3 Tips For Pastors About Hiring And Firing

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 7:50:00 AM Categories: Leadership
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Few pastors started out in ministry thinking they’d have to become semi-experts in Human Resources, but every pastor has to learn about hiring an firing and staff leadership at some point in their journey. I’ve been in vocational ministry for over 20 years and I’m still not an expert in HR, but I’ve had some great advice given to me over the years and I thought I’d share some of it with you today.

Make your hellos long.

A friend of mine once reminded me that pastors are often guilty of hiring people too quickly and letting people leave too slowly. When hiring, take your time. Add a few more steps and maybe even a few weeks to make sure the candidate is absolutely right for you. Yes, it’s costly to be without a much needed staff person, but it’s much more costly to hire the wrong person. The method we use at our church is not perfect, but it is effective.

Step 1: Phone interview

Step 2: Face-to-face interview with supervisor.

Step 3: Testing - CDAT (attitude), Jung Type (personality), Triple-Threat Leadership (leadership style), Spiritual Gifts.

Step 4: Interview with Elders

Step 5: Interview with key volunteers over dinner.

Step 6: Dinner with supervisor, candidate and their spouses (if married).

Step 7: Job Offer

Make your goodbyes short.

This statement applies to all staff exits whether voluntary or not. If a staff person expresses interest in leaving but drags their feet, they will eventually become less and less committed to doing a great job. This is not an intentional or evil choice by the staff person, it’s just human nature. I heard Rick Warren once say, “What ever has your attention has you.” If a staff person is enamored with another church or other ministry opportunities, they will eventually pay more attention to those dreams than their everyday duties. I know this to be true because I’ve been in this place myself. If you have a staff person who wants to leave, let them. Help them leave well. Recognize their contributions to your church and send them off with love, but do it quickly. Better to free that person up and allow your church to move on than to drag out the inevitable.

Firing a staff person is a miserable experience for everyone involved. We are called to extend grace, we are commanded to forgive and we are duty bound to love others as we love ourselves. As such, firing a staff person should not be easy. It should be thought through carefully, but when the decision is made, rip the band-aid off fast. It is bad leadership and bad stewardship to keep paying staff members who are doing damage to the church by doing their jobs ineffectively. Never take the decision to fire someone lightly, but once the decision is made don’t put it off.

Never Ask Hypothetical Questions.

A friend I used to work for said, “The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.” That really stuck with me. If you ask a candidate, “What would you do if…” they will give you the answer they think you want to hear. But if you ask, “What did you do when…” they have to tell a real world example. Here are some examples of interview questions that reveal a candidate’s behavioral patterns.

·     What are your current spiritual growth habits?

·     What is the biggest personal challenge you’ve ever faced?

·     When did you have to juggle too many projects at once? What was that like and what did you do?

·     Tell me about a time when you failed and how did you overcome that failure?

Applying these three tips may not make you and HR expert, but they will help you make better hiring and firing decisions.  What tips have you learned over the years that you would add to the list?

Alan Danielson is the Senior Pastor of New Life Bible Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Previously he served as Central Team Leader for LifeGroups at LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, OK, where he led over a thousand small groups on LifeChurch’s thirteen campuses in six different states. He then founded 3Threat.net to help leaders master three essential leadership skills: vision-casting, creating strategy and fostering relationships. Alan is a popular conference speaker and consults regularly with ministries and leaders on topics relating to small groups and leadership. Learn more from Alan at 3Threat.net