How To Get Outstanding Performance From Your Church Staff

measurable goals

In his book, The Three Signs Of A Miserable Job (A Fable for Managers and Employees), Patrick Lencioni offers three reasons why many people don’t experience joy in their jobs. In the story, Brian Bailey, a recently retired CEO who becomes the weekend manager of a small pizza place, develops a theory – three reasons – why so many people are miserable at work. It’s not just those who have “hard jobs”.  Even people who seem to have glamorous jobs aren’t always happy. In fact, a CEO or famous athlete may be miserable in their jobs while the person down the street doing a “hard job” finds satisfaction.  Brian uses his theory to turn the team at the struggling, low moral and barely afloat pizza place into an amazing organization where leaders are emerging and everyone finds fulfillment in their work. Here are the three ways managers can help people derive joy from their work:

Defeat Anonymity, Irrelevance and Immeasurability.

The theory makes sense. Take anonymity first.  If an employee on your team feels like no one cares about his life, like no one even knows he is there investing his time in a company, the job isn’t going to be that rewarding. Likewise, if someone on your team feels like what they are doing doesn’t make a difference in someone’s life, they will feel irrelevant. The job of the manager is to help fix the problems their employees experience related to anonymity and irrelevance with this really simple solution: get to know your people and let them know that what they do matters.

For church staff leaders working in ministry, the first two come more easily. Typically, church staff work closely together, have time to talk and know each other both on the basis of the ministry role and as church members together. They are also known and loved by many in the church and therefore, anonymity doesn’t seem to be a major factor. However, it would behoove any pastor / church staff manager to know about the lives of his team outside the church setting.

Additionally, I believe most church staff have an innate sense of relevance about their work and ministry. It’s not just a job, but a calling to serve in kingdom work. The vocational role is driven with determination within most church staff leaders in local churches.  There is motivation beyond showing up – it’s about changing lives. Though this is built in to many people in church leadership work, there is always room for the reminders about the mission, about our relevance as leaders, and about being shepherds and coaches for the congregation.

The third part of the theory was most intriguing to me and could most benefit church leadership teams. Defeating immeasurability is the gold from this book as it relates to church staff.

If pastors and church leaders were going to attack one of these three problems that cause employees not to find meaning in their work it would be to defeat immeasurability. According to the theory, all three elements must be in place before people find true satisfaction in their jobs. Pastor/Leaders need to discover ways with each individual team member to daily measure their work and ministry.  Measurable goals need to be specifically geared toward each person and their role. They need to be able to be measured both by the staff member and the leader. And they must be motivating to the staff member.  Here are some examples of the immediately measurable goals to shoot for each day or week:  How many church member emails did you respond to today?  How many phone calls did you make to your volunteer teams today?  How many conversations have you had with unchurched people this week about Jesus? Have you planted seeds for a new ministry endeavor for next season?  What seeds?  What was the attendance at church?  And the list could go on and on.  The best way to set the goals is to do so together – both pastor / leader and the individual staff member.

There are several hurdles:  1) Pastors/Leaders must see themselves as managers (If you don’t, read “It’s ok to be the boss.”) 2) Church staff roles need to be clearly defined with a clear sense of how one will know when they’ve succeeded and  3) Because of limitations, such as budgets, vision and structure, many church staff have more on their plate than they can handle well, none of which is looked at with an eye for measuring effectiveness and fruitfulness.

Typically, pastor/leader/managers expect much, but demand little. As a result, measurable goals aren’t talked about too much until it has become a bit too late – and the lack of fruitfulness, organization, vision and planning has caused a riff between the staff member and the church leadership.

It’s overwhelming I realize, especially in a smaller to medium sized church staff, for the pastor to think about managing the staff as well as pastoring the church. This book would say your greatest asset to your organization is leading the staff well in these three areas – helping them to not feel annonymous or irrelevant and to have immediately mesurable goals in their ministry role.  Doing this one thing well may be they key to a more healthy organization, thereby a better culture, causing a stronger connection of the overall vision to every single member of the congregation.

If it seems like too much to add into the crazy life of your church, take Jethro’s advice to Moses: You need help!  What you are doing it not good!  You are bottlenecking the process and causing frustration. Here some some solutions:  1) Delegate some of your basic tasks so you can invest some time focusing on these three things in your immediate church staff team.  2) Appoint a trusted church leader to help with the staff management process – maybe a retired executive who is able to begin meeting with church staff once a month to talk keep this measurability in front.  3) A third solution may be peer evaluation among staff members about measureable goals for each person.

The ripple effect of each staff person feeling fulfilled in their ministry job is priceless.  It trickles into each of their volunteer teams, their homes and their passion for ministry overall.

After reading The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) I believe adding an emphasis on measurability in ministry jobs could cause great things to happen in any church! Though we don’t want to become “all about numbers” or “working for approval of men”, we also don’t want to be lazy in our approach to ministry, blaming poor performance and ineffective ministries on everything except the people given charge – us.

Let’s pray together that we will be faithful in the little things!

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One Response

  1. […] Feature stories about your volunteer team in the church newsletter, on your blog or on the website. You can tag your team in your Facebook post after a big event! Highlight your team publicly. One great way to help your volunteers feel appreciated is to let them know that you know they are there, serving each week!  [read more: Three Signs of a Miserable Job] […]

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