5 Building Blocks to a Team’s Success
Interested in building a better team? Here are five effective and proven building blocks for a successful team.
While our main focus is serving students and their families, life together and shared vulnerability should not be negated in the process. The best teams I have served alongside have had a desire to do more of life together rather than just what happens within the confines of student ministry.
So how do we share vulnerability? How do we create connections among teammates?
Leaders go first. If we’re willing to share vulnerably, those we lead will be more willing to do the same. Leadership allows us to share the things we’re excited about, the things we’re terrified of, and the things we mess up on. I’m a recovering perfectionist faker. The first few years of ministry, I was unwilling to share aloud if I was scared about an event, a student, or an idea failing. Freedom became my song as I broke out of those chains and into a place where vulnerability led. My team is better for it. We’re stronger and more confident in our abilities as a team, and it has allowed for a level of togetherness we hadn’t been able to previously achieve.
In his book Culture Code, author Daniel Coyle suggests that, “Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust—it precedes it. Leaping into the unknown, when done alongside others, causes the solid ground of trust to materialize beneath our feet.” We want to believe that if there is shared trust first, the vulnerability will follow. However, the opposite is true. If we create teams with a stable foundation of shared vulnerability, trust follows.
What good is a vision if we keep it to ourselves? Communication of true vision allows for all team members to be in the same boat rowing in the same direction. Does your student ministry have a vision statement? If not, that’d be a great place to start! Lead your team through a visioning process where you’re dreaming for the future of your students and your ministry. If you have a vision statement already, are you sure that every teammate knows it? Are you planning events with that vision statement in mind? Youth Ministry guru, Duffy Robbins, has an incredible section in his book This Way to Youth Ministry to help lead your team through a visioning process. A shared vision helps everyone row in the same direction – and leaders cannot afford to be rowing in different directions from their teammates anymore!
Valuing our teammates, their ideas, and their time is imperative to our team’s success. Everyone wants to know they belong – serving how they’re serving, sharing what they’re sharing, and doing what they’re doing. Are we communicating to our teammates that they belong on our team? Are we sharing ideas that allow space for input? Are we protecting the time of our teammates by making specific asks in terms of commitment? All of these questions are important to ask, and they allow for a sense of belonging.
When my summer interns arrived on the scene, I led them to our worship space. It’s a huge, old building that has incredible historic significance. They sat in the wooden seats, smelled the smells, and took in the sights. I began telling them stories: Stories of preachers who have taught, bands who have led worship, interns who have led students to a saving relationship with Jesus, and all that God has done through generations in that space. At the end of my exhortation, I shared one thought that significantly changed their perspective on their summer job at the beach.
“Your name,” I said, “is now added to that list of movers, shakers, doers, and spirit-filled people. Your name is on the list with those notable preachers and bands, all who have shared this stage for the sake of the Gospel.”
Did I say anything terribly profound? No. But, what happened created a sense of belonging. Communicating to my new bright-eyed interns, “You belong here. Your name belongs on this list.” These words allowed for them to feel ownership over the vision and significance of what would happen in our ministry. “You belong.” It’s simple, profound, and true in God’s Kingdom.
Team communication is the foundation for team collaboration. To work together, we must communicate. To work together well, we must focus on making communication non-negotiable. Team communication can be written, verbal, digital, and even things left unsaid. However, the ticket to effective team communication is for us as leaders to communicate to our teams using their preferred style of communication. Your style of communication is not necessarily how everyone on your team best receives communication. Let’s say you choose to communicate using an email platform, sending out three emails a week, but your team only checks their email once a week, and therefore receives only one-third of the information. Who is at fault here? Some would argue both the teammate and the leader are at fault. I would argue the leader. We can effectively communicate with our teams by asking one simple question: “How do you wish to receive communication?”
Right now, I’m serving on a ten-member team. Two prefer email, seven prefer text, and one prefers direct verbal communication. When there is something to share, I email the emailers, text the texters, and call the verbal communication preference. Is it more work for me? Maybe. Does our entire team receive effective communication? For sure, yes.
If you want to increase your team’s level of communication, start by asking each person one question: “How do you wish to hear from me?” and then do it.
HAVE FUN! It seems simple, and maybe it is, but we have to celebrate with our team! Is it a team member’s birthday? Send a card. Did a small group leader have an awesome conversation with a student that is leading to life change? Buy a coffee. Is everyone hanging out after the students have been picked up? Go for dinner together! It is never the wrong time to celebrate. Filling the memory bank of our team is just as important as filling the memory bank of our students. Shared celebration has the ability to radically encourage a sense of connection, create a shared direction to follow together, and communicate value, all of which considers our teammates. Why not wrap everything in fun?
Practicing the five building blocks of Connection, Direction, Consideration, Communication, and Celebration are great building blocks for your team’s success!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.