Writing for the Alban Institute, Susan Beaumont wades into the neuralgic issue of personnel evaluation at the congregational level. Here are some pitfalls she says should be avoided:
Neither the board nor the personnel committee should ever be responsible for the performance evaluation or goal setting of employees below the senior pastor level. The governing board is responsible for the performance evaluation and goal setting of the senior pastor. The senior pastor is responsible for the performance evaluation and goal setting of his or her direct reports, and all other supervisors are responsible for the performance evaluation and goal setting of their direct reports.
Personnel committees who imagine that they exist to advocate for the best interests of the staff, or protect the best interests of the congregation, often find themselves embroiled in hotbeds of triangulation (gossip). Personnel committees should only make themselves available to receive reports of potential employment policy violations. Any complaints about staff team performance need to be lodged directly with the employee in question or their direct supervisor. People who want to complain about the leadership of the senior pastor should be redirected back to the senior pastor to express their complaint. The only exception to this rule is a complaint that involves a potential professional misconduct issue. An established process for reviewing the ministry of the senior pastor will eliminate the need for congregants to use the personnel committee as a random complaint board.
Personnel committees should avoid the practice of meeting one on one with employees just to check in and see how things are going. These practices tend to undermine supervisory relationships on the staff team by inviting employees to vent their displeasure with their supervisor. Most of the input received in such meetings is not appropriate fodder for the personnel committee but must be resolved through the supervisory relationship.
How do you handle personnel issues in your parish?