In a recent coaching conversation focused on helping my client improve the team culture on her church staff, one leader said, “My team just lacks cohesion. We just don’t work well together.” After a few questions from me and a few stories from her, I discovered that outside of their weekly one-hour team meeting (which is super tasky), her team rarely spent time together. It made me wonder, how do you expect a team to work well together if they spend little time together. Enter the power of withness. That is with-ness. As in spending time with each other.
Something happens when we spend time together. In-person is best, but a zoom meet up will do for remote teams. When we’re together and we allow for pure relational time, perhaps sharing a meal or even simple water-cooler time, absent of tasks and strategy work, something important happens. We have the opportunity to learn about each other, bond, empathize, be compassionate, gain understanding about each others’ lives and more. And in doing so, we work better together because we are woven more tightly. I doubt anyone reading would challenge the idea that breaking bread is good for relationships and would benefit our churches greatly. But what else is a possible approach to withness?
Make It Practical
Let me suggest the work jam session. It can take place in a conference room, fellowship hall, coffee shop or online. Set a time for your team to gather for one hour and have everyone just work on simple tasks – slog through email, do light design work, etc. Each person works on his or her own. You can chat a little or you work in silence, or likely a little of both. This can work with both paid staff and your volunteer team members. Just do your individual work together in the same space. It’s like study hall for grownups. Try this and watch what happens to the strength of the relationships in the group. Watch for better empathy and understanding. Watch for more grace. Watch for more, “I’ve got your back” and “Hey, I can help you with that project.”
Try this 4 weeks in a row, once a week, for one hour. And then let me know if you see a stronger, more cohesive team, through the power of withness.
The first five people who try this for a month, and report back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, will get a $10 Starbucks gift card.