I was sending a message from my phone to a Minister who was going to the same meeting as me and who lives relatively nearby. I thought it would make sense to travel together so I asked, “Do you want to share a lift?”
Nothing wrong with that. Except that for some reason the autocorrect system in my phone woke up at that moment and decided to intervene. It decided that I could not possibly be asking if she wanted to share a lift with me. Instead of the message I thought I had sent this is what my phone decided I meant and what I actually sent: “Do you want to share a life?”
The first I knew of this was when the other minister sent a message back asking, “Share a life?”
How embarrassing!! Thankfully she saw the funny side of it (she sees the funny side of a lot of things) and she realised I was not propositioning her. We had a good laugh and the moment passed without incident.
(I compounded the error because I had seen a message from her earlier saying she was having some problems with her messaging service so I copied the message and sent it as an email as well! Ooer!)
The problem was that I assumed that what I had intended was what had been sent. I didn’t check. I had delegated the task of sending a message to my phone and had not expected it to use its own initiative to interpret and second guess my intentions.
One of the most difficult things is delegating tasks well. It is easy to ask someone to do something for you, but (and this may be evidence of control freakery) sometimes they don’t do things the way you would have done them. Sometimes they might do them better than you could have, and on those occasions you rejoice. But sometimes they might not do them as well as you could have. Sometimes they don’t do what they said they would and you end up chasing them. Sometimes they really use their initiative and you find that they have gone way beyond the brief you gave them.
Sometimes this is my fault – I may not have explained things well enough. I may not have offered as much support as they needed. I might assume they had knowledge or experience or skills that they lack. I might use ambiguous language…
Sometimes it is the fault of the delegatee (that’s not a word, but as I am on my computer, not my phone, it’s not being autocorrected). They might assume that I meant one thing when I meant another. They might fail to ask clarifying questions. They could have a higher opinion of their abilities. They could have less capacity to do something than they thought. They might think that to say ‘no’ is more of an affront than to say ‘yes’ and not do it.
Part of the art of good delegation is good communication – telling people what you want them to do, making sure they understand, explaining the parameters of the task – and listening to their feedback, questions and responses.
Part of the art is good management – checking to see how things are going, ensuring that they have all they need to complete the task, encouraging and supporting.
And part of the art is the ability to release people to do the task, to let go of the control freakery, to take a risk perhaps, but certainly to empower the person to whom you have delegated.
When you delegate well you not only get the task done, you multiply what can be achieved as you release other people to use their skills and release some of your time.
Perhaps God knew what he was doing when he delegated his Mission task to his Church…
Be blessed, be a blessing.