Helping people live, love, and lead like Jesus




                               Staffing and supervision         

A Siebert-Funded  Coaching Project to Build Leadership Capacities

Goals for Short-Term Cohort Groups

1 | Relate around a Shared Theme
Leadership is a team sport.
Connect to inspire and encourage.
2 | Review Your Results
Notice what is present. Define reality.
List what's working and not working.
3 | Rethink What's Possible
Create a picture of a preferred future.
Question your assumptions and norms.
4 | Reinvent  Your Future
Build a better plans to get better results.
Increase your impact and reach.
Confidentiality is key to creating a safe, sacred environment.

GROUP COVENANT  |  Our commitment to one another

  • Attitude: We invite you to be positive, present, playful, proactive, open-minded, Spirit-driven.
  • Actions: We invite you to be on time, ready to contribute, speak your truth, and share what you need from others.  
  • Assumptions: We invite you to question your assumptions, rethink  norms, stretch your imaginations,  and invent your futures. 

An overview of the 5 cohort sessions

What changes do you wish to navigate? What do you want to be different?
1 | Selection
Get the right people on the bus and in the right seats

How can we select the right people with the right gifts, for the right reasons?

  • What traits do you look for when hiring staff?
  • What would be the red flags in a potential new hire?
  •  How broad-based is your selection pool?
  •  Have you considered hiring virtual assistants?
  •  How do you know when you have a staff  that shouldn’t be on the bus? 
  • Do you categorize your staff as“short-timers”and long-term staff?

SPRINTER TASK:  List 2 ways you'd like your roles/responsibilities to change.

SAMPLE PLAN  1 |  Improve our process for selecting paid and unpaid servants

  • Clarify the role of the Personnel Committee; determine how often they need to meet and what the roles reach member would play. 
  • Meet with staff to learn more about their roles, and to see if their current job descriptions reflect what they actually do.
  • Create a Personnel Manual that would provide guidelines for selecting, onboarding, supervising and developing staff.
  • Clarify the roles the Personnel Committee plays in relationship to our Head of Staff.
  • Create a clear plan for nominating/selecting lay leaders and elected leaders. 
  • Read Angela’s book, Always On; watch Angela's video, discuss with TC team.

What do new staff need in the first 90 days to start strong?

  • What do you wish you would have done, or have known when you started your last position? 
  • What might your“wins”be for how a new staff member spends their first 90days?
• How will the dynamics of our staff change based on your new hire?
• Who will be part of the on boarding team?
• What would be some of the onboarding assignments for a new hire?
• How soon will new staff be posted on the church website? Introduced via e-news, Facebook, etc.

SPRINTER TASK: Ask 5 people what they liked/disliked about their onboarding experiences.
2 | ONBOARDING
Helping people start strong

SAMPLE  PLAN   2 |  Onboard new staff members

  • Create checklist for onboarding staff members (used sample list found in this page). 
  • Schedule a lunch with all staff; schedule interviews with each staff member to learn about what they do and  areas of where their work will intersect.
  • Create plan for meeting key church members who they will work with more closely throughout the year.
  • Post staff job descriptions in the work room..
  • Schedule training to orient new staff about the church management system and essential church software.
  • Schedule brief weekly check-ins with new staff to answer questions and offer guidance.
  • Review communication platforms with new staff,. Describe who the target audience is and what information they'll be expected to provide.
3 | ALIGNMENT
Setting and reviewing goals

Are people’s goals connected to your purpose and priorities?

  • What’s your history/ norms for setting staff goals?
  • Do staff share their goals with each other?
  • Do you have a staff/leadership covenant? How often is it referred to?
  • What happens if a staff member’s goals are not reached?
  • What criteria is used to evaluate staff?
  • Are these criteria related to the church’s goals or mission?
  • How might you make staff members work more transparent?
  • What prevents staff from collaborating with each other?

SPRINTER TASK: List 3 ways staff are "out of alignment" based on what's needed.

SAMPLE  PLAN  3  | Increase  staff alignment with the congregation's  annual goals

  • Update staff position descriptions so that roles and responsibilities are more closely aligned with  our church's mission, vision, and values.
  • Meet with each staff members to create 5 goals for the coming year (3 ministry goals related to mission; 1 personal development goal; 1 personal wellness/self-care goal).
  • Share short-term wins and next steps related to annual goals at staff meetings once a month.; schedule quarterly check-ins with each staff member.
  • Post staff goals in the conference room; invite ministry teams and the board to do the same.
  • Begin updating volunteer job descriptions for the Board, our ministry teams, task forces, and project coordinators.
  • Create quarterly check-in opportunities with volunteer staff to celebrate their contributions, support their efforts, and develop their leadership capacities.

Are your staff working as a team?  What gets in the way?


  • What do you need to start or stop doing?
  • What are staff doing that brings out the best in each other?
  • What are staff doing that hinders each other’s best efforts?
  • When and how do staff celebrate with each other?
  • Do you have staff members that are NOT team players
  • If so, what impact does this have on the team?

