The development of staff is one of the most important responsibilities of leaders at all levels. That development involves three important skills.
This is the ability to evaluate staff members and identify areas of strength, weakness, EQ (Emotional Intelligence) health and areas where EQ growth is needed. In addition, evaluation of how they interact with others, lead others, respond, do team, and ability to produce results are all important factors. Critical analysis is not about being critical. It is about the ability to objectively evaluate a staff member in order to appropriately coach them for personal and professional growth.
I find that many leaders in the ministry arena are not skilled at critical analysis of their staff. We tend to over emphasize strengths and under emphasize weaknesses - especially of our own staff. This may be Christian nice, it may be a sense of loyalty that causes us to gloss over necessary areas of growth or it may just be an underdeveloped skill. However, if we cannot do critical analysis of our staff we are unable to coach them for growth. Glossing over areas of needed growth is a disfavor to our staff.
Coaching for growth
Helping staff grow is one of the marks of a leader who serves his or her staff. It is also painfully absent in many organizations and teams. This coaching often comes in the form of an ongoing dialogue with a staff member based on our critical analysis. It is designed to help them maximize their God given potential and is a deeply intentional process to help a staff member grow.
Coaching for growth requires a level of courage to provide honest feedback where behaviors or responses are problematic. Supervisors who want to be best buddies with their staff will not go here and it is one of the downsides of a needy supervisor. But without honest feedback our staff members will not grow. This can be done diplomatically and with sensitivity but honest feedback is the only way any of us become aware of areas of necessary growth.
Positioning for effectiveness
Jim Collins popularized the term "the right seat on the bus." We often pay too little attention to the positioning of staff so that they are most effective. Often, a staff member who is struggling in one seat shines in another. Again, this is where critical analysis is so important because it is in understanding the unique wiring and strengths of a staff member that we are able to position them best for effective and fulfilling work.
While there are often things that we prefer not to do it does make sense to minimize the areas where staff are working from weakness rather from strength - if it is possible to do so. Staff should be working a minimum of 60% in areas of strength in order to be effective and the optimum is 80%. The right seat on the bus does matter - a lot.
Take time to ensure that your leaders and supervisors are able and committed to these three keys to people development. It is a great loss to leave potential on the table because we are not serving our staff in this area.