10 Questions to Ask During Staff Turnover

Most leaders have felt the painful loss of great team members. It’s rare for leaders not to highly value the people around them, so when employees leave – individually or en masse – leaders can introspect, get angry, or panic. While these are natural reactions, there’s a rational road through staff turnover that will strengthen your team and advance your mission.

Years ago I had what seemed like an irreplaceable team. I wanted to hit freeze-frame and keep them forever. You can imagine my grief when one by one God called them on! I thought the ministry would never be the same – and it wasn’t. But instead of regressing, God actually matured and increased it through the years, bringing stellar employees for each new phase.

Twice, on the brink of a significant ramp-up, nearly half our staffers left within a few months. These were disconcerting times, but having witnessed God’s faithfulness in bringing His chosen staffers for the next season – I’m no longer alarmed when people leave.

But still, it’s wise to take some proactive steps when staffers move on.

Ask Yourself these Questions When Staffers Leave

1) Pause and ponder. Take a wide angle view of your ministry and ask: Is God setting us up for a change in ministry, whether a pruning or an expansion? Use this as the backdrop for any infrastructure changes you’re considering.

2) Avoid reactionary hiring. An absent staffer can leave a gaping hole that we’re desperate to fill. But usually there’s a way for everyone to pull together or to find a temporary replacement. Ask yourself: How can I best assess what’s going on and reconfigure in order to secure productive new employees?

3) Underlying reason. Besides the stated reason for leaving, is there an unspoken issue that’s contributing to the employee’s departure? Is there something lacking in your ministry’s culture? Is the staff member feeling disconnected or disenchanted in some way?

4) Exit interview. Have you, or someone within your ministry, conducted an exit interview with the employee to shed light on their job satisfaction and fulfillment? Weigh their responses prayerfully and make any needed changes.

5) Reassess responsibilities. When one or several staffers leave, take the opportunity to look at job descriptions with fresh eyes. Are responsibilities delineated properly? Is there a more streamlined and effective way to divvy them out?

6) Reevaluate hours. As you determine how responsibilities may morph, also consider the number of hours needed to complete the job. Is it more? Is it less? It’s prudent to look at this before posting the open position(s).

7) Reconfigure positions. Look at departments and interplay between departments with fresh eyes. Is there a better way to structure positions? Are people reporting to the correct supervisor? Now’s the time to make those changes.

8) Consider giftings and skillset. As the landscape in your ministry changes – whether God’s correcting mission drift or calling you to broader horizons – now’s the time to fine tune the specific gifts and skills needed for the open positions and post accordingly.

9) Weigh pay. Is your pay scale for the open position(s) in line with other organizations of your size and scope? If not, develop a plan – even over several years – to secure the income needed to fairly compensate your personnel.

10) Don’t mis-hire. Even if it takes longer than you want to find an outstanding candidate, don’t settle for less. Having no employee is better than having the wrong employee. Ask yourself: Does the person I’m interviewing have the heart, the commitment, the giftings, and the skills to shine in this position?

When staffers leave, considering these issues is important. It’s equally important to remember that their ultimate boss is the King of kings. They work for Him, and He determines when and where. So don’t fret when they move on. Take comfort knowing He’s orchestrating their lives and also the lives of those who will soon join you. As CEO and HR director of your organization, God has ample wisdom to oversee the comings and goings of your employees.

“As CEO and HR director of your organization, God’s got ample wisdom to oversee the comings and goings of your employees.”

- Lisa Hosler

What steps have you found helpful when experiencing seasons of staff turnover? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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