While team competence is important, team chemistry is more so. My friends at Vanderbloemen care deeply about team chemistry — not just team competence. Because they work with church leaders every day, I find their insight on bringing out the best in your team to be very helpful and very insightful. While building and leading a high performing staff is never easy, it is always rewarding. Based on Vanderblomen’s daily work with staff cultures, here are their five recommendations to bring out the best in your team:
1. Leverage a highly relational environment.
Healthy relationships are essential. A dysfunctional team that doesn’t work well together makes it hard to maintain any sense of synergy or forward movement, especially in ministry. Those we lead and serve can sense when things are not clicking.
Some things to consider:
- Hire staff members that you believe will best fit the relational chemistry, culture, and capabilities of your current ministry team. The right team chemistry starts with the right hire.
- Have regular and honest conversations with your team – don’t allow miscommunication or misunderstanding to get a foothold.
- Schedule activities and events that maximize relational equity, team building, and a fun environment.
- Define a very clear picture of the perceived future and make sure everyone is working collaboratively to accomplish the mission of your ministry.
Having the right team in place fuels your mission. At Vanderbloemen, we specialize in finding staff that fit the DNA of your church. If you’re facing staff challenges, get in touch. We’d love to help with your next hire.
2. Appreciate each person’s unique personality.
We all have unique personality traits that make us who we are. God in His creative design has made each of us think, relate, and work differently. We all see things through a different lens. No two people are identical; God planned it that way. It’s likely that you have visionaries, creatives, pragmatists, perfectionists, happy-go-lucky types, doers, and utility players on your staff. All of them are important. Remember, like individual pieces of a puzzle, every person on your team has a part to play and an important contribution to make.
Take time to listen, to understand, to value, and to encourage those on your team. Learn to appreciate and honor the unique hard-wiring of each person and the contributions they make. Culture, at the end of the day, trumps competency. Our CEO, William Vanderbloemen, stresses that at the end of the day, culture wins. It’s so important to consider how your team works together and what values you share.
We’ve built a free tool to assess the health of your unique staff culture and build a winning team. You can try the Culture Tool here.
3. Discover and value other’s talents and abilities.
In Matthew 25:14-28 we read about three individuals who are each given varying talents. One was given five talents; another three; and another, one talent. All were called to invest or use their talent(s) for good. The multi-talented servants did just that. However, the servant with one talent miserably failed the stewardship test.
Senior leaders need to take time and effort to invest in their staff and help them uncover and maximize their gifts. Give them the freedom to use those gifts in creative ways. Not to do so will always leave voids on the team and often leads to frustration and confusion in regard to roles and responsibilities. When we uncover and unleash each other’s strengths, we are a better team – and everyone wins.
4. Encourage your staff to find margin in their personal and professional lives.
Richard A. Swenson, M.D. describes margin as, “the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.”
Ever been there? There now? Some of us are hard-wired to be driving leaders. Our RPM’s rev at ridiculous levels and perhaps too often, and we live close to the red line. Like on the dashboard of your car, when the red light is flashing, it’s time to take inventory and assess the problem. If we don’t listen to our hearts, our emotions, or our bodies, there is a real chance that we fail to have any margin in our lives. When that happens, something has to give. Unfortunately, it’s often our relationships, priorities, or ministry effectiveness that are compromised most.
As leaders, we have the very important task of being observant and aware of others on our team that are wrestling with margin. Here are a few suggestions for helping others embrace margin:
- Know yourself – no one knows you like you do. Know the areas of your life that either energize you or drain you. Don’t ignore those flashing red lights.
- Take a sabbath day – at least one day off each week. Hold to it. Except for rare occasions, this should be a non-negotiable.
- Learn to say ‘no’ – it’s often best for you to decline opportunities for some extra-curricular activities and/or events that are not essential or part of your job. Know your limits and don’t feel guilty. Learn to say ‘no’ with a gracious spirit.
- Use your calendar wisely – a busy calendar isn’t indicative of importance; in fact, it may be an indicator of misplaced priorities and negligence of the people you care for and love most.
- Limit social media – it’s best to disconnect from social media for periods of time each day. Just as you have an alarm clock that starts your day, have a snooze button that shuts down your online presence as well.
5. Model character and integrity.
Character is a matter of heart and soul. It counts, and I believe it is the one thing that separates the good from the great. More than money, more than education, more than a great career, or even fame – character is the great judge of significance and lasting legacy. We’ve all seen or at least heard of church leaders, politicians, friends, and family members who have tarnished their reputations and influence because of bad judgment or character. One inappropriate remark, one false statement, or one careless decision that reflects personal desire over godly behavior can derail the most promising or the most accomplished leader or individual. We need to protect our character at all costs (see Titus 2:7-8).
Some ways to model character are:
- Lead by example and not just a code of conduct.
- Create a model of personal accountability for every person on the team.
- Help others to be aware of their blind spots and their weaknesses.
- Always speak the truth in love and don’t be afraid to confront those around you.
- Know how and when to hold others accountable for their actions.
The best leaders invest in their team and spend intentional time developing them. We even saw Jesus do this with the disciples. Make time this week to pour into your team. Use the steps above as a starting point.
At Vanderbloemen, we help churches, schools, nonprofits, and values-based businesses find the right staff members, align their teams, and strategically plan for the future. If you need help with church staffing, succession planning, or organizing your team, get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org or (713) 300-9665.