Have you ever had the feeling where your brain was exhausted? Where if you had to make another decision, you are pretty sure it would not be a well thought through one?
In your organization, do you feel like your team is constantly asking for your opinion or assuming that you have to sign off on everything?
I had that feeling this weekend. Complete decision fatigue. Too many people asking too many questions. As a result I was exhausted and barely had enough energy to put on the nice pastor smile and say hi to everyone. In fact I’m sure there were a number of people that didn’t even get a smile…just a glassed over glance. Yeah, it was bad.
What happened? And how can I make sure that does not happen again?
Some might say that I should follow Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg and limit the amount of decisions I make in a day by limiting my wardrobe.
And while I definitely was experiencing decision fatigue, it wasn’t the problem, it was only the symptom of something deeper.
In a volunteer run organization like the local church your decision fatigue is the #1 clue that a team is being micromanaging.
It’s the check engine light warning you to address this now or it’s going to be very painful to solve later.
There are then a handful of steps you can employ to get the organization back in working order.
1. Clarify what types of decisions can be made without you.
You don’t need to be a part of every decision but the team needs to know who has the final word in your absence. Publicly point to that person as the decision maker for that department and/or team’s issues. Take “authority” from your pocket and put it in their's.
2. Highlight why, instead of what.
When you enter the decision fatigue stage you begin to rush through each decision desperately trying to make it to the end of the race. Instead, slow down. Teach them what your looking for.
When someone approaches you with a decision, lay out the criteria you are using to identify an appropriate solution. Let’s say for example, they are wanting you to decide where to place a table. Instead of dictating it’s exact location say “We need it to be unmissable, and accessible to at least 10 people at any given moment.” That kind of clarity helps your team make a good decision without your input being a necessity.
3. Play the long game instead of the short game.
Realize that in a volunteer organization that turn over hurts. It hurts a lot, because new volunteer leaders are grown, not hired. And that growth takes time. Be okay with a less than perfect decision this week so that you can develop that person into a long term leader in your church. This Sunday is important, but so is this year.
Let that leader have a growing impact on their community over the long haul, not just a “perfected” impact this weekend. Invest in long term leadership development. Play the long game.
4. Start wearing the same shirt.
I can’t completely throw the baby out with the bath water though. While decision fatigue may have only been a symptom of a problem, it may still be a valid issue to address. Work on making less and less "game day" decision so you can focus more of your effort on the strategy and direction. That is where you are most effective.
In the long term micromanaging isn’t going to get you where you want to go. It’s just going to make you feel more in control in the short term and the short term is for wimps.
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