This month’s column was originally going to focus on how to address the challenges around the “scrooges who steal Sunday”. But as I thought about it more, I realized that poor communication is often the root of the problems our teams face. An informal survey revealed that many of my magazine colleagues were given no specific guidelines of what was expected of them, both on and off the platform. While I don’t condone grumpy behavior, in the absence of clearly defined expectations, it is understandable why people respond negatively to pervasive problems and communication breakdowns. Here are some practical suggestions for solving problems by improving communication.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
Many tech teams are one person deep for each role, and sometimes the only feedback they get is when something goes wrong. When a team is running on fumes, their attitude and that of their spouses can suffer. Leaders, it is vital to realize that checking in one-on-one with your peeps can prevent a downward spiral. It is equally vital for team members to let your leaders know if you’re having a hard time – nobody wants you running on fumes!
WHERE TO START
While finding the root of a problem is key to preventing it from happening again, creating an environment where it’s OK to discuss problems and track solutions is also key. I would suggest getting your worship and tech teams together every three months for some pizza and a good “heart to heart”. If possible, sit in a circle so everyone can see one another, and be sure to document the meeting using something like Voice Memos on an iPhone. One at a time, I’d suggest having each person share one thing that is good and one thing that is improving, before getting to things they feel need improvement. The emotion around chronic problems can be blinding, and this approach enables everyone to focus on what is working in the context of addressing what isn’t.
PLANNING CENTER ONLINE
If your church is not already using PCO, I’d suggest kicking the tires on this awesome resource, noting that churches like Hillsong have been using it for over a decade. Leaders, PCO makes it easy to roster people weeks and even months in advance, as well as share (and transpose) charts and audio files to the key they’ll be played in. Team members, responding quickly to scheduling requests and blocking out dates you’re unavailable makes your leader’s job easier, while potentially preventing other team members from getting last minute requests. PCO is probably the best vehicle out there to fast track your team past rostering and set list driven challenges.
MATCH THE MESSAGE TO THE MEDIUM
Our magazine is a ministry, and our team has been working hard on streamlining our communication. Some communication is best suited for eMail, some is better for text, and Basecamp is our equivalent of PCO. Just like a worship team, getting everyone doing the same thing in a timely fashion requires a team spirit and grace. Leaders, let your team know what kind of communication will be shared on which platform. Team members, replying quickly and succinctly is a great way to let everyone know you are a team player!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, team guidelines seem to be a blind spot for a number of churches. It is much easier to let someone know what is expected of them before they join a team, than have an uncomfortable conversation after the fact. Here are some things people might want to find out when they audition as well as share in your team guidelines. How often will people be expected to serve? Do they have to attend rehearsal on weeks they’re not rostered? How prepared should they be for rehearsal? Do you have a policy on platform-appropriate attire? Does your team have someone to help people get up to speed on things like PCO or personal monitor systems?
IN LOVE AND WITH GRACE
The emotion around chronic problems can run deep, so it is important to remember that we all have blind spots. Being presented with them is a lot less confrontational when done in love and with grace.