Global Leadership Network UK & Ireland

GLN UK & Ireland

A Beginner’s Guide to Managing Staff – Part 5: The Review – John Truscott

One-to-one meeting

“Ah,” you say, “the dreaded annual appraisal”. To confirm your feelings, watch this clip (ignore the non-appraisal bit!):

And that’s what appraisal is all about for many line managers, with Christians being little different. Sad.

So let’s start again. I’ll avoid the A word and use the broader R one, Review. Here are four key points.

  1. Review is a thoroughly Christian concept: you do it every time you confess your sins, Revelation chapters 2 and 3 show how God reviews churches, and so on.
  2. Review is about building a person up, not pulling them down (nor just going through some motions).
  3. Review is all about the future: you check out the past only to enable you to plan ahead.
  4. Review is a two-way process: the reviewer needs to be as vulnerable as the reviewee.

But many Christian leaders are frightened of review, both receiving and giving it. They fear honest feedback, they are threatened by any form of criticism (I’m not talking about the vindictive sort), they are protective of their position. But God reviews us and we can join in with his work.

Here are five different types. You need them all at different times.

1. A week in the life of…
You review last week with the Administrator. Are the computers working properly now? How did that tricky interview go? What’s on this coming week that needs thought? This is the normal, regular management meeting. Make sure it happens.

2. The one-off event
You make a special time to review the teens weekend away with the Youth Worker. What do the feedback forms say? Did the team shape up well? Did it actually achieve its aims? So, vitally, what do we learn for next time?

3. One area of work
Every so often you review one aspect of the Pastoral Assistant’s work: perhaps her speaking engagements. You arrange three people to send in feedback, you ask if you are offering enough support yourself, you plan a slightly more challenging assignment next time.

4. The whole works
This is what may be known as the annual appraisal, but I suggest you consider six months a better interval. If a staff member is with you for three years, two annuals is not going to be that helpful. This is where you agree aims and targets for the next period (blog 4).

5. The exit interview
If they leave, let them do so on a positive note by reviewing their achievements and allowing them to review you as line manager (yes!).

When you plan a more major review, plan it together (don’t impose it), give it plenty of time away from the workplace, listen more than talk, allow most time for planning ahead, agree specific outputs together and remember it’s confidential. If you want ideas try this link.

Review develops the worker and challenges the manager. It should be one of the most satisfying features of line management. In the next two blogs we think about what this should include.

John Truscott