Working With Staff in Transition

This is a summary of our discussion at the May 31, 2022 TPN gathering.

One of our areas of discussion at the May 31st transitional pastor’s gathering had to do with supporting staff in a time of transition. Here are some thoughts.

Meet with the staff one on one. Ask them what their dream is. Help them achieve their dream.

Make sure the staff are included in some of the initial transitional board meetings, or at least help them be aware of the transitional process.

Pay attention to the different questions the staff ask versus the board.

Include staff in the assessment. Keep the staff apprised of transitional plans.

Empathize with the staff and their long transitional experience that begins before the lead pastor leaves and continues for some time after a new lead pastor arrives.

Be alert to the possibility that they may have an inherent distrust of you.

Before you go in, try to understand the culture of the previous pastor. How did he function in relation to control? His relationship with the staff? What was the relationship between the board and the staff?

If there are issues between the board and the staff, begin to carve out a new way of relating.

Continually ask yourself, what do this staff actually need? What is their corporate level language?

Understand yourself what kind of context you can best work in in terms of size of staff or the nature of the staffing.

Affirm their corporate knowledge. Let them know that you know they know more, or at least different things than others do, including the board.

As in counseling, what a client says in the first 20 minutes is never the real issue, but rather a test if they can trust you. Understand this same dynamic as you meet with the staff. They need to trust you for you to hear what they know.

Be alert to any board and staff division.

If there is the possibility of an internal candidate, lay out the process quickly and let people know what the process will be.

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