Strengthening Our Workforce - Salvation Army Canada

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    Strengthening Our Workforce

    Flexibility in officer moves, succession planning and a voice for local leadership are critical to our future. March 12, 2014 by Commissioner Brian Peddle
    Filed Under:
    This June, Salvationists will notice something different in our territory: fewer officers will change appointments. We have an excellent personnel services team that helps manage officer appointments across the territory. Many would be shocked to realize how consuming that process is and the energy it takes for our territorial and divisional teams to bring about a successful personnel change. This year, however, we've asked all officers if they'd be willing to stay in their appointments for another year so that, wherever possible, we minimize the impact of the move.

    What's So Special About June?

    It is a significant change. Rather than moving nearly 25 percent of our officers as we have in past years, our goal is to reduce the percentage. The reason is not just the massive expense—though that is a factor. What we really need is time to examine the issues that are affecting officers—not all of them positive—and begin to manage the appointment changes differently and more intentionally.

    Over the past number of years, the Army in Canada and Bermuda has emphasized a sequential appointment system whereby officers go to their appointments for five years, consult with administration and then stay for intervals of two years as appropriate. But the ideal does not always fit the reality. Last year, for example, roughly 60 percent of the moves were not sequential in that we needed to move people earlier than anticipated.

    We admit that this is not sustainable for the future. We admit that a different consultation is required. We admit that the annual June change doesn't always make sense. We're asking ourselves, “Does it have to happen every year? Could it be a minimal move one year and a substantial move the next? Are there instances where we don't need to wait until June? How does the timing of the moves serve the mission?”

    Of course, the June moves fit the school year, and we must be sensitive to officers with families, but there is nothing from International Headquarters that mandates it must be done a certain way. The bottom line is that we have to be more fluid in how we approach officer moves. Officers have been invited to speak into this dialogue and the signals we are getting from them are overwhelmingly positive.

    Balancing Officer and Lay Staff

    My biggest preoccupation these days is ensuring solid leadership and the sustainability of the Army. It's no secret that the number of officers in the field is gradually shrinking due to retirements, attrition and an inadequate number of recruits to fill the needs. Many employees and lay personnel are now taking on roles that have traditionally been held by officers. This is changing the makeup of the Movement.

    I don't want to dodge the issue, but shrinking officer numbers is not the whole story. I am equally concerned about what we are doing with the leaders we have now—both officer and lay—and how we are targeting capacities in the people we are recruiting. As territorial commander, I long for a healthy mix of officers and lay personnel.

    Our organization will always have officers at the leadership level. There is a difference between the covenant relationship of an officer to the Army and a contracted position of an employee. The Army needs people who are set apart—the ordained, ecclesiastical order—who are available to the territory to serve wherever and in whatever circumstances required. We are a spiritual Movement and need to be guided by people who, first and foremost, put that marker down.

    But we also need employees who have vocational inclinations to share ministry with us. We must carve out space for lay personnel who want their work to intertwine with a sense of God's calling. If you look at the profiles of territorial and divisional headquarters, you'll find any number of lay leaders and hired staff where, 10 years ago, it would have been impossible. The instances are growing where lay personnel not only have management responsibilities, but spiritual remits—where they are responsible for the spiritual mission of a ministry unit and the spiritual well-being of those under their influence.

    I'll also admit that there are cases where we need to supplement our staff with accredited expertise that doesn't necessarily require a spiritual commitment, but that ensures we can run our operations efficiently. My hope, however, is that no one works for The Salvation Army who does not understand our mission and goals. To this end, Booth University College is helping us create an online orientation course for our employees—a kind of Salvation Army 101. I wouldn't want to give away the spiritual leadership of The Salvation Army, but we need to broaden our scope to include others who can bring much-needed expertise.

    Get on the Bus

    Jim Collins, management guru and author of Good to Great, talks about getting the “right people on the bus” in your organization. But it's also a challenge to get people “in the right seats.” I've been hesitant to delineate too clearly in every situation what an officer position is and what a lay position is. It's easier when we talk about corps officers or divisional youth secretaries and their roles in modelling officer recruitment for young people. But it gets blurry after that. For example, I wouldn't want to see a day when there were no officers involved in public relations. Nor would I want to shut out skilled employees from the financial side of what we do. When we work as a team, we have a distinct advantage—provided we get the right people with the right skills in the right places.

