Why only one-third of your hires are going to work

Only one-third of your new hires are even going to work out. This sobering statistic should cause us to exercise caution in all of our hiring decisions.

Peter Drucker says

“Executives make poor promotion and staffing decisions. By all accounts, their batting average is no better than .333: At most one-third of such decisions turn out right; one-third are minimally effective, and one-third are outright failures. In no other area of management would we put up with such miserable performance.”

According to Peter Drucker, at best, one-third of your hires will be great hires, one-third of your hires will be mediocre, and one-third of your hires will not work at all. And these statistics assume that you are putting in your due diligence to hire well – which (in my experience) many churches do not do.

Adding the wrong person to your team can be costly and destructive. Especially in a church context. The wrong hire in a church can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, ruin morale, cause families to leave, split churches, and even END churches. These are not exaggerations! I have personally seen them all happen because of poor hiring decisions.

How then, can a church make wiser hiring decisions? Here are two principles for hiring well.

1. Don’t hire anyone without first creating a staffing plan

WITHOUT a staffing plan, you are likely to make bad hires. WITHOUT a staffing plan, you are nearly guaranteed to make wrong hires that will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars and also bring broken relationships. WITH a staffing plan, you start with a solid foundation to build an excellent team. Hiring without a plan is like building a house without a plan.

2. Don’t hire anyone without a thorough process

Here are three C’s that should be a part of your process:


Nothing is more important than character for a church leader. There are two aspects to character. The first concerns whether a person is in right relationship with God. We know both from the Bible and from our own experiences that people without character sometimes infiltrate the body of Christ and cause great destruction. Before you hire anyone, make sure to work hard to ascertain if your potential hire understands true gospel and is in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The second part of character is concerned with whether a person lives a life consistent with his professed belief. Character is not perfection but is the evidence that a person has been truly converted.

In evaluating character, we ask, “Does this person love God, love others and live a life consistent with his professed belief?”


Competence is all about a person having the gifting and skill to carry out a particular role. The key to assessing a potential new team member for competence is to remember that Past Performance is the best indicator of Future Performance. People do what people do. It is highly unlikely that a person will simply start doing something that he has never done before – even if he promises to do it the moment that she starts.

In assessing competence, we ask, “Does this person have the PROVEN skill set to do what he is being asked to do?”


Every church has a culture – a set of beliefs and practices and traditions and language that are shaped by your geography and your theology and your personalities. Just because a person has strong character and is competent to carry out a role does not necessarily mean that person is a good cultural fit for your church.

In evaluating Culture, we ask “How well does the person fit into OUR current culture and community?”

Before hiring anyone, create a staffing plan and put in place a thorough process. The risks are too high not to take great care when hiring anyone for a church staff team.

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Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.