One of my favorite topics to discuss, teach and learn is task management. However, I only use that phrase because life management has not caught on as a buzzword. First off, the idea of task management is a compartmentalization that is far too funneled down. Simply put, one must learn to manage their life so that task management would even make sense.

I remember working with certain individuals and introducing the company or church software we use to manage tasks and day to day operations. For myself, it is simple and makes life less complicated, but for some others, it is their worst nightmare.  Some people like the old ink and pad, some digital and others like to live so free that they try to keep it all in the head. For the professional, the old noggin is not recommended.

Whether I have been called in as a friend over coffee or paid to consult a corporate department, the issues that arise in task management all boil down to some simple causes. The fact is that your department, family, church staff, etc., are made up of people, and people are complicated. If real leadership was merely creating duplicates of yourself, the 80’s corporate mentality would still be strong and active. Now, if you do not have an espresso machine, 23 stage water cooler, and pizza Fridays, your staff will be distracted from accomplishing the goal. While I would love to solve that issue, I digress. In my experience, here are some common problems that arise with Task Management.

Dictatorship vs. Coaching

We can chat about the good old days, where the boss says “jump” and all the employees say, “how high,” but that would be ineffective today. Whether you understand millennials or not, they have changed the landscape of the workplace, including the church. So when you are trying to run a department, company, or church with efficient task completion you have to keep in mind that you may have three generations involved at one given time. The systems available out there are not broken; usually, leadership is.

Done are the days of telling people what to do and then coming back at the deadline to collect your reward. Any coach (sports, life or other) would tell you that you should consider this method:

  1. You do, they watch
  2. You do, they help
  3. You help, they do
  4. You watch, they do

This method is nothing new, but we must consider the methods by which we lead people. I will write more about coaching versus dictating at another time. I bring this up because I have found this to be a major contributor to ineffective production on teams.

Duplication vs. Multiplication 

Duplication is a serious problem on many ineffective teams. I would encourage you to read some books on multiplied intelligence; it will be worth your while. If you come into a room and it gets quiet, you ask for ideas, and you end up answering your own requests, or when you give your opinion, everyone else just starts to agree, you have a problem. The idea of little mini-me(s) running around our department, office, or church staff can be tempting at first, but you will soon realize that you are creating a dangerous co-dependency within the intelligence of your team. They will lack passion and drive; tasks will drop off and eventually it will effect the entire organization like a virus with no antidote.

Learn to multiply the intelligence in the room with each meeting. Listen more than you talk. Pat people on the back for a good idea and end meetings making the whole team understand that they did it together.

Life Management is Poor

Let’s face it, how can we expect to manage our work tasks efficiently when we are juggling the rest of life by the seat of our pants. Our nutrition, health, finances, marriages, family and friendships, and hobbies all affect our peace of mind. If your life is all out of order, but you expect that once you hit your work desk, that a well-oiled machine is about to begin, you have another thing coming. As a leader, you should look for opportunities to coach others, speak into the lives of those you lead.

In a corporate atmosphere, you may not be able to create Bible Study moments, but you can impact the lives of those under your supervision. First, manage your own life. Can you come to work knowing that you can focus on what you are getting paid to do and produce? Manage your life in a way that allows you to have a clear mind and heart and then coach your team to do the same.

Task Mangement is subservient to Life Management, get better at managing life and task completion will become much more efficient.