The 3 Bad Habits Holding Your Staff Back from Maximum Effectiveness

by Ben Crawshaw

Do you have any habits? Maybe you always take the same route to work each day. Maybe you have a habit of waking up each morning at the exact same time. Or maybe it’s biting your fingernails. Maybe you drink way too much coffee (confessing for a friend). Or maybe you can’t seem to shake the habit of watching The Bachelor. No matter what it is, I bet we all have a certain habit or have had a habit in the past.

Not all habits are bad. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with waking up early or to taking the same route every day to work. And I swear that I read a study that proved coffee was beneficial for the body. But we can also see how some habits aren’t so beneficial—eating too much sugar, biting your fingernails or picking your nose (just Google bad habits and this one is on the list!) Those habits aren’t life altering but some habits can keep us from enjoying life or living it to the fullest. There are some habits that can keep us from living up to our full potential.

And when it comes to leading a team of people, there are some bad habits that limit the potential of your staff. And just like any bad habit, it takes effort to make a change. Most people don’t quit a bad habit overtime and no effort. And I don’t think anyone who has ever quit a bad habit said that they regret it. They wish they never stopped smoking. They wish they never quit biting their nails. They wish they never stopped watching The Bachelor. That’s because identifying the bad habit, seeing how life would be better without it and then doing the work to quit always pays off.

So when it comes to growing your staff—not in numbers but in health—what bad habits should you kick to the curb?

1. Silos. Silos in the farming industry are there to store food so that the farm is sustainable in the winter season, however, a silo can also be dangerous. The air can become poisonous if you were to get trapped inside while it is shut. It’s isolated from the rest of the barn. And in ministry, there is a temptation for our teams to become silos within the church. Silos form when people and teams share the same roof but do everything in isolation. There are many departments inside a church—children’s, students, missions, and discipleship to name a few. Outside of Sundays, they rarely combine their efforts or they aren’t quick to step in to help another team out.

If we as a staff aren’t ready to be the first to come alongside another ministry to help, then we may be living in a silo. If the children’s ministry wants nothing to do with the student ministry, then silo dwelling is in place. Often times, silo dwelling creates a sense of negativity. It creates a sense of “me first”. It deflates any sense of comradery. And just like a eating too much sugar, silo dwelling on your team can become a bad habit that isn’t good for your overall health.


2. Insider Mentality. Another bad habit that will limit your growth and potential as a staff is having an insider mentality. Remember back to your middle school years. I bet you loved being excluded. I bet you loved not knowing the inside joke. In fact, as a 38 year old, I still don’t like those things. That’s because no one likes to be on the outside.

And sometimes a team can form an insider mentality. This can happen within the staff—excluding other staff members—or the entire staff can be viewed this way. Is your team accessible to others? Do they return emails or phone calls or texts in a timely manner? Are they available to have conversations or does it feel like they need to get past security to be reached? Do they includes others in meetings or social events?

Pride is a direct cause of an insider mentality.

If we aren’t careful, we start to believe that we are better than others or that we should be on the inside. And that is a habit that will quickly stunt the growth of your staff.

3. Top-Down Leading. Think about the things that you hate to do for work. Maybe you hate input names in the database. Maybe you hate cleaning the preschool rooms after each service. Maybe you hate showing up to help set tables up for the fall festival. A sign of a great leader is someone who doesn’t have an “I’m-better-than-that” attitude. “I’m a senior leader so I don’t have to do that.” Imagine if you, the staff leader, jumped in and did the same things as the volunteer. Imagine if you cleaned the preschool room or set up tables at the fall festival. Top-down leading is when a senior leader isn’t asking someone to do something that they wouldn’t do themselves. This creates a sense of trust with those who serve under you.

The good news is that bad habits can be broken. It starts with recognizing the signs in the life of your team. Identify things that need to be better.

As a leader or as a team, think about these two questions: Do any of these bad habits exist on our staff? And what could our ministry look like if we did the work to break those habits?

Ever thought about what it would be like to develop your staff—the right way? I created a special system for just that purpose. It’s called the Staff Development System. You can order it here.