The basic principles of team building are the same in every context. No matter if you are leading worship with a volunteer band or managing a million dollar business, there are similar approaches. Jim Collins, in his well-known book “Good to Great” uses the analogy of a bus when describing teams. On his metaphorical bus, Jim says you need the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and you need to put the right people in the right seats on the bus. Once these things are established, you can drive the bus anywhere. Here are some basic principles to matching the right fit with the right people in your worship team.
Adding the right people to your team can be one of the most rewarding things you do as a worship leader. The number one thing you must do is to create job descriptions for the roles you’re filling. Overkill? No.
For the last few years I’ve used job descriptions for staff and volunteer positions. Ambiguity kills progress. If you don’t know what you expect from your team, they won’t either. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy backseat drivers. A job description is a simple way to avoid this common mistake.
Write up a one-page document that you use for each position on your team: drums, bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keys, piano, front of house, stage manager, worship leader, etc. The job description should include how much time you expect them to spend each week in the given role, what you expect in terms of preparation and attitude, as well as spiritual expectations. This document should include disciplinary steps if they don’t live up to their end of the deal.
I also like to include what the person can expect from me. For example: Sunday set lists will be up by Wednesday. We’ll have monthly one-on-ones. If you’re paying your musicians, this is where you put how much they’ll get paid and when. What time do they have to be at rehearsal? How would you like them to contribute? Do you expect them to train others?
None of my team have ever criticized me for using job descriptions for musicians or worship leaders. Why? People appreciate communication.
One last bit of advice: be realistic. Don’t set your requirements too high or too low for the task. If you’re writing a job description for a volunteer drummer, don’t expect them to give 40 hours a week or to create Ableton stems for every song.
At the end, sign it. File a copy for yourself. They keep the other.
Qualities of the Right People
Just like it’s important people know what they’re expected to do, it’s important that they’re in the right role. Here are three qualities to look for in the right people.
- Skilled: Are they capable? Do they have the proficiency for the role you are looking for? Refer to your job description. Can they do what you need them to do? If they can’t do it yet, maybe it’s not the right time to bring them on. Perhaps this a person you want to invest in and develop.
- Good Reputation: Don’t blow off their references. Do they work well with others? Do they burn bridges? If they’ve been around your church for a while, ask other staff members about their character. Overall, I’m looking for objective, receptive, and adaptable people. I want to surround myself with people of good character.
- Connection: Are they a good hang? If a coffee meeting is laborious, you can bet there might be some stage friction on Sunday morning. Look for good chemistry.
- Negativity: If you’re like me, you may have tried to make a negative person happy. Eventually you realize that you can’t make them happy because, at the root, they are unhappy. Cynicism and chronic complaining will ruin you if you let them. No matter who the person is or how good they are at what they do, you cannot allow them to stay on your team. Lead them. Challenge their way of thinking. Stand against their harmful behavior that will poison your team if you don’t stop it.
- Laziness: If your sound guy is consistently the last to rehearsal, or your ProPresenter technician is more interested in social media than making sure the lyrics are on the screens, it’s time for a change. If it’s once or twice, give grace. If it’s a normal pattern, you might have a lazy person on your team. The same is true for preparation. If someone consistently comes unprepared, the rest of the team will ultimately follow suit. If I’m your bass player, why should I prepare if you let the drummer off the hook week after week? Don’t let lazy people stay on your team.
By keeping someone on your team beyond their time, you hinder God’s best for them and for you. Do the hard thing and you’ll find your job gets a whole lot easier.