7 Ways a Team Becomes Idle

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Church Health, Church Leadership, Coaching

How does a team become idle? 

Team idleness is a term I use to describe a team failing to move forward towards its desired goals and objectives.

The term simply means things have stalled. Therefore, team idleness means for a span of time there is no – or very little – forward progress for the team. It could be a month or several months. Things aren’t desperate; at least not yet. They’ve simply slowed.

Every team, regardless of their health, can become idle at times. 

What causes a team to become idle? How does a team stagnate?

 

Here are 7 thoughts – with a few tips along the way:

 

No fresh ideas.

 

If new ideas are not coming to the table frequently, the team becomes stale, and progress slows.

One way we have addressed this is to periodically schedule times where the only agenda is brainstorming – dreaming – answering the question “what’s next?” Also, reading books together, attending a conference, or visiting other healthy organizations or churches can help generate new ideas.

 

Burnout.

 

If team members are overworked or in need of a break their energy level will slow.

In my experience, avoiding burnout has to be encouraged and built into the structure. For me it’s essential I discipline myself to rest frequently. I try to personally lead by example here. Shared values and shared workload help. There should be no Lone Rangers on a healthy team.

 

Lost vision.

 

It’s not that the vision is actually lost. In fact, that may even be posted on a wall or a website somewhere you have to overlook to not see. If a team loses sight of the big picture goals and objectives, however, they can lose interest or get off course.

Vision-casting is an essential task of every leader – and it needs to be done frequently. Celebrating also keeps what’s valued ever before the team. There should be consistent opportunities to share stories of success.

 

Mis-placed team members.

 

I didn’t say wrong team members. It could be, but many times a team becomes idles when a vision outgrows members of the team and other times when team members outgrow the vision. Good people can no longer be the right fit for the role they’ve been asked to play – or even for the team.

People sometimes need a reassignment of duties or a change of focus. They need new goals which further stretch them. It’s not a bad idea to occasionally shift the organizational structure and chart. Sometimes people simply need the nudge to do something different – even outside the team.

 

Lack of Resources.

 

When there are not adequate resources to complete the task the work becomes frustrating and the team stalls. While we need to be stretched and walk by faith, it’s equally important not to push people beyond where the structure can support them long-term. Unreasonable expectations – over time – cause team members to naturally slow their individual productivity, which impacts the entire team.

Leaders must make sure the team has the resources they need to do what they’ve been asked to do.

 

Poor training.

 

Sometimes people are asked to perform beyond their level of understanding. No one is helping them get to the next level and so they stall waiting for further investment into them. Plus, I have found it rare for people to voluntarily ask for more.

Leaders must recognize potential in others and intentionally develop the people around them.

 

No accountability for progress.

 

Teams idle when they stay the same for too long. Frankly, sometimes things stall because no one is pushing things to continually grow or holding people to higher standards of excellence. Don’t expect to get big results with small expectations.

Growth and momentum are seldom self-produced. Change, at least good change, never comes without purposeful efforts. Therefore, leaders must become champions of new innovation and continual progress individually and for everyone on the team.

The problem with team idleness is it doesn’t stay simply at idle.

Idle soon turns to decline and often quickly.

Idleness will come naturally.

Our goal should be not to rest there long.

 

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Ron Edmondson

I am CEO of Leadership Network. I was previously pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, a church leader and the planter of two churches. I am passionate about planting churches but also helping established churches thrive. I love assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy, and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. I have more than 35 years of leadership experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and have been in full-time ministry for over 15 years. I have successfully led the restart of one church and the planting of two churches, and now we are seeing God’s hand tremendously in church revitalization. I have a seminary masters and a master’s in organizational leadership. I also once helped lead (as an elected official) a mid-sized city, where I served as Vice Mayor and Finance Chair. The greatest times for me are with my wife Cheryl and our amazing adult sons, Jeremy, his wife Mary, and our youngest son Nate. Over 20 years ago, I founded a non-profit ministry called Mustard Seed Ministry, which provides devotional resources, conducts family, marriage, and parenting, and church leadership seminars. My INTJ personality on the Myers-Briggs indicator means I have big ideas, I love creative and critical thinking and I love to see progress. I am usually around people but crave downtime. For years I was usually training for either a half or full marathon. Running was my most productive thinking time. Knee problems in recent years have caused me to stop running, but I’m committed to finding the time I need to fuel my mind, body, and spirit. I write several times weekly on leadership, church, and family. To sign up for my blog on a reader or by email, click HERE. I do interact with my readers, so feel free to contact me. You can email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com.I am also on Google+ at http://www.gplus.to/ronedmondson, Twitter at www.twitter.com/ronedmondson and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ronaedmondson. My devotional site is www.mustardseedministry.com