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

The Two Critical Perceptions For Effective Church Staff Supervision

Many skills and attributes are required to become an effective supervisor, but one rises above all others and can be the “deal killer” to effective supervision. The single most critical factor in church staff supervision is the perception of the direct report that their supervisor has the competency and commitment to help them achieve their personal goals and objectives.

In fact, every direct report asks two questions of their supervisor: Can he help me be successful and will he help me be successful? Can he speaks to the supervisor’s perceived competency. Will he speaks to the supervisor’s perceived commitment.

My Supervisor Has The Competency To Help Me

To follow the leadership of a supervisor the direct report must perceive their supervisor has the skills, knowledge and expertise in key areas of ministry leadership and management that will contribute to their growth and success.

People selected for supervisory positions should have a significant and easily recognizable competence edge over their direct reports so they will be perceived as qualified to lead. This competency gap may occur because of more training, education or experience.  It may result from expertise in a specific ministry, such as worship, advanced knowledge in a coveted subject matter, such as leadership or management, or a honed skill, such as networking.

The gap can also occur if the supervisor, by virtue of their position in the organization, has access to information or human, financial and physical resources the direct report needs to be successful.

Regardless of the origin or nature of the competency gap, the key is that the direct report must “perceive” this is a competency the supervisor possesses that will potentially help them achieve success. This perception creates followership as well as a receptivity to coaching, mentoring and equipping opportunities provided by the supervisor.

My Supervisor Has the Commitment to Help Me

The second important perception in the supervisor and direct report relationship is that the direct report believes their supervisor is committed to helping them be successful. People selected for supervisory roles should have demonstrated a motivation to help people grow and reach their goals and objectives.

If through words, actions or inactions the supervisor demonstrates they are not motivated to help their direct reports become successful, the relationship will not be effective. Often in such cases the perception is that the supervisor is more focused on achieving their personal goals and objectives than in helping their direct report be successful.

If the direct report perceives their supervisor is committed and motivated to help them become successful, the direct report is much more likely to actively seek, listen to and follow their advice. Further, it creates the trust to follow his leadership.

My Supervisor Lacks the Competency or Commitment To Help Me

Most church staff want and need good supervision. Most recognize they need help in achieving their goals and objectives. Yet, if they perceive their supervisor no longer has the competency or commitment to help them be successful, three outcomes are likely.

  1. Try to find help elsewhere. The direct report may seek help from inside or outside the organization. This could be going to another supervisor within the church staff or seeking help from a trusted source outside the church.
  2. Reduce their time, energy and effort. A direct report that perceives their supervisor is not sufficiently competent or committed to help them will often reduce the amount of time, energy and effort they spend on their job responsibilities. They will tend to do the bare minimum, or only what they are told to do.
  3. Find another supervisor. In the worst case scenario, the direct report will accept a position at another church in the hopes of finding a supervisor who can and will help them be successful. The maxim “people leave supervisors, not organizations” fits here.

Maintaining the Competency and Commitment Perception

Maintaining a positive competency and commitment perception requires constant effort from supervisors in two areas:

  1. Training and Equipping: If a supervisor intentionally creates opportunities to train and equip their direct reports on how to achieve their goals and objectives, direct reports will perceive their supervisor has the needed competency and commitment.
  2. Professional Development: To maintain the perception of competency, supervisors must be committed to ongoing self-development in areas that will most benefit their direct reports. Supervisors committed to the ongoing training and equipping of their direct reports discover these efforts serve to close the competency gap and motivates their own continual self-development to maintain the gap.

Posted on November 22, 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