4 Leadership Mistakes That Are Driving Away Your Staff Members
By: Brian Dunks October 26, 2017
Church staff members will leave their positions for many personal reasons. Maybe they're moving closer to aging parents, following their spouse's job change, choosing to stay at home with their children, or going back to school to continue their education. But the majority of reasons why ministry staff leave their jobs are under the control of the church and the lead staff. In fact, any element of your current workplace (your culture, environment, expectations, perceptions and growth opportunities) could be a factor that affects staff and their longevity in your church ministry.
In my 23 years as a Lead Pastor, I found the best way to retain staff is to stay in touch with what they’re thinking. Are they happy with their work? Are their needs for challenge, belonging, development, and meaningful work met? Do they have the communication, problem-solving, feedback, and recognition they need from their leader?
Sure, great opportunities for promotion or added responsibility come into the picture on occasion, but that is not the norm. Employees will job search for a reason. Find out what it going on with your team before an exodus begins. Ask. Some suggest holding “stay interviews,” not evaluations, but an interview to determine why staff members stay with your church ministry. Pay attention to and accentuate the factors they identify that keep them coming back every day.
Here are four critical (and manageable) reasons why staff members choose to leave your church:
Staff members don’t have to be best friends with their pastor, but they do need to have a relationship. If a pastor is “hands off” or “siloed,” the staff will feel distant and unplugged. The pastor is too much of an integral part of their daily work lives for an uncomfortable relationship.
The pastor provides vision, direction, and determines the culture of the church. By spending time with each staff member, the pastor is connecting the employee to the success of the organization.
What are some ways you can improve the relationship you have with your staff?
No one likes to feel left out in the workplace. Pastors need to make sure that staff members know they are key contributors to the overall vision and mission of the church. Staff members need to feel connected and that they are part of an effort that is bigger than just their role.
Too many pastors assume their staff members will understand the vital part they play. They might, but they need your help to visualize their role in the bigger picture. If an employee lacks influence and doesn’t feel they are part of the overall direction, you’ll eventually lose them.
What are some ways you can allow your staff to provide insight and influence?
No one wants to be bored and uninspired by their work. Staff members will spend one third of their lives at work and want to enjoy their job. When a staff member uses their significant skills and abilities in the role, they feel a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.
Work closely with staff members who report to you to ensure that each one is engaged to contribute and perform. Otherwise you could lose them to a church who will. Staff members want to develop and grow their skills. If they are not able to do that in your church, they will look for one where they can.
What are some ways you can challenge your staff to excellence?
It’s obvious that people serve in ministry for God to get the glory, but a lack of recognition can affect many things, especially the amount of time a staff member stays with the church. It’s important for lead staff to recognize the performance of staff and provide a lot of genuine appreciation. It’s icing on the cake for staff member retention.
During team meetings, be supportive of everyone’s ideas, no matter how big or small. Backing your teammates’ work lets them feel supported and appreciated. Even if an idea seems weak, simply noting that a person contributes to the conversation prevents them from feeling shut down.
What are some ways you can show appreciation to your staff?
If you pay attention to these 4 factors, you will reduce turnover and create a culture of longevity on your staff. If not, you could be holding regular exit interviews and good-bye lunches.
Why not expend the effort and energy necessary to retain the staff you worked so hard to find?