Church Staff Evaluations - Are They Worth It?

Yes! But….they must be done effectively!

Most human resource specialists agree there are six responsibilities a church should take when developing an evaluation system.

  1. Develop good thorough job descriptions for all employees that outline job tasks and establishes who the supervisor of the employee is.
  2. Create logical performance standards/expectations for each of the job description items so supervisors and employees know average expectations to be performed.
  3. Have an evaluation instrument that is written in either essay, critical-incident, dimensional, behavioral, or management-by-objective format.
  4. Place evaluations on a timeline to establish balanced job performance.
  5. Discuss the evaluation from both employee and supervisor perspectives.
  6. Complete the experience by recognizing: meritorious performance, needs improvements in performance or unsatisfactory performance.

Churches have been notorious for not evaluating staff in a timeline sequence. Much of this is due to lack of supervisory understanding by the church. If the pastor is to be the supervisor of all staff, ministerial or support, then he must fulfill that duty throughout the year. If the pastor is preparing his State-of-the-Church address (see Church Staff Digest article: “Who Evaluates the Pastor…Who is Worthy?” May, 2007), then a major component is to evaluate staff and others to complete the report.

Employee evaluations should be an on-going process; good supervision congratulates good performance when it occurs and corrects less than expected performance when it is noted. Supervisors and employees should periodically review job descriptions and job performance to see if employee strengths are being realized and weaknesses being defined or re-directed. It is always important to remember to evaluate the work of the employee, not the employee. The responsibility is for the church to create the ministerial and support job descriptions that DIRECTLY correlate to the mission, vision and purpose of the church BEFORE hiring.

This writer strongly feels the management-by-objectives evaluation system works best for churches. This method mutually bonds employee with employer (church) and supervisor with the goals for a forthcoming evaluation of the accomplishment of set goals by the employee’s performance.

Evaluations deserve rewards and corrections. These can be simple within the salary scale of the job description. Churches (and other places of employment) often want the performance without reward or corrections. Reward for meritorious performance and loyalty should be more than just a cost recovery raise. Reward for meritorious work is more than a tenured raise for longevity of service. Corrections should be directive discussion, not a “chewing out” and should be supported by the expectations within the job description.

Robert Grant

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