An online magazine for pastors and church leaders.

Do anything for any length of time and you?re bound to fail at least once or twice. It isn?t a matter of if, it?s a matter of when. Planning for failure doesn?t make you negative or paranoid, it makes you smart. Planning ahead for the worst-case scenario and how it affects your team sets your staff and volunteers up for success, even in the face of adversity.

The difference between a good artist and a great one is how you handle the adversity that comes when things go wrong. But it takes work along with advance planning to get there. Here are four keys to setting your team up for success in the face of failures.

Establish Processes

In sports there is an old saying that the best offense is a good defense, and when it comes to production this couldn?t be truer. Mistakes generally happen because people aren?t prepared or trusted processes aren?t followed. Both of which are easily solved with some time and discipline.

Develop clear processes for your team that define what a win looks like and how they can achieve it. Put together documentation for things like system turn-on, pre-service routines, and even post-service routines. And of course a well-vetted service order so everyone knows what is happening is critical.

By ensuring your teams are following tried and true processes every week, you?ll greatly minimize unnecessary failures.[quote]By ensuring your teams are following tried and true processes every week, you?ll greatly minimize unnecessary failures.[/quote]

Develop Contingency Plans

Benjamin Franklin said long ago, ?By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.? Things will go wrong, and when they do, your success in recovery will again come down to preparation. But this time, the preparation will be all about your contingency plans.

What?s your plan for when a projector goes down? How about when your speaker system processing bites the dust? Do you have spare lamps for your lighting fixtures? Do you have a trusted integrator or dealer you can call to get immediate help from a manufacturer?

When things go wrong, the last thing you have time for is to think through what to do next. You need to have resources available, phone numbers handy, and a plan to execute. Don?t wait for your systems to fail before you develop contingency plans. Spend time now making plans so when things do go wrong, you?re ready to act.[quote]When things go wrong, the last thing you have time for is to think through what to do next.[/quote]

Remain Calm

Years ago, during the middle of a performance of our Easter production, we heard a terrible noise come out of our PA. Thirty seconds later, I got a call over the radio. ?Backstage is filled with smoke, get down here quick!? I got up from FOH and calmly walked to the back door of the auditorium, and once the door closed I ran as fast as I could back to the green room where I began walking again through the actors and stage crew who were panicking.

I heard from a number of people that night that my calmness in the midst of amps literally blowing up gave the actors and crew confidence to remain calm and finish the performance. Never underestimate the impact remaining calm and projecting confidence will have on those around you in the face of adversity.

Equip Your Team

Next to remaining calm and confident in the face of challenges, equipping your team is critical to overcoming adversity well. The best laid plans are only effective if the people on the front lines have them. As you develop your processes and contingency plans, you must share those plans with your team.[quote]The best laid plans are only effective if the people on the front lines have them.[/quote]

Schedule regular times with your team to discuss what your contingency plans are and when they should be used. Make sure your plans are well-documented and located where your teams can easily find them.

Hit By A Bus Plan

Many years ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning with severe pain in my side. After three hours of prepping services and a run through, I finally decided I had to go to the hospital where I found out I had appendicitis. Our volunteer teams rocked both services, which was fortunate because shortly after getting to the hospital, I was knocked out with painkillers and was unavailable.

Also, change is inevitable. Staff changes happen on a regular basis in churches. If you lead a ministry at your church, any time you aren?t there can create great adversity for your volunteers and your church.

One of the best things you can do for the long-term success of your ministry is to build a Hit By a Bus Plan, or a manual of sorts, just in case you aren?t in a position to handle those responsibilities on your own. A list of processes and procedures, normal consumable parts and pieces (like bulbs, lamps, etc.), and most importantly, a list of contacts like local sub-contractors and your integrator, will go a long way toward helping your team be successful should you ever be unavailable.

A manual with the procedures and contingency plans as outlined above will ensure that your team knows what to do when things are going well, and in particular when they?re not.

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