One of the most important things us as leaders can do is recruit and retain the very best talent. The old adage “The Team with the best players win” is as true in sports as it is in business and ministry. Finding a team of people that share your heart, passion and dedication is much easier said than done. The cost of not selecting the right people can affect your brand, customer affinity, and ministries culture; it can even affect things like your operating costs and market share! Additionally, in the case of a ministry it can affect precious opportunities to effectively minister to the people God has called you to. One of the first things Jesus did when He entered public ministry was form a team!
Your staff are your representatives. They don’t just represent the company or ministry they represent you too. If a customer has a negative interaction with someone on my staff or if someone does not follow through on a commitment or properly take care of a customer (either internal and external) then they won’t walk away saying – Wow that lady ‘Sally’ was not very helpful. They will say that whole company has no customer service. If you don’t have people that are “with you” meaning they understand the vision, are committed to follow through, and understand their role in making it all happen – it can be a recipe for disaster.
When I took over as Director of ATF one of the first things I did was evaluate our ministry operations, ministry effectiveness, systems, feedback from our partners, youth pastors, leaders and teens themselves.
Getting the right people on and off the bus:
One of my favorite authors James C. Collins talks about this in his wonderful book “Good to Great” – Sometimes in ministry we don’t want or like to have ‘tough conversations’ with people we look at our team more as family or friends and thus skip over really executing performance management until it’s too late. – We think we are being nice or kind… not true. I believe that one of the most important (and kind) things we can do as leaders is to give honest, direct, timely, up front, eyeball-to-eyeball feedback to the people that report to us or are under our leadership. I’ve seen this over and over again especially in ministry – lack or candor in articulating performance deficiencies or non compliance in an effort to “keep the peace” – Sure, you may keep the peace… for now, but ultimately your mission and the people or customers you are trying to reach will suffer. Keep that up long enough and you don’t have a ministry or business worth talking about. If you’ve got people that don’t share your values, dedication or who won’t execute on vision, decisions or standards you need to move them up or out.
I can hear some of you saying “Kemtal, that’s so harsh! You are in ministry, you are supposed to love every body!” – True, it is harsh and I am supposed to love everybody. However we cannot mistake an individuals performance with the actual value of the individual, again, the most kind and loving thing we can do is give timely, honest and direct feedback. Our standards for ATF are high and our values have to be more than just a plaque on the wall. Of course you try and move their performance up before you look to move them out. But, If there’s someone on the team that can’t or won’t live our values or execute our operations at a high level then a change needs to be made. Don’t get me wrong – camaraderie is VERY important to a team dynamic. I enjoy spending time with my team in and out of work. A few Christmas’ ago when I was director of Global Expeditions (Teen Mania’s missions arm) our staff was so close, just about all of us had Christmas morning at my house! It really had nothing to do with work, we just wanted to hang out with each other. It was a blast! Many members of that team have gone on to become wonderful successes in fact one of them (Emmie) was just named Director of GE! The balance between camaraderie, accountability and dedication to execute our operations at a high level is important for any team to thrive.
The virtue of a dedicated staff is indispensable! I’m so grateful as we build the team in ATF. We already have so many awesome people from our road staff and Ministry Team, to our operations staff and interns we are continuing to get the right people on and everyone in the right seat! Building an exceptional team not only makes your life easier, it multiplies your effectiveness.