How To Keep Your Church Staff Happy (Part 1)


Keeping your staff motivated, let alone happy, probably sounds impossible, especially if you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with turmoil on your team right now.

Here’s the good news: You are not to blame for all the challenges that exist in your teams’ personal lives, and you can’t control their expectations of you. However, there are a few things you can do to help keep a high level of morale among your team members, which produces a healthier growing environment in your organization. It’s going to require that you be honest with yourself and make some tough choices.

Here are a few ideas to keep your church staff motivated:

1. Adequate pay - Not too much and not too little.

When you pay people less than they are worth, over time it builds resentment and a critical spirit. They stop focusing on their job and become distracted by their lack.  A once great employee is now seemingly ungrateful and unhappy. If you find yourself spending all your time reminding people how fortunate they are to have their jobs, have you considered simply looking at their pay? Perhaps you have an employee that isn’t making enough to make ends meet.

On the other hand, overpaying people is a huge problem too. Studies show that employees who are overpaid tend to develop an entitlement mentality, become less productive, and see themselves above their co-workers. This often leads to resentment among other lower paid team members. Both situations end with the same result. Unhappy and underperforming staff members.

The better way is to pay a person what they are worth, or at least enough so that money is not an issue circulating in their mind. If you pay people enough to live comfortably, they will spend more time focusing on their job, and that’s good for everyone. I would recommend taking inventory of your staff - their skill and responsibilities - then have us here at Vanderbloemen perform a compensation analysis for you. You may have to trim a few positions, but in the end it will free up margin for raises, and you and your church staff will be better off.

2. Clear and embraced vision

An organization without a clear vision is an uninspiring place to work, and your top leaders won’t stick around long. High capacity church staff members want to be challenged, and they want to be a part of something that is making a difference. But it’s not enough to just have the vision. It’s up to the church leader to clearly articulate the vision and evaluate its acceptance. A good boss makes sure that the vision of the organization is understood by all and embraced by all. This is extremely difficult because it means the leader must make careful measurements and at times, make difficult cuts. If you apply this principle, you may have to move or even remove some staff members, but the organization will be healthier and more productive because of it.

3. Autonomy in their jobs - building trust

I cannot stress this point enough. Once your team understands the vision, give them the freedom to accomplish it the way they think is best. Most good leaders just want the chance to do their job well without someone looking over their shoulder. When you micromanage your team, it’s a way of saying, “I don’t trust you,” or “My way is best.” You may not be trying to communicate that message but it’s exactly what they are getting from you. Give your staff the chance to succeed and the chance to make mistakes. When they succeed, everyone succeeds. If they fail, then it’s a great chance to coach and train them, which makes the team better and the organization a great place to work. People love a challenge.

4. Sense of control of their lives.

My wife has a great philosophy…she let’s me think I’m in control. We are both happy, and everything goes smoothly. I’m not saying you should manipulate people, but it’s a proven fact that people are happier and perform better when they feel they have some control over their lives. Do you treat people like a deck of cards? Trading them from position to position without considering the impact it has on them? I would strongly advise you to find creative ways to give your team members a sense of control of their lives. When people are given options and opportunity, I think you’ll find they are motivated and perform with consistent excellence. They will rise to the occasion.

5. Input and access

People need to have a voice. Your team is smarter and more capable than you think. One way to lose team morale is to marginalize and disenfranchise them.

A. Marginalized – This happens when a high capacity leader is left out of key decisions or placed on the peripheral of the leadership team. This practice undermines their confidence and self worth. Nothing good comes from marginalizing your team.

B. Disenfranchised – This happens when a leader sees a problem or has an idea but no outlet for it. When your church staff has no voice or ability to affect outcomes, it adversely affects morale. I’ve seen smart and capable people have their voice ignored, silenced or labeled as negative if they tried to voice concern or objections to a particular strategy or decision. This is a huge mistake! Your employees are the most precious commodity you have and simply listening to them will not only keep morale high, but helps you as well.

What about you? What areas do you need to change? Do you have other ideas for keeping your team happy? We’d love to hear from you. “how to keep your staff happy (part2) is coming soon.