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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

21 May '09

It only takes one!



I have recently written on the issues of alignment and healthy teams and boards. What are the implications of having a member of your team who is not in alignment? This can happen when a team member:
  • Is not in agreement with the direction of the team or organization
  • Does not pull their own weight in terms of productivity and results
  • Have attitudes that are counterproductive to healthy team: cynicism, sarcasm, untrusting, etc.
  • Does their own thing and are not committed to working as a productive team member
  • Has Emotional Intelligence (EQ) issues that disrupt the health of the team
  • Are not teachable or coachable

Here is the reality: it takes only one member of the team to pull down the rest of the team, and to take a huge emotional toll on the other team members and the team leader. And, to hurt the overall missional effectiveness of the organization.

Because ministries are about "grace" we often do not handle these situations, hoping they will resolve themselves or go away. They rarely do without intentional and direct intervention. Where we do not resolve we unfairly punish the rest of the team who must live with the unhealth of one member, and we hurt the missional effectiveness of the organization.

Here are some suggestions for dealing with this kind of situation:

  1. Provide very direct feedback in person and followed up in writing indicating the problems and the necessary changes that are necessary if they are to continue to play a role on the team and in the ministry. Be direct, be honest and be defining.
  2. Establish time parameters in which the issues must be resolved or they will be placed on a probationary status. If they need additional coaching during this time, provide it and always give honest direct feedback verbally and in writing.
  3. If there is not adequate progress, place the individual on a probationary status (in writing - always document) with the understanding that if there is not appropriate resolution that they will not be able to continue on the team or with the organization.
  4. Be willing to let them go and transition them out of the organization if they do not meet the requirements of the probationary period.

Your willingness as a leader to take appropriate steps in cases like this sends a powerful message to the rest of your team that you care about their health and the health of the organization. When one does not take these steps the opposite message is sent - and clearly read that we are an organization that does not take health seriously.

The emotional and energy toll that is paid for an unhealthy team member is higher than we realize until the issue has been resolved and we realize the price we paid. Ministry is tough enough. We make it easier when we deal with those individuals who pull the rest of the team down.