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Team building

Discovering the answers to question number 1

I had posted over here some questions that I keep in Evernote so I can draw them back up again when ever I meet someone that I want to grow from. I may not and usually do not get all the answers to these questions from that one person but I do get as many of the answers I can from each one.

I have had a friend and mentor of mine, Karl Bastian, leave a comment on that blog suggesting for me to write blog post on the answers myself. So, fair enough I will try and answer these myself with the understanding that I reserve the right to get smarter after I answer them.

Question 1 – What are the most important decisions you make as a leader for your ministry?

Answer: For me, I have been trained over all my years to make sure I have the right people on my team. So it would probably start with hiring or recruiting the top level team, those closest to me. I want to make sure I get my coordinators or those closet to me selected carefully. If I can do this and pour into them the “Strategy” & “Vision” (this would probably be 2 other decisions that I am very heavily involved in) then they will make sure the strategies and vision are poured into the rest of the teams and carried out.

There are my quick 3, what others would you add and why?

Above or Below the line ministry results have reasons

I am reading another great book by Roger Connors and Tom Smith where they talk about accountable and non-accountable behavior and thinking, and what each looks like.

‘Below that line’ is the all to familiar blame game or victim cycle. People who get stuck in the blame game begin feeling victimized by circumstances that seem out of their control. They then will fail to move forward in their quest for results. By continuing to stay below the line of accountability, they focus more on what cannot be done and set their focus on the obstacles we face, not the actions we can take to get past those obstacles and achieve the results. These people in the end almost always never feel fulfilled or they feel frustrated and paralyzed. Their teams and organizations and ministries falter.

‘Above the line’ are steps to accountability, See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It. People who adhere to these steps of accountability almost always think and act in an accountable manner. They accept the fact that they are, and must be part of the solution. They focus on what they can do rather than on what they cannot do to get the results. They look for creative ways to deal with obstacles, which they see as opportunities to make great things happen rather than excuses for failure.

When individuals consistently engage in these two very different modes they create different cultures, which perform at different levels. What culture have you created? Where are you and your team at?

Here are some phrases that may be said if you are one who is ‘Below the Line of Ministry’.
1. We can’t get the volunteers to help so this is why our ministry is the way it is.
2. Our budgets have been cut so we don’t have the money to do anything.
3. I don’t really understand where the direction is going, so that is why I have slowed down.
4. The kids are so much more wild these days. It makes it impossible to teach them.

You may hear these said if you are ‘Above the Line in Ministry’.
1. We may not have many volunteers now but if we all start to recruit we will increase our opportunities of drawing them in.
2. We may not have all the money we desire for now, but let’s examine the way we spend it and see if we can be more creative to do more with what we have been blessed with.
3. I may not be as clear as I would like about our direction but if I make an appointment with those who can help me become clearer then that is what I must do.
4. Kids are growing up in a different world than I did, but what an adventure to try and work on bringing the message to these kids in a way that they will understand it. They enjoy unconditional love as much as I did when I was younger.

Where are you at? What changes may need to be made?

Care with some flair (Team Lesson 3 of 3)

These quick Team Lessons (“Wow through your know-how” and “Taking action when you notice”) over the last 2 days have covered some basic ideas like share your know-how for the benefit of the whole and lend a helping hand when you see it needed. Now today we will share yet another basic idea, but this is an area that is very often overlooked and not executed.

Care with some flair. Basically, here is an area where you not only verbally appreciate one another but you find those little ways to go beyond. I have been coaching my students to set aside time everyday to write 3-5 cards to individual team members just to say “I appreciate you.” That is one way to show you care. But what would showing care with some flair look like?

Showing care with flair in our example of writing cards, maybe you would not just send a card but you would include a little PayDay candy bar and a note saying something like: “It was truly a great PayDay when God brought you to our team”.

Basically the whole idea is to not just show care to the team, but to find a way to add that little extra flair. I have a team member who oversees our Midweek Girls ministry named Kimmy. Kimmy is good at listening to people to hear what they like when they have no idea that thy are giving her information. She will then use this information in the future to add some flair. One day I had some people volunteer to work after church on our remodeling. After we all had eaten pizza (which by the way Kimmy and her husband paid for) she handed me a Reese’s peanut butter cup, which is my all time favorite. She had heard at one point how I love them and arranged to have one there that day as a dessert after eating pizza. That spoke volumes to me and that is what adding flair to your care is all about!

Now how can you go and add flair to the ways you show care for your team mates?

Wow through noticing and action (Team Lesson 2 of 3)


Being responsive and attentive to our fellow team mates is one of the more appreciated and important traits we can show one another. For a fact it is hard to show greatness to our visitors and guests when we cannot even get cooperation from our teams on the inside of our churches and ministries.

I’ve heard a saying that I have rolled around in my head for years because it just did not sound right to me. This saying is probably one that you have heard and may even have used a time or two, and it is: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” This seems like a very harsh and unfriendly statement to me. It seems that this kind of statement would come from someone that was not on a team.

