Four Tips for Effective Delegation

Four Tips for Effective Delegation

Save your sanity and strengthen your ministry by delegating well.
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The second level, informed progress, asks the leader to own the task yet report regularly to you for updates on the progress. One example would be how you work with new coaches. They should own their role but also let you know regularly how things are going and how you can help them be successful.

The third level, informed results, asks leaders simply to inform you when the task is completed. In other words, they're given full authority to complete the task as they see fit. Rather than check in along the way, you'll check in with this person at the end to debrief the experience. For someone who has proven themselves with the previous levels of delegation, this allows a great next step. You might, for example, delegate the planning of a leader appreciation event to a capable coach in this way.

The fourth level is ownership, and requires the leader to fully own the task without any oversight. Essentially, the leader comes to you only if there is a real need or issue. In small-group ministry, this might be delegating to the person who leads Alpha, or it might be handing off all tasks related to the tracking software. The idea here is that the person is fully capable of the task and can be trusted to complete it.

Understanding the level of oversight needed for the person and the task is key before moving on to the next step of effective delegation.

2. Clearly explain the task and expectations. That means explaining exactly what needs to be done (order pizza for the leader training event), what they need to know to be successful (check in three days before for how much to order, and order a gluten-free pizza for Tim), and when it needs to be done (next Saturday at 10 am). There's no need to bog down people with unnecessary details, but you do need to give them the information they need for success—including who they can go to for help (coaches). Be clear on expectations, too, like who's paying for the pizzas and who needs the receipt from the purchase.

The difficulty with this step is finding the balance between not telling enough, which leaves the person feeling unprepared, and telling so much that your direction feels like micromanagement. It can be a hard balance to strike. One thing that has helped me is separating out must-know information from my personal preferences. For instance, someone who is contacting people for me needs to know the correct contact information, but he or she doesn't need to know that I usually call people between 5 pm and 7 pm. Instead, I can empower the person to figure out the best way to reach the people on my list, finding what works best for him or her.

Another way to handle this is to explain the must-know information, and then ask, "What else do you need to know?" Then follow up at some point during the project to ask again: "Do you have any questions for me?"

3. Provide the needed tools. I've had multiple negative experiences with delegation, and this is often the reason. Without the proper tools, we set up people for failure. Sometimes providing the right tools simply means handing over a book, website link, or contact information for someone who can help. Other times we need to pass off files, e-mails, or other background information. Pass it off and let the person have everything he or she needs. Don't be a bottleneck that requires the person to keep coming to you for help.

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