This is a guest post from Mark Riggins. Mark is the Community Life Pastor at ENCOUNTER | Bible Fellowship Church in Ventura, CA. His new book STUCK When You Want to Forgive but Don’t Know How is available now on Amazon. Sign-up HERE for a FREE 30-Day Online Forgiveness Devotional. You can follow Mark on his blog: www.markriggins.org.
How healthy is your team . . . really?
I enjoyed an unusually close relationship with my pastor for 12 years. Unfortunately, it completely severed and we didn’t talk for several years despite being close friends.
My former pastor and I later reconciled. I’m so grateful because I love this man. In retrospect, we both agreed that there were warning signs we missed that indicated our chemistry was declining. (That broken relationship and my struggle to forgive, led me to write STUCK When You Want to Forgive but Don’t Know How.)
As you evaluate your team, here are 6 warning signs that your team chemistry is crumbling.
Warning Sign #1: You stop dreaming together
A vision is enlivening, it’s spirit giving, it’s the guiding force behind all great human endeavors. Vision is about shared energy, a sense of awe, a sense of possibility. –Benjamin Zander, Conductor, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
During our first several years together, my former pastor and I dreamed of revitalizing a traditional church. Our dream came true and the church’s growth required us to move to a new location, increase staff, and church services. That shared dream galvanized all of us!
My former pastor recently told me, “When a team agrees on the dream and the path to achieve that dream, chemistry is a natural by-product.”
We never said, “Let’s stop dreaming together.” But as we focused more and more on our daily ministry our galvanizing dreams faded into the background. When there’s not a mutual dream, the team lacks energy and is no longer fueled by a sense of awe, a sense of possibility.
Question: What mutual dream is your team pursuing together right now?
Warning Sign #2: You stop sharing your individual dreams
You have professional dreams (pursue an advanced degree, improve your leadership, write a book, grow your ministry, etc.) and personal dreams (improve your marriage, run a marathon, learn to play the guitar, etc.)
Great team chemistry gives you the confidence to share your individual dreams!
Visions thrive in an environment of unity; they die in an environment of division. –Andy Stanley
When you stop sharing your individual dreams, it’s a warning sign that team chemistry needs attention.
Question: Are you sharing your entire individual dream with your team? When was the last time a team member shared an individual dream with you?
Warning Sign #3: You stop doing life together
My former pastor describes our chemistry when we were clicking, “In a real sense, it was merely existing friends seeing each other everyday and getting paid for it.”
The team that plays together stays together. Team that don’t…don’t.
For years we went to countless sporting events, concerts, ministry conferences, and ate way too much Mexican food together.
We never made a conscious decision to stop doing life together. Somewhere along the way, our schedules became too full.
Your team is made up of people who love to laugh, play, and connect. Staff meetings are limited in their ability to allow people to laugh, play, and connect.
Question: When was the last time you and your team had fun together?
Warning Sign #4: You complain more than you celebrate
We all bring life or death to every team meeting with our words. (Prov 18:21)
How do your staff conversations sound?
Does your team complain about the insufficient parking or celebrate the growing attendance? Do you complain about the need for more volunteers or celebrate the volunteers who are serving?
Shawn Achor says, “Happiness is a work ethic.”
In the same way, “Celebration is a work ethic.” You must intentionally look for the wins and stories you can celebrate.
However, when a team member feels the freedom to complain more than they celebrate, chemistry is crumbling.
Question: Do your meetings consist of more celebrating or complaining?
Warning Sign #5: You let others complain to you about a team member
You know better than to criticize your team members. But when you let someone else complain to you about a team member, your chemistry crumbles slowly eroding trust and unity.
Just as hypocritical parenting (do what I say, not what I do) produces children without convictions or a clear moral compass, creating a work environment that includes inconsistency and dishonesty results in a team that lacks confidence, is insecure, and is divided. –Jack Monroe (my Executive Pastor)
Question: Does anyone feel comfortable complaining to you about a team member?
Warning Sign #6: You start complaining to others about them
This may be the fastest way to destroy your team chemistry. After violating Warning Sign #5, it becomes easier to share your own criticism of a team member with others.
God tells us to use our words to build up (Eph. 4:29) and that one day we will be held accountable for every word we’ve spoken (Matt. 12:36-37).
Caution: Guard your words because “a great forest is set on fire by a small spark”. –James 3:5b
A quick filter before speaking is to ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say necessary and helpful?”
Question: Are you finding it easier to criticize anyone on your team?
In the last moments of Jesus’ life, he was burdened for unity. In the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be one in us, so the world may believe you sent me.” (John 17:21)
Are there any other warning signs that you would add?