The #1 reason why staff suffer unnecessarily – lack clarity about their job.  

I learned this early in ministry. When I met with a prospective ministry team leader I needed to be clear on what I was asking them to do. The more clarity I had the easier the conversation. If what I was asking of them was not clear in my own head, then I had a difficult time communicating what I needed. 

For instance, in approaching a conversation to engage a prospective ministry team leader, I found that I needed to have the job written out so that I understood what I was asking the person to do and what I would be providing them. With this document in hand, I felt this both respected the person AND forced me to think this through carefully to the degree I felt confident. 

Clarify Expectations

  1. Clarify expectations in a job description.
  2. Include Key Result Areas (KRAs)
  3. Make the outcomes measurable
  4. Provide regular coaching
  5. Make course corrections

Most job descriptions read more like “suggestions for employee consideration”, lacking precision and “teeth”.  

I have reviewed close to 100 job descriptions over the last 5 years to conduct assessments on pastors and  para-church leaders. Out of that pool, I found very few had a job description with the precision necessary to have a productive conversation between employer and employee.

What to do when staff lose focus?

The primary thing lacking in job descriptions is clarity.  Enough clarity so that you could, if necessary, record the actual behaviors and outcomes you envision to successfully fulfill the role. Then, write that out. Once you have that out of your brain and in writing, meet with your staff member and unpack your expectations until they are crystal clear on what you want from them.

Principle #2 – SUITABILITY

The #2 reason why staff suffer unnecessarily – poor hiring practices.  

What do you think it costs you and your ministry for a bad hire?  

It is estimated that it could cost you up to five times a bad hire’s annual salary” (SHRM Study).

This is on you, the employer. There are best practices to vet prospective employees to determine suitability, and there is a difference between eligibility (what most interviewing processes vet) and suitability. If you want to read about the differences between those two – CLICK HERE.

What to do when you are getting mixed results from your hiring process?

There are numerous tools in the ministry marketplace to determine team fit, personality, temperament. spiritual gifting, and behavioral style. But one that assesses suitability, called the Harrison, includes a Reliability Score that determines if the person being assessed is being truthful, self-aware, and paying attention as they take the assessment. You can read more about the Harrison assessment – CLICK HERE.

Principle #3 – SUPPORT

The #3 reason why staff suffer unnecessarily – lack of support.  

At some point most staff will hit a wall in their work due to personal or professional reasons. They may be going through strife in their marriage or lack skills affecting their job performance. Realistically, most staff will benefit from a regular rhythm of 1-1 coaching. The rhythm will vary from staff member to staff member, but in my experience, 28 days should not pass before you have a 1-1 scheduled with your team member. Why 28 days?

I borrowed this from Rick Warren, who said that about every 28 days he needed to remind the church community gathered at Saddleback Community Church of the vision. I extracted from that a principle in coaching: about every 28 days, staff members need to be reminded of their vision and have a clarifying conversation about how they are progressing towards the ministry outcomes they were chasing. Your rhythm, given the needs of the staff member, will vary.

Chances are the busyness of ministry trumps team meetings and 1-1s.  “Meetings” get a bad reputation: “meeting for the sake of meeting”, “waste of time”, “lack focus and purpose” – are just some of the criticisms shared by many church staff members. Many are justified!  

What can you do to break the cycle of poorly executed team meetings and one-to-ones?

  • Commit
  • Communicate expectations including:
    • Purpose
    • Frequency
    • Agenda
  • Do it!

There are platforms that support effective team meetings and 1-1s. Some clients use the LEADR platform with impressive results. Whatever you choose, use it consistently and help your staff engage in the process. Persistence is the key.

Checkout these coaching resources to support your staff members:

Goals & Objectives Skill Builder

Goal Setting Storyboard

Goal Setting Effectiveness Profile

Become an InFocus Partner

Invest in leaders who are transforming lives and join the InFocus community. Together, let’s create a ripple effect of faith and love.

Click here to learn about joining the InFocus family to start your ripple effect!

Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash


Join our mailing list to receive notifications of newly posted blogs. This is the best way to stay up-to-date with InFocus' efforts to keep you moving toward your goals.

You have Successfully Subscribed!