“You’re missing an opportunity to listen,” the consultant told me. He was kind but blunt. I knew he was right.
“Start meeting with each team member one-on-one, at least once a month.”
I followed his advice and have not looked back. These one-on-ones have helped me lead the church staff unlike anything else.
Setting up these meetings is simple. I reserve several blocks of time throughout the year, and my team signs up via Calendly, which I highly recommend to help manage your calendar.
The purpose of the meeting is twofold. First, these one-on-ones exist for church staff to bring to me any items they believe need my attention. Second, I ask about their families, spiritual walk with God, and how they are doing in our church work environment.
I spend about thirty minutes in these one-on-one meetings. The first fifteen minutes are dedicated to church-related work. The last fifteen minutes are spent discussing more personal items, like how their children are doing, their favorite sports team, or upcoming vacation plans. The conversations are usually light-hearted, but occasionally staff share some of their personal struggles. It’s my time to be their pastor.
Thirty minutes each month may not seem like a lot, but over time, the cumulative effect of these meetings starts to build relational capital. A monthly meeting will amount to six hours of one-on-one time in a year.
The impact of this investment is enormous.
It’s good to be in the moment with each staff person one-on-one. The goal is to prioritize their needs and concerns rather than imposing mine on them.
Here are some tips to make these meetings more successful:
- Keep them short. Thirty minutes should be sufficient.
- Put your computer, phone, and other devices out of sight. Be present and focus entirely on the staff person.
- Be optimistic. Don’t let your foul mood turn the room sour. Research shows a leader can have a contagion effect if he or she starts a meeting with the wrong tone.
- Elevate these meetings. Do not cancel them with your team. Send the message they are important.
- Let your staff lead the conversations.
- Make it clear they are the ones bringing any agenda items. Your goal is to listen.
- Ask questions. Don’t give them directives in these meetings unless they ask you for one.
What questions can you ask to be more effective as a listener? Here are ten suggestions:
- How can I help equip you in your ministry role?
- What are your current priorities?
- Is there anything you need me to do to understand your perspective better?
- What excites you most about the next twelve months?
- Do you have thoughts on something that you have not felt like you can share?
- Is anything slowing you down or preventing you from accomplishing your goals?
- What kind of ongoing feedback would you like from me?
- How do you feel most supported in your ministry role?
- What is your favorite part of your week? Why?
- What are you reading? What are your favorite podcasts? What have you learned from them?
You should not ask all these questions at every one-on-one, but you may find one or two helpful depending on the staff person and the situation. Don’t treat these meetings as another task on your list of things to do. Instead, consider the time as critical to relational health. End the meeting by asking the staff person if they have a prayer request. Then take the last few minutes to pray. The goal is for the person to leave the room feeling valued, respected, and informed.
Posted on April 5, 2023
As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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I would recommend those meetings be set up as recurring (easy on outlook or Google calendar) but that either party can move if necessary. Also, please do not ever use Calendly for a meeting with someone above you. It caused a massive amount of grief and even lost revenue and jobs in the private sector when higher ups had to find time on a lesser person’s calendar.