Delegation is the key to success in any type of organization, yet it can be a serious problem in church management. Many ministry leaders, used to working independently, find it hard to imagine that others can handle tasks more effectively. However, as the church grows, it is impossible to do without the help of additional church staff or volunteers. When leaders perform all tasks alone, their energies are spent on tasks that are not part of their duties (Kouzes & Posner, 2017). This decreases the effectiveness of church leadership, which is not acceptable. This problem is all the more urgent when the church leaders are not experienced and young. They may think they have the energy to manage all areas, but the reality is that multitasking can quickly stress them out. To solve the problem outlined, it will be optimal to use a systematic approach characterized by a full analysis of the situation and making rational decisions based on it.
Key stakeholders are senior pastoral leadership, specific church leadership (elders, deacons), and volunteer leaders appointed to participate in the delegation process. When delegating responsibilities to others, it is necessary to explain to them what is expected of them and, in addition, to define their responsibilities in detail. The optimal solution is to provide a culture of empowerment in which leaders quickly encourage and empower employees and volunteers to participate in various initiatives.
Young leaders often provoke the situation when they perform too many tasks. They are happy to help employees because such demand creates the illusion of their indispensability, value, authority, and trust on the part of the team. Inexperienced leaders do not leave time to tackle higher-level and higher-priority tasks by getting involved in every problem. The leader may take it upon himself to solve the employee’s problems, justifying his actions with his incompetence. However, such motives also lead to the trap of reverse delegation. In such a situation, it is better to assign responsibility for the task to an employee who can solve it under the guidance of a more experienced team member.
The essence of a proper delegation is to plan the task and organize the work process to achieve the goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. The problem of excessive workload can lead to quick burnout of the manager, frustration with the subordinates, or simply a dulling of attention. This leads to a decrease in the motivation of subordinates and a decline in the efficiency of their work. Inexperienced leaders risk falling into the trap of reverse delegation: when they will be forced to do the work for a subordinate himself in the end. At the same time, the volume of tasks, the solution of which is left to the leader, is constantly growing. The diagram below illustrates the key reasons why delegation problems arise (Figure 1).
Bad leadership is costly to companies that profit from their operations. For example, employee turnover costs $5,500 per employee (Bartram, 2019). It costs a quarter of a million dollars per year for a company of 250 people (Bartman, 2019). Certainly, in the case of a church, these financial numbers have little applicability, but the purpose of its existence is to attract followers. If inexperienced leaders make fatal leadership mistakes, decreased attendance and less employee satisfaction with their time in the church are expected.
The 5 Whys method will be appropriate to solve the problem of delegation. The first question is, why does the delegation problem arise? The answer is that this issue emerges because of ineffective management. The second question is, why is ineffective management common in churches? Mistakes arise from the inexperience of employees and their lack of knowledge of key leadership principles. The third question is, why is it important to delegate in the church? This mechanism is necessary because it allows for more effective management of the organization and frees up the leader for more urgent tasks. The fourth question is, why might churches refuse to implement this method? Fear of changing the power structure within an organization as conservative as the church can cause distrust. The fifth question is, why is it still worth using delegation? This mechanism is proven to improve the quality of church functioning and help young leaders feel more confident.
Delegating authority and various tasks in the Christian church is an essential skill that every leader must possess. This tool increases group productivity and gives others the opportunity to learn and grow to share success. By delegating to others, church leaders are actually allowing them to serve. Knowledgeable leaders achieve better results by calling on people with diverse talents and abilities to help them. The ability to delegate to another creates space for joint discussion, for collegial work. And this is precisely the skill, the effort, because, without humility, it is impossible to participate in a dialogue. Without delegating, it is impossible to let the other participant in the collaborative process share his or her vision and knowledge. Delegation of authority can improve the functioning of the church and make it easier to serve young leaders who do not yet have all the skills needed for successful leadership.
As previously mentioned, delegation plays a crucial role in the development of the church and the improvement of the quality of its performance. Although a particular issue related to ineffective management and a lack of delegation skills in less competent and experienced leaders may be currently regarded as common, delegation is essential. Its absence imposes substantial risks and leads to multiple negative consequences that affect employees and management in general. Thus, an inability to assign responsibility to other people may cause inefficient decision-making due to burnout, overwhelming stress, and decision fatigue. In addition, employees will feel undervalued and their job satisfaction, loyalty and respect for the church, self-confidence, initiative, and commitment to common goals will be strongly affected in a highly negative way. As a result, the absence of delegation decreases the efficiency of the church as a considerable number of targets are inevitably missed and leads to employee turnover as people prefer to search for a working place where their skills and experience are appreciated.
