How To Be On Your Staff’s Team!
“Hey Pastor! Thanks for being on my team!” That’s how I was greeted one morning a couple of weeks ago. A member of my staff came into my office specifically to thank me for being on her team. I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I just said an awkward, “you’re welcome.” Then of course, I pressed her a bit. I was wondering just what she meant by that. And, like most pastors I think, in the back of my mind I was concerned; is there something going on I don’t know about (you know that old pastoral paranoia can set in pretty quick)? So I pressed a little. I asked a few questions. As it turns out a situation in another church was the inspiration for the sudden expression of gratitude. It seems that many staff members at many churches never feel the pastor is on their team. It’s that way in many businesses and non-profits as well. And I’m really glad that she sees me as on her team. I am. I hope all the members of our church staff, paid and volunteer, understand that I’m on their team.
Here’s what’s occurred to me in the wake of this conversation; If I want my staff to be on my team then they have to know that I’m unequivocally on their team first. Maybe that’s a little counter-intuitive. It’s certainly not the norm. It’s not what I’ve ever experienced in churches or in the business world. Staff are hired to be on the leader’s team, not vice versa. The staff are supposed to rally around the vision set by the leader; follow the dreams of the leader; create the organization or church or business envisioned by the leader. But what if that attitude largely keeps us from living into an even better future with our churches, organizations, and businesses? What if our staff felt we were on their team in way that felt more like a player-coach than an owner or GM? Maybe we should give it a shot…
Here are five ways to be on your staff’s team:
1. Be in Prayer for them. Don’t discount this! Start your day in prayer for your entire staff. Pray for them by name. Pray for God’s best for them and their families. Pray that God would give them dreams and visions for your church, organization, or business. Teach them how to listen for God’s direction for their areas of responsibility, for their lives, for the whole organization.
2. Be an Encouragement to them. Be the biggest cheerleader for your staff. Encourage them on a regular basis. Congratulate and thank them for jobs well done. Do so publicly! And, if you have to critique then do so privately. But be sure that your staff doesn’t have to wonder if you’re there for them.
3. Get out of their way. This one is hard. Most of us in leadership roles are really into control. We want to determine what happens, when, how, etc… But often times the thing our staff needs the most is for us to simply get out of the way. Let them make a few mistakes; the mistakes are the foundation of future success.
4. Make time for them. I’ve never had a boss who didn’t have an official ‘Open-Door’ policy. But I’ve rarely had a boss whose door was truly open. Staff need access on a regular basis in order to feel like you are on their team. It might make your day a little longer and your schedule a bit more hectic, but it will make your staff more a true team. And that’s definitely worth it. Granted, there are times when the door needs to be shut. Be sure that your staff knows how, when, and where they have access to you. Be intentional about it.
5. Be a coach first, a GM second. In the professional sports world GM’s (General Managers) make the personnel decisions. They draft players, find players, and evaluate the players. The coaches coach the players. Players tend to be wary of the GM because they are often thinking ‘my job might be at stake.’ But players relate to a coach differently. Rightly or wrongly the player tends to believe the coach has their best interest at heart. I think that as pastors with staff we tend to act more like GM’s than Coaches. We need to reverse that pattern. Staff should know that we have their best interest at heart. Coaching should precede evaluation.
How might our churches, businesses, and organizations be better if we were on their teams first?
Do your staff members constantly wonder if their job is on the line?
What will you do this week to demonstrate to your staff that you are on their team?
What are some other ways we could be on their team?
Grace and Peace, Rich