There are times when things do get overlooked in the planning of things. There are times we will notice that a team mate did not plan properly and needs some help. Get over it! This will happen and usually not just once, but more often than will ever be convenient for you. Know that you will sometimes be the one who did not plan properly. Now I am not saying that if you have a team mate who keeps falling under this category you should not step up and help them learn to plan better, instead of helping them physically through the issue. That becomes more of an opportunity to  teach someone to fish rather than just giving them fish to eat over and over again.

Team members are there for one another. We understand that the health of the whole means better health for each individual. So “wow” your fellow team mates not just through noticing, but through action that will come along side of the notice.

Wow through know-how (Team Lesson 1 of 3)

I have been rolling around a lesson that has really made an impact on my thoughts and I truly enjoy it when I see this happen. What is it? When team members treat one another the way they are trained to treat their customers/congregation members. In Kristin Anderson and Ron Zemke’s book titled Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, they offer this tip for determining who your internal customers are: “In your organization, your customer is whoever benefits from the work you do – or conversely, whoever suffers when your work is done poorly or not at all.”

Every ministry depends on internal coordination and cooperation to succeed. There are 3 strategies that benefit externally and internally. Lets look at these 3, then pick each one apart briefly.

1. Wow through know-how
2. Take notice and take action
3. Add flair through care

Wow through know-how
When a visitor to your church tries to ask a question of those around, such as how to get some where or some other question but, before the visitor even asks, the team members darts off and hides so the question may never be asked. This behavior or attitude of avoidance, or “don’t bother me now”, or “it is not my job or my area of ministry”, etc. will create a break down in your customer support. That break down will show up in your attendance as well by leaving people without a “wow”.

Or what if a team member needs help setting up for their event and as you walk by you notice no one is there to help, and you do not stop to help them. Maybe a team member needs help administering a large function but they are not strong in the details like you are and yet you do not offer to help them which would help the whole. This lack of “wowing” will also create break downs on your internal team.

What if our teams were instead trained and lived out “Wowing through their know-how” to further the whole, internally and externally? Simply, what if team members looked for ways to be of help, regardless of where that help is needed. Some visitor looks lost, why not walk them to where they need to be? Some internal team member is cleaning up after an event, why not stop in and help?

This is showing a “Wow through know-how”.

A term not heard from teams is “not my responsibility”

I went out to eat with my wife at a restaurant today. We watched the servers around our table notice when we needed another tea but did not get one for us. Some noticed we needed a straw to drink with or a napkin to clean up with, but never felt it was part of their responsibility to help us with getting one. The whole time our server never seemed to feel the need to help either.

Then I began to think about when people come to our churches. They see us walk by trash on the floor. We never stop to pick it up because it is in another part of the church than where we are responsible for. Maybe it’s in the parking lot and we don’t stop to pick it up. The paper towels in the bathroom are on the floor and they remain there even after we leave the restroom. These actions are noticed by those who attend our churches more than we may think. I know they were when I was the one in the restaurant who needed help and any of those walking around could have easily taken a brief moment to help.

Teams, when truly functioning as a team, will see the well being of the whole as part of their responsibility. There is an ownership that is created on teams. Teams that can answer questions or solve problems for the various people through out your church. Teams that don’t care if you are in the children’s ministry, or youth ministry, or senior citizen ministry, as much as they care that they can help you.

To truly create a satisfying experience for people, be a team. Provide answers, solve problems, take pride in all areas of the church. This is one thing I am always working on, team pride. Teach your teams that satisfaction for those who come to your church comes from their needs being met, regardless of who they are or what department they are in.

Extracting Leadership Gold

Developing your top 10% of your team (you know the ones I am talking about already that always seem to be the armor bearers for you, the ones getting the results and helping the rest of team members in making forward progress, encouraging everyone and finding 3 solutions to every potential obstacle). Developing this team is not always done the same way as developing other parts of your team. I don’t want to spend a ton of time in this post focusing on all the reasons and factors that make the 10% your top results people. Instead I am just recognizing that we may have this kind of group and suggesting how to help bring the best out from them.

1. Start first with give them trust: Give them a lot of trust, let them see that you believe in them, don’t micromanage any project for them. Let them help you develop the large picture and claim some part of it and l then let them know that you are there and just periodically check in to show you are there, otherwise stay out of the way and see what they can produce.

2. Delegate to them: Once you’ve identified that they are committed as you think they are, delegate some task that has more importance than just everyday type task. Let them run with a task that may take a couple weeks or a month or so but remember that you still maintain responsibility for it, but you are giving them the reins to let them run with it. Giving them empowerment. Make sure you are delegating and not dumping on them. Delegating is giving out some responsibilities but still staying plugged in and following up etc. where as dumping is giving those same responsibilities out and cutting the strings.

3. Continually raise your bar of expectations and responsibilities. As their successful, keep adding slowly, this is key or you could push them right out of their success area. I have seen numerous times when people get promoted because the do great and then in the next spot they fail because their skill set is not what the new area needs. Keep them in their success areas. Keep them hungry and reward their efforts whenever possible. Challenging them will get them to push harder and extract their leadership gold by proper pressure. In the process it will open doors for a great mentoring relationship to be built.

