Reward your best. Move the worst out. Otherwise you keep the marginal. The marginal want you to keep the worst because the average worker looks good compared to them. Your best want to be challenged with other peak performers. I learned this in the Pepsi organization who adopted Jack Welch’s approach: promote the top 10%, terminate the bottom 10% and develop the rest.
Why You Say
When newly assigned in the corporate world I would terminate the worst performer in short order. After this action, the message was clear; excel or find another place to work. The achievers loved it and got better. They pulled the marginal up as well. The poor performers were very easy to identify thereafter. They aren’t bad people. It simply means there is a better place for them to flourish. You owe to your team to help them see this. You also owe it to the poor performer too. They need to be in an environment where they will flourish.
Does this apply to the church?
The short answer is, “yes.” Here’s why.
In Acts 13.13 John Mark leaves Paul and Barnabas and returns to Jerusalem. Interesting to note is Barabas and Mark are cousins. Later in Acts 15, the very thought of Mark accompanying Paul on their next missionary work caused a schism and Paul and Barnabas go separate ways. This act multiplied the work of the Lord. Paul took Silas and Barnabas left with Mark. Paul did not trust Mark to carry on in the work. Barnabas took a risk with Mark and later we see Paul asking for Mark to come to him in 2 Timothy 4.11.
Here is the principle: Every person needs feedback
Dr. Henry Cloud’s, Necessary Endings, addresses this principle as well as anything I’ve ever read. In this, he claims that we are all in need of pruning all of the time in one of three categories:
- Healthy activity or results but not the best. Good but not great
- Unhealthy activity or results that need performance management. Poor but can be trained or disciplined
- Activity or results that are taking up space and there is clearly a need to terminate. You’ve coached and counseled and there is no improvement
I would add a fourth
Over-production that leads to burn out. I once had a Camelia bush that produced too many buds too early in the season. I removed more than half the buds each year to keep the roots strong.
If I apply these ideas to the question I was asked on LinkedIn I would say there are times when the Camelia bush is in the wrong soil. This is true with people as well. I have encouraged people to resign (find different soil in which to flourish) and some have made the decision on their own. In my personal journey this is true. My gifting is that of an architect, not a builder. At New Life Christian Church there was a time when we needed an architect. Now we need a builder, something I am not. For this and other reasons I have decided to leave the church I love and I believe this is best for me and the church. I think New Life will experience even more dramatic growth with someone else at the helm. As a young leader this would have been difficult for me. Self awareness demands we recognize our strengths and our weaknesses.
What Do You Love?
Several years ago I was asked what I most love doing, and I said, “I love coaching.” I would answer that question differently today. I would say that, “I love helping people become the person they most desire to be; the person God created them to be.” In other words, “to help people to become the architect of their own lives.” This is why I became a certified professional coach. This is the essence of ontology and this science applied to Christianity is called discipleship.
The apostle Paul allowed Mark to leave and later refused to allow Mark to accompany him on his journey with Barnabas. God used this split to multiply the missionary effort of these two men.
God used this for good and all parties grew in their Christian walk. I think this principle can apply when moving people off a team. I have allowed staff to leave and have encouraged others. In all these cases the people who left are in better places in ministry than under my leadership. There simply wasn’t a great fit for the church and the person.
A great read on this subject is the book I mentioned earlier, Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud. His thesis is everyone is in need of pruning all the time. Sometimes that person is you – for the good of the organization.
Hope this helps.