Teachers have a plan for what and how they will be teaching their students this year. Coaches have a plan for the play packages they will immerse their teams in. Leaders should have a plan for how they will use meetings with their teams to develop them. Meetings are not the only or the best place where development occurs but it is wise stewardship to use meetings strategically. Count the number of people in the room by the length of the meeting and you are reminded that meetings are expensive. Reflect on all you are burdened to pour into your team and you will desire to make the most of the opportunities meetings provide.
Often leaders are paralyzed by a blank sheet of paper (I can be), so here are some suggestions to get you started. As you plan training, you will need to either start with the content or with the people. I suggest starting with the people but in the end content and people will be matched.
1. Look at the regular rhythm of meetings you lead and the people in those meetings.
Remind yourself of who you will be meeting with and the frequency. As an example, I meet weekly with a leadership team, monthly with pastors, monthly with our whole staff, and monthly with a group of emerging leaders. If you lead multiple meetings, notice who will be in multiple meetings to prevent over-assigning books, podcasts, etc. If you have one team of people you are responsible to lead, and your church or organization has a plan in place for training, then do all you can to align to the overall.
2. Write down mission, values, and strategy that should shape the team.
If you have a set of values or an articulated mission and don’t teach them to your staff, you don’t have actual values or an actual mission, but merely an articulated one on paper. If you lead multiple meetings, I suggest that you teach mission, values, and strategy and the broadest meeting. In my context, we give awards based on our values and have rotated teaching values and strategy the last several years (one year focused on strategy, one on values, etc.)
3. Write down teachings, books, and upcoming challenges/opportunities.
What are upcoming challenges or opportunities? Are there books or podcasts that effectively address these (that are aligned with how your organization or church would)? Are there internal or external outside speakers who could be leveraged? For example, in 2022 I knew in 2023 that we would be in a teaching series on what the Scripture says on key cultural issues so I utilized several of those meeting rhythms to have our team walk through position papers in preparation.
4. Match the content to the people.
With a list of the people/meetings and the content in front of you, you can match the teaching to the people you will be meeting with.
5. Think head, hearts, and hands.
After you have matched the training in a rough draft, review it through the lens of “head, heart, and hands.” Head: learning. Heart: believing, committing, experiencing. Hands: doing. While there is overlap between the three. you will want some training that is about the heart of the team, some that is about the thinking of the team, and some that is about actions of the team.
The plan won’t be perfect. You will learn and adjust over time. But an imperfect plan for staff training is better than no plan, just as an imperfect play call is better than the coach not calling any play.