Your church staff needs to be made up of more than warm bodies.
As a church leader, if you hire someone to do a job, then you need to not only hold that person accountable, but you should aim to serve that person to become the best he or she can be.
But how do you know if someone is doing a great job?
Is it their promptness?
Do they have a jovial personality?
Is there a way you can know if their work is furthering the mission of your church?
In short, yes, you can know how well someone is performing and if his or her work is supporting your church’s mission and vision. Before digging into how this is possible. Let’s take a moment to talk about why you must conduct staff evaluations.
3 reasons you should conduct church staff evaluations
There’s way more to conducting church staff evaluations than adding another to-do on your checklist.
Providing evaluations is one big way you can create a healthy church culture.
Before we dig into the details, let’s take a look at 3 reasons why you must conduct staff evaluations.
#1 – Feedback is a part of servant leadership
Are you in a position of leadership?
Do people report to you (staff) or do people look to you for direction (volunteers)?
If you answered yes to either one of these questions, then you are called (by God) to serve those you lead. This is exactly what Jesus was getting at when he said:
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:25–26).
This doesn’t mean that you’re always washing someone’s feet or letting your staff or volunteers get by with whatever they choose. Far from it.
As a servant leader, your goal is to help your staff members live and love like Jesus and to do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), which means your church staff will need feedback.
I know this sounds like a tall order.
But hear me out:
God calls you to serve your staff.
Your church staff needs you.
They are in a position to receive the vision God is giving your church.
They desire to do the best they possibly can.
They need you to lead them to fulfill God’s call upon their life.
Heed God’s call in your position by providing your staff with helpful feedback.
#2 – The science of practicality is on your side
Not only are you called by God to serve your staff.
According to research, providing your staff with clear expectations and opportunities to learn and grow are essential to leading your team well.
We will dig into this a bit more below. But when you hire someone, be sure to provide him or her with a clear job description and well-defined expectations.
When your staff knows what’s expected and they have the tools and training they need to get the job done, then they are much more likely to perform well in their position.
Know what else?
When you provide a clear job description, you’ll make your job a whole lot easier when it comes to evaluations. Think about it.
If your staff members don’t clearly know what they need to do, and you start evaluations, then they’re going to be really nervous because they won’t know if they’re hitting their performance goals or not.
More on this in a bit.
#3 – Feedback builds leaders
Feedback is essential for any type of work.
It’s the one thing that can help anyone improve in anything.
This is true for most things, including:
- Graphic Design
- Website Development
- And more …
Regardless of the work your church staff is performing, feedback is critical to helping them know if they’re doing well or if there’s room for improvement.
By not providing any feedback, you’re leaving your staff guessing and stressing. They won’t know if they’re on the right track, performing well in their work, or what in the world you think about them, which can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety.
Don’t let your team walk around blindly in the dark.
Instead, provide them with the feedback they need to progress in their work.
Below, we’re going to dig into church staff evaluations. But at this point, it’s important to highlight the importance of providing ongoing feedback.As a church leader, you can serve your staff well by setting them up for success and providing consistent support.
Here are two big ways you can accomplish this goal:
- Integrate staff goals into the church’s goals
- Conduct one-on-one meetings
The first thing you want to do is integrate church staff goals into your church’s goals. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that the work of the person who’s on your team is woven into the very fabric of your church’s vision and mission.
For example, the work of your staff needs to be tied directly into the work of the church. Sure, there will be miscellaneous tasks and projects that don’t necessarily “move the ball down the field” for your church’s mission. But, overall, the work your staff does should directly support the work of your church’s mission.
What is more, you need to be prepared to conduct one-on-one meetings.
Depending on your church’s context, these meetings can take place weekly or bi-monthly. During these meetings, the goal is to connect on a personal level with each staff member, see how his or her work is progressing, and ask how you can help him or her accomplish their goals.
Now, I understand it’s difficult to have these types of meetings during busy seasons (e.g., Christmas and Easter). However, the influence these meetings will have on the life of your staff is well worth the time investment from your schedule.
A short guide to conducting staff evaluations
Convinced you need to evaluate your staff?
Here are 5 steps you should take.
#1 – Create clear job descriptions
You know what’s impossible to do?
Provide an honest, objective, or helpful evaluation without a clear job description.
Without clear metrics to measure, it can be a Herculean task to provide a helpful evaluation.
Think about it.
Without a specific task, responsibilities, or goals established, what are you going to evaluate? Whether or not they were on time every day? How many days they took off? Whether or not they looked busy?
When you’ve clarified your staffs’ roles and responsibilities, you’ll be in a much better position to know how well they are (or are not) performing.
Know what else?
Clear job descriptions are also uber helpful for your staff too.
As I mentioned above, job descriptions provide clear marching orders for your church staff. It gives them clarity in their work, helping them to determine what they need to do daily and how best to prioritize their work.
