Failure to Communicate – Part 4 of the How to Avoid Burnout Series

About the Series:

Are you feeling: Stressed? Overworked? Under appreciated? Disconnected? Overwhelemed? Uncared for? Unloved? These are some of the signs of burnout. Burnout can occur when we regularly exceed our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities in our ministries. Combating burnout can take the shape of an extended vacation or even a new job. But to faithfully live on a daily basis in the ministries that God has given us, we need to focus on smaller, well planned, intentional, steps that both protect our current well being and, at the same time, stretch our capacities for new growth. Each of these smaller plans work integrate with each other to build an overall plan for passion, energy, and peace, in your current ministry environment.

Failure to Communicate

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” -The Captain from Cool Hand Luke-1967

Adequate and accurate communication is a necessity to keeping any organization running smoothly. Now, make that organization a bunch of musicians and artists, and great communication can be equally essential and difficult. Nothing can move you closer to burn out than situations that result from, and must be solved because of, a lack of communication.

Let’s start with the easy part: lack of adequate communication.

  1. My biggest problem as a leader seems to center on my communication thought process whereby if I “thought about it and planned it, I must have communicated it.” The reality is I often have not even told my closest partners about anything. I am so consumed with the ideas and plans that I projected those times of thought onto others and just knew that I must have said something to everyone about everything I was planning. Then, when that lack of communication results in failed plans, I may blame others for the failure. The truth is, I did not do nearly enough (or actually anything) to communicate my plans and expectations to my team.  This of course can lead to all kinds of hard feelings between myself and those I am trying to lead. While I hope none of you have experienced this behavior, I know from experience that many leaders fall into this pattern.

The Fix-develop the discipline to write down your plans and then keep a record of the date and method that you used to communicate those plans to others. This way you can hold yourself, and others if necessary, accountable for adequate communication and relieve the stress that can burn you out.

  1. Often, even when I am doing good with communicating my plans, either I do not communicate enough, or I use the wrong methods. There are times when I know I am sending out messages, but no one seems to be responding. Further investigation led me to discover that I had not been clear enough on my preferred method of delivery. One person is looking for a text, one is watching social media, another wants an email, etc.

The Fix-find a way to deliver the most important piece of information to each person on your team, which is-how you intend to communicate! If possible, include when people can usually expect to hear from you about important news, then be consistent with time and method. Make sure that everyone, regardless of their preferred method of communication, knows and accepts how you will communicate with them. Yes, this means that some on your team will have to use a less preferred method, but the payoff is less stress on you trying to hit everyone where they are. Part of serving on your team needs to be accepting your communication method to reduce stress on you AND increase consistency in communication for everyone.

Now, how about: lack of accurate communication

  1. I know that sometimes I get going pretty fast when I am sending out messages to my team. Sometimes I go so fast that I make mistakes. Then, I have to send out a second, corrective communication. Well, we all know what happens then. One person only reads the first communication and never gets the second.

The Fix-Take your time, reread, and be sure that what you are sending out is the most correct info you have. If you must make a change, then you should probably extend your efforts to include as many forms of communication as you can beyond the usual single source you have stipulated. The success of getting the accurate info in everyone’s hands will bring more reward than missing a few people but being “right” about how you delivered the info. Plus, this way you show that you own your responsibility as leader to get everyone what they need to know when you made the mistake.

Now, let’s deal with the hardest part and the most likely to bring you to burn out: lack of real leadership.

The classic movie quote above is often used (by those who know it) to describe a situation where something is wrong, and lack of communication is the problem. It is an easy and almost disarming way of spelling out the reason that a problem exists. Unfortunately, this quote is misused when applied this way. This quote actually represents a person in power lamenting the lack of compliance of others to their leadership, either by neglect or even open rebellion.

I can’t tell you how many times that the failure of a plan to work is incorrectly laid at the feet of those who fail to follow. Many times, this failure is directly due to lack of adequate and accurate communication as previously described. It is then blamed on those who fail to respond “correctly” rather than the one who failed to communicate well in the first place. This transference of blame, while hiding behind leadership, brings nothing but hurt to everyone. Repeat this pattern enough, and everyone gets tired and ultimately “burned out,” both leader and followers.

The Fix-If a plan fails, when trying to find the cause be sure to include an inspection of your communication method in your search. If it is on you, own it. If you responded to others incorrectly, apologize. If you need to change how you do things, step up and make the change. Being that kind of leader will do more for reducing your overall stress than you can imagine.

In my experience, lack of communication is often a self-inflicted cause of burnout. Adequate, accurate, and effective communication as just as essential to good leadership as the good and exciting plans you are developing. Take the time to communicate well and you will be much less likely to find yourself on the road to burnout.

Dr. Craig Gilbert, a consultant and coach fondly known as The Worship Doctor, is the founder of Purposed Heart Ministries, a worship renewal and education program for all churches. Craig 25 years as a music and worship minister working with choirs, bands, and various artistic groups while leading and designing worship in churches of all sizes and styles. Now he spends his time helping churches across the country imagine what worship could and should be in their local context and then helps them get there! Click HERE to learn more!

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The Doctor Is In

Pastors and Worship Leaders, we are meant to be encouraged by the Dismissal as well. As we go about the mission and ministry of the Church, we are faced with difficulties. Criticisms, sorrows, and yes, even betrayals, are all too common realities for those charged with leading the Church. And yet, hear the truth of the Benediction and the resolve of the Sending Forth: Who you are, makes you blessed.
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