11 Guidelines for Multisite Central Staff When Visiting Campuses
Recently I was talking with a church leader in a multisite church that broke my heart. This leader was reflecting on when their central services counterpart would come and visit their campus to “help”. “They just show and vomit all over our people …” this leader said. Too much information just spewed all over his leaders and volunteers.
I’ve spent 10+ years in multisite churches working in various “central services” roles. Visiting campuses to provide help and insight in doing church “our way”. Over that time I’ve made hundreds of these sorts of visits. My heart sank when this leader described their central counterpart that way and it got me thinking about some guidelines for the way central staff need to conduct themselves when on these visits. Here are some ideas …
- You’re not that big of a deal. // Really. The power dynamics are set up in a strange way to make people who come from the “central” team to appear like they are the “big-wigs coming from head office”. Do everything you can to fight that perception. Be there to serve. Wear a volunteer t-shirt. Ask lots of questions. Be winsome in your communication.
- Who before What // Take time to get to know the team at the campus. Before you jump in on the tasks that you have come to accomplish at the campus make sure to connect with the team members. Learn names and try to remember information about people from visit to visit.
- Show Up Regularly // Make a regular effort to be a new location as often as you can. As you get to 3-4 campuses it becomes critical that you’ve developed the discipline to be at a new location every weekend to ensure that you are staying as connected as possible.
- Give the inside track to what’s coming next // As a member of the central team you often have a sense of what is coming up in the future of the church. Use these site visits as a chance to spread a bit of excitement about what’s coming up in the life of the church. Think of one talking point to spread before you arrive!
- Think Tools & Training // Every time you are on site you should be rolling out a new tool or helping with some training. Maybe you can spend some extra time with the team leaders working on a system that needs some support or you can help them with a new coaching tool for working with volunteers. Find ways to be helpful. 🙂
- Affirm before Advice // Make sure to have your senses turned up looking for what is right at the campus you are visiting. Take time to point out what is working before you jump into giving them advice about what they can fix. Look for “positive variance … how the campus is exceeding over the other locations and share that among the broader leadership team.
- Have a mental check list // As much as you want to be relationally warm and open with people you need to have a clear sense of mission for your time at the campus. Make sure you’ve thought through what you want to see and who you want to connect with. Please don’t have an clipboard with an actual checklist. If you need a reminder you could write out a few notes on an index card and put in your back pocket.
- Connect with the Campus Pastor // Make sure you take time to connect with the Campus Pastor when you are “on site” at their location. Beyond the courtesy of acknowledging their local leadership they may have some items that they’d want you to look into during your visit.
- Provide Post-Sunday Feedback // Loop back with the local team to give them your feedback and comments as soon after your visit as possible. Make sure to give them insights in what you experienced that we’re great as well as those things that need a little work on.
- Pick Your Battles // Stay focused on feedback that it’s going to have the highest leverage of change in the campus. Nobody enjoys a laundry list of 25 things they need to change. If a campus has a long list of things that need to change … visit more often. 🙂
BIG IDEA ///
Earn the Right to Come Again. // The goal of your visit is that people will look forward to the next time you are at their campus. It’s not about “fixing” every item on this time around but building trust with the team and adding value so they will want to have you come again. It’s about long term team development not short term system compliance.