Correcting the Performance

Correcting mistakes and coaching individuals to improve will naturally follow the measuring and evaluating. This is also a part of controlling. When a worker’s performance is not measuring up to the agreed standards, he needs to be corrected and given the opportunity to meet the standards. If he cannot, then he should be removed. Correcting may involve changing the plans, changing the organization, or changing some part of the guiding function.

Christian leaders are quick to remove a person that steals or has a moral problem, but have been too slow to remove people who were ineffective. The practice seems to be to “keep your nose clean” and you will be left alone, even if you don’t accomplish very much. The major purpose of correcting is not to fire, but to improve; but firing is sometimes necessary. The improvement that can come is for the individual and for the organization.

Reasons correction is necessary

1. The worker may not understand the job, and the correction may need to be in the form of clear communication.

2. The worker may have encountered problems and does not know what to do because he was unprepared to deal with them. He needs to be shown what to do in this situation by the supervisor.

3. The job situation may change, even by outside forces that the worker has no control over, and correction is necessary.

4. When the worker is not trained to do the job he is asked to do, and cannot do it, correction is required.

5. The worker may have personal problems that interfere with his ability to do the job.

6. The worker may not have enough motivation to do the job.

7. The worker may be unwilling to do the job.

Right way to correct

1. Correct in private. Always give praise in public, but correct in private.

2. Correct quickly. If correction is too slow in coming, not only is harm done to the organization, but the worker may have forgotten the incident.

3. Be accurate in the analysis of reasons for correction. It can do a lot of harm when a leader begins to make corrections and discovers that he has the wrong set of facts, or has drawn the wrong conclusions.

4. Correct in a positive teaching manner. Correction is sometimes called discipline, and discipline is teaching.

5. Don’t lose emotional control. If the leader loses control of his emotions when correcting a subordinate, he will also lose his effectiveness.

6. Mix correction with praise. In almost every case, a leader can find something good to say about a subordinate. Mix the good in with the correction. Jesus even did this in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation.

7. Be fair and impartial in correction. Fairness is very important when dealing with individuals in a group. This needs to be consistently applied.

8. Appeal to the self-interest of the worker. Make sure the worker understands what the correction will mean to him, and not just to the organization. His self-interest may be keeping his job.

9. Use a progressive discipline procedure:
a) First, use a friendly informal talk by asking, “How are things going?”
b) Second, begin more serious and formal talk, perhaps with a warning and a deadline for change. Here you say, “This is how things are going, and how they need to change.”
c) Third, review proposed changes at deadline time and either give praise, additional suggestions, terminate, or give another deadline.

If proper standards are agreed to before the worker starts to work, and the performance of the worker is measured against these standards, then correction is relatively easy. Correction is necessary if one is going to build a good team of workers in a church. This area needs to be improved in the practices of most Christian leaders.

Measuring Performance

In order to determine how well a church is doing, the church must find a way to measure its performance.

This part of control is referred to as evaluation. Evaluation is a process of comparing what is with what ought to be, in order to determine reasons for success or failure, and how to improve. Through evaluation, the reasons for failure or success are determined. Evaluation is something we all do every day. When a person says, “I like X better than Y,” he is evaluating. When a person says, “He is the best teacher I’ve ever had,” he is evaluating. When a person says, “I thought he would be the one promoted,” he is evaluating. The simplest concept in evaluation is comparison.

This part of control actually has four steps:

1. Gathering data about the present performance

Good records and reports are mandatory for this to be meaningful. The reports may be regular reports or special reports for this occasion. Interviews and questionnaires may also be used to gather data. Observation can be used to gather data. As one gathers data it is wise to remember that people don’t do what we expect, but what we inspect.

2. Comparing data with standards

A comparison of the data gathered on performance to the standards will reveal the strengths and weaknesses. This is when the standards established earlier become so important. If the standards are not available, the data gathered may not mean very much. Some comparison is necessary.

3. Analysis of the findings

Now the object is to not only find the differences, but determine the whys. There are reasons for failing to reach the standards and reasons for exceeding the standards. These reasons need to be discovered and reacted to. Sometimes they provide justification for missing standards.

4. Commendations and recommendations

Recommendations for improvement should now be possible, and this will prepare the way for the final step of control, and that is to correct the performance to conform to the standard. An outsider may be effective in this process, as he will be more objective, ask more questions, and may provide better answers.

