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From Meh to Marvelous

Discover the recipe for crafting effective improvement plans for church staff. Set goals, provide resources, monitor progress, and maintain open communication.


Crafting Improvement Plans for Church Staff


Let's face it: nobody's perfect. 


We all have areas where we could stand to do a little better, even in ministry (ok, maybe ESPECIALLY in ministry). Sure, we'd like to think that our church staff is filled with superhero-like individuals, capable of leaping tall buildings and converting grumpy volunteers and attendees in a single bound. 


But in reality, we're all just human beings, and sometimes, we need a little help to go from meh to marvelous.



That's where improvement plans come in. These handy-dandy little roadmaps can help your staff members level up their skills, knowledge, and job performance, all while strengthening your church staff and community. But how do you create improvement plans that'll have your team members reaching for the stars (or at least the top of the ministry game)?

NOTE:  For the context of this article, we are not looking at the term ‘improvement plan’ as a remedial ‘do this or you’ll soon be fired’ strategy (although there is a place for those, too, at times).  We are talking about strategies you work on alongside your staff, not as retribution or job performance targets, but as team-shared ways to achieve ministry outcomes and further the success and mission of the church and the staff member.  These are two totally different types of improvement plans.


Identifying areas for improvement

Before we can start crafting the perfect improvement plan, we need to figure out what needs improving. Think of it as ministry triage, diagnosing the areas that need a little extra TLC.


Here's how to do it:

Assessing job performance. Take a good, hard look at the staff member's strengths and weaknesses. What are they rocking at, and where are they struggling? Don't be shy - honesty is the best policy here.

Gathering feedback. Put on your detective hat and start gathering intel. Talk to colleagues, supervisors, and even the staff member themselves. Remember, the more perspectives you have, the clearer the picture becomes.


Setting clear goals for improvement

Now that we've identified the areas in need of a boost, it's time to set some goals. These should be like a GPS for your staff member's improvement journey - specific, measurable, and totally achievable. Here's how to create goals that'll get results:

Specific and measurable objectives. Avoid vague goals like "be a better team player." Instead, opt for clear targets like "attend two team-building workshops in the next three months."

Establishing a timeline for progress. Nobody likes a never-ending journey. Set a reasonable timeframe for achieving each goal, so your staff member knows exactly what's expected and when.

Aligning goals with the staff member's role and the church's mission. Make sure the goals are relevant and connected to the bigger picture. After all, there's no point in having a youth pastor become a whiz at church finances if it doesn't benefit their role or the church's mission.


Providing resources and support for growth

Improvement plans aren't just a "set it and forget it" kind of deal. They require ongoing support and resources to help your staff member grow like a well-tended plant in fertile soil. You have to be involved.  In fact, if you set up the plan, and then neglect follow-up, the plan will die.  And in the end, it would have been better not to have brought up a plan in the first place.


Here's how to give your staff the ongoing nourishment they need:

Access to training and educational opportunities. Knowledge is power, so help your staff members beef up their brains with workshops, courses, and conferences.

Providing mentorship or coaching. Sometimes, the best resource is another human being. Pair your staff member with a mentor or coach who can guide them through their improvement journey like a trusty sherpa.

Encouraging collaboration and teamwork. Improvement isn't a solo sport. Foster a team environment where staff members can learn from one another and grow together.


Monitoring progress and adjusting the plan as needed

Improvement plans are living, breathing documents, and they need regular check-ups to ensure they're still on track. Keep an eye on your staff member's progress, and don't be afraid to tweak the plan if needed. 


Schedule periodic meetings to discuss the staff member's progress, challenges, and any adjustments needed. Remember, you're their biggest cheerleader, so make sure to celebrate their wins and support them through any setbacks.


Sometimes you need to adjust the goals and timelines based on results: If it turns out that a goal is too ambitious or a timeline too tight, don't be afraid to make changes. Flexibility is key in the world of improvement plans.


And when your staff member hits a target, take the time to acknowledge their hard work and success. A little recognition goes a long way in keeping motivation high.


Maintaining open communication throughout the process

The cornerstone of any successful improvement plan is open, honest communication. Make sure to keep the lines of dialogue wide open throughout the process, and encourage your staff member to do the same. 


Create a safe space where your staff member feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Remember, two heads are better than one, especially when it comes to improvement.


When bumps in the road arise (and bumps WILL arise), tackle them head-on as a team. Your staff member will appreciate your support and guidance.


Improvement isn't a one-and-done deal. Encourage your staff members to view it as an ongoing process, and keep the conversation flowing even after the initial plan has been completed.


There you have it: the recipe for crafting improvement plans that'll take your church staff from meh to marvelous. By identifying areas for growth, setting clear goals, providing resources and support, monitoring progress, and maintaining open communication, you can help your team members reach new heights in their ministry roles.


Don’t forget this, though: improvement is a journey, not a destination. The more you support your staff members, the more they grow and evolve. By being patient and trusting the process, you’ll have happier staff members and a more effective overall ministry.




Todd Rhoades

Todd Rhoades

Todd has invested over 30 years in serving churches, having served as a worship pastor for over 15 years, a church elder for more than a decade, and in various ministry leadership roles in both the business and non-profit sectors. As the original founder and developer of ChurchStaffing.com, Todd fundamentally changed the way thousands of churches search for pastors and staff on the internet. Todd is a graduate of Cedarville University, and lives in Bryan, OH with his wife, Dawn.

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