One of the Achilles heals of most masjids is their inability to keep consistency in operations either due to not keeping staff for more than a couple of years, board members transitioning from their board roles and a lack of documentation of critical information like processes, procedures and workflows. The three points we’re going to discuss are: high turnover (of staff), transition and capturing institutional knowledge.
1. High Turnover
It’s unfortunate but masjids haven’t made career paths for Muslims passionate about serving the community. Masjid employees and staff are paid unsustainable salaries with no benefits and are often overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. At most we see masjids hire individuals who have been with the masjid for more than a decade and are stuck knowing all of the information regarding how the masjid is run and know the history of the masjid. This unfortunately makes these individuals seemingly irreplaceable due to how critical they are to the basic operations of the masjid. This not only suffocates the growth of the masjid, but also stagnates creativity and negatively impacts the overall quality of services to the community.
Individuals who do end up working in masjids unfortunately don’t find long-term sustainable careers where they feel they are adequately compensated for their skills and experience. If we’re to truly to see our communities to grow we need to begin investing and compensating masjid employees and staff adequately with livable salaries with benefits and provide job security for them. Most individuals don’t find any job stability, job security, or professional growth in masjids jobs and you’ll typically see most move on to jobs that are salaried with benefits in corporate environments. Not only do we lose talent, but we lose the opportunity to take our masjids to the next level.
Many masjids hold back their growth by not documenting critical information like masjid board meeting minutes, strategic documents, operational documents, policies, procedures and workflows and other important operational information. This alone can hinder a masjid from continuing due to the fact that new staff and new board members will not have anything to build off of and thus reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating policies, procedures, workflows and decisions for the masjid. Constantly reinventing the wheel essentially is like setting the reset button year after year and set back the community and masjid from growing due to the lack of documentation and record keeping.
In order to solve this problem it’s important to have record keeping and documentation of virtually everything that is critical to the operations of the masjid. Additionally, this information needs to be adequately handed off to new staff and board members either through a training, workshop or presentation. On-boarding and orientation is critical to both staff and board members and should be a standard practice in all masjids to ensure that masjids continue to grow and not constantly reinvent the wheel year after year.
3. Capturing Institutional Knowledge
To solve the above problem capturing institutional knowledge is critical. This means documenting and keeping a general history, timeline landmarks of the masjid. Both staff and board members should be aware of the masjid history, timeline and landmarks to ensure that they understand the trajectory of the masjid and what worked and what did not work in the past. Knowing the history, timeline and landmarks of a masjid allows both staff and board members make much better decisions for the community and allows the quality of services to improve due to understanding the best practices and weaknesses from the past.