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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

11 Aug '08

Weak staff links

Posted by T.J. Addington in leadership development, transitions
What happens when you have a staff team but one of the members of the team does not function at the level of other members on the team? You know you have a weak link.

Weak links on a team come in a number of forms. They may not have the capacity others have. They may not be team players. They may lack relational EQ. Or, they may not be in philosophical alignment with the leader, the team or the organization. In the later two cases they may be in fact very competent but a weak link nonetheless.


There are four options in dealing with weak links:


One: Ignore the issue


This often happens because of the desire to avoid conflict. Actually, however, this creates more conflict than it avoids. Weak links - for any of the reasons above - put a strain on both the team and the organization and it is a constant frustration and irritation.


Other team members often hold the team leader accountable for not dealing with the problem that they all have to live with. Weak links pull down the rest of the team in a negative fashion. While ignoring the issue is the easy way out, in the end it is a very foolish thing to do.


Two: Place the weak link on a development plan


This is a proactive approach where you clearly articulate the issues to the staff member involved, tell them what needs to change if they are going to be successful on the team and then put in writing a clear description of the above. Development plans always mean tighter supervision for a time to see whether the individual can up their game in the needed area.


Make sure that you document the issues and the plan along with timelines to determine whether progress is being made. In the event you need to use option four below you want to ensure that you have been fair, are legal and have done due process.


Three: Move the weak link to a position where they are no longer the weak link


It is possible that the individual is either out of their skill set or playing at a level to high for them to play at. This option should only be considered if there are not attitudinal, relational, or philosophical problems. In that case go directly to the fourth option!


Four: Move the weak link out of your organization


If option two or three have not worked, or if the individual has a fatal flaw (character, competency, relational or philosophical) which makes it impossible for them to function as healthy staff members in your organization bite the bullet and do what you need to do to transition them out.


Not to do so is to hurt the organization, its mission and the remaining staff. If supervisors or boards cannot make those tough calls they are in the wrong job and should let someone else lead.


Transitioning someone out of the organization should be done legally (talk to an HR person), with grace, with generosity as you are able and with honor but it must be done if you are going to take your ministry to the next level. We honor people but we always do what is best for the ministry.