SPRINTER TASK:  List 3 ways you will recognize/celebrate people's contributions.
4 | ENGAGEMENT
Increasing engagement & collaboration

SAMPLE  PLAN  4  |  Deepen trust and collaboration among team members

  • Use staff time to invite team members to share their life and faith stories; have staff share and post their bios used on the website.
  • Have staff learn about and share their Enneagram  type; have staff share what they need from others to do their best work.
  • Have staff post weekly check-ins that highlight their past week's bright spots, plans for the week, and what support they need from others.
  • Create opportunities for pray for each other. schedule quarterly mini-retreats to  enjoy each other's company.
5 | REVIEWS
Helping staff review, reflect & refocus

What’s the purpose of annual reviews? What if people looked forward to them?

  • Who is responsible for leading the check-ins and/or annual reviews?
  • What is the purpose of reviews? What are the benefits of performing reviews?
  • What course corrections typically occur as a result of annual review conversations?
  • Who is part of the annual review process and what is their role?
  • If you could change one element of your review process, what would it be?

Participants will be invited to share their next steps for "staffing and supervision." 

SAMPLE  PLAN  5 | Update our ongoing and annual staff performance review process

  • Update staff position descriptions so that roles and responsibilities are more closely aligned with  our church's mission, vision, and values.
  • Meet with each staff members to create 5 goals for the coming year (3 ministry goals; 1 personal development goal; 1 personal wellness/self-care goal).
  • Share short-term wins and next steps related to annual goals at staff meetings once a month.; schedule quarterly check-ins with each staff member.
  • Transition to  having annual performance reviews become staff-led and future-oriented.
  • Post staff goals in the conference room; invite ministry teams and the board to do the same.
  • Begin updating volunteer job descriptions for the Board, our ministry teams, task forces, and project coordinators.
  • Create quarterly check-in opportunities with volunteer staff to celebrate their contributions, support their efforts, and develop their leadership capacities.

               Resources to support your NEXT STEPS 




Videos to Support Effective Staffing and Supervision

Tools and resources to support your efforts

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Staffing Tips and Tools

Conduct the head of staff performance review on behalf of the governing board, without board input and/or approval.

1 | Do you have a personnel committee?

Managing church employees is every bit as challenging as managing people in any other setting. A church is only as strong as the people who do the work and weak employees can affect the customer experience and the ability to meet objectives. Having a strong church staff requires  "getting the right people on the bus, in the right seats, for the right reasons." It may also involve the wrong people off the bus.” (Jim Collins – Good to Great). Getting the right people on the bus involves a great recruitment strategy that includes screening, interviewing, orientation and training. Each step of the hiring process can significantly affect the job candidate experience so structure and consistency is important.

THE ROLE OF THE PERSONNEL COMMITTEE
The personnel committee is accountable to the governing board of the congregation. It exists to provide oversight to the church’s employment relationships, primarily through the creation of employment policy. The specific responsibilities of the Personnel Committee will vary, depending upon the size of the congregation, and whether or not the staff team is large enough to have its own HR Director.  Typical Practices of a Personnel Committee include:
  • Propose employment policies to the governing board.
  • Make policy recommendations regarding overall salary administration.
  • Serve as an advisory board to the head of staff on personnel related issues, as requested.
  • Provide oversight to the overall annual performance review process, to insure that the process was conducted in a timely manner and with integrity.
  • Act as an arbitrator on staff team issues that involve potential policy violations, only after those issues have been appropriately vetted through normal supervisory channels.
  • Assist the governing board in preparing for its annual performance review of the senior clergy leader.
  • Work with the head of staff and employees on the design of job descriptions, when asked to do so by the head of staff.
  • Serve as a witness during disciplinary employment conversations, when requested to do so by the head of staff.

It is NOT the role of the Personnel Committee to:
  • Meet with employees to hear their complaints, without the supervisor present. (Unless the complaint involves misconduct behaviors that threaten the safety or well-being of the employee).
  • Conduct the head of staff performance review on behalf of the governing board, without board input and/or approval.

1 | Steps in the interview process

“The ‘who’ questions come before the ‘what’ questions-before vision, before strategy, before tactics. First who, then what- as a rigorous discipline, consistently applied.” -Jim Collins (Good to Great). There are four widely used interview types:

  • Traditional Interviews tend to focus on question that are leading or are resume and background based. Examples: Tell me about yourself? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why should we hire you? Where do you want to be five years from now
  • Situational Interviews put candidates into hypothetical situations; they may start out with How would you…? What would you do if…
  • Case Interviews involve presenting the candidate with a hypothetical case and asking the candidate to think out loud so that the direction of thinking becomes apparent. The candidate is asked to analyze the problem, ask pertinent questions, evaluate the situation, and propose solutions and conclusions.
  • Behavioral Based Interviews are distinct in five ways:  You ask the candidate to describe how he actually did behave in a particular situation, rather than how he would behave. Behavioral based interviewing rests on the premise that past performance is the best predictor of future success.  You ask an initial question and then follow up with several probing questions. You keep digging to get at the core of the story.  You ask the candidate for details so that she can’t theorize, fabricate, or generalize answers.  The interview is a structured process focusing on predetermined competencies, giving you more control and direction so that you don’t go off course with irrelevant conversation.  You take structured notes to document facts so that later you can rate all of your candidates accurately against consistent standards.

