As consultant and author (and my friend) Patrick Lencioni says, when it comes to succeeding, it’s not finances, strategy, or technology, but teamwork that is the ultimate advantage. You can invest a huge amount of time and energy into getting these other things just right, but without a good team, your vision cannot get off the ground.
We’re not talking about a perfect team. There is no “perfect” staff team, and that’s not a putdown for anyone. Every team is different, made up of unique personalities and skill sets, with assets and liabilities. And every time a team member is added or leaves, the team changes, it’s a different team. And since that happens all the time, in even the healthiest organizations, your team is a work in progress. Here are 5 ways we at Nativity consistently work to shape the best team we can be.
- Pray as a Team
Once a week (Tuesdays at 11am to be exact), our entire staff puts everything on hold to gather in our chapel and pray together. We usually sing, lift up intercessory prayer for parishioners, and celebrate Mass.
Prayer is the foundation of faith and trust in a church community. So, I am actually surprised when I hear how many church staffs do not pray together on a regular basis, if ever. If your parish team doesn’t do anything else on this list, start praying together.
- Learn as a Team
A few times a year our whole staff reads and discusses a book together over a number of weeks. The titles we select are not theology, nor necessarily super “churchy.” We focus more on leadership development, team building, organizational health, that kind of thing. We’ve read authors like Patrick Lencioni, Michael Hyatt, Bill Hybels, Jim Collins, Chip and Dan Heath.
We want to learn and grow together and together develop a shared source of wisdom and vocabulary that helps us think and communicate more effectively.
- Train as a Team
One of the early game changers for our leadership team was attending church conferences at some of the largest, most successful churches in the country (Purpose-Driven at Saddleback, Drive at North Point, Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit, Fellowship Church’s Creative Pastors Conference). Now we make it a point to send interested staff to these conferences too. Conferences aren’t just for fun (though they are fun), but an opportunity to train with the best ministry teams out there.
While a little humbling, attending conferences at other successful churches can really inspire your team to catch a vision and try something new. Our experiences led our team to put on our own conference the last two years (and while we can’t host a conference currently because of construction on our campus, we’ll be offering another one in Spring of 2018).
- Problem-Solve as a Team
The greatest test for any team is how to handle conflict, be honest about unpleasant things, and solve problems. Unfortunately, many teams have no strategy for how to resolve conflict, communicate effectively, or just work through a new challenge.
There are many helpful approaches. We find the Meyers-Briggs personality test a useful tool to improve communication and understanding. Even taking time apart for fun team-building games can be worthwhile.
- Grow as a Team
Setting healthy and challenging goals encourages professional and personal growth. The past year we have put more care into helping each other identify and set ministry goals and give and receive feedback. These are not assigned “quotas” to fill, but goals set personally. Talking about our goals together lets the team know how we can help one another out. Also, socializing and having fun together, sometimes including spouses and family members can be a very effective way to grow as a team.