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Staff Search

How To Onboard A Team Member Well

It's easy to assume that staff will just easily find their way into your culture. But don't overlook the power of onboarding with intention!


Don't Ruin Your Hire After They've Signed On

In this video Matt and Todd sit down to talk about some practical strategies churches can use to make sure their onboarding of new staff members goes as smooth as possible.

P.S. If you want EVEN MORE resources on this be sure to download our FREE Staff Onboarding Playbook below!

Download Chemistry's Onboarding Playbook now


Full Transcript:


Todd Rhoades: Well hey, I'm Todd Rhoades with Chemistry Staffing here with Matt Steen also from Chemistry Staffing. And today, Matt, we've got a question that came in asking us, "So what do you do after you hire somebody?" How do you make a good first impression and do a good job at onboarding them and making them feel a part of your church. Any tips?


Matt Steen: No. None whatsoever. That was the quickest call ever.


Todd Rhoades: That was a very quick call.


Matt Steen: So here's the best tip I can give you. Are you ready for this one?


Todd Rhoades: Yep.


Matt Steen: Here's the deal. A lot of times churches think that the goal of the hiring process is to get somebody to say yes... and that's really not the goal.


Todd Rhoades: They look at that as kind of the finish line?


Matt Steen: They kind of look at that as the finish line. They think everybody says yes and then everything's good, the party happens, and all that kind of nonsense. That's not it. The goal of the hiring process it get somebody into your culture and starting to live and breathe your DNA. Right? You want them to be there for a few months and feel totally comfortable and not remember what life was like at their old church or what life was like before they were a part of your team. What that does is that really, you shift that finish line and it really makes the whole experience a whole lot better for the people that you've got coming. You know, you look at the list of the most stressful things that happen in the life of a person. Somewhere in the top five is changing jobs and moving. Theresa and I just moved. We moved from Sacramento to Orlando, and I will affirm that it is one of the most stressful things that a family can do. The fact that I am not six feet under right now is a testament to the patience of my wife because I can be a little bit annoying. But one of the things that a good church does during this hiring process is make sure that they're caring well for the people that they've got, that they're uprooting and bringing into their team. So keeping in touch with them. Don't go radio silent after you make the hire. Be checking in with them. "Hey, how is it going?" Being forthcoming with information so if you guys are going to pay for a relocation package or something like that, know what that relocation package is, be able to express it. Don't make them wait for you to come back and say, hey, this is how much you're getting, this is how the process works. You want to be upfront with that. You want to be able to resource them with realtors. You want to be able to resource them with people in the area that can help them figure out where they're going to live and know how to make the move easy. Those types of things, without forcing it on them, but just have that stuff together and ready. The other piece of this is help them unload the truck. Have some welcome baskets. Send them little gifts along the way to let them know that you're thinking of them and you know that they're coming, they’re expected. Here's the last thing that I'll say and then I'll turn it over to you, Todd. Make sure you're ready for them on the first day. Todd, I hear the story all the time and this has happened to me a couple of times. I've moved across the country to a church, walk into the office on my first day, and it's the boss' day off so he's not going to be there to meet me. Or I walk into the office that's supposed to be mine and the last person's stuff is still in there. "We'll get to it in a week or so." Those are things that make people feel like, hey, they weren't ready for me, they weren't expecting me, oh no what did I get myself into. Right? What'd I miss, Todd?


Todd Rhoades: I made a little list here too. I think you hit on most of them. So I agree. Before the first day, between the time that they say yes and the time that is actually their first day, don't make them ask all the questions. Be proactive with them, whether it's salary or getting them set up with their tax forms and all of that or moving. All of that, make sure that you're on top of that. It's not the finish line when they say yes. Saying yes, having them say yes that they want to come join your team is cause for victory, but you're not across the finish line yet. Make sure that you don't drop the ball after they say yes. I would say too, Matt, that it's the little things that count, particularly when they hit the ground. I hear stories all the time of the moving truck showing up, if they're driving it, or the moving truck shows up if they're using a moving service and there being nobody there to help them. So I've got me and my wife and my three little snotty-nosed kids and a whole truck that needs to be unloaded. That just leaves a horrible first impression, as does - and this actually happened, didn't happen to me but it happened to the church that I was at. We were a small church. Senior pastor, I was the worship pastor, and we hired a youth pastor. Youth pastor's first day there, the pastor it wasn't only his day off, he was on vacation for the whole week. And there was no office setup, no desk at all. This guy just walked in and said, "Hey, I'm here." It's like... I didn't know what to do. But I put myself in his shoes and I thought, that has to make him feel very valuable - not. So make sure that you meet them at the office. Do a little banner or something, a little gift basket for the new staff member and his family with just, like I said, the little things. We live in Bryan, Ohio. When we bring a new staff member on, home of the Dum Dum factory, all the Dum Dum suckers in the whole world are made in Bryan, Ohio. So we'll do a gift basket with a big package of Dum Dum suckers. We'll have maybe a t-shirt for everybody in their family, including their kids, from the local school system, maybe some kind of... anything kind of local, maybe some gift certificates to local restaurants that they can use their first couple of weeks here. Those things, while they're little and detailly-type things, those things make a huge impression. Not only on the employee but also on the spouse of the employee, which I find many times churches forget about the spouses. This is a hard thing, particularly for spouses, to move across the country. The person that's taking the job is fully invested in that, right? The spouse many times, they have the kids or they have everything but they're not at the church all the time, so it's hard for them to feel connected So anything you can do to introduce them to other staff spouses, to kind of help them feel at home. Some nice flowers or cookies or something when they get there. All those things I think are just... you think these things should kind of go without saying, but I think we're so busy when we bring new people on that we've got 20 million other things to do that we don't think about it until, "Oh crap, Brad's going to be here this morning." "Oh crap, Brad moved in last night. Whoops." You know what I mean? So that would be my advice. Don't look at it as the finish line because it's not and do those little things. This sounds so cliché, but I was trying to put myself in the other person's shoes. What would make me feel welcomed? What would make me feel at home? What would make me feel isolated? And I don't want the isolated. But I think you hit most of those.


Matt Steen: This is enough of a struggle for churches. What we've done is we've created a resource for churches that we would love to give you for free. So down below you'll see a link for this, but basically it's an onboarding playbook. And this is an interactive pdf. You can put dates and names to assign tasks to, and it's got checklists and all sorts of things, just really best practices on how to set somebody up well for that first day, how to follow up with them after that first day, whether it's weeks or 90 days in or six months in, how to just make sure that they're families are feeling loved and respected and cared for in this process. And honestly this is one of those things where you get one shot on this. You get one shot to set this up well, and so many times churches that do this well end up having somebody that's going to be there for a good, long while. Whereas churches that maybe don't put as much intentionality, the chances of this being a long-term fit just go down drastically. So would love for you guys to check that out, just click below. And we'd love to know, what are the best things that you guys have seen or done when you've brought staff onto your team.

Matt Steen

Matt Steen

Matt has served the local church for over two decades as a youth pastor, church planter, and executive pastor. Originally from Baltimore, Matt currently lives in Orlando, with his wife Theresa, and has a B.S. in Youth Ministry from Nyack College and an M.Div. and MBA from Baylor University. Certified as an Urban Church Planter Coach by Redeemer City to City and as a StratOp facilitator by the Paterson Center, Matt has made a career of helping churches thrive through intentionality, clarity, and creating healthy cultures. He is convinced that a healthy church is led by a healthy team with great chemistry, and loves partnering with Chemistry’s churches to do great things for the Kingdom.

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