Signs of an Unhealthy Team and How to Turn It Around

Signs of an Unhealthy Team and How to Turn It Around

Liverpool Football Club (soccer in the U.S). won the Football Association Cup (FA Cup) – their second trophy this season. In European football this is called winning the double.  They have a legitimate chance of winning three (treble) and a long shot at a quadruple.

How do they do it? They work hard on the fundamentals.

In the local church or missions context, the same can be said of high-performing ministry teams: they work hard on the fundamentals. But what about those teams that struggle? What are the signs? The unhealthy behaviors?

I worked with a team that was in distress many, many years ago. They had been suffering for a long time when I arrived on the scene. There were conversations going on behind people’s backs, work that was assumed was getting done but really wasn’t, and resources that were mismanaged. It was–to be blunt–a hot mess! One of the first things I did was meet with individual team members to conduct a full team assessment. I wanted to get a clear picture of:

  • What was working
  • What was not working
  • What needed to change

Over the course of the following weeks and months the picture became clearer, and it was evident what issues needed to be addressed. Now, years later, the team has gone through a significant change and refocused their vision for the future. They are in a much better place. To get there, however, they needed to do some deep work in order to move from where they were to where they wanted to be.

Some teams never make it. Others might limp along.

So how do you know the signs of unhealth within a team?

Here are some telltale signs that warrant attention:

  • Lack of vision and direction
  • Conflict of values
  • Ambiguity of roles
  • Unclear ground rules
  • Inability to monitor plans
  • Closed to new ideas
  • Unable to keep clear boundaries

Well before any attempt has been made to build a team’s skills, it is critical to understand the stages through which a typical team will travel over time. A considerable amount of research has been done on the stages of team growth, and experts agree that teams go through four distinct phases: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.

This assessment (which takes around 30 minutes to complete) looks at an individual’s ability to effectively build the team using the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing model, with seven separate categories in all:

  • Vision and direction (Forming)
  • Value alignment (Forming)
  • Role clarity (Storming)
  • Setting ground rules (Norming)
  • Monitoring systems (Norming)
  • Continuous learning (Performing)
  • Boundary management (Performing)

A total of 84 questions helps individual team members to determine their overall competence in each of these seven areas.

How healthy is your team? Take the assessment and see if it helps you gain clarity. I would even encourage you to send the assessment to each of your team members to take individually, and then discuss your thoughts afterward.

Author: Jon Warner Publisher: Team Publications © All Rights Reserved



Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

Developing Healthy Team Members

Developing Healthy Team Members

I love following the Liverpool Football Club (American soccer) as they progress through the season. As I’m writing this, they are in the running to win four major competitions. One of the main reasons for this achievement is the coach, Jurgen Klopp. He surrounds himself with excellent people who are experts in the essentials of team recruitment, development, and strategy to compete at the highest levels in world football.

Developing healthy, world class ministry teams and team members carry some of the same qualities as a world class football team.

What makes a healthy team? 

A few blogs ago I wrote on this topic. To summarize, this is what it takes to build a healthy team culture:

  1. Clear expectations
  2. Regular communication
  3. Compelling rewards
  4. Real consequences
  5. High Trust

What makes healthy team members?

Continuing with the Liverpool FC analogy, I want to address the characteristics of a healthy team member. Below is a summary of each characteristic and how it applies to a sporting franchise, followed by a key question for your reflection. Hang on tight–here are five traits of a healthy team member.

  1. Passion for the vision: the objective for Liverpool is clear–win every game and every competition they play.
    • How does each member describe the vision of your team?
  2. Shared values: Jurgen Klopp is a Christian and requires a certain quality of player on his team. Though all the members of his team may not be Christian, many of the attributes he looks for in players parallel those of a Christian (e.g. respect, honesty, integrity, humility, industrious, etc.).
    • What values do you look for in your team members?
  3. Ability: Liverpool players have world-class skills and technique to compete at the highest levels.
    • What skills do your team members need? 
    • What skills do your team members possess?  
    • What areas must be developed? 
  4. Emotional Intelligence: Liverpool demand that players be self-aware both on and off the field or they simply do not remain in the club for long.
    • Where do your team members need to grow in their EQ?
  5. Disciple of Christ: As a disciple of Christ I am not suggesting perfection. What I want to communicate is progress in the direction a person is moving in their spiritual walk.
    • Are your team members moving towards Christ or away from Him? 

A helpful tool to develop EQ is the Emotional Intelligence Skill Builder Booklet.

How do you find healthy individuals? 

