For the first part of this three-part series, read "I'm A New Tech Director, Where To Start? How Best to Transition," which posted to the site on Thursday, February 28. For the second part of this three-part series, read "I'm A New Tech Director, Where To Start? Change Without Alienating," which posted to the site on Monday, March 4.
As a new technical director, we’ve already discussed in the last two segments, how to leverage your past experiences, takes notes on all that is new to you, and begin to access and implement changes slowly.
Remember, you not only need to be a tech, but you need to be relational.
As we continue to look at how to tackle your new role as a technical director, we are going to discuss the importance of relationships as a technical director, from both inside and outside of your organization.
Look to establish relationships
Who do you really need to know first?
If you are coming in new to an organization or church, one of your first goals is to begin to know those who are around you.
More importantly, though, you need to begin to establish relationships with your direct team. That team will consist of any staff techs that are assigned to you, your boss, key lead volunteers, worship leaders, and any executive pastors you need to interact with. If you now find yourself in a new job, but are not new to your organization or church, the role certainly is going to place you as a contact to newer people, along with those you may have already known.
You need to begin to establish relationships with your direct team. That team will consist of any staff techs that are assigned to you, your boss, key lead volunteers, worship leaders, and any executive pastors you need to interact with.
You may also have to focus your energy of relational development to key individuals. Understand that you can’t become best buds with everyone, as your bandwidth and time are limited. Remember, you not only need to be a tech, but you need to be relational. By focusing your time, you will additionally create healthy trust in which others will in turn be willing to help you when you are in need.
As time passes, you can quickly expand your relational connections with additional staff and volunteers. Each weekend, challenge yourself to connect with one or two volunteers serving and talk with them to learn some unique things about them. It will be a foundation to connect with them in the future and continue to strengthen relational ties.
Don’t forget to cement relationships with people you least think you need to. Some of my most meaningful and long-lasting friends have been those from facilities, IT, and security. They are often the unsung heroes of many church staffs, and they will be key people for many occasions.
Respect and trust are never automatically given …
Such things take time and it is something you must work really hard at. People don’t give their trust out blindly these days, and even though you may have a director title, you are not entitled to it.
It’s very important to place a value on these developing relationships, as they will become the foundation for which your new work family can relate to you.
Remember that challenge I gave you to connect with volunteers to learn some unique about their personal life? Begin to do the same with your staff. Even if you don’t really have the time or bandwidth to reach out to new individuals, challenge yourself to continually connect with those you immediately work with, to get to know them better.
Some of the quickest ways for people to consider you a friend, is when they know that you care to actually know who they are. It means a lot to others to know you’ve invested time to remember their name, know what they like, and know what they are passionate about. Once you have been able to make that connection, people are willing to go anywhere and do anything for you.
Cement a relationship with inclusion …
We have two options when establishing a new relationship. We can be approachable or not.
In this era, we are busy people. Where we choose to spend our free time, and yes, even our paid time, is determined by where we feel we can be a valuable contributor. This is very true for volunteer, who can come to see that they have better things to do than to serve somewhere in which they don’t feel value or be a contributor.
If you choose to make all the decisions behind a closed door, after which you hand out directions, you have cut yourself off from gaining trust and buy-in from your teams.
One of the best ways to gain the trust and buy-in of others serving on your team is to include them in your plans. Seek out your staff and ask them what they would change. Do not only listen to them, let them lead it. Additionally, include your key volunteers to contribute in this exercise.
Don’t be afraid to let volunteers own changes. A good example of this is to find a key video volunteer and let them lead training with other volunteers and those that are incoming. By doing this, you not only cement relationships with those team leaders, but also begin to cement additional relationships of those leaders.
Find a key video volunteer and let them lead training with other volunteers and those that are incoming. By doing this, you not only cement relationships with those team leaders, but also begin to cement additional relationships of those leaders.
Network with other techs
A huge mistake I’ve seen up-and-coming techs is they think they got it all figured out and don’t need to be around other techs anymore to learn.
Let me just stop you right there, because for as long as I’ve been doing this, I can’t wait to hang out with other audio engineers and pick their brains on techniques and watch their hands as the mix audio. I will often drive across town and spend all day at an open house, trade show, or product demo just to talk with other techs.
I often have said to classes I teach, “there are no stupid questions, you are stupid for not asking.” So, don’t be hesitant to ask questions that come to mind.
The next thing I say to a class, “I’m not perfect, and I want to learn from you.” Always be humble, in that you can learn something from others, even the junior high kid you just started on audio.
Never stop seeking, learning, and observing, even if you consider yourself a professional in any one area. The best way you are going to do that is by being around other techs.
Because we can’t do this alone …
This is the part, where I tell you it’s hard being in the technical vocation.
Our job is to make stuff happen, press buttons and never make a mistake. Like ever make one. We can completely distract or even derail an entire service should any of our areas potentially falter even slightly. Sometimes, we bear the brunt of blame for things out of our control, such as loud drummers, someone knocking over a camera, or a computer failing during service.
Our job is to make stuff happen, press buttons and never make a mistake. Like ever make one. We can completely distract or even derail an entire service should any of our areas potentially falter even slightly.
How’s that for pressure?
The truth is here is that is adds up, accumulates and creates a bit of a pressure cooker over time.
Tech staff are often those that deal with the highest turnover in staffing for organizations as a result. Much like a facilities team, it’s not often that leadership is intentional in mentoring the tech team. You’re not the only one who has gone through this. The trick here is to create a support system for yourself by connecting with others of a similar vocation and help each other overcome the pressure cooker.
We were made for community. We are not to be lone wolves, but should meet often with neighboring techs, techs from out of town, and Facetime them if you have to. It’s important to share your wins and failures. There is a good chance there’s someone out there who has failed worse than you and can share their story to encourage you. Likewise, imagine your biggest failure could pick up a tech at a nearby church than is near to leaving this vocation entirely.
You all need to get real about life and talk it out as a community.
It’s who you know …
It’s important to build relationships within your organization and network with other techs supporting one another for obvious reasons. However, networking with others does have additional benefits.
There is often a saying in the music and entertainment industry, “it’s who you know.” I’m going to say this with delicacy here, the church is not the entertainment industry, but it very much is a small world.
Getting to know people and being part of the “word of mouth” may lead you to current and future opportunities within the community.
Don’t mistake this as a very important component as a technical leader for your organization.
Let me be clear here, this isn’t about you for personal gains, it’s what you can bring to your church or organization to best build your teams. In this community, you may connect with other key professionals as contractors for various weekend roles or potential team trainings. Or connect with people who can give advice on installations, stage designs, and equipment upgrades. Or you may connect to demos and other content, or materials to use for your services and teams.
Leverage making professional connections whenever possible. Regardless of where you serve over the years, adding key contacts is like dropping another valuable tool into your toolbox for future use.
As we conclude this resource, it is my hope that as you embark on your new role as a technical director you can avoid the pitfalls and steer toward an easier path, one setting yourself up for success.
Remember you are not the first one to have done this. But you can do this!