I recently joined my church choir. It’s not such a big stretch; I’ve been playing guitar and singing for my family since I was a child. We’ve gotten to know many of the choir folks over the last 3 years, and they are constantly in need of male voices.
When I say I’ve been singing, I actually mean I’ve been singing the melody, by myself. It’s relatively straightforward as there is only one note to sing at a time. What I realised when I joined the choir is that there are often 4 notes being sung at the same time, Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass. Each person in the choir is assigned to one of these sections. I happen to be almost a Tenor, as are one or two others any given week. Boy, are some of the Tenor parts ever different from the melody line I’m used to singing.
Last Sunday we had most of the Choir show up, which created a problem because we have never had a chance to practice with the entire group. I’m sure the congregation didn’t notice, but we were awful. The problem consisted of two parts. First, we were arranged in a way that we couldn’t hear each other and see the director. Secondly, we didn’t all know our parts as well as we could have.
We are fixing the first problem by changing where we stand, relative to each other and with a better sightline to the director. The second problem is a bit more difficult, because it means we each need to take individual responsibility to study our role and be prepared to execute it to the best of our ability.
It struck me that this is a familiar problem faced by our clients. When they fail to achieve their targets you can often trace it back to one of those two issues. Either there was an organizational gap, and they didn’t know what their role was because they couldn’t see where they fit in the organization and couldn’t communicate effectively with their peers or their leadership. Or they weren’t trained or incentivised to take sufficient individual responsibility.
So what would we recommend to try and address these concerns?
- Structure your organization in a way that people know their roles and responsibilities, and can see and communicate with those around them.
- Make sure that those in leadership positions communicate the organizational strategic or tactical goals on a continuous basis.
- Make sure you have the right people, with the right skills, in every job in the organization.
- Reward people for taking responsibility for their actions. If they know the goal and have the skills, they will do what is right for your customers.
It may sound simplistic, but the difference between a cacophonous collection of voices and a choir singing in harmony is like the difference between night and day.
Steve and Megann