Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Doing More With Less

This is a topic that many of us in the tech world are dealing with these days. We are continually asked to do more with less. This is common problem, and can perpetuate a cycle that will burn us out if we try to actually do it. Over the years, I’ve been in three churches that started off great, and quickly turned into a “Hey, you’re doing a great job, so now you need to do 2x as much with 1/3 the resources.”

To keep from working ourselves to death, we need to learn to delegate.

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. Though you may 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 church, 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. At my previous church, I was responsible for the 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, I looked for community members to lead those teams. I found 2 highly capable women and pretty much turned over leadership to them. They took over the sending out of reminders each week to the teams, confirm everyone, finding subs as needed and directed the teams each Sunday. I helped out only when needed and continue to recruit. What originally took a lot of my time ended up taking less than 30 minutes a week. That’s leverage.

Another area I wanted to delegate was training. I had wanted to get a regular training regimen going, but I didn’t have the time. So, I looked to my most capable volunteers and asked them to start leading regular training sessions for the teams. I helped out with content, subject matter and scheduling–at least up front. I spent more time on training than I did on setup and take down, but it was a greatly reduced workload.

I’m learning to sub-out equipment installation as well. As much as I love unboxing new gear, running cable, programming and all that, I simply don’t have the time. If we go forward with a planned kids and student ministry area renovation next spring, I will be bringing in an integrator to do most of the work. I’ll spend some time with them getting the plan together, but I want them to pull cable, install and commission the gear.

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’ll admit that I haven’t always done well with that, but now that I’m entering a whole new season of doing two jobs for the price of one, I need to get back to that methodology.

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?

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4 Comments

  1. nick@oldbranch.com

    I agree that efficiency is paramount, but sometimes the answer to "do more with less" is an emphatic "no."

    At my church we are trying to get a better "product" out of our current setup, but there is no money to fix our fundamental flaws. I understand that the utilities, salaries, etc. need to come first, but the leadership also needs to understand that that means the "product" stays the same until it is an elevated (monetary) priority.

    Don't get me wrong – I get excited coming up with creative solutions to near impossible requests. But, if something is broken, needs money to get fixed, and there is no money. . . it stays broken.

  2. nick@oldbranch.com

    I agree that efficiency is paramount, but sometimes the answer to "do more with less" is an emphatic "no."

    At my church we are trying to get a better "product" out of our current setup, but there is no money to fix our fundamental flaws. I understand that the utilities, salaries, etc. need to come first, but the leadership also needs to understand that that means the "product" stays the same until it is an elevated (monetary) priority.

    Don't get me wrong – I get excited coming up with creative solutions to near impossible requests. But, if something is broken, needs money to get fixed, and there is no money. . . it stays broken.

  3. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Nick,
    I agree with you completely. At some point, you run out of "increasing efficiency" or stretching things beyond useful life. At that point, you get what you get. In my case, I lost my ATD, and won't have one for the rest of this year at least. So, I can only do what I can do. I can't add to that what my ATD would have done. Timelines of projects are getting way stretched out, and sometimes I don't have time to get to everything. So, it doesn't get done.

    I've decided I cannot work 80 hours a week to make up for the loss of my staff person. So, in a sense, those that made the decision to hold off on re-hiring the position are going to get exactly what they are asking for; the output of 1 person, not two.

    This is a topic I've been batting around with a few others, and will probably hit these pages once it's fleshed out a little more.

    mike

  4. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Nick,
    I agree with you completely. At some point, you run out of "increasing efficiency" or stretching things beyond useful life. At that point, you get what you get. In my case, I lost my ATD, and won't have one for the rest of this year at least. So, I can only do what I can do. I can't add to that what my ATD would have done. Timelines of projects are getting way stretched out, and sometimes I don't have time to get to everything. So, it doesn't get done.

    I've decided I cannot work 80 hours a week to make up for the loss of my staff person. So, in a sense, those that made the decision to hold off on re-hiring the position are going to get exactly what they are asking for; the output of 1 person, not two.

    This is a topic I've been batting around with a few others, and will probably hit these pages once it's fleshed out a little more.

    mike

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