Global Leadership Network UK & Ireland

GLN UK & Ireland

A Beginner’s Guide to Managing Staff – Part 7: The Reprimand – John Truscott

One-to-one meeting

This blog, the final one in this series, is a partner for No. 6 on encouragement. So I am still talking about 24/7 review.

I have seen it said, quite correctly, that bad management is to be criticised but never thanked. I would add that it is just as bad to be thanked but never criticised.

The employer-employee relationship is well defined in law and involves discipline. If Scripture is profitable for rebuke and correction as well as teaching (2 Timothy 3:16) you must not shirk your responsibility to reprimand when the situation demands it.

But first some key principles.

  • Always agree when you take on line managing someone that your role is both to encourage and reprimand them and they should expect both. Never spring a surprise rebuke.
  • Reprimand is a healthy, godly way of preventing some situations getting to a point where formal employment procedures have to be introduced (eg. a formal warning under the terms of a disciplinary or capability procedure).
  • Never delay a reprimand to the next scheduled review meeting – and certainly never to the next annual review. Deal with it as close to the matter that has given rise to it as is possible.
  • If you are the pastor as well as the manager of the employee, you can find yourself torn in two directions. Better to give employees a different pastor.
  • Above all, do not feel guilty at the need to reprimand. Christians tend to tie themselves in knots over this because they feel they are supposed to be ‘nice’. What we need to be is honest.
  • Challenge the performance, don’t make it a personal attack. But allow failure: it’s a good way to learn.

If you are struggling with this, look at Mark 8:27-30 (a review meeting on one particular issue) and then vv 31-33. Was Jesus being nice to Peter, or developing him into the Christian leader he later became?

When you reprimand an employee it may be because their behaviour has fallen short of the person profile standard, or they have failed to achieve a target because of their own fault, or their overall performance is not up to standard.

  • Do it personally – never by email!
  • Check your facts and motives first – so pause before you act.
  • Be specific as to exactly what the reprimand is about.
  • Let them give their side – in case there is an aspect you had not appreciated.
  • Let them know how you feel about this (it’s personal).
  • When the message has got through, affirm your belief in them (if they have failed in something, that does not make them a failure).
  • Make it clear that it is now all over.
  • Be honest in all this about your own failings.

If matters deteriorate and you do need to move to activate a formal disciplinary procedure, do not be afraid to do this. Some Christian managers hope the problem will go away – it rarely does in these cases. But an early reprimand will stop many such problems in their tracks.

So there we have it – seven ideas to hold on to: attitude, manager (yourself), foundations, plan, review, encouragement, reprimand. And, for those of you who are Christian leaders but don’t have a manager for yourself, how about finding one? And then helping them to do it well ….

John Truscott



If you want to read more

Items in the Resources section of John’s website which are suitable follow-ons to these blogs include the following.  A32 has taken these seven blogs and expanded them into a fuller article.  To come on to John’s bimonthly e-letter mailing which tells you as new items are added to the site, see www.john-truscott.co.uk/Dialogue/Contact-John.


A3        Salary differentials for Christian staff  A case of worldly thinking?
A6        Job descriptions  Advice and examples for staff and volunteers
A8        Worker agreements  Appropriate paperwork for church use
A17      Staff selection step-by-step  From advertisement to interview
A32      Be creative as a line manager  How to develop paid staff

Training Notes

TN17     Suggested questions for an annual appraisal
TN20     Line management in a church staff team
TN37     To pay or not to pay?
TN65     Sharp interview questions
TN66     A daily office for church staff