Successful Staffing Through Coaching

Certified practitioner Deb Mertin

Christian life coach Deb Mertin


Successful Staffing Through Coaching:

Matchmaking With a Purpose

Chris, a young pastor, had been hired to manage a new campus for a multi-site mega-church congregation. Yet even as he faithfully sought to put the church leadership’s strategy into place, Chris could feel his pioneering strengths being squelched. His frustration mounted.

Christian life coach Deb Mertin works with teams and leaders like Chris to clarify staff roles and fit the right person in the right position. “Chris’ natural inclination as a visionary did not mesh well with the job’s requirements for an implementer,” said Deb. “He was not using his strengths in his current position and became frustrated.” The realization freed Chris to find a position in which he could use his strengths and led the church to find someone whose abilities matched the position.

Two Sides to Successful Staff Matches

“Inviting the right people into ministry, whether as a paid employee or as a volunteer, can be one of the toughest challenges leaders face,” says Deb. A successful staffing process is like matchmaking, she explains. Two elements must line up in order to make a successful match.

Element #1: What Strengths are Needed in this Position?

A hiring team can become more successful in staffing if it answers this question:

What strengths are required in this particular position in order for an employee to flourish in this role?

“Note that strengths are a person’s natural abilities – not his training or previous experience,” says Deb. In the long run, time spent understanding abilities needed in a position will allow the hiring team to best identify a candidate to excel in the position, rather than simply do a job.

One tool Deb uses with hiring teams in this process is the Position Insights Profile. Teams work through this profile and its 40-question assessment to reach consensus in determining the natural strengths needed in that position. The resulting report provides a clear job description and objective data about the personal strengths the employee needs in that role.

Take Chris’ former employer, for example. The church sought a young, exciting leader to manage their new campus. The team listed those responsibilities on the job description. They believed they were ready to advertise for the position and interview candidates. But if along with the job description the hiring team had clarity about the strengths needed for an employee to perform in that role with excellence, they would have sought an implementer, not a visionary. Both Chris and the church would have been spared considerable heartache and frustration – and the ministry would have progressed without misunderstandings.

Element #2: What Strengths Does This Candidate Have?

The position itself is just one side of the coin. The other is the employee.

“A one- or two-page resume cannot reveal a candidate’s strengths,” says Deb. Here is where she encourages hiring teams to ask screened candidates to complete a Leading From Your Strengths profile assessment. Results from the individual profiles provide information about that person’s natural strengths. The hiring team can then compare the position profile and the candidates’ profiles side-by-side. “They soon discover those candidates with behavioral traits which line up beautifully with the position’s requirements and can invite those candidates for interviews.”

The result? The hiring team not only streamlines the hiring process, but they greatly increase the chances of hiring an employee whose strengths fit the strengths required by the position.

An added benefit is objectivity. “Many times I’ve worked with a hiring team that gets excited about a candidate,” says Deb. “They’re better able to make a successful staffing decision when reminded, “Let’s go back and look at the data. What kinds of strengths do we need in this position? How does this candidate’s strengths line up with what’s needed?’” Deb cites Chris’ experience as a good example. His profile as a visionary would likely not line up with the strengths the position required as an implementer – although a hiring team would be excited by his passionate vision-casting during an interview.

“A multi-talented and well-rounded person may be able to learn to do anything and fit into many types of roles,” says Deb. “Yet this person’s job satisfaction will eventually begin to wane because the longer he tries to be ‘all things to all people’ on the job, the more internal frustration and related stress he will accumulate.” It’s the “square peg in a round hole” mentality.

It’s a lesson her friend Chris learned well. Once this exciting, young, energetic leader was armed with his strengths profile, he sought out – and found – a position as a visionary leader. Today he is thriving and so is his organization.

“Your team and your employees can thrive, too,” says Deb. “Help them staff successfully with the intent to lead from their strengths.”

Deb Mertin is certified as a life coach with Professional Christian Coaching Institute and Ministry Advantage. She is among select worldwide certified practitioners who regularly uses Leading From Your Strengths profiles in coaching pastors, midlife or career transitioners, and nonprofit leaders. Read Deb’s blog and find out about her coaching specialties on her Ministry Advantage webpage.


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