How often to measure the performance needs to be established. The “when” might be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually. Southern Association reevaluates colleges every ten years. An emergency situation would cause the measuring to be done more frequently. The importance or danger of a performance would call for more frequent evaluation. How the performance will be measured needs to be planned and understood.

Evaluation of individuals

Evaluation happens as the leader measures the actual work being done by the standards that were established. Here it is important to emphasize results and not activity. Some can be very busy, but not be producing the desired results. Regular reports are one of the most important instruments to use in measuring progress. Weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports all have their place. Without a good set of records and reports it will be difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate the performance of individuals.

The periodic performance evaluation is one of the most important and valuable devices available to evaluate the work of an individual. When properly designed and executed, it becomes the vehicle through which the supervisor and the worker will increase their productivity. These meetings might be used to review the duties as outlined in the job description and see how the actual performance is measuring up to the outline of responsibility.

Standard forms are available for employee evaluations from supply firms. One such form, called a trait-oriented performance appraisal form, has a number of traits, abilities, and characteristics that are considered important for success in business. Each of these has about 5 points to rate the performance of the individual as outstanding, good, fair, or unsatisfactory. The types of things selected for evaluating include: accuracy, alertness, creativity, friendliness, personality, personal appearance, physical fitness, attendance, housekeeping, dependability, drive, job knowledge, quality of work, willingness, cooperativeness, sensitivity to others, resourcefulness, decisiveness, enthusiasm, confidence, initiative, aggressiveness, stability, courtesy, and an overall evaluation. These forms have a place, but they do have certain limitations.

Evaluation of organizations

An organizational evaluation is a part of the long-range planning procedure. It is called an internal audit. It needs to be performed every 5–10 years and maybe more often when major changes are being considered. Organizational evaluation especially might consider using an outside consultant to assist. He will be more objective and less defensive. If a consultant is used, he should prepare a report with commendations and recommendations. The types of areas to evaluate and some possible questions to ask are given below:

1. Evaluation of management
a. Are there goals?
b. Are the goals being met?
c. Is a reporting system in place and being used?
d. Do reports reflect objectives?
e. Do reports show consistent growth?
f. Is the communication system adequate?

2. Evaluation of personnel
a. Is there adequate staff?
b. Is there too much staff?
c. Do all staff members fit?
d. Is there an organizational chart?
e. Does each staff member have a job description?
f. Are job descriptions reviewed every year?
g. Is the enlistment procedure adequate?
h. Is the training adequate?
i. Do staff have goals, and are they being met?

3. Evaluation of program
a. Are physical facilities and equipment adequate?
b. Are physical facilities and equipment excessive?
c. Are the units in the program the right size?
d. Do all programs have clear objectives and goals?
e. Do objectives of each program relate to church’s objectives?
f. Are goals being met?
g. Are goals and objectives understood by workers?
h. Is the program needed?
i. Should the program be altered? How?

4. Evaluation of teaching
a. Is the curriculum adequate?
b. Is the Bible being used in teaching?
c. Is there class participation?
d. Are there a variety of methods being used in teaching?
e. Are AVA materials available and being used?

5. Evaluation of finances
The finance audit should use a Certified Public Accountant and the standard audit procedure.

Establishing Performance Standards

The establishing of a performance standard is a critical part of the procedure. A standard is that which is established as a model, a criterion, or a rule of measurement. It is the answer to what is a good: Sunday school teacher, Sunday school room, worship service, youth program, etc. A unit of measurement that gauges the performance must be established; and then the quality of this unit generated by the person whose performance is being measured must be observed. The leader and the followers need to come to an agreement regarding the quality of work that is to be accomplished. Many times neither a leader nor his followers know what quality or even quantity of work is expected. Unless performance standards are clearly defined, with measurable terminology, people have no way of knowing what is expected of them. The evaluator must also know exactly what he is looking for if the evaluation process is to culminate in a competent report.

Standards are available for some programs to help with the process of evaluation and control.

1. The Southern Association of Colleges and Universities accredit Liberty University. This accrediting association, as well as all others, has established a set of minimum standards for an accredited college.

2. The Southern Baptist Convention has standards established for Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools, and if a church operates their program in such a way that the standards are achieved, the church can receive a certificate of recognition.

3. Lowell Brown has written an excellent book called Sunday School Standards, that sets standards for a Sunday school to use in evaluation and control.

4. In most states, if a church wants to establish a day care center, they will need to get a booklet of minimum standards for a non-profit day care center from the child welfare department of the state government.

