Four Tips for Effective Delegation

Four Tips for Effective Delegation

Save your sanity and strengthen your ministry by delegating well.

Do you ever feel like you have more to do in a day than you can accomplish? You're not alone. Small-group pastors have a lot to do from big tasks like planning campaigns to minute, yet important, details like tracking small-group sign ups. As point person, your responsibilities range from very people-oriented tasks to very organizational tasks—sometimes in the same hour.

One of the best things you can do for your sanity and your ministry is delegate some tasks to capable people. But I admit, delegating may not seem like a time saver at first glance—especially if you like to do things yourself (like me). When you delegate well, though, you'll free yourself to work on those things that only you can do—like cast vision—and at the same time, you'll empower other people to use their skills and strengths in ways that truly help the ministry. It's a win-win, unless your delegate poorly.

Set Them Up for Success

Effective delegation requires clearly explaining the task, providing the needed tools, and transferring responsibility and authority. In a nutshell, it's not just about handing off tasks, but empowering people to effectively complete the task.

But even before the handoff, delegation can be doomed for failure. Sometimes leaders try to delegate tasks they have no business delegating. A pastor, for instance, who has been hired to provide vision and strategy for the small-group ministry shouldn't delegate those tasks to focus on coaching a single leader through a tough time.

To avoid handing off the wrong tasks, we must decide those things we must do and those things that could be done better by someone else. That also requires taking a hard look at our strengths. For instance, perhaps you decide that one of the things you do best is train leaders. On the other hand, working within the church's tracking software to update group member information is mind-numbing. Or perhaps you find that you're happy providing structure for the ministry, but planning connection events is not your forte. Know what you alone must do and what could be done better by someone else, freeing you up to do more of those things you do best.

Another thing that can derail delegation before it gets started is choosing the wrong person to delegate to. If you're delegating that tracking software work, for instance, don't choose a person who isn't good with details. You'll both be unnecessarily frustrated. Think strategically about who you delegate to. Is the person gifted in this area? Is he or she respected in your ministry? Does he or she have the time and energy needed for the task?

Once you have the right task and the right person, you'll need to take some steps to hand off the task properly and set up the person for success.

1. Decide how much oversight is needed.
Gavin Adams, Lead Pastor of Woodstock City Church, a campus of North Point, recently shared four levels of delegation on the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. Each level of delegation—investigation, informed progress, informed results, and ownership—requires a different level of oversight. His point is that various jobs require various levels of oversight. For instance, asking someone to post about small groups on the church's social media or to plan the food for your next training event may need very little oversight. On the other hand, coaches need a little more, and people planning the next group campaign may need a lot.

Another point Adams makes with these four levels of delegation is that we can actually bring people through a process, delegating more to them with less oversight over time. Adams suggests starting people at the level of investigation, asking them to research and gather information to help solve a problem. This will help you measure their capability and interest before you delegate more important tasks. So for instance, you may ask someone to investigate Alpha to learn how it might fit into your context. This will help you gauge whether they're the person who you may later ask to lead the Alpha initiative at your church.

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