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How You Can Learn to Delegate Today

Raise your hand if you wish you had someone to help you check a few items off of your massive, ever-growing To Do list.

Now, raise your hand if you’ve ever uttered something like, “I’ll just do it myself. It’s _____.” Fill in the blank with a word like easier, faster, or better.

Ummmm, anyone else see a problem here?

There’s a big disconnect between what we say we want, and what we actually do. When the rubber meets the road, we are more willing to sit in the overwhelm rather than taking advantage of an opportunity. This will slow, or event stunt, our ability to lead ourselves and others well.

Let’s take a look at why this may be happening.

The Why

  • Lack of trust. Though it’s usually not said aloud, sometimes we feel like no one else will do as good of a job as we will, devote the same amount of time, or care about a project in the same way that we do. Honestly, one or more of those things may be true. But there is also a lot of truth in knowing that we physically can’t do it all. If we don’t bring others into the process, we risk burnout, letting another ball drop, or ending up with a less than ideal outcome anyway.
  • Lack of know-how. There may be times when you just don’t know how to turn the project over to someone else. Maybe the process is long, tedious or hard to explain. At this point, take the problem to someone you know, trust, and has some understanding of the matter, and ask them to help you work out a solution. Getting a different perspective can often bring clarity.
  • Lack of options. It may be that you don’t have staff of your own, volunteers or interns. First, assess if this is actually the case, or if it just feels like the case. There may actually be creative alternatives that you haven’t tried before. Second, if this is actually the case, make an appeal to your boss to see if you can get additional help, even in the form of unpaid volunteers or interns, or actually contracting someone to help in the short-term. Be prepared to show them the relevant benefits for the church, ministry, staff, or even to your boss.

In order to sharpen your delegating skills, you need to identify which one of these is stopping you in your tracks. Self-awareness is key to any sort of growth.

Now, let’s examine how you can begin to delegate more.

The How

  • Think long-term. While it may be easier to handle a task or project yourself in the interim, is that the best long-term solution? Could more care or attention be given by someone else? Will the task or project grow and thrive under someone who could really make it their own? In seasons of overwhelm and stress, we tend to keep our heads down and rush through. This may work for a few tasks, but it often comes back around. No need to repeat the cycle.
  • Consider others. At times we may shy away from delegating because we want to maintain control. This is another reflective exercise that begs you to consider what is best for your team, ministry, or church. If you feel threatened by letting go, find a trusted person who can help you work through this issue. However, if you’re holding on because you think no one else wants it, or you’d be asking too much of another person, stop to consider that you may be robbing them of growing or using their gifts. What may be hard for you could be someone else’s sweet spot. They may, knowingly or unknowingly, be waiting for the opportunity to show off their talents. Additionally, there are probably people who would enjoy working alongside you, but need an invitation. For the same reasons you may not be asking them to participate, they may not be asking you. Funny how that can happen!
  • Create a system. Whether items on your plate need to be delegated to an intern, a volunteer, third-party contractor, or another staffer, you’ll need a process to make this happen. The first thing you need to do is set aside some dedicated time. Consider it a gift that the task or project is being undertaken by someone else. Treat that person’s time as valuable, and give them the consideration needed to make the transition smooth. And when possible, record the process through documents, videos or emails so that it can easily be passed to someone else down the line, if needed.

Delegating definitely comes more naturally to some than others. But we can all make improvements for the sake of our work and those it affects.

Now, raise your hand if you’re willing to give delegating another try.

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