Laying the Groundwork for Delegation

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I have a high sense of excellence both in the job and in ministry. I have a high expectation for things to be done right. It's just how I'm wired. So, sometimes, it can be difficult to try to work with others who seem "okay with okay." This can make it a challenge to delegate work. I have learned a few strategies to set the environment (in my company and ministry) for building a firm foundation for delegation. I have learned to let go, to be confident that I have chosen the right people for the job, and to trust the process of delegation and collaboration.

Here are six keys to laying the groundwork for delegation. 

1. No one is going to do it just like you: Trust that even though it might look a little different than what was in your head, it doesn't mean it's wrong. I find that, most of the time, my team brings a fresh perspective that can even be improved upon, and the result ends up being better than if I did it myself. 

2. Give clear directions and feedback: Clear feedback is important. I try my hardest to respond quickly to questions out of respect for others' time. Also, watch HOW you give feedback. Don't expect your team to read your mind. Communicate well and avoid all temptation to change the work yourself. Give feedback so they begin to learn what you want and what you don't want.

3. Empower your people to make decisions: When a question comes your way, sometimes the best response is, "What do YOU think?" Often, you'll get several solutions. If they all sound good, then trust your team members to pick the right one and run with it. You may have to coach them a little to tweak their solutions but either way, once they have presented you with good options, allow them to take ownership. This builds trust and confidence in the work relationship.

4. Respond well. Mistakes will happen: If anything goes awry, remember that it's not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes and your team members are probably harder on themselves than you ever can be. Trust me, there will be mistakes. Your response is most important because your team will remember how you responded, and it will set precedents for future conversations. If you responded well the first time, they will feel safe to bring you issues in the future. I try to take the blame for anything that happens on my team that may have gone south. It is my responsibility to lead and coach others. 

5. Don't assume: Sometimes I have last minute projects that pop up and I just knock them out myself because I don't want MY emergency to become THEIR emergency. One of my contractors called me out on this and said, "Well, it's worth asking." Guess what? That changed my perspective. Now, I ask and make sure I at least give an opportunity for them to say no to last-minute projects. Most of the time, they can do it, and it saves me time.

6. Do what only you can do: Look at your list of things to do. Keep ONLY what you can do. Give the rest away. 

Giving your contractors, volunteers or employees the permission to collaborate builds confidence in their jobs and in your relationship. Ask questions to pull the answers out of them; then it's their idea, which creates buy-in. You'll be surprised what you learn and you will probably go farther faster. Be interested and let your team members know that they have a voice so they know they are valued, trusted and safe. Delegation becomes easy once you set the stage. 

What is the biggest takeaway about delegation?

Free Falling: Where will YOU land?

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Have you ever felt like you are free falling? You know the Lord is there, but He seems awfully quiet for such a dramatic time in your life. You know he’s going to catch you, but He doesn’t show any sign of it. So, you continue to fall and trust. 

I want to encourage you that He is in the silence. He’s in the waiting. He is directing you even when you can't see it.

Recently, my in-laws entered into a very difficult season in their life. They are being forced to say goodbye to a home they have known for 25+ years. My mother-in-law hears from God like no other. She's so sensitive to God's voice. When she moved into this home she felt like God told her that she would never have to move from this home. Circumstances beyond their control left her without a job and the owners of the house have asked them to move out. It's been a struggle, to say the least, and seems so contrary to what God told her 25 years ago. She recently told me, "God is so quiet during this season, and I used to hear from Him all of the time." 

So, what is God trying to teach you through these free-falling moments of trust and total surrender? You can either panic and freeze up or relax into it, move forward and allow Him to gently guide you. He wants you to pursue Him and walk in wisdom. Sometimes in traumatic situations He seems quiet, but you have to practice listening ... not for only what you WANT to hear but sometimes He's moving you in a direction that seems contrary to what your natural minds perceived as a promise. God is faithful. He will give you what He promised ... but keep in mind, it may not be wrapped up in the same bow as you imagined.

