Define How You Work Together
This article is the third installment of a four-part series that addresses the following four propositions: the members of a ministry team that functions well will (1) share and articulate a common purpose, (2) know how each team member contributes to that purpose, (3) know how they work together, and (4) discuss difficult issues effectively.
That was helpful, but something’s not right, reflected Tom after he joined the leadership development team. He was thinking about his meeting with Jongwan, the team leader. They’d met to talk about the team’s goals, how he could help them pursue those goals, and other team members’ responsibilities, prior to Tom’s first team meeting.
At his first team meeting, they discussed an upcoming conflict resolution workshop that they were leading in Nagoya. Jongwan noted that workshop would be a challenge for the team, as it involved several “firsts”—first time they’d led conflict resolution training, first time to use Peacemaker Ministries’ material, and first time to do a workshop in Nagoya. He also noted that everyone needed to be clear on his or her responsibilities. Tom was assigned responsibility for all the travel arrangements for the team.
Tom was puzzled that travel arrangements were his only responsibility, but since he was new, he thought it best not to question this. He quickly arranged their travel, and everything worked out well.
After the workshop, the team had a debriefing session. Everyone else seemed pleased with how the workshop had gone, though it had taken a lot of effort. As he listened to others, however, Tom again thought, something doesn’t feel right. Then Jongwan said something that caught Tom’s attention. He said that he was pleased how the team members had helped each other finish their tasks. Tom thought, I wish I had known I was expected to help others.
Something doesn’t feel right. They’re not accepting my offers of help, thought Stacy. She wanted to help the youth ministry team serve effectively so was glad her team leader, Bill, had talked with her about their goals and tasks. “We’re counting on you to help us design promotional materials,” said Bill.
So, Stacy focused on promotional materials. As she gained experience, she found that she sometimes had extra time available. On Monday, she had 15 minutes, so she asked Rob if she could help him with anything; Rob declined. On Thursday, she had 30 minutes, noticed that Carla was busy, and offered to help with photocopying; Carla said she was fine. And on the following Tuesday, she again had 15 minutes, so she asked Rob once more if she could help him; Rob said he didn’t need any help.
Finally Stacy consulted her team leader about her interactions with others. “I’m glad you’re getting your own work done and want to help others,” Bill commented. “I can see why you are a little puzzled. However, in this team we expect each person to get the job done, mostly on his or her own. We’re pretty independent. Seems to work. Does this help?”
How team members interact with each other naturally varies based on personalities and past history of the team. Members of Tom’s leadership development team were expected to help each other, functioning much like a basketball team working together to score points for the team. However, members of Stacy’s youth ministry team were expected to carry out assigned tasks individually, functioning more like a track and field team. In this case members compete in separate events, during which they can receive no assistance, in order to score points for the team.
To help your ministry team function well, define how team members work together.
What about you?
- What’s one ministry team you are on?
- What’s satisfying/unsatisfying about how team members work together?
- How clear are team members about how they work together?
- What would help team members work together even more effectively?
- What will you do?