Front Door-Back Door: Why do people leave your organization?

By on April 1, 2006   /   Leave a comment

Bradley was nervous when he came into the office, visibly shaken by what he was about to announce to the leadership team. Although he was now a veteran staffer—having served for six years—it had been difficult from day one. He and his family had struggled month after month with their personal support level and his inability to provide for their basic needs. Bradley did not mention any of this, but instead spoke softly of the Lord using certain circumstances, passages, and other’s counsel to finally show them God wanted them to move back to their hometown and re-join his father’s business. He added how much his kids would benefit from being near the grandparents.

Scenarios like this are played out hundreds of times each week among the myriad of ministries who require their staff to raise their own funds. And when the departing staff shares that “God is leading them” to another ministry or back into the secular workforce, what are we supposed to say: “No He’s not!”? Many times staff will explain their leaving by listing their frustrations with the organization, leadership, other staff, or their own ministry role. But, as you look deep into their eyes, you might be thinking, “I hear your words, I see your tears. But what is really behind all this?”

The truth is all of us live in some degree of denial and tend to blame everything and everyone—except ourselves! And just as professor and author, Dr. Howard Hendricks, believes that up to 90% of all divorces are caused (partly or mainly) by financial tensions, I contend the same is true for most of our departing staff. They may give every reason under the sun why they’re moving on, but an untold multitude of times it is—pure and simple—due to support related issues.

Our organization performs “Support Raising Audits” for ministries, anonymously surveying (via the internet) all the staff in 12 essential categories related to support raising. It’s designed to shed light on the staff’s true feelings and current status in this very sensitive area. One recent audit revealed the staff of this particular agency believed 92% of all their now departed former personnel had left mainly (or partly) due to support related struggles. Unbelievable! So, as appealing as this ministry’s large front door was to attract fresh, excited new staff, the majority of them were destined to head out the back door before long, discouraged—even embittered. Even though we provide follow up consulting to help remedy this situation, a report like this can be sobering for a mission executive to read.

Not all staff or organizations are plagued by this dilemma. But, for most, there’s an elephant in the living room that no one really wants to admit is there. Let’s deal with it and let him out the back door. Then shut it. Tight!


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