Building the Church Staff
The most important part of any organization is how the staff is put together. Great athletic coaches know they must have talent to win. Therefore they take a major hand in the hiring. Staffs that just happen get happenstance results.
Yet staffing is a vexation in the church, partly because it is innately tough to do and partly because church leaders get so little practice. But it remains extremely important. Small organizations such as churches often make the mistake of thinking they can get by with inferior staff members because they are small. The opposite is true.
In a firm of 100 employees, if one is inferior, the loss is only 1 percent. But if a church has a payroll of two, and one is inferior, the loss is 50 percent. The bright side, however, is that it's much easier to pick one excellent person than a hundred.
Attracting quality people, first of all, means you must enthusiastically sell your organization to quality people. Julian Price, the builder of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company, surprised many by his ability to get outstanding people to join his organization when it was still tiny. He did it with his optimism, telling prospective workers, "We're going to build a mighty company here; don't you want to be a part of it?" The challenge of growth has brought many great talents to small organizations.
Church leaders needn't be timid in going for the most effective people. We believe what we're doing is the most important of all endeavors.
Perhaps the more difficult part of staffing is recognizing quality people to recruit. Here are six qualities I look for.
1. The first thing I want is character. I used to put intelligence first, but I changed my mind. I found I could buttress intelligence in a person, but I could not buttress character.
A job applicant with a weak character will do a lot to hide it, of course. Many people have told me they had a lot to learn about the job I was trying to fill, but no one ever admitted to having a weak character and needing help.
Statistically, however, most management failures come from lack of character rather than lack of intelligence. You can do many things to help a person intellectually, but you are completely vulnerable to the person with a weak character. The weakness will show up at the moment of highest stress, at the very time you need the person to stand.
I have found that adults seldom correct their character faults. Personalities change more than character. After doing something wrong, they may be sincerely sorry, but then they trip again over the same stumbling block. If I know the person's weakness, then I might structure around it, but often it's too late when I find it. As Christians, we want to help the weak, but the church staff is no halfway house for character problems. I warn new managers against trying to do social reclamation in administration.
Character is not homogeneous, like a quart of milk. It is sectional, like a grapefruit. Everyone has good sections and bad. One person may be strongly loyal to the boss, for example, but irresponsible in the job. Another person may be loyal and responsible—until he gets a chance to enhance his ego. Ego will weaken character as much as anything I know. You can't say the person has a totally bad character; you can only say that some sections are bad.