Earlier in this series, I talked about how communication leadership relies on having the right tools and a clear understanding of an “editorial role” within the church. The conclusion of the series discusses the importance of Project Management Systems and Habits. Please read on:
Project Management Systems & Habits
11. Do we need to reinvent the wheel every time we…? Communication – and communication projects need to be predictable and repeatable. When I discuss in my article the Perceived Opportunity Analysis Tool (link here), I encourage church leaders to try their best to qualify and quantify any objective, even a communication objective. Do you want to have a Facebook page? Then determine what “having” that means: Who will update it? How often? Will it jibe with other communication platforms? How much time will that take? If the main “updater” can’t do it, who will be our sub? The purpose of being predictable and repeatable is not only to save your sanity as a staff…it is to give you the greatest chance at execution…at delivering on the expectations of your congregants. When communication is inconsistent and sloppy, that conveys amateur-hour at best…and sometimes indifference and hostility. Not good anywhere, and especially not at church.
12. Okay, everybody now: “Are urgencies the same thing as priorities?” To ask is to answer. Of course not. Yet, remember the four-letter word that guides all of our action in church (no, not “love,” you sap!): N-I-C-E. Nice. We’re “nice” in church, right? I mean, church is supposed to be the shelter for us from that secular world, the mercenary, dog-eat-dog world of goals and objectives and metrics and deadlines and all that stuff “out there.” In here, in church, we’re supposed to be “nice.” So…like most overwrought church staff (and would-be communication leaders), “yes” tumbles out of the lips way more often than “no.” And therein lies the problem (and a leading component of burn-out, by the way). The “yes” that violates the reasonable steps you’ve take with regard to deadlines, content submission and such works against you as a leader or editor…and frankly…dilutes everything going forward. That’s not to say one can never make an exception (hey, this is real life, is it not?) But be clear, be forward, be proactive about your expectations for how things need to get done in a timely, calm, systematic manner. It pays dividends for everyone.
13. Who, After You? – For heaven’s sake…I did say “editor,” right, and communication LEADER, correct? To communicate well over time takes skill, patience and fortitude. It takes being able to get messages out promptly and accurately when someone gets sick and can’t send the email. The communication leader in your church needs to have a reliable team of supporters – staff or not – who can understand how to get things done. As I say elsewhere in my presentations, “Nothing mitigates against the frailties of man like a good system.” That system needs to include people who can listen, write, solve problems, and HELP you lead. If, as is often the case, the church secretary or business manager ALSO ends up wearing the hat of editor, a solid system and team are invaluable.
14. How can I leave? – So, are we talking for a week’s vacation? Did you hit the lotto? Are you toast? Are you simply moving on? Regardless of whatever’s “next,” the communication leader (and team, if you have one) needs to create systems that are documented, transferable and simple. Years ago, I ran an electronic publishing company that struggled to maintain ISO9000 standards because of inconsistent shop documentation and worse: walk-around knowledge: Uh…we’re not sure how the XRD4000 is set-up. Frank handled that and Frank up-and-quit last week. You shoulda seen him…” You get my drift. As hard as it is to hear this, I’ll say what you already know: EVERYBODY is replaceable. Or at least SHOULD BE. This isn’t to say that if, in your ever-idiosyncratic way that if you were managing some office process in a truly arcane way, that the next person won’t dump that in a New York minute…but it IS to say that you ought to be able to bring someone on-board without them going into shock from the complexity or lack of consistency in your communication processes. Remember, this is church. And if you want to be “nice,” you better be able to explain – over lunch – how that newsletter gets done.
15. Is there more? Well, of course. I’m a consultant-marketing-researching-blogging-communication-pro…there’s always more. But seriously, as I’ve stared into the eyes of wonderful church leaders and staff having shared these ideas, I yearn to provide them not just knowledge or insight…but peace. It’s amazing how far your communication can take you if you do the right things…and do them consistently. You don’t have to jump on every new fad or technology. You don’t have to needlessly complicate what should be essential and easily understood. So…you got 15 points here (in the last two articles). It’s not a safety inspection or oil-and-lube job, but it’s not bad. So here’s the peace: Do these things well…and let the rest go. Ahhhhh.