Spending time mentoring staff is one of the most important things a pastor can do. When I suggest to a person I’m coaching that he needs to spend more time mentoring or training his staff, he usually asks, “What does that look like?” Here’s my response.

Mentoring Staff

First, you should see yourself as the head coach of a ball team. You’re not on the field making things happen as much as you’re on the sidelines and in the locker room leading, training, and inspiring the team to be the best it can be. It takes time to make a good team a great team.  But it is one of the goals of every effective pastor or executive pastor.

You should always be keeping a list of people you meet who you would love to have on your staff now or in the future. When it comes time to hire new staff you first refer to this list before looking into anything else. Keep in mind that you never know what kind of talent you may need in the future so don’t fail to put someone who interests you on the list just because you don’t need what they have to offer now.

You should sit down with each staff person who reports to you and set goals and stretch goals (a stretch goal is a goal one step beyond the goals you and the staff think are possible). Before you sit down with a staff person to hammer out goals, you should have some goals in mind. What you want to do is compare what you think needs to be done with what they think needs to be done. Hopefully there will be some overlapping.

You should then establish the how, when, where, and who of each goal so you have a clear picture of what is expected and of whether progress is being made before you leave the meeting. So as you can see, setting goals is not just a quick exercise you can breeze through.

Each month you should monitor and review the progress of those who report to you: make course corrections, offer advice, and coach them to succeed. Once a quarter you evaluate their progress and if they are not getting the job done, you have a “come to Jesus” meeting with them. Waiting till the end of the year to evaluate them is too long. If a staff person is not getting the job done, you need to catch it as early as possible.

Over the year you should either remove a staff person or help them advance their skill set and responsibilities. I have always said to a failing staff person, “Tell me where I failed you, because I hired you and thought you could do the job, but you are obviously failing to get it done. Tell me what you need to get it right, or I’m going to have to let you go.” Sharing responsibility for a mess puts the staff person more at ease and in many ways is true (never allow a failing staff person to remain on staff if they aren’t doing the job within six months).

If you don’t have an executive pastor, you should hold staff accountable to all agreed-upon goals. If you have an executive pastor, let that person oversee the setting of goals for anyone who doesn’t report directly to you.

You need to keep the entire staff up to speed on the books you are reading and what the content means to the church. Don’t be afraid to photo copy a key page and explore it with them in staff.

Question: Do you have any staff mentoring tips that have helped you as a church leader? Share your advice in the Comments section below.

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