Constant progress is important to the long-term success of any organization. Progress builds momentum, generates excitement, and leads to growth as the vision is further accomplished. Unfortunately, churches have a bad reputation of making slow progress. Many leadership teams talk about it a lot more than they make it. So how can you ensure that your leadership team actively moves your church forward on a regular basis?
Track the history of progress in any successful organization and you will find a key decision at every key milestone. (See Google’s here) A string of decisions over time serves as a series of steps that carry the organization far into the future. If you want to speed up progress, you have to accelerate decision-making.
So here are 5 ways to get things moving in your church…
1. End Every Meeting With a Decision
Too often, meetings end with ideas and not decisions. This communicates to staff members that a lack of progress is acceptable as long as they are “thinking about it.” But constant evaluation leads to complete stagnation in the life of an organization. If you want to make it clear that decisions are important to the progress of your church, end every meeting with a clear decision. If all of the information needed is not yet available or more time for consideration truly is needed, set a deadline with the team for when the decision will be made.
2. Empower Staff Members to Make Decisions
Take a look at the approval processes in your organization. Whose approval is required for a staff member to make a decision? Even if formal approval policies are not restricting, do any staff members feel like they need to get informal permission before taking action? By communicating to staff members your belief in their ability to make decisions, you can empower them to take the organization forward faster.
3. Clarify the Values of the Organization
Many times, staff members seek permission from others because they do not know what is important to the leadership team. Sometimes, senior leaders are not even sure what is important to the team. By clarifying the values of the organization, you can point people to the right decisions before they even have decisions to be made. With an understanding of what is important, employees can anticipate the decisions that senior leaders would make and move the organization in that direction with confidence.
4. Develop Contingency Plans
The first attempt at a decision is often thwarted by circumstance. The situation around the decision changes, requiring the decision to also adjust. Without a contingency plan, the individuals responsible for execution have to go back to the team, restarting the entire decision-making process from scratch. Prevent this from happening by asking a series of “What if…” questions when you make an initial decision. Try to think of every likely scenario and pre-determine the best response to each. In doing so, those responsible for execution will be able to continue moving the organization forward amidst shifting circumstances.
5. Celebrate Decisions, Not Success
Organizations have a tendency to reserve celebration for successful initiatives. When this is the case, team members are encouraged to “get it right” every time. This pressure to succeed stalls their decision-making processes as they over-evaluate every alternative. Decision-makers will not be right every time. But the lessons they learn in mistakes can be just as valuable as any success that is missed. If you want to increase the value of decisions, begin celebrating decisions just as much as success.
It is easy to become consumed by ideas. They provide the excitement of potential progress without the risk of actually implementing them. If you want to lead a church that makes progress, resist the urge to stall on ideas. Begin leading a team that values decisions.
THINK ABOUT IT: What specific decision have you been stalling on lately?