Behavioural Guide for Small Teams

SmallTeamsAbout three or four times a month I find myself in a living room or a restaurant with a small team of about 10 other adults. We are planning to plant (start) a church in my borough. Teams like this are unique because they are still in formation. Their core identity, values, and mission are just being born.

At different times—in the church, at work, or in the community—we will find ourselves working on these types of ad-hoc teams. Some will be temporary, others will morph into more developed organizations. Because of their fluid nature, there is an inherent risk of frustration and conflict. Nevertheless, these teams can be exciting centres of reflection and growth.

It may be helpful for a team to develop a list of the desired behaviours. When difficulties come up, you will have something to return to and measure your accountability. Here’s an example that I hope you will find helpful.

  1. Commit to praying and morally supporting the team. Pray and support both individual team members and the ministry or activity of the team.
  2. Be positive and enthusiastic. Being positive is more than an attitude; it’s a discipline. Not every day will be easy or perfect, but consistent pessimism is unproductive, and small teams breath optimism!
  3. Learn to embrace consensus in making decisions. Small teams do more decision-making through consensus than more developed organizations. At times, this means that we will need to support decisions with which we don’t necessarily agree. Seek for communal wisdom to emerge rather than any individual’s opinion.
  4. Be faithful and consistent to meetings. If you’re on a small team, It’s REALLY important that you be on the team. If you’re frequently gone or always arriving late, you’re not really fully on the team.
  5. Engage in discussions and meetings. Balance listening with sharing… real listening, not just waiting to share your point. Establish conversation techniques that include everyone and that draw introverts into your discussions.
  6. Be willing to live in tension and suspense. Things move faster in established systems.   That is not the nature of the small team though. Enjoy and learn from the relationships and the experiences, rather than focus on efficiency. If you’re thinking about quitting, ask yourself if the cost of you leaving outweighs the cost of you hanging in there.
  7. Respect confidentiality and be loyal. Every team member has a life outside the team. Speak well of the team with outside stakeholders. Protect confidentiality and the reputation of your team members by not speaking ill of them outside the team.

Building significant ministries and organizations often depends on small teams making it from point A to point B. Each small team needs some temporary structure and best practices to ensure its progress. A behavioural guide like this can be a simply, but extremely valuable solution.

Next time: A Behavioural Guide for Churches in Transition.

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