When Is it Time to Create a New Position?
Feeling under pressure? Overworked? Are you and your team working hard but can’t seem to keep up, let alone get ahead? You are not alone.
Those of us who hire and lead staff live with the tension of knowing how many staff is the right number, what positions are the right positions and when is the right time to hire more people.
Crystal clear vision and strategic alignment can help minimize the differing opinions. But there is always more than one way to successfully design a team. The tension of knowing which way is best will always exist. Having the right people is more important than the right positions—but there is a healthy balance.
Let’s start with some thoughts about why you should not establish a new role or position to hire.
There are seasonal initiatives and a variety of projects that come up across any church calendar year. If your team is truly stretched too far, many of these projects can be handled by short-term, contract-based hires. Don’t hire a new position to get a one-off project done, even if you think you have a near continuous stream of projects coming up.
Grumbling staff members
You might be surprised about how true the old saying is—“The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” True as it may be, if you do give in to an underperforming complaining staff member who wants you to hire them more help, it will kill the morale of your team.
Temporary increases in workload
A little different than the contained project kind of work mentioned above. There are sometimes brief increases in workload for your existing positions. The temptation is to overreact and solve the pressure by hiring another person to help get the work done. Then that position is quickly rationalized because all jobs migrate toward justifying their existence. It’s better to “tough it out,” re-prioritize the work and let something else wait, or ask a volunteer to help.
A staff member is not performing
I have traveled to churches and coached leaders that literally refused to make the tough decision to release a staff member that would not or could not get the job done. Instead, they kept moving the “underperformer” from position to position. In a few cases, they “made up” a job for this person(s) to do. Bad call.
If a volunteer can do it
We are often tempted to hire someone to get a job done that a good volunteer can do. It’s faster and easier, but often not any more effective, and certainly not wise in terms of the budget impact. More important than the budget is allowing the gifts and passion God has given the body of Christ to rise up, get involved and make a difference.
Good reasons and guiding principles for creating a new position:
1. The position follows momentum
Grow a ministry area before you add staff. As a general guideline, hire new positions only when your church is growing. This is more complicated in the case of a church plant or launching a new campus. But even with a start-up, there is ministry momentum. A vision is clear, money has been raised and general support has been generated before anyone receives a paycheck. Bottom line, grow the ministry then add staff. Push repeat.
2.The position advances your vision and expand ministry
Administrative and support positions are very important, they help you keep the people you have, but in general they do not reach new people. Put your new position emphasis on creating roles that help expand your Kingdom reach first. Design new positions that clearly advance the vision. Hire support roles slowly and wisely. When you do hire support staff, always ask the question of the staff who receives the help, “What will you do with the time you get back?”
3.The position allows you to focus on your priorities
Why you hire is as important as what position you create. For example, far too often an administrative assistant is hired to make someone’s life easier. Bad call. A good assistant should make you more productive not more comfortable. When you hire staff to “free you up” in order to focus on key priorities, you actually have to tenaciously tend to those priorities. It is altogether too easy to allow the newly found time to get sucked in the lost grind of more stuff to do.
4.The position is backed by financial resources
Many of my colleagues have stepped out in faith to raise money for a new position, and while I can admire that, it’s also a substantial risk based on some pretty big assumptions. In that scenario, I recommend that you realistically build at least one half the salary into the budget, before raising the rest.
Action steps in creating a new position:
Write a detailed job description
Make sure your key leaders are in agreement
Identify how you will fund the new position
I trust that this post will serve you as a starting point for good conversations about new positions and hiring smart.