Train Team Leaders for Consistent Quality

Delivering excellence to guests does not have to include fireworks. What it should include is doing the small items consistently well all the time. If you lead teams of volunteers, you probably have Team Leaders. If you have Team Leaders, how do you create consistent quality at one or more of your weekend services (or experiences, as some churches call them)? It's not always easy, but it is possible.

Have you ever been frustrated with a team leader that is responsible for influencing a group of volunteers? What to do? Each team is a group of individuals that come together to achieve a shared goal. Each person needs to know the why, the what, and some of the how since you cannot anticipate everything one will face. Some organizations have a long list to learn and others keep it short.

Never assume people know their jobs or how what they do contributes to the organization. Clarify.

Providing clarification delivers eight benefits:

  1. Higher engagement
  2. Greater satisfaction
  3. Increased meaning in their work
  4. Deeper trust
  5. Healthier relationships
  6. Shared framework
  7. Achieve the understood vision
  8. Affects emotions which influences behavior

The staff leader helps their team leaders understand expectations, by answering three questions:

  1. Do team members know what is expected of them?
  2. Do team members know what they can expect from you?
  3. Do team members know what they can expect from each other?
Leaders who want to build high levels of trust need to clarify expectations all the time. It’s not enough to say something once. You need to say it often and have regular check-ins to make sure people’s receivers are tuned to your transmitter. If you have a very specific outcome in mind, make sure you communicate it. Don’t expect people to develop telepathic powers! If you have a particular expectation in terms of how a report will look, provide an example. If you know the data you want, explain what it is. If you have specific selection criteria, communicate them. You shouldn’t expect people to understand intuitively what you want unless you’ve worked with them for many years. Part of laying out expectations is defining a timetable. It’s not fair to leave people guessing whether something is due next week or next month. You should also identify the “critical path,” that is, decisions upon which other decisions are contingent and dependent. For example, in opening a new store, the construction schedule will affect hiring, promotions, acquiring inventory and so forth. Sharing the timetables for critical path issues and monitoring those timetables is necessary to ensure strong levels of trust.

A key part of clarifying expectations is giving people context so they understand why a given decision is important. How does this fit within our overall vision and goals? Why are we focusing on this...?
— Eric Douglas

I work at a church that currently has four services each Sunday. Our teams are on a two-week rotation. That means you could potentially see eight different experiences if you attended every service on back-to-back Sundays. The opportunity we have is to create similar experiences with eight very different leaders across services that feel slightly different because of those that attend (i.e., demographics, attendance, etc). What to do? Identify and train consistent practices that we can share, while being specific under each practice based on individual teams. Here are the five practices (sketch included at bottom) all 60 Team Leaders understand they are to take personally:

  1. Have your team in place, on time, and informed.

  • Defined: Understanding your team’s preparedness hinges on you being prepared and effectively communicating and stewarding responsibility both on Sunday and the days before your team serves.
  • Examples: Communicating with your team about the upcoming Sunday, arriving for meetings, getting to positions

  2. Make timing calls.

  • Defined: Understanding the critical nature of the connectedness of every experience element, and that success is contingent upon executing every detail in a well-timed manner.
  • Examples: Opening and closing doors, remaining in place until the next team arrives, ensuring parking gates are raised

  3. Communicate effectively internally and externally.

  • Defined: Recognizing there are several dependent Team Leaders with whom you are to remain in touch to ensure cohesive motion.
  • Examples: Spending time talking and listening to team members, touching base with other Team Leaders, helpful Sunday updates between teams

  4. Manage the environment.

  • Defined: Choosing to proactively own every element inside your realm of execution and accepting its impact on other areas in the experience.
  • Examples: Preparing environment for the next team, making quick decisions in your space of responsibility, moving team members around based on need

  5. Develop relationships with your team.

  • Defined: Valuing your team not only on your service day, but showing care the 13 days between serving together.
  • Examples: Committing time to pray together, recognizing what you saw a team member do, touching base with someone during an important life event

Consistency is better than rare moments of greatness.
— Scott Ginsberg