The difference between delegating responsibility and giving away delegated authority is like eggs and ham; the chicken is involved; the pig is committed.
It’s safe to say most of us have worked for a manager that used delegation as a means to a task-based end. They wanted things done, so they delegated responsibility down the ranks to employees who were told to get tasks done – or else. This kind of delegation is more accurately labeled abdication; a failure to fulfill a responsibility or duty. When a poor manager delegates all responsibility, they are setting the employee up to take the blame if the project or task doesn’t meet expectations set at least two levels above their role.
A good manager will not delegate responsibility without also providing delegated authority to ensure the employee has the ability to give direction to others in the organization, regardless of hierarchy or rank. Former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, summed this up nicely:
Don’t be a bottleneck. If a matter is not a decision for the President or you, delegate it. Force responsibility down and out. Find problem areas, add structure and delegate. The pressure is to do the reverse. Resist it. – Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. Secretary of Defense
There are several sequential keys Mr. Rumsfeld prescribes in this short and powerful quote, and they provide us with a roadmap on how to delegate authority.
Force Responsibility Down and Out
Simply delegating tasks misses the opportunity to shift your staff from an employee mentality to an ownership mentality.
I have a friend that works for a large defense contractor. His stories about how he’s told “slow down; you’re making us look bad” or “don’t estimate that we can do a project too quickly, even if we can. It sets us up to have to perform like that every time.” My friend’s work ethic and honesty are not valued because the hierarchy is a command-and-control environment where employees only do what they’re told (and never anything more). Likely, this developed over time from poor management delegating responsibility downstream without delegated authority – leaving employees without the proverbial chair when the music stopped. Out of a self-preservation mindset – an employee mindset – these team members now take three to four times longer to do a project than it should take. (And we wonder why our defense contracts are constantly over-budget…but I digress).
One of my leadership maxims: If it is a job anyone can do, delegate it. If it is a job only I can do, then I do it. A good manager is evaluated on how much gets done, not on how much they do.
Forcing responsibility shouldn’t mean the manager is free-and-clear, but that the employees given the ownership have the ability to lead cross-functional teams and work up or down stream to get the project completed.
Find Problem Areas
When expectations are defined at the very beginning of a project, a singular objective is defined, goals are set, strategies put in place and actionable tasks documented – then, and only then, is an organization setting their employees up for success. Assuming this is happening, finding problem areas is normally straightforward: wherever there is a breakdown, the manager directly addresses the issue with the stakeholders. Once the issue is identified, steps are taken to move past the issue.
That sounds great, but the big ‘x-factor’ is people. Countless books and teachings have been done about hiring the right people and ensuring they have ‘the right seat on the bus’, as author Jim Collins describes it in the classic “Good to Great” book. Yet, this doesn’t often happen across the board where egos and turf wars get in the way of getting things done. For delegation to really, really work well, you’ve got to have a team that is empowered to cooperate and succeed.
“The way you delegate is that first you have to hire people that you really have confidence in. You won’t truly let those people feel a sense of autonomy if you don’t have confidence in them.” – Robert Pozen, business leader and professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management
In my coaching, one of the most basic (but overlooked) systems I teach how to implement online project management. Almost invariably, I hear from my mentees the following: ‘we’ve tried that’ or ‘nobody uses it’ or ‘I’m too busy to handle admin stuff’. I break down these barriers and help my mentees create a simple, sustainable project management system that pays dividends in new levels of personal time management.
“If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen.” – Tom Clancy, used by character Jack Ryan in ‘Debt of Honor’
After only a few weeks of implementing a project management and time-tracking system, my mentees see the immediate value of adding structure. Just this week, one of my recent mentees told me “I had complained about a piece of equipment we’ve had for years that literally had a hammer attached via a bungee cord so that you could bang on it to make it work. After we documented the tasks that required extra man hours to complete because of this faulty gear, I finally had the proof to justify replacing it.”
Years of inefficiency totaling hundreds of man hours were quickly solved by simply adding a structure that gave leaders what they need to make informed decisions: useful, objective information.
Delegate Responsibility with Authority
To recap, there are some clear steps and sequential processes to empower employees with delegated responsibility and authority:
- Define expectations and create a singular objective.
- Set goals (if this, by then) that relate directly to the objective.
