Tag Archives: Social Media

Strong Volunteer Teams

10 Mar

I was blessed to attend the Gurus of Tech conference last week in Chicago. One of the breakouts I went to was on leading volunteers and was lead by Jill Werst who was a mountain of knowledge. The most pivotal take-away for me was this: your best recruitment tool is investing in your current volunteers. Wow. That really resonates with what I have seen work and fail over 20 years. But how do we invest in our current volunteers?

Volunteers crave trust, a mission, excellence, and team. If we can create an environment where they have all four, they will thrive. And they will bring their friends who will also thrive. Let’s look at each of these.


Can your volunteers trust that you will give them the information they need to feel successful? How is your communication process? Confusion and chaos is not the best environment and will scare people off. When there is insecurity, there is high turnover. Do they trust that you will teach them what they need to know so that they feel valuable or are you just throwing them in the deep end of the pool? Do you have documentation? Volunteers LOVE checklists. Do they trust that you will begin and end when you said you would? Nothing breaks trust faster than wasting people’s time.


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
-Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

This is absolutely key to building strong volunteer teams. I spend time teaching my set up team knots. Yes knots! Sound exciting? Not really, eh? But we always go big picture – why is this knot important (it’s adjustable), why does it matter (it saves time later, we are serving someone else by using the right knot), why does THAT matter? Because the less time the staff has to focus on tweaking on Saturday, the more time they can spend on other things and it all impacts the experience that our attenders have. This knot helps bring people to Christ. 🙂 Yes, I go there and we make it a little bit of a joke – just because that’s my personality with my team – but the idea sticks. What you do has epic consequences. When you connect those dots for your team, you develop pride and workmanship that would be missed without it.


Let’s face it. Nobody wants to be part of a team that sucks. It guarantees dissatisfaction, disappointment, and turnover. Time spent in training and planning pays off in exponential dividends. If your volunteers don’t feel like they are a part of something great, they won’t stay. No one does everything perfectly, but there are two ways to break this down – product and attitude. Product – if your end product is not good quality, you’ll never have a great team. Perhaps that should be your starting point. Building a team without a product is a cart before the horse kind of thing. Attitude – are you praising when things done well? Publicly? Twitter and Facebook are fantastic tools for this. Everyone loves a public ‘attaboy’. Are you making sure that you honor the absentee and never NEVER allow disparaging comments in team? If you shut people down when they complain about other departments, they will know that you have their back when they are complained about. This is related to the trust thing. If you focus on an uplifting attitude – being a place people love to be, you will have achieved half the battle to excellence.


One of the most deeply seeded needs God put in us is the need to belong. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, when you feel a part of something bigger than yourself, magic happens. Connect with your team regularly in and out of work time. Read their Facebook, ask about their family publicly so that other join that conversation too. Here is the craziest little big thing that has helped our team – names. Learn everyone’s names and make them do it too. When your stage manager calls for the ‘guitar player’ rather than for Jon, when the speaker calls someone “power point guy” rather than Chris…it’s disrespectful and disheartening. Become a culture that uses names, there’s nothing more personal. Use name tags, put the names on production copies, be the example. No one feels a part of a team where the leaders and teammates don’t know each others names. Do whatever it takes – you’ll be stunned what a change in attitude of the team that makes.

Thank people. This cannot be said enough. Thank them privately and publicly. Thank them thank them thank them. I go around and thank each individual crew and cast member every week with something personal about their performance each week. (“I loved that camera shot on the fade out of the acoustic piece! Nice eye!”) Send them thank you notes periodically, call them once a quarter for no reason but to say “I appreciate your work and commitment.” It’s such an easy thing and it’s vital for people to feel like they are noticed and appreciated. This is especially critical with large teams where people have a tendency to feel lost and unnoticed.

Trust, mission, excellence and team are the keys to strong teams. Not skills. 🙂 It’s an upside down way to look at things, maybe, but almost anyone can be taught skills, it’s the environment that you create that builds a strong team.