Behavioral Based Interviewing
Define what you’re looking for. Understand the job and the congregation (its values, goals and unique culture).
Prepare a job description. We’ve already learned the importance of doing this and how to do it!
Identify the core competencies- Again, you’ve already done your homework and have completed this task. Good for you!

Examples of behavioral-based interview questions:
  • Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation. 
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Describe a time when time limitations forced you to choose between completing two very important pastoral tasks. What criteria did you use to make your choice? 
  • Describe a time when you had to use written communication skills to get an important point across.
  • Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  • Tell of a time when you worked with a staff member who was not completing his or her share of the work.
  • Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or guide others to a compromise.
  • Tell about a time when you had to resolve a conflict between two staff members or two board members. What approach did you take?
  • Tell of some situations in which you have had to adjust quickly to changes over which you had no control. What was the impact of the change on you?
  • Describe some times when you were not very satisfied or pleased with your performance. What did you do about it

Structure and Conduct the Interview
                    Introduction: (3-5 minutes of a 60 minute interview). During this time you are seeking to build rapport, provide background Information about the position and the congregation and communicate expectations about the interview.
                   

Process Interviewer’s Questions/Candidate’s Answers (45 minutes of a 60 minutes interview). 
  • Start out with your traditional questions using the candidate’s resume as a guide. Find out the basics you need to know about their background.
  • Devote at least 25 minutes to behavioral based questions addressing the competencies of the position you have identified.
  • Pace yourself according to the number of competencies that you have identified. 
  • Make sure that the candidate does most of the talking during this time. 
  • Control the interview. Probe for information,Take descriptive notes. Save evaluative work for after the interview
  • Allow time for Candidate’s Questions (10 minutes in a 60 minute interview). Most candidates will have prepared questions to show that they are very interested in the position. Save enough time to let them ask their questions. You can tell a great deal about a candidate by the quality of the questions they ask you.
  • Wrap up (3-5 minutes of a 60 minute interview). Sell the ministry position, sell the congregation and communicate next steps.

1 | Compensation Issues

All policies and guidelines should respect the privacy of the employee as well as fit the needs of the members who provide the funding for those positions. Larger churches may want to consider a pastoral staff policy and a non-pastoral staff policy. The levels of responsibilities are different; therefore the salaries will be different. Staff to be compensated often include the Senior Pastor, Associate Pastors, Youth & Family Pastor, Children’s Ministry Director, Church Administrator, Worship and Arts Minister, an Accountant/ Book keeper, Custodians/ Property Maintenance, support staff and contract employees. When choosing to set salaries and packages for these positions ensure you do your research of what is fair and average in the church environment. Look at ministries in your area along with your church budget in order to determine what is fair and feasible.
It’s true that churches cannot compete with the public and private sector. Churches and other nonprofit because they are organizations must raise their funds dependant upon free will gifts or contributions. Having said that, churches should be fair in their employee compensation. Remember, these people have families, responsibilities, needs, wants, and desires like anyone else.

Determining Fair Compensation
This is not hard to do. Remember that old saying,“ Compare apples to apples.” Here’s how! Call other churches in your area of a comparable size, income, and if possible domination and see if they will share with you their salary range for certain positions. Repeat the same procedure by contacting churches in the same region of the country. Gather information compiled by the denominational headquarters.

How are compensation profiles broken down?
  • Base salary.
  • Retirement Plans. Many churches are classified as 501 (c)( 3) nonprofit organizations. Because of this the option for employees to contribute into a 403( b)-retirement plan is possible. This particular plan is easy to set up and easy to join. Employees can opt into this plan at any time. It should be set so that the minimum contribution to this plan be $ 25 per pay period. This plan offers a convenient, regular savings program for employees.Most denominations have a recommended contribution percentage. Find out what your denominational policies are.
  • Health Insurance. All full-time, salaried church employees should be offered medical insurance to cover them and their family. Employees should apply for medical insurance per their church policy. This can be anywhere between 30-90 days. Many churches also provide prescription drug programs that help employees lower their prescription costs.
  • Dental and Vision Insurance. This is another benefit for employees which should be offered in the same way as medical insurance is offered. Some options will have the employer to pay half of the procedure done, leaving the other half for the employee. Be sure to shop around for what health plans work best for your ministry and your employees.
  • Life and Long Term Disability Insurance. As a ministry, life insurance should only be offered to specific employees. The life insurance policy should cover three times the annual salary of the person who is being covered. In some policies the church will pay half, leaving the other half for the employee to pay.
  • Housing Allowance. Find out what your denomination recommends as the standard contribution.
  • Continuing Education. This amount can vary from $250 to $2000 depending on the roles and responsibilities of the employee. Most clergy have at least one week of paid continuing education – many have two weeks or more.
  • Mileage Reimbursement. If the church expects an employee to use their personal vehicle for church business and errands, the church should at least be willing to reimburse the employee for mileage. The church must have a system by which mileage is logged and employees are reimbursed at the rate established by the IRS.
  • Cellphone Reimbursement. This amount varies among congregations from at little as $35/month to as much as $100/month.
  • Paid Holidays. The church should have an established written policy on paid holidays observed by the church. At minimum, paid holidays should include the following: New Years Eve & New Years Day, Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Good Friday (if no special services are planned), Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
  • Paid Sick Leave. The church should have established written policy on paid sick leave for employees. To be fair and competitive, I would recommend investigating other churches in your vicinity about their sick leave policy. Consider whether sick leave will include funerals, maternity leave, and short trips to the doctor or dentist.

Payroll and Time Keeping within the church
The needs of the church vary from week to week, however all paid employees should have a standard for the amount of time and hours they will put into the job. The church administrator, along with the finance persons should coordinate how employees are paid. Salaries and wage break downs should be determined by the church administrator. There are many systems your church can use in order to process payroll. Many banks will offer your church a Payroll system in order to help keep track of who is being paid and what they are being paid. Some sources, like ADP, are convenient in that they take care of your quarterly tax filings, produce W2s and keep files up to date with tax laws that could affect your payroll. If your ministry is still writing checks, by hand, from the general account, look into a technology grounded system that works for your ministry. Some companies also produce 1099 statements on a yearly basis. Payroll information should include: 1) Payroll totals, 2) Hours and earnings analysis or both,  3) Analysis of Federal income tax, 4) SUI/ SDI State Taxes orCity Taxes, Miscellaneous information,  Taxable liability,  Federal deposit. Net pays and Net cash.

Staff Appreciation and Recognition
The Church Administrator is responsible for keeping the moral of the church staff high! For this reason it is their responsibility to plan and coordinate events and activities that will recognize the great work of the staff.
  • Employee Birthday Recognition. Each month our staff hosts a staff birthday lunch at the church. All persons who are celebrating their birthdays in that month will select a menu of their choice. A volunteer from the church will prepare the meal and serve the entire staff following the last staff meeting of the month.
  • Staff Appreciation.  Every year our ministry has a staff appreciation Sunday. Members are encouraged to give a separate offering to show their love and appreciation for the staff. Whatever is collected is either divided among the staff or used in a corporate manner. Each ministry is petitioned to give their particular Each ministry is petitioned to give their particular ministry leader special tokens of love.
  • Holiday Parties/ Birthday Celebrations/ Employee Appreciations. During the holidays or a staff members birthday it is recommended the Church Administrator to provide an event for the staff. This can be done at a staff member’s house or a local restaurant. Staff appreciations should be fun and enjoyable moments for the entire staff (i.e. Employment Date Anniversary, Christmas Bonus, etc).

Legal Compliance
It is a good recommendation for the church to keep an attorney on retainer. Each year there are many employment legislations that are passed. It is important the church administrator becomes abreast in these new laws and policies. Church Administrators should be aware of seminars and forums discussing these issues. The church administrator should also be subscribed to legal publications and books regarding employment opportunities. As a church you must abide by certain federal and state laws. Here are a few that hold great importance:
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This particular act is also known as the wage/ hour law. This law is enforced by the Wage and Hour division of the U.S. Department of Labor. There are 4 essential elements to this act. The elements include: minimum wage requirements, overtime requirements, child labor regulation and equal pay provisions.
  • Equal Pay Act.  This act prohibits discrimination of wages or salary on the basis of sex or sexual orientation. In essence you cannot pay a man higher than a woman for doing the same equivalent job. If it is deemed the same qualifications, This particular act only applies to employers who have 20 or more employees. This act prevents discrimination in the hiring process on individuals who are age 40 and over. This particular act only applies to employers who have 20 or more employees. This act prevents discrimination in the hiring process on individuals who are age 40 and over. Family and Medical Leave Act This act was designed for employers who have a total of 50 employees or more. The employee must be employed for 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours within the previous 12 months to qualify. As a church you are required to offer your employee up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for the following reasons:
  • Birth of a new born child to the employee
  • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care with an employee.
  • Caring for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition.
  • Self care for an employee who may have a serious health condition.

| 30 essential policies

Take time to identify which policies may need to be added or updated.
  • Attendance Policies (standard work week, recording time worked, expectations around office hours, meal and rest periods)
  • Authorization of the head of staff role
  • Background Checks (health examinations, drug testing, credit checks, bonding requirements, driving record)
  • Benefits (health care, pension/retirement plans, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation)
  • Compensation (overtime, pay periods, wage increases)
  • Complaint and Grievance Process
  • Confidentiality of Information
  • Disciplinary Process
  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Email, Blog & Social Networking Policy
  • Employment at Will
  • Employee Harassment
  • Employment vs. Membership Relationships
  • Ethics for Ministry Professionals

