Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Church Personnel Committees

My experience with Personnel Committees is that they don't know their own job description. Too many times the committee acts more like a "Human Resources Department" than a personnel committee. Let me explain the difference.

A human resources department provides all the forms for new staff and departing staff, ensures those forms are complete, interprets the personnel manual for staff, works with vendors to get the approved benefits at the best possible price, and handles other routine personnel needs. Frankly, those are all functions that in a church should be handled by the staff and not by a committee.

A personnel committee of a church is vastly different. A personnel committee should do the following
  • Develop a personnel manual and review it at least once a year for updates
  • Develop a salary structure and salary range so that all employees are treated according to their "pay grade." Most churches have no concept of this much less how to go about creating salary ranges. However, it is essential that a church do this to help their staff.
  • Hire the senior pastor and give him an actual, honest job performance evaluation. This may include an annual 360 eval for the pastor; that is a good thing so that he can have a true sense of his leadership and his management.
  • Help the senior pastor with his direct reports. The senior pastor may need counsel on who should report directly to him and who should not. The pastor may need help with the job descriptions of those who report directly to him. Finally, the senior pastor may ask for help in recruiting the people who work most closely with him.
    • For the most part, I disagree with the notion that there should be a search committee for positions in the church below the senior pastor - the leaders should be able to hire those whom he feels will work best with him and not have a committee decide for him (after all, shouldn't those lay members be doing Kingdom work and not be the HR department?).
    • The senior pastor should have the freedom to select his lieutenants and craft their job descriptions with the advice and counsel of the personnel committee, but not their veto. Those leaders, in turn, should have the freedom to select the second level of leadership without having to jump through hoops of lay people. Some, but not many, lay people are qualified to help in recruitment; it's just that they could be doing something else for God instead of having meetings.
So, if you're in a personnel committee, ask the committee chair for a job description of what the committee is responsible for. If that JD needs to be updated because the church has grown and/or changed, then do it! If there is no JD, then help the pastor and committee chair develop an appropriate description of responsibilities for the personnel committee. A good one will save the committee members a lot of time and grief, it will help the pastor and staff know what everyone is charged with doing, and it will ensure that everyone is doing what is expected of them.

Lead On!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Aptitude and Attitude

Whenever I hire someone, I look for two things: aptitude and attitude. I tell that to the interviewee pretty soon during the interview, too. That gives them an understanding of what I'm looking for. However, before you get to have a face-to-face with me, I've already had at least one phone interview with you - the in-person interview is just to confirm or change what I think I know about you.

Aptitude is the knowledge-base or skill-set that an employee brings with him or her. That is a compilation of that person's life experiences, education, work knowledge, training, books read, and everything else that this person has learned to this point in life. It is far too much to unpack in an interview but I try to get a glimpse into what the person knows.

Attitude is the mindset the person has about work, life, other people, etc. Attitude is BY FAR the most important of the two items I look for. I can train aptitude if you have the right attitude. Aptitude is easy and knowledge can be taught. Attitude can never be taught - it is who you are and tells me (the prospective employer) more about what kind of employee you'll be than any résumé ever will. Attitude comes through loud and clear usually within the first 60 seconds of a meeting, even an interview where you're doing all you can to impress someone.

This approach also works with both volunteers. Get vols who have the right attitude, and whatever program they're in will have a much better change of success. Having the right attitude to anything in life will infect and affect others around you. So, my suggestion is that when you interview for a staff position or a volunteer (or even when you interview somewhere) have the right attitude regardless of your aptitude. Eventually your attitude (and those whom you interview) will rise to surface - you might as well know it from the outset.

Lead On!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Robbing the Rich

Every church steals from the rich and I wish they'd just get over it. Take money from the rich because, believe it or not, they are looking for ways to give their money away and when you don't give them a chance to give their money to the causes the church supports, then you are robbing the rich.

I've dealt with a lot of rich people over the years. One guy that took me under his wing (thanks, HG!) quoted about $15 million in various bank accounts; another guy wrote a check for $2.2 million to the Community Foundation I worked at because that's what his accountants told him he had to give away that year. A few years ago the magazine Town & Country (whose target audience has a gazillion dollars to their name) ran an entire issue on the subject of philanthropy. The rich are being asked for their money every day by their alma maters, hospitals and other charities. But churches don't want to approach them.

Here's a secret about the wealthy - many of them are very lonely because of their wealth. They've learned that people want to be around them so that they can get something out of their rich "friends." That has made the rich extremely cautious in who they'll talk to. However, the rich are people just like you and me and they need honest, true friends - not people who plan to use them.

