Lecture 14: The Team Manager

Lecture 14 – The Team Manager: A Man with a Clipboard and Whistle

“I feel like a one-man-band.”
“He acts like a one-man-band.”
I’d like to dismantle the one-man-band that both pastors and people seem to agree is a problem in the church, by outlining six team-building moves: delegation, education, communication, motivation, recognition, and submission.
Even if you think you will never end up with a paid church staff, you will still have to build a team of volunteers.

I. Delegation

Delegation is more than giving orders or simply assigning tasks. Rather to delegate means to involve someone in an endeavor by coordinating his or her efforts with one’s own goals.[footnote]Leadership Handbook of Management & Administration, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 213.[/footnote]

“Delegation is an extension of trust. Putting trust in your team allows them to rise to the occasion, it is the most compelling form of human motivation.” -Stephen Covey

1. Barriers to Delegation

Why is delegation such a difficult task for most leaders? Let me outline some of the possible reasons and see if you recognize any of them:

  • You can do it better (or at least think you can)
  • You fear someone doing it better
  • You lose control
  • You are too busy to organize delegation
  • You work at the wrong times (when no one else is around)
  • You don’t want to overburden staff
  • You do not trust your staff
  • You think it will take too much time to train someone to do the work delegated.
  • You think that you will have too little left to do

On this latter danger, Peter Drucker writes:

But the best proof that the danger of overpruning is a bugaboo is the extraordinary effectiveness so often attained by severely ill or severely handicapped people. “A good example was Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt’s confidential adviser in World War II. A dying, indeed almost a dead man for whom every step was a torment, he could only work a few hours every other day or so. This forced him to cut out everything but truly vital matters. He did not lose effectiveness thereby; on the contrary, he became, as Churchill called him once, ‘Lord Heart of the Matter’ and accomplished more than anyone else in wartime Washington.”[footnote]Peter Drucker, “Know Thy Time,” ctlibrary.com, accessed 5.21.14, http://www.ctlibrary.com/le/1982/spring/knowthytime.html[/footnote]

I cannot count the number of times that illustration has come into my mind at critical moments. I determined to ruthlessly cut away whatever was not crucial to the task, asking myself repeatedly, If I had two hours per day or ten hours per week to do this job, what specific things would I do and what would I not do?
As Drucker indicates in many places, no matter how much wise pruning one does, the information worker will always have much more to do than he can possibly get to. As much as possible must be delegated to others.

2. Times for delegating

It is important to delegate when you are:

  • working too many hours
  • stressed
  • stretched
  • entrenched in day to day details and unable to lead your vision
  • messing things up because it is not your “thing”
  • spending too much time on tasks you don’t enjoy
  • letting little things get in the way of accomplishing your goals
  • preventing growth due to your limited bandwidth[footnote]The Art of Delegation by EAHelp Executive Assistants.[/footnote]

3. Motives for delegating

You may have recognized some of these barriers to delegation, and you may have concluded that the barriers are too high or too many. So let me give you some motivations to encourage you that this is worthwhile pursuing

  • Increases your available time
  • Reduces your stress level
  • Enables you to exercise your God-given gifts
  • Enables others to use their God-given gifts
  • Motivates those who work with and for you
  • Promotes harmony and team spirit
  • Old Testament Example (Jethro in Exodus 18)
  • New Testament Examples (Christ appointed 12 then 70 disciples, the apostles appointed deacons and elders)

Delegation Matrix:[footnote]The Art of Delegation by EAHelp Executive Assistants. Also see http://eahelp.com/blog/delegation-matrix/[/footnote] DelegationMatrix

4. Method of Delegation

a. Analyze your tasks (Drucker’s questions)
  • What tasks am I doing that need not be done at all?
  • What am I doing that could be done by someone else?
  • What tasks am I doing that can only be done by me
  • What am I able and willing to delegate?
  • Don’t just choose the unpleasant tasks
b. Research/Survey your team
  • Is there someone who can do this?
  • Is there someone who can be trained to do this?
  • Is there someone who we could recruit to do this?
  • Three kinds of delegatee
    • Delegate to an expert
    • Delegate to an equal
    • Delegate to a beginner (requires most time at beginning)
c. Request
  • Request courteously and persuasively
  • Give clear instructions and timetable
  • Outline levels and availability of support
  • Encourage independent thought and ideas
  • Explain how and when of review and evaluation
d. Review
  • Don’t despise them – If they don’t do their work we can’t do ours
  • Two-way feedback
  • Find out the reason for difficulties and ask for advice on how to overcome them.
  • Move from hands-on to hands-off as soon as possible
  • Move from direction, to coaching, to support, to full delegation
e. Reward
  • Praise – Public/private
  • Remember to honor effort not just outstanding performance,
  • JRB gives a verse out for every volunteer in the church

5. Five Levels of Delegation

  1. Do specifically as I’ve outlined for you.
  2. Gather information and please report back.
  3. Propose a way it should be handled – research topic, outline options, make a recommendation. Come back with solutions.
  4. Handle completely, then tell me what you did.
  5. Handle completely. No need to inform me.