    Recently I visited a community where I was impressed by a corps officer who was running an excellent community-based ministry. When I went up the street, I met an Army employee from community and family services who took me on a tour of the soup kitchen and introduced me to dozens of people with whom he has built relationships. At the end of the day, the officer I met in the morning and the employee I met in the afternoon were both working toward the same outcomes. The people in that community weren't checking the colour of the epaulets; they just saw The Salvation Army.

    One of my laments is that the Army does not currently have an internal promotion policy for employees. We need a process whereby employees can look at the breadth of the territory's ministries, from St. John's, N.L., to Vancouver to Bermuda, and say, “Is there something that I could be doing with the Army in a different area?” Is there a way to queue up people for promotion? How can we better collaborate with employees on their professional development? Have we got the right resources for that to happen? Can we come alongside them and say, “Where do you want to be in five years?”

    To achieve this, we need to cultivate a greater culture of trust among all our staff. We can do that by trying to understand potential obstacles. We have to open up lines of dialogue where the trust may be on shaky ground. We need to take the private discussions into a more open forum where we can explore what trips us up. What do we not understand about the organization that causes us to second guess? Where does the friction occur? How can administration listen to the concerns of officer and lay personnel?

    Giving Local Officers a Voice

    Beyond our employees and officers, we also need to better connect with our local officers—our lay volunteers who hold significant positions of responsibility in corps. We need mechanisms to reach out to our people in the pews. In the past, our territorial symposiums have given lay leaders a voice. But it's a missing piece in our system right now. Our local officers have a vested interest in the Army and need opportunities to speak beyond their local circle.

    There is a move afoot to bring local leaders together at the Territorial Congress in June. Out of that, we hope to create a permanent forum whereby senior leadership can hear from people on the front lines on a regular basis. We've also talked about “town hall”-style meetings that can be broadcast on the Internet to allow people from all parts of the territory to respond.

    If we want to guarantee sustainable leadership, then we have to train, recruit and develop officers, employees and local officers in such a way that our mission priorities are matched with our human resources strategy. That includes leveraging the expertise we already have in place. We've identified Booth University College as one key resource that has the wherewithal to respond to various gaps in our leadership needs. To this end, the college has launched a School of Continuing Studies for the territory that has the capacity to train the workforce, both ordained and lay.

    Another innovation is PEAC (Performance Excellence and Coaching), a new review system for officers and employees that is at the pilot stage across the territory. PEAC is more than just an assessment tool, it's a culture shift toward developing our workforce. It fits naturally into the coaching environment that the territory has been promoting. It sets up open dialogue where succession planning and appropriate training become the norms. It also helps us to be more outcome-based and more accurately measure our efforts. The result will be a stronger workforce on all fronts.

    We trust that God is in control, but that does not absolve us from making difficult decisions in how we structure and develop our leadership. We have to figure out how to optimize our workforce with recruitment strategies, appropriate consultation, capacity development and succession planning in a way that gives us a sustainable strategy for the future. Organizationally we have a reciprocal relationship with the Almighty. If we keep our spiritual temperature where it needs to be, if we keep our Army engaged in prayer, if we keep our mission focus on target, then I believe God will continue to bless the Army.

    Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.


    On Monday, May 5, 2014, shirley watkinson said:

    If we are so short of officers, then why are so many sitting in offices rather than preaching from the pulpits....? I thought that they were "called" to preach and teach. Perhaps they would find more unsaved people in the community rather than in their offices.....?

    On Thursday, April 24, 2014, Joan Reid said:

    I feel if a core is doing good and the officers do not want to move they shouldn't have to move and when they have kids in school it is nice for kids to finish school where they are comfortable I really hope our officers don't get moved this year or next

    On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Christine said:

    A very well-written article; everything makes sense. It would be a wonderful Salvation Army world if we could just take this and implement it. I have for years listened to presentations pertaining to ways we can improve the process of Officer's appointments, making it better for Officers and their families and for the Corps. A few years ago what was promoted by THQ was that Church Boards (Corps Council) would be very much involved in this process, Before any decision was made pertaining to a change of Officers DHQ personnel would meet with the Officers, and Church Board members to discuss this issue. As a member of a Corps Council for many years, I had the priviledge of this happening only once. I have to say it was a very positive experience and I believe everyone, the DC, the Officers and the Church Board members were very pleased. Two years later, quite unexpectedly the Chruch Board was informed that there was to be another change. I was unavailable to attend that meeting but I was informed of the outcry and overwhelming and passionate plea of the Church Board that this change not happen. The change did happen, and not because the Officers are bad people or the members of the congregation are bad people, but it has been a difficult few years for most involved. Sometimes lay people are not being difficult, sometimes they just know and they need to be listened too. As I reflect on my years of involvement with the Salvation Army, I realize we have regressed in this area. There is no consistency, no stability within the local church. A few years ago we were told, "The Church is first and foremost God's Church. This building, programamming, worship, etc., is your responsibility. God's Church needs you, the people, to manage it. The Officers are here to encourage you, to uplift you and to partner with you." Unfortunately that is not how it is. With practically every change of Officers, everything changes. If we could get to that place of consistency and stability where the local board lays the foundation of functionality, has input into Officers leaving or staying, then in partnership with our leaders we build upon that foundation and through the leading of the Holy Spirit we would cultivate much healthier churches and much healthier people! And, you would have a Church on fire for God!

