The organization I lead loves to be a place of grace and to maximize a staff member's gifts and wiring. However, there comes a time in all organizations or ministries when it is obvious that things are not going to work in the long term. Most of us in ministry are eternally optimistic that things will work out. It is the nature of ministry. But there are times when we need to recognize that it is not going to work. What are the signs that this is the case?

First, when we keep running into attitudes or behaviors that are counterproductive to the mission of the ministry or the team a staff member is on. I spoke to a leader recently who has a staff member whose behaviors indicate unteachability and a significant amount of hubris. 

He has coached and told the staff member that his behaviors are counterproductive. But nothing changes. I suggested that he is dealing with someone who does not listen or believe that what he is saying is true. Unteachable people are unlikely to succeed as they tend to sabotage themselves.

Second, when the staff member does not seem to value the mission or non-negotiables of the organization and want to do their own thing it is a warning sign. Teams and organizations only work well when everyone is in alignment with the rest of the group. Lone rangers don't work well on a team or within an organization.

Third, when there are significant EQ issues that keep popping up you know you have an issue. The question here is whether the individual can be coached toward greater EQ health. However, when there is significant pride or there is a teachability issue this becomes difficult, if not impossible.

Fourth, when you have tried to get someone a productive lane but there continue to be relational and emotional issues that keep getting in the way you know that it is probably not going to work. 

The bottom line is that when an enormous amount of time and energy has been expended in trying to make it work and it continues to remain problematic it is most likely not a good fit. Optimism needs at some point to be tempered by reality. It is amazing how the exit of one staff member can be the key to freedom, joy and productivity of the rest of the team. It is not always a conclusion we desire to come to but in these circumstances it is usually the right conclusion.

We cannot solve all the issues of staff members. It is not that they cannot find a place of effectiveness somewhere but sometimes it is not with our team or organization. Learning to be realistic as well as redemptive is a skill all leaders need to learn. After all, when it is not working for the leader it is usually not working for the rest of the team either. When we have done our best and it still does not work we need to take action - for our well being as well as for the well being of the organization.  Ironically it is usually the best for the staff member who does not fit as well. Run good process but don't prolong the pain.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at
  • Jun 01, 2015
  • Category: News
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