6 Ways To Gracefully Realign Your Church Staff Team
By: Jennifer Winge
Many organizations undergo seasons where staff realignment is necessary for growth. A church is no different. This need often stems from clear stagnation or a sudden vacancy on staff.
If you are a church leader, you need to approach realignment with caution. It will impact each of your staff members (either directly or indirectly) and could become toxic if not handled well. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when faced with a realignment choice.
1. Think of the big picture
When considering staff structure, often we can get caught up in the micro level rather than the macro level (the "big picture"). Of course, there will be plenty of small, practical steps to take in the realignment process. But your team needs to take some time to think of your big picture strategy as well. Ask questions like: what are your core values, mission and vision? Where do you want to be in 5 and 10 years? What staff roles do you need to fulfill those 5 or 10-year goals?
Spend some time alongside a few big-picture thinkers who understand the thumbprint of your organization. Realignment is neither a simple nor independent task. You can worry about the how later; first, consider the what.
2. Create an organizational chart
Get the big-picture thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Create an organizational chart that reflects your ideal trajectory. Next, create a list of roles that you need to make this happen. Our suggestion is to use a white board rather than your current organizational chart. This way, you will have the ability to write, highlight, move around, and erase at will.
Don’t worry about formal titles, who will fill the roles, or about how you will pay their salaries. Just dream!
3. Work backwards
Once you've mapped where your organization is going, start working backwards. If you created an organizational chart for 10 years out, take note of what you will need in 5 years, and then in 1 year. This is your long-term plan for realignment.
You may combine or separate roles today to better flow into the future. Take a Communications Director, for example. Where will this position be within your organizational chart in the next 5 years? It might be on the creative team today, but will fall into an operational role in your big-picture goal.
4. Think about who
Is your current staff who you want carrying your church into the future? You will likely have a few irreplaceable staff members that secure a place on the new organizational chart. Here, you may begin to combine some staff roles based on skill set, passion, and capacity. It is so important to find the right seat on the bus for each staff member.
Use this process as an opportunity to check-in with staff members. Ask them what they love and what frustrates them about their job. You may be surprised at what you learn.
5. Develop your staff
High capacity candidates still need training.
When you picture your "big picture" staff team, do you expect them all to be developed? If not, do you have a plan in place to develop them? Don’t put off the coaching and development process. Investing in your staff today is like investing in your retirement account today. If you wait too long, at some point you have to catch up, which is a stressful and sometimes unsuccessful process. Invest in your staff today to see the benefits tomorrow.
6. Come back to the "big picture"
Let’s be real for a second.
When making a "big picture" organizational chart, you might realize that some staff members don't have a place on it. The reality is, past product doesn't always bring future product. Although some staff might have grown the ministry in the past, they could have reached their maximum competency.
This may mean that some seats on your current bus disappear and there may not be a place on the bus for everyone. But don’t give up on the staff that didn’t seem to fit your long-term plan. Through intentional development, you may be surprised at what comes from your current staff members.
At the same time, you may have current staff that are no longer part of your organization in 5 years. This is okay. It is okay for some staff to move on to new endeavors in the future. That actually may be part of God’s big and beautiful plan for that staff member and for your church. God always sees all parts of the "big picture" better than any of us could. Our job is to remain focused on our part of His plan.
How have you realigned your staff structure for your church?