5 ways to recruit and retain the right people

By David A. Miller

One of the things that I’m asked most often in my role at Slingshot Group is how to recruit and retain the right people for the right role.

Over the years, I’ve identified five things a potential candidate is looking for in his or her next church. Church leaders, keep these things in mind when searching for the right fit for your team.

#1: Location

Your church location can be one of your biggest assets or one of your biggest drawbacks. When interviewing someone, look for something that connects the candidate to the city or region. It could be that the candidate grew up in that area or has family nearby, or simply that he or she follows the local baseball team.

Though it’s wise to search for connections, it’s also important to treat each candidate as an individual. Some of the best hires I’ve facilitated have been candidates moving across the country to a region they have no connection to, and yet they fit.

#2: Influence

Many candidates want to know ahead of time if they’ll have a seat at the leadership table with their new position. While the answer varies from role to role, it’s important for church leadership to make clear the “voice” a new hire will have on the team and in the church.

Churches often look for a “leader of leaders” when they’re filling a position that serves as a manager of something that already exists. This becomes an issue when you’re looking for a “charge the hill” personality for a role that will ultimately have little to no influence in the entire church.

If you want to encourage a leader to stay on your staff long-term, give them influence with his or her role.

#3: Upward mobility

Mobility is the opportunity to move from role to role within the organization or church. When it comes to filling positions, many churches fail to realize that they can use upward mobility as a recruitment tool. Lateral moves can be unattractive to candidates. When someone ends up working in a similar environment and in a similar role to their last, they get bored quickly. They continuously make comparisons and begin to feel dissatisfied, as though they’ve taken a step backwards.

Many strong candidates are looking for what’s next in their ministry career. It’s important for church leadership to embrace this.

#4: Salary

When it comes to salary, make sure that the candidate’s expectations and your church’s expectations are in the right place before you move forward. The goal is to

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find a candidate who meets the majority of what you’re looking for, who you can afford to pay. It’s like buying a house — if “Property Brothers” has taught me anything, it’s that we always want more house than we can afford.

Don’t wait until the very end of the interview process to talk about money. As a general practice at our company, we discuss the candidate’s salary expectations at the beginning of the interview process to maintain clarity and keep everyone on the same page.

#5: Unique mission or culture

Take a moment to identify what’s unique about your church. For some, you’re in a location that causes you to think outside of the box. For others, there’s something unique about the way your staff interacts and cares for one another, or the way you train and resource.

When a church understands what makes it unique, it has a higher possibility of attracting the candidate it’s looking for.

When it comes to recruitment and retention, remember that fit matters most, and when you find that right fit — hold onto it.

Many of the best team members consistently think about these five things. If we as leaders don’t address these aspects of a role, we will lose them to another church that sees their potential. Create an environment where the people on your staff couldn’t imagine leaving.

So, how are you doing?

Take a few minutes to self-evaluate these five things. Although most churches won’t be able to score 100-percent on each, you can work towards optimizing the one or two areas in which your church is naturally strong. Think of these areas like a bar graph: If you’re low in numbers 2 and 5, then numbers 1 and 3 should make up for the deficit.

David A. Miller is Lead Associate of the Coaching Division at Slingshot Group. Over the past 15 years, Miller has had the privilege of serving as a pastor, mentor, speaker and teacher in thriving multisite churches and parachurch ministries.


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