Get Where You're Going Before You Leave
What is team development?
- We will look at why church communication is so important.
- We will identify the different methods of communication available to the church.
- We will explore the make-up of a communications team – who they are, what they do and how they operate.
- We will define ways for the church to measure successful communication.
- Enhanced communication within the team and your church
- Greater understanding of the impact team members have on each other
- Better relationships
- Translating organizational goals into the team outcomes
- Clearly defines objectives and goals
- Identifies a team’s strengths and weaknesses
- Understanding the role of leadership and how to direct and support a team
- Building commitment by engaging all team members in a structured and inclusive process
- Improves processes and procedures
- Improves organizational productivity
- Improves the ability to problem solve
- Finds the barriers that thwart creativity
- Opening communication across the team by having an objective, third-party assessment of the key issues affecting performance
- Improve productivity and motivation
- Moving forward by creating a concrete, realistic action plan to address immediate challenges and lay the foundation for long-term success
- Time to develop skills
- Time to develop team roles
- Developing a culture of trust which is a key factor in determining team success
- Cost Savings
Get Buy In from Leadership
As you begin planning the formulation of your team, it is crucial to get buy in from leadership. If you don’t have this, your plan will not get off the ground. After all, communications is every staff member’s job. Full buy-in from your senior leadership is vital for the rest of the staff to jump on board.
It is also important to understand what communication is as it relates to your church and why the development of a team is so critical to the mission and vision of your church.
How Should Leadership Be Involved?
Scott Hodge, pastor of The Orchard Community Church in Aurora, Illinois, points to the relationship between leadership (pastor) and the team as being the key element to getting started with developing your team.4
An essential part of being a Senior Pastor is to lay out a vision for the church – seeking God’s direction for the church. It is very important for the Senior Pastor to surround themselves with people who are passionate about creative and clear communication – The Communications Team.
Pastors – Empower and give permission to the communications team to be directly involved with bringing consistency and clarity to the vision. Be patient with the communications team. They eat, breathe and sleep communication all the time, so they’re bound to constantly push for clarity. Instead of being threatened by it, embrace it. Give your communications team time and space to ask questions – your time.
Team members – Be patient. Sometimes it takes a while for a pastor to gain clarity on where God is leading their hearts. Ask a lot of questions. Your job is to understand what God is doing in your pastor’s heart.
How Do You Define Communication?
Jay Argaet, the head of communications at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, defines communication as the tool into which we can breathe life, stir a thought, bring inspiration and make something that is otherwise difficult to understand, clear and relevant.5
Communication in the church should be 2-way communication. Provide ways to hear back from those with which you are communicating. Don’t dispense only. Communication in the church should be personal, not technical. Touch is greater than technical.
Communication is not simply communicating the happenings within your church. This is global communication. The Body of Christ is commanded to share His Word across all nations.
Why develop a communications team?
The church is a global avenue for communicating the gospel. The ways we interact and communicate are changing every day. It has been said that more data will be created in the next four years than in the entire history of the world.
In the book, “Outspoken – Conversations on Church Communication”, Tim Schraeder says the following on the importance of church communication:
We, as the church, have never been as equipped or resourced to communicate the message of the gospel as we are today. With the amazing opportunity comes a tremendous responsibility. We have a moment and time in history to steward the opportunity and resources God has given us to communicate his story. We are literally able to reach millions of people around the globe with a click of a mouse. Our content has never been more widely accessible and our message our message is one that desperately needs to be heard. Everything our churches do today forms the message we are ultimately communicating to the world. As the ways we interact and engage continue to change, the role of communication will only become more vital to the life of the church. 6
Know Your Audience
Once you get buy-in from leadership, it is important to understand who you will be communicating with. In other words, know your audience. Identify your current audience and be aware of trends within your church.
Michael Forsberg makes a great case for this by stating the following: Understanding your church both inside and outside the sanctuary walls is critical to recognizing what strategy you need to use. Being familiar with the media consumption tendencies of your church can best shape the relevance of where to meet your congregation. For example, it might make sense to launch mobile initiatives if your audience is constantly texting during the sermons. Church communications folks are responsible for dressing and tailoring what is worn by the church and encountered by the congregation. You decide what fits. 7
Know What You're Communicating
Now you have buy-in from leadership and you know your audience. Next, you should know what you are communicating. In other words, what does leadership want you to communicate?
This again is where the relationship between leadership and the team is so important. Ultimately, what gets communicated is the vision of the church as described from the senior pastor or pastoral staff. The vision needs to be communicated in such a way that brings consistency and clarity, which in the end helps make the vision stickier. An excellent communications team will help add feeling and emotion to the vision. 4
Pastors and communications teams need each other – When you have a leader who has received a compelling vision from God, and a communications team that is committed to creatively and consistently communicating it, you have the ingredients for something beautiful! 4
Know Your Methods of Communication
Some pieces are starting to fall into place and you are getting closer to doing actual communication. First, you should examine the different methods of communication – understand your options.
Word of Mouth
Perhaps the oldest, form of communication available is word of mouth. Tell people about your church and what your church is doing. Present it effectively and those people will tell people who will tell people, etc. Word of mouth is a very powerful form of communication. If you are doing things right, you’ll continue to progress. If you miss the mark, word of mouth can be your downfall.
Email marketing, text and the fast rising use of Phone Tree. Email is pretty common among all age groups and can be an effective way to communicate. If your church is predominantly senior adults, texting is not going to be your best method of communication. Phone Tree is becoming a great tool in all age groups. If members of your congregation have a phone number, you can communicate with automated messages.
Utilize all or various combinations of social media to communicate, depending what fits your goals and audience. Twitter and Facebook have been two of the more popular social networking avenues over the last couple of years. Twitter is great for short, pointed pieces of information. You’ll often see short summaries of a story with a link to the actual story. If you want to communicate more detail, using photos, timelines, commenting capability or group distribution, Facebook is probably a great fit for your church.
Audio & Video
If you want to get your recorded message out to the world each week with little to no effort, make them available through a Podcast so people can download and watch or listen to them automatically. You can also use video to tell stories and engage the audience during church services. You can post audio and/or video to your E-zekiel.com or Thrive website or to E-zekiel.tv.
While the technology age we are in has shown a decrease the use of print, it can still be effective. Some people may not have the Internet or want to use it to get your communications. If this is the case, you should be prepared. For online content that changes weekly such as calendars, blog posts, email campaigns and prayer requests, compile a booklet of printed copies and make it available as a weekly or monthly resource.
Know How Your Audience Communicates
How does your audience communicate and how will you connect with them. You must understand this in order to communicate clearly and effectively.
It might be a good idea to include a short survey in the Worship Guide, maybe over a few weeks that asks a few questions which would help you understand how your congregation communicates. This can be a card which is collected with the offering.
Define your objectives for communication. For example, your objective may be storytelling. So, you should look at the avenues of communication available and determine which ones can be used best to tell a story. Or, if you aren’t going to use Facebook or Twitter, go ahead and cross Social Networking off your list.
Evaluate the resources available to you. If you don’t have video equipment, you might cross video off your list until you get the resources you need.
Know Your Roles
What will my communications team look like? Who’s on my team? Mostly, your team will consist of volunteers within your church and in some cases, outside your church. Ideally, the volunteers will fit one or more of the following roles:
Provide graphics for print, electronic and web materials.
Build and maintain the church website using a Content Management System such as Thrive or E-zekiel.
Provide copy for print, electronic, web and social networking materials.
Proof read and edits the copy that is created and gets it ready to be distributed.
Setup and shoot video such as sermons or clips used during the sermons.
Run the soundboard when necessary and also record and distribute sermons or other events.
Social Media Engagement
Develop strategy and engage your audience by building a social networking presence.
Take pictures to be distributed throughout the various forms of communication mediums.
Examine these core roles as you build your team. Assess your needs and add more roles as necessary. For example, if you have multiple graphic designers, you may want to put a team lead in place. It may be fitting for your church to have a staff/ministry liaison to keep lines of communication between your team and senior leadership flowing smooth. While you may choose to do so, you don’t need one person for each of these roles. A volunteer or staff member can fulfill multiple roles where possible.
What should I expect when I get my team together? This is a great question. You’ve identified what you want to communicate, how you want to communicate and what your team will look like. Now, you are ready to assemble the team and need to be prepared as to what to expect. Team development is not easy, especially when you are leading a group, all with strong ideas and opinions. Bruce Tuckman introduced a Team Development model in the late 1960’s 8 and it is still used today by many leaders such as Human Resource specialist Susan M. Heathfield. She breaks down Tuckman’s Group Development Model as follows: 9
A group of people come together to accomplish a shared purpose.
Disagreement about mission, vision and approaches combined with the fact that team members are getting to know each other can cause strained relationships and conflict.
The team has consciously or unconsciously formed working relationships that are enabling progress on the team’s objectives.
Relationships, team processes and the team’s effectiveness in working on its objectives are synching to bring about a successfully functioning team.
The team is performing so well that members believe it is the most successful team they have experienced; or
The team has completed its mission or purpose and it is time for team members to pursue other goals or projects.
Your team may not go through these stages in the same order and something such as adding a new team member can send you back to earlier stages. Heathfield’s brief breakdown of Tuckman’s model is a great piece of information to keep handy as you assemble your team and work through each project.
Assemble Your Team
Build your team and keep it together. Your communication strategy is in place and now you are ready to put the team together. Church Volunteer Central teaches what they call the “Big 5” when it comes to developing a successful team and keeping it in place.3
This can be the hardest job in the church. Don’t look to fill slots, but match people with the needs you have.
Match strengths, not availability
Just because someone is available to help out doesn’t mean it will result in someone helping you out. So what if they know how to use Photoshop. The question is do they know how to use it in a way that results in outcomes you are expecting? Always look to match the strengths of a volunteer, not the availability of a volunteer. 10
Hire strength, manage weakness
I employ people for their strengths, knowing I’ll have to manage around their weaknesses. For example, the insane project manager who is not so great with people: I’m hiring her project-management skills, and I know I’ll have to work with and around her deficient people skills. The same goes for volunteers—recruit their strengths and work around their weaknesses. 10
Convey Value to Role
Each individual should understand the importance of their role and what it means not only to your church, but to advancing the Kingdom. Seek out each person, take them out for coffee or lunch, and cast vision for what they could do to make your church communications great. 11
Leadership should clearly communicate its expectations for the team’s performance and expected outcomes. The team members should understand why the team was created. 12
Team members should understand why they are participating on the team and they should be able to define their team’s importance to the accomplishment of overall goals. 12
Your team members should want to participate on the team and feel the team mission is important. You want them to perceive their service as valuable to the church. 12
The team should feel comfortable with the people participating and that its members have the knowledge, skill and capability to address the issues for which the team was formed. 12
You must be a great leader in order to put your team together and keep your team. Leadership skills are crucial in team development.
Be realistic about the expectations you have for volunteers. Expect too little and you’ll never cause them to rise to the challenge. Expect too much and they’ll feel like they failed you. Communicate upfront what you’re expecting and give them opportunity to respond. 10
Connect Value to Vision of the Church
Each individual should understand the vision of the church. Make it clear that what they are doing is on par with that vision and their value is critical to carrying out the vision. Ideally, the individual should be on board with the vision. If not, give them an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarity. 11
Spend more time on the front end
The more time you spend upfront talking through the project or outcomes, the more the volunteer will feel enfranchised and enabled. The more we sow upfront, the more we reap on the other side. 10
Team Building Activities
Get the team together as one unit and engage in team building activities. Go on an all day retreat somewhere away from your normal location and play games and enjoy a time of fellowship. Make sure to follow this up with team building activities at the church to keep the importance of what is being done inside the workplace in perspective. 11
Your team needs to understand the team and group process and the stages of group development. They should work together effectively interpersonally and understand the roles and responsibilities of team members and team leaders. The team needs to be able to establish group norms or rules of conduct in areas such as conflict resolution, consensus decision making and meeting management. 12
Team members need to be clear about the priority of their tasks and understand the complete context for their existence. 12
Teams should be coordinated by a central leadership team that assists the groups to obtain what they need for success (team liaison). 12
Make sure your team has enough freedom and empowerment to feel the ownership necessary to accomplish the charter. Define the team’s authority to make recommendations and to implement its plan. Define a review process so both the team and the church are consistently aligned in direction and purpose. Team members should hold each other accountable for project timelines, commitments and results. 12
As a church, recognize that the team-based, collaborative, empowering, enabling organizational culture of the future is different than the traditional, hierarchical organization it may currently be. Use failures for learning and support reasonable risk. Recognize that the more your church can change its climate to support teams, the more it will receive in pay back from the work of the teams. 12
Seek out the troublemakers
Consider the volunteers who don’t always play by the rules; the ones who test the limits; the ones who color outside the lines; the ones who talk back a little; the ones who require a little extra faith on your part to let go. 10
It’s OK to fire them
Isn’t it funny how we often have a harder time firing volunteers than we do paid staff? It’s OK to let volunteers go, to transition them, to move them out. 10
If you’re going to move from “me” to we,” you’re going to need to equip your team. When you embrace the equipping model of ministry, you’re putting the right people with the right gifts in the right places.
Educate, enfranchise, empower
Educate volunteers on everything you can about your project or expected outcomes. Graft them into the team that, with their help, is part of making this project happen. Give them the tools they need to accomplish your expectations. 10
The team should be able to take its assigned area of responsibility and design its own mission, vision and strategies to accomplish the mission. If properly trained, your team should define and communicate its goals; its anticipated outcomes and contributions; its timelines; and how it will measure both the outcomes of its work and the process the team followed to accomplish their task. 12
Your team members need to feel responsible and accountable for team achievements. They should not spend their time finger pointing rather than resolving problems. Be sure contributors see their impact on increased success. 12
You don’t have to resort to chains, blackmail or brownies to keep your volunteers. Make sure they have a great time, avoid burnout and think long-term.
Volunteers are volunteering because they get something in return. It may sound selfish, but it’s just the way we’re wired. Whether it’s in the form of satisfaction, a free meal, kudos, recognition, promotion or just smiles, the concept of reciprocity is alive and well. 10
Be thankful (with gifts, cards and more)
You never can thank volunteers enough. From throwing them celebration dinners to giving them gifts and cards, go overboard in expressing appreciation for your volunteers. 10
Affirmation and Appreciation
Build up your team members with encouragement, praise and other forms of appreciation. This can be anything from a handwritten note to a gift card. 11
Your church should value creative thinking, unique solutions and new ideas. 12
As church leaders, you must be a champion of a safe ministry environment.
Times of Rest
This is a crucial component to avoid burnout among your volunteers. Give each of them a time of rest so they don’t get stuck in a routine and disgruntled. 11
How can I be sure my team will succeed?
- Success will not be realized immediately for most of your team. Remember, they are “behind the scenes” workers, so the feeling of success may be delayed.
- Success is connected to the end results of your ultimate ministry goal.
- Success is determined by how well you executed your implementation. How well did you recruit, lead, train, retain and protect?
How Well Did You Recruit?
- Did you hire based on strengths and not availability? Were you able to match those strengths accordingly? 10
- Were you able to convey the importance of the role of each team member and what it means no only to your church, but advancing the Kingdom? 11
- Has executive leadership clearly communicated its expectations for the team’s performance and expected outcomes? Do the team members understand why the team was created? 12
- Do team members understand why they are participating on the team? Can team members define their team’s importance to the accomplishment of overall goals? 12
- Do team members want to participate on the team? Do they feel the team mission is important? Do they perceive their service as valuable to the church? Are team members excited and challenged by the team opportunity? 12
- Does the team feel that it has the appropriate people participating? Does the team feel that its members have the knowledge, skill and capability to address the issues for which the team was formed? If not, does the team have access to the help it needs? Does the team feel it has the resources, strategies and support needed to accomplish its mission? 12
How Well Are You Leading?
- Did you set realistic expectations for your team and clearly communicate them upfront? 10
- Does each individual understand the vision of the church? Did you make it clear that what they are doing is on par with that vision and their value is critical to carrying out the vision? Is each team member on board with the vision? 11
- How much time did you spend upfront talking through the project or outcomes? Does the each team member feel enfranchised and enabled? 10
- Have you engaged in team building activities as a complete unit? Did these activities foster relationships and a sense of unity? 11
- Does the team have enough freedom and empowerment to feel the ownership necessary to accomplish the charter? Has the church defined the team’s authority to make recommendations or to implement its plan? Is there a defined review process so both the team and the church are consistently aligned in direction and purpose? Do team members hold each other accountable for project timelines, commitments and results? 12
- Does the team understand team and group process? Do members understand the stages of group development? Are team members working together effectively interpersonally? Do all team members understand the roles and responsibilities of team members and team leaders? Can the team approach problem solving, process improvement, goal setting and measurement jointly? Do team members cooperate to accomplish the team charter? Has the team established group norms or rules of conduct in areas such as conflict resolution, consensus decision making and meeting management? Is the team using an appropriate strategy to accomplish its action plan? 12
- Are team members clear about the priority of their tasks? Do they understand the complete context for their existence? 12
- Are teams coordinated by a central leadership team that assists the groups to obtain what they need for success? Have priorities and resource allocation been planned across departments? 12
- Does your church recognize that the team-based, collaborative, empowering, enabling organizational culture of the future is different than the traditional, hierarchical organization it may currently be? Does the organization plan to use failures for learning and support reasonable risk? Does the organization recognize that the more it can change its climate to support teams, the more it will receive in pay back from the work of the teams? 12
How Well Are you Training?
- Have you provided enough education for your team members and given them what they need to accomplish your expectations? 10
- Has the team taken its assigned area of responsibility and designed its own mission, vision and strategies to accomplish the mission? Has the team defined and communicated its goals; its anticipated outcomes and contributions; its timelines; and how it will measure both the outcomes of its work and the process the team followed to accomplish their task? Does the leadership team or other coordinating group support what the team has designed? 12
- Do team members feel responsible and accountable for team achievements? Do team members spend their time finger pointing rather than resolving problems? Can contributors see their impact on increased success? 12
How Well Are You Retaining?
- Has your church done a good job providing affirmation and appreciation? What steps have you taken to encourage and thank your team? 11
- Does your church value creative thinking, unique solutions and new ideas? 12
- Has your church provided times of rest to your team? 11
- Businessdictionary.com - http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/team-development.html
- Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_building
- Church Volunteer Central – http://churchvolunteercentral.com - Text Church Volunteer Central teaches what they call the “Big 5” when it comes to assembling a team of volunteers.
- Scott Hodge, @ScottHodge, Pastor of The Orchard Community in Aurora, Ill. - “Outspoken. Conversations on Church Communication” – Edited by Tim Schraeder & Kevin D. Hendricks
- Jay Argaet, @JArgaet - “Outspoken. Conversations on Church Communication” – Edited by Tim Schraeder & Kevin D. Hendricks
- Tim Schraeder - “Outspoken. Conversations on Church Communication” – Edited by Tim Schraeder & Kevin D. Hendricks
- Michael Forsberg, @MichaelForsberg, advertising specialist - “Outspoken. Conversations on Church Communication” – Edited by Tim Schraeder & Kevin D. Hendricks
- Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckman%27s_stages_of_group_development
- Susan M. Heathfield - http://humanresources.about.com/od/teambuilding/f/team_stages.htm
- Brad Abare – http://ministrytodaymag.com, founder of the Center for Church Communication – http://cfcclabs.org - Nine keys to building a dynamic team of volunteer communicators.
- Dennis Blythe – Church at Brook Hills teaches the following when it comes to assembling and developing a team, http://brookhills.org
- Susan M. Heathfield - 12 principles for successful team buildinghttp://humanresources.about.com/od/involvementteams/a/twelve_tip_team.htm