Like attracts like. Klopp has this ability. He attracts a certain player that fits the DNA of the club. It is fantastic to see the players they bring from other clubs and which ones turn out to be world-class stars at Liverpool. The team culture Klopp has established assimilates players who share the same values of the manager and club.

How do you invest in and equip members of your team?

Personal development: Encourage regular sabbath and rest. Spiritual practices and work-life-ministry balance are all critical gauges to pay attention to as you create healthy team members.

Skill development: There exists a number of skill-based tools and resources that I go to when I work with leaders, depending on the need. The one I use when a leader needs an in-depth assessment is called the Harrison (CLICK HERE to read more from a previous blog). The tool is based on Enjoyment Performance Theory and suggests that:

… when we enjoy a task – we tend to do it more often. When we do something over and over, we have a tendency to get better at it through both learning and repetition. When a person gets better at something, the feedback he or she receives – both from others and internally – is normally positive. And positive feedback increases the enjoyment of the behavior. The cycle keeps repeating itself – increasing the strength of enjoyment and tendency for the behavior – and often results in behavior habits that we don’t realize are behavior choices.*

If you are interested in learning more about the Harrison Assessment – CLICK HERE.

There are also a host of other tools that exist to help develop leaders that I’ve used over the years including:

Let’s return to the example of Liverpool FC. As the club continues to roll through the later stages of the league and tournaments, the team is being called on to perform under intense pressure with every game.

Today, people in your team are facing pressures from all directions. As an attentive team leader your job is to anticipate the best way you can support and encourage your members, paying close attention to those areas that will have the largest impact in their lives and ministries.


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5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

One of the realities of the last 12-24 months is the challenge of creating a healthy team culture during a pandemic season. I’ve had countless conversations with leaders who have reflected on the ways they have helped their teams navigate this season–some went to more frequent meetings with their teams (even daily) so that team members felt cared for and supported. Two years later, these teams are thriving.

A leader I was speaking to asked how he could more effectively empower his team. His vision is to create a supportive environment while maximizing the potential of each individual as well as the collective group. After wrestling with several potential approaches, he discovered some missing pieces in the culture he had established. Out of this conversation (and others I have navigated with leaders) emerged five ways to build a healthy team culture.

5 Ways to Build a Healthy Team Culture

#1 Clear expectations

#2 Regular communication

#3 Compelling rewards

#4 Real consequences

#5 High Trust

Each of these are significant in themselves, but when implemented together there is a synergistic relationship.

Let’s unpack each one:

#1 Clear expectations

When your team is initially organized, discuss the expectations you have as the leader. Just as important, discuss the expectations members of the team have of you and of one another.  A simple list of “team norms” or operating principles can go a long way in removing ambiguity in the team you are leading.

Clarifying expectations on the front end will help you avoid the conflict and ambiguity that sometimes can erode trust over time. Here are questions to consider in determining team norms:

  • What are the most important ways we can demonstrate respect for each other?
  • What are the non-negotiable commitments we are making to each other?
  • How can we assess the health of our team?

#2 Regular communication

Frequency of communication is a common challenge teams face. Communication often translates into “meetings” which in some organizations suggests a waste of time. Consider also how communication needs to take place: in person, virtually, via e-mail or text, or “as needed”. These are all considerations that should be discussed before problems emerge. I have not come across a one-size fits all approach to communication, but here are some questions to consider in evaluating and implementing regular communication:

  • What issues do we need to stay current on in our team?
  • What is the minimum amount of time we can allow between communication (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly)?
  • What is the best forum for this type of communication (e.g. in person, virtual, e-mail or text)?

#3 Compelling rewards

Rewards can range from fun and simple to more significant. Discussing ways you can reward team members for their achievements can be a motivator for team members. One team leader I worked with rewarded team members by highlighting some outstanding behavior, achievement, or quality in front of their peers. A kind word or personal note goes a long way to affirm the contributions team members make.  Here are questions to ask to identify compelling rewards for your team:

  • What are some meaningful ways you have shown appreciation for your team members?
  • What do you want to reward in your team?
  • How will you reward qualities or achievements?

#4 Real consequences

This might sound like a parenting trait, but setting clear boundaries with felt consequences when a boundary has been ignored or broken is critical to building a high-trust team culture.  Just as important is following through on a consequence when a team member fails to observe the commitment they have made to their teammates. For example, if a person is habitually late and one of the “team norms” is punctuality, the leader needs to enforce a consequence for the impact the tardiness has on the team. The action you take (or fail to take) communicates your commitment to upholding your team norms. Use these reflection questions to help you and your team agree to real consequences:

  • What behaviors will your team not tolerate?
  • What will the consequences be?
  • Are you willing to enforce those?

