideas, and enthusiasm to your church.
Next Week: Recognize The Hidden Investment of Staff
Submitted by Russ Olmon, President of Ministry Advantage