4 min read

Characteristics of Healthy Teams and Simple Steps to Resolve Conflict

Characteristics of Healthy Teams and Simple Steps to Resolve Conflict

Can creating and sustaining “Fantastic Teams” significantly transform the health of your workplace culture and thus increase your organizational impact?

The answer is, “Yes—and yes!”


Cary Humphries, BCWI


“Fantastic Teams” is the first of the eight, essential factors that make up BCWI’s FLOURISH model. Before we get into the second driver, “Life-Giving Work,” next week, I want to cement some of the best insights, advantages and practical action steps for how Fantastic Teams can work for you.

To do this, I asked Cary Humphries, Central Region Director, and Senior Vice President for Human Resources at the Best Christian Workplaces Institute, to unpack “Fantastic Teams.”

Cary responded with a clear, succinct “3-D” approach that:

  • defines Fantastic Teams,
  • describes what makes Fantastic Teams so essential to creating a flourishing workplace culture, that can lead you to
  • delight in what Fantastic Teams can mean for your organization. 

[shareable cite="Cary Humphries"]Fantastic teams are never about ‘me’ rather always about ‘we’.”[/shareable]

DEFINING Fantastic Teams

Cary was direct, concise, and practical, when he said, “Fantastic teams exemplify a spirit of partnership and collaboration. Fantastic teams are never about ‘me’ rather always about the ‘we’ needed to achieve shared goals and objectives within a department, across departments, or throughout an organization. Fantastic teams create consensus, direction and momentum to establish, grow and sustain a flourishing culture.

“Flourishing cultures cultivate and demonstrate cohesive teams that effectively engage in passionate, open dialogue. Teams that function well can accomplish more than what any one individual can do on their own.

“Recently I had the pleasure to coach one of our BCWI partners that was committed to leading together. They had moved beyond the attitude of, ‘Making what my team wants’ because they were now focused on what’s best for the whole organization. That’s the ‘we’re all in this together’ spirit of a fantastic team.”

DESCRIBING Fantastic Teams

Cary was only beginning to scratch the surface of why Fantastic Teams matter so much, when he leaned in and said, “Whether we’re talking about a church, a para church organization, or a Christian-led company, fantastic teams share some key characteristics.

“Fantastic teams have leaders who come to the table as a team that values leading the whole organization as their first, most important team effort.  Unfortunately, some leaders come to the leadership table to get attention, to attract and obtain the best people, or to protect their area of influence.

“ It doesn’t have to be this way. I once saw three key leaders of a large mission organization wisely decide to lead the field ministry together. This allowed the organization to focus on common goals, objectives, clear roles. Their team approach brought these three leaders, and the organization, together.

“Fantastic teams share the allocation of common resources, they facilitate, regular, open, honest communication.  They celebrate wins together and they share credit for successes.

In short, fantastic teams:

  • possess the resources, like materials, systems and training and support, necessary to achieve objectives
  • leverage the strengths of team members to accomplish the goals and objectives,
  • share the big goals and know what each other is doing to contribute to that shared focus, and
  • freely celebrate each other’s wins and share disappointment when they don’t deliver on promises.

DELIGHTING in Fantastic Teams

I’ve worked alongside Cary and have seen him illustrate, and even model, these four qualities of fantastic teams to our BCWI clients. During our interview, Cary  shared his eye-witness account of one, remarkable team whose actions would  delight any leader.

“I was sitting at the table of a national radio ministry whose workplace culture was so healthy and flourishing, it was off the charts. During our video debrief an unintended conflict among their team took place. One member had joined by phone when a colleague inadvertently insulted him.

“Another team member immediately noticed the comment and called it out. The offending party was asked to confirm that he had indeed said something hurtful.  The offended party admitted it was hurtful and  accepted an apology on the spot. It was reconciliation before our very eyes, evidence of Christ-like maturity and team-focused health.

What would you say is the current health of the various teams that make up your workplace culture?  Could the unflattering traits of not-so-fantastic teams be a warning sign to what you want to avoid?

As Cary said, “You can spot unhealthy teams in people who:

  • view themselves as a collection of individuals, rather than as a team working toward a common goal,
  • fail to share problems within the team,
  • neglect communication and/or have endless discussions without making decisions, and
  • don’t share credit for successes.”

Noticing these shortcomings can actually be a first, necessary, good step to building fantastic teams that can help take your workplace culture to the next level. In our interview, Cary pinpointed a tremendous benefit of fantastic teams, an advantage that can easily be overlooked.

“The BCWI Staff Engagement Survey asks employee-participants to what degree ‘the people I work with exhibit good conflict resolution skills.’ Fantastic teams skilled in conflict resolution can strengthen the health of their workplace culture by asking, ‘Where do we have unresolved conflict within our organization?’

“While every organization has its interpersonal blind spots, mature leaders like those in the above story, know how to initiate the work of reconciliation by modeling healthy listening, humility, and the courage to step into the moment.

“The continuous commitment to build a healthy culture requires courage,” said Cary. “Reviewing the data on your culture can be perplexing. The courage to step up, improve the health of your culture, can turn a formidable challenge into a series of learning opportunities that can transform a workplace culture and, perhaps, the entire organization.”

The Bottom Line with Fantastic Teams

“Fantastic teams start at the top of an organization. For a senior leadership team to find that deep commitment to the organization that’s more important than that of an individual’s ministry department is so vital. Such a commitment can be done by a mid-level team. If you’re a worship leader, or a branch or site leader, the choice and commitment to lead together, as a team, can be transformative.”

It's Your Turn

Think of a team in your workplace culture that demonstrates the kind of healthy workplace culture your organization needs to succeed. In your mind, how have you  demonstrated leadership, humility and courage over the past year?

Coming Up Next on our Continuing Series

“The Eight Ways to Build a Flourishing Workplace,”
“The Joy of Life-Giving Work”
Bob Lonac, Recently Retired President
Crista, Shoreline, Washington

Why Innovation is Crucial for Survival

Why Innovation is Crucial for Survival

Why Innovation is Crucial for Survival “He who hesitates is lost.”

Read More
A True Story of Prejudice, Forgiveness, and True Reconciliation

A True Story of Prejudice, Forgiveness, and True Reconciliation

A True Story of Prejudice, Forgiveness, and True Reconciliation Can racial prejudice ever be forgiven? If so, what would true reconciliation look...

Read More