Auditioning your worship team
Auditioning your worship team. Yuck. No one relishes the process — yet it’s done either officially or unofficially. Unless you have sign-ups for every position of course. Who want to preach next weekend? Sign up right here!
What’s the best way to audition? Maybe you can learn from some of my past mistakes.
First, know and list your values. For example, values might be, “We value Authenticity, Availability, Attitude and Ability (and in that order).” Once you know your values — then you can use those as the foundation of your audition.
Second, setup categories of results. I recommend three. For examples, “1) Monthly/regular rotation, 2) Fill-in rotation, 3) Re-audition.” Let’s be honest. If you received a 1 rating — you are good with the results. If you received a 2 rating — you might be a little testy about it. But if one of your values if “attitude” — if someone walks because they didn’t get a 1 rating first go around … part of the audition is testing attitude. I’ve heard of some processes where EVERYONE gets a 2, then they watch the heart attitude response — then make final selections after another few months go by. Personally I feel that’s a little covert, but I’ve heard the end result works (I’m just not sure about the means of getting there). Finally, how would you feel about reviving a 3 rating? Probably not good. But probably reserve this rating for someone who is monotone in their singing or the missed basic chords and simply need more training before they submit another audition. If they won’t be in the audio mix — they need more coaching before being in a regular rotating team. If they sing like a lark, but their attitude is abrasive and condescending — they need more coaching before being in a regular rotating team. If they do one thing on-stage but do something else off-stage — they need more discipling conversations before being in a regular rotation team. Remember, a 2 rating doesn’t mean they aren’t involved. On the contrary — you have the conversations and coaching … then occasionally place them in a team and observe some more. I also think it’s healthy for all members and teams to rotate cyclically in/out all year long (a trimester is what I prefer).
Second, have an unbiased team outside your organization view the auditions. Even if you have to pay them — it’s worth it. This will likely require setting up video submissions that are sharable with anyone privately online. I recommend using Dropbox’s “request a file” link (which is powerful in this case). Video files are loaded into a dropbox that is sharable privately with those evaluating online.
Third, coach the evaluators on how they will give written feedback. Be very clear the written feedback will be shared directly with the individual without any editing. You will need to coach your evaluators how to talk about opportunities for growth. There’s a big difference between, “You are pitchy,” and “Your pitch is good in most places — but there are a few places that feel under/over the center of the pitch.” Evaluators need to write the feedback as if they were receiving it themselves. They need to envision that their name would be attached as the judge. If the feedback is destructive rather than constructive — you’ll run the risk of ticking people off because you won’t be able to tell if they are coachable or not … you’ve just learned that people don’t like raw unfiltered ungraceful feedback. Yes, it’s feedback. Yes, you can learn from it. And yes, it won’t stick because it doesn’t have that grace-filled
Finally, offer a follow up conversation for every person audition following receiving their rating and feedback. There will be some that take you up on it. They will improve from the feedback. And they will be a regular rotation as a result. There will be others who will have no interest in a conversation — but as least you offered. I recommend that the top leader in this area of the organization not be an evaluator — that why they can have an unbiased conversation about the audition. Frankly, it’s the most difficult part of the process — but it’s the most important part.
Long-term vs. Short-term wins: The Kansas City Royals on the world series in 2015 after years of coaching a farm team. They didn’t spend the big bucks on big talent. Instead, they found teachable players who were willing to be a part of a team. Similarly, audition help define who your teachable (coachable, disciple-able … is that a word?) players are. I’d take someone with a great heart attitude who sings/plays slightly above-average over someone who’s amazingly talented and totally ticked they received a 2 rating. Culture will eat vision for lunch. Never compromise on culture just to have an amazing band musically. The amazing musical part will come later with coaching. It’s a long-term view. Don’t settle for a short-term win of amazing music over the long-term loss of toxic culture. One might argue, “Well can’t you coach those divas to a better place.” Absolutely! But if they aren’t willing to climb from a 2 rating to a 1 rating with heart surgery — they likely are not teachable on other levels. Stay with your coachable individuals. Just like a good sports team — the coachable talent stays. Others tend to be traded to other teams — or find themselves finding another team or just drop out. The coachable ones end up accomplishing something greater together than a group of talented players who are thrown together and function independently or always want to be in charge. Go for the long-term win, even if it costs you short-term losses.