- Determine strategies to accomplish each goal.
- Document actionable tasks that relate to each strategy.
- Force responsibility down and out.
- Find problem areas.
- Add structure and delegate.
“I had to delegate authority to the people on my staff. That means you shave away the hierarchy.” – Jurgen Klinsmann, Head Coach, U.S. men’s soccer team
How have you or your team handled delegation? Comment below.
The greatest message ever shared. The most important person in all of history. The most helpful resources available.
Yeah, the church has all of that and should be excited about helping people find freedom and live changed lives. But, more information from your local church isn’t helping. We’re inundated with information. We’re deluged by data. What we don’t need to know is how much more stuff your church has to offer.
If anything, we need less. A. Lot. Less.
Less isn’t zero, but when you start with zero as the assumed baseline of what must be communicated, it is a helpful re-orientation towards re-imagining what your church should be communicating.
What Churches Over-communicate
If I started by listing the Top 10 things churches over-communicate, it would be a list missing the other 90 Top Things. Seriously, the issue is not the information; it’s the thinking that assumes we need more information.
Ask this question of a random sampling of church staff: “What is the purpose of our church communications?” You will likely hear their personal ministry/department preferences, or about getting people involved in a particular event or activity, or something along the lines of living out the Great Commission. Sadly, none of these will help make the most important connection your audience really needs because a broadcasted message isn’t going to replace a personal connection.
Sure, you might promote something that provides the opportunity for people to get connected (good!), but unless you happen to be able to reach the right person at the right time in the right way, the connection you’re offering to make will not be acted upon.
When we focus on events, activities, and what we want from people (attendance, money, time), the communication serves the organization instead of the organization serving the person.
What Churches Miscommunicate
I have lost count of how many times a church where I’ve attended and volunteered sent me communication that wasn’t intended for me. Examples have included being invited to a singles event (I’m married), reminded when to register for the next ladies event (I’m a dude), or told how to get my 10-year-old registered for camp (when my youngest was 12).
From mass emails to text message campaigns to social media invitations, it would seem that even though I was actively involved and connected across the church to many ministries and pastors, they simply didn’t know me. At least, the church didn’t know me.
When I worked in the church management software industry for a couple of years, I found out something incredibly important that seems to be ignored by most church leaders: The average administrative staff turnover happens in churches between every nine and eighteen months.
This is hugely important. Why? Because these positions are where the majority of church communications actually happen, even when there is a full-blown communications department. And these staff members are leaving. Frequently. With their knowledge of the church’s culture, systems, tools, and processes. And, so, another administrative assistant comes in and has a pile of tasks, including sending out emails, following up with member/attendee requests, and likely managing the social media accounts for that particular ministry department.
And we wonder why ministry and communication silos exist. Alas, I don’t have the space in the article to fully address this point, but perhaps in a future article…
Why Churches Fail to Communicate
Even though I’ve identified some key points that will help your church re-imagine your communications and hopefully rethink your training, implementation, and measurements, too, there’s still a bigger issue to address: Churches are failing to communicate.
This may not seem obvious at first glance, but when church leaders assume church communications is about getting enough information sent often enough to enough people, they’re missing the very point of communication: to develop a two-way dialogue.
If I talk at you all the time, what have I communicated? That I’m important, and what I say must, by extension, be important to you, too.
But, if I open up the opportunity for you to communicate with your own response, then we have the beginnings of the purpose of communication: connection.
3 Things To Do Immediately:
- Take an audit of what is being communicated, how often it’s being communicatedand measure the results to see what’s working.
- Say a lot less. When you focus your communications to specific, targeted audiences, you don’t have to explain so much. Get to the point for that audience with the appropriate use of only what is necessary.
- Invite dialogue. It’s not communicating if you (or your ministry/department/campus) are the only one talking. Don’t just communicate information—build community.
“All success is shared. All failure is the leader’s sole responsibility.”
At first glance, this statement may seem to be either untrue or, at the least, unfair. This statement is the linchpin of great leadership, though, and the implications have far-reaching effects.
When all success is shared the leader is quick to point out various members of the team who contributed to the win. These leaders are also the first to recognize that “crap only rolls uphill.” If there is a failure, the leader of a group owns the responsibility (“the buck stops here”), even if the mistake was not made by the leader. In this way, the team has greater trust in their leader and rallies together to learn from the mistake and keep it from happening again, if at all possible.
