Three Kinds of Church Staff People

I once heard someone say, “There are three kinds of people in the world. Those who know how to count…and those who don’t.” In fact, many divide people into three different categories. You know: Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who say, “What happened?”

Categorizing people, while typically based on generalizations, and having the potential to lean towards stereotyping, often makes sense. It helps us simplify things. So it is with employees at your church. Here are three kinds of critical church staff people, and thoughts on how best to utilize each type.

Experts get things done. They are those extremely competent staff people who are highly trained and very skilled at what they do. If you want something done, give it to them. They tend to be a bit more task oriented than people focused, but they get the job done efficiently and professionally. They produce exceptional results.

Managers get things done through people. Good managers focus on tasks but realize tasks get done by people. They tend to be people oriented leaders who never lose sight of the job at hand. They know how to get the most out of their people by training, encouraging, listening, correcting, motivating and inspiring. Great organizations have great managers. They are the critical link between employees and production.

Leaders Managers Light A Fire_3Leaders get people done. Management consultant Kathy Austin says, “Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people.” Effective leaders invest in the lives of upcoming leaders! They pass on what they know through direct teaching, but more importantly through an intangible “leadership osmosis factor” that comes from spending time with emerging leaders. Leaders go deeper in developing people than do managers. They can focus on character issues because often times they’ve build the relational capital necessary through a life-on-life discipling/mentoring process.

Many organizations place these three categories in a hierarchal order. In this line of thinking, experts tend to get promoted to managers, who eventually become leaders. This is a critical mistake. If you have a wonderful Care Pastor who is empathetic, pastoral in nature, and truly caring, don’t promote that person to oversee your Care Department. You need a competent manager who is strategic and organized to lead that ministry. It’s a completely different skill set.

Now What?
So, you’ve got experts, managers and leaders on your staff. Now what? Here are a few suggestions. First define what you want. Intentionally create a staffing culture that uses these three categories. Next, determine what you have. Look at your staff and see who fits best into which category. Last, adjust where necessary. Do some managerial training. Make some shifts in staffing to best reflect people’s natural abilities. Sometimes you may have to make tough staffing decisions, but in the long run, your church will function more effectively when your staff members are operating in their sweet spot.