#5 High trust

Each of the previous 4 aspects of building a healthy team culture relates to trust. The speed at which you can develop trust within a team will determine how fast you are able to move toward your goals. The higher the level of trust, the more you can accelerate your progress as a team toward the vision. Conversely, the lower the trust…well, you get the idea.  Here are a couple of reflection questions to help you reinforce trust with your team:

  • What is the most effective way you have built trust within your team?
  • What has eroded trust?
  • What can you do to increase trust within your team?

In the last 12-24 months, leaders have had to be more intentional in building healthy team cultures. Ignoring these five aspects of a healthy team–or failing to give attention to them–has exposed the cracks in many organizations and churches. The healthier the culture, the stronger the organization.

If you need help or are seeking a guide to help you work through the nuances of leading your team, InFocus is here to help.  To book a free consultation with Gary Reinecke, find a time that works with your schedule – CLICK HERE.



Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Our Christmas Review

Our Christmas Review

Our Christmas Review:

And once again, Christmas is upon us!

In the hustle and bustle of Christmastime, it’s easy to find ourselves lost…we all, to some degree, can get caught up in the unavoidable commercialism and social pressure of Christmas. Yet I have found that when I make some time to quiet my mind, it is a great season for reflection. With the new year just around the corner, it is naturally a wonderful time to look back on the past year, recalling the joys and the struggles, the lessons learned and the growth we have seen in ourselves and all around us.

Since last Christmas much has changed, and in many ways we are all still adapting to the new normal. It has been a busy year personally and professionally. Today, I want to share some of the highlights of this year and take some time to show my appreciation for everyone who is on this journey with me.

Personal review:

This has been a year of growth and change for my family. Last August my wife, Gina, and I helped relocate both of our kids to Boston. Parenting young adults has been a big learning curve! We are learning and finding people to lean on in this new stage of our journey as parents.

Gina’s health coaching business has grown steadily. InFocus has partnered with her to do some wonderful work with three unique groups that started out as clients and took the step to become health coaches. We are especially proud to say that about a third of her team is made up of people of color. You can read more about our partnership – CLICK HERE. We are also grateful to share that Gina’s parents in Australia are finally coming out of lockdown!

This year, one of my personal goals regarded my own spiritual growth. I had been feeling stagnant in my spiritual life and knew it was time to create some intentional space to learn and grow. I have enlisted in a three-year cohort through Fuller Seminary’s Doctoral program and began working with a spiritual director. Together, we are exploring my relationship with Christ in some deeper and refreshing ways. It has been so revitalizing to my soul!

I want to finish with a personal accomplishment: I am likely to surpass my 2020 record in miles and elevation in mountain biking! My love of mountain biking is only growing!

Professional review:

This has been a busy year for me in ministry. I am proud to look back on what InFocus and our affiliates have accomplished. It’s been a great year for collaboration!

  • Training Coaches to Help Churches in Transition

In conjunction with Micah Dodson, I began working with leaders from a denomination in the Pacific Northwest who are coaching churches in transition to aid these congregations in their revitalization. We trained these leaders in the coaching process and saw significant growth.  Here is what the leaders shared about our work:

“Over this past year, our district contracted with Dr. Gary Reinecke of InFocus Ministries to train several turnaround coaches. Our aim is to better serve, support, and resource our pastors who have been called to lead churches in need of revitalization. Engaging this partnership with InFocus immediately resulted in fourteen of our pastors receiving monthly coaching. No doubt these numbers will continue to rise as our coaches gain experience and additional pastors begin to hear of the impact and value from those already engaged. The benefits have been significant. Our pastors are encouraged because they feel less isolated. And, because they are experiencing personal growth and developing their leadership capacity, their leadership teams are also being impacted.  This has been a worthwhile investment. I highly recommend Dr. Gary Reinecke and InFocus Ministries.  He is a ‘master’ coach who will serve you well.”

  • Leadership Collective

We are so proud of our Leadership Collective! In collaboration with Russ Siders, we focused on multi-ethnic churches in 2021 with a focus on building and developing strong leaders who are passionate about developing leaders, beginning with the newest disciples and ending with a culture of ministry multiplication. The goal is to raise up church leaders and equip individuals to grow and transform their communities.

  • Five Disciple Coach Habits

In 2020, InFocus and our affiliate, Micah Dodson, began a workshop called Five Disciple Coach Habits. We hosted another round in October 2021, examining these five habits and offering a series of private coaching sessions to follow. We are so pleased with how the webinar turned out and gained so much from our coaching sessions! 

