Reblog – Are you assigning or delegating?

This is one of the helpful distinctions that the Manager-Tools guys make… And it suits volunteer organisations like churches pretty well.

When you talk to someone about taking on a task or a project, work out whether you are assigning it to them, or delegating it to them.

The difference? Bosses assign work to employees; “here, you are responsible for this. This is your ‘job’”. Leaders delegate their responsibilities to volunteers; “Hey, I’d like you to help us by taking on this thing I’m responsible for. Keen?”

A few notable differences:

– assignments can be questioned, but in the end, they can’t be declined.

– the line of responsibility is more vague when delegating. Who’s really responsible for what at which point?

Another attempt to pictorally display church

Recently we had our AGM which gave us another opportunity to try and help our church see itself. That might seem like a strange idea, but for most people, they only see (or even hear) about the aspects of their church they’re involved in. This can lead to misunderstandings about why the staff are never around, or a feeling that God’s not at work in your church, when there might be things to be very excited about.

We want our church family to see itself well… see how God is at work in it, and how God is at work through it.

So, we came up with this infographic that tries to display something of the messiness of church. A growing church family is organic and interrelated. It’s interdependent. This info graphic isn’t meant to make church “understandable”, but rather it’s meant to make the messiness of church understandable. (See it large here).


Why would you give a volunteer access to church data?

There’s a few things to think about before you give people access to contact details and other data.

  1. You’re not giving them access, you’re appointing them with responsibility.
    There are certain things people should do, and not do with private data. Access to data is not a right or a gift to use as they see fit. It’s a weighty responsibility they have to choose to take on. (We have volunteers sign a database privacy policy).
  2. If you’re appointing someone to a position of significant authority, it’s appropriate they have access to data.
    They might not need access to the database to fulfil their responsibilities, but the very fact they already have such responsibility means that access is appropriate. For example, our senior pastor rarely uses the database to do his job, but he has access.
  3. If someone’s smaller roll would be much, much easier with access to data, its loving to let them have it.
    There’s no point asking someone to organise a person from every growth group to be a contact person for a particular event, and then telling them they’ve got to find all those people the selves, or bounce that administrative hassle back to the growth group over seers. Administrators are great people to give access to the database.

The difference between giving someone a brief and giving someone a job…

A job is… “I want a coffee table with four legs, 1200x900x500, in wood.”
A brief is… “I have a coffee every morning and I want to out it down in something…”
A brief is a problem, a need, something that requires a solution.
This is what we should be giving our leaders, our MTSers and especially our designers; problems and the responsibility to implement solutions.
So don’t ask your designers for a postcard… Tell them you need to give people something so they know about the Christmas Carols night. They might still come up with a card… But at least it was their idea, and not just your job.

The difference between an Emergency and an Urgency

Too often, myself included, people treat both Emergencies and Urgencies in the same way. It’s worth being aware of the difference and the different responses for each.
Emergencies are things like a fire, a flood, etc… They require everyone to perform the same action straight away with no particular thought for the future beyond the emergency. Lives are at stake and there’s already a clear path of action. Take it.
On the other hand, an Urgency doesn’t need instant action. Rather it needs clarity. Let me say that again.
Respond to Emergencies with simple actions.
Respond to Urgencies by creating clarity.
That means you stop and think. You might have to do it fast. That’s ok. But if its not an Emergency where lives are at stake, the goals have to be different. The goal when faced with an Urgency is clarity. Coming up with the “this is what we’re going to do” is the goal.
When do you respond to an urgent issue as though it is an emergency?

Keep your coders and designers friends… have clear boundaries

If you’re managing any web development stuff, there’s two worlds that exist in a binary star-like dance. There’s the world of the coder and the world of the designer.

Sometimes, these co-exist in the one person – a hybrid. but these people are more like a pulsar who are invisible for periods of time.

The coder’s world is all about what does it “do”… and (more importantly) what doesn’t it do? Once they know what you want it to do, their brain starts working away at what they need to do to make it do what you want it to do. Use this skill! They will ask you questions that you don’t even know you need to answer; “Ok, so after they press that button, what’s meant to happen? They get an email or you get an email, what???”