The establishment of a unit of measurement is one of the most difficult parts of this task. We use inches and feet to measure distance, candlelight power to measure light, decibels to measure sound, pints and quarts to measure liquids, and other units to measure other things. A unit of measurement of performance must be established for a task. This can be a very difficult task for some service-type jobs. However, if it is not done, then how can a worker know what he is to do? How can a worker know if he is “good” at his job or not if performance standards have not been established?

Although the task will not be easy, a number of things could be considered for measuring the effectiveness of a church or church staff position:

1. The pastor might be evaluated on the basis of attendance, budget, buildings, and baptisms.
2. A youth pastor might be evaluated on the basis of attendance, baptisms, volunteers for full-time Christian service, and number attending Bible colleges.
3. A Minister of Education might be evaluated on the basis of attendance, involvement of membership, and organization efficiency.
4. A day school principal might be evaluated on the basis of the achievement test scores, or the number of graduates going on to college.

Standards for a church could be developed based on purpose, organization, leader-ship, facilities and equipment, growth, finances, planning, reports, and other factors.
Some sample standards are suggested below:
1. An annual increase in attendance of 15%.
2. An annual increase in receipts of 20%.
3. A ratio of baptisms to church membership of 1 to 10.
4. Adding three times more church members than church members lost for all reasons.
5. An average gift of $20 each Sunday for every Sunday School attendee.
6. A budget distribution of 10% for missions and 30% each for staff, programming, and building.
7. No emergency financial appeals.
8. A Sunday School enrollment age distribution that has the same percentages as the age distribution of the area.
9. A fellowship group for every 25 adult members.
10. Seventy percent of adult members having a ministry position.
11. Sixty percent of Sunday School workers completing a training course in the past year.
12. Average of one pastor for every 125 people in attendance on Sunday morning.

Writing standards

Many recommend that the worker prepare the first draft of performance standards. The standard must be built upon the job description. Each of the major responsibilities assigned on the job description should be listed. State the conditions that will exist when these responsibilities have been met. Some newer job descriptions are actually including this type of quantitative qualifying data in them. This should answer such questions as what, how, when, and how many. This actually becomes the standards for the position. The supervisor will then go over these performance standards with the worker.

A type of management by objective approach is sometimes used with management or professional level or workers. Here the worker writes goals for a specific time period, and plans strategies to accomplish these goals, and then has this reviewed by his supervisor. These goals then become the standard used to evaluate his performance. One pastor is using a goal sheet for this purpose called a SCRAM sheet. The letters in the word SCRAM stand for Specific, Challenging, Realistic, Attainable, and Measurable. The title of this sheet is very suggestive, you either meet your goals, or out you go––scram. This is too negative, but the evaluation based on goals used as a standard is a good concept.

Criteria for standards

Five sources of criteria for standards are available:
1. A normative standard can be set which will be based on what ought to be and is somewhat theoretical. This is an ideal standard.
2. A standard could be developed from the historical records of the organization, which would base the standard on what has been done in the past and be an average.
3. The competition could be used; base the standard on what others are doing. The Yearbook of American Churches, denominational reports, or a survey of local churches could be used for this.
4. Critical areas for success could be determined and the standards could be based on the accomplishment of these critical areas. These critical areas are necessary to survive. An income of a certain amount (break-even point) may be a critical area.
5. Currently attainable standards would be based on very efficient operating conditions. They will be very difficult, but not impossible to accomplish. This is probably more than the past historical, and maybe more than the competition, and certainly more than the critical areas for success, but less than the ideal.

Guidelines for standards

Standards should reflect the objectives and priorities of the organization. The standards should be attainable, but challenging. The currently attainable is probably the best source. The standards should allow for a margin of error. It is better to set an acceptable high and low mark, and anything in-between is okay. A system of unnecessarily tight controls will strangle the flow of new ideas essential for the continued growth of the organization and will lead to its death.

The standards that are established should be consistent from year to year. The standard should contain a unit of measure where it is clear when it is met. The standards should emphasize the work in progress and measure it rather than waiting until a task is finished and evaluating the past history. Using standards this way causes correction to be too late. Standards should measure results and not just activity. The church has a lot of activity, but we need results.

Standards should reflect what others are doing (average of competition), but also be individualized for the person and program. Don’t control the trivia. Controls might be established for long-distance phone calls, but please not for use of paper clips.