Balancing Grace & Accountability – Evaluating Staff

Dr. Glenn Miller, host of the Leadership and the Church podcast, and CEO of Miller Management, is joined by his colleague Jenifer Ross, VP at Miller Management.

Balancing Grace with Accountability – Evaluating Staff

In part one of this series we laid the Backdrop of Grace & Accountability, in part two we discussed how to Set Staff Up for Success, in week three we looked at How to Manage and Assess Staff over the Long Haul. Today’s episode will cover the last part in the series, how to evaluate staff if they are no longer living up to expectations.

Four Quadrants of Employee Styles

According to Hersey & Blanchard’s four quadrant situational leadership theory, employees can be delineated into four different categories based on skill and attitude or ability and their willingness.

The four quadrants can be designated as the following:

  • Bottom Left: unable to do their job & unwilling to learn or get better
  • Bottom Right: unwilling but are able (bad attitude, have the ability)
  • Top Left: willing & unable (good attitude, low skillset)
  • Top Right: both willing & able (the people we want to hire!)

According to Hersey & Blanchard, each quadrant has to be managed differently. Our host agrees with the premise, but for ministry purposes, he believes we need to look at it a little differently.

Quad 1: Unwilling & Unable

These people need to know where they are, and be able to show they can move quickly from this space to be able to stay.

We ended part one with starting with prayer, and that’s where we need to start again today. These folks are definitely the challenging group. “If we don’t already have good HR systems in place, this is when we quickly learn how to develop methods for tracking performance, how to create performance improvement plans, and the regulations surrounding terminations,” says our guest.

Quad 2: Unwilling & Able

These are the bad attitude people. They would also exhibit acceptable or good work.

Jennifer wishes that these scenarios would get better over time, but it doesn’t usually happen. “A bad attitude is only going to makes things worse by how it impacts our ministry.” Ultimately it is a virus – a black cloud – the bad attitude is contagious. As a manager, we can start with coaching on the personal side. Early & often, as Glenn describes.

Quad 3: Willing & Unable

Great attitude, but can’t do the job. Like we mentioned earlier in this series, they may just be in the wrong role at your organization.

The struggle of the balance of grace is the hardest here. But we shouldn’t let people get a pass just because they are a “nice person.” Like in quadrant 1, performance plans may come back in to play. We might find another role them inside of the ministry. They are ultimately the “hardest folks to terminate, because we genuinely like them, and so does everyone else,” notes our guest.

Quad 4: Willing & Able

Finally, the Ideal Team Player – they are willing and able employees. But, they aren’t perfect.

We still can hire them and let them go. They need the same training plan that everyone else has. They will move through it quicker, maybe even get awarded faster. They employ a great attitude and high skill – what we want in ministry. We want to keep around, even though there will be bumps. Can be the most deceptive – because managers will want to step back and let them go. But that is not right either, as far as grace and accountability go. We still need to spend time with these folks.

People can change quadrants overtime, so don’t be discouraged. Assess where they are at, but don’t be deceived that that is where they always will be, notes our host.

When it’s Time to Say Goodbye

“Hiring and Firing in ministry is like hiring or firing family; it’s really, really hard.” – Glenn Miller

Glenn has several strategies to think about before we get to the final stage of firing. This isn’t an overnight assessment, or on a whim. First, put it back on yourself. Have we done enough to train and coach the employee.

Did we give them time to respond to the feedback they were given? Have we been clear? This may be the time for written guidelines. Did we set expectations, within certain time frames? Have we extended sufficient grace?

Then we go back to the final check point from our Hiring episode. The 5 C’s as the final filter if a change needs to happen. Do these people have: Competent, Character, Chemistry, Commitment, & Called – rate 1 through 10 in each section. That will help you determine if they should keep coming, or if it’s time to say goodbye. In a loving, caring, and compassionate manner.

Strength in the Balance

“As ministry leaders we feel pressure to use Grace only, but we can’t ignore the Accountability side. Not holding folks accountable will only create other pain points in our organization. So stay strong in the balance.” – Jennifer Ross

On that note of strength and balance, you will love what we have in store for next month. Minister Leader and Staff Care, just in time for Pastor Appreciation Month in October. Join us next week for the first part in the series.

Join the conversation, see behind the scenes, and learn more on our Instagram and Twitter.

Special thanks to our guest, Jennifer Ross, and our master of all things podcasting, Chris Miller, for this fourth episode in The Balancing Grace with Accountability series.