How to Make Smart Staffing Decisions

Three weeks ago I participated in my first Purpose Driven Church Conference in Lake Forest, CA with Pastor Rich Warren as the host.  Wow! Practical, purposeful, encouraging and inspiring with lots of ideas shared. In this post I simply share one of the 45 minute breakout sessions dealing with choosing the right leaders as staff.  

“An employer who hires any fool that comes along is only hurting everybody concerned.”  Pr. 26:10

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”  Pr. 21: 5 (NLT)



  • Hire slow, fire fast.

“The stupidest leadership mistake I’ve made is hiring too fast and waiting too long to fire.”  -Tony Morgan.

  • Hire internally motivated, low maintenance staff!
    • Problem solvers
    • People magnets
    • Proactive
    • Probe your process (look internal first; “re-potting” of employees if you can; then look outside you leadership development pipeline)
    • Pioneer New Ideas
  • Bad hiring decisions are common and costly.

“As much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.  If the mistake is caught within six months, the cost of replacing that employee is still going to cost you two and one-half times the person’s salary and you’ve succeeded at lowering staff morale.”  (Saddleback HR Director)

  • Understand the pay me now or pay me later principle. (Pray and perform due diligence with candidates)
  • Never make a hiring decision by yourself.  (Be especially vigilant when hiring friends and family members into your system)

  • Understand the 6 C’s of smart staffing decisions.
    • Calling from God (can they really articulate it?)
    • Character (Integrity, honesty, humility, EQ, soft skills)
    • Competency (Job skills, hard skills)
    • Capacity (Leadership lid, coachable, capacity to learn and grow)
    • Chemistry (Cringe test, fit with existing team – trust your first impression)
    • Culture (DNA of church, vision, values)
  • Hire from within if at all possible.
    • Get a known quantity
    • Already on board with the vision



    1. Start with the end in mind (right to left thinking).  Use a written process that…
      • Describes the job description
      • Explains the expectations of the job
      • Is clear about key responsibility areas
      • Lists the competencies needed to fulfill the job
      • Has a scorecard – What does success look like?
    2. Develop an interviewing process.
      • Ask tough questions (moral and ethical)
      • Ask behavioral questions (what have they actually accomplished?)
      • Meet sooner rather than later to keep your process moving (respects all parties)
      • Hidden secret – Interview the spouse
    3. Never negotiate the critical issues.  (Values, culture, character, doctrine, ministry philosophy)
    4. Always assess the candidate.
      • Test them (MMPI, DISC, SF 2.0, CDAT, Myers-Briggs, Thinking Wave Length, LEAD etc)
      • Things your organization needs to know about them (Wiring, background, work style, passions, personality, values, work pace, internal or external motivation, MAC or PC?)
      • You are looking for people who are strong where you are weak
    5. Always check background references.
      • Go 2-3 deep from original names given
      • Ask the most important question:  Would you hire them again?
    6. Observe the candidate in action at their current environment and at yours.
      • Casual, social, competitive and spiritual
      • Have them perform 
    7. Use the larger network.
      • Find someone you know who can vouch for them.
      • Beware of “He’s a good guy”

I hope you received a nugget or two to apply to your ministry context as you hire more leaders.

(Minor Edits Keith Korver)
(Purpose Driven Church Conference June 2018)

Share this:

Facebook Twitter Google Plus

Related Articles

A Book Review on the Power of the 72

Is Your Church Really Established?

1 Comment

  1. Wow. This was very timely. We are in the search for two new staff persons for Worship and Student Ministries. This summarized some past mistakes we have made which we need to avoid this go around. Thank you for putting this together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *