News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Building effective team structure

iStock. May not be republished.

PRATVILLE, Ala. (BP) – Teams are not only for the sports world anymore. They have also become commonplace in the business world, private sector and in the spiritual community. While the team concept has been around for ages, it has certainly increased in the past few decades.

In the past decade and a half, I cannot remember how many times pastors have said to me, “We’ve moved from committees to teams.” I actually believe this is a good move, if the move is truly to a team concept. Unfortunately, in many churches, the “teams” still serve as committees only with a new moniker.

A team is a small group of people serving with a specific purpose and working in coordination to accomplish stated tasks and goals. You do not go to a football stadium and expect to see some players using an American football, others a European football, and still others swinging a golf club or tennis racket. There would not be much of a team in that atmosphere.

Let’s briefly look at four characteristics of highly effective teams.

  1. The purpose of a team is clear to everyone on the team and those looking in from outside the team. If a team is put together to seek and clarify the future vision for the organization, then their tasks should be driven by the aspects of seeking said vision. If on the other hand a team is put together to “rubber stamp” the leader’s desire, then a better name for the team would be “The Yes man and woman team” (sarcasm).

Whatever the purpose of a team is it should be succinctly stated from the very beginning and clear to all inside the team and those outside looking in.

  1. Goals and expectations should be set at the implementation of the team. The first meeting of any team should be orientation of the purpose (see No. 1) and establishing goals and expectations. Neglecting to do this at the start will lead the team to floundering, chaos and a breakdown of the team’s drive.
  2. Open, continual communication between team members is a must. While teams may not often meet together in person, regular, open communication channels should be set during the expectations meeting and a follow-through pattern established at the start. With today’s many methods of instant communication, continual or regular communication among team members is 100 times better than getting together for regular meetings. And in many cases, it’s all in writing!
  3. Celebrating team achievements is more crucial to effective teams than most people would give credit. When your team, a portion of your team, or an individual on your team reaches a goal or achievement or brings to the team a key in effectively moving forward, that individual, portion and entire team should be recognized within the larger organization. You want people at all levels to know achievements are recognized and celebrated within your organization.

No matter what field you are in, your organization’s effective forward movement depends on proper establishment and empowerment of teams within the organization. One of the most important obligations you have as a leader (organization or team) is to ensure your teams are established with a clear purpose, with properly aligned goals and objectives, a communication process, and a celebratory mindset.

What should your first step be in realizing effective team strategies within your organization?

George Yates is a church health strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

    About the Author

  • George Yates