Sabatoge – Guru’s of Tech

11 03 2011

An interesting topic came up during the Guru’s of Tech conference in Chicago during a breakout session titled, “Working With Non-Technical People.”  It is one of many topics from this conference that has spurred further discussion, and since it’s a worthwhile topic for all techies, I thought it was worth bringing to the web.  The question posed to the experienced, well-respected panel was, “How do tech people sabotage themselves and their ministries?”  Two key answers were given and I’d like to add a third.

1) We answer questions too quickly

One way techs make life harder on themselves is simply answering questions too quickly.  The most obvious example is saying no to a request before knowing all the details and scope of work.  Tech leaders are some of the busiest people I know and there are many legitimate reasons and times to say no.  Unfortunately, almost as a defense mechanism, frequently a no is given before scoping out the details.  While healthy boundaries are important, we must remember that we are in a support role and it is generally not our role to decide what our priorities are.  When a request is made a response conveying a desire to serve should be given until the details can be found and priorities can be discussed with your direct report.  If you do then have to say no, you have the backing and support of your leadership, you shared your heart to serve and explored reasonable options.  In the same way trouble can come from saying yes too quickly.  When a need is agreed to before knowing all of the details, techs can set themselves up for failure if they can’t deliver.

In the end, in order to set everyone up for success, it is critical that tech people fully research details, options and if necessary, leadership direction when needs are brought to the table before responding.  Learning to respond in a way that conveys a heart and dedication to serve alongside actions showing the diligence to serve well will show people that they matter, that you want to help them and that if it’s possible you will.

2) Being Overprotective of Our Time

This is a tough subject.  In my years as a Technical Director I learned I had to set some pretty definitive boundaries and stick too them in order for my family and me to not burn out.  Boundaries are a good and critical part of ministry life, but care must be taken to not overshoot those boundaries.  The technical role is highly fluid with the only constant being things will change.  Having boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t have to have flexibility.  It comes with the territory and inflexibility will sabotage you as fast as anything else.  Maintain your boundaries but in times where all hands on deck are needed, be ready to be flexible.  In case you’re wondering, I don’t mean giving up your days off entirely, but simply being willing to shift your days off to a different day for very special occasions.  Just as in the previous point, the key here is to be willing to serve and support your ministry (when reasonable of course).

3) Not Focusing on Relationships First and Foremost

This last point has been a part of conversations for me across the country with arts leaders everywhere.  When we lead or serve with a gear first mentality, or focus on tasks before relationships, sabotage has already set in.  I believe what happens in a church requires partnerships of the highest degree, people who are committed to the mission and vision of God and His church and are committed to serving together in order to make it happen.  In order to be successful, relationships must be forged so when deadlines come, chaos ensues and mistakes are made, people know that you’re all on the same side, dedicated to the same mission and vision.  Grace and respect will overcome mistakes and frustration as everyone is unified together in mission and heart.  Relationships help us value, encourage and trust one another, and in the high stress, frantic world of production that can be the difference between your success or your burn out.

Join the discussion (below) that occurred at the Guru’s of Tech Conference.  Do you agree or disagree with what has already been shared?  Are there any other areas techs sabotage themselves?

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