The good news is that my in-laws did move forward and found an amazing house and job in another state. It's definitely sad for us to see our family leave, but what a peace to know that God confirmed their direction and that they are in His good and perfect will. 

There's certainly an element of faith that you need to practice during big decision-making seasons in your life. How can you get to your destination if you're just sitting in the plane? Could it be that there needs to be some forward motion on YOUR part for God to do His? He has given you wisdom and a freewill to live this life. He's simply waiting to bless whatever step you take as long as it's aligned with His Word. Sometimes you need to put your parachute on and jump out of the plane and let God take you where you need to go. So move forward today. Talk to Him, and trust that He will stop you if you are going in the wrong direction but you have to be listening.

Take a step out of the plane, begin free falling and see where God lands you... wanna bet that it's safely in His arms? 

Accomplishment ... is it YOUR drug of choice?

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So yesterday was an actual day off for me. I even used the hashtag #kellysdayoff since it happens so rarely and is quite monumental. My friends were shocked but encouraged me to really unplug. Other than hopping on social media "socially" to post a picture or two of my day, I really stayed away from my computer and phone for work-related tasks.

Due to the nature of my business, I don't have many days that I can truly take off unless I'm on a cruise ship or far away somewhere. As a matter of fact, other than my anniversary cruise with my husband for our 20th wedding anniversary a few years back, I recall working on most of my vacations. 

I'm a bi-vocational minister. I work for my church as a communications director, overseeing graphics, communication and social media as well as programs and resources needed for the church. I'm SUPPOSED to do all of this in 17 hours a week, but I love what I do SO much that I generally work at least 10 hours more, AND I volunteer on top of that. I also run my own business, Kelability, supporting multiple churches all over the United States and have two contractors who work for me. I love what I do. It energizes me to help others, communicate a clear message and see churches grow and be healthy as a result. 

My friends often tell me that I need guardrails so that I don't drive off the edge ... and I hear the word "margin" thrown at me a lot. Apparently, my life is exhausting to most people. I have to admit, working is my drug of choice. I love the endorphins released by new challenges and the sense of accomplishment when I conquer each project. I've heard, "Kelly, you have to learn how to say 'no.'" Well, actually, I know how to say "no" to others, but it's near impossible to say "no" to myself. I feel that I could potentially miss an opportunity to take on a new challenge and, once again, have that rush of accomplishment. My husband is the same way, so it's difficult to keep each other in check because we don't recognize it as easily. We often fight with ourselves the battle of capacity versus capability.

So yesterday, my family sat down and mapped out what our ideal life would look like. We talked about how we AREN'T in debt financially, but we ARE currently extremely in debt to our family. The Bible tells us to be good stewards of our time. Volunteering is a great thing and we all need to give, but when we are giving so much that we give away all of our extra time, we are borrowing that time from our family (and ourselves). Time eventually gets away from us and we never "pay them back" with the quality time they need and deserve. My kids are growing up. One is getting married in a month, another just graduated high school, and the third one is entering middle school. Time is going by very fast. I know that I'm going to regret the time I didn't spend with them more than I will regret the opportunity that I might have missed. The sacrifice is definitely worth it. I don't want to live in regret OR debt to my family or myself.

We made no real mind-blowing family decisions. We just talked about how we need to have dinner together more often (2-3 times a week); exercise every day (my husband already does this but the rest of us need consistency); how we should actually take a weekend away once in a while and spend time together; date night two times a month; friend time at least once a month and a family activity where we pull a pre-approved idea out of a fishbowl so that we have some spontaneity in our lives. We decided that if a new opportunity arises, and it makes us sacrifice our family goals/values, then we are to say "no" to that opportunity. Our conversation has to be less about church and work and more about life, God, and relationships AND we need to learn how to have fun again. 

To change our outcome, we must change our input. Letting go of the non-essentials and doing only what we can do and letting go of the rest. Here goes ... everything. 

What do you need to let go so that you can be more intentional with your time? 

