We Can’t Assume That Because Our Ministry Is Doing Well,
Our Teams Are Too.
Churches often think they are stuck for a myriad of valid reasons, but in reality the health of the team is actually what is chiefly holding them back. This is why it’s important to understand how to create a healthy team, how to gauge the health of the team, and how to recognize an unhealthy culture as it’s developing. Here are 6 questions on the topic of staff health and culture to help open up this discussion:
Why bother talking about healthy staff teams?
To put it simply – because on most teams, staff health is just assumed. If our ministry is doing well, we assume our teams are too. However, blind optimism and ignorance are the worst positions to have regarding staff health. If you don’t know where your staff stands in regards to health and culture, the conversation needs to begin as soon as possible. Blind optimism and ignorance are the worst positions to have regarding staff health. Click To Tweet
What does an unhealthy staff culture look like?
An important distinction must be made here: you can have a healthy church and an unhealthy staff—for a season. Ministry can be getting done effectively while your team is suffering. When assessing your team’s health, here are some signs to look for:
- Lack of trust
- Lack of difficult conversations
- Lack of unity
More signs of an unhealthy team culture can be found in the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.
Why is staff health a priority, if we’re still getting ministry done?
Ministry is never meant to be done in isolation. God created us for healthy, vibrant, authentic community. For this to happen, every part of the body must be alive and growing. And even more practically, no one wants to be a part of an unhealthy team. If your staff isn’t satisfied in their ministry and relationships, they will begin to look for another place to serve that can appreciate and cultivate their gifts in a healthy way.
Who’s fault is an unhealthy staff culture?
Sam Chand makes the case that the culture of the entire organization (in this case — church, team, staff) is a reflection of the top 5 leaders. This means that for the most part, when the leaders are healthy, and engaged relationally in healthy ways, the team will reflect that. The reverse is also true. Even if it is a member of the team that is creating issues and not the leader themselves, it is a leaders’ responsibility to address that. No matter who is causing the problem directly, the leader is the one ultimately responsible for the overall health of the team they’re leading. No matter who's causing the problem, the leader is ultimately responsible for the overall health of the team they’re leading. Click To Tweet
How can I gauge the health of my team?
Take an honest look at your team (and yourself) and ask these questions:
- Is there healthy conflict in our meetings and discussions?
- Are people asking questions, engaging, and offering different points of view?
- Is there fun and laughter happening frequently?
- Is there humility, and people leaning into each other’s feedback?
- Does your team know what a “win” looks like?
If the answer to any of these question is no, your team needs a shift in culture.
What can I do to address an unhealthy team culture?
After an honest, realistic assessment of how your team is doing, create a plan to move forward. No matter where you are now, you can’t just assume your team will drift towards a healthier place—you need an intentional strategy to move forward in the right direction. Here are some basic suggestions:
- Set aside time to spend together in a non-work setting
- Clarify roles, responsibilities, and expectations
- Create a set of values and behaviors that define your team
- Foster trust and authenticity among your staff
Hear more thoughts on the lead pastors’ role in staff health in the podcast episode:
Why Staff Health is a Blind Spot for Most Pastors.