Church Staff Team Killers

Here’s a list of what I’d refer to as common church staff team killers:

Alliances – In a diverse staff setting, like-minded members have a tendency to gravitate to each other. When similar minded subgroups, alliances, or partnership are formed in a group, there is a great potential for agenda, philosophy, and strategy promotion. Partnerships are often formed to the exclusion of others and their ideas. Alliances compromise trust and value in the staff; it kills the team. If your staff is diverse, celebrate the diversity of backgrounds and ideas because creativity is birthed in diversity.

Egos – It’s the old mindset that what “I” do is more important than what you do. Ego is a huge staff killer. The team is a living organism. Each member plays an important role. Placing undo importance on one member/ministry over another only creates division and a lack of worth on the part of others in the group. Humility goes a long way in teamwork. Don’t let your ego lead to team dysfunction.

Stagnation – Stagnant staff members that are unwilling to grow and try new ideas are staff team killers. Learning members are typically willing members. Don’t let the history of a previous context or a failure in the past exclude innovation in your current setting. Make sure you are growing, reading, learning, and risking. We should never quit growing or risking for that matter.

Unpreparedness – The lack of preparation, follow-through, or incomplete assignments create distrust among staff members. When other members continually compensate for an unprepared staffer, it kills the staff team. It’s the whole burdens and loads thing. We help others shoulder burdens (stuff they are unable to do on their own), but there’s a load we must all carry. Make sure you’re prepared, that you follow-through, and complete your assignments.

Sarcasm – Sarcasm regardless of whether it is private or public erodes trust. Without trust, you will not have genuine teamwork. It’s been said, there’s a little bit of truth in every sarcastic word. Don’t cut at other’s weaknesses, mistakes, or personality for the sake of levity. Sarcasm never includes, but alienates.

Miscommunication – Communication is unique to the individual. What is an effective communication style for one is perhaps ineffective for another. Staff team members must understand the personality, leadership style, and communication habits of fellow members. Know how best to communicate with each other both personally and professionally. Miscommunication is a staff team killer.

Pretending – Last, but not least. A couple of years ago, I was leading a conference for church staff members regarding my book. I was asked the question, “What is it that a pastor wants to know about their staff?” My reply, “Your pastor wants to know your heart.” During a breakout session, a staffer in a local church responded with concern about my reply. His point, “I can’t really tell my pastor what’s on my heart without the risk of being fired.” This is a classic example of staff team dysfunction. This is a trust issue. Somewhere along the way trust never developed between this pastor and staff member. Here’s my thought, I’d rather know what my fellow staffer is thinking from him or her and have an opportunity to dialogue about it rather than hear it from someone else down the road. When people are willing to risk communication, we need to honor the risk and respond appropriately. We talk about authenticity in faith, here’s a great opportunity to practice the talk. If team members are unwilling or unable to communicate true feeling, thoughts, and ideas with fellow staff members, you’ll never have a staff team. The reason is loud and clear – trust and communication go hand in hand. If I’m unable to communicate due to a level of distrust, it’s impossible for genuine teamwork to exist. Instead of trusting, we go about pretending. And when we pretend, there will never be genuine creativity and collaboration in the group. Pretending is a staff team killer.