Don't Put Grumpy People in Key Ministry Roles

Last week, I was at a store getting my car oil changed.  As I was checking out, I encountered an employee who had no business being in a role that required direct contact with customers.

She never smiled.  She didn't say hi.  She put off the vibe that I was bothering her.  

Some people are just plain grumpy.  Their face naturally defaults to a frown.  They lower the spirit of the customers they come in contact with.  

Do you have any people on your team that are like this?  Sometimes we place people in roles that they are not wired to be in.  And it ends up causing damage.  Guests feel devalued.  New families don't return.  Negativity spreads to other team members.  

If some faces are coming to mind right now, it's time to take some steps to prevent and rectify the situation. 

Make sure you have the right people in the right roles.  Anyone who interacts with people on the front line should have a positive, welcoming attitude.  You can discern this by having new volunteers take a personality test as part of the on boarding process.  Each volunteer role should have a list of personality traits that are needed to be in that role.

And do a sit down, personal interview where you interact with the potential volunteer and see what their general attitude is.  You are looking for people who are naturally good at making people feel welcome, comfortable and accepted.   

Remember...don't place people where you need them.  Rather, place people where they need to be.  And that is in a role that lines up with their personality and giftedness.

Have a hard conversation if you need to move someone to a different role that's a better fit for their personality.  

It's never easy moving a volunteer to a different role.  It takes courage.  Feelings can get quickly hurt.  That's why you must handle this with gentleness and wisdom.  
  • Sit down with the person and thank them for serving.
  • Share about what is happening.  An example would be a grumpy person who serves as a greeter.  Explain that their natural bent is not a good fit for that role.  People are not feeling welcomed.  Guests don't feel comfortable or important. 
  • Let them know you'd like them to serve in a different role that's a better fit for them.  Have several options for them to choose from.  They should be roles that require minimum face-to-face interaction with kids and families.  An example would be running the sound and computer during large group time.  Or an assistant who helps pass out crafts, takes attendance, etc.
A family's perception of your ministry is the sum of all of their interactions with the people on your team.  It only takes one grumpy person to leave a negative impact.  Even though you may have given them an overall good experience, they will remember the one negative person they encountered. 

In the ministry I led, we started sending surveys for guests to give us feedback from their first visit. 
I remember one guest responded by saying the parking for guests was good and the safety and security processes were clearly explained.  But they had one complaint.  The lady who checked them in at the classroom door, never smiled.  After seeing that, guess what our next training was about?

Guests won't remember every worship song that was sung.  They won't remember all the points of the message.  But they will remember how you made them feel.  

While no one owns the guest all the time, everyone owns the moment they are with the guest.  Every single person who interacts with a guest shapes their perception of your ministry.
What am I going to do about the grumpy employee I encountered?  It's simple.  I probably won't go back to that store.  There are other options I can go where I will feel welcomed.

This is why it's so important to have happy, smiling people in your key ministry roles. 

You can get more great tips about this in my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams.  It's available at this link.