Staffing & Structure: 3 Weaknesses Most Churches Unknowingly Experience

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I spend a lot of my time as a consultant focused on phase three of The Unstuck Group’s process, Staffing and Structure, matching staff and structure to vision and strategy.  This phase is actually the most requested piece of the Unstuck process. I think this is the case because this area is where church leaders often feel the most pain. Candidly evaluating whether you have the right people on the bus and in the right seat of the bus and doing the right activities is difficult for someone on the inside of an organization to do.

When onsite with a church during the Staffing and Structure Phase, we run a ranking exercise with churches, asking them to rank their perceived areas of strengths and weaknesses. Here are the top three weaknesses that repeatedly surface.

(And by the way, the senior leaders of the church often assume these three areas are “not a problem in my church.” There is always more clarity at the top of the organization, but fuzziness often emerges once you move past senior leadership roles.)

How would you rank your church in these three areas?                   

  1. Strategy, Structure, People

Do you have the right people in the right roles to support your strategy? Is your staff culture conducive to growth? One of the key advantages an outside consultant brings to a church is an unbiased yet experienced point of view. As church staff leaders, we can seldom be unbiased when talking about the team of people we serve with –  there are embedded relationships within the staff team that sometimes blind us from recognizing how to move the church forward.

Churches also often have organizational charts that just don’t make sense. They may have been perfect at one time but they no longer match the vision and strategy of the church.

The Goals:

  • Align structure and staff roles to vision, growth engines, and discipleship pathways, not programs.

  • Every ministry and program is connected to a senior staff leader.

  • Structure supports effective communication and synergies across the staff team.

  1. Clear Wins

Every team member needs to know what a win looks like in their area. They should be able to recognize how they’re doing and if they hit the target or not. In addition, staff want to know to whom they’re accountable, how to measure progress against their win, and opportunities to adjust goals over time. Definition in this area will create clarity for team members and improve the overall effectiveness of the staff team.

The Goals:

  • Staff performance expectations are clear. Staff know their target and are given the opportunity to adjust goals when necessary to better match organization strategy.

  • Staff members have one boss.

  • Each person is held accountable to deliver his or her individual wins.

  • Who has decision rights is clear.

  1. Intentionally Developing People

Development — either leadership or technical (job specific) skills — doesn’t just happen. Staff and key volunteers not only want to know how they are doing (Wins), but they also want to know how they can grow and develop in their role.

Ultimately, each staff person is responsible for the development of their own leadership gifts and skills. They should own a developmental mindset, looking at every life experience, including meetings, teachings and conversations through the lens of “what can I learn from this experience?”

That said, as a church we are also responsible for creating an environment and a system that is conducive and supportive to the development of our staff and key volunteers.

The Goals:

  • The staff team embraces a developmental mindset

  • There is a system in place that encourages a development conversation between staff and their supervisors. These questions should be asked: Where am I now (in an identified skill set)? Where do I want to be in 6 months? What are 3 action steps I can do to achieve new skill?

  • There is an identified person on staff to champion and own the process and content to support development

I challenge you to not just answer these questions for yourself. Ask your staff how they rank your church in these three areas.  Maybe even print these goals out on a card and have the staff give your church a score for each one. New insights would certainly emerge!

 


Constructing an effective staff can be challenging. On June 29 The Unstuck Group partnered with Vanderbloemen Search Group to offer a webinar on How To Staff Your Church To Fulfill Your Vision. 

Learn how you can build a team to effectively fulfill the vision your church has to reach your community. 

WATCH THE WEBINAR REPLAY

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About Author

Tammy Kelley

Tammy has over 20 years of ministry experience serving in key leadership roles at Ginghamsburg Church, Willow Creek Community Church, Vanderbloemen Search Group, and in her current role at Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicagoland area. Holding an executive MBA and practical church experience, Tammy brings a good blend of business and staffing strategy to the team.

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