I remember something really embarrassing. I got an email from a parent who offered to come in and help in the office during the week. Her kids were in school and she wanted to serve by giving some of her time during the week. I was elated. There was far too much work for me to do on my own and the extra help would be greatly appreciated! However, as time went on, I started to panic. I didn’t know what to give her to do. As I looked through my lists of tasks, there weren’t very many things I felt I could hand off. Everything felt too big. They all seemed like things that would take too long to explain or train. So, I ended up giving this volunteer random tasks. They were things I needed done, but they weren’t critical. I also spent more time than I would have liked coming up with stuff for her to do. This arrangement didn’t last very long, probably because the volunteer didn’t feel like she was doing meaningful work. In the end, I was glad to not have to scramble to come up with stuff for her to do.
What’s really embarrassing is that this wasn’t the only time this happened. I wasn’t very good at delegation. What’s ironic is that I really needed the help. I just didn’t know how to pass critical things on to others. I’d continue doing tasks that other people really should have been doing.
Then one day, I took a step.
There was a monthly task that I hated doing. Promoting preschool kids into new classrooms. We did this monthly. When kids had birthdays, they often moved up into a new environment. This meant we had to intentionally move kids in our database so that they would check-in to the new environment the month after they aged out of the last classroom. It was a tedious project. It only took about an hour, but it required a lot of concentration. If you weren’t paying attention or if you got interrupted in the middle of promoting one room to the next, you could have to start over, losing precious time. I finally decided that I was going to pass this task on. I had the perfect volunteer. We sat down and it took me about 2 hours to train her. This involved a fair amount of me doing it and her watching and then her doing it and me watching. The next month, I spent about 30 minutes with her as she did it all. From then on, she rocked promotions.
Until she quit six months later. She got a new job and needed to hand this task back.
I found someone else and trained them as I did the first person. This new volunteer lasted 6-8 months. Having someone do this for 6-8 months was great, I just wanted out of the training game and thats when I had the idea. The next person I trained, I made a screenshot video. With the video and my narration, I’d never have to train someone again. I was able to pass the task on to someone else, they’d watch the video and follow my checklist. Done. I would answer questions and clear up any confusion, but this took up precious little of my time.
I learned that you just had to put some tasks/responsibilities into a little packages so that they were easy to hand off. Since this, I’ve been able to do this with dozens of tasks/processes. If it involves a computer, I can do it once (making a screenshot video at the same time) and this recording would now be the training.
Two years ago, I had a somewhat complicated sound/video/lighting system installed in our preschool space. It was a pretty cool system, but it took some understanding to know how it all worked. I ended up creating a training document. It had pictures with all the pieces labeled. I then labeled all actual components so they matched the training document. I created a detailed process for turning everything on, a process for turning everything off and ways to troubleshoot if something wasn’t working. Once I created the document, I didn’t touch the system for nearly six months.
As leaders, we MUST delegate! However, successful delegation takes time. We need to package the task or process so that it is easy to delegate. Resist the notion that you have to have your hands on everything. Begin letting go and spend your time on the things that only you can do, which are usually relational tasks.
Have your staff do the same. Identify tasks. Make a checklist. Make a guide. Make a video. Put it in a nice little package and then give it away.
This post is part of a larger series on moving your ministry forward using the often neglected tool - the checklist. In this series, we unpack how a system of checklists can actually help us take our ministry to new levels. Plus, we want to share dozens of actual ministry checklists you and your team can implement right away. Click on the link below to explore this topic and pick up some helpful resources!
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