OT: Why churches should embrace social media

9 Mar

I’ve recently had a string of conversations with other Christ followers about the value of social media. In each conversation, I found myself on the defensive – trying to articulate how it was more than just a platform for self-promotion or another input point in an already information crazy world. Through these conversations, I’ve come up with a simple premise: social media is about relationships and relationships are at the very core of what we should be about.

Let me explain that a little better. I am a single mom with two jobs (I stage manage and I homeschool). This leaves me very little face to face relationship building time with people who are important to me. Through Facebook and Twitter, I am able to not only keep up with what it happening in my friends lives, but open myself up to them. A relationship has to be two ways to work. When I type that I’m feeling discouraged in my profile, 20 people post with encouragement for me. That, my friends, is the hand of God through the people I love. It also gives me insight into these wonderful people and how they think so that at a later date, I can offer them a similar support. One of the arguments I regularly hear is that FB is eroding “real” relationships by allowing us to offload communication to this format. I would argue that the opposite is true. If I read a great book and post about it, I have an instant conversation point with hundreds of people that I never would have called individually to discuss the book. Many of these conversations continue off line! What a blessing!

Twitter is a little different beast. It allows you to be a part of conversations with people you don’t really know. At a recent conference, all the tweeting attenders were using the hashtag #gurusoftech when posting about their experience. Suddenly I found a host of new colleagues to exchange information with. I am encouraged by their success, taught by their failures and allowed to put my information into the mix. And we are all better for it.

When talking about FB to a man I deeply respect, he said “I’m just not sure I want to be known like that” and that really stuck in my mind. If we aren’t willing to put ourselves out there and be known, why should anyone value what we have to say, or what we believe in? The relationship is already broken.

The bottom line is that people don’t really care what you say or do unless they are in relationship with you. Social media allows us to both find and to deepen those relationships.

Mindfulness & Social Networking

27 Mar

The only ‘real’ New Year’s resolution I had this year was to be more mindful of the present. I found that I was doing so much multi-tasking, that I wasn’t doing anything as well as I’d like. With one foot in another place, there’s so much less satisfaction in a job well done. Several of the blogs that I love all began talking about this at the same time, which is kinda a weird thing. Maybe it’s a revolution. A reaction to the fragmented way our society works. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one feeling this.

Don’t get me wrong…my job requires me to multitask regularly and I’m good at it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about checking my phone for new email/tweets/posts while watching TV with my children, or at meeting… surfing or working on my laptop as “downtime” to relax before bed with the news on. The pull of the electronic umbilical cord is oh-so-strong.

And it’s not a bad thing, necessarily. As a single mom and an extrovert, I NEED the social end and the connection to others that these networks provide. The relationships that are enhanced by these tools feed me. But it’s also very very easy to sucked into things that don’t feed me and loose track of time.

So I resolved to stop it. And I’ve been doing really well for the most part. Particularly during this season of Lent (I gave up Facebook). Here is what I found:

There are a few things I really really miss. But far fewer than I thought I would. Resolved: When I log back on, I’ll be adjusting my friend list and my alerts accordingly.

I really really really like Twitter. The quick bursts of what people are up to really seems to keep me connected. Resolved: I will tweet more and not just absorb other people’s tweets. Lurking be gone, I want to enter the conversation, not just watch it.

I LOVE Google reader. Subscribing to the blogs of the people I care about is a much better method of keeping track of them than FB profiles.

I really like Tumblr as a method of blogging. I can do it from anywhere and I like other people’s Tumblr blogs. It helps me be specific about my sharing and my reading. Both things that are missing from FB. (I wish commenting/discussion was more elegant, though)

Focussing on only one project at a time at work is incredibly rewarding and I feel like I’m doing a much better job. It’s cool. Multi-tasking is WAY over-rated. I’m of course talking about office related stuff, not in the moment stage managing. Multi-tasking in the auditorium is like breathing. There’s no way around it and you’d simply die if you didn’t. 🙂 But I find that keeping it to a minimum during the week when I have a choice makes me much better at it on the weekends. Interesting.