It's Worth the Effort

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Lately, I've had a myriad of folks approach me. I often attract people who are drawn to the organized nature of what I do and how I approach projects; they need process in their lives. They love to start things but have a hard time finishing them. They tell me that their spouse or they, themselves, tend to be dreamers and have all sorts of amazing ideas or projects birthed from within them. They are confident in the ideas but have difficultly putting their feet to the ground in order to implement any one of their many ideas. 

These amazing people come to me frustrated because they know they have to do SOMETHING ... but what is that "something?" How do they take an idea and make it a reality when they are dreamers and visionaries? 

Here are six things that might help. 

1. Brainstorm your end goal for each project:

What is your "win?" Write it down. If clients are visual, I ask them to put all of their goals on post-it notes (or on cards within apps like Trello or Asana if they prefer to be digital). Each idea or action must have it's own small post-it. This gives you a birds-eye view of what's in your head. 

2. Prioritize and categorize your goals.

Clear off your table and put all the post-it notes laid out on the table. Begin to sort and categorize. You might want to use different colors of post-it notes to break down your goals into smaller pieces. If you want, you can even think of it like debt reduction. If you can knock out a few small bills and roll those payments onto the next one, you gain momentum, and you WANT momentum. You may have to rearrange and play with this a bit before you get comfortable with your plan, but it really helps to break down the steps to get to your goal.

3. Identify your NEXT step.

From the exercise above, what's the first goal you want to accomplish? What action steps did you determine are needed to make this happen? If you are a writer, for instance, you might have various writings in email, text, word documents, etc. Your next step may be taking the time to collect all of your creations and put them in one place. If you have inventive ideas, create an idea hub. You can use a notebook or a great digital tool like Evernote. Evernote is unique because you can easily jump between each of your ideas or notes and organize them without having to open and close multiple documents. 

4. Block out time on your calendar for progress. 

Plan this just like you would a date with your spouse or time with your friends. Make time to help your dreams become a reality. It will only get done if you make time for it. When you put it in your calendar, document exactly what you want to accomplish within that timeframe. Be realistic with your time.

5. Have an accountability partner or mentor. 

This could be a friend, a spouse or someone you admire for their expertise in your field. Make sure you check in with them regularly. Make scheduled appointments so that they can guide you through and possibly see things you may not see. Be teachable and give them permission to keep you in check.  If you don't actually give them permission to keep you in line with your goals, then what's the use? Your goal is to move forward and this person can help you hurdle roadblocks IF you allow them.

7. Celebrate your wins.

When you complete a project, celebrate!

Wash, rinse, repeat with each new goal. Try this out and see if it works for you. Tweak as needed. Your ideas and creations are WORTH the effort!

What a Volunteer Wants - What a Volunteer Needs

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Volunteers are what keep churches and nonprofits moving and functioning. They are the heartbeat. They can make or break a ministry and become an extension of the church leadership (if you train them well). Do you have good volunteer instincts?

Here are seven areas with questions and tips to provoke your thoughts about volunteers: 

LEADERSHIP: It's not only about the volunteers; it's about who leads your volunteers. Who is speaking with them, giving them direction, pouring into them and training them? Is the leader clear? 

MATCHING: Are you just throwing warm bodies into various positions, or do you have an intentional strategy to match people to ministries? Do you find out about the person and create a match that is mutually beneficial? If you don't, you should. Simple personality profiles and spiritual gift assessments are readily available. Create a simple process and find out more about folks before putting them into positions. This will cut down on people quitting or even leaving the church because they don't want to disappoint you. 

BOUNDARIES: Volunteers need boundaries. Believe it or not, people actually prefer boundaries when volunteering. They are offering up their time and talents to serve the needs of the church, and if you throw them into a position without instruction or boundaries, you have unknowingly and unintentionally set them up for failure. You will have less confusion if you set a regular time for training and retraining. Keep the doors of communication open and constantly feed them information pertaining to their ministry. Train, train, train.

ENCOURAGEMENT: Thank a volunteer verbally and send a note. Recognize something specific about when they go above and beyond. Who knows what this volunteer may be sacrificing to be there? How often do we zip past a volunteer who serves every week without even making eye contact? Just because they know what they are doing doesn't mean that you should forget about them. The ones who are faithful need attention too. Take a moment and stop and tell them how well they are doing, even in the moment.

