Vacation? Ha! The church would fall apart without me being there.
That?s sure how I felt when I was the tech director at my church. Unfortunately, that eventually led to mega burnout. Also, it wasn?t exactly true. It was more a gentle stroking of my own ego that I believed that.
That being said, the first few times I went out of town on a Sunday morning were a bit of a disaster for my team. But that?s only because I didn?t prepare properly for my vacation.
Here?s what I should have done.
Realize it?s okay that things don?t fall apart without you.
Start by realizing it?s good that the world keeps spinning when you?re on vacation. Otherwise you?ve done a bad job at leading your team. The fact that things succeed when you?re gone means you?ve trained people appropriately.[quote]It?s good that the world keeps spinning when you?re on vacation.[/quote]
Not only this, but if it runs well without you there, you can start putting your energy elsewhere to up the production game even more. Score!
Put someone in charge when you?re gone.
Make sure you have someone who?s ultimately responsible for the tech world while you?re on vacation. Don?t just leave everyone to their own tasks. Get someone who can devote their entire time on a Sunday morning to making sure things run smoothly in the booth and control room.
Develop a right-hand.
The best way to make this happen is to have a right-hand who is with you each Sunday when you?re in town. Have them shadow you and learn all the things you do.
Sit back and watch sometimes.
Even if you?re in town, don?t be so hands-on every week. Sit back and let the team try it without you. It?s a safe way to practice what it will be like when you?re gone.
Allow people to fail at key times.
Allow failure as much as possible when you?re sitting back and watching. Obviously these shouldn?t be major failures or in critical points of the service. But the more your people make mistakes, the more they can learn from them.[quote]The more your people make mistakes, the more they can learn from them.[/quote]
Identify failures and figure out ways to train.
When you see consistent points of failure, that?s an indication of a gap in your training process. Figure out ways to communicate to your volunteers and team members how to deal with these common points of failure.[quote]When you see consistent points of failure, that?s an indication of a gap in your training process.[/quote]
Write down everything you do in a checklist format.
Don?t just rely on your team to remember everything you told them. Have a backup checklist that your team can go through. This is everything from powering on the system, troubleshooting methods, and how you run specific elements of the service.
Holy crap this will take a long time to put together. But it?s worth it. And be sure to keep it updated. (This might be a great task for your right-hand. You can check over it too to make sure they understand everything.)
Don?t assume people won?t need certain bits of information when you?re gone.
The annoying truth of you being out of town is that people will try new things when you?re gone. They?ll experiment with processes because they think they know how things can run better.
Give them as much information as possible to empower them to experiment. Who knows?they might actually find a better way to do something. Just be sure to take pictures/screenshots/backups of everything so you can fix anything they experimented on.
Check in the night before and go over everything.
Skype with your team the night before the service. Run through everything and see if there are any questions. Yes, you could do this the week before. But the sad truth is that most volunteers haven?t actually thought through Sunday morning the week before. They?re just barely thinking about things the night before?but it?s a start.
Keep your phone on the first few times and let them know it?s an option.
Try to take small vacations at first where they can still be in touch with you. Let them know it?s an option. If nothing else, it?ll make you feel better knowing if the world burns down they can at least call you so you can hear.
Chances are, things will go fine if you prepared everyone properly. It?s worth the risk either way. You need to get away and recharge from time to time. Put the effort into the front end, and you can enjoy those rare vacations. It?s possible.