Hiring the right staff is so important to the health and growth of your organization. Whether you you are a church, a small business owner or the CEO of a large company, the right people make all the difference. I have had and currently have the pleasure of hiring and working with some fabulous people (both at South Hills and in my business life). I have also had the disappointment and headaches associated with hiring people who were not a good fit for my team. Below is an article featuring an interview from Tony Morgan and William Vanderbloemen with some great tips to finding and hiring the right staff for your organization. The article is church specific, but the most of the information is great for the business world as well.
“An Interview with Tony Morgan and William Vanderbloemen”
by Dan Reiland
As an executive pastor I’ve been hiring staff for over twenty years. I’m still learning. My experience is extensive, but I still make mistakes. Let’s be candid, hiring the right people is complicated. There is no formula or textbook that can give you the seven steps to create a “happily ever after” story every time.
Since I like to learn, I asked two friends of mine, Tony Morgan and William Vanderbloemen if they would agree to an interview. They both have considerable pastoral experience and also have special expertise in hiring as part of a professional search firm. VanderbloemenSearch
Both William and Tony have come to 12Stone to teach a leadership lesson to our ministry staff, and they have become trusted advisors and good friends. Let me introduce you to each one, and then share the interview with you.
William is the president of the Vanderbloemen Search Group. He has over 15 years of ministry experience as a senior pastor of three churches ranging in size from 350 to over 5,000. He has also served as a manager of human resources at a Fortune 200 corporation, and learned executive search from a mentor with twenty-five years of top-level search experience. William, his wife Adrienne, their seven children, and two poodles (one small who thinks she’s big, and one big who thinks he is a lap dog) live in Houston, Texas. In his free time, William enjoys running, working out, and caddying for his kids, who are now better golfers than he is. As an avid social networker you can contact him at http://twitter.com/wvanderbloemen.
Tony serves on the leadership team of West Ridge Church near Atlanta. He’s also a strategist, writer and consultant who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact. For more than 10 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at NewSpring Church and Granger Community Church. Tony used to be in local government for about ten years before he transitioned into ministry. In his last role, he was a city manager where he was responsible for a staff of 150 employees and a $20 million budget. Tony and his wife, Emily, reside near Atlanta, Georgia with their four children–Kayla, Jacob, Abby and Brooke. You can follow Tony’s writing on a variety of topics including his disdain for country music at tonymorganlive.com.
1. Why is hiring the right people so difficult?
Tony – As pastors, we don’t hire that often and therefore we aren’t highly practiced at it. So, for many, that means not being very good at it. Further, our wiring as pastors tends to cause us to see the best in people and the good in general. That’s good, but we also need a discerning eye in order to assess the right skills for the right job, and be able to quickly spot those who are not the right fit.
William – People are afraid to make a mistake, and fear is a bad ingredient in the hiring process. For those I’ve met who are not afraid, they often rush into it and hire someone they know and feel comfortable with rather than doing a thorough search. In contrast, when you do a comprehensive job interviewing several top candidates your chances of making a good decision increase exponentially.
2. What are the costs and impacts of hiring the wrong person?
Tony – When you choose new staff members poorly you are often choosing to cause good people to leave your team. Maybe not right away, but the good ones will not stay if you begin to hire low-performance players onto your team. Hiring the wrong person causes loss of momentum. It’s destabilizing to the team, and you can easily lose 12-18 months of what could have been a highly productive season.
William – I recently read a study from the corporate world that said you lose a minimum of ten times the salary that you pay the person when you make a bad hire and need to fire them. I think it’s more in the church. The relational, political, and vision loss is so great that the total cost is nearly incalculable, especially the higher the level of responsibility. It’s almost better not to hire than to hire wrong.
3. What are the qualities you look for in sharp ministry leaders?
Tony – Off the top, I want to see a leadership gift, ability to build teams, and shared vision and values of the organization. Let me give you a fuller answer by directing you to a blog post that you might find helpful on this question. tonymorganlive.com
William – First, I believe this is much more art than science, so it really depends on what the church needs more than a set list of characteristics. I consider hiring as important as an organ transplant. Using this metaphor, nearly half of what I do is finding the right donor list, but more than half is making sure I find the right tissue match. If I don’t, the body will reject it. That said, in general, I like to see spiritual agility, loyalty to the mission and leadership, and their past performance really matters to me. That is the best indicator of what they will do in the future.
