Elevating the Effectiveness of Your Team

“We dropped the ball.”

“The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.”

“I didn’t know we were going to do that.”

“Whatever happened to….?”

“Whatever happened about…?”

“What are we supposed to do?”

We have all spoken or heard comments like these from time to time. Unfortunately, they do not reflect well on the work of a team. They each are synonymous with an admission that the team that you serve on is not communicating well. John G. Miller talks about four levels of communication for teams. They are:

Denial: This is the team where every-one is on their own. No designed staff meetings take place. No one knows where the other members are much of the time. Some team members are difficult to get into contact with. The team simply does not talk. Or at least they only talk the minimum amount required to stay afloat. Miller calls this place “dysfunction junction.”

Debate: This is a step up. The team is talking but they pull against one another instead of pulling together. Debate inherently calls for a winner or for someone to be proven right. The team at least meets together occasionally but when they do so, it is not well-planned or well led.  Those who think they are always right might not even recognize the weak level of communication taking place.

Discussion: This team likely has a planned and well led staff meeting several times a year. Challenges are acknowledged and team members are more willing to set aside personal agendas (being right) for the best interest of the team. The environment is healthy, team members are well informed, and the team is working well.

Dialogue: This team has planned times together and likely takes a retreat or two a year to really hunker down on issues. This team not only discusses any and every conceivable issue that affects their ministry and the organization, they are solution oriented. They listen to one another, seek to understand other points of view, respect one another, and are more concerned with getting the job accomplished than with who will get the credit. They enjoy one another in formal and informal settings. They are a team!

Where does your team fit on this scale. Do your part to move your team to the highest level of communication. The result will be an experience and an organization that is “outstanding!”

Adapted from Chapter Thirty-Two of John G. Miller’s Outstanding: 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional