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Jul 18
2006

Encouraging Teamwork

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Teamwork is one of the most talked about yet poorly executed concepts in business. When some leaders say they want to build teamwork, what they really mean is that they want to get everybody to do exactly what they say. Effective teamwork will occur only with effective leadership.

First, we need to start with an effective vision and then convey that vision to our colleagues. An example occurs in the book of Judges with the account of a major battle. A major evil was committed by the Benjamites and after being told of the evil, “The people rose up as one man…” (Judges 20:8 NIV). The reason the people became one was that the evil act committed was clearly outlined, documented, and communicated to them. Then an action plan was established to right the wrong.


When our team understands the issues in our business, they react much more effectively.


Here is a good example: Bob was a building contractor, specializing in custom homes. He explained to the construction workers that each home was the fulfillment of a dream for the customer. Every material, every hammer stroke, and every detail needed to be correct and done well. Bob would tell the workers, “If you’re not proud of what you are doing, stop and correct everything so that you are proud of it.” Every colleague was empowered to stop the job or raise issues regarding quality.


Second, every team member needs to contribute. As illustrated in the Biblical example, each tribe of Israel contributed fighting men and provisions for the upcoming battle (see Judges 20:10). Similarly, Bob hired a construction crew with different skills and expected each member to pitch in. As Paul said, “Each shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5 NASB).


Bob encouraged his crew, spurring them on when something went wrong. He looked at the positives on every side. In Judges, the first day of battle went badly for the Israelites, “But the men of Israel encouraged one another and again took up their positions” (Judges 20:10 NASB). Despite the defeat on day one, the team encouraged each other.


After defeat on day two, the people fasted and prayed together and received God’s direction to attack the next day. Some of the Israeli army made a frontal attack to draw the Benjamites away from the city, while others waited to attack the city as the enemy army was drawn away. A price was paid by attacking the Benjamites. The Israelites took causalities in the effort to open up the city to the attack by others. Then, the rest of the Israeli army raced to capture the city. Then, the Israelites who were retreating, turned on the Benjamities, counterattacked, and the enemy was completely destroyed.


At times, we need to put our work aside for the good of the team. We see by example that in the model of the Israelites some soldiers were willing to retreat and to act like they were losing in order to draw the enemy away from the city. They were willing to take causalities to help win. Likewise, we need to be willing to pay a price so our team wins.


Bob would set the example by pitching in where needed. If materials needed to be unloaded quickly, Bob would be the first to help and ask others to join in. When part of a job got behind, he would become an extra pair of hands, helping as needed rather then just sticking to his supervisory position.


Bob would hold a brief crew meeting at the end of the day to ensure everyone understood what tasks lay ahead the next day and to identify any problems. The effective communication helped assure that the team would work together the next day.


Finally, Bob demonstrated kindness and respect with each employee, following Paul’s instruction, “That you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 NASB). We can discuss difficult issues more effectively when we maintain a kind and respectful demeanor.


Keep these biblical examples in mind as you build a great business team.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach

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