Does your church or organization offer a fertile environment for ministry teams to flourish? If your church or ministry organization is like most others, you’ve begun to experiment with the use of teams – for designing weekend services, developing sermon content, planning and executing ministry programs, and perhaps even leading your church through a executive or leadership team. And while you probably use teams because of all their potential benefits, your organizational environment may not be fertile soil enabling your teams to thrive.
In When Teams Work Best, researchers Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson identified several factors in the organizational environment that affect teams’ abilities to perform at a high level. In a nutshell, they suggest that organizations offer fertile soil for teams to thrive when:
- Set crystal-clear mission, goals, and priorities that guide team efforts;
- Resource teams appropriately and fairly for the demands placed upon the team; and
- Establish clear operating principles, specifically that action toward the goal is necessary, teamwork is not optional but required, and that teams will be held accountable for results.
Organizational Structures and Systems…
- Foster effective decision making by bringing together the right people at the right time to talk about the right problem in the right way;
- Offer teams ample, planned, time to stay connected and work jointly on problems;
- Provide effective channels for communication across the organization;
- Ensure that teams have all the information they need to solve problems and make decisions; and
- Reward and value team success rather than individual success by valuing team recommendations, supporting team innovation, and establishing team-based reward/compensation systems.
Reflection: Take a few minutes and assess your church’s soil.
- Are your mission and priorities crystal-clear?
- Do your ministry teams have what they need to do the job you are asking them to do?
- Have you clearly delineated operating principles – a clear set of rules for “the way we do things around here”?
- When decisions are made, do you think carefully about who is at the table, or do you just default to a group that meets together regularly?
- Do you offer teams plenty of time and mental “space” to do the work you have asked them to do in teams, or do they have to squeeze their teamwork in?
- And, perhaps most importantly, do you reward teams as a whole, or do you still conduct individual performance reviews and make compensation and reward decisions based on individual performance?
Take stock, and then take action to add some fertilizer to your soil.
For a great resource on teamwork, check out LaFasto and Larson’s book: