Inviting Evaluation from the People I Lead

Every year I allow the staff at Grace Community Church to evaluate me. I realize this works for some and not for others, but for me it is a part of my plan to continually evaluate and improve my leadership skills and success. I believe strongly that a healthy team allows itself to be vulnerable to each other.  This allows me to set a precedent/example for working transparently with each other.  I set up a system, this year it was using Survey Monkey, that allows them to remain anonymous in answering the questions. Hopefully, this helps them be more honest with me than if they had to sign their name. I tell them in advance that I’m looking to improve myself, not to feel bad about myself, so I ask them to be respectful in their response, but truthful.  (You can read last year’s evaluation in the related links below this post.)

After giving them a few weeks to complete the survey, I host them for a luncheon where we address the questions and give feedback.  I go over every response and/or question that was raised and we discuss it as a staff.

Here are this year’s questions and some of the feedback grouped into categories of answers.  I tried to give a form of every answer that was offered without giving all the repeats.

1. What am I currently adding to the team? What do you see as my strengths?
• Leadership / vision casting / driving the team to achieve more/better
• Accountability, years of wisdom, level thinking, forward/future thinking
• Structure, Future Thinking
• Constantly thinking of ways to improve our ministries. Always challenging us to think ahead.
• Dreaming, idea generation, communication, leadership development

2. What is my greatest weakness? Where do you think I still need improvement?
• Communication, but I can see you continually improving
• Over commitment. I feel like you’re stretched pretty thin most weeks. I know you thrive on being busy, but I don’t want to see you burn out.
• Personal time with staff
• Evaluate situation more before responding
• Rushing to the “next thing” / I realize that has been out of necessity for the most part though
• I think the staff feels a lot of pressure to keep up with you

3. Knowing my skills, where should I be placing more of my attention these days?
• A balance of the “business” end of things and continuing to help each pastor on staff raise their game.
• Helping encourage/improve the team’s strengths & working on their weaknesses
• Keep looking ahead. yet walk beside us where we are at now
• Leadership development
• Continuing to invest in staff, helping to look for future staff as well, helping staff understand who they are (personality, leadership style)
• Planning for the future for the church, reminding us of our specific roles
• Staff development, helping each of us to achieve more/better
• Holding the staff members that directly report to you accountable to their most important responsibilities

4. What do you need from me that you are not currently receiving in the way of leadership/direction?
• Continue meeting to talk, evaluate, and help me to develop my strengths
• Time with you to think strategically in our ministries
• To know when you are giving information vs. a task. You send out a lot of info, but I am not sure if it is just info or something you would want me to do.

5. Do you feel I have your best interest at heart?
• Yes (All answers positive…yeah for this time!!!)

6. Would you feel comfortable bringing problems to me? If not, why?
• Yes (Again, this time I got 100% positive…this has not always been the case.)

7. If you had my job, what would you do differently?
• Give staff time to rest, not send emails on known days off
• Work on staff accountability
• Although I don’t think you should micro manage, I think there is a lack of accountability we are missing as a staff that could hurt us in the long run

8. Since last year’s evaluation, I’ve tried to put down my phone more and listen better. Do you sense any improvement?
• Yes
• Somewhat, yes

9. Describe what you like and don’t like about the work atmosphere at Grace.
• I the love the work environment! Laughter, friendship, and core values. Downside: too much distractions with the space constraints.
• I like the laid-back atmosphere but still feel challenged to think creatively. I like that we are pushed hard to excel and not just be satisfied with doing ministry
• High energy, great being around each other. Not a quiet place to work at times. Very thin walls
• I love the freedom we have as a staff, but again I think some accountability with that freedom is key. There are times that the noise level & “craziness” gets in the way of serious ministry moments and focused work.

