One of the most important things we can/should do with our time is to DEVELOP our staff, right? The quality and impact of your ministry is directly connected to how you empower others.
This is the tricky part of delegation, isn’t it? It’s hard to let go of our responsibilities, isn’t it? We have programs, events and pet projects that are like children to us. I think I remember reading that if someone can do what you do at about 70% of the quality, then you should give it away. Once we find enough things to give away, we should have the extra margin to invest in our staff, developing them so that what we give them to lead gets even better than it was when we were trying to juggle all the things.
But what if you’re not all that good at developing staff? Maybe you haven’t been doing it for very long? Maybe you still have too much on your plate and your staff is getting your leftovers. I’m going to let you off the hook. When I look at the staff I’ve led over the years, some of the greatest development they’ve experienced wasn’t the result of how I personally developed them, but the result of who I introduced them to.
Yes, I believe that it is our responsibility to develop our staff. But you certainly don’t have to do it on your own. Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to staff development:
DIRECT THEM TOWARD CONTENT
When it comes to actual content, the options are limitless. What books impacted your leadership and ministry the most? What books have recently released that address something strategic in their ministry? What books might help them grow in areas they need the most growth? Assign a few books to read this year. Agree to read a book together, maybe something you’ll do with the whole team.
This goes beyond books though. Content is everywhere:
- Online courses (here’s some I recommend)
DIRECT THEM TOWARD STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS
Let’s knock ourselves down a peg for a minute. You don’t have everything your staff needs. EMBRACE your limitations. Think about it for a second. If you were the only source of development for your team, you’d have a bunch of “you” working for you. That’s just weird. Your ministry doesn’t need more of you.
This should take some of the development pressure off right away. As much as your staff needs your personal investment, they need investment from others just as much (maybe more).
Who are the leaders, personalities and voices that you want investing in your team? What if you invited your lead pastor to meet with your team every couple of months? Are there senior people on staff that would take 6 months to mentor someone from your team (even if it’s just a monthly lunch)? Are there other people in the community (great leaders in your church) who could make some investments in your team?
Over the past decade, I’ve intentionally pointed my staff toward other leaders. I’ve enrolled them in formal coaching. When faced with challenging situations, I connect them with ministry leaders I love and respect who will give them good advice. Prioritize relationships and your team will grow in ways you could never cause them to grow.
DIRECT THEM TOWARD EXPERIENCES
So much of what we know is caught, not taught.
Experience is the greatest teacher. If I want my team to grow, I need to seek out opportunities for them to develop. I frequently look for conferences, seminars, and events to attend with my team. It always provides great opportunities to interact with both content and people.
But, what if you gave your staff the responsibility to lead something they’ve never led before? Perhaps it’s something outside their job description, something they didn’t see coming. Throwing them in the deep end (under your supervision) is a great opportunity to push them outside their comfort zone and give them the opportunity to experience something new and learn new skills.
Don’t exasperate your staff with weird responsibilities that distract from what they’re supposed to do, but carefully craft experiences and opportunities that will stretch and grow them as leaders.
Over the years, I’ve learned something really important. A lot of my staff wouldn’t do this on their own. They were busy. They will almost always prioritize getting stuff done over their own personal development.
This is why you are the boss. Make it a part of their job. Set personal development expectations on the front end of every year. Tie growth and development to their performance review. Even better, ask questions about personal development in the hiring process. If a candidate doesn’t seem motivated about personal development, don’t hire them.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It’s true. The takeaway here, hire thirsty horses and bring them to the water often.