3 Paradigms For Hiring the Right Staff

I deal with pastors often who are trying to make leadership decisions. One of the most frequent discussions, and honestly one of the hardest things we do as leaders, is attempting to add quality and qualified staff to the team.

When you go to look for a new staff member I think it helps to have a paradigm through which you are seeking the next person. The more homework you do on the front end of the selection process the better chance you will have of finding the right fit. Any good selection firm (and this is a great option sometimes) is going to really try to help you discern what type person will be a best fit for the job.

This is not a comprehensive post for this process, but I do hope I can help you think a little bigger picture when hiring the next person. We often think of Bill Hybel’s script chemistry, competence and character. I have added a fourth “C” to those words. You can read it in THIS POST.

But I think there are even more questions we have to ask ourselves when hiring someone new for the team. One policy change we made when I arrived at the very established church where I lead is that whenever someone leaves our staff (and this is at any level or position) we would re-evaluate everything. We may or may not need to replace the person with the same position or the same type person. This has been invaluable, I believe, in seeing the success we have had in revitalization.

So, the next time you have an open position, let me give you a few more “C” words to ask yourself. Which of these would be most helpful to me at this time in my leadership?

Someone who compliments you – This person can do more of what you do. If you are strategic – they are strategic. If you are a relational leader – they will be very relational. It could be there is just not enough of you to go around, but you need more of what you bring to the church or organization.

We did this at my last church in hiring an executive pastor. We actually had two executive pastors. The one we had was a very relational leader. We absolutely needed that for our team. The one we added was like me – more strategic. And we needed this too, as our church continued to grow and change.

Someone who completes you – What are you missing that you simply can not bring to the team? It could be because you are not wired that way or you no longer have the margin of time to provide it. This person will fill in gaps you have in your leadership. And, we all have them.

The relational executive pastor I mentioned previously does this for me. It is not that I am anti-relationships, but I am more of a strategic leader. I can neglect the relational part if I am not careful.

Another position we hired early in my tenure was a senior adult pastor. We had a part-time one already, but we added a full-time person who was still in the prime of his career. This was absolutely needed. We have a huge senior population and to some they considered me still a kid (at 48 years when I started). Having someone in between me and them they trusted was huge for my leadership.

Someone who competes with you – These types are usually a rarer type, but there are times when you need them. This type person could be needed as you are looking to transition out as a leader or if you are large enough (or missional enough) to be investing in the next generation of leaders.

This person eventually wants your job. They want to do what you do someday, perhaps even more than the position for which you are hiring them. And if they are really good they are going to at times appear to be in direct competition for your job.

We did this one in the hiring of my son, Nate as college and teaching pastor. I expected that he would be a senior pastor – certainly a senior leader – someday. (And he has already become one.) He did not necessarily “compete” with me, because he was not the heir apparent replacement for me (even though some thought he was). He was only 26 years old and wouldn’t likely be ready or want to assume leadership at that church. But he is a gifted communicator and leader. (I was very careful not to brag on him in the church.) He was only with us a few days when he was challenging me to be a better leader.

You could probably improve on my terminology here. The paradigm, however, is what I believe is most important. You have to decide what you want or need in the person you are hiring. This is beneficial for you and the person who will come to work with you. And it can hopefully help you avoid making a mistake in hiring.

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Ron Edmondson

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