People Coming, People Going
(Two Disciplines for Good Leaders)

By Ray W. McCollum

“Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve,
and one of you is a devil?”
John 6:70 KJV

Whether you’re leading a company, a sales team or a local church, you have to realize there are always people coming and people going. Very few things are permanent. So how do we build teams that make it for the long haul?

The pressures of leadership sometime leave us feeling lonely and in urgent need of more help. A common mistake we make in those situations is to hire (or promote) the wrong people. And the second blunder usually follows; keeping the wrong people once we know we’ve made a mistake.

In his book “Good To Great”, author Jim Collins gives us two corollaries we need to remember.

Rule #1

“When in doubt, don’t hire…Keep looking.”

Making sales quotas was a harsh reality in my years in sales management leadership. I often found myself in desperate need of additional sales help, and in the pressure situations, hired the wrong people. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours I wasted training, coaching and encouraging people I hired in haste, knowing deep down in my gut they probably wouldn’t make it.

You would think I’d learned my lesson by the time I went into the ministry at age 43. Wrong. The biggest mistakes I made in my early years as a Pastor involved hiring and promoting the wrong people. Oh, the price I’ve paid to be able to write this Leader Letter!

When in doubt, don’t hire. When in doubt, don’t promote. It takes a lot of discipline to wait, to keep looking, until the right person comes along. And they will. Until then, we’re better off doing nothing.

Rule #2

When you know you need to make a people change, act!

The right people will come. The wrong people need to go. This doesn’t mean, as Pastors, that we necessarily cease fellowship. (That’s usually up to the party that’s “going”). But we simply have to deal with situations in which we know that we’ve got the wrong person in the wrong job.

Jim Collins points out that when we fail to “act” on the people change we need to make, two negative things happen:

(1) The situation usually gets worse and becomes harder to address.

(2) The “right” people wonder what’s taking you so long to let go of the “wrong” people.

The “coming” and “going” of people is a fact of life. A good rule is to be “slow” in hiring or promoting the people who are “coming” and be “fast” to act decisively once you know you’ve got people on staff who need to be “going”.

Jesus chose His twelve apostles very carefully, and never failed to hold the standard high for those who wanted to stick around. When it comes to fellowship, it’s “whosoever will”; when it comes to staff situations, it has to be our call!