This week's episode of the U40 Ministry Leaders podcast is about staff evaluations. Many times as younger ministry leaders we find ourselves having to do staff evaluations or being evaluated, and we don't often know how to do them or what they should look like.
In the episode, I wanted to provide a few things to take to do evaluations well, so that they truly become an honest assessment of a leader's performance but also are a way of shepherding and encouraging greater effectiveness.
One key distinction is to evaluate on process rather than results. It happens every year that football coaches are dismissed because they simply didn't win enough games. Or in a stock brokerage one trader constantly loses money or costs clients key trades. Those are results. They can be measured and objectified. But ministry needs to be evaluated on process rather than results. Process looks at faithfulness, effort, intentionality, team mindedness, and teachability. For example, a student pastor transforming culture and developing a vision is going to see people leave. It's inevitable. On results, that's a "failure," but on process that's successful.
Evaluations should be 360 - It's important to make sure that whenever you do an evaluation, or you're being evaluated, that you get a 360 perspective. Self-evaluation is the critical first step, because a leader should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. But there also needs to be supervisory and "others" input to help develop a full picture.
Evaluations should be expected - We can't just spring evaluations and think that's a good idea. They can't be ad hoc, they need to be planned and expected for staff. If it's not expected for staff to be evaluated and supported in their positions, then we can't be surprised when the evaluations flop.
Evaluations should be objective - The easiest way to be objective in an evaluation is to use a clearly written job description to measure against. There's a whole discussion in the podcast about the need for fluid job descriptions, but we can't evaluate people against a standard that doesn't exist.
Evaluations should be written - It doesn't exist if it wasn't written down. It's as simple as that. Have everyone involved in the evaluation sign and date the written evaluation.
Evaluations should have a corrective plan - The difference between good staff and great staff is that good staff are content to float through their evaluation, and great staff are going to seek ways to improve their effectiveness. So a corrective plan must be developed with clear goals and a time frame in order for the leader to grow and improve.
Evaluations should be gracious - Even difficult evaluations in ministry should not be punitive, but should be gracious. Graciousness is where we are willing to look beyond the immediate to see if there are any underlying causes or factors impacting performance. And in those, we seek to work with them to improve and lead to greater effectiveness.
Evaluations should be accountable - Any evaluation we do means absolutely nothing if there's no clear expectations or accountability to them.
Here's some tools and resources that we use for our evaluation process that are available for you to use!
90 Day Evaluation (for Support Staff)
Personnel Manual - Includes Job Descriptions & Staff Expectations
What does your church to make sure that evaluations are fruitful and helpful?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.