II. Education 

One of the best ways to build team spirit is to invest in training your staff, both paid and volunteer staff. The first step is to identify the different needs of different groups. Let me suggest different groups that could be targeted for specialized education:[footnote]A B Bruce, The Training of the Twelve[/footnote]

  • Elders may be trained in leadership, in counseling, in teaching, in conflict resolution.
  • Deacons may be trained in stewardship, financial management, financial counseling.
  • Sunday school leaders could be taught age-appropriate teaching methods.
  • The missions and outreach team could be given training in evangelism.
  • Future leaders could be trained in doctrine and leadership.
  • Those with public teaching roles could be given speech training.
  • The women could be trained in how to teach younger women.

III. Communication

We have already dealt with communication in a previous lecture, but let me underline a couple of issues especially relevant to building a team.

1. “Job” description

The responsibility of elders, deacons, and of other key team members should be written out, communicated, and agreed.

2. Regular/routine meetings

The team leader, the pastor, must communicate regularly and clearly with his team. There should be stated times when the team meets to pray and discuss matters, even when there is nothing urgent to discuss. Meetings should not be reserved for crises.

3. Review

There should be at least annual reviews with the teams and each individual in the team. And these reviews should be of an encouraging and positive nature, unless there is something serious to address. They should not have the flavor of an employer/employee relationship, but rather of co-laborers.

4. Grievance procedure

There should also be a clear and consistent grievance procedure that everyone is aware of, a way to bring concerns and complaints to just and equitable resolution. Usually the person with the grievance should try to resolve the matter with the person first before coming to you with it. And complaints should be promptly dealt with.

5. Questions

Establish times when people can come to you for a chat or to ask questions about their task. Make yourself available for these less formal discussions. They can often prevent larger issues blowing up in your face.

IV. Motivation

One of the most important characteristics of a successful leader is energetic enthusiasm. If you are always going around in a gloomy negative spirit picking holes in everyone’s work, then you are not going to build a team or even maintain the team. Like the sports coach, the Pastor has to lift and motivate the team by sharing his excitement for the work and mission of the church. Enthusiasm really is infectious.
This is not to deny that there will be times when a more subdued tone will be appropriate. I am not arguing for the shallow and articifical enthusiasm of the Sales Team Leader, trying to whip everyone up. But there should be a vitality about our presence, a sense of purpose, and optimism that people can sense and will respond to.

  • Ask people how their ministry is going. You’d be amazed what a difference this makes.
  • Remind people of what they have achieved, of the fruit of their work and the future hopes
  • Encourage different teams to take an interest in each other’s work by joint meetings
  • Pray in public for the various ministries
  • Keep the congregation informed of what’s going on
  • Bring in outside speakers with expertise
  • Go to conferences together (subsidize)
  • Provide helpful resources (books, sermons, websites)
  • Drop in unexpectedly on the groups while doing ministry (help out as well)
  • Give a written or public note of thanks with an appropriate verse
  • Give payment in kind and encourage others to do the same

V. Submission

The most important relationship in the church is that between the teaching pastor and the ruling elders. Some people say that the pastor is subordinate to the elders, others that he is a peer or on the same level as the elders, and others see him as a leader of the elders. And then there are those who say that these distinctions are irrelevant because all are subordinate to Christ. Who’s right? The answer is that they all are! The pastor has to maintain these four aspects of his relationship to the other elders.
At times it will be appropriate to take a subordinate and submissive role as our fellow elders pastor us. There are times when all the elders are brothers together. Then there are times when the pastor has to take the lead. But all this is done in recognition of Christ’s ultimate and overall responsibility. In Effective Pastoring, Bill Lawrence explores each of these four aspects of the pastor’s relationship to his fellow elders.[footnote]Bill Lawrence, Effective Pastoring, (Nashville,: Nelson, 1999), 114f.[/footnote]

  • The pastor under the elders: the pastor is accountable to the elders and while having input should submit to their instructions and guidance on hours, pay, vacation, priorities, etc. He should also be accountable to them for his character and Christian life.
  • The pastor equal with the elders: the pastor is a co-shepherd and co-laborer with the other elders
  • The pastor as leader of the elders: as the main teacher, the pastor has a first among equals role in leadership. While not lording it over the other elders he should set the course of the congregation by preaching and example
  • The pastor and elders all submit to Christ: so many of the problems in these relationships would be avoided if everyone lived under Christ’s authority.

Let me give some advice on how to build a good team spirit between you and your elders, and between the elders:

  1. Begin every meeting with Bible reading and prayer, close every meeting with prayer, and take time to pray when making difficult decisions or when disagreements are becoming too heated.
  2. Visit with your elders in their homes outside elders’ meetings.
  3. Treat all the elders equally. Do not show favoritism (e.g. sharing information with some but not others).
  4. Do things together without the pressure of business (e.g. go to conferences, travel to hear other preachers, congregational outings).
  5. Study the Bible together or go through training resources together.
  6. Do not criticize elders in their absence.
  7. Apologize when you have offended any of them and seek forgiveness.
  8. Open yourself to counsel and correction from the beginning.
  9. Be absolutely scrupulous with church funds.
  10. Be competent in what you do (especially in preaching, visiting, and elders meetings)
  11. Be punctual for church, for meetings, for everything