Unfortunately, not even in the church, will every worker be an ideal one. Problems will occur that will have to be dealt with. Here are some ideas on how to deal with problem workers.
There are a number of things that can cause good workers to become problem workers. It is good to recognize some of them at the beginning.
The volunteer is not really motivated to do the work in the first place, or has lost motivation over time.
The volunteer does not know what they should do, or how they should be doing it.
The volunteer does not understand or agree with the reason for doing the work, or doing it the way that you believe it should be done.
The volunteer has not been consulted in the nature of the work assigned to him and resents this fact.
There are no incentives for the volunteer to perform to standard and no negative consequences for poor performance.
The volunteer thinks his performance is at an acceptable level.
There are other obstacles or other people preventing the volunteer from performing.
The volunteer has other concerns, which are considered more important than performing his work.
The volunteer is deriving some sense of satisfaction out of the mis-performance.
There are warning signs that something is wrong. Consider the demonstration of any of these behaviors a warning that something is wrong; a combination of several of these needs to be seen as symptomatic of a serious underlying problem.
The quality and quantity of work declines. The worker makes many mistakes.
The worker often comes late to assignments.
The volunteer simply does not show up for work or meetings.
There is a palatable lack of enthusiasm.
Rarely, if ever, does the worker make suggestions or show initiative.
A normally verbal and open volunteer becomes silent.
The worker continues to avoid parts of the job.
Workers blame others for their short comings.
They are less agreeable, or cooperative, and whine or complain regularly.
They avoid interaction with colleagues and make sure they are unavailable for social interaction.
Co-workers and direct supervisors complain about the worker and his performance.
They ignore timeliness and due dates for projects.
Reports reach managers of the worker bad-mouthing the organization and key leaders.
They explode over insignificant instances; reactions are out of proportion to incidents.
They project an attitude of nothing is right.
Find out the real issues
a. Has something changed in their personal life that is forcing a shift of priorities?
b. Are they the victim of misinformation?
c. Are they upset about a specific occurrence and fighting back by reducing productivity?
d. Have they burned out?
Fences or limits of authority of volunteers need to be established and maintained. Some will take on too much authority and cause problems for others. Areas of limits should include authority, responsibility, time, and money. The volunteer may actually be more relieved to be confronted than anything else. Many people know deep down that the job wasn’t right for them, and are as unhappy as you are about their poor performance and, consciously or not, are glad to have you take them off the hook. Sometimes this will be so, though not always.
There are other things that will cause a worker to become a problem, including fear of change, insecurity, desire for power and control, changes in life stages, unqualified, or a lack of motivation.
When there is a problem worker, steps can be taken:
Analyze the problem by asking five questions:
1) Is this isolated behavior?
2) Is it a recurring pattern?
3) Is it my problem or someone else’s?
4) Is the focus of the problem the person, the job, a relationship, or a combination of these?
5) What strategies for solution are available?
Determine a strategy to follow: direct confrontation, third party, or altering the work environment.
Go to the worker. When dealing with a problem worker, it is better to take the initiative and go to the worker. Discuss the job, and check the worker’s expectations and understanding of the job. Ask him how he thinks he is doing?
1) Confront the worker ASAP
2) Separate the person from the wrong action
3) Confront only what the person can change
4) Give the person the benefit of the doubt
5) Be specific
6) Avoid sarcasm
7) Avoid words like always and never
8) Tell the person what you feel about what was done wrong
9) Give the person a game plan to fix the problem
10) Affirm him as a person and a friend
Termination of a volunteer
1. Several things can be done to prevent having to terminate a volunteer:
a. Careful recruitment
b. Clear directions
c. Consistent communication
d. Concern for individuals
2. If termination is necessary, an agenda for a termination meeting is suggested. Before the meeting, if necessary, get approval from the pastor or next level.
a. Review past evaluation sessions. Affirm positive qualities, but also point out the problems.
b. Comment on lack of improvement in problem areas.
c. Allow for response of the volunteer.
d. Finally, request the resignation and terminate the meeting.
3. Other considerations
a. The fact of a termination interview should not come as a surprise.
b. It should occur following a number of performance appraisal interviews that were dealing with the problems.
c. Compassion needs to be shown to the worker.
d. Attempt to redirect his talents into more acceptable areas.
e. A brief meeting is generally better.
Terminating an employee is by far the most difficult of the tough decisions a leader faces. It is also one of the most important decisions he can make. In fact, removing poor performers from an organization is as important as finding good ones. Terminating a poor performance benefits the organization and everyone in it.
If someone isn’t working out in the job he volunteered for, remember: the person isn’t wrong––the job is wrong for the person. There is a place for everyone. Think of somewhere else for that person to serve, either within the youth ministry or in another church related ministry.
Transferring a person from one area of responsibility to another isn’t quite the same as firing outright, and doesn’t have the same psychological effect.
If the bottom line is that this person must go––if everything reasonably possible has been done to help the volunteer succeed, and due to a lack of willingness or ability the situation continues––then brace yourself and proceed. It’s your responsibility. Never lower standards for a volunteer.
Alternatives to termination
a. Re-supervise and make sure the rules are clear
b. Re-assign or transfer to a new position
c. Re-train if the training did not take, perhaps using a different method
d. Re-vitalize and give a short rest period when burnout is evident
e. Refer for counseling
f. Retire, if can no longer do the work
a. Official letter of warning
b. Follow-up meeting with a letter of documentation
c. Probation with explicit goals
a. Records of the deficiencies in the performance, giving specific
b. Written records of the times you spoke about their conduct with indication of the steps they agree to take to correct the performance
and notes on the timeframe for any change in behavior
c. Records of statements by others about the conduct or performance
d. Records of steps in the evaluation process: warnings, performance agreements, formal evaluations, probation, etc.
b. Documentation – do your homework
c. No surprises – unemotional
d. Inform pastor
a. Don’t rush
b. Don’t renew (annual election)
c. Don’t delay
a. Private appointment
b. Self-evaluation by worker
c. Confront, if necessary, if worker doesn’t realize problems
d. Affirm positive qualities
e. Allow resignation
f. Redirect talents
When a person leaves a volunteer position for any reason, it would be good if the supervisor could conduct an exit interview. Some open-ended questions that could be asked are as follows:
1. This ministry position has been _______.
2. The major frustrations have been _______.
3. The training I received included _______.
4. The support I received consisted of _______.
5. The following resources were helpful to me: _______
6. The highlights for me were _______.
7. The major accomplishments were _______.