Talented People are Hurting You

When we first launched our campus we had (and still do) some of the most talented, “do whatever it takes”, mission-driven people on our team. So as we were learning how to setup and tear down church in a high school, run sound, do children’s ministry, create a guest experience, etc they just figure out how to do it.

While we are constantly trying to get better there are still some things we do more than 3.5 years later because someone in the early days just figured out a way to do it.

What we ran into pretty quickly was the fact that those people couldn’t realistically be there every Sunday. So when our volunteer team became a rotation of 1 week on, 1 week off, and then later 1 week on, 2 weeks off, we found some holes.

We didn’t have systems we just had really talented people.

I’m not saying that having great and talented people is a bad thing. I’m just saying that when you do, sometimes you get lazy in creating systems needed for longterm success.

We developed a phrase that we say pretty often in our evaluation:

“Is that a system or is it a personality?”

An example of a system is that we color coded every cord that plugs into the sound board and every cord that plugs into the “snake” (that’s the box where all your cords plug into on the stage so you can control the sound in another part of the room). Then above each spot where a cord was plugged in on both ends there is a corresponding colored piece of tape. Red plugs into red, blue plugs into blue…you get the idea. That’s a system. It was created because for several months the only person who knew where everything was plugged up was Darryl. And then something terrible happened…Darryl scheduled a vacation and had to miss church!

I’m only partially kidding. The reality was that Darryl is good with systems. So he anticipated being out and created a system that people could use when he was gone and he trained people how to do his job.

An example of a “personality” is that in our kids rooms when it was time to tear down, one of our workers would always pack up all the toys first into the bins. Then they would pack up all the supplies. Then they would help put away the pipe and drape. Another volunteer liked to pack up the room by location. All the toys and supplies around the changing table would go in one bin. Then all the toys and supplies by the craft table would go in another bin. This may not sound like a problem until one week a volunteer is looking for the crayons for crafts and can’t figure out which bin it’s in.

So we created a system. Every bin got a label. On the inside lid of the bin was a list of the items that went in that bin with a picture of what it looked like fully loaded.

Then every bin in the children’s hall was numbered and a diagram was placed in the truck showing where each numbered box goes. That way when anybody was loading the 24 foot box truck that carries all of our kids stuff they didn’t have to play Tetris with the boxes trying to fit them all in. They just had to put bin #1 in the square assigned to bin #1 and so on.

We don’t have it all figured out, but I bet if you looked around your church, organization, family, business or team you will see that you rely a lot more on personalities than you realize and maybe a little less on systems than you’d like.

The easiest way to evaluate is to ask this question:

“If (insert the name of a volunteer or employee) was out next week could someone else step in and do that job well the way our customers/attenders/employees are used to it being done?”

If the answer is no you have a personality. If the answer is yes you have a system.

Create systems and watch your efficiency and the multiplication of your team go through the roof.

Happy hunting!

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Jeremy Isaacs

Lead Pastor at Canton Church
Jeremy is husband to Corrie, father to Cooper, Branson, Tucker and Kinley, and Lead Pastor of Canton Church in Canton, GA. He enjoys reading, writing, speaking, coaching Pastors and leaders, playing golf and watching Netflix with Corrie after the kids go to bed.

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