Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Doing More with Less Pt. 2

Yesterday I wrote about the dilemma I’m currently facing–having to do more with less. As our staff shrinks, those of us that remain have to take up the slack. To keep from working ourselves to death, we are leaning more on volunteers to augment our roles.

The trick is getting started. How do we decide what to “farm out.” What jobs can I reasonably expect a volunteer to do, and what jobs to I need to keep on my plate. If you find yourself in a similar position of demands exceeding your ability to meet them, your answers may well differ from mine. Part of the process is to determine who I can call on, what their gift mix is and how much time they have available. I need to find people who are passionate about our community, and who have the time to give to it. It helps if they actually have skills as well.

Another issue is figuring out how to parcel out tasks. Do I turn them over completely and stay hands off? Or do I set up the process then provide oversight to my team leaders. Again, this is going to depend. I’ll give you an example. I currently am responsible for our set up and take down teams each week. After spending a few months learning their jobs, recruiting additional volunteers and developing a process for scheduling and set up and take down, we looked for community members to lead those teams. We now have 2 highly capable women as team leaders. I have pretty much turned over leadership to them. They now send out reminders each week to the teams, confirm everyone, find subs as needed and direct the teams on Sunday. I help out when needed and continue to recruit. What once took a lot of my time now takes less than 30 minutes a week. That’s leverage.

When it comes to my tech teams, the first thing I’m going to attempt to parcel out is training. I’ve wanted to get a regular training regimen going for a while, but I haven’t had the time. So, I’m going to look to my most capable volunteers and ask them to start leading regular training sessions for the teams. I’ll help with content, subject matter and scheduling–at least up front. Eventually, I’d love to have that running on it’s own. I will still need to have some involvement in this, but I should actually be able to get more done through the help of volunteers.

When it comes to our website, I’ll probably be more hands on. I’ll need to be involved at a high level, helping to determine functionality, content and structure. I’ll need to lead a yet to be formed team of people to make it happen. While I expect to spend a fair amount of time on leading, I don’t plan on spending a second coding. I could, but I don’t have the time or the expertise. And I have other things that I need to do.

Some of the best advice I ever received in this area was from a Worship Pastor I worked under. At that time I was a 10 hour a week Tech Arts Director. I was trying to figure out how to get everything done, and I wasn’t succeeding. She told me I needed to determine the things that only I could do, do those things, and lead others in doing the rest. That was good advice. I’m going to be leaning heavily into that over the next few months, and probably years.

So what about you? Are you being faced with doing more with less? How do you prioritize what you have to do and what you can delegate?

10 Comments

  1. chris@behindthemixer.com

    Delegate tasks to people who have the skills to do them.

    Delegate tasks that require no skills (like using a copy machine) to anyone.

    Delegate tasks that are moderately difficult to those who love to learn. But also give them some guidance.

    You are empowering others, providing a little hands-on training to some, and freeing yourself of the tasks you don’t need to do because your time is better spent doing that which you have the skills to do.

  2. chris@behindthemixer.com

    Delegate tasks to people who have the skills to do them.

    Delegate tasks that require no skills (like using a copy machine) to anyone.

    Delegate tasks that are moderately difficult to those who love to learn. But also give them some guidance.

    You are empowering others, providing a little hands-on training to some, and freeing yourself of the tasks you don’t need to do because your time is better spent doing that which you have the skills to do.

  3. christie.russell@yahoo.com

    I have just found this blog. We are one of the churches that the CA Supreme Court says belongs to the Episcopal Church, even though we own the title and they never paid a dime. Anyway–

    Looks like we will be doing church from a box. We are fortunate in that our Sound Engineer has a lot of her own equipment, but it will be a total put up and take down every Sunday. Any tips from those of you who may already be doing it that makes it easier?

  4. christie.russell@yahoo.com

    I have just found this blog. We are one of the churches that the CA Supreme Court says belongs to the Episcopal Church, even though we own the title and they never paid a dime. Anyway–

    Looks like we will be doing church from a box. We are fortunate in that our Sound Engineer has a lot of her own equipment, but it will be a total put up and take down every Sunday. Any tips from those of you who may already be doing it that makes it easier?

  5. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Hi Christie, Thanks for reading–I’m glad you find this helpful!

    I’ve done portable church before, and it’s a lot of work. I would say the key to making it successful is organization and process. Spend some time up front organizing everything; from the speakers to the mic cords. Figure out how best to pack, unpack store and transport them. Develop a system that’s easy to use, and easy to teach.

    Next, develop a process. Set up the system the same way, every time. This will vary from location to location, but for the purposes of example, you might always set the speakers first, then lay the snakes, hook up the mixer, then cable the stage. Whatever you decide on, refine over a few week period, figure out what works best, then stick to it.

    Don’t be afraid to modify the process if it can be improved. At the same time, strive for consistency.

    The more I think about it, this seems like a good topic for a full-on post. Thanks for the idea!

