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Guest mormonmusic

When Delegation Isn't Successful

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Guest mormonmusic

Just curious if you have any philosophy about how to best handle situations like this -- which are very common in Priesthood and general church leadership.

You kindly speak to Brother or Sister X about a task that is yours to delegate as a leader. Brother or Sister X asks questions, and appears to accept the assignment willingly. You provide resources to the brother or sister who accepted the delegation, such as getting them necessary lists, framing up the task, introducing them to the people they need to work with, providing them with clearance from the Bishop or a date for whatever you delegated etcetera.

You gently agree on a realistic time frame for when the delegation is to be completed, and ask the person if they wouldn't mind letting you know the results at that time.

You remind them about the thing they agreed to, indirectly, a few days before the date they agreed to get back to you on results. Such as, in a meeting indicating how Brother or Sister X's efforts in a certain area will be complementing some other effort in the Ward, for example, so they get the reminder without feeling hounded.

The date comes and goes, the person doesn't report, and doesn't even raise it when they see you.

What do you do in this situation? What are your objectives, and how do you go about achieving them?

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Public humiliation sometimes works. Wait until the next testimony meeting and get up in front of the congregation and just spell it out! (Just kidding here)

Though we are all “called to serve” and most willingly accept, at times our goals or expectations are not met. Something may have happened with this brother/sister that prevented them from following through with their commitment. Ask them is anything went wrong. Make sure they are alright, see if they needed help and didn’t get it from someone. Perhaps the people that should have been helping them didn’t.

Bottom line, talk to them about it.

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I start with low expectations.

When I was executive seceretary, making appointments for the Bishop, I would basically assume that whatever youth who had an appointment would not show. Anything I could personally do to raise the odds I'd do, but I simply would expect that 40-70% of them would just not appear. I'd make the appointment through the parents if possible, that would help. I'd remind them the day of the appointment, that would sometimes help. If I could spot them in the building the day of the appointment, I'd mention it to them, that would help. Seriously, if I had a gurney, I would have wheeled it in to their class, and have the teacher help me load them up on to it, and provide supplimental oxygen during the trip in case the youth needed someone to do their breathing for them as well.

The calling was much easier to bear, when we rejoiced and sang praises to God every time someone would actually show up to an appointment they agreed to.

Yeah, low expectations. That's the way to go. Call it "more realistic expectations" if that helps. And don't bother trying to figure out why they're not doing it. You'll go crazy with all the unrighteous judgements you'd have to make.

LM

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........The date comes and goes, the person doesn't report, and doesn't even raise it when they see you.

What do you do in this situation? What are your objectives, and how do you go about achieving them?

Just ask them.

M.

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The Church does not run like a business. I agree with LM's response. If you want things to get done, you need to set low standards for getting them accomplished until you are pretty sure the person is able to deliver reliably. Being mad at the person does nothing but raise your blood pressure and your risks of heart attack. If a person accepts an assignment that you are relying on getting done, go ahead and ask them regularly (in a nice way) how things are going with it, and ask if there is anything you can do to help them get it done. The hardest thing is to ask without being pushy. Pushy people in the church generally find it difficult to get anything done or end up doing everything because they set unrealistic expectations on others.

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MM, I asked that question to our stake leaders in a leadership meeting. Woohoo, that prompted a flurry of concerned discussions after the meeting! LOL.

Basically, I was instructed to do as jd said. You give clear directions, with clear expectations and time frames. Then follow up, follow up, and follow up. Ask what you can do to help. If the person is avoiding you, then go ahead and either do it myself or reassign it (be sure to let the original person know that and always assume the best--not that they are a slacker, but life happens and he/she didn't have the time to devote to the activity).

Basically, we won't know the reasons why someone doesn't accomplish a task. I've slacked myself in callings--reasons were inexperience, feeling overwhelmed, not wanting/knowing how to say no, laziness, forgetfulness, not understanding what was needed, etc, or a combination of reasons.

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Keep in mind that any work that is done for the Church is voluntary. As humans, we tend to prioritize our tasks in such a way that things that we identify as voluntary with low immediate reward get pushed to the bottom of the list. To some extent, it should be this way.

I would advise you avoid guilt-tripping and public humiliation. Especially avoid public humiliation unless you know very well the person will respond to it. Most people don't respond to it well, and doing it usually costs you some social standing, so you have to be very careful with that tactic.

The most positive tactic is to do what you're already doing: explain when you assign the task where the completed project will lead and what other future tasks are dependent on the result of the current task. Most people can bump an assignment up the priority list if they feel that it's completion is crucial to some other task getting started.

