Staff Development Cycle
Three conversations to transform your team’s
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The  refocus  Conversation

The initial focus conversation (or what will become the “re-focus” conversation in subsequent years) is the “launch-pad” for the year.  It answers the headline question of “what are we going to do?” both in terms of your team member’s role priorities and their development plans.



This conversation ideally has a number of different inputs to it, but can be done without these formally in place.  As you prepare to have this conversation with your team member, it’s helpful to use which ever of these you have, to establish priorities:

  • Job Description: The first input is the team member’s Job Description – looking at the purpose of that person’s role, why it exists and all the elements that are involved in it.
  • Personal Development Plan:  If your team member already has a Personal Development Plan, its important to see what their current priorities for development are and what progress has been made.
  • Strategic Plan:  If your team or ministry has a strategic plan, then the team priorities and plans also have a significant impact on the team member’s Position Focus

The desired outcome of the refocus conversation is to establish an individual’s personal ministry and development plan for the year in the form of a “position Focus” (the Position Focus form can be downloaded from the forms page or download here).

As you prepare for discussing a team member’s Position Focus, you will want to refer to the Position Focus form.  It gives the categories the person needs to think through.  As well as the inputs listed above, your own input as the team leader will be vital to establishing priorities in each of the sections.



Preparing for the Conversation

Whether the inputs listed above are available or not, you will want to think through the same sort of questions in preparation for having a [re]focus discussion with a team member.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. What is this person’s job?  Why does it exist?
  2. What are the key responsibilities for this role (JD)?
  3. What developmental steps are essential this year (PDP)?
  4. What progress needs to be made according to our team’s ministry plan this year?
  5. What progress needs to be made in the next 6-12 months? (This could be stated as Desired Results)?
  6. How will you measure progress?  Make sure these are concrete measures (for further information on this, you may want to search “SMART Goals” or see the article on “SMART criteria” in Wikipedia .

As the Team Leader, you need to think about these ahead of time so you can discuss them in the meeting. 




The Conversation

Before the meeting you will need to give the team member a copy of the Position Focus Form (or get them to download it) and ask them to develop a first draft of the Position Focus and bring it with them to the meeting.  They just complete the first two sections.

You and the team member then work through the initial draft together, one section at a time, discussing what the priorities are, until you come to agreement on a final Position Focus.  It may take more than one draft.  Working together with them provides some rich coaching opportunities!  For further resources on asking good questions go to:

Key Ministry Objectives
The Key Ministry Objectives will be drawn from a combination of the team member’s Job Description and the Strategic Plan.  If neither of these are formalized then it will be the combination of the team priorities as you see them and your joint understanding of the team member’s role.  The Position Focus does not attempt to articulate every aspect of the team member’s role, but seeks to highlight the priority areas that need to be given particular focus this year, but setting particular goals in these areas.

Many people find setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound the hardest part of this process, but it is essential to do this, as you will find when you come to review them!

Personal Development Plan
This section is not designed to replace a fuller Personal Development Plan (see the forms page or download here ) but, like the Ministry Objectives, it is a way of highlighting the most important areas for development.  Different people take different approaches as to how much these areas of development need to be related to the actual Job Description.  That will need to be decided by you or your wider organization.

Developmental Assignments
Unlike the other sections where you both bring input, the Developmental Assignments are where you, as a team leader, take the initiative in asking the team member to undertake a specific assignment, for the sake of their ongoing development. 

Often we assign work to people and they grow as a result.  Those assignments become developmental when there is a “stretch” or some challenge to the assignment along with feedback and coaching.  This is where you as a team leader have a great opportunity to build leaders as you are accomplishing the mission in your location.  When you think about creating developmental assignment, here are some questions to consider.

  1.  What is this person’s potential for leadership? 
  2. What experience should this person have this year in order to develop as a leader better?
    • Which of the four roles of a leader (direction setting, leading change, building a team and serving as a spokesperson) is this person’s strength?  What responsibilities could you give that would stretch this person in that strength area?
    • If the person has the potential to lead a team, what work/projects/team could this person lead this year?
  3. What work on your strategic plan would give this person the opportunity to expand their personal and /or leadership capacity?
  4. How will you coach this person in this assignment?
    • Not everyone requires the same level of support in developmental assignment.  The more experienced and confident the person is the more your coaching is supportive.  People who are doing things for the first time may need some initial instruction or clear expectations.
  5. Give this person feedback on their developmental assignment during the mid-year and end-of-year Position Focus Review conversations.  This is what anchors the experience in the mind and heart of the person as developmental.





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