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Keys of Recruiting and Developing Staff

The perfect match… 

– how to attract, introduce and develop new staff

If you want to attract and keep (good) workers, make sure you take good care of the ones you have right now. The key is to make sure that people coming through our organization come out better on the other side.

I believe that there are some key principles from the Human Resource field that are in line with Biblical principles and applicable in the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) context as well as in other contexts. It´s valuable to see the whole staff journey and recognize the importance of each part.

Let’s start with recruiting. There is a widespread misunderstanding within YWAM and that is that” we take whoever comes”. That is not true or at least should not be true. I think we need to break it down to the fact that 

a) we have a special calling to believe in people, especially young people and 

b) we have the right – and the responsibility – of having basic requirements met by new staff.

The key word in recruiting is” fit”. There has to be a good match between the person and the organization when it comes to expectations, vision, leadership, competence, capacity and so forth. For someone joining a team or base that has a great focus on mercy ministry it´s important that the new staff has a descent understanding of the implications of that. Team culture is another important factor. Maybe the vision is in line, but the person applying doesn´t have the same work ethics as the team.

This understanding leads us to the simple conclusion that the answer will sometimes be yes, sometimes no. We cannot say yes to everyone! The first question that we have to ask ourselves when people want to join is: are we able to take care of, lead and develop this person? The next question is: will this person fit the vision and culture that we have in our ministry?

When people are considering joining our team at YWAM Transform we always try to give them a fair understanding of what our vision and values are so that they can make a well-based decision. This is why, in the YWAM context, recruiting out of the Discipleship Training School (DTS) is so key: they already know us and we know them. They can easily get answers to questions such as: 

  • Is this a place where I’d like to be?
  • Would I flourish and grow here?
  • Would I be able to contribute here?

The better the match, the more successful the time of this person being with us will most likely be.

A good start

The start of a good staff journey is a good introduction. As things start, they normally continue. The temptation is to jump in to having our new recruits filling holes in an under-staffed ministry, let’s not fall in that trap.

A good staff introduction contains parts such as:

  • Social. A good welcoming in” the gang”. It’s important for everyone to know that they are welcome and accepted and a ”real” part of the team. Let’s not underestimate the importance of having fun and a good time together as we serve God with all our hearts. 
  • Information. In the thick of things, we sometimes forget that people are new and they don’t know all the things we – that have been here for a while – take for granted. ” Information is power” we say sometimes and that’s really true: sharing information is empowering people.
  • Clear work roles. What is expected of everyone is something that continuously needs attention. This is not only information, but communication, to find a good match between gifts, personality and capacity on one side and needs and opportunities in the organization on the other side.
  • Understanding the organizations vision, values and methods. This, of course, is something that also comes with time, but it´s always a good idea to give it a lot of space in the introduction program.
  • Personal guidance. There needs to be someone that has been with us longer taking care of the new ones on a personal level, and it needs to be clearly communicated.  There is always a need to have someone to process with but especially when you are new in a team and work place.

Developing people

From the foundation of a good introduction it is much easier to help people to continue to grow. There are of course too many factors to bring up here but I can point at a few keys:

  • Sense of belonging. If a person feels “at home” it´s much easier to help the person to grow and develop.
  • Regular input and feedback. In order to grow people, need relevant input and feedback. How am I doing? What can I improve?
  • Real possibilities to grow and take on more. This is really crucial; in order to learn things and develop, people need to get opportunities to put into practice what they are learning.

Having people leave well

Maybe talking about the process when people move on can seem off topic, but it isn’t. First of all, we need to be committed to do the best for our people in all the phases of the staff journey. Secondly, how we treat the people that are leaving will have a great impact on the people that stay. Helping people move on in an honorable and healthy way is something beautiful in the Kingdom of God. After all, we don’t” own” people and what we’re longing for is to see God glorified and His Kingdom grow – our main goal is not for our own organization to be big and powerful.

Finishing up:

A couple of years ago a DTS alumni contacted me and said that he was considering coming back to us” to get some leadership training and grow”. I panicked lightly, thinking to myself:” what do we have to offer him?”. It created a burden in my heart and God started to speak and convict us: we have a lot to offer, we just need to look at how we can make it happen. That started a process where we developed a 1-year introductory leadership trainee program as well as other things. The main point I want to get across with this story is that we need to be committed to developing people as long as they are with us. Our aim needs to be that they should be more mature, competent and visionary as they go on to other places or fields. That brings glory to God and make us an attractive place for young people that want to grow and develop.

If we take good care of people and help them to grow while they are with us, they will most likely stay longer – and we will be more attractive to newcomers.

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