4. Point them out: Let everyone else see and know that what they stand for is what you are looking for. Let them be a role model and/or mentor of other team members. They are not your favorites; but acknowledge their abilities to step-up and go above their ministry description.

This is not an exhaustive list, I know there are those of you who have things to add to this list. So, please do.

Are you Buzzing your volunteers?

The other day I had a great idea, I could cut my own hair!! I thought really how hard could it be? Well, I soon found out. We went to Walmart and bought these clippers with all these different guides of various lengths, and the kit had all kind of great gadgets and all as well. When I got home off to the bathroom with a sheet (to stand on to catch all the hair) I went.

Now let me tell you a little about myself that I too am very aware of as well. I have no patience. I mean like none. I also enjoy getting things started and when I have built teams that love to do what ever I had started then I love to leave it to those teams to continue on while I go and take a new hill to only repeat the process. Well, knowing this about myself you would think surely I would understand that hair cutting is probably not the job for me. Wrong! I tried it anyways.

You can see the result for yourself how wrong I was in trying to convince myself that cutting my own hair was any kind of a good idea.

This made me begin to think, how often I have seen volunteers get set up for a buzz as well.

What I mean is this, sometimes we don’t take the time to either get to know our volunteers or we just don’t pay attention to them and their gifts and talents because we want to fill holes in our ministries instead of placing people where they will be successful. It was not a good idea for me to try and cut my own hair knowing what I know about me, because after 4 minutes I was done and instead resorted to just buzzing everything off. I did not set myself up for success. Our volunteers when we do not pay attention to them and place appropriately we set them up for failure as well. We may give them great tools, I had great clippers and all the accessories, but I still should not have cut my hair. A misplaced volunteer may have all the greatest stuff at their disposal but will not be able to taste success because they are in the wrong place.

Take time to get to know your volunteers. Ministry is about relationships, not filling holes. Don’t buzz your volunteers, groom them for success.

What’s your reason for wanting leadership?

As time goes by and I get the priveledge of talking with more and more leaders over the years, one thing is becoming even more obvious to me: Peoples core reasons for leading.

Many people are interested and strive to be in leadership because of what they imagine it can provide for them. Some of those provisions they thing will be there are:
1. Power
2. Control
3. Perks or just down right being served by others.

These can all happen at least for seasons but the life of a true leader is actually quite different from those expectations. The life a leader involves:
1. Helping others fix problems and moving forward
2. Empowering others
3. Serving others.

See, leaders lead for the joy of creating and fulfilling something bigger than themselves. Let’s read a couple things from some leaders who I think from what they have expressed show this exact kind of spirit.

Warren Bennis says how he wants to publish books “that disturb the present in the service of a better future.”

Hyrum Smith expressed: “Leaders conduct planned conflict against the status quo.”

So what are your real reasons for wanting to be a leader? Is it to have yourself empowered or to empower others? Who are you serving and if those people were asked would they say you are serving them, empowering them, and providing help to them or would their thoughts and feelings say that is more of what they are doing for you?

Let’s check our reasons constantly for being leaders.

Cave, Committed and Compliant

It’s not new news to anyone who knows me that I love leadership and teamwork. I’m always around people who are dripping with an overflow of ideas, vision, and goals that they are trying to create buy in for and doing their best to drive and guide people towards those clear and meaningful goals. Yet, in talking with the majority of people it appears that whenever there is failure to live up to all of this it is not some external circumstance, but it is simply failure of follow through.

No follow through will result in no long term traction. It is my observation that it is wise to make sure you have a few things going to see success on teams. I believe there are a few helpful things in order to get follow through when working with a team.

1. The need to create momentum early by establishing goals that are meaningful and a known and owned process that makes sense.

2. Understanding the cast of characters we are working with. How do we activate them to invest time on what we are doing?

3. Need to create an environment where the team members are not accountable to just the leader, but to the team. I think this helps to make the accomplishment of the goals team based and not so much leader down time intensive.

I had seen a little piece by Laurence Haughton who speaks on teams performance and follow through and who has written: “It’s not what you say… It’s what you do-How follow through at every level can make or break your company”, where he warns about the dangers of who he calls the “CAVE People”. CAVE people are those Citizens Against Virtually Everything. So to create quick success and momentum I think that you will want to keep the CAVE people away.

Now that you have the CAVE people chained up and kept away you need to see what two areas the rest of your team would fall into: COMMITTED or COMPLIANT.

Committed people are driven by the goals at hand. The have caught the passion, they are curious, and they want responsibility.

Compliant people are just going through the motions. These are people who are there physically but it doesn’t appear that they have their hearts and minds into it. These people don’t contribute new ideas or support the old ones with enthusiasm.

Once you have the CAVE people chained up and your list of committed and compliant, begin to build early successes with the committed and show this success back to those who are only compliant. Many compliant people can be swayed easily once shown success.

Last idea is to make sure that with every success you highlight it and celebrate it loudly. Make sure you always showing how people can play an important role in creating more success. I believe that following through with this simple process will show you in part the success you are looking for.

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