Equipping Our Workers-Part II

After taking a break from our continuing series on the State of the Conference for our annual Camp Meeting series, we now return.

We have been discussing what we have called “The 7 E’s”, which are the core values that guide the direction of our conference.

Since we have been away for a while, let us re-state what “The 7 E’s “ are:

Evangelizing Our Conference

Equipping Our Workers

Educating Our Children

Engaging Our Young Adults

Enunciating Our Expectations

Evaluating Our Results

Entreating Our God

Last time, we gave you some general information about the nearly 200 people who work for you in the South Central Conference. Today, we want to share with you how we try to go about equipping, or training our staff.

From the outset, we said that we shall only address in this space, the training of the Pastoral staff and the office staff. The other two employee categories are the educational staff and the Literature Evangelist staff; we said their training is done by the heads of their respective departments. As it relates to the equipping/training of our Pastors and our office staff, we have emphasized two things: Evaluation and Education.

Most of you who are in the secular workforce are familiar with evaluations-most of you receive them on at least a yearly basis. For various reasons-and, I am not sure of all of those reasons myself-over the years, evaluations have not been a part of the training of either our Pastoral or office staff-it just has not happened.

We believe, however, that evaluations are a vital part of the training of all of our workers.  At their best, evaluations, affirm strengths-they tell you what you are doing right, and they point out weaknesses-so that you can fix what you are doing wrong-so you can correct those things.

Because evaluations have not been a part of the pastoral and office culture in our conference, I thought that the Conference President should get evaluated first. So, at one of our meetings, I passed out an evaluation form to our Pastors and asked them to evaluate me. After that evaluation was done, I then had the office staff evaluate me as well.

These evaluations were done anonymously, to give the staff the opportunity to be candid.  In additional to answering the questions that were asked, on a 1-5 scale, about their assessment of the Conference President, there was also space for the staff to provide additional remarks-also anonymously. What I wish I had done, in the interests of transparency, but did not think to do was to have tabulated the evaluations of me by the Pastors and then, shared the results of those evaluations and said, “Here are the results of your evaluation of me”.

Additionally, the Executive Committee is given a form at the end of each face-to-face meeting (which occurs four (4) times per year; additionally, there are periodic phone conferences to address issues that need to be addressed between our face-to-face meetings) that is designed for them to evaluate the President’s performances in his chairing of the Executive Committee.

I also took what is called the Myers-Briggs Test, which is designed to help you discover your leadership style. It points out the strengths and weaknesses that are attached to your particular leadership style.

I took the Myers-Briggs test at a meeting of Conference Presidents. I brought the results home and went over them with my Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Laurene Brown, and said to her,” These are the results of my Myers-Briggs test. Does this sound like me? “The less than positive traits that this test points out – I do those things?”  It was very helpful.

We paid to have several of our Pastors take the Myers-Briggs test-the goal is for all of them to take it.

As part of a system that is designed to help our office run more efficiently, I am evaluated every two years by my Administrative Assistant, relative to my performance as a supervisor.  Each of the other administrative assistants/office secretaries provides a similar evaluation of the person for whom they work.

Lastly, there is a less formal evaluation of the office staff in there yearly face-to-face meeting with each individual (except for the Conference Secretary and the Conference Treasurer) and the Conference President. These meetings, which last between 30 minutes to an hour, take place during the months of September and October every year. It gives me the opportunity to listen to every person on our office staff-part-time and full-time,-and to hear about their goals, ambitions, frustrations, etc.

At the end of each meeting, I say to the staff member: Here are the things that I would like to affirm about your ministry in this office and here are some things that I need to address.

I always tell the staff member that the affirming is what I like to do; the addressing is what I have to do.  The affirmation is where I get to say to the staff member: “Here are a few of the things that you do in this office that bring value to our conference” The things “that I need to address” is my way of saying, as gently as possible, “Here are the areas that I need you to work on”.

It is the least favorite part of my responsibility-the part where I have to point out what I think are areas where a worker is not doing as well as I think they need to be doing and where I have to hold them accountable.

I do not believe that anyone really enjoys hearing about the areas where they are not doing well-I certainly do not enjoy saying those kinds of things.

But, at the end of the day, if I do not hold the people who work for the conference accountable, then, there really is no one else who can. It is a part of what comes with having this position.

I always end with “Here are a few things that I would like to affirm about your ministry in this conference”. I think that it is very important that people do not just hear what they are doing wrong from me, but that they also hear from me the things that they are doing right, the things that I appreciate-the things that they do that make South Central a better place.

Because I have the privilege of having this particular office, I am the person that everyone sees. But there are a lot of people who you hardly ever see-employees and laypersons alike-who make this conference the special and blessed place that it is.

I know all of this sounds very routine to all of you who work in the secular world, but it is all very new to the South Central Conference, and it is designed to prepare the way for the final piece of the evaluation of our Pastors.

We shall talk about that process, and also, the other things that we are trying to do to equip our Pastors, when we get together next time.