4. Describe a big hiring mistake you have made as a pastor in the local church.
Tony – I had a situation where I was hiring someone for a director level position in a specialized role. His resume said he was exactly what we needed. But some red flags came up during the interviews. He said he was a detailed and systems guy – which the job required. All other indicators, however, including his profile testing, said he was much more of a people person. The mistake I made was that I did not pay attention to my gut. I didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit promptings, the assessments, and what I was intuitively picking up in the interviews.
William – Well, I’ve made the classic mistakes. I’ve hired too fast and fired too slow. But one that comes to mind is that I hired three guys right out of seminary at the same time. They were my dream team, or that was my dream. They were sharp, but highly inexperienced. They were talented, but I didn’t realize how much training they would require and I didn’t have the margin to give it to them. I wasn’t able to carry out that responsibility and that was a big mistake.
5. Do you recommend talking about salary up front, or deeper into the process?
Tony – For me, the issue is about being called, and the salary factor comes in later. It’s about the right fit and whether or not God wants them on the team. If it’s a fit, I might consider adjusting the compensation, if we can, in order to get the right person. But it raises a red flag if the person is too interested in the financial package too soon.
William – It depends on the situation, but in general, I agree with Tony. I want to know if they are called, rather than in it for the money. On occasion, however, there are circumstances that call for discussing salary up front. For example, if a large gap is anticipated between what we offer and what they expect – we might at least address that in general up front, but then do real details later.
6. You both are pastors, but also serve as part of a search firm. In what ways does your company help us hire the right people?
William and Tony – The first one is time. Most pastors we talk to just don’t have the time to do what it takes to hire well. The second is that we are in touch with a broader base of people to choose from. One more benefit is that we’re good at it. We have much more time at bat. We are practiced, so we have developed some skills that most church leaders haven’t had time to cultivate. We help you avoid costly mistakes.
Thanks to both Tony and William. This is such an important topic! Hiring smart is the first step toward building great church staff teams!!
As a side note; we have used VanderbloemenSearch here at South Hills and have love the results. I highly recommend them!
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Larry Bossidy
I remember a time in my organization where we were looking to add to our staff. After reviewing many applicants we narrowed the field down to three. After more contemplation and grueling interviews, we made an offer to what we “thought” was our best choice. He accepted the position and we began moving forward. He seemed to everyone on the executive team as the person that would add the greatest value to our organization and he seemed to be a fit for all of us. WOW…where we wrong.
This individual wasn’t a fit at all. The value I hoped that he would add just wasn’t there. If I could do it all over again I would not hire that individual and I would have saved us money and time and even some hurt feelings. One of the greatest decisions a leader must make is hiring the right person. I have heard it said that “people are always the problem and they are always the solution.” If you want to move forward with your organization and you want to go to the top, it will be strongly dependent on the people you hire.
Here are some pitfalls to avoid in your hiring process:
Don’t hire out of desperation
Often we put the word out, go through the interviewing process and find that there isn’t much out there. So we are left to settle for the lesser of two evils. We end up throwing good judgment out the window and make a hire in desperation to fill the need. This move will, in the end, cost you more than if you had waited. Be careful not to make this fatal mistake.
Don’t ignore your personal feelings or gut reaction
If you don’t like a candidate in the initial interview – when the person should be at their best – chances are you won’t like the person later. I am not saying everything rises and falls on your first meeting, but don’t be afraid to go with your intuition.
Don’t hire someone who has the ability but lacks the people skills
I always say that you can teach someone to run a computer or to organize an event, but it is very difficult to teach someone people skills. I would rather have someone who needs a few weeks of training to get caught up, but is great with people, than someone who is technically advanced but socially unfit. Be careful not to let your good judgment be blinded by someone’s great ability. Their inability to connect with others may cost you more then they can achieve.
Don’t be vague
When you hire someone don’t be in such a hurry that you become vague about their roles and responsibilities. It is important that they know exactly what they are getting into and what is expected of them. If you are not clear about your expectations then you will be setting the relationship up for frustration. Be clear, put it in writing and hold them accountable to it.
Until next time,
QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“You can buy a man’s time; you can even buy his physical presence at a given place, but you cannot buy enthusiasm…you cannot buy loyalty…you cannot buy devotion of hearts, minds or souls.”