Humble leaders get this principle and teach it to their leaders-in-training. People will often follow this kind of leader farther and longer than any other leader type.
QUESTION: In what ways can your own leadership style adapt to reflect this reality?
If you need this reality in your leadership, either get an hour of training or join Anthony’s coaching network. Fill out the short form below.
Once churches discovered the value of video, the multi-site and satellite campus model went from a handful of mega churches to tens of thousands of churches. With this explosion of multi-site churches, a separate venue utilized as another service style option – or even just a simple way to make more room – has also been gaining popularity on existing church campuses. In both cases, I have found that there are 4 types of church video venues. For churches considering video venues or multi-site campuses, I am presenting these 4 types of video venues as helpful research that looks beyond the venue to the technology and logistics required for effective services.
Type 1 – Overflow Video Venue
Growing churches will find themselves running out of space in their main meeting venue. A seemingly simple step is to open up another part of the facility, run a video and audio cable to the room and fire up a projector and portable sound system. Voila! A “video venue” is born. Well, not really. While the concept of space-sharing is great, the implementation of the technology and the logistics of planning are often overlooked.
Years ago, a church I volunteered for did this for what I’d euphemistically dub a ‘family friendly service venue.’ The reality is that they didn’t want to let kids into the main service, so they had those families attend an overflow area in their 300-seat chapel. The music feed from the main auditorium sounded great. The video looked pristine. The lighting was appropriate. But it failed – miserably.
So what was the problem? Authority and leadership.
When a video venue is used as an overflow area (or family friendly service) and no leaders are present at the front (stage area) of the room, people treat the space like a very large living room. What I witnessed the last time I ran sound in this venue can only be described as ‘distraction on display’. Kids climbing/crawling on pews. Kids running up/down around pews. Parents taking cell phone calls (and not quietly, either). Audience participation during singing? Zilch. People paying attention during the message? Somewhat.
What was needed was authority and leadership. A praise singer/worship leader up front during the music, a leader (possibly even the same person) to do “meet and greet” (or however you choose to help make a personal connection), someone to help with segues and basically just a presence in the room to give a sense of order to the video venue service. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), but the trend for adding pastors and worship leaders in a video overflow room is a good one.
Type 2 – Video Cafe Video Venue
Often called a Video Cafe, the worship service format/space/style can be very different from the main service auditorium, but still utilize the sermon video taped (or live or time-shifted – more on that in a minute) from the main auditorium. The term Video Cafe usually equates with a Starbucks type of setup, but in all reality is just a term that more accurately describes a different venue from the main service.
A Video Cafe can be on-site (at the same campus but in a different venue) or off-site (at a satellite campus), depending on the vision and intent of the church leadership. Technically, these can utilize single or multiple screens (venue specific as the needs fit) and most have a single tape/disc of switched camera shots recorded during the main venue service. Most will only include the sermon/message portion from the main service, opting for live (and often different) music, or video roll-ins for these alternative worship services. The biggest difference is in the contextualization of the service type.
Type 3 – Independent Satellite Campus Video Venue
Satellite campuses can take on many forms – from temporary facilities like school gymnasiums or fine art centers, to new campuses. Aside from the logistics of set-up and tear-down between temporary venues and new permanent venues, the technology is often utilized much like a Video Cafe, only without the shared facilities.
A quick side-bar: One of the least touted, but best reasons for adding satellite campuses, is local community involvement. Many folks will drive 30 minutes or more to attend a weekend service. However, when a weekday event or service happens, the church will only see a fraction of those people face rush-hour traffic to and from the church in order to get plugged in outside of a weekend service. However, when a local campus from the same church plops down within 15-25 minutes of their homes, non-weekend attendance and involvement soars.
Having visited a large number of church satellite campuses, I’m convinced that the ultimate (and, unsurprisingly, most expensive) format includes a multi-screen, multi-source approach. In this setup, two (or more, as the venue needs demand) side screens provide the IMAG feed.
