Addressing poor job performance is one of the most challenging issues facing churches today. A church staff member’s job performance may be classified as poor, or substandard, when it falls below the minimum acceptable level of performance – when the employee’s results don’t meet agreed upon expectations and standards. Unfortunately, most churches approach the problem of poor staff performance in one of four unreasonable ways.
Four Common Approaches That Don’t Solve The Problem
#1. Ignore It: This is by far the most frequent approach. This approach is understandable because addressing substandard performance is difficult, messy and one of the most emotionally and politically charged problems a Supervisor and Church Personnel Committee face. The problem is that, not addressing substandard performance inevitably lowers the effectiveness and efficiency of the staff member’s area of ministry and ultimately the mission and vision of the church.
#2. Supervisor Support: In this approach the Supervisor covers for the subordinate and does enough of their work to meet minimal standards. The problem with this approach is that the Supervisor is taken away from his or her primary job duties and increases the risk they become a substandard performer.
#3. Subordinate Support: If the substandard performer is a Supervisor, their subordinates may at times provide sufficient support to meet the minimal standards. Not only is this unfair, it can cause resentment and job dissatisfaction to the point the subordinate seeks another job.
#4. Peer Support: Another common approach is for the Supervisor to assign to another peer level staff member the work of the substandard performer that is not meeting expectations. The problem with this approach is that the co-worker may become a substandard performer in their primary areas of responsibility and will eventually resent covering for the substandard performer.
None of these approaches are reasonable because they don’t solve the core problem – the substandard performer continues to perform at an unacceptable level. In fact, these approaches usually exacerbate the problem because of rising resentment, increased costs and reduced quality and quantity of work.
Four Reasonable Solutions to Poor Job Performance
#1. Elevate: To elevate is to put into place a program of development that brings the staff member’s performance up to the agreed upon standards. This approach could include such things as mentoring, church site visits, conferences, books and schooling. If the training can be done economically and within a sensible time frame, this is the approach that should be considered first.
#2. Relocate: Sometimes there is another job within the church that is a better fit for the substandard performer. Or, maybe it is determined a different supervisor, associates or work situation within the church would improve performance. Relocating should only be considered when another position and or situation exists within the church that the employee can handle successfully.
#3. Recalibrate: At times restructuring the job description is a logical approach for retaining a substandard performer, especially in a growing church where new opportunities for ministry are being created. This approach should only be considered though when it is in the best interest of the ministry and the church.
#4. Terminate: If elevating or relocating the employee or recalibrating their job description isn’t feasible or hasn’t achieved the desired results, the last reasonable approach is to terminate the employment of the substandard performer. It is a reluctant last step, but at times is the only fair and sensible solution.
These four solutions to substandard performance are the most reasonable approaches because the church no longer suffers from the effects of poor job performance, coworkers don’t have to carry an additional and unfair load, and substandard performers have an opportunity to either improve their skills or find a position or job more aligned with their gifts and abilities.
Next week we will look at a four step process for addressing substandard performance that will lead either to restoration or termination of the employee.
Posted on January 19, 2016