The Future Church - A Church Communications Podcast
Church Media + Communications
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E102 - Stakeholder vs. Decision Maker

Joanna: Yesterday we talked about handling criticism and feedback on projects and I think one of the biggest stumbling blocks in those conversations in a team setting is understanding who are the stakeholders, but who is the decision maker on any changes or feedback that comes in. So let's talk about that a little more today.

Joanna: I think we've all been in rooms where this has happened where you're presenting a video or a magazine piece or whatever it is that you're working on, a new bulletin style and whatever it is some new thing and you're showing it to maybe your whole staff team or showing it to a bunch of key leaders and everyone because you kind of asked for it. Everyone gives criticism and feedback but then it can be very confusing at times when we aren't sure whose feedback is just feedback and whose is actually the weight of. We have to do this we have to change this. Sometimes feedback is helpful and useful sometimes you have three people with three different opinions they all conflict. So how do you know which way to go. And that's where the language that we started using around our church. And it wasn't always perfect that's for sure but try to understand who's a stakeholder Like who is welcomed to, who is invited to give an opinion and a perspective because maybe they have some stake in the project's success but ultimately who the decision maker is. And in our church sometimes that was me as a communications director. And sometimes that was or is the pastor or the leader over that Minister area that we're building the piece for. But it gets really fuzzy right if people have different opinions and criticisms and you don't know which is which is that just an opinion or that's a "I have to now change this in this direction. "

James: Yeah. Classic. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Could be a problem right. Coming at it from purely the contractors perspective where you're always the person submitting the work. I've had it many times on projects where there's four people that are asked to be, Your supposed to submit the work who's I've done a few freelance jobs where it was "Can you submit it to these four people within the company and they're going to decide" and right away. That's red flag and a smarter wiser James should have said who is the final decision maker. I should have asked that in that moment right to know okay who is ultimately the person I should listen to. Because when there's multiple people given that authority sometimes they even feel obligated to have a critique or what's the point of them being there right. So if you're asked hey can you be a decision maker on this video and you just say oh it's fine it's good. Maybe you're like there's probably some fear like maybe I won't be asked to be involved again if I don't at least have some sort of constructive feedback or something like that so they almost give remarks or edits for the sake of getting remarks or edits on something and it's actually not helpful because now you have four people here and they're not all synced up together. They're all conflicting. So you don't know which way a project is going. And so yeah it's really important to define like who are the stakeholders who is the person ultimately that gets to make the final call. If there is you know differing opinions on something.

Joanna: And the best time to do that is before the project gets going.

James: Before you even start, absolutely.

Joanna: We're going to even talk about that tomorrow we talk about writing things down having some agreed expectations amongst a group of people that you work with on a project but ideally that happens before but even if you forgot to talk about it before even when you enter a room and you're presenting something as a draft or a final and maybe it's not final I guess it's had draft mode for feedback and criticism then you can just say in the room let's state right off the top, these people in the room are the stakeholders as in they're invited to give voice and opinion and this person though is going to be the final decision maker on which feedback gets implemented and changed.

James: And if you're in a church that might be if you're a small church especially that might be the same person all the time for everything that's but as a team grows it might change based on which ministry area which project you're working on. So it is important to constantly define and redefine on each project what that's going to be if you're doing something for worship and you're doing something for kids. That whole approval process might change so it's important for you to really get a grasp of "okay. Who is the person that gets to make the call on this?" because it's just important for you to be able do one knock at super frustrated and be able to meet that person's expectations but also just to wrap projects up in a timely manner. You don't want them dragging on.

Joanna: Yeah. Well and it's also a place where you don't have to be if we're not afraid of feedback that maybe it's something you want to integrate like if I don't know if it's if it's a major, not an every tiny thing but if it's like a major new ministry that you're opening up for families then it could make sense to have a few key stakeholders not final decision makers but stakeholders giving voice and feedback. Who are the families who you're trying to reach with this communication piece, this media piece you don't need 100 voices maybe just one or two who you would trust and respect to give some feedback. They're not going to finally make a decision that's probably you or the pastor, the boss but you get the idea of what we're saying we hope that helps you giving some language to how you do your work in teams who you're less frustrated and you know which way to go stakeholders vs. decision makers.