Team Tune Up

Stay on track through self-critique.

Teams, says author Charlene B. Adair-Heeley, need to critique themselves regularly to stay on track. It is like weight control-it's easier to take off five pounds a week for ten weeks than to lose fifty pounds all at one time.

Your small group is a team. You are united with common purposes and goals. How are you doing in achieving those goals? Adair-Heeley recommends two methods to find out.

First, invite an unbiased person into your group to observe a meeting. This person could be the church's director of small groups, a Christian-education minister, or another small-group leader. Perhaps he or she could watch how your group interacts. One way of doing this is by drawing a circle representing your group, and placing members' initials around the circle. As each person speaks, the observer places an arrow from that person toward the person he or she is addressing. Who is doing most of the speaking? Is there a pattern as to where that person is in relationship to the leader or apprentice of the group? (Often, people who sit across from the leader speak the most, while those who sit next to the leader are less likely to join the discussion.) Do participants speak at the leader, rather than to everyone else in the group?

After the meeting, ask the observer to share his analysis with the group (not just with the leader). Keep it positive and upbeat—this is constructive criticism.

Second, conduct a self-critique—probably at a separate time from the observation. Remind everyone what the purpose and goals of the group are and to keep the purposes and goals in perspective as they critique. The group should list their responses to these questions:

  • What do we want to stop doing?

  • What do we want to start doing?

  • What do we want to continue doing?

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