Eve Annunziato

Bonding Over Building April 27, 2008

Filed under: Team Building — Eve Annunziato @ 9:36 pm

If you ever bring up the subject of recruiting and managing volunteers with members of a non-profit organization there’s an instant bond. The immediate connection occurs while you discover that others, too, experience the joy, satisfaction, challenge and frustration of building and leading a volunteer-based crew. In reality, you don’t lead volunteers… Instead, they lead you!

I recently had the privilege and honor of brainstorming this subject with a group of amazing people while sharing my Team Building Solutions workshop with the management team at West End Community Church in Nashville, TN. Overseeing strong volunteer teams isn’t easy no matter how long you’ve been involved in church ministry. None-the-less, there’s something tremendously rewarding about helping members of your community discover their strengths, connect them to a team and watch them use their God given gifts to build the body of Christ. I’m quite passionate about this amazing process and the subject frankly, fires me up!

It was an incredible experience to talk strategies and solutions on how to build, organize, and structure volunteer teams, then manage, lead and maintain healthy ministries! Although many of us have served “in the church biz” for many years, you would think we all have it down. As you well know, when it comes to dealing with people, it’s not an exact science. I’ve learned through trial and error many lessons, but I still have many teachable moments that help keep me humble (notice I emphasized the word “help!”).

Because I prefer to conduct the workshop as a dialogue rather than a monologue, I encourage the participants to interrupt me at any time to fire out questions. There was one from senior Pastor Carter Crenshaw that was a favorite. Well into the program, Pastor Carter admitted that it seems like other churches have an efficient process that volunteers are beating down doors to serve. He asked if my phone was “ringing 10 times a day” from folks begging to work with me. “Is it really that easy for you and other churches to recruit volunteers, I mean, are they calling you constantly to serve on your teams?” Crenshaw pondered. My answer: No, no and no! I wish it were that easy. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. This process is extremely rigorous. Let’s face it, families are busy with living chaotic lives. There’s work outside and inside the home, music lessons, homework, sports practices, games, recitals, family obligations and much, much more. But, there are concrete approaches you can implement such as building relationships, casting vision, delegating appropriately and focusing on quality. There are steps that help make the process more manageable while developing teams that are attractive, exciting, rewarding and worth the extra time and effort to any volunteer. It takes organization, structure, and discipline to implement well.

Thanks, West End, for graciously welcoming me. I look forward to some upcoming one-on-one sessions with staff members so, together, we can create healthy volunteer groups! I’m enjoying this journey of bonding over building teams.

One other note worth mentioning. I was extremely impressed by this entire team led by Pastor Carter and Staff Director, Patrick Kelly; for all that they are doing to bring people into His Kingdom all for His glory. But, one observation that I would like to celebrate is that four members of their Upper Management staff are women. Way to go! That is not something I see often in ministry. Having diversity in leadership, realizing that both genders convey unique God given talents, skills and invaluable strengths to any team is something, among a long list of other accomplishments, that your community should be quite proud of!



Ask And You Shall Receive Part 2 April 21, 2008

Filed under: Team Building — Eve Annunziato @ 12:56 am

As I suspected I would, I received feedback, emails and comments this week from several of you on the topic of delegation. So, I decided to continue sharing some more thoughts. To catch some of you up, here’s my philosophy about it (I also suggest you scroll down and read last week’s post):

Much to my chagrin, I know I can’t do it all. To avoid getting frustrated and overwhelmed, I surround myself with people smarter and more specialized, structured, organized, talented, and experienced than I am. Delegate well and often, and it will be a testament to your team building skills. Remember, ask and you shall receive. After all, “Leadership is not something you do to people, it’s something you do with people.”- Ken Blanchard.

Here are some more specific delegating tips I’ve learned while structuring and building strong teams:

  • Delegate A Co-Leader – Whenever I lead a team, I delegate a co-leader or an apprentice. This person is my right-hand so to speak. A person that shadows you and helps you lead the team. It’s always wise to have someone, in addition to you, who understands the vision, structure, and every detail. This way, you have a person to fill-in for you if you get sick, travel, go on maternity leave, or when your job description seems to get bigger with added responsibilities. A co-leader can even replace you when you get the call to build another team, switch departments or get promoted. Don’t be apprehensive to take team players under your wing, enable them and teach them all that you know. This isn’t intended to threaten you, but rather to expand your credibility, increase your ability to do more, and allow you to grow your team. Empower leaders around you and your team will flourish as a result.
  • Be More Specific – I always advise my team members to delegate specific roles. In other words, once your team grows, you can delegate an administrative leader to help with scheduling, reminder phone calls, and financial records. How about delegating a shepherd leader; someone who will send out birthday cards, make meals and hospital visits and will help care for your team. In an effort to build healthy relationships with all members, care for them both personally and professionally. Delegate an e-mail leader. Sound crazy? Not in this virtual wireless age. This person can send out e-mail reminders, e-mail newsletters, and be your electronic communications coordinator. This type of mindset can save you time and energy.
  • Job Description – This is a no-brainer. Once you delegate leaders, project coordinators, and any other assistants for long or short-term projects, provide every team member with a job description. Be sure it includes the project vision statement, mission, timeline, and list of responsibilities.