Defining IMAG – The use of close-up and medium (*mid-leg to waist-up) camera shots used to visually engage those seated far from the platform. In video venues, close IMAG camera shots are used on the side screens, while a larger center screen shows a locked-down (*doesn’t move to follow any action) shot of the main stage area, covering an area slightly taller than the main teaching pastor, often without panning the camera to follow. The end effect is a life-sized person on this center screen ‘walking around’ on the stage while the side screens capture the up-close IMAG.
It was North Point church in the Atlanta area that started out using High Definition video for their lock-down camera projected onto a center screen (borrowing an HD camera from NASA, no less). Since that time, many churches have implemented HD video and had stunning success with what I call the “suspension of disbelief”. What happens is that two sources – one recorded from the main campus IMAG switcher and one recorded directly from the center locked-down camera – are routed to the screens. The IMAG feed goes to the side screens and the center camera video is sent exclusively to the center screen (which drops down after the music is concluded). They are synchronized with Time Code, and play back in perfect sync.
The end result: the audience watches the tight shots (IMAG) on the side screens (non-HD) while they see the main speaker/teacher in their peripheral vision. Because people see a “life-sized” version of the person on the stage (in HD), they quickly forget that it’s not real for two important reasons:
1) The HD image quality is far superior to standard NTSC video, resulting in a more life-like version on the center screen.
2) The physical spacing between the side screens and the center screen allow your mind to believe that the center screen is the ‘real thing’, especially if it’s either hung low enough to be near/at the stage or it’s an ascender screen that comes up out of the stage (see the four photos above).
Type 4 – Interactive Satellite Campus Video Venue
The most difficult of the four types of video venues, by far, is the interactive satellite campus video venues. The technology required to connect – in real-time – campuses spread out by miles is not inexpensive or easy to manage. But, for the church willing to make this leap, the results can be amazing.
The trick here is to have a live audio and video backbone (over IP, Microwave or Satellite), and enough channels of audio, video, & communications (such as Clear Com), as well as the necessary bandwidth to do it all in real-time. It’s usually done over dark fibre, with direct connections made through a dark fibre backbone (point-to-point or point-to-multi-point) so that bandwidth is never an issue. It’s very expensive (think hundreds of dollars per mile, per month).
Often, though, because video is bandwidth-intensive, some systems integrators will compress the video to reduce the file size during transfer. However, remember that the whole point of that center screen was to make it life-like (hence, the use of HD video). So, if the HD signal needs to be compressed to make it fit over a connection, the end result can be less-than-HD video quality, which negates the point of HD in the first place.
Other than that, just the sheer logistics, staff and volunteers necessary to pull this off is staggering. I know of one church in Florida doing this, going so far as to share the mix between three campuses in real-time, such that the FOH engineer at each campus can pull in the vocals/instruments from any of the other campuses for their own mix. This requires incredible planning and logistics to pull off, and I’m not personally sure this is something I’d ever want to do. But…it can be done.
First, I give kudos to my friends pastor Larry Osborne and tech director Dennis Choy of North Coast Church for thinking radically about using video technology – over 20 years ago! – to increase their effectiveness and outreach. They have truly paved the way, and Dennis and Larry continue to make changes as they’ve increased their number of venues.
Second, this is not something to be entered into lightly. While there are quite a few churches doing the Video Overflow or Video Cafe thing already, the disconnect created with the audience if it is implemented poorly is a high price to pay – not to mention the stress on staff and volunteers in a set-up-to-fail scenario.
Done correctly, and within the context of your local predicament, video venues are a tremendous tool for churches.
What have been your experiences with different types of video venues? Comment below.
If you want Anthony to consult with your church on video venues, fill out the contact information below.
Ironically, the questions I’m asked the most by church technical leaders are not technical in nature; rather, they’re focused on the overarching aspects and responsibilities of leading staff and volunteers, managing multiple projects, organization and prioritization, and their own spiritual journey. Because this happens so frequently, I walk a small group of 6 or less tech arts leaders through personal coaching over three months.
Here’s how it works:
- This private group is made up of creative and technical arts people from growing churches across North America. Some are very large, others are small rapid growth churches.
- I spend 45 minutes to one hour per week with each person via live video on Google Hangout. During these times, I providing personal coaching and mentoring for their growth & development and set weekly goals for them to achieve by the following week’s meeting.
- My coaching focuses on increasing their relational effectiveness with staff and volunteers, developing better leadership and management skills, as well as encouraging a deeper spiritual walk.
