10 tips for conducting staff reviews

By Jim LaDoux
1 | Choose the right setting. 
Determine what kind of setting would be most conducive for a fruitful conversation. Your office provides a professional atmosphere and clarifies respective roles for staff but can also be an emotionally sterile environment. Explore doing reviews over a meal at a local restaurant or a more neutral setting than the supervisor’s office.

2 | Set aside sufficient time for the review.
Avoid being rushed. In most cases, an hour is sufficient.

3 | Have a clear purpose.
The three primary purposes of staff reviews are: 1) to let individuals know how the church feels about the job they’re doing, 2) to hear from staff about what needs to be done to get to the next level of performance and how they can improve their ministry impact, and 3) to affirm the staff member in their gifts and strengths and send them out with clarity around what they need to stop, start, or keep doing in the future.

4 | Have a good tool.
Focus on the areas of ministry that are mission-critical and the key factors that lead to success in these areas. It’s increasingly common for pastors and program staff to complete two assessment forms. The first assessment rates a person’s effectiveness through the lens of core competencies, character traits, and chemistry using a 1-5 rating scale (5 = "exceptional"; items rated lower than a 3 need to be revisited within 90 days). Here are 3 questions to which the staff and supervisor may respond: 1) At what is the staff person excelling? 2) What are some ideas/plans for moving their ministry impact to the next level? 3) Whom do they identify as other leaders, and how are they developing those individuals? The second assessment allows staff members to provide narrative responses related to the following items: ministry highlights and accomplishments, plans for personal and professional development, goals for the coming year, and what they need from others to do their best work.  

5 | Be specific.
Don’t just say, “You’re doing a great job,” or “We need you to work on your relationships with your teammates.” Tell them what they need to keep doing, stop doing, or start doing.

6 | Solicit their feedback.
Allow the person being reviewed to lead a good portion of the review process, particularly around responses to the narrative questions. The reviewer typically talks about 1/3rd of the time and the person being reviewed talks 2/3rds of the time.

7 | Do not surprise them.
Whether praise or correction, a review shouldn’t be the first time a staff member hears this information.

8 | Offer a token gift.
Select a gift that serves as a metaphor of a key role they’ve played in ministry the past year, a key strength that they bring to the organization, or a new role you’re inviting them to live into for the coming year.  

9 | Make follow-up plans if needed.
If there are areas of ministry that need to be revisited within 90 days, determine when this will occur, and who will be part of the process.  

10 | End the review positively and prayerfully.
Pray for the person being reviewed. Give thanks to God for their gifts, passions, and perspectives. Pray for their family members and loved ones. Pray for the ministries they oversee, and for clarity around next steps in ministry.


  1. Which tips listed above are already part of your staff review norms?
  2. What do you see as the primary purpose for conducting norms?
  3. How might you make reviews as much about the reimagining the future as reflecting on the past?
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