Conflict Resolution and Staff PerformanceSep 12, 2023
A Conflict-Free Staff is a Well-Performing Staff
Have you read my Performance Evaluations Are Overrated post? Take a look at it. In 30 years of leadership, the short version is that I've never seen a performance appraisal that improves performance. They are annual exercises companies go through to deliver pay increases, etc. They amount to a "check in the box," with everyone rushing to get them done. Consequently, very little real effort is put into them.
As an executive pastor, I took a very different approach. It was a simple form that everyone on staff completed on every other person on staff. Then, they'd schedule time together to discuss their feedback. The time together was the most important part. In fact, the team only used the form as an outline to follow and as a record that the process had been completed.
What was the objective? Everyone got and gave lots of input, but the most important part of the process was minimizing conflict. When staff is required to give feedback, they can look each other in the eye and share anything about the other person that bugs them or affects them positively or negatively. Doing this over time (along with weekly staff meetings and other staff relationship development activities) results in a staff that works very well together. The level of collaboration is kept very high, resulting in high overall performance.
As an executive coach, I'm meeting with a number of other executive pastors (and other church leaders) throughout the week. One of the biggest topics of conversation is related to this subject. Most church leaders deal with moderate to severe "staff issues." Basically, a bunch of little issues between staff members collectively amount to lots of pain for the leader. They can see them, but they have difficulty dealing with them.
Like many other issues the leader faces, I'm telling you that solutions come from an intentional effort to implement methods that work. In this case, the method used for annual performance evaluations should be designed to create a culture of collaboration and minimal conflict. Individual performance improves, and, at least as important, overall staff performance improves.