What's in this session?

  • Monday meeting (1:11)
  • Trello boards (2:10)
  • Slack for team communication (2:39)
  • Set deadlines (3:14)
  • Autonomy (4:31)
  • Team building & environment (6:21)
  • Have the right North Star (7:47)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mils: Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily. This show where in 10 minutes or less, you are going to get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in 500 years.

I’m your host Alex Mills. Joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer, and today we’re talking about how to increase staff productivity at your church.

Brady Shearer: We’ve got a team of nine people in house here at Pro Church Tools. When you combine remote employees and those that work for us beyond our office, we’re looking at a couple, about 20 different people, and as we got this question, how do you increase staff productivity, how do you increase staff morale, and what’s the workflow you guys use to complete your projects? So we wanted to talk about all the different things we do here at Pro Church Tools. In this respect, we are no experts by any means. I am the first to say that I am a joke of a leader and I’m just stumbling my way through that part of my job, but we will tell you what we do. Hopefully you can gleam something from it.

Alex Mils: Yeah, and we think this is directly applicable to what you do at church too because we’re just … Regardless of what business we’re in or whatever, we’re just a big team of people trying to accomplish a goal. Similar to what’s going on at your church. We think these are all applicable to church.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely. So the first thing that we want to talk about is something we call here at Pro Church Tools, Monday Meeting. So it’s the first thing that we do every single Monday. We sit in the couches of the center of our office, and I usually have a list of things that I need to go through. I try to mix it up and keep it fun. We have a fun question like what’s your favorite artificial fruit flavor? The answer is …

Alex Mils: Fuzzy peach.

Brady Shearer: Grape. Okay. So then we talk about it and we figure out what you prefer, what you don’t, and we also talk about the things that we need to get done for that week. Similar to your church, we’ve got different departments. We’ve got Pro Video Announcements. We’ve got Nucleus. We’ve got Story Tape. So I’ll be like, “Okay. Pro Video Announcement peeps, what do we need to get done this week?” And then we’ll do the same with the different departments, just like you would with your kids ministry perhaps and your youth ministry and the Sunday service, and just going through everything.

The second thing that we do is for the bigger creative projects that we have, we use Trello for our digital and creative project workflow. So every single month, we release a thousand new video clips instead of Story Tape, and that’s a very big project. If we don’t actually think through, okay, what’s going live this week? What’s going live next week? What is currently being edited? What needs to be shot? What’s being uploaded, tagged, and named? Things won’t get done. So we use Trello for that. We use the different labels to say, “Okay. This is going live this week. This is going live next week. Here’s what we’re shooting next month. Here are just a back log of ideas.” So for bigger creative projects, that’s what we use.

Alex Mils: Yeah, and something we love about Trello is that it integrates with Slack as well, which is our next talking point. Slack, which is like an internal communications tool, but Trello integrates natively with Slack so that even if you don’t have Trello open on your desktop or whatever, but you do have Slack or you have Slack on your phone notifications active, whatever. You’re getting notified about what’s going on within those bigger projects.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, if we’re using Trello for those big projects, Slack is just for that day to day communication. Even though we’re all in the same office, maybe I’m not in the office, or maybe we’re on the other side of the office, maybe we need to share files with one another, and so Slack is integral to everything that we do when it comes to communication.

Alex Mils: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Another big thing that’s been really helpful for us is setting deadlines. This has been helpful to my own productivity but I’ve translated that to team productivity as well, and it’s been especially helpful. We’re editing a video, let’s say, for YouTube, and there’s a lot hat goes into it. Maybe it’s a two day process to do all of the editing. I’ll often say to one of the editors, “Hey, I need this by end of day Tuesday,” and that way in their mind, they can rearrange their schedule and prioritize different things to make sure that that gets done. I find that when we don’t set deadlines on creative projects, they just go way longer than we need to. I think that’s just human nature, and I think that’s in every industry and context. If you don’t put a deadline on when something needs to be done, it won’t get done, and that’s why we do so much work on like Saturday evenings because, “Well, Sunday’s tomorrow and I have procrastinated but needs to get done.” So I’ll try to delegate deadlines to different people.

So Jonas right now is working on a video for this online conference that I’m speaking at. I said, “I need this by end of week next Friday.” Even though when I gave that to him, it was 10 business days away, and that’s almost like, why even set that deadline? It’s so far away. He’s got a lot of other things that he needs to do. This isn’t the most important task on his task list, but he needs to know when I need it, and now I can trust him to not miss that deadline. And that’s where autonomy comes in. And this is another thing that’s been huge for us where every single person on our team has something that they are in charge of, and if they don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

So there’s this comradery and partnership amongst the whole team where no one belongs to somebody else. Nobody is serving under someone else, and that can exist in every position and in every context. But what you can do in every context is give someone a task or a project or even an entire ministry, a department, a program that’s 100% theirs. What that shows and demonstrates to them is that, “Hey, I value you, and because I have first demonstrated how much I care and trust you, you are now going to rise to the challenge, rise to the occasion, and if you don’t, you’re going to be the one person out of the nine that didn’t.”

So there’s this accountability and kind of collective buying in to, “Well, I finished my video, why didn’t you finish all those customer support calls?” Or, “I finished all my customer support calls, why didn’t you get hat content done that you needed to get done?” So when there’s that accountability and everyone has their ownership in their specific case, there’s that autonomy where you feel like, “I’m in charge of this.” That gives people a certain element of pride.

Alex Mils: Well, and you’ll see people in that environment grow as leaders as well. People who naturally aren’t the one to be out in front and to be leading something, take initiative, but somebody who is just more comfortable to be told what to do and just check off the boxes, what have you. But when you give something to someone that they can own, “Yeah, this is yours, and if you don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.” You’ll see them out of necessity have to take responsibility for that, learn how to be a leader in that environment, and then who knows what the potential is after that. Further from that, what kind of leader they’ll grow into because of the autonomy you gave them.

Brady Shearer: I was thinking about kind of the day in/day out work life of someone at Pro Church Tools. We work nine to five every single weekday, Monday to Friday, but I was just taking a quick audit of the people that work here, and just in the last week or two, Mitch has come in early or he works from home. Ryland has stayed late. Jonas has stayed late. You’ve been up at 5:30 a.m. to do a shot with me. Tristan has brought home an iMac in his car.

Alex Mils: Which we wouldn’t recommend.

Brady Shearer: Roxanne brings her laptop home and so there’s a lot of, “Okay. I know I’m in charge of this, and so I have to work a little bit extra here or a little bit extra there.” But I think that’s also balanced by all of the fun things that we do. So we’re going to Wonderland, which is the local theme park next Monday. We did beach day last Friday. When the World Cup was on, we were playing the World Cup all the time. That was on during work hours. We’ve got our ping pong table, our coffee machine, and subscription, which I found out is the same coffee machine they used on the hit television drama Suits. So if it’s good enough for those rich lawyers, it’s good enough for Pro Church Tools. We do retreats. We do trips. One thing I’ve been trying to do and will be doing through the rest of this year is giving every single person an opportunity to go on one of these trips. So a lot of the times it’s a Story Tape trip where if you’re not a drone certified pilot, you can’t really come. But when I’m speaking in Vegas, Nashville, Atlanta, bring everyone, give everyone a chance to come so no one feels left out, and that way there’s this good balance of working hard but also playing hard.

Alex Mils: Yeah. For sure.

Brady Shearer: That ties in to really the most important thing for your church and for us as a company, which is having the correct north star, the thing that’s driving everything that you do. Because I’ve seen in unhealthy cultures if you are obsessed as a business with revenue or if you are obsessed with attendance as a church, meaning everything comes after that and you only make decisions through that lens or almost always through that lens, it doesn’t matter how many ping pong tables, cool coffee machines, or beach days you do because you’re just not going to have a healthy work culture.

So a friend of mine tweeted the other day that there’s been another study that showed open office spaces are not conducive to the utmost productivity.

Alex Mils: Right.

Brady Shearer: I said as a response, it was a little tongue in cheek, I said, “That’s because they’re optimizing for revenue where at Pro Church Tools, we optimize for fun,” and I jumped in on that conversation on that Twitter thread and said, “I’ve never been like more fulfilled in an office working environment than I have in this environment and things like …” I brought up this specific example. I said, “Being able to get up from my desk and play ping pong for 20 minutes actually helps my productivity because when I get back to my next 20 minutes later, I’m recharged. I’ve regained some creative energy, and I’m ready to get back to work as opposed to just mindlessly scrolling through social media when I’m just not feeling it.” Because you can’t just sit down at a desk at work for eight hours straight and be at your best, be at your peak productivity. So all these things, and we have an open office space, but all these things, all these parts of our culture, our environment, our value systems, they all lend to happy people who get to work with each other every day.

I consistently, as the CEO, make decisions to prioritize freedom and flexibility or fun over revenue. Of course, I make decisions to prioritize revenue, but it’s a holistic approach where there’s a reason we don’t have any venture backed funding and it’s because I don’t want anyone to tell us what to do. I want me to tell us what to do because I think that I have the best plan and vision for the company that I think is going to be beneficial to what we’re doing here, and so, as a church, if all you’re doing is prioritizing attendance, if all you’re doing as prioritizing giving, what that can lead to is no matter how many gimmicks or different strategies you try, if that north star isn’t correct at the top, it won’t matter anything else that you do.

Alex Mils: You’re right.

Brady Shearer: Featured resource we wanted to highlight for today is the two part church announcements formula, taking everything that I’ve learned from presenting more than 30,000 church announcements and put it into this guide. You can find it in the show notes for the Pro Church Daily, and that’ll do that for this episode. We’ll see you next time.

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