You don’t have to look very far in a church setting to find someone willing to give you feedback. If you you implemented "Using Feedback Forms to Stay Focused on your Vision" [link] you are starting to get some solid actionable feedback by now. The problem is that if you wrote down everything that needed to be “fixed” the list may feel overwhelming and would most likely be flooded with a myriad of other people’s personal preferences and style choices.
So how do you strategically address only what demands attention?
The trick is to recognize the difference between trends and flash bangs.
A flash bang is designed to temporarily disorient an opponent's senses. It produces a blinding flash of light and an intensely loud "bang" without causing permanent injury. It’s tough to focus on anything else in your environment other than the bang & light that has all your attention.
Feedback from our team and members can have the same effect. Someone personally experienced something that they feel needs to be fixed and they have access to the guy with the authority to fix it. Consequently, a lot of attention is directed towards this flash bang problem. It's hard not too! Lots of light and sound point at the problem, BUT you are not sure if it is something you HAVE TO address. So what do you do?
Focus on fixing trends, not flash bangs.
Flash bang problems feel urgent. They feel like big problems and sometimes they are. They key for any great team leader is to ignore the “blinding light & loud bang” and look at the issue.
- Is this something that needs to be addressed at some point?
- Does it violate our values?
- Does it highlight a problem with our system?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions then the issue is something that needs our attention, BUT it doesn’t need all of our attention right now.
Instead of being solved, it may need to be monitored.
Trends on the other hand are problems that have shown some track record. We all have bad days, especially in a volunteer organization like the church, there can be times where everything doesn’t go as planned. Mistakes can be made. But when we begin to see something appear in feedback, for more than a couple weeks, we know we’ve got a problem. This problem has become a trend and it’s time to change the trend. It’s time to bring it up with the team and start brainstorming solutions.
You’ve got a limited amount of time to focus on fixing problems. Fix what needs to be fixed and then put all your energy into looking forward (also see What Size Is Your Rear View Mirror?).
Fixing trends solves your growing problems and leaves more time to focus on what's most important. Use your time wisely.
Disclaimer: This is not an excuse to procrastinate. As soon as you recognize the trend it’s vitally important to act immediately. The longer you don’t address the issue, the harder it becomes to address.