Of course conflict is inevitable. Wherever two or three are gathered together, there will be conflict. And, wherever two or three are gathered together, there must be a chairman.
Let’s go through some principles about conflict that relate to staff:
Before the possibility of a conflict, everyone on staff should know the policies. How do we handle conflict that arises in staff meetings over decisions that are not reached unanimously? When presenting a disputed issue to the congregation do we disclose who voted for and who voted against policies and other decisions? What does it mean to be loyal?
- Are job descriptions clear? Does everyone know who they report to and how?
- Is every conflict handled by the senior pastor or is there a senior associate who also guards this?
- Is there a common “staff covenant” that everyone agrees to regarding how they are expected to treat each other and handle any differences they may have?
At the first sign of conflict . . .
- Deal with it quickly with “straight talk.” No beating around the bush or allowing it to grow.
- Follow the “chain of command” (not a bad phrase). If the conflict is in the youth area or with youth volunteers or staff in the youth area, the youth pastor or chairman in that area must deal with it whether he likes it or not.
- Handle it in person. Memos or emails regarding a conflict just make it worse. Concerns must be expressed eye to eye.
- It is no great slam on character that conflict happens. But true character will deal with it and not allow it to fester and grow.
After the conflict, when there is resolution . . .
- Celebrate it with prayer and thanks to God.
- Agree on lessons learned and the process to avoid the same mistakes.