Do Your Systems Make it to the Front Lines?
Tacticians, listen up.
You know who you are. You live your life as a cubicle jockey, developing spreadsheets and master plans and mapped-out strategies to make your weekend services run smoothly. You have never met a systemic problem that you couldn’t develop a new system for. In your head – and maybe even on paper – you create scenarios that will fix every ill of your guest services culture and volunteer team.
But there’s a question that we have to wrestle with: does your system make it to the front lines? Perfectly crafted in your cubicle doesn’t necessarily translate to perfectly executed by a volunteer. If a volunteer doesn’t know that a system exists, then for all practical purposes the system does not exist.
Several months ago I received a phone call from a faithful volunteer at one of our campuses. I’ve known her for a long time, and have been impressed by her loyalty to the team, her passion for the ministry, and her care for people. This was not a phone call designed to beat up, but to build up.
She had a list of helpful suggestions that would make her role easier and our guests’ experience better. As I listened, I realized that a solution was already in place for suggestion one. A system already existed for suggestion two. As her list went on, I had the horrifying realization:
The system never made it to the front line.
This poor volunteer felt like she had been trudging through the mud of complexity when a simple solution was in her grasp. But because of miscommunication on her campus leader’s part or a failure of specificity or follow through on my part, she didn’t know that. And therefore, the system didn’t exist.
Leaders, it may be time for an audit of our systems. They can only be helpful if they get to those they’re designed to help.