  • Role of the Personnel Committee
  • Performance Management Process (job descriptions, quarterly goals review, annual performance evaluation)
  • Personnel Files
  • Personal Computers
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship and Right to Work
  • Provisions for time off (requesting time off, holidays, vacation, sick leave, personal days, leave of absence, bereavement leave, jury duty, family leave)
  • Relatives and Employment
  • Sabbatical policy
  • Continuing Education policy
  • Sexual Misconduct
  • Solicitation
  • Standards of Conduct (congregational funds, property, records, rules of conduct)
  • Terms of Call or Dismissal (for clergy staff)
  • Workplace Safety /Workplace Violence

2  |  A checklist  for onboarding new employees

It’s important for new employees to go through an orientation process. This is typically done by the person who supervises them, or by a member of the HR team. Smaller organizations that don’t hire people on a daily basis, don’t typically have systems and processes in place to ensure a smooth orientation process. A simple solution to this is to create a new employee orientation checklist that is used the first days or weeks of a new employee.
To create a new employee orientation check list, simply gather a group of employees and ask them, what kind of information was important for you to know when you were first hired? Here are some examples of things that could be part of a new employee orientation:
This checklist should be completed and signed within 7 days
of hire date and placed in their employee file.

Review of Policies
  • Employee policies
  • Office hours
  • Employee benefits
  • Vacation request process
  •  Who to call when sick

Office Tour
  • Office/campus tour – where to find coffee, where to eat lunch, light switches, alarm systems, etc.
  •  How to use the phone system, retrieve voicemail, etc.
  • Where to find office supplies
  •  Where to pick up mail
  • Keys to facility
  • How to operate office machines, ie: copy machine
  • How to login to computers, wireless systems, etc.
  • Any pertinent passwords

Compensation Process
  • When is payday
  • How are hours tracked and recorded
  • Health insurance
  • Retirement contribution
General
  • Organizational chart
  • Confidentiality
  • Staff meeting schedule
  • Staff covenant
  • Computer passwords
  • Voicemail etiquette
  • Email etiquette
  • Overtime
  • Lunch/break times
  • What are the social norms of the organization, for example employees are expected to hang out together at lunch.
  • Expectations related to interaction with congregants, volunteers, other employees
  • Accessibility when out of the office
  • Performance review process

Ministry Team Orientation
  • Walk through job description in more detail
  • Share roles and responsibilities of team members (perhaps include job descriptions)
  • Share sample annual goals from other employees
  • Review congregational goals along with ministry team goals
  • Team expectations
  • Employee mentor options
  • List of coworkers (provide roster)

| Terminating a staff member

Employers often think of employee discipline as a necessary evil, the first step in a process that will ultimately lead to termination. While that may be true in many cases, employee discipline can and should be used to promote positive changes in employee performance.  Supervisors need to become more proactive about managing chronic underperformance.  If you wait too long to address poor performance, an employee’s behavior may be so entrenched, and you may be so exasperated, that termination is inevitable. Ignoring poor performance can result in employees passing on bad behaviors and approaches to future ministers and church staff members.  If you don’t discipline properly, employees are not prepared for ultimate consequences and may be shocked/unprepared when fired.              

Before taking disciplinary action against an employee, supervisors should ask themselves:
  • Do I have personal or reliable information about the facts? Am I relying on rumors or jumping to conclusions?
  • If I discipline this employee, will that be consistent with the way I’ve treated other employees in similar situations in the past? Am I prepared to treat other employees the same way in the future?
  • Did the employee know, or should the employee have known, that this behavior would lead to disciplinary action?
  • Is the rule or job requirement the employee violated reasonable.
  • Is it possible that the employee had a legitimate excuse for this behavior?
  • Am I willing to thoroughly document in writing the events leading to this disciplinary action?
  • Am I willing to follow through with further disciplinary action if the initial steps I take do not produce positive results?
  • How would this situation sound to others if they heard about it on the news or read it on the front page of the local paper?

When disciplining or terminating an employee, focus on behavior not on attitude. Behavior is objective and attitude is subjective. Behavior describes something one can observe an employee doing or failing to do. Attitude is something the employee feels inside.   Listed below are steps for churches to follow when terminating an employee:

Step One: Oral Warning
Have a face to face meeting in which you confront the employee about a problem. The warning does not need to be threatening or hostile; however it should be direct and clearly communicate the problem and possible consequences. Specifically, the employee should be told:
  • Why performance is inadequate;
  •  What level of performance is expected;
  • A deadline for improved performance; and
  • The consequences of failure to improve performance.
Document the oral warning in writing as proof that the disciplinary system was followed, Although the documentation should be brief and state the facts, it should clearly reflect what was said to the employee, without adding opinions.