    –mike

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Hi Christie, Thanks for reading–I’m glad you find this helpful!

    I’ve done portable church before, and it’s a lot of work. I would say the key to making it successful is organization and process. Spend some time up front organizing everything; from the speakers to the mic cords. Figure out how best to pack, unpack store and transport them. Develop a system that’s easy to use, and easy to teach.

    Next, develop a process. Set up the system the same way, every time. This will vary from location to location, but for the purposes of example, you might always set the speakers first, then lay the snakes, hook up the mixer, then cable the stage. Whatever you decide on, refine over a few week period, figure out what works best, then stick to it.

    Don’t be afraid to modify the process if it can be improved. At the same time, strive for consistency.

    The more I think about it, this seems like a good topic for a full-on post. Thanks for the idea!

    –mike

  7. christie.russell@yahoo.com

    Thanks for the info. We are not sure when we will have to vacate, could be weeks or a few months.

  8. christie.russell@yahoo.com

    Thanks for the info. We are not sure when we will have to vacate, could be weeks or a few months.

  9. rjacobs83@comcast.net

    Hey Christie,

    I’m part of a setup/breakdown team and band member for a portable church that meets in a movie theater. We bring in a 16′ trailer (just upgraded to a 26′ uhaul) every week just for sound equipment. Its like Mike said, get a system and be organized. We have a pack list for the trailers and everything is drawn out on the floors and walls. All cables have color tape on them and we have stanley boxes on wheels with matching tape depending on lighting/audio/power.

    On setup, each person does pretty much the same thing every week, b/c its harder to get volunteers that early in the morning so the few early risers know each part really well with a few of us that know every part so we can show new volunteers.

    We first bring in the totes of cables… and lay out snakes so we can easily run them without walking around everything. Then we bring in the subs, amp racks, sound board cart and assemble the line arrays… we do sound first so we can get some music up to make the rest of setup a little less humdrum… by then a few more volunteers start putting up the lighting trees and stage decor, while the band sets up our equipment and monitors. most importantly everything has labels on it so anyone can learn how to do something in a moment’s notice.

    the upgrade to uhaul’s is so we can transport staging we just bought to get the band and speakers up out of the pit and make it a little more personal.

    we have it down to about a 2 hour setup for 4 18″ subs, 2 line arrays (3 speakers each), 3 amp racks, sound board/snake cart, 3 monitor mixes (5/6 monitors) , 5/6 band members, 2 lighting trees, 1 lighting truss (back lighting), 4 led color changing cans for different effects and video projection.

    tear down we have more volunteers and have to be out quick b/c of movies starting so we tend to get cables out of the way quick so things can be rolled out and staged to go on the trailer, where we have one guy that calls what he needs next and then when hes done i go on and call to load certain band equipment (amps, drums, etc.)

    by no means do we have the best system and we are small, but without a system and organization you will waste so much time.

    sorry for the long post i figured it might help to know what we do and hopefully extract a tip here and there.

  10. rjacobs83@comcast.net

    Hey Christie,

    I’m part of a setup/breakdown team and band member for a portable church that meets in a movie theater. We bring in a 16′ trailer (just upgraded to a 26′ uhaul) every week just for sound equipment. Its like Mike said, get a system and be organized. We have a pack list for the trailers and everything is drawn out on the floors and walls. All cables have color tape on them and we have stanley boxes on wheels with matching tape depending on lighting/audio/power.

    On setup, each person does pretty much the same thing every week, b/c its harder to get volunteers that early in the morning so the few early risers know each part really well with a few of us that know every part so we can show new volunteers.

    We first bring in the totes of cables… and lay out snakes so we can easily run them without walking around everything. Then we bring in the subs, amp racks, sound board cart and assemble the line arrays… we do sound first so we can get some music up to make the rest of setup a little less humdrum… by then a few more volunteers start putting up the lighting trees and stage decor, while the band sets up our equipment and monitors. most importantly everything has labels on it so anyone can learn how to do something in a moment’s notice.

    the upgrade to uhaul’s is so we can transport staging we just bought to get the band and speakers up out of the pit and make it a little more personal.

    we have it down to about a 2 hour setup for 4 18″ subs, 2 line arrays (3 speakers each), 3 amp racks, sound board/snake cart, 3 monitor mixes (5/6 monitors) , 5/6 band members, 2 lighting trees, 1 lighting truss (back lighting), 4 led color changing cans for different effects and video projection.

    tear down we have more volunteers and have to be out quick b/c of movies starting so we tend to get cables out of the way quick so things can be rolled out and staged to go on the trailer, where we have one guy that calls what he needs next and then when hes done i go on and call to load certain band equipment (amps, drums, etc.)

    by no means do we have the best system and we are small, but without a system and organization you will waste so much time.

    sorry for the long post i figured it might help to know what we do and hopefully extract a tip here and there.

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