Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Hiring Technical Staff, Pt. 1

I find it ever-amazing how often the questions I get asked by readers match up with things I’m going through at the time. In the last few months, I’ve had several people ask me how to hire technical staff. Those questions have led to a few phone calls and some interesting discussions. And here I am this week, in the interview process to hire a new ATD. God sightings anyone?

As I thought about this article, I’ve decided to break it up into two smaller ones. This post will focus on adding additional technical staff to a team. I’m assuming a TD is in place and he or she is hiring an ATD, an audio director, video director, etc.. Later this week I’ll share some thoughts on hiring a TD.

You’re Not Getting Married, But Almost

The TD/ATD relationship is perhaps one of the closest ones on a church staff. Few other staff members will spend as much time together—both good times and under great pressure—than the TD/ATD. For this reason, I first look for someone who I really believe I can get along with. If you wouldn’t want to just hang out with a candidate for the job, you should think long and hard before hiring them. 

Yes, you will be his/her boss; but trust me, you’ll both get a lot more done, with a lot less stress if you can get along really well. I have people applying for this job that I like, but not enough to spend 80 hours with them during Christmas Production week. Think that through.

Enthusiasm Trumps Skill

Yes, having a solid, fundamental technical skill set is important. But when looking for an ATD, I look for someone who just loves to do what we do. I don’t expect them to be an expert in every discipline, but I do want someone who is eager to learn. Sometimes I’ll be doing the teaching, other times, I expect them to just figure stuff out. Either way, an enthusiastic learner will get the nod over a self-proclaimed “expert.”

Because I’m now an “old guy,” I intentionally seek out younger guys that I can build into. I’ve learned a lot in 20+ years of live production, and enjoy sharing that knowledge with others. There is no greater joy for me than seeing people who work with and for me become better at this stuff than I am. But that can only happen when they desire to learn. I can teach technical skills, but I cannot create a hunger for learning them.

Team Players Win

A Worship Arts team is (or at least should be) a tight-knit group of people. In our case, we really are. We are all different, but get along very well. We spend time with each other, do life together and work well as a group. Whoever I bring into this role has to be able to be part of the team. When I look around the table, I don’t want to be thinking, “One of these things is not like the other…” 

Yes, we’re all unique individuals and have our own viewpoints. But at the end of the day, we need to be able to move as a cohesive unit. Thus, any successful ATD candidate will be someone I believe will fit right in with the team.

Don’t Forget to Pray

This could either be the first or the last point (it’s probably both). I spend a lot of time in prayer asking the Lord who he wants me to hire. When I hired Isaiah, I was awake for 3-4 hours a night for a week talking this through with God. I had two good candidates, who each brought a unique perspective to the job. I honestly believe I made the right choice, and we’ve had a great, great year. 

This time around, as soon as he told me he was considering moving on, I began to ask the Lord to suggest possible replacements. I’ve already been praying for a month about this, and will continue to do so until the offer letter is signed. 

Ultimately, God is assembling a team of people at our church to work together to do what He’s called us to do. He’s doing the same at your church. Don’t miss that point. Sometimes the best candidate is the most unlikely (remember David?). When we add staff with clear direction from our ultimate boss, it will go well with us.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. What factors do you consider important when adding staff?

Next time, we’ll talk about hiring a technical director. 

Today’s post is brought to you by the Roland R-1000. The R-1000 is a multi-channel recorder/player ideal for the V-Mixing System or any MADI equipped console or environment.  Ideal for virtual sound checks, multi-channel recording, and playback.

4 Comments

  1. fohdave@goingto11.com

    Good stuff, Mike. It might be cool for you to talk a bit about creating job descriptions and finding candidates.

    I know I get job descriptions/listings from folks looking for people that often have a lot of specific requirements which typically amounts to the candidate already being an expert with "X" piece of gear instead of something more general like, "experience with large format consoles". Then there's a 4 page list of responsibilities.

    When I see these all I can think about is when is the person who takes the job going to go home. Then I wonder how they're going to find anyone who perfectly fits that. My current job description is a single page with a mission statement and maybe 6 bullet points that encompass a lot of the same stuff, but I don't feel overwhelmed and get to see my family most nights.

    So what are your philosophies on these sorts of things?

  2. fohdave@goingto11.com

    Good stuff, Mike. It might be cool for you to talk a bit about creating job descriptions and finding candidates.

    I know I get job descriptions/listings from folks looking for people that often have a lot of specific requirements which typically amounts to the candidate already being an expert with "X" piece of gear instead of something more general like, "experience with large format consoles". Then there's a 4 page list of responsibilities.

    When I see these all I can think about is when is the person who takes the job going to go home. Then I wonder how they're going to find anyone who perfectly fits that. My current job description is a single page with a mission statement and maybe 6 bullet points that encompass a lot of the same stuff, but I don't feel overwhelmed and get to see my family most nights.

    So what are your philosophies on these sorts of things?

  3. mike@churchtecharts.org

    You're right on, Dave. I've seen those crazy-long job descriptions as well, often with disclaimers such as "50-55 hours MINIMUM" and things like that. Like you, I prefer job descriptions that provide the general outline of what the tech has to accomplish, and leave the particulars up to the individual. My job description is a rather long-ish 3 pages, but it's mostly big picture stuff.

    I'll go and have a think on that and jot down some thoughts. This series is getting longer than I expected!
    mike

  4. mike@churchtecharts.org

    You're right on, Dave. I've seen those crazy-long job descriptions as well, often with disclaimers such as "50-55 hours MINIMUM" and things like that. Like you, I prefer job descriptions that provide the general outline of what the tech has to accomplish, and leave the particulars up to the individual. My job description is a rather long-ish 3 pages, but it's mostly big picture stuff.

    I'll go and have a think on that and jot down some thoughts. This series is getting longer than I expected!
    mike

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