The designers world is all about how it looks. This is usually a static idea. When the web page pops up, before the user does anything, this is what they will see. They care about how people will feel in the site, what mood they will have.

Coders don’t want to work out how things are meant to look. That’s not their job spec. They don’t want to decide how much drop-shadow a menu should have. They don’t want to decide how much spacing should be around that header. They just care about what will happen when you click it.

Designers don’t want to code. (I think its like surgery to them)

The trick is to keep these worlds distinct, and yet, get them talking about all those little fiddly bits. Get your coders asking your designers, “You need to show me what you want it to look like, after the user does X”.

Regular 1:1s reduce trivial interruptions

If you have “direct reports” (people who consider you their boss – even in a volunteer sense) then it’s worth scheduling in weekly 1:1 meetings. The point of these meetings is firstly just to give your directs some personal time with you. Just a few minutes where they can talk with you as a human, not just as a boss/leader.
Because, if you think about it,many of the interruptions you get from your directs throughout the week… Most of them are trivial-ish. They’re not urgent.
The guys came up with an interesting explain action for this… They wonder if people interrupt their leaders simply because they want that personal time with them.
You might think you’re a really warm and personal leader… But if you’re getting little questions about lots of little things throughout the day, maybe your directs just want to spend some time with you?

1 Minute Manager

The whole point of this book really has one point; Can you describe the job you want someone to do in one minute?

You can’t just name the job (e.g. “Welcoming leader”). You have to so explain the job that the person can go and do it the way you want them to. After that minute, all they have to go on is what you said, written down on one page. One page. One minute.

How would you explain the job you want them to do?

Here’s the rub… Ken Blanchard says a) It can be done, and b) If you can’t do it in a minute, there’s a good change you don’t actually know what you want.

Do you know what you want?

Improve, don’t simply replace

If you have to sub-in for someone, or something breaks and you need to replace it, don’t just replace it, improve it.
What you have is an opportunity that rarely comes along. An opportunity to provide for the future and help takes steps forward.
If a sign breaks, take the opportunity to get a bigger one.
If you get to run a kids church class for a week, take the opportunity to make it great – better than it usually is.
Just trying to keep the status quoe usually means the stays quoe drops. Everything else is growing (under god) so if your doing the same thing as 4 years ago, it’s behind.

Situational Leadership (Styles 1-4)

Scott Parry-Jones from EV helped us think about this. There are two ways to think about how your leading others; the authority continuum, and the discussion continuum.

The authority continuum ranges from “I have all the authority” right over to “I’m giving you all the authority”. Another way of seeing this is the former being “You will do exactly what I do, no questions, no creativity” and the later being “You can do whatever you want, be as creative as you want”.

The discussion continuum ranges from “We’re not going to discuss this often at all; maybe an email every now and then.” all the way over to “We’re going to discuss this all the time; weekly meetings and whenever we get the chance!”

Where does your “natural” leadership style fit on each continuum? How do you prefer to lead people?

What about being led? How do you prefer to be lead? How much Authority do you like being given? How much discussion do you like being brought in on?

Solve or manage? What type of tension are you dealing with?

There’s only two things you can do when you face a tension; a situation when you are faced with two good things and you can’t easily do both they way you’d like to.

You can either solve the tension or manage the tension.

Solving the tension means coming up with a simple solution. It usually ends with all parties agreeing they they will loose something they think is important. It often looks like a “policy” eg; “we will give twice as much to mission as we do to maturity, financially, time, effort, prayer, etc”. It attempts to have the conversation once, get it all clear for everyone involved, and free people up to get it done, so they don’t waste time having to keep hashing it out to see who gets what, and never getting anything done.

A tension to manage, however, is the opposite. It’s about not having a policy and keeping the two principles always on the table. It means that no one is ever satisfied. It’s choose to live with dissatisfaction on both sides. It’s choosing to always want both sides of the tension to be perfect. It’s a decision to have conversation after conversations and verge on arguments again and again. Yes, you will need to make a decision and it will fall on one side it the other, but that’s just that time, next time it might fall the other way.

I reckon almost all the Christian life is a tension to manage. Now but not yet, sinners and saints, mission and maturity, work and rest, duty and awe, respect of outsiders and being a fool for Christ.

I wonder what that says about God?