How's Your Staffing Speed?


Here are two staffing stories I hear over and over in churches. One on the front end of employment, and one on the back end. Both almost always end poorly:

"Most churches hire too quickly, and fire too slowly."

Situation 1. "We're bleeding families. We've got to have a student pastor now!" And so the church hires the first person who has a tattoo, can bang chords on a guitar, seems to have the hip factor, or has grown a youth group in a previous church.


Situation 2. "You know, if we let him go now, there are going to be some serious ripples. He's really good friends with a lot of people in the church, and the cost will be high." And so the church either does nothing, or - my personal favorite - moves the employee to another job/department hoping the problem will go away.

I've come to believe that the speed and pace that you make your staffing decisions is a pretty good indicator and predictor of your church's health.

Unfortunately, I'm seeing a clear pattern:

Most churches hire too quickly, and fire too slowly.

That's part of the reason the efficient, yet measured executive search process we use at Vanderbloemen Search Group continues to get great reviews from our clients in the church world (yes, that was a shameless plug).

Of course, both phenomenons can be easily explained.

Quick hires are usually the result of an intersection between a long vacancy in a position, and a decent looking candidate rising up suddenly. Churches trust the person quickly, because that's the nature of church, and move forward at warp speed.

Firing too slowly is often a direct result of our belief in the power of people to change. In the church world, that's sort of what we trade on (at least I hope you do). Never say never, we can find a way to make it work, churches don't fire people. Insert whatever mantra you like. But waiting on a change that may or may not happen costs churches time, energy, money, and in the end, slows the ability of the church to reach and build up people.

Hiring usually happens too quickly. Firing, too slowly.

Would you agree or disagree?

For an excellent resource on this phenomenon, order the panel discussion Willow Creek has provided among Bill HybelsHenry CloudCarly FiorinaPatrick Lencioni, and David Ireland, titled "Hiring, Firing, and Board Meltdowns."