FOLLOW UP: Volunteers need feedback on how they are doing. How many times do we throw volunteers into a ministry and then forget about them? Follow up is always a good thing. Be sure to follow up with your volunteers regularly. Find out if they are happy, ask what suggestions they might have to make the position or ministry better, listen and give them your full attention. 

EXIT STRATEGY: How often do we find ourselves in a ministry that we don't even enjoy? Is it a death sentence? Some people believe that in order to quit their ministry area, they have to quit the church. That's not so! Give them an out. Let them know that the expectations are that they communicate with you and that you will partner with them to find a position that is better suited. 

VISION/MISSION: Are your volunteers aligned with the mission and vision of the church as a whole? Do they know the "win" for their area of ministry? Make sure you have a "win."  

Do your volunteers a favor. Plan ahead, be in constant communication, and invest in them. In the long run, you will be glad you did!

You are Uniquely and Wonderfully Made

Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap? I think on at least a small scale, we all do.Sometimes we compare ourselves with others because of insecurities that tell us that we are not enough. Other times it's when we are working hard toward a goal and never get recognized or promoted, but then we see someone else promoted without even trying or just because they are buddies with the boss. Other times it's when our talents are thrown to the wayside because someone better comes along.

Unfortunately, a lot of times this is built into the culture of the workplace, family or ministry. It's a high school mentality, if you will. Even if we can be secure in our abilities and walk in confidence everywhere else, this high school behavior becomes something we have to face day in and day out when leaders of the organization you work for or attend church with are modeling this behavior. They "Oooh" and "Ahh" over the proverbial star of the football team or head cheerleader but everyone else seems invisible. To be honest, most of the time, it's the nerdy guy in the science lab who actually becomes most successful in the end, but somehow these organizations never realize what they've got. While it's great to trumpet hard work and talent as an example to others AND it's absolutely right to make sure the right people are sitting in the right seats of the bus, it's not good to discard the hard work of those faithful ones who have held the course and laid the groundwork.

When the leader quickly replaces and gives all of their attention to that new and "better" model ... it automatically sends the message that the others on the team just didn't measure up somehow. It's very discouraging, especially when this happens within the body of Christ, because it immediately creates a hierarchy that shouldn't be there. Just because someone is gifted in a particular area, doesn't mean it's okay to ignore everyone else with that same gifting or to immediately replace that person for the next best thing. We easily discard people and cause hurt and insecurity, but we need to realize that each person plays a major part. Each person matters; each one is created in the image of God. Everyone should be celebrated in their uniqueness; each has a place to serve in the body of Christ.

Speaking to the church leaders who do this ... STOP IT. Stop only celebrating the popular, the most talented, the loudest people on the team. Stop having a public inner circle. Pray that God changes your spiritual eyes to see people as GOD sees them, and be inclusive and gentle in your leadership. Each person has been created with a purpose and should be honored, respected and celebrated. When someone better comes along, don't immediately throw the faithful servants to the curb. Like a new car, that new person only stays "shiny" for a short time before you start seeing their faults and weaknesses anyway. You may THINK you're being sly and secretive about it, but most people see right through you. So, really, all you are doing is burning bridges and creating those dreaded church wounds.

Speaking to those of you who have experienced this rejection... I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the way Christians and leaders have made you feel. I'm sorry you don't feel valued. Know this ... you ARE enough. You don't have to be the prettiest, the loudest, the youngest, the best at anything to offer your gifts as a living sacrifice to the Lord or to be a good steward. YOU BELONG in the body of Christ and you play a HUGE part. Don't get discouraged or get trapped by comparison. When God thinks of you, He smiles because you are YOU. He cares about you. You are wonderfully made! You can't change others, but what you can do is position yourself around those who build you up and speak life into your situation. Then begin to thank your Creator in spite of your circumstances to bring worship to the forefront. There is sweet healing in that place.

14 I will give thanks to You,

for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!  

Psalm 139:14-17