  • Christian Coaching Tools

My colleague, Bob Logan, and I launched the Christian Coaching Tools platform and are in the final stages of publishing Christian Coaching Excellence (coming out in January 2022). Our vision is to raise the level of Christian coaching around the world by developing the best coaching resources and tools.

  • Disciple Coach

I am in the process of writing a new book with my colleague Colin Noyes in Australia.  In this book we introduce two unique perspectives of a new disciple’s spiritual journey:

Move the starting point:

First, we move the starting point of a new disciple’s journey.  As people go about their everyday business and encounter a disciple of Christ who is willing and able to engage in spiritual conversations, their awareness is triggered on a subconscious level until it happens enough times that it surfaces to a conscious awareness. A more familiar–and common–place in which people are initially aware of the beginning of the disciple journey is when they enter a church or participate in a discipleship program.


Second is the guiding principle of a disciple coach: “What a new disciple discovers for themselves will empower them to take the next step on their disciple-making journey.”

The most difficult part of this year has been discovering how to help pastors and church planters navigate the pandemic and enter a new normal. We at InFocus are infinitely thankful for our clients and affiliates! It is because of our work together that we have made it through these unprecedented times and accomplished so much along the way.

Thank you for your continued support of InFocus and our work! 

I would love to list the names of all the leaders that serve faithfully around the world, but due to confidentiality I am unable to do so. I will just say that our combined efforts result in the mission to make more and better disciples, develop leaders, and plant healthy churches that reproduce healthy churches.


Merry Christmas to you all!


Gary Reinecke


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Empower your teenagers to become self-led adults Shift #2 – Center to Side

Empower your teenagers to become self-led adults Shift #2 – Center to Side

Recently, we have been looking at five shifts to make that will help empower your teenager to become mature, healthy self-led adults. Last week, we looked at the Shift #1: Talker to listener. Shift two is all about moving from the center of their lives and decision-making to the side. As a reminder, I am not an expert in parenting. But I have learned a thing or two about coaching and helping people take action towards the direction God has designed for them in life and ministry.  Also, these five shifts are not limited to parenting. They relate to working with teenagers in youth groups or wherever you’re connecting with people in meaningful ways to help them take the next step on their journey to follow Jesus’ mission for their life. Let me give a bit of background so you have some context.

Shift #2 – Center to Side

One of the things we did very early with our kids was to involve them in sports. When we lived in Phoenix, Gina and I coached their respective “recreation”  soccer teams. We lived in the city and the rec leagues were designed for all kids to participate regardless of athletic ability or economic situation. Our son played one summer of T-ball and we asked him not to play again (the summer heat even for an early game was suffocating) and later basketball  BTW – both kids are athletic and our son is a very quick learner so new sports came easy for him. They enjoyed sports.  

When we relocated to Southern California we graduated from rec leagues to competitive soccer.  What the kids gained were nicer uniforms, higher calibre of coaching and players with a bit more skill. What they lost was the fun factor! For me (playing competitive soccer most of my life through my sophomore year in college at a NCAA Div I program) and Gina (elite gymnast and field hockey player in Australia with the additional bonus of studying kinesiology at university) – we had to make a hard decision and consider: Was this about us or the kids?

Our response to that question led us down the path of understanding what we cared about and hoped to instill in our kids.  So we made the hard decision to tell the kids that they did not have to play a competitive sport; but in exchange they had to remain active. That meant, regular body movement. We died to ourselves and helped the kids discover activities they were passionate about!

We took ourselves out of the center and moved to the side!

This meant we had to become like Barnabas. What we discovered was that we were able to dedicate the time we had given to all-weekend tournaments and engage with the kids on hikes, camping and exploring various activities like rock climbing, mountain biking and swimming together. Today, they continue to be curious about the outdoors, learning new activities like trail running and walking the streets to explore new parts of the city while testing their skills and levels of fitness with new activities.  This was the vision of what we wanted for our kids back when we made the difficult decision of making this about them – not about us.

Here are some of the things we did to make this shift in the way we parented our teenagers.

Key Question: How can I resist the temptation to force my agenda and be attuned to the other person’s agenda?


  •       Sacrifice your need to be the center of the conversation

o   Make your teenager the focus of the conversation.

  •       Support your teenager to discover their next step

o   Facilitate the discovery of a step for your teen to take responsibility.

  •       Put your assumptions, opinions, and biases in the background

o   Resist the temptation to make judgements and remain curious.

Following are two opportunities that can help you refine your disciple-coach skills!

5 Disciple Coach Habits webinar – Monday, October 11 from 10-3 PST


Cost: $250.00

The full package includes the webinar AND triad sessions:


Cost: $475.00