Get a Break from Running Sound - How to Train Your Replacement

Are you stressed or burnt out, or really just tired of doing your job at church? Today, I'm going to be talking about ways that we can make sure that we get the rest that we need and how to start eliminating the obstacles that can get in between us and that rest.

Hey, if you're new here. My name is James, and I help church sound techs eliminate distractions so people can focus on Jesus. 

Whether it's you or your team, everybody needs a break sometimes. And when you're running sound at church every single week, that can be a recipe for burnout. You might be energized by running sound and the challenge of it all, but I believe it’s important for you to be a regular congregant from time to time. If you've got a family, it’s valuable to be able to worship with them, letting them join you not just as a professional that works at the church, but actually as part of the congregation that you're trying to serve as well. Let’s talk about the three things that can get in the way of you actually taking the breaks that you need so that you can have that time off to recharge and be ready to come back and serve with a happy heart, and a joyful spirit.

Be Willing to Tolerate Imperfection

The first obstacle that you've got to overcome is wanting the quality to be so unapproachably high that nobody else can do the job exactly the way that you do. This causes you to hold on to control and keeps you from getting to that point where somebody else could step in and take the reins. It's important to know that even if the quality goes down just a little bit, things are still going to be okay. The standards that you've set are high and you love excellence, and that’s great! But that doesn't mean that you can't train someone else and be okay with a little bit of a dip in quality in order to increase your production capacity. This is a thing that I talk a lot about, the balance between production quality and production capacity.

So when you're training somebody new, remember what Jesus told us: a student isn't above his teacher. You can't expect somebody to be quite as good as you are right off the bat. You have to be okay with the quality dipping a little bit when you step out and somebody else steps in. The truth is, it will never get any better for them unless you actually let them have that control. They have to get the experience that you've gotten over the years in order to get closer to where you are. So being able to step back and tell yourself, “Hey, it's not going to be as perfect or it's not going to sound quite as polished this week as it normally does, but we're growing our team and we're increasing our capacity to be able to pull off events, special services, etc.” Let's say you've got a bunch of Christmas stuff coming up, or maybe there's even a special event and it's conflicting with your family time. The more production capacity you have, the less likely it is for you to run into these problems. There are going to be times when you can't cover every single event that comes up at church, and having additional people to help you out is going to be massive for your long-term success in taking care of the tech team at church.

Communicate Your Goals to Leadership

One of the big things that can get in the way of taking this step is pride, and you're just going to have to swallow it. In order to help that happen, it helps to manage expectations. So if you can say to your leadership team, “Hey, I really need to get more people on board. So while I’m training them, you might see a little bit of a dip in quality, but that's so that we can have more people on our team, which allows me to spread what I've learned around to them as well.” So having the heart of a teacher is more important than the precise quality every time. You’re transitioning in that role from being the hero of the story to being the guide of the story. You're going from being Luke Skywalker to being Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. And I mean, who doesn't want to be Yoda?

Create a Shallow On-Ramp for New Sound Techs

Once you've managed your expectations and the team around you is on board with it, you also have to make things simple enough for someone new to come in and step into your role. Now, I love having complex solutions to problems. They’re simple for me because I created them and understand them. But they might not be so simple for someone that doesn't understand all the tools and processes and complexities of the system I created, so simplicity is the next thing that you need to aim for. You need to work to make things easy and approachable for the people you’re training.

You may need to simplify the routing of your console or the setup of your stage. You can talk with your worship leader about ways that you can streamline things and make it easier for new people to jump on. Maybe you're the only person that sets up on Sunday so that everything is ready for when the band gets there, but that would be a lot of work for somebody new to jump in and handle by themselves. Perhaps you can start to train the band to do some set up for themselves when you've got things organized enough, so that they can set up their own station. That takes a whole lot of workload off of you, personally, but also the people that you're training. So taking the time to spread out and delegate different tasks is going to be another way that you can get closer to that break that you need and have a team that can support you along the way.

Learn How to Better Train Your Team with Worship Sound Wisdom University

Taking on a new trainee can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. I've made an entire course teaching you how to bring someone new on your team. It's called Train the Trainer, and it's available exclusively through the Worship Sound Wisdom University membership. I'll show you how I bring someone alongside me so you don't have to guess at what step to try, and you'll learn how to gradually hand-off the responsibilities of running Sunday morning. Of course, it's as much about YOU letting go as it is THEM learning how to do it.

You can sign up for WSWU through the link here.

Hunger to Learn is a Value to Nurture

The other thing that you need to worry about when you're training someone new is not training them exactly how you do things, but training them to understand the value and the result that you want, and then letting them take ownership of the way that they get there.

So let's say that you EQ and compress your vocals a certain way and you would like it if everybody else did that too. But that's not always helpful, because different people want to take different approaches. Especially if you get a more creative sound tech coming into your team, they might have another way that they want to try. Maybe they've watched somebody's YouTube videos and they say, “Hey, this is the way that I’d like to try it!” If that creates friction, that's going to be a problem.

Instead, you need to focus on the results that you want and then let people get there the way that they want. So instead of saying “I want to have my vocals EQed and compressed this way and this much every single time”, you share what the ultimate value is. You say, “I want to have clear vocals that are easy to understand and don't have too much dynamic range so that they can stay on top of the mix and stay understood, whether it's quiet or whether it’s loud.” When you paint that picture for them, how they get there doesn’t really matter! If it's not meeting the objective, you can find some ways to show them the tools and the techniques for how to get there, but they don't have to use any particular one as long as they get those results.

I know today’s post was a little different than my usual content. If you found it helpful, check out some of my other blog posts HERE or share it with a friend who could really use a break! And remember, it's all about the low end, avoid the sound tech solo, and nobody leaves church humming the kick drum. We'll see you next time.

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