    On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, A salvationist said:

    I read with much interest the article by Commissioner Peddle on “Strengthening Our Workforce.” He said, “officers have been invited to speak into this dialogue.” May I ask, does the Army center around officers alone or are soldiers, lay people etc. included too? If the answer is yes, then why didn’t he invite us to speak into the dialogue? After all we are on the front line too and on whom the officers are depending for their salaries and benefits.

    Not all officers are corps officers and not all officers are social services officers. You can have an officer who might run a corps into the ground, and that has happened, or an officer in social services who may better fit into a corps. Should they be kept in that appointment for five years?

    We have officers who will not enroll our young people as senior soldiers or even give them the opportunity to take preparation classes and let them decide for themselves if they want to be enrolled or not. We have lost many of our young people .

    Some officers don’t want the uniform and don’t encourage the wearing of the same. How can we grow as an Army when our leaders refuse to obey the rules and try to change them to please themselves? I realize it is costly to move an officer and a lot of work for someone to try and place them in different positions. This can be eliminated by bring in the process that other churches have whereby the whole corps, not just the Corps Council, Mission Board, or Census Board decide whether they move or stay. We are the people who pay for the moves.

    We all realize that the army is short of officers in Canada but that is partly a result of errors made by previous leaders and we are suffering because of it. They were told by people in the know what the consequences of their decision would be in the future but it fell on deaf ears and here we are today in this situation. There are young people who would like to go to the training college but the decisions that were made has made it too costly for them to do so.

    I am delighted to see that lay people will be given an equal opportunity to be recognized for their expertise. We have lost far too many valuable people to other churches whether someone was intimated by them or for other reasons but the bottom line is that we are all suppose to be in this together and we should be encouraging each other and not try to tear things down to please ourselves. It is not about us but about Him who came to us and gave Himself for the salvation of the world. As it says in 1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 31, none of us can do without the other.

    I am not sure who wrote the quote I recently heard which says,” You have to look back in order to look further into the future.” Perhaps the Army would be wise to take that advise.

    On Friday, March 14, 2014, chris said:

    Thank you for the article.

    I believe, as do others that all management of the Salvation Army need to be Christians - right across the world. I have come across management within the Salvation Army who are not Christians and people underneath them have been abused and bullied which has been reported and not dealt with. This type of behavior should not be tolerated anywhere and should be dealt with accordingly as it is against the law, unacceptable and against policy and procedures.

    Senior Soldiers are not always encouraged to use their gifts, listened to or heard and other members of the congregation are not always encouraged either which is extremely sad. As a Soldier I have experienced this myself and almost left the Church because of it. A fellow soldier stopped me and I now do my best to focus on Christ and pray for the offenders.

    I realise there is no perfect church no matter where one goes, although Church should not be this difficult and hurtful.

    Officers have been given the choice of where they moved to before this. I am aware of this as officers I know were given a choice of posting and refused it and given another which was accepted.

    Many people cannot become an Officer even if they feel they are being called to be an Officer - as the cut off point is 52years and mature people are not considered because of the $$$$ and not willing to put a candidate through College because of the expense. What do you think Jesus response to this would be??

    Now, would Jesus say no, you can't be an Officer, you are too old!!! ???

    The Bible says go out into the world and make disciples of all men, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nowhere does the Bible say that anything about anyone being to old to do the work and will of God. Nowhere does the Bible say anything about age restrictions!

    I know of people in their 80's still in uniform, going out in the community sharing about Jesus. The retirement age, I'm told is 65 years! There are many active people of that age in this world who have a heart for God.

    So, why are there so many restrictions in the Salvo's stopping mature men and women doing Gods work???

    This does not occur in other Churches.

    Any positions advertised and called for are focused on the youth and its high time, the "older" generation were considered as well.

