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

Six Practical Ways To Help Poor Performing Staff

The causes for a church staff member to underperform and fail to meet expectations are often complex, varied, and difficult to discern. The temptation is to jump to an obvious single cause and effect conclusion when most likely there are many contributing factors. This frequently leads to a “management” approach to the problem, such as transfer or termination, or where only the outward symptoms of poor performance are addressed. A “development” approach, while more time consuming, is designed to address the underlying cause of poor performance and is more fair and beneficial to the employee, and ultimately the church.

Let’s take a look at six typical underlying contributors to poor performance and practical ways to confront them using a development rather than management approach.

Six Underlying Contributors to Poor Performance

  1. Hardwiring  

    Frequently poor performance can be traced to hardwiring traits such as, personality, talents, and strengths. Here the staff member fails to fully understand and appreciate both the “light” and “shadow” sides of their personalities, strengths, and gifts, how those impact performance both positively and negatively, and ways to maximize the positive and minimize the negative aspects of their traits. Strategies for development include:

  1. Knowledge  

    A lack of knowledge and experience are often at the root of substandard performance. Here the staff member lacks the requisite knowledge and experience to meet expectations, usually in the areas of ministry, leadership, and management. Strategies for development include:

  • Ministry

1)      Experienced Mentors

2)      Peer Subject Matter Experts

3)      Professional Outside Consultants

4)      Websites, Blogs, Trade Journals, Webinars, Conferences

5)      Site Visits to Benchmark Churches and Ministries

6)      Seminary Classes

  • Leadership/Management

1)      Executive Leadership Coaches

2)      Peer Networks and Meetings

3)      Additional Schooling or Continuing Education Classes

4)      Leadership Certifications

5)      Assigned Reading such as, Mastering the Management Buckets, by John Pearson and In 

                     Pursuit of Great and Godly Leadership by Mike Bonem

  1. Awareness 

    Poor emotional and relational intelligence is a leading contributor to failure in ministry. Here the staff member appears to not grasp how they are being perceived by others, possess awareness of acceptable social norms and cues, or how to appropriately handle criticism, confrontation, and conflict. Strategies for development include:

  1. Woundedness 

    Unacknowledged and unaddressed past hurts, trauma, and dysfunctional influences can derail even the most competent and committed of staff, especially during times of stress. Unresolved family of origin issues and hurtful past experiences and relationships are leading causes of woundedness and its resulting symptoms. Strategies for development include:

  • Identification of Family of Origin Factors
  • Reflection on Contributing Life Experiences and Relationships
  • Journaling
  • Professional Therapy
  • Support Groups
  • Henri Nouwen’s book, Wounded Healer
  1. Soul and Self Care 

    Inattentiveness to one’s inner spiritual life inevitably leads to ungodly, unbiblical, and destructive behaviors. Too busy “doing for” God to spend time “being with” God contributes to family, physical, emotional, and spiritual neglect and depletion. Strategies for development include:

  1. Structure 

    Insufficient structure can undermine a staff member’s job effectiveness. A lack of structure manifests itself in a variety of ways, including follow through, missed deadlines, poor planning, and a lack of effectiveness and efficiency. Strategies for development include:



Posted on August 21, 2018

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