#2 – Clarify your values
Have you nailed down your church’s values?
Are you clear on your church’s mission and vision?
If so, then you must evaluate your staff based on these core pieces of your church.
If you haven’t clarified this part of the life of your church, then check out these resources before moving forward:
- The Purpose and Mission of Your Church
- 7 Steps to Building a Healthy Church Culture
- 5 Things Clear Core Values Can Really Do for You
Alright, moving on.
After you’ve clarified your church’s values, you’ll need to be prepared to evaluate your staff based on these values. As you live out these values and hold your staff accountable to do the same, you will move your church staff and entire church family toward living out these values. In a big way, as you and your team exemplify these values, you’ll influence the rest of your church to do the same.
Let me show you how this works.
Let’s say one of your values is to “live and love like Jesus.”
To see how your staff lives out this value among your team and with your entire church, you could ask these two questions:
- What is one way you’ve expressed your love for Christ in the way you serve your colleagues?
- How have you lived and loved like Jesus among our church family? What’s one example that comes to mind?
When you ask questions pertaining to your values, it’s also a good idea to be prepared to provide your own observations. In sharing these observations, tell your staff ways you’ve seen them living out your church’s values and perhaps ways you can see them better reflect your church’s values.
By helping your staff live out your church’s values, you will—in time—create a healthy church culture, which is the foundation to fulfilling God’s call upon your church.
#3 – Set specific goals
For your staff, you must provide goals.
There are two types of goals you want to help them set:
- Job goals
- Personal growth goals
Let’s take a look at job goals first.
When you provide annual and quarterly objectives, you create tremendous clarity for your staff by helping them to prioritize their work around the goals you agree upon.
Now, the ministry goals you set shouldn't be excessive. For instance, you don’t want to set a dozen goals for your staff to accomplish at once. Instead, you want to provide a focus for your team by limiting the number of big goals they need to accomplish within specific periods of time.
When it comes to staff evaluations, provide your team with 1–3 goals they should aim to accomplish before their next evaluation. The goals you set together will serve as the guiding force for your staff members—to help them determine their priorities.
When it comes time to talk about goals, here are some questions you can ask:
- Are you happy with the progress you made toward your goals?
- Do you have everything you need to accomplish your goals?
- Are there any hurdles within the church (e.g., culture, staff, or resources) that inhibit you from accomplishing your goals?
- What can I do to help you accomplish your goals in the next quarter?
As you end your evaluation, it’s essential to discuss and agree on goals with your staff. This way, as you check in with them, you can get regular updates, see how they’re progressing, and ask how you can help them accomplish their goals.
Regarding personal goals, you can challenge your staff to set a personal growth plan.
These personal goals should be aimed toward professional development. These goals will need to either help your staff members improve in their current position or help them train to take on new roles or responsibilities. For example, when helping someone on your staff to improve in a specific area, agree upon resources he or she should digest.
Practically speaking, here’s what you need to do:
- Identify 1–3 personal growth goals
- Pick educational resources
- Identify a mentor or coach
For these goals, the level of accountability you offer is different from job goals. The point of these goals is to help your team members improve—not to discourage them from growing at any level
To help you create a personal growth plan for yourself and your staff, click here to download a free guide.
#4 – Be consistent
It’s easy to get excited about conducting church staff evaluations.
You want to help your team improve.
You’re working toward creating a healthy church culture.
You want to make strides toward reaching your community for Christ.
In your excitement, it’s easy to double-check your job descriptions, conduct one evaluation, and forget to have another one—again.
Well, that’s not too helpful.
When it comes to church staff evaluations, it’s best to do the following:
- Set an annual evaluation
- Schedule a semi-annual evaluation
- Host regular check-in meetings
At a minimum, you want to conduct an annual and semi-annual evaluation.
Only providing one annual evaluation is too infrequent. It’s way too easy for anyone to get derailed from their goals and get stuck in the proverbial rut. Semi-annual goals tend to work best for most church calendars. This is just enough time to set a six-month goal, have regular check-ins, and reconnect for an official review halfway through the year.
#5 – Get peer feedback
Your church staff members are not robots.
Their work influences more than whatever they’re working on.
Like you, your staff is a member of the body of Christ—a team member, manager, or employee. In other words, their life and work directly influence the people all around them.
During your church staff evaluations, it’s also important to consider inviting peer reviews. These reviews can be anonymous, and they’ll provide a more robust evaluation of the staff member you’re evaluating.
Peer feedback is especially important for larger staffs or if you have a decentralized leadership team. If you lack regular contact with your team, it’ll be difficult for you to get an accurate assessment of whomever you’re evaluating.
Evaluating your staff
Evaluating your staff can feel daunting—especially if you’re just getting started.
If you feel overwhelmed, start with placing evaluations on your calendar. Once you make a commitment to evaluate your staff, you’ll be in a much better position to prepare yourself and your team.