    I notice that jobs advertised for the Salvation Army are only calling for the applicant to agree to the ethos of the Salvation Army and not necessarily be a Christian. This also needs to be changed and the policy and procedures regarding advertisement changed to include the applicant be a Christian i.e. Jesus is their Lord and Savior.

    The bus wouldn't be big enough for all the Christians who are willing and wanting to serve God in the Salvation Army if the restrictions were taken off and finances were not made a major issue.

    Thank you.

    On Friday, March 14, 2014, James Read said:

    Thank you, Commissioner, for a timely, thoughtful and delightfully well-written article.

    Among the many things that could be commented upon, let me just highlight your comment about "covenant." Salvation Army officers worldwide, on becoming officers, sign a covenant with God that is witnessed by other officers. That's very good. You say officers also have (or should have) a covenant relationship with The Salvation Army. I concur. But it seems to me that it's appropriate for the very same reasons for The Salvation Army to want to have covenantal, and not only contractual, relationships with many non-officers who are trusted with advancing the mission. Contracts can be very good things. They are not incompatible with covenants. But the nature of the bonding and identification is different, and there are many of us employees who are where we are precisely because we love The Salvation Army and want to see our fulfillment bound up with the Salvation Army's.

    On Thursday, March 13, 2014, Andy said:

    As a soldier and employee, I find the Commissioner's words refreshing. The Sakvatioj Army started as a progressive Christian movement, so I am always encouraged when I hear of progressive thinking from our leaders. I'm in the USA, so I may not be impacted by any results of this article (or the plan's implementation). But, congratulations Canada and Bermuda Territory! You have courageous leadership.

    On Thursday, March 13, 2014, Kevin R. Curtis said:

    I think this will work fine for officers but not so much for local leaders if the officers aren't helping their local leaders to grow or don't pick up people who are willing to help and lead programs. I have been told because of where I live, that my officers don't have to pick me up to help with programs throughout the week because of where I live and to only pick me up for Sunday School and Holiness Meeting on Sundays. More than half of our congregation live in the same town as I do and they get pick up for this programs so I don't understand why I get. I believe that leaders can only lead their people as far as they are being led by those who lead them.

    On Thursday, March 13, 2014, Marianne Tzaut-Hausdorff said:

    Thank you for this article. Although I am a retired officer, and is also an officer s kid, we have been moved from Social work to Corps, and vice versa so many time. It was difficult to do a good work in 6 months or one or three years in the same place. My father always told us that their appointments were given by God through our leaders, and we believed it. I am also glad to know that you will get more of the Local officers. They are wonderful people, so dedicated, and often on the go FUll time, even more than some officers.May God bless your endeavours

    On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, chris said:

    There are age restrictions which restrict individuals in their capacity and calling in the Salvation Army which other Churches don't have.

    Some individuals have found they are not listened or or heard and have found this frustrating.

    Its high time the Officers were listened to regarding postings. I don't think non Christians should be part of management at all. All of the congregation need to be listened to, heard and encouraged, unfortunately they are not and consequently, many people have left the Salvos. There are many people who are gifted and not encouraged, is it any wonder people leave?

    Its time to listen and hear and apologise for the hurt sustained by the Salvation Army - no matter what the cause, pray for the hurting within the Salvos and encourage those in their walk with God.

    There are many hurting people of all walks of life within the various communities who need a listening ear and prayer, for someone to reach out and take them by the hand and tell them that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life - no one can come to the Father except through the Son.
    These people need to be encouraged, taken for a cuppa, fed and clothed, listened to and invited to Church on a continual basis as they need Jesus.

    The bus isn't big enough for all of the people who are willing to serve - too many restrictions are in place.

    On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, proudsalvo said:

    Interesting move, Commissioner! But how will this work with newly commissioned officers needing appointments? Will be interesting to see how this one plays out in practical terms....

    On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, LT Michael Honsberger said:

    In the US Army, commissioned officers receive a two year initial assignment and are assigned to a mentor who coaches and guides them through the assignment. Once the initial assignment is complete the officer then receives a three year assignment where they receive Command opportunities. Their mentor at this level is usually a Major or better still a Lieutenant Colonel with 10 or more years of experience. With each new assignment the officer builds confidence and gains trust of those they lead. A very important benefit of the first five years is the officer's family can stabilize and put down real roots.

    On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, Peter Knight said:

    I believe a barrier to soldiers enrolling as Officers is the likelihood of being located to areas - both geographically and ministry-wise- where they feel they don't belong or are too far away from family members that may need some sort if support, or the children's education is disrupted. To see these issues being addressed is encouraging because of the shortage of recruits that was addressed in this article.

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