I am sure most people would agree that they’ve been on good and bad teams at some point in their life. In churches, most activities are made up of teams like, your small group study, stewardship, worship service, and so on. There are many attributes that make up a good team like two-way respectful communication, social sensitivity, humbleness, encourage decision makers and not followers, knowing the why, and trust. There may be other attributes, however if your team has these you are far ahead of the game.
Two-way Respectful Communication – This encompasses a couple of items. One is any successful team will be made up of people with a range of ideas which some will be very good to downright awful. All ideas should be considered and respectfully discussed and not be shot down using rude comments. Additionally, a person shouldn’t take over the group meetings, not allowing others time to present their ideas. For two way communication to work, all involved team members must be approachable when ideas are presented.
Social Sensitivity – Communication in itself takes years to master; when you consider different cultures, societal differences, team structure, gender, age, and so on. Social sensitivity is the ability to understand the feelings and thoughts of others. How you relate to others verbally or non-verbally will indicate if you are approachable. Communication and social sensitivity go hand in hand. Team members must understand that people from different cultures interpret the way you say something differently then you may expect. Additionally, it has been shown that the best teams are not the most intelligent, but instead the teams that have higher social sensitivity as a whole do much better. The team with this skill will out perform other teams.
Humbleness – Once a decision is made amongst all the ideas about the direction of the project, then all team members must get behind the agreed path of moving the project forward. All team members must be humble and understand their ideas aren’t always picked, however they should work their hardest to get to the end goal with all the other team members. Sometimes the project’s path may be a combination of ideas, one team member’s idea and not yours, or none at all. But, a team member shouldn’t be sabotaging the idea because theirs wasn’t picked. This is a toxic for everyone involved and those team members should be removed from the team.
Create decision makers not followers – This may be odd that we want decision makers and not followers in the church. After all, historically speaking, many sermons talk about following. I am sure many of us can relate to church politics either on a church board, committee, church staff, volunteer, and so on where majority of the team members were followers. Teams with decision makers have many advantages, but the biggest is getting rid of church politics. The team should foster an environment where they encourage and not suppress people’s dissenting opinions and ideas when working towards team goals.
Knowing the Why – Team members will want to know why the team is going in a certain direction. Or possibly why their idea was not used to accomplish the team goals. The very nature of humans is, they are inquisitive and more likely the reason people want to know the why. It should be treated as a learning process for each team member as to why a solution was picked over the others. It should also be used as reassurance to all team members that their ideas are appreciated, however the clear direction for the project is explained. This helps to clear the air and at the same time clearly define the project’s direction.
Trust – This is a foundational quality that must be shared among all team members. Have you ever wondered why soldiers that shared their time on the battlefield, are very trusting of each other? They share a special bond that most people, not given the same opportunity on the battlefield, will never understand. That bond is built on the utmost trust. Each of them know that the other soldier has their back – no matter what. Likewise team members have to know that their team leader and others have their back, even when something goes terrible wrong, not just when things go right. Trust also helps to ensure that each can speak freely in a group setting.
As you can see, these traits and possibly more are needed to have an effective team. Creating a cohesive team falls to the leadership of the team based on suggestions of its team members. If the team members feel that the process is not going well, more than likely its because of poor leadership or toxic relationships.