Train Your New Tech Volunteers in 5 Simple Steps


Recruiting and training new volunteers is a never-ending commitment for churches and volunteer organizations. And while some have drafted a clear process through which they walk each new volunteer, others scramble and inadvertently mismanage time and efforts of their team and new personelle.

So how can we, not only care for and value the time of each new volunteer on our Production Teams, but also communicate a smooth, systematic and successful process for them to train in?

Here are five suggested steps to either adopt or use as a starting point to create and define your own process for training and developing your Production Team, using a subscription.

Step 1: Interview

This is your opportunity to meet the potential volunteer, get to know their story and outline your teams culture and expectations. It is really important to establish a clear picture of timelines, scheduling and call times in this first meeting as it allows the potential volunteer to make a commitment based on the right information.

Step 2: Theoretical Training

Once you and the potential volunteer agree to move forward, they become a trainee in your Production Team. Start this process by giving them your login credentials to your subscription and have them watch all appropriate notebooks. (If they are training for Audio, then they can follow the Audio Stream.) This step is critical in accomplishing several things:

a. It allows the trainee to learn at their own pace on their own time.
b. It ensures that everyone on your team has the same base knowledge.
c. It eliminates the potential to skip over content and assume information has been covered.
d. It gets everyone on your team speaking the same language, using industry terminology and techniques.

Step 3: Owning the Information

After the trainee has viewed the notebooks, schedule a follow-up meeting and engage in a conversation about the content they’ve learned. Present situational challenges or reoccurring dynamics and see how the trainee responds based on the theoretical knowledge they have acquired.

This steps allows you gauge a couple things:

a. Has the new trainee actually viewed the notebooks provided through
b. How does the new trainee respond to and retain new information?
c. Does the new trainee show signs of desire or excitement about joining the Production Team?
d. Does the trainee show an aptitude for this team or are they better suited elsewhere?

Step 4: Practical Training

The next step is where the theoretical concepts or technical knowledge meets practical, situational training. This step is critical in marrying the head with the hands, so-to-speak, using your equipment. After the foundation is laid through steps 1-3, invite the trainee in to walk through your specific setup and process; outlining your equipment and connecting the dots between what they’ve recently learned via and what they’ll be using to accomplish the task each week.

This is the perfect time to provide further documentation, manuals, process guides, check lists, etc. to the trainee in order for them to get the full picture of all that is required and available to them.

Step 5: Shadow

We know there is a big difference between knowing the equipment mechanically and using this equipment musically. Although the audio console, lighting desk or video switcher aren’t musical instruments…technically – you can show your trainee how to use these tools musically, in order to gain a seamless flow and output to their craft. This is where the three-phase shadowing comes in.

Phase One: I do, you watch
Demonstrate and explain, not just what to do, by why you do it and how. Take them beyond the surface and let them into your head a little. The what and the how make little difference if they don’t know the why. We recommend at least 3 times in this phase, but it all depends on the trainer/trainee relationship.

Phase Two: You do, I watch
Once you feel the trainee has a good handle on the task, swap seats and you shadow them. During your time together ask questions that begin with, why. This will reveal to you whether they fully understand each step. The execution of the task may be less than ideal, but if they know why the are doing it, they will continue to get better.

Phase Three: Now you go do
Once you feel comfortable, release them to do it on their own. Sometimes, this requires a slight nudge, as their confidence might be fragile, but it will grow with each opportunity. Don’t forget to continually check in, encourage and offer helpful critique.

Like any new process, it will feel clunky and awkward as you start, but stick with it. With each new volunteer inquiry and trainee, you and your team will begin to own the process and develop successful volunteers built on the same foundation and around the same process.

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