10. What would you like to say to me or what questions do you have for me, but you haven’t said them or asked them, for whatever reason?
• Do you see yourself at GCC long-term?
• Appreciate your sincerity, drive and focus
• Thank you. Seriously, thank you for believing in us, encouraging us, challenging us, and investing in us.
• You are very open to come to with problems or questions. I cannot think of anything.
• You have truly become my Pastor, my leader, and a friend. I love GRACE so much!

You might wonder why I’m sharing this. Well, there are two reasons. One, I feel it helps with my personal accountability to continue this process, even though at times the feedback can be hard to receive. Two, it helps share with other leaders who may feel this is something they should do to see what type of feedback is received. I learn something every time I do this. The key, obviously, isn’t just to learn something, but to do something with what I’ve learned. (That’s where more accountability is needed!)

Leaders, how do you solicit feedback from your team?
If you are on a team led by someone else, how does your leader solicit feedback?

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26 thoughts on “Inviting Evaluation from the People I Lead

  1. Ron,

    Thanks for sharing. As a young minister and leader, I look up to open and authentic leaders. Your staff is blessed.

    One question, what would you suggest on how someone might suggest this idea to their lead pastor? Did you initiate this on your own, or was it something your staff was asking for?

    I’m curious about you thoughts here…

    • I initiated the idea. That's a tough question how to initiate this. You could start by asking your volunteers to evaluate you, then share the results and my post with your lead pastor. A lot of that will depend on his wiring and your relationship with him. If it's a good one, you could say, "this sounds like something you would do".
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  2. Also, I've noticed a trend of leaders investing in other leaders out side of their orginization while their staff barely gets their left overs. Is it common for leaders to feel like the staff they have in place are more than capable to accomplish their task with little investment and development?

    Sorry for such a long comment, but these questions have been on my mind for a long time if you can't tell.

    • Mason, I think that's a great point and one my staff may feel at times. It's not intentional on my part, but sometimes I guess I take them for granted and that they "know" what I would be teaching others. My theme for this year is leadership development within our church.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

      • Thats excting for your church. I have been in a system where I longed for development but it was "assumed" that I already knew leadership principles and thoughts. On a positive note it forced me to educate myself and I have learned much (your blog has been a part of that process). Looking at both your responses, what would a pastor have to fear if he spent his time investing in his leadership and allowed them to spear head the ministry? Would the pastor not be able to cast vision through the development of his leaders?

  3. I love the ability to give and recieve honest feedback. I want authenticity, so for me when someone tells me I could do something better it stings for a moment but over all encourages me to push through my weaknesses or change the dynamic so that my weaknesses aren't a barrier. Other than college I haven't been in a system where I was given the ability to give feedback and ask questions like this.

    What is irritating is to have a talk or to discuss important issues in a staff meeting only to have them ignored after we walk out of the room. Why do you think leaders do this? I'm not synical enough to believe it is because they just don't care (although for some it is possible). Is it because they are too enamored with their own plans and vision?

    • Mason, I think it's fear more than anything. We are tempted to hold onto our power and afraid that if we let go someone may find out we aren't as good as we've led them to believe. I tell our staff frequently that we can't be too nice to where we don't confront problems, even if they are uncomfortable at first. Thanks!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  4. Actually, most of the time, I have my classes fill out course evaluation forms at the end of a semester. It makes for interesting reading and shows the wide variety of personalities I deal with. In some instances, what one stand complains about, another student will rave about. I try to listen to what my students say and have been known to change my way of doing things.

    • I applaud you for that. I suspect this helps make you an even better teacher. You can't make everyone happy, but you can figure out what you can do to improve to help people learn. Thanks!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  5. Unfortunately too many pastors do not feel secure enough for this kind of evaluation, and their ministry sufers because of it.

  6. I think this is a great idea. Over a year ago my office was relocated, which removed me from having daily personal contact with my staff. It has been a challenge to stay 'connected' and maintain the same close relationships we had in the past. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. The survey questions are great for anyone practicing servant leadership in any field or occupation.