To me, statements like these reveal a couple of root problems that exist in both the corporate world and the church world.
There exists a culture of contempt between senior leadership and staff. Just because a leader has stories of staff members who have gone awry in the past doesn't mean that every staff member in the present should pay for it. It should also be noted that, as leaders, we will reap what we sow. If we sow into the climate of our organization an attitude of mistrust and suspicion, we can't be surprised when we're treated that way in return. It's simple: leaders should take pains to hire worthy staff in the first place, and then be willing to replace those who need to go. What we don't need is to become bitter.
There also seems to be, especially in the church, a deficit of staff-building savvy. I've seen it time and again where unwise hires were made that resulted in organizational pain in the long run. There's not much margin of error in hiring of staff...issues and deficits that are either ignored or overlooked in the beginning will probably come back to haunt us in the end.
The question is, what does a healthy, functional staff look like, and how can I build one?
I have been tremendously blessed with an amazing staff of people who possess an uncommon commitment to God, our church, and to me as a senior leader. We all carry a passion for the vision of the church, as well as a passion for our community. Each member of the staff functions with a great deal of freedom and delegated authority, not just delegated responsibility. As a result, our church has become healthier and stronger than it has ever been. We are growing, we are changing, and we are effectively reaching our community with the Gospel.
Not only is our staff effective in it's ministry dynamic, it is healthy in it's relational dynamic. We are colleagues, but we are also friends. From what I have observed over almost 20 years in ministry, we have a staff culture that is incredibly unique. We truly function as a family.
This culture wasn't developed overnight, and yours won't be either. The key really has been the philosophy we have employed in building our staff. I will address that philosophy, next week. I want to wrap up this post by mentioning a couple of staffing philosophies that seem to be common, but very ineffective. I call them "plugging the holes", and "filling the roles".
"Plugging the holes" works like this: Every staff vacancy is viewed as an obstacle rather than an opportunity. The main concern of senior leadership is that there are things that are going undone, and someone is needed to fill the gap. This approach is very reactionary in nature and if decisions are made based on this thinking, they probably won't serve the long-term goals and purposes of the church or organization. The "plugging the holes" philosophy doesn't bother to take into account the way the position in question relates to the other staff, and the organization as a whole, and leadership will often be satisfied to put someone in place who can simply 'get the job done'. At the end of the day, that's about all that will happen under this paradigm because the overall impact that this hire will have on the group as a whole has been ignored, and conflicts will follow.
One other issue that often arises with "plugging the holes" is this: we end up bringing into leadership what Jesus called a hireling. This is the person who isn't committed to the organization, or to it's people. His or her only commitment is to themselves and keeping their position for the gain it brings them. They won't sacrifice for you, the organization, or it's people, and if tough times come, they will run.
Now, "filling the roles" is a more pragmatic approach, but still flawed. Under this model, senior leadership understands that each member of the staff impacts the whole and not just their particular area, and even values the role they play and the contribution they make. This is a giant step forward from "plugging the holes", but still falls short of excellence in one major way. Individual performance is still the main emphasis, not team performance. In this scenario, the senior leader probably believes that the best individual performer possible, placed in each role, will equal a top-notch team. That may or may not be the case, however. Ask any coach...great individual performers don't always make great team-players...and in team sports, it takes the team to win the game.
According to Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, the church (and really other organizations in general) are teams. We function correctly in concert. So, our goal as leaders should really be to build an effective team. Let's meet back here, next week, and talk about that!