At the same time, delegation and related processes may be substantially decelerated by particular barriers including barriers related to delegators, subordinates, and the church in general. Delegators frequently refuse to assign their authority to others due to personal factors and their attitude to work, subordinates, and power. Leaders with poor delegation skills prefer to do all work personally due to insecurity and concerns related to employees’ competencies. In other words, these leaders refuse to delegate as they do not trust subordinates expecting that they will not do tasks in a proper manner. Another factor of inappropriate delegation refers to the retention of power typical for autocratic leaders – in this case, they do not want to share authority with anyone supposing that it will negatively impact their reputation.
Delegation may be unsuccessful due to employees as well – although, a considerable number of them want to express their professionalism, in some situations, those leaders who decide to delegate face subordinates’ direct or indirect refusal. It may be connected with a lack of confidence and motivation when people are afraid to make mistakes, and a leader, in turn, does not inspire and support their initiatives. In addition, employees’ intentions to accept authority frequently face the absence of convenience, misunderstanding, and the inaccessibility of resources. In such a case, leaders do not provide all the necessary information and materials when delegating tasks.
Finally, the peculiarities of an organization may contribute to the use of delegation techniques or their absence. Thus, in small-sized facilities, delegation is not a widespread option. Concerning the church that is associated with a high level of centralization, the practice of authority assignment remains undeveloped even if the church’s size has changed, especially when the precedent of delegation does not exist. It goes without saying that there are backup solutions, including the total change of leaders, the increase in their number for performing all tasks personally, and delegation without taking into consideration employees’ fears and concerns. However, all these plans may be regarded as unreasonable, cost-inefficient, or even impossible. That is why it is essential to implement a systematic approach with a comprehensive analysis for rational solutions.
Data collection is essential for the analysis of the whole situation in order to develop the most effective strategies for the promotion and implementation of successful delegation practices in the church’s performance. It goes without saying that the existing information related to the church’s size, its scale of operations, and the number of employees should be examined to define the expediency of delegation. For instance, in small-smized organizations with a limited number of duties, delegation may be regarded as unnecessary. However, people should be regarded as the most important source of information. Thus, data gathering should be in the form of questionnaires and short interviews with church leaders, volunteer leaders, and subordinates.
First of all, it is essential to identify the current scope of delegation or its absence – for this, employees should be asked how often they receive delegated tasks. After the problem’s extent will be defined, its reasons should be perceived as well. In this case, short semi-structured interviews may be organized for leaders in order to examine why they refuse to delegate tasks. Similarly, subordinates will fill out questionnaires related to their readiness to accept delegated tasks and the reasons why they refuse. Collected data will determine all aspects of the implementation plan that may differ depending on the current situation. For instance, whether a leader refuses to delegate due to a lack of particular skills or personal characteristics, approaches to these issues will be different. In the same way, the readiness of subordinates to take responsibility and the main factors that contribute to their concerns should be addressed to define the components of the implementation plan.
According to the situation’s analysis, it is possible to introduce several options, including the increase in leaders, the employment of leaders with excellent delegation skills, delegation to subordinates regardless of their readiness, and a comprehensive approach, including the development of leaders’ delegation skills, the implementation of the culture of empowerment, and church management. With the application of impact evaluation to the qualitative method of this research, it is possible to examine the expediency of every option in relation to the project’s objectives. The criteria of this evaluation will include the scope of delegation, its efficiency, the satisfaction of stakeholders, and the quality of the church’s performance.
On the basis of these criteria, it is possible to conclude that the first three alternatives are inefficient. The increase in leaders will not lead to the delegation as leaders will continue to do work individually. Although this option may not impact the satisfaction of the prevalent number of stakeholders, its cost-inefficiency will lead to the decreased quality of the church’s performance. The employment of leaders with excellent delegation may contribute to the improvement of delegation in the church, however, without subordinates’ readiness and commitment to work assignment, it will be useless. Finally, delegation to subordinates regardless of their opinions, needs, and demand will lead neither to efficient delegation nor to their satisfaction. Thus, a complex approach may be regarded as the most appropriate solution as it covers all aspects of successful delegation – leaders’ skills, employees’ competencies, and technological opportunities that will facilitate all processes.
