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There is so much stress in hiring the right person for a team. Who joins our team is vital to our culture. I’ve learned there is one simple solution that can lower the stress of hiring.

Over the years, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I’ve also managed – in the business world and the church world – to develop some pretty healthy teams. It would be difficult for teams I lead to call me a micro-manager. Delegation is one of my personal values, but knowing how important it is to add the right people to our team, this has always been one of the few areas I have such a strong voice in how it’s done.

Hopefully this one simple solution can help you have a healthier, happier and more effective team members.

I have done this with great success in hiring several staff positions for several teams. And, it’s simple.

If you want to lower the stress in hiring – Build the job description around the person.

Set an overall vision for what you’re trying to achieve. Hire the best person you can find for the position. Follow all the rules of character, competency, etc. Then build the job description, with the person’s help, around the person you hire.

  • If they excel in administrative tasks then the job description may have more administrative tasks.
  • If they excel in creative tasks then the job description may have more inventive tasks.

Find people you believe can help shape a healthy team. Add people to the team you trust. Then let them help you define exactly how they will do the job. And, this is true whether they are paid or volunteer.

This approach allows you to hire for experience, excellence or simply a fit with the team. However, this doesn’t limit you to finding an exact replica of a clearly defined, narrowly focused job description.

If you’re hiring a small groups pastor, for example, certainly look for someone who loves small group ministry. Make sure they love Jesus, share the same general beliefs of the church, etc., but don’t dictate how they will grow, develop, and lead the small group ministry.

This is important too when shaping a diverse team. My friend Kadi Cole taught me a key difference in men and women. Men will apply for a job if they meet one requirement on the job description. Women are less likely to apply unless they meet all of them. This point alone is a justification for this principle.

Here’s the deal. I ultimately want a strong team. I want people who share an overall vision with me. Yet, I don’t want to script how they accomplish their specific part of the vision.

This way of hiring allows me to be a leader instead of a manager. It frees people to be leaders instead of employees. It helps us achieve more than a rigid structured environment ever could.

Best of all, it makes for a much happier team.

Find the right people and you can build the right team.

Hey, check out my leadership podcast where we try to provide quick, helpful applications. I’d love to hear if you are enjoying it and any topics you would like us to cover. Be sure also to check out the other great Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • David Reneau says:

    I love this idea, but when looking for a job or a new hire many job sites and head hunters want job descriptions. How do you build the job description around a person when you don't know who that person is yet?

    • ronedmondson says:

      This is a great question.

      I would first say that head hunters and job search boards are ultimately working for you. Or at least they should be. So, you can have them saying and listing whatever you choose to. So, the search ad can simply state that you will find the right candidate and then helped him build the right job description.

      But this doesn’t mean people get to decide completely what they do. The point is they get to weigh in on how they do it.

      For example, let's say as a pastor if I’m looking for a small groups pastor and the one I'm replacing currently excels in online participation. Under the traditional model I might put that in the job description that they need to be skilled in online participation. In the process, I may pass up the best candidate simply because they do not meet that criteria. But it could be that someone else on the team can do online participation or that is simply not as prominent going forward because it was based on a person with a particular skillset. Again, you want the best people for the team at the time. And most the time we need generalists more than specialists. I wrote about that here:

      Here’s another post I wrote about replacing team members that might help and expand upon this thought.

      So, to answer your question I would list broad responsibilities and keep the generalities limited to the person you hire – as they build their own "new" job description.

      Hope that helps.