Step Two: Written Warning
If the oral warning does not work, the supervisor should proceed to Step Two, the written warning. In some cases it is appropriate to skip an oral warning and start with a written warning, depending upon the gravity of the employee’s conduct. The written warning should communicate the same four points to the employee that were outlined above in the oral warning.
A written warning should be signed by the employee. Additionally, a witness should be present when the warning is delivered. If the employee refuses to sign the warning, the witness can sign a statement that the warning was given to the employee.

Step Three: Probation (Second Written Warning)
Probation is the last step in the progressive disciplinary system before termination. It’s the employee’s last chance to avoid being fired. As with written warnings, meetings in which employees are put on probation should include a witness. Employees should sign documentation about the meeting. In the meeting and in the documentation, the church should make it clear that the next step is termination if there is no improvement.

Step Four: Termination
  • When preparing for termination, be certain that prior documentation shows the steps the church took to follow the progressive disciplinary procedure.
  • Terminations should be handled confidentially. Schedule the termination when the meeting is not likely to attract a lot of attention from other employees. Respect the employee’s dignity and try to think of how to avoid having the employee pack personal items or clean out a desk in front of the entire staff.
  • A termination meeting shouldn’t take much time. A witness should be present with the employee and the person delivering the message. Remind the employee of the previous steps in the process, and then simply explain that enough progress has not been noted and the employment relationship is being terminated.

Using Discretion When There’s Cause for Termination
The goal of any termination process should be to deal appropriately and fairly with the cause for the termination, while demonstrating compassion and care for the affected employee.            
  • Serious Infractions: Often referred to as a dismissal for cause (e.g. theft, child abuse or endangerment, deliberate damage to church property, threatened or actual physical assault, falsification of payroll or other financial records, intoxication on the job, and other illegal or dangerous activity.) These types of circumstances should be spelled out in your employee manual or in an employment contract, if one exists. The employee is often dismissed immediately without severance pay.
  • Behaviors incompatible with the teachings/values of your church: It is best to have a signed behavioral covenant in place that clearly outlines your expectations around staff team behavior. A defined process of pastoral counseling is advisable before any termination, allowing for the possibility of a commitment to change the behavior. If there is no change, termination may be inevitable. If severance is provided, it should be administered consistently from one situation to the next.
  • Inadequate job performance: If performance fails to measure up to documented standards a performance improvement plan should be designed and reviewed with the employee, providing measurable targets for improvement. If poor performance continues, follow a multi-step process of verbal and written warning followed by probation and ultimately dismissal. (See the 4 step disciplinary process laid out on the next pages.) The objective is to create clear expectations around performance standards so that the employee improves his or her performance, or realize that the job is not a fit and other employment must be sought. In these situations severance is typically offered and tied to length of service.
                       
Reductions in staff for financial reasons: It is important to let employees know as far in advance as possible. Whenever possible, severance should be offered, possibly using benevolence funds for this purpose.`

5 | Managing staff transitions

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a pastoral transition, change is difficult for everyone involved. Whenever a leader steps down from their church, the church staff and congregation will have many questions and will experience a variety of emotional reactions.But it is possible to navigate these transitions with discernment. There are several steps an outgoing Pastor and the church leaders can take to make a transition the least bumpy it can be. It is vital for the long-term health of the church for the leaders to think through the following steps before a pastoral transition takes place.
 
STEP  1:   Focus solely on what needs to be known & who needs to know it.
  • During a pastoral transition, follow this rule of thumb: over-communicate with the internal senior leadership team, hear the concerns of the entire church staff, and help the staff feel part of the solution.
  • Ensure that both the outgoing leader and the remaining staff members have the same answer to the question, “What’s the whole story?” Whatever the story is, it needs to be consistent and honest. Document the details so that everyone is on the same page. Documentation is also necessary for legal purposes.
  • Remember that not everyone needs the whole story. What concentric circles need to know what parts of the story? Does the congregation need to know the whole story? Make sure that everyone on the staff has an honest, consistent story that is communicated to the church body and the community at large.
  • Tell the whole truth to whom the whole truth is due. – R.C. Sproul
  • Also, announce information sooner than later. Waiting can lead to frustration and mistrust on the part of staff and congregation, as word will inevitably get out ahead of time. When you make the transition announcement, focus on closing that announcement by casting the big picture vision and future for the church versus focusing too closely on unnecessary details.
  • Remember to address how destructive gossip and speculation can be. Also, if necessary, provide counselors for the staff and congregants if the transition involves grief or betrayal of trust.

