Dealing With The Absent Boss

Sunday is always coming for your boss. And they probably didn’t go to school to run a business. Chances are they have theological training and not their MBA. Managing personnel is the last thing on their mind. And it shows.

64% of Youth Pastors didn’t have an annual review in 2018. That means more than half of the bosses out there didn’t take the time to sit down with their Youth Pastor to talk about how their year was, and how their upcoming year is looking. More than half of YP’s are victim to The Absent Boss. We can help.

So many YP’s complain about bosses being up in their business, micromanaging their day to day care of the ministry. This can be frustrating too. Like a helicopter parent who won’t stop texting you on your day off about the carwash fundraiser, and whether or not their kid needs to bring their own soap. And yet, every YP would probably agree it’s better to have an over-zealous and overly-present parent, than to have no parent at all. The same is true with bosses. Those YP’s with a suffocating boss may complain, but at least there is somebody who is caring for you (even if it doesn’t always feel like a bowl of chicken soup).

And here’s what I know: every YP who feels alone, isolated, on an island, or even unwanted by their boss would memorize half of Isaiah if it meant they could have a decent boss…even an over-present boss.

If you’re in a spot where you can’t seem to connect with your boss and you feel undermanaged, it can be dreadfully frustrating. You may find yourself putting major deposits into the bucket of bitterness if you don’t have a space to talk about your role on the team or your compensation and benefits. I get that. I’ve been there.

The concept of leading up will benefit you tremendously. As a YP, you lead down all the time. Every student under your care is following you (we hope!). If you have a team of volunteers, some of that is leading down, but the veteran youth worker in me says most of that is leading across; meaning you’re partnering with people so everyone wins. But then there’s the person who is supposed to be leading you that you’re not getting strong guidance from. That’s when every YP must take charge of their own development and lead up.

Set your own goals. On paper. Give yourself deadlines to achieve things you know are beneficial for you or your ministry. And then hold yourself to them like a good boss would. Develop an AIP, an Action Initiative Plan. AIPs have strong deliverables with dates attached that allow you to chart progress and movement. Learning how to be self motivated will serve you well, always.

But that only solves the “how do I do my job better” question. It still doesn’t give you a clear route to conversation around compensation, benefits, roles and responsibilities. Take advantage of the YP Comp Pro’s FREE Annual Performance Review Template, and simply ask your boss if they’d be willing to fill out their portion of the document and get together to talk about it. Maybe even suggest inviting an Elder/Deacon/Board Member to join the conversation. And just frame it as that: a conversation that you’d like to have that will help enhance your performance in the coming year at your church. Your power is in the ask.

Slowly, as you develop rapport with your boss, you’ll find yourself with more access and a greater sense of being heard. These are critical components to increasing your compensation, but perhaps more importantly, feeling valued on your team.

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