And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24

How quickly and deeply do you feel spiritual chemistry with people?

It varies, right?

With some people, you feel a spiritual kinship right away. You build trust easily. You feel close. You want to seek out their opinions and insights. You like them, even love them, exactly as Jesus intended. And because you find it easy to extend love to them, you also find it easier to give them the benefit of the doubt, forgive their mistakes, and help them solve their problems.

In other words, in relationships where spiritual chemistry is present, teamwork thrives.

But what about the other people on your team? The ones you don’t feel as spiritually close to? Do you engage with them the same way, with equal grace and service?

Jesus needs us to develop spiritual chemistry with each one of our brothers and sisters – not just the ones we’re naturally drawn to. Just because chemistry doesn’t happen naturally doesn’t mean it can’t happen eventually. But you’ve got to be intentional about cultivating it.

Team meetings are the forge in which spiritual chemistry can be wrought in your workplace. The key is to remove agenda items from your meetings that don’t facilitate team chemistry, so that God can have room to show up.

Here is how you can clear that space and lead team meetings that cultivate chemistry-fueled teamwork:

  1. Invite each team member’s presence.

How do team members know they are supposed to attend a team-wide meeting?

Is it just a “given?”

Are the invitations boilerplate?

Boilerplate invitations don’t lay the groundwork for spiritual chemistry to emerge among your employees. When agendas are copied and pasted, so is performance. People are likely to show up this time exactly how they showed up last time. They sit by the same people. They take notes or not, according to their habits. They are receptive to the ideas and game plans with which they are already comfortable.

Chemistry is bred through people stimulating one another. Predictable, comfortable meetings don’t offer stimulation. It’s time for you to shake things up. Set a fresh expectation that invites people out of their comfort zones and into more meaningful dialogue.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20)

Stimulating, chemistry-unleashing agendas contain the following three expectations:

  • Dialogue is the goal.

    Make it clear that your meeting will be for discussing, not reporting. If people need to review information so that they can step in to vibrant discussion around a specific topic, ask for that information to be sent to the group for review before the meeting.

  • Individual contributions will be supported.

    Explain to people exactly why they are each invited to the meeting and what they each will be supported to contribute. Get specific. Get invested in crafting this element of your agenda. You will be blown away at the difference when people show up knowing that they have a specific role to play in your discussions.

  • Contributions must be purposeful.

    There are dozens of things you can discuss when you meet as a team. Most of those things are not conducive to building team chemistry. Focus on your team’s Purpose, Vision, Key Responsibility Areas, or Culture. These are the narratives that will attract energetic, productive dialogue and facilitate chemistry.

Experiment with setting these expectations in your team meeting agendas.

  1. Facilitate each team member’s participation.

In the latest U.S. State of Enterprise Work Report, the biggest barrier to effective teamwork was found to be “wasteful meetings.”

The term “waste” comes from the Latin vastus, meaning “unoccupied, uncultivated.”

You’ve set a stimulating agenda and given each team member a meaningful role to play. Your role is now to ensure your meeting is occupied with stimulating dialogue, so that the opportunity to cultivate team chemistry isn’t wasted.

To do this, you’ll want to use the Coach Approach: a servant leadership tool that draws out meaningful discussion and discovery. You’ll be coaching the whole team, at first. You may feel a little intimidated by this prospect. That’s okay. We all were, in the beginning. But I can promise you that the learning curve quickly becomes enjoyable. That’s because when you begin to ask meaningful questions and create space for people to think and develop out their own ideas, something really cool happens. You shift from managing employees to cultivating leaders!

Being managed as individual employees or being cultivated into collaborative leaders: which do you think unleashes more chemistry among team members?

  1. Cement each team member’s contribution.

When you shift from ho-hum team meetings to brainstorming sessions that run on chemistry, you’re going to get a ton of new ideas for how to improve your team.

You will quickly get more ideas than you can act on. That’s why you must build accountability for the action items your team generates. Here again, you’ll benefit from using the Coach Approach. Ask questions to help people prioritize their ideas. Close the circle and gain closure on decisions, responsibilities, and timelines.

I use the “3 Ds” to cement each team member’s contribution:

  • Discern. For each idea, who is the standard bearer? You’ll want to connect the dots for people, illustrating how the work to be done connects to the team member’s role, which connects to one or more elements of your organization’s Foundation (Purpose, Values, Vision, Key Responsibility Areas, Culture). Discern the clear “value chain” of how each task forwards the true work of your company.
  • Document. Capture clear summaries of each agenda item, who agreed to do what, and – most importantly — why.
  • Distribute. Give every attendee a copy of the agreements that have been made during the meeting. If at all possible, do this before people leave the meeting. Provide both printed and electronic copies. Doing this demonstrates your commitment to converting dialogue to concrete action. Results drive chemistry. Everyone wants to work with effective colleagues on a winning team.

Once you begin shifting your team meetings to this new format, you may find it challenging to complete Step 3 in full. Conversations will be vibrant, the ideas will be flowing, and you may struggle to hit pause in order to write everything down that’s being said.

If you begin slipping on this critical step, just remember George Bernard Shaw’s famous quip:

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

  1. Gain each team member’s perspective on the meeting’s impact.

So, how did your meeting go? Was chemistry built? Did God have room to show up?

You may have felt the Holy Spirit moving through your team. Energizing people. Deepening conversation. Facilitating teamwork. But did everyone else feel it, too?

Ask!

Get your team’s feedback on how your meeting went before they leave the room.

Were there reporting conversations that could have been taken offline? Did anyone wonder what their role was or feel as if they didn’t have room or a reason to contribute?

Did you do your job in ensuring that each moment was meaningfully occupied?

What, exactly, was cultivated in your meeting, and why? Draw out each person’s perceptions. You’ll want to spend extra time in this step in the beginning, to ensure you’re bringing everyone along in your new journey.

Ask people what went well, what didn’t, and what needs to be cut so that your time together is stimulating. Listen to what they say, take it to heart, and ruthlessly cut the things that don’t stimulate chemistry.

Team meetings are watershed moments in your leadership; they’re where managers stay stuck and servant leaders emerge.

Blessings,

Mark

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)