STEP  2:  Create a transition and communication timeline for the internal staff.
It’s extremely important to have a clear plan in place for when the steps of the transition will take place – and what will be communicated during each step. This timeline should include the following elements:
  • Key dates in the transition
  • Key people involved in each step of the transition
  • Next steps (for the family involved, for the staff, for the congregation)
  • Facts that should be communicated after/before each step of the transition, to whom, by whom, and by what means (in person, letter, email, website, announcement from the pulpit, etc.)
  • A point person to field questions and inquiries once an announcement is made A script of appropriate responses to frequently asked questions

STEP  3:  Consider hiring outside help.
It can be very helpful for church leaders to seek succession consultation. An experienced consultant can advise you on what steps to take when during a transition, as well as how to communicate the transition. In addition to a Consultant, a PR firm can also be helpful in certain situations. When a prominent Senior Pastor steps down because of a moral failure or another messy situation, we recommend hiring a PR firm to help you navigate the nuances that may come with a “fallen” community leader in the spotlight. Do your research and collect references on the PR firms you are considering to ensure you find the best one for your situation.

STEP  4: Honor the family involved.
The key church leaders involved in managing the transition must discuss the following questions and decide what is best for the family who is involved and affected.
  • If other family members are on staff, do they stay on the team or transition out? How do we provide space and opportunities for healing and/or sabbatical?
  • What will severance look like for transitioning the Pastor? Consider giving severance to the wounded spouse. It may not be the right answer for every church but worth discussing.
  • Encourage prayer for the family, both individually and corporately.

5 | Terminating a Staff Member

Employers often think of employee discipline as a necessary evil, the first step in a process that will ultimately lead to termination. While that may be true in many cases, employee discipline can and should be used to promote positive changes in employee performance.  Supervisors need to become more proactive about managing chronic underperformance.  

  • If you wait too long to address poor performance, an employee’s behavior may be so entrenched, and you may be so exasperated, that termination is inevitable.
  • Ignoring poor performance can result in employees passing on bad behaviors and approaches to future ministers and church staff members.
  • If you don’t discipline properly, employees are not prepared for ultimate consequences and may be shocked/unprepared when fired.
               
Before taking disciplinary action against an employee, supervisors should ask themselves:
  • Do I have personal or reliable information about the facts? Am I relying on rumors or jumping to conclusions?
  • If I discipline this employee, will that be consistent with the way I’ve treated other employees in similar situations in the past? Am I prepared to treat other employees the same way in the future?
  • Did the employee know, or should the employee have known, that this behavior would lead to disciplinary action?
  • Is the rule or job requirement the employee violated reasonable.
  • Is it possible that the employee had a legitimate excuse for this behavior?
  • Am I willing to thoroughly document in writing the events leading to this disciplinary action?
  • Am I willing to follow through with further disciplinary action if the initial steps I take do not produce positive results?
  • How would this situation sound to others if they heard about it on the news or read it on the front page of the local paper?

When disciplining or terminating an employee, focus on behavior not on attitude. Behavior is objective and attitude is subjective. Behavior describes something one can observe an employee doing or failing to do. Attitude is something the employee feels inside.   Listed below are steps for churches to follow when terminating an employee:

Step One: Oral Warning
Have a face to face meeting in which you confront the employee about a problem. The warning does not need to be threatening or hostile; however it should be direct and clearly communicate the problem and possible consequences. Specifically, the employee should be told:
                        Why performance is inadequate;
                        What level of performance is expected;
                        A deadline for improved performance; and
                        The consequences of failure to improve performance.
Document the oral warning in writing as proof that the disciplinary system was followed, Although the documentation should be brief and state the facts, it should clearly reflect what was said to the employee, without adding opinions.

Step Two: Written Warning
If the oral warning does not work, the supervisor should proceed to Step Two, the written warning. In some cases it is appropriate to skip an oral warning and start with a written warning, depending upon the gravity of the employee’s conduct. The written warning should communicate the same four points to the employee that were outlined above in the oral warning.
A written warning should be signed by the employee. Additionally, a witness should be present when the warning is delivered. If the employee refuses to sign the warning, the witness can sign a statement that the warning was given to the employee.

Step Three: Probation (Second Written Warning)
Probation is the last step in the progressive disciplinary system before termination. It’s the employee’s last chance to avoid being fired. As with written warnings, meetings in which employees are put on probation should include a witness. Employees should sign documentation about the meeting. In the meeting and in the documentation, the church should make it clear that the next step is termination if there is no improvement.

Step Four: Termination
  • When preparing for termination, be certain that prior documentation shows the steps the church took to follow the progressive disciplinary procedure.
  • Terminations should be handled confidentially. Schedule the termination when the meeting is not likely to attract a lot of attention from other employees. Respect the employee’s dignity and try to think of how to avoid having the employee pack personal items or clean out a desk in front of the entire staff.
  • A termination meeting shouldn’t take much time. A witness should be present with the employee and the person delivering the message. Remind the employee of the previous steps in the process, and then simply explain that enough progress has not been noted and the employment relationship is being terminated.

