Start the New Job Right

In ministry, or any organization for that matter, we make significant investments when hiring leaders. Yet, multiple studies show that 40% to 50% of newly appointed leaders fail in their first 18 months. Reasons cited for why new leaders fail are:

  1. Failure to build strong relationships
  2. Lack of clarity regarding expectations
  3. Not focusing on the right priorities at the right time

Bringing a new leader into a key position can challenge both the leader and the ministry. New perspectives. New ideas. All in the context of learning to adjust to a new organization culture. Three areas new leaders and their ministry need to give attention to increase success rates:

Focus on Relationships

Identify those relationships that are essential to moving the ministry forward. Think beyond the “boss” to the board of directors, key colleagues, donors, clients, partners or members. Don’t forget the team that will help you get things done >> direct reports, volunteers, and others who support the mission. Taking the time to ask questions and listen will infuse your first 30 days with rich information and create bonds that will help initiate change when the time comes.

Clarifying Expectations

In ministry, different people and different groups will have different expectations. You can get lost in trying to meet everybody’s expectations. By focusing on learning conversations, you will understand the culture and discover what is important to all the different stakeholders in your ministry. Get your questions down on paper and find out what is important to the people you will serve in your new role. Then, clarify expectations with the people that matter most to your success.

Identify Quick Wins

Those early conversations are invaluable at providing information on what is most important to accomplish first. Stepping back and assessing the current situation will help you determine which approach to change will be needed to address your ministry’s current challenges. Get clear on what is the right next step. Call out those quick wins, mark when they are achieved and celebrate well.

Ministries can support a new leader’s success by expanding onboarding beyond the technical aspects and coach new leaders through the process of the first 100 days! Studies show that leaders who participate in coaching when they start a new position will:

  • Focus on the right priorities and build partnerships to advance the mission
  • Accelerate their ability to address interpersonal issues and performance issues
  • Experience higher retention and lower failure rates

We spend money on recruiting and hiring only to leave new leaders on their own. Get started on the right foot. Grab a 30-minute power call with me right HERE to think through your strategy for starting off on the right foot.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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