Churches have two hang ups about the wealthy and we need to get over those hangs ups!
  • Some people misinterpret verses in the book of James and take them that we should pretty much ignore the rich. Actually, James talks about how to help the rich be better Christians - something we all can use. You don't need to overtly favor the rich - they don't want it anyway - but you don't need to ignore them either.
  • Most pastors have never been rich and so have no idea how to talk about money. I've learned that the rich have no problem talking about money, they do it every day. It is the church and its leaders that need face that they have a problem talking about money. Here's a solution: go to a rich person and get him or her to coach you in how to talk to the rich about money. I'm pretty sure they'd love to help you.
Some wealthy people have the gift of generosity. They know they have money and they want to use that money for God. When church leaders do not give the rich the opportunity to be generous, those leaders have robbed the rich and failed to be the leaders God wants them to be.

  • Every pastor should know the top 25 donors to his/her church
  • Every pastor should meet with those 25 donors at least once a year and better, twice a year. That means that once a week, the pastor will set aside two hours for a meeting. That way, every year the pastor will meet with the top 25 donors twice a year.
  • The meetings should NOT be about money. The meetings MUST be about the donor, his needs, his family, the vision the pastor has for the church, and what is currently going on in the church.
  • At a minimum, the pastor may gain business insights in how to run the church's business more efficiently and effectively
  • The pastor may gain some strong acquaintenances and perhaps even friends
  • The pastor will definitely gain the right to talk about money when the time comes for a capital campaign or other need
  • The donor will gain insight into what the pastor goes through in a week and have a better understanding of how churches work
  • The donor will learn of opportunities to fund specific needs where his money can make a real difference
  • The donor will feel like a person and not a pariah just because he has money
Please, please, please get to know your top donors and know them well. Treat them as people (not as ATMs) and meet their human and spiritual needs. Then, when you are in need financially, you'll be surprised by how generous they are even before you ask! And again, if you feel uncomfortable, ask them to teach you - I can promise you that most of them would jump at the chance to help their pastor and other church leaders!

Lead On!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Uncertainty, part 2

Recently I came across a great example of cutting through uncertainty or how a leader can infuse his or her organization with clarity and commitment. Apple is the darling of corporate America - it is the company that analysts point to, that nice corporate gifts come from, and which is becoming a household name thanks to the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. But Apple used to be a niche company. It's computers were the mainstays of a few industries such as printing, publishing and other areas that used a lot of graphics.

Apple was created by Steve Jobs and a few friends in the late 1970s when personal computers began coming over the horizon in great numbers. (I remember going to work right out of college in 1983 and my very first personal computer was made by Xerox! It even had two external 5.25 floppy drives - it was amazing.) Apple developed its market but it was not as successful as Bill Gates who teamed up with Intel, IBM and other major manufacturers. Apple very quickly became a niche computer company and the board of Apple fired Jobs in 1985.

A dozen years later, Apple's board of directors (by now with completely new members) re-hired Jobs. He didn't like what he found. It was a company in disarray with no focus. Almost immediately Steve began cutting product lines and making changes that lead to great fear of him by the staff. In reality he didn't cut that much but what was cut was so visible that almost all areas of the company suffered from low morale. That didn't last long - Jobs began introducing ideas and innovations very quickly (BTW, he co-founded Pixar, the animated movie maker of great fame, during his "exile" from Apple). Soon, Apple became profitable and within ten years, by 2007 had introduced iTunes, iPods, and the iPhone and in 2010 the world was rocked by the iPad which sold 15 million units in less than one year.

Under Jobs, Apple has great clarity of purpose. All extraneous items are tossed overboard. Laser-beam focus is the order of the day. I heard that Apple's tag line is, "We use technology to make life easier and we just happen to make computers." Apple is no longer a niche company.

Question for you: does your church have laser-beam focus on its goals. Have you chunked overboard everything that is not helping your church achieve its vision. Or are you saddled with unnecessary programs and activities that really don't push you forward but you do them "because everyone else is doing them."

One of my favorite analogies is of a river with stones in it. First, are you crossing the right river? There are lots of rivers with stones but your vision must point to the river which you will cross and over which your members will follow. Select your vision (river) wisely and with God's help because once you start over, it is really, really tough to get everyone to back up. You will have some people that absolutely refuse to cross that river - that is fine; let them join another church and cross another river. You're responsible for your God-given vision and your river. As you cross the river, look for the next rock on which to step - don't look too far ahead, you won't be able to see through the mist. Just look one, two or maybe three rocks ahead to know which direction to go - have a sense of direction (of the path) but not necessarily of the ultimate course.

When Jobs re-joined Apple in 1987, much less when he created it in the 1970s, he had no idea of an iPhone or iPad - he just knew his company needed to focus on making computers. Same with you - focus on leading your church in the direction your vision is leading. Don't get too far in front of your people (don't let the river's mist fog their vision of you and the rocks they need to step on to follow you) but don't slow down waiting for everyone to join you. You may even have to let some staff go and/or terminate some beloved programs - but help your followers understand that while these things are good, they do not add value to your vision. Yes, there will be bottlenecks and rapids and slippery stones - handle them one at a time, but always move forward.

Lead On!