As previously mentioned, the implementation plan will include the development of leaders’ delegation skills, the implementation of the culture of empowerment, and church management through the use of modern technologies. This decision is the most suitable as it meets all identified criteria and the project’s objectives. The plan will have several stages, and the first one is the organization of training for leaders for the development of their delegation skills, including communication, time-management, and the ability to provide feedback and gain trust. Leaders will learn that delegation is essential and it does not affect their reputation or authority. In addition, they will receive essential knowledge related to the choice of subordinates on the basis of their experience and tasks’ requirements, the articulation of responsibilities, and motivation. In general delegation skills are beneficial for delegators, subordinates, and the organization in general. By assigning tasks, identifying suitable employees, and inspiring them, leaders will be able to reduce workload and related stress being sure that work will be done in an appropriate manner.
At the same time, it is essential to ensure that employees are ready to accept responsibilities. Thus, leaders with necessary delegation skills should integrate the culture of empowerment that presupposes the promotion of delegation of power and authority to others. In the church, leaders should empower and encourage volunteers and staff to take responsibility and even lead others in particular situations. The integration presupposes several stages and aspects, including the articulation of the necessity to delegate tasks, employees’ support and motivation, and the provision of authority. In other words, leaders should explain why delegation is necessary and how it benefits employees and the church’s general performance, provide the algorithm of delegation to avoid misunderstanding, and motivate people by explaining to them that they have all the necessary skills and experience to perform tasks and take responsibility. Through continuous communication, emotional intelligence, and conflict management, leaders work with subordinates’ rejections and concerns learning them to accept delegated tasks being positive about their potential.
Finally, the implementation plan should include the installation and practical application of a particular tool that will facilitate church management. In this case, Online Church Management Software (ChMS) may be regarded as an optimal solution that will help reduce administration time, equip the church’s team, engage its community, and improve its overall performance (“Church management software built to engage your community,” n.d.). In general, this software allows leaders to administer tasks and control subordinates’ performance in a more efficient way. For instance, with the help of ChMS, leaders may access data, schedule volunteers, run reports, coordinate service plans, manage membership, and communicate with employees (“Church management software built to engage your community,” n.d.). At the same time, this tool may be used for the control and evaluation of the implementation plan.
In general, the efficiency of the solution should be evaluated on the basis of two criteria – the implementation of delegation and its efficiency. ChMS allows to automate workflows to ensure that people chosen for assignments follow up with and complete them in a time-sensitive manner. The control over the implementation plan is determined by the fact that in the program, employees may record their progress to show that tasks will be completed. Thus, the history of this software may show the scope of delegation and how successfully delegated tasks were performed to estimate the approach’s expediency.
While specific barriers to the delegation were previously identified, several of them occurred during the process of the plan’s implementation. First of all, it was church leaders’ deep beliefs that only they should be responsible for all tasks. At the same time, due to the facility’s specific features, arrogance and the retention of power were not typical for church leaders. In other words, they did not think about the authority that should be kept by any means – instead, they perceived power as a great responsibility and obligation to control all aspects of the church’s performance.
Another obstacle was connected with employees’ concerns related to the expediency of delegation and their personal abilities to be responsible for delegated tasks. As the practice of delegation has never been common for the church which culture substantially impacts people who work there, a considerable number of workers were against innovations. In addition, they believed that in contrast to them, leaders had all essential knowledge, skills, and experience for doing all work – that is why they have been chosen as leaders. This, a substantial number of employees and volunteers were afraid to be responsible for the delegated task due to a lack of confidence in their competencies.
Finally, the major obstacle identified in the process of the plan’s implementation was a lack of technological literacy essential for the use of the church management software. In general, the church is an organization that rejects technological progress or accepts it highly slowly. As a result, its stakeholders traditionally do not have essential skills to work with computer programs, tools, and applications. In this case, this implementation plan may be connected with other plans that presuppose training dedicated to the technical competence of both leaders and subordinates. Even if the use of electronic tools may be avoided in the present day, with the growth of the church in the future, it will be inevitable as control over others’ performance within the framework of multiple tasks requires a highly structured approach.
Bartram, K. (2019). Pay up! The cost of poor leadership. The Healthcare People.
Church management software built to engage your community. (n.d.).
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations. Wiley Professional Development.