Who Is the Right Person?

We all know that a great staff is a critical part of a great Christian school. Hiring great people is more than just finding someone with the right resume who is a team player.

In fact, in most cases a resume is less important than other factors.  A resume says that someone has the skills to do some of the work.  Since your school is unique, anyone you hire must be able to learn and willing to adapt.  At best, a resume helps you determine the size of training budget for each candidate.  The training cost might be the tiebreaker between two similar individuals.

You are passionate about your school’s mission and so are most of your stakeholders.  Therefore, it makes sense to insist that everyone you hire shares your passion.  The person also needs to be passionate about the job he or she will be doing.  When you find someone who is passionate about the work and passionate about your mission, they bring other benefits to your Christian school.  Their passion provides them with a high level of initiative, persistence, and desire to learn.  As a result, they are high performers and dedicated.  Their low-turnover rate, high performance, and desire to learn make them inexpensive over the long-term, relative to your other options. Therefore, avoid sacrificing long-term value by hiring someone who fits this year’s budget constraints.  In short, the right person increases your mission’s effectiveness and sustainability.

Of course, they must also fit well into the future.  The only way to know if they will is to have a long-term plan and a clear definition of success.  It is probably difficult to attract the most desirable candidates without a long-term plan.  They are unlikely to throw their hearts into work without knowing how their work will shape the future.  Their passion for the work means they will enjoy the work.  However, their passion for the mission will require them to understand how their work will shape the future for themselves and the students.  For the same reasons, you need to know that they are the right fit for your long-term plans.

Your mission’s success is important to you.  You work hard each year to establish a budget that provides the resources necessary for success. Knowing how your new hire (one of the most expensive resources you have) will enhance success is part of good resource management.  When you find that great hire, you must be willing to give him or her the resources needed for success at the highest possible level.  Their passion will provide them with the motivation, you must give them the resources (time, tools, co-workers, etc.).

When you hire someone, you are making a decision about the future of his or her career.  They would probably appreciate it if your long-term plan looked out at least 10 years.  The candidate is more likely to make the right decision when they understand what is expected of them over the long term.  The candidate’s understanding of your long-term expectations will increase the probability of retaining the employee.  It also helps to create more of a partnership with the employee since there is a mutually agreed upon long-term plan.

Next Step:

Ensure your definition of success and long-term plan are up to date before starting the hiring process

Hire those who are passionate about your work, share your passion for your mission, fit into your long-term plans, and will help drive success

Use your average employee retention rate as one of the ways you measure the hiring success of your Christian school

None of us is doing the same job we did 10 years ago even if we have the same title.  No one you hire today will be doing the same job 10 years from now.  It takes a significant amount of effort to hire, train, and equip new people.  Done well, it has the potential for the new person to still be working for your school 10 years from now.  Keeping someone for 10 years provides a high level of return on the initial investment.  Staff turnover reduces sustainability.  You can significantly increase the probability of retaining new hires by hiring for passion (mission and job) and a good fit with your long-term plans and definition of mission success.

Take It Further:

Apply the same criteria when recruiting board members and volunteers

Look at the positions in your school that have the highest turnover and review your hiring process based upon the preceding guidelines


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