by Regina Podhorin Zilinski, Personnel Committee
When I became the Chair of the Personnel Committee in late 2014 my first task was for the committee to align the staffing needs of the congregation with the strategic priorities set in mid-2014 and with the emerging needs of a much larger and more sophisticated needs of a Program based church. The committee reviewed the strategic plan, UUA recommended job titles/descriptions and held listening sessions with staff, committee leadership and long-time members of the congregation. The literature on church development made it clear that we needed to be proactive, rather than reactive, to growth in membership and growth in management complexity.
Since 2015 we have made incremental recommendations and staff changes based on the staffing plan that was approved by the board. As we move into the FY2019/2020 budget proposal it is important to remember what came before and why:
We made a number of immediate changes in July 2015 to respond to pressing needs:
- We added the Sunday Sexton – there was anxiety about adding this position and a fear of losing the volunteer spirit of the congregation. Our top rule was that all staff additions must magnify and support the work of volunteers, not replace them. Our evaluation of this position over time has made it clear that the volunteer spirit continues, and no one can now imagine not having this support every Sunday!
- We added a part time Office Assistant to cover the time sensitive tasks every week, support the growing Religious Education program and allow our Office Administrator to take on more facility tasks.
- We added hours to the Office Administrator line item to ensure that facility tasks and internal systems development had the coverage that was obviously necessary. We knew then that this position would eventually need to be full time, but that we could not afford to do that in the early years. The growth of new programs, ministries and committees required support from office staff at a new level of expertise.
We followed up with long term recommendations in 2016 that were approved by the Board:
- Become a teaching congregation by adding a Ministerial Intern. This became reality in August of 2017 and we have had two years’ experience and much learning in how to be a learning and teaching congregation. Due to Rev. Kim’s pending sabbatical in 2020, we will not have an intern in the FY2019 -2020 period. We will replace this position with a temporary and half time Assistant Minister who will help with member care and cover the sabbatical period.
- Add a Membership/Volunteer Coordinator. We tried in FY2018/2019 to add this position part-time, but the Capital Campaign was the top priority so we decided to wait until FY2019/2020. Since we could not do all of it financially, we decided to blend this work into the addition of the Assistant Minister mentioned above. Ideally, our hope was to be able to pilot this position full time for two years, but only have dedicated financing for a half time position.
- Make the Office Administrator position into a full time Church Business Administrator. The implementation of the capital plan, the continued increase in membership, ministries, programs and committee needs AND Rev. Kim’s sabbatical in early 2020 requires that this position be made full time in FY2019-2020. Our proposal is a September, 2019 rollout so that we are fully prepared for the changes ahead. We proactively increased the hours every year and it is time to make the final leap to fulltime with benefits. Waiting any longer would be reactive and potentially dangerous – we can’t have anything slip through the cracks in the next few years.
I and all members of the Personnel Committee are happy to answer any of your questions or concerns – Scott Drew, Judy Lindenberger, Marty Friedman, Lynne Quinto and Joe Schenk (I borrowed the last two from the Finance Committee two years ago and they have been wonderful assets to the Personnel Committee deliberations). There are listening sessions scheduled or you can call me directly. The changes will require the use of some surplus in 2019 – 2020 as proactive investments; we hope that continued growth will make it possible to sustain some of these changes long term.
We will reevaluate these changes each and every year to ensure we are getting value for our investment. Supporting existing and new members in their spiritual growth and congregational engagement, improving/maintaining our facilities and growing membership were important strategic goals. We hope you will agree that the staffing changes support this important work.