Why Your KidMin Team Should Be Arguing

Does everyone on your team agree all the time?   At first glance, that might seem like a good thing.  We often talk about teams having unity, alignment and collaboration.

But having team unity doesn't mean you see eye-to-eye all the time.  Strong teams often disagree and engage in debate.  In fact, I would go as far as to say, if your team never gets into intense conversations, then your team is not healthy.

Research shows that debate and tension can actually enhance creativity and innovation.  

A healthy team creates an environment that welcomes and encourages feedback and push back.  

An unhealthy team has harmony to the extreme, where people always agree and never debate the options.  In that kind of culture, it's easy to fall into complacency.

Here are some tips to get your team arguing...

Encourage debate.  Let your team know you want there to be debate.  Explain the benefits.  Let them know the purpose is to make the ministry better.

Bring the tension.  Ask questions When you first ask your team to start debating something, they may be hesitant to do so.  They may be afraid of hurting someone's feelings, being seen as divisive or not being a team player.

Show them, by example, how to do this.  For one of the items you have on your meeting agenda, prepare a set of questions that go against the idea or ask why it should be that way.  Read the questions and then ask the team to prove why the questions are or are not legitimate concerns.

Embrace conflict.   Remember, there are good forms of conflict.  The last thing you need on your team is a group of "yes men."  Embrace conflict as part of your creative process.

Create a culture of honesty.  Is your ministry a place where people can safely share thoughts and ideas?   One thing you can do to get the ball rolling is to let people respond anonymously at first.  This will break the ice and get them started toward a healthy place of debate.

Train your team how to debate.  One way I have done this is by using a small block of wood that has the word "idea" written on it.   The person who has the idea, takes the block, shares his/her idea and then places the "idea" block in the center of the group.  We use this as a visual reminder that once an idea is shared, it's just that - an idea.  It has to be detached from the person who presented it.

The goal is not to see whose idea will be used.  Rather it is looking for the best idea...who shared it is irrelevant.  This encourages people to have the mentality that the smartest person in the room is the room.  The best idea comes from the room.

Have a diverse team.  The temptation for the leader is to only hire people who think like he/she does.  While this may be the easy route to go, it is not the best route to go.  The best ideas come from a diverse team that brings many viewpoints to the table.

Build trust.  The foundation of a team that effectively "argues" is trust.  Team members know that everyone around the table has one motive. To make the ministry better.  It takes time to build that kind of trust, but when you get there, incredible things will happen.

You will come out of meetings with your brain cells maxed out from thinking about things from so many different viewpoints.  But you'll also come out of the meeting with an amazing idea that can be a game-changer for your ministry.