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The fact is no one bats 1000. In baseball, this means the batter gets a hit every time he goes to the plate – an unrealistic expectation.
In ministry, it means every decision is spot on and every hire is great.
Unfortunately, we are human, and with that humanity comes imperfection – which sometimes results in making a bad hiring decision.
You can do many things to increase your chances of making a good hire – a thorough screening and interviewing process.
But despite the best efforts, a bad hire will occasionally happen.
Churches Are Vulnerable
In particular, churches struggle with dealing with bad hires often because there are other people connected to the hire.
For instance, let’s say you hired the granddaughter of a pillar church member whose entire family attends the church. This member happens to be a longtime donor and volunteer. If this hire does not work out, there may be fallout with the family. A difficult situation at best.
“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led—yes. But not tightly managed.”
Jim Collins, Good To Great
What do you do when you realize that the person you hired isn’t the right fit for the organization?
5 Tips For Dealing With A Bad Hire
1. Confront the Obvious
The first and most important step is to come to terms with the fact that the hire simply isn’t going to work.
This can be difficult because there is often so much emotion that goes into hiring a new employee and the personal energy that goes into the decision. Not to mention the potential political fallout of letting the employee go.
However, when you know that the employee isn’t going to work out, it is important to address it as soon as possible.
The trick is to be thoughtful in your approach.
2. Evaluate The Onboarding Process
Before you let the employee go, reevaluate your onboarding process to ensure that there wasn’t something that got missed in the transition.
Ask yourself and your team a few questions:
- Did we adequately train this employee?
- Are the issues with this employee related to skill set or training?
- Is there something we could have done better to train them?
- Does the job description adequately describe job duties?
- Were job expectations communicated clearly?
- Were there measures for success when explaining job expectations?
- Were internal policies communicated clearly?
- Was a mentor assigned to the employee?
- Did the employee know who to go to with questions?
Asking and answering these questions may shed light on the process used to acclimate the employee to the job.
If the organization skipped some steps, it might warrant a do-over with the employee.
3. Communicate Concerns With The Employee
No one likes surprises, so the employee must understand that they are not meeting expectations.
You owe it to the employee to communicate clearly and often about desired behaviors and job expectations.
The more clear you are with expectations, the more likely the employee will understand where they have fallen short.
For instance, let’s say you hired a custodian. This employee is given a job description and a schedule of seasonal cleaning projects.
The employee gets the daily cleaning job done but neglects those seasonal projects crucial to maintaining a clean campus.
As a manager, it is your responsibility to talk to the employee and emphasize the importance of taking care of those seasonal projects.
4. Solicit A Second Opinion
Sometimes we lose perspective because we are simply too close to an issue. Talk to another second-tier manager and try to get their perspective.
Share your concerns and ask them if they have any ideas or suggestions for making it work or if there is something that they observed as a possible way to improve the employee’s performance.
This objective conversation may shed light on your concerns that you did not think about.
5. Act Quickly
No one likes to let an employee go, particularly when they were part of the interviewing and hiring process.
But there are times when the employee simply isn’t going to work out.
When you have done all that you can and know that the employee needs to go, you need to act quickly.
The Cost Of A Bad Hire
Churches manage the tithes and offerings of their members. Church leaders are responsible to be good stewards of those limited resources.
Carrying a bad hire for months or years can cost a ministry big time.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you decided to keep the above-mentioned custodian around to avoid the political fallout of letting them go. Now let’s assume the church was paying that employee $10 an hour. Now let’s imagine that employee staying with the church for 10 years. The ministry’s cost would be $208,000 ($10 x 2080 hrs x 10 years) for keeping that bad hire.
This is what I heard quoted as expensive benevolence!
Hiring church employees is an important aspect of managing church operations.
Doing your due diligence to identify, screen, and hire the right candidate is the most important step in the process.
However, that doesn’t guarantee that the employment relationship will work out.
When it does, celebrate, but when it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to let the employee go. That is your responsibility as a manager of church resources.
If you would like to learn more about managing your church operations, you can check out our Fundamentals Of Church Administration course. This training is packed with tips for dealing with those issues you deal with every day!