Manpower: People are selected and placed in positions that fit their gifts, passions and callings and that align with the church’s objectives and culture

A Four Step Termination Process

Everyone on a church staff needs to know that poor job performance will be confronted using one or more of the Four Substandard Performance Approaches described in Four Solutions to Poor Job Performance, and deserves to know specifically how substandard performance will be addressed.

The Restoration/Termination Stair Step provides the Supervisor, Staff and Church Personnel Committee with a guide for implementing the Four Substandard Performance Approaches. The process is fair to both the employee and the church because clarity, agreement and mutual benefit are stressed at each step.

The Restoration/Termination Stair Step

There are no sure fire formulas and rules for addressing every situation involving someone who is underperforming. You are dealing with lives, livelihoods, families, constituents and ministries and that almost assures it will get messy and emotional at some point. But, the biblical mandate is to err on the side of grace, compassion, mercy and love while keeping the mission and unity of the church front and center.

Therefore, the first goal is that the substandard performer is restored to an employee in good standing, one who is meeting or exceeding all performance standards. The reality though is that in some situations termination is the only logical consequence of substandard performance. The Restoration/Termination Stair Step is designed to provide the substandard performer every opportunity to raise their job performance while clearly documenting the consequences of not doing so in a timely manner.

Let’s take a close look at each of the four steps that can serve as guidelines as you navigate substandard performance.

Step One: Clarify and Concur

The first step in addressing the problem of substandard performance is to be clear and mutually agree upon the standards. These standards can be related to quantity, quality, cost, time, character, values, policies, goals, communication and leadership to name a few. Typically there are global standards that apply to all employees but there may be position specific standards as well.

It is not only difficult, but it is unfair to attempt to address substandard performance when the employee has not known of, or agreed to the standards and expectations of their performance.

Step Two: Compare and Concur

In the second step, the Supervisor and Personnel Committee must use a measurement system that compares the actual performance to the standard. This could include 360 Reviews, personal observation, and surveys and assessments.

The gap between the standard and the employee’s performance is the problem that has to be addressed. The clearer the standards, the measurement system and who will be doing the measuring, the easier it is to discern and address the scope and size of the problem, or gap.

Step Three: Correct and Concur

Once the standards and the problem has been identified and agreed upon, the next step is to develop and agree upon action steps, or the Corrective Program, to close the gap and bring performance up to the standard.

The Corrective Program should be in writing and include specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant goals along with a specific timetable for reporting improvement that both the Supervisor and substandard performer agree to. This program might also include job or skill specific training, coaching and study.

Step Four: Consequences and Concur

The final step is to determine and jointly agree upon the consequences if the corrective program requirements and objectives are not met. As noted in Four Solutions to Poor Job Performance, there are only four reasonable outcomes to continued substandard performance: Elevate the employee’s performance to satisfactory standards through training and accountability, Relocate to another position, Recalibrate the job description or Terminate employment.

At this point in the process you may want to clarify and document the specifics of the termination agreement, should it become necessary, including the timeline for departure, severance and communication of the decision to the church. Hopefully, it won’t be required but agreeing on the termination specifics at this point not only clarifies the consequences but also communicates the seriousness of the situation.

The Advantages Of Using The Restoration/Termination Stair Step

  1. It is fair to both the church and the employee.
  2. Clarifies and codifies the process that will be followed to address substandard performance.
  3. Provides the Supervisor and Personnel Committee a step by step process for dealing with the problem of substandard performance.
  4. Provides the substandard performer with an understanding of the problem and the consequences.
  5. Provides the substandard performer with plenty of notice and the opportunity to improve their performance.
  6. Empowers the substandard performer by providing input and some control over the solution and the outcomes.
  7. Provides the Supervisor and Personnel Committee clear rationale for substandard performer decisions to share with stakeholders.


Posted on January 26, 2016

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5