The Results Are In: Top Five Most important Rabbi-Board Evaluation Criteria

Posted on: June 22nd, 2012 by Hayim Herring No Comments

Thanks to all of those who responded to the two questions about evaluation that I asked in my prior post:

  • What are the five most important evaluation criteria for evaluating rabbi and board performance?
  • Does the board formally evaluate: itself and the rabbi; only the rabbi; neither the rabbi nor itself.

And the results are in!

The Results Are In: Top Five Most important Rabbi-Board Evaluation Criteria
survey results

 

Thirty-seven people responded to the first question. While I don’t have any background information on those who responded, here’s how you answered (in rank order):

  1. Develop and communicate a vision
  2. Build, inspire and lead a staff – volunteer team
  3. Identify, develop and support lay leaders
  4. Promote and lead spiritual formation for church (synagogue) members
  5. Interpret and lead change.

And for the second question about the existence of rabbi-board evaluation, to which 36 of you responded:

  • Approximately 42% of you responded that both the board and the rabbi undergo an evaluation
  • About 30% of you said that only the rabbi is evaluated
  • And another approximately 30% responded that neither the rabbi nor the board are evaluated.

Clearly, more context is needed to interpret these responses. But, here are a few observations from this non-scientific survey.

Respondents value the leadership qualities that one expects of all leaders: visioning, building a team, supporting volunteer and professional talent and leading change. Unsurprisingly, helping people develop their spiritual lives also ranked within the top five criteria. Taken together, these criteria suggest that a 21st-century rabbi needs sound working leadership knowledge and ability in general, and specific expertise in helping people develop their spiritual lives. No surprises here.

But what was equally interesting to me are the criteria that ranked lower, like managing conflict. How do you lead change (ranked high) unless you know how to manage conflict? Another example: rabbis work exceedingly demanding hours and they are poor health insurance risks because of job stress and lack of self-care. However, respondents ranked rabbinic self-care as relatively unimportant for evaluation purposes. Finally, while congregations complain of declining membership, those who responded ranked congregational outreach near the bottom of the list. That may be because the phrase “mission outpost” is not synagogue nomenclature and was therefore misunderstood. But my guess is that even if it were phrased differently, outreach would still not rank within the top five criteria, because reaching out to the broader Jewish community is not something in which many congregations invest resources.

Moving onto the second question, approximately 60% of respondents reported that there is no evaluation for the board. And, about 30% said that evaluation is simply off the radarscope for the board and the rabbi. Both of these responses are problematic because having an evaluation means that there is at least some implicit vision of what constitutes success. When there is no understanding of success, that’s when misunderstanding about roles, expectations and responsibilities emerge.

I am inclined to do more research based on the feedback that you’ve provided and will keep you updated. Thanks, again, for your input!

Rabbi Hayim herring

 

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