- Additionally, I use part of each week’s time to provide consulting on technical & organizational issues specific to their situation.
- Every fourth week, we will spend an hour as a group, bringing all of the individuals together for an online round-table discussion using Google Hangout. This provides peer-to-peer networking, helpful connections, and a small accountability group for sharing successes, challenges, and prayer requests.
The cost is low, but the commitment is high.
At only $500 per month, this is a very strong value. However, I do require that each individual take this seriously, because I limit the group to a maximum of 6 people. Missing more than one session removes that person from the group, as the group also misses out when individuals are not committed.
To apply for the group, fill out the short application from below.
In my vocational work on staff at three churches and in my non-vocational work for several companies, I have struggled to know when to submit myself to authority and when, well…not to do so. What I’ve learned is that I was confusing submission with compliance. At first, I didn’t realize there was a difference, until I heard a pastor friend of mine tell me a story that illustrated the profound difference.
A statement was made by a church leader about staff being expected to submit to the authority placed over them unless, and only unless, the request was “illegal, unethical, or immoral.” I think we’d all agree that those are three clear qualifiers. My friend asked about an additional qualifier: “But what if it’s unhealthy?”
We can be asked or tasked with something that is completely God-honoring, but at a time or manner that is not healthy. As a former church Technical Director, I found myself in this place often, especially as when it came to doing “just one more thing” (sound familiar?) for a ministry, pastor, or for the weekend service. This kept me out-of-balance in my relationships for a long time. My struggle was that I wanted to please my boss, and I was working in ministry, so why wouldn’t I just submit to everything asked of me? After all, it was for God, ultimately, and nothing being asked of me was “illegal, unethical, or immoral,” but it was often very unhealthy for my life.
Part of the blame was on me: I didn’t talk with my boss about being overtasked very often in my first vocational job, and when I did, he played “the God card” and reminded me our work was for God. Properly chastised, I performed the tasks at the expense of my own emotional/spiritual health and family relationships. I wasn’t building a trusting relationship with my boss (nor was he doing the same for me), but kept the clearly defined lines of authority in my sights as I complied – and it was unhealthy.
My compliance broke when I’d had enough of being abused and used as a tool instead of as a person. However, a broken person responds in broken ways and in the process of standing up for myself, I failed to honor the authority placed over me and instead took a defensive, fighting stance that ultimately cost me my job.
When the program, tasks, or projects take precedence over relationships, we will operate out of compliance under the guise of submission.
Compliance says “You have my behavior. You don’t have my heart.”
Submission says “You have my heart. What kind of behavior can I offer?”
Compliance says “Do what you’re told to avoid negative consequences.”
Submission says “Do what is necessary to honor the authority.”
Compliance says “If I find a loophole, I have a way out.”
Submission says “I desire to exceed expectations for the benefit of others.”
Compliance says “I better be rewarded for my extra effort.”
Submission says “I am delighted to give of a little extra, and I know my authority will protect my time and my heart.”
Do you see the significant difference between the two? One is positional, the other is relational. If, like I was years ago, you find yourself in a work environment that is focused on compliance, start with building relationship by giving personal, not positional, honor; serving with a joyful heart while communicating safe boundaries; documenting and repeating back expectations and timelines so that both you and your boss are in alignment.
Your part is to serve well, not to be a doormat. We don’t honor people because they are honorable people; rather, we honor people because we are honorable people. It’s not difficult to honor people who deserve to be honored. But that’s not what the Bible says anyway; it speaks of honoring others who may be difficult to honor.
If we let the boss know that we love God and him and the church and love serving, but that, for example, “every Saturday morning there seems to be an emergency that takes me away from my family for four hours,” we can ask, relationally, about taking off one afternoon each week to compensate for the extra hours. If the boss is genuinely interested in our family and emotional well-being, this should not be a problem.
Give first. Honor first. Love first. And see what God shows you when you shift from compliance to submission. If you’re still being used and abused, share your heart earnestly and speak the truth in love. Often, it leads to repentance and restoration. Our actions and attitudes are revealed best in Romans 12:18:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
And, if there’s no change after all that, ask God to intervene or to release you from your position. He can use you anywhere!
So, what say you? Are you submitted well or just complying? Comment below, anonymously if you like.