by John Smithwick’s
Take Time to Talk, Think, Transition & Train
One of the greatest transitions I’ve ever had was replacing my International Director; he was a dear friend before we hired him and worked faithfully, not only with all our overseas projects but he “wore several hats” at home too. It would have been devastating to allow ego or emotions to cause a quick transition to occur (him quitting or us terminating him on a whim). In the Body of Christ we need to be mature, caring and strategic; then everyone benefits.
It is always better to take your time and talk to your current team about change before it happens, so they are ready for a new team member to join your ranks. This will help you get their insights and thoughts about the new position, potential candidates, or replacements. This openness of communication in your organization will help create a healthy culture where people feel comfortable coming to you and your leaders when they sense transition on the horizon for themselves. This allows you time to talk through and think through ideal time-frames to know when one is exiting, and have that person on board for helping to train his/her replacement before he/she steps away. This is exactly how my International Director transitioned, and he did so by helping train and prepare the new director. Our friendship is solid even to this day.
Exhaust all your options with your current team of employees and volunteers before hiring. Creating a new position for pay isn’t always the best solution, especially if you are a smaller or growing ministry. Maximizing what dollars you have is so crucial. You may have staff who can share different aspects of the new job position you are trying to fill. With today’s potential ups and downs in our economy or even the fluctuation that can at times happen with donations, you want to take the advice I have heard from two well-known ministers from the previous generation. The first pastored a church which he grew into a mega church and even built a large expensive church facility during a time of recession and high inflation; he would say in reference to staff hiring, “STAY LEAN! Run a lean operation.” The other bit of advice came from a truly great evangelist, “Don’t create a monster you have to feed every month.” These leaders understood the true wisdom of stewardship, growing carefully, and creatively utilizing those volunteers and staff you already have.
Don’t be hesitant to reach out for help in the hiring process, especially in today’s world.
Previous Performance & Profile
If you have exhausted all other options and hiring someone is the best solution, then it is important to take the time to investigate and evaluate their previous performance and background. In ministry, I’ve noticed that if leaders aren’t careful they can operate more like a “good guy club,” instead of really taking a wise, professional approach to evaluating a potential hire. Just because the potential hire worked for a notable ministry with reputation, still take the time to find out that person’s track record. Have him go through a formal application and interviewing process. Require a resume and a list of references, including former supervisors with whom you can directly connect for questioning. Also, having a good idea about his personality type really is key. Conduct a personality test or a strengths and weaknesses assessment. Really make sure that the person’s giftings and skill sets match the job position you need to fill, as well as his personality. This person may be professionally competent, but his personality has to gel with your current team, congregation, ministry audience, business relationships, etc. Don’t just hire based off previous title or previous ministry affiliation, but rather true previous performance, character, and personality. The person you hire needs to have not only a high level of integrity and character, but also a high level of competence.
Help is OK
Getting outside help and advice is a good thing. Recently I needed some insights on starting the process for an accounting position we needed. I was an accounting major, and upon graduation worked for a brief time with one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S., yet I knew I had been out of the loop for too long and I needed some help. I reached out to an acquaintance I had not seen in many years, but knew she had an exceptional reputation and track record. Though this professional didn’t have an instant lead that fit our exact needs, through her input we were able to look in a place where leads were promising. Also, equally beneficial, she gave us some ideas on the integration process that would be truly helpful once we found the right person, as well as some specific training programs that would be helpful in bringing the new hire up to speed quickly with our software. Don’t be hesitant to reach out for help in the hiring process, especially in today’s world where everything from SEO, to Web Development, to Accounting or AV Production are all highly technical and demand true prowess in their respective arenas.
One of the greatest bits of advice I can give you is try to internally promote someone to the position you are desiring to fill. You already know his (or her) track record if that person has been with you as a volunteer or an active participant of your congregation for a length of time. Also, you already know his/her personality and how it meshes with everyone else in the workplace, so it minimizes the element of surprise, shock, and dismay (things that can happen if you hire someone you don’t really know that well). Also, when you promote or hire from within, people already have a relationship with the individual. Internal promoting paints the picture of promotion and blessing coming to those who exemplify true stewardship and faithfulness; this is a powerful dynamic that fuels a healthy, positive culture in a ministry.
I know first-hand, because we were able to see this in action in our ministry recently. Anna is a young lady who came on one of our Global Ventures team trips her senior year in high school. Like so many, she was totally impacted to her core with all she experienced on that trip. In a matter of just a few months she rearranged her entire life, moved to Oklahoma, and plugged into our Global Ventures intensive internship and training program. She has traveled the world with us and effectively learned to lead and minister the Gospel powerfully in any setting. At home, she faithfully worked in our Global Ventures team trip department as an intern while supporting herself with an outside waitressing job. For six years she remained faithful, growing and developing through the process. Just a few months ago we were able to promote and hire Anna as our Internship Coordinator. It energized our office (staff and interns) because many had watched Anna through the years and knew how faithful she was, so when promotion came they too celebrated this moment with her! (Enjoy Anna’s story at GlobalVentures.TV/Internship)
Despite the fact that you already have great people working for you, there are going to be times when you must look outside your ministry organization. When this is the case, it means you are going to have to do a lot more external investigation, as listed in “Previous Performance,” above. This is all part of recruiting. Don’t just throw a post up on Facebook or put an ad out across message boards: really become proactive in recruiting. Become proactive is aggressively going after those who will be top performers and a great fit with your organization. That means you or a very trusted high level leader in your ministry must personally get involved. We see Jesus doing this so effectively when he personally sought out “the Big Fisherman” and “the Sons of Thunder!” What a recruiting encounter he had with Peter when he asked to use his boat to minister and then instructed him to let down his nets (Luke 5:1-10).
Always remember in your recruiting to involve the supernatural leadership of the Holy Spirit; Jesus did, and 11 of his 12 transformed the world!
Always build a way out for you and a new hire. Have a 90-day “walk away” rule if either side feels it’s not a good fit; or set up a 3-6 month trial period before a permanent title or position is agreed upon. However you go about it, it’s wise to have a “safety net” in case a mistake was made; this will ensure success for your culture and team.
John Smithwick has carried God’s healing, miracle power to over 25 nations and seen Him perform many notable miracles.Since 1998, he has won over 1.6 million souls to Christ through mass crusade evangelism and strategic outreaches, and in many unreached areas of the world, his ministry has planted churches and trained new believers to reach out to their communities. In addition to going on many Global Ventures, they also produce the reality TV show, “Global Ventures,” to expose the great need to win the lost around the world. To learn more, visit: http://johnsmithwick.com