5 Strategies to Minimize the Downside of Staff Tenure

There are a plethora of upsides to staff tenure. You learn the organization over time. You understand the context better and better. You build relationships with the team and the people you are serving. For the most part, tenure makes leaders more effective.

But there is a major downside to tenure; leaders can lose their fresh eyes. When a leader first enters a context, the opportunities and challenges are seen more clearly. Granted, they are often seen through inexperienced and naïve eyes, but they are still seen. Over time, leaders get inoculated to the problems in their own cultures. The same happens in our personal lives. When you first move into a house, you notice the hole in the garage. If you don’t fix it soon, you get used to it. Over time, you don’t even notice it.

So how can a leader minimize the inevitable downside of tenure? Here are five ways to get fresh eyes on the organization/ministry you are leading.

1. Hire from the outside.

John Kotter says if you want to change the culture, hire from outside. If you want to keep the culture, hire from within. Developing your own leaders is ideal as culture is crystalized and people see a path for growth in the organization. However, even in a healthy culture that excels in developing their own leaders, occasionally hiring from the outside helps leaders keep fresh eyes.

2. Look through the eyes of new leaders.

Even if promoting from within, a newly minted leader has fresh and valuable perspective. Press into their perspective.

3. Listen to the questions of new team members.

Culture is often learned by new members when they accidentally break a cultural norm and receive correction or are affirmed for fulfilling one. Thus, they ask questions to learn more about “how things really work around here.” Those questions give leaders, often isolated by layers of organization, an idea of “how things really work around here.”

 4. Bring in a strategic outsider.

While a strategic outsider cannot own the execution and the culture, a strategic outsider can provide valuable perspective. My friend and colleague Will Mancini uses the term often to describe the services of Auxano. If you are a ministry leader needing some strategic outside perspective, I highly recommend them.

5. Read outside your discipline.

Reading outside of what you normally read gives you new perspective. And then you can, with great intentionality, look with fresh eyes once again.

These five ways can help, but ultimately leaders must choose to have fresh eyes. Occasionally (and privately), it is good for leaders to resign in their minds. Walk into the office with fresh eyes. Evaluate with a fresh perspective. Look again with the optimism you held when you first accepted the responsibility of leading.

> Read more from Eric.


Learn more about overcoming the downside of staff tenure. Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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