Short of that, you need to realize that voluntary tasks with low immediate reward will always be last on the priority list. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just a frustration of life we all have to deal with.

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Guest mormonmusic

MormonMusic...do you find anything about the Church that works well?

I don't understand why you asked this question....I'm hoping the implications are not meant to be offensive...

Edited by mormonmusic

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Guest mormonmusic

I have my own philosophy -- I was actually able to get my brethren to do a lot of things reliably after several years of trying.

I found the following helps:

1. Find out what they feel passionate about within the church, and their preferences in serving, and delegate to those things. I had one brother who would agree to things repeatedly and then not do them. Finally I asked him what he enjoyed doing and felt passionate about in the Church.

he didn't like being accountable for the performance of other people, so I put him in charge of things that involved doing tasks where he could just produce without having to rely on others. He did those things faithfully.

2. Provide checklists of things that need to be done, and ask people to contribute to the checklists themselves about things that need to be done. Then, after compiling their suggestions into on list, let them check off the things they are willing to do. Some people will check off a lot of things, others will check off nothing. If they check off nothing, I just left them alone. These are the people who won't follow through. The people who check off things, ask them to do those things.

3. Find gentle ways of following up. In meetings, I will link an existing topic to a delegation someone accepted. "This relates to the social that so and so is putting on next week -- for this social, we should be inviting all of our friends". So and so gets a reminder that his job to do the social, and that others are counting on him or her.

4. If someone does something well, then follow up with appreciation about how you were pleased at their proactivity and reliability. I always comment on the impact what they did had on others.

5. Build predetermined follow-up into the delegation -- ask for a quick update "next Sunday" just so I know what's happening. If they don't approach me, I approach them. If they haven't done it, then I ask for a new update date....and if that happens too often, I don't delegate to that person any more.

6. One Stake leader introduced me as a "very reliable person" years ago and it heightened my commitment and reliability so I wouldn't disappoint him. I try sharing my perceptions about people's reliability when I have sincnere reasons to believe they are.

6. I'm torn on the low expectations philosophy. I don't think the Lord had low expectations of his followers, and really effective leaders actually have high expectations. However, as a leader, you can't let those expectations morph into being demanding.

Edited by mormonmusic

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MormonMusic...do you find anything about the Church that works well?

I don't understand why you asked this question....I'm hoping the implications are meant to be offensive...

I have to agree with Pam. You seem to do a lot of complaining about various scenarios in the Church, whether leadership-related or otherwise.

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Guest mormonmusic
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I have to agree with Pam. You seem to do a lot of complaining about various scenarios in the Church, whether leadership-related or otherwise.

When one receives honest, if not blunt feedback like this, you have to curb your initial defensiveness and tendency to shut out negative comments about your character, and then take an objective look.

On this note, I did a search on my posts over the last while, saw what I wrote and tried to look at it objectively, and have reached these conclusions.

1. The statistics show that 1/3 of my posts result in people thanking me.

2. About 3% are people laughing at what I wrote.

3. After reviewing what I wrote, many of my current posts present problems to solve. These are problems I had to deal with or still don't know how to handle and I'm seeking answers. Sometimes I have some answers, but want to hear what others think.

And I do it here because it's a place where you can ask about the dark side of our LDS experience and get an answer. Here you can avoid the face-to-face label "apostate" you would get in your own Ward, where people go to Church to be uplifted and where the dark side isn't encouraged for discussion.

Perhaps posting conundrums and problems creates a perception of complaining.

4. Many of the posts I have made focus on on giving advice to people coming here suffering from various habits, addictions, etcetera, and are supportive.

5. Yes, I've done my share of expressing concerns about the local leadership in my Stake. Definitely.

I've expressed dissatisfaction with how home teaching is reported and considered a success, with the frustration one faces when trying to achieve goals in the Church, as well as getting brethren to do home teaching. Also, with certain personality types that I found difficult to get along with at Church and other contexts.

However, I've also listened to possible answers and to some extent, it's been cathartic and useful.

Background

When I came here 6 months ago, I had just finished 3 years as a leader in a Ward with a lot of problems. Couples having sex with their children, a lot of people with drug-related problems, infighting and backbiting among ward leaders. An above average number of people with mental problems, and alcholism.

Child abuse, and people in prison. Nasty personal attacks about my leadership, distributed about me personally to distribution lists in the Ward, a general lack of commitment. Also a warning when I moved here from others about the disobedience and difficulty of this Ward. Also, a suicide attempt, and two husbands who killed themselves. And yes, we had an overbearing Stake High Councilor who, when I reported some things he did, was removed. One long-time member of this board said "Your Ward is Nuts" when hearing some of the experiences.