Using Discretion When There’s Cause for Termination
The goal of any termination process should be to deal appropriately and fairly with the cause for the termination, while demonstrating compassion and care for the affected employee.             
  • Serious Infractions: Often referred to as a dismissal for cause (e.g. theft, child abuse or endangerment, deliberate damage to church property, threatened or actual physical assault, falsification of payroll or other financial records, intoxication on the job, and other illegal or dangerous activity.) These types of circumstances should be spelled out in your employee manual or in an employment contract, if one exists. The employee is often dismissed immediately without severance pay.
  • Behaviors incompatible with the teachings/values of your church: It is best to have a signed behavioral covenant in place that clearly outlines your expectations around staff team behavior. A defined process of pastoral counseling is advisable before any termination, allowing for the possibility of a commitment to change the behavior. If there is no change, termination may be inevitable. If severance is provided, it should be administered consistently from one situation to the next.
  • Inadequate job performance: If performance fails to measure up to documented standards a performance improvement plan should be designed and reviewed with the employee, providing measurable targets for improvement. If poor performance continues, follow a multi-step process of verbal and written warning followed by probation and ultimately dismissal. (See the 4 step disciplinary process laid out on the next pages.) The objective is to create clear expectations around performance standards so that the employee improves his or her performance, or realize that the job is not a fit and other employment must be sought. In these situations severance is typically offered and tied to length of service.
                       
Reductions in staff for financial reasons: It is important to let employees know as far in advance as possible. Whenever possible, severance should be offered, possibly using benevolence funds for this purpose.

5 | Performing an exit interview

Exit interviews should be standard policy for all congregations. It helps bring closure to relationships, can help foster healing in some settings, and usually surfaces issues that congregational leaders need to tend to in the future. Listed below are a few suggestions for conducting an exit interview.
  • Keep it in the vault. The only way an employee will open up is if they know that you are keeping the information they share confidential. Remind the interviewee that you are legally bound not to talk about this interview or their performance in a future reference call. Encourage them to be honest and assure them of your confidentiality.
  • Put it in neutral. A neutral third party should conduct exit interviews. The employee’s immediate supervisor should never do them. In a large organization, the Human Resources Department usually runs these, but chances are your church doesn’t have one of those. If you oversaw the team member who is leaving, consider having someone else on your team do the interview. Trusted board members or volunteer leaders are a good resource if you’re on a very small church team. If the end of this person’s employment is heated or politically charged, consider bringing in an outside third party to conduct the interview. In any event, find an interviewer that will engender trust and calm for the outgoing employee. That will foster a “safe” environment and give you the best chance at getting real, honest, and helpful feedback.
  • Set the table. When the interview starts, let the employee know that this is not about them, but about you. This is not a look at their work, but a chance for the team to learn how to do a better job. You’re not going to criticize their work or anything they say, but you want to see what working on your church team was like from their perspective.
  • Keep it short. Exit interviews do not need to be (nor should they be) lengthy. There are a few important and to-the-point questions that need to be asked (keep reading), and the time spent on them shouldn’t be more than an hour. Don’t draw it out.

FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING AN INTERVIEW
1 |  Did you feel recognized?   Like any personal relationship, when people don’t feel that their work (or presence) is noticed or appreciated, they become dissatisfied and might begin looking for a new job. Ask your outgoing team member if they felt recognized and appreciated for their work, both from their immediate supervisor and the church leaders over them, if applicable.
2 |   Did you know what to do? 
People love having goals. When goals are absent, dissatisfaction sets in. Over and over, I hear candidates who I interview tell me that they didn’t have a clear set of goals and expectations put before them. Ask your departing employee if they felt they had clear, attainable goals and knew what was expected of them.
3 |  Did the job you interviewed for match the job you found yourself in?  Far too often, recruiting feels like a fraternity rush, only to have the first day on the job feel like the first day as a lowly pledge.  The best employers match the interview process with the real work environment.   Ask your departing team member if the job they interviewed for was what they expected, and if it wasn’t, was it positive (their role grew) or negative?
4 |  Can you name three cultural values of the company and give an example of each in real time?
If your exiting employees doesn’t know your church’s or ministry’s values, then chances are a lot of the other teammates don’t either. Take this opportunity to see if the culture you’re trying to instill through your team’s values is getting through to your staff and sticking.

5 |  Did we equip you with the tools you needed to do your job? Asking people to do a job and not giving them the tools to perform makes for unhappy campers. If the leadership at your church isn’t equipping and empowering your church staff members, this is something you need to know and correct. Ask your outgoing employee for specific examples if they felt they were not empowered or given the tools to do any part of their job. When you have realistic expectations, conduct exit interviews properly, and ask straightforward and effective questions, you’ll find that exit interviews are invaluable for getting honest feedback on what it’s like to work on your church team, enhancing your church staff culture, and ultimately improving employee satisfaction and staff retention long-term.

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STEPS FOR COMMUNICATING STAFF TRANSITIONS

Encourage prayer for the family, both individually and corporately.

Steps for Communicating Staff Transitions

Encourage prayer for the family, both individually and corporately.

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