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

Fundamentals of Church Staff Performance Management

Employee performance management may be defined as a standardized set of processes and systems used to create clear goals and track and coach employee progress efficiently and effectively.

The overall goal of the performance management of a church staff is to ensure that the church and all of its employees, departments and ministries are working together synergistically and in optimum fashion to achieve the mission, vision, objectives and goals of the church.

Additional goals of the performance management of church staff are to:

  • Consistently encourage, recognize and reward employees
  • Clarify expectations
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Hold the employee and the supervisor accountable
  • Ensure fair labor practices
  • Reduce costs
  • Build trust
  • Provide ongoing communication of results and feedback on performance.

Ongoing Activities of Church Staff Performance Management

Achieving the goals of church staff performance management requires several ongoing activities, including:

    1. Identification of standards and desired results
    2. Identification of strategies to meet the desired results
    3. Establishing goals and measures for results
    4. Tracking and measuring progress toward results
    5. Exchanging ongoing feedback among those participants working to achieve results
    6. Periodically reviewing progress with a supervisor, reinforcing initiatives and strengths that achieve the desired results, and intervening to make adjustments and improve progress where needed

Eight Annual Steps of a Church Staff Performance Management Process

Step 1: Supervisors and employees review church-wide objectives and goals, typically established during long range and annual strategic planning and budgeting processes. They then collaboratively determine the strategies each department and ministry will pursue in the coming year to help achieve the church-wide goals.

For example, a church-wide goal may be “to create a story-telling church culture.” In support of that goal the Discipleship Team may develop a strategy of asking Small Group leaders to share life-change stories from their groups in quarterly leadership training meetings. The Youth Ministry may have a strategy of creating videos of life-change stories coming out of the annual youth camp experience to show in the church worship services.

Step 2: Supervisor and employee establish goals associated with each strategy. Goals should be “SMART” (an acronym), that is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

For example, an overall church goal may be to “increase attendance in Sunday School by 20%.” An associated strategy may be to create new Sunday School units. An associated goal may be to launch two new Single Adult Sunday School classes with an average attendance of 20 people by the end of the year.

Step 3: Supervisor and employee review department, ministry and/or employee strategies established during the annual strategic planning and budgeting process that don’t have a corresponding church wide objective or goal, and establish SMART goals for each key strategy.

For example, the Children’s Ministry may have a strategy to refurbish and re-theme the children’s facilities and a goal to enlist an outside consulting firm to develop plans to submit to the Budget Planning Committee by September.

Step 4: Supervisor and employee review the year end Performance Review of the employee and the agreed upon Basic Standard documents (see below) to identify areas of development. They jointly determine strategies for each area of development and establish an associated SMART goal with each for the coming year.

For example, a Basic Standard may be above average Emotional Intelligence. Strategies and goals may be developed in each of the four domains of the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Assessment: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.

Step 5: Employee enters supervisor approved goals into a standardized Performance Management Template.

Step 6: Employee enters a written status report against goals into the Performance Management Template periodically (monthly, quarterly, bi-annually) to discuss with their supervisor; adjustments are made accordingly.

Step 7: Supervisor and employee conduct a year-end review of performance against goals and standards and Supervisor provides a performance rating.

Step 8: Personnel Committee uses the performance rating is to determine a merit raise.

Frequent Standards Used in Developing a Church Staff Performance Management Plan

A variety of standards may be used in measuring staff performance. Whatever standards are chosen should be documented and reviewed with the staff on a regular basis. Examples may include:

  1. Church-wide Objectives and Goals
  2. Department, Ministry and Employee Objectives and Goals
  3. Staff Values
  4. Leadership Skills
  5. Management Skills
  6. Relational/Emotional Skills
  7. Ministry Specific Skills
  8. Employee Strengths
  9. Church Budget

Basic Church Staff Performance Management Templates

Templates ensure consistency and ease of tracking and reporting. Templates may be electronic or paper and should include the following:

  1. Annual Goal Template
  2. Annual Self-Development Template
  3. Performance Improvement Template
  4. Quarterly Report and Review Template
  5. Annual Review Template
  6. Performance Rating Scale and Merit Raise Matrix

Additional Church Staff Performance Management Processes

Effective church staff performance management involves several other key processes including a:

  1. Process for addressing substandard performance
  2. Process for transfer or termination
  3. Process, policies and budget for global staff development
  4. Process for training employees and supervisors in the Performance Management Steps
  5. Process for developing and updating Church Personnel Policy Manual

Invest time in developing and managing these processes and systems and staff will feel better about participating and will positively impact performance.


Posted on January 12, 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