I eventually quit the calling and didn't want to come to Church, and felt myself slipping into inactivity. This bothered me, and so I posted my frustrations here, as a last cry like people who come here asking for advice, or to vent when their spouses commit adultery or they have testimony issues. Perhaps that made a bad impression.

Some of the responses I had were encouraging and uplifting, and my wife and I attribute my resurgence in activity, and subsequent acceptance of a non-leadership calling to the feedback I received here at LDS.net.

My hope is the time will come when I'll have sorted out the attitudes people need when they enter these priesthood callings, and will have counter-thoughts when the frustrations start looming. My hope is that eventually I'll willingly accept another priesthood leadership calling and have a positive attitude again, like I did as a missionary and beyond. Having thought through these issues.

I already know how I'm going to deal with home teaching. When Stake leaders rake me over the coals publicly, we will have a conversation afterwards and I will correct their faulty conclusions where appropriate. There will be asserting myself with leaders as MOE suggested. I will give them detailed reports BEFORE stake meetings about my efforts so they don't reach the same erroneous conclusions they did while I was in the leadership chair. I will continue reporting visits on a best-efforts basis unless I see supportiveness from above for the efforts we're doing. If thre is support. the reports will be split between visits and contacts, with only visits appearing in MLS. I will report visits and contacts separately, and as one gross percentage to the quorum for motivational reasons, and our goals will be based on total visits and contacts, not visits only.

When I get really frustrated, I'm going to take PrisonChaplain's advice and seek a confirmation that I'm in the right place, and use that as my motivator. In fact, I may well do this before accepting the calling and use that to curb frustration. When I delegate, I'm going to expect less than I do now, but continue to be hard on the problems. I'm not going to go into the calling with the expectation that when I'm released, there should be any thanks like I did last time. And I'm going to take LDSValley's advice and reflect on what I know I did well in that calling, in spite of the rocky ending.

And I will probably continue posting problems and issues, because this is a discussion forum.

Now, Wingnut and Pam, what about this OP is perceived as complaining?

Edited by mormonmusic

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mormonmusic, did you delete your last post on this thread?

M.

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Guest mormonmusic
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Yes I did, following the advice of Abraham Lincoln that you don't write until let you let your ideas settle on you for a while. And perhaps, don't write at all.

Edited by mormonmusic

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Guest mormonmusic

I don't consider this OP, or other problem-based OP's I have started complaining -- Here I presented a common situation that happens in the Church, and have asked for conceptions and answers. I've also shared my own after some reflection.

Several people have posted thoughtful answers showing engagement inthe question. One has even indicated the same question came up in a Stake meeting and caused significant discussion, which tells me it's a widespread issue worthy of discussion.

I won't go into the details again, but as you might know, I recently (last 6 months) and voluntarily left a priesthood leadership calling in a very difficult ward. For the time being, I would rather not accept another priesthood leadership position. However, I hope to do so again some day -- but I'm in a period where I'm trying to reflect upon the challenges I faced, and to also develop the necessary attitude conditioners so issues that caused me to leave the calling won't get to me again.

This forum has been a place where you can ask those questions and share those opinions that aren't safe to share at Church, so I've posed a few things that are yes, things that aren't working, in hopes of developing greater strength in these areas.

I've already formed opinions based on the problems I've posted here about how to handle reluctant home teachers, over-aggressive stake leaders, frustration at great effort leading to minimal results, and reporting home teaching numbers . All after considering comments from people on the discussion forum.

Last fall/winter, this site actually pulled me out of a desire to just be inactive after I quit my calling a while ago. My wife was deeply concerned because of how I was feeling about my first (first LONG) experience as a priesthood leader. We both attribute the supportive comments people on this forum made about how I was feeling about the experience as the turning point. And the ongoing flood of intelligent answers to some of the questions I've had in teaching gospel classes at Church has been very useful in my subsequent calling.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me, to find the questions engaging, or even interpret my motives properly -- interpret at will; all you have is the written word which represents only a part of what I am.

Another thing I've learned,-- you can't predict how people will react to the things you do or say, and you can't let it get to you. The reaction of some of you to this OP is a case in point.

Edited by mormonmusic

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Well, thank you for your questions and posts. They started very informative discussions. I just returned from a mission in Russia, and I have thought a lot about the way branches and wards work because of some of the problems I faced there. There is a lot of valuable information and opinions here, and I hope to be better prepared for a future calling because of it.

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