“He climbed a mountain and invited those he wanted with him. They climbed together. He settled on twelve, and designated them apostles. The plan was that they would be with him, and he would send them out to proclaim the Word and give them authority…” (Mark 3:14-15).  Jesus recruited them, trained them, and then empowered them to recruit and train others…and so can you! 

On another note, this week I’m bringing my Team Building Solutions workshop to the staff at West End Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee. I can’t wait to meet all of the wonderful members of this incredible team, to teach, to share and to learn. I’ll be posting my experience next week!







Ask And You Shall Receive April 14, 2008

Filed under: Team Building — Eve Annunziato @ 1:35 am

I get this question a lot: How do you get things done? My answer is – you ask! Is it really that uncomplicated? I mean, delegation isn’t as simplistic as it sounds, or is it? While leading a staff, a team, a project, or a simple task, I honestly don’t get anything done by doing it myself. If I were to rely on my skills, my abilities, my gifts, my talents and my experiences, we would all be in trouble and quite frankly I would fail – often. I would fail myself, the team, the task, the vision, the overall outcome and myself. Delegation is unequivocally the most important discipline in leadership.

“Successful delegation of authority as a leadership style takes time and energy, but it’s worth the time and energy to help employee involvement and employee empowerment succeed as a leadership style. It’s worth the time and energy to help employees succeed, develop and meet your expectations. You build the employee’s self-confidence and people who feel successful usually are successful.” Susan M. Heathfield
Here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  Build on your flaws – Designate assignments to people who are strong where you’re weak. My favorite example of this is when God spoke to Moses via the burning bush and asked him to return to Egypt to free His people. Moses was apprehensive and thought God had the wrong guy. “I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” He exclaimed (Exodus 4:10). Therefore, God delegated his brother, Aaron, to assist Moses. This biblical character was articulate, charismatic and able to stand before kings and crowds persuasively. Later, God added their sister, Miriam, to the team. An amazing leader to the women of Israel who served as the creative artist in the bunch. She sang, danced, and celebrated their achievement. If that type of strategic team building is good enough for God, well, then…

2.  Let it go – Don’t be so concerned about having control over every detail. Most of the time, when I delegate a project, the outcome doesn’t turn out exactly the way I had envisioned; it’s usually a lot better. If you give complete control to those you trust, you’ll learn that their limitless creativity will exceed your expectations. During a church outreach project this past fall, I delegated the music for the kids program to an amazing singer, songwriter, and producer. She said reluctantly, “But, Eve I’m not a leader.” I told her that I believed in her talent and boy was I blown away. She practiced with the children every Friday for months (without me asking her to do so), rearranged the most powerful original rendition of, “Our God Is An Awesome God,” and the outcome was spectacular, all for His glory. I’m thankful I didn’t stand in her way, I just encouraged her along the way.

3.  Keep each task organized and structured – make sure each teammate understands your vision and expectation while providing a time line that includes a deadline. Continuously provide feedback while getting updates on their progress. And last, once the assignment is successfully completed, be sure to thank and reward each team member. Keep in mind, you can be involved and organized without micromanaging by making sure each person has complete creative control.

Much to my chagrin, I know I can’t do it all. To avoid getting frustrated and overwhelmed, I surround myself with people smarter and more specialized, structured, organized, talented, and experienced. Delegate well and often, and it will be a testament to your team building skills. Remember, ask and you shall receive. After all, “Leadership is not something you do to people, it’s something you do with people.”- Ken Blanchard.



The Most Magical Place On Earth April 6, 2008

Filed under: Just thinking... — Eve Annunziato @ 3:29 am

They constantly strive for extreme excellence; beauty, adventure and they do it with heart and with soul. It’s a place where you’re led to believe that family, and most importantly children, come first. All kids are addressed as prince and princess and every single person is treated like royalty. The more than 40-thousand employees appear to be courteous, helpful, delightful and cheerful and are trained to treat each person with respect and dignity. Workers are taught to answer every person’s question, related or unrelated, and if they don’t have one they’ll happily find it. The streets are clean and everything is orderly, neat and tidy. One proud insider told me that, “All of the team members are taught that every employee is a custodian and that there’s no such thing as, ‘it’s not my job.’ Here guests are most important and it’s a pleasure to work for this organization.” A sentiment echoed all throughout this place. Even the rule signs are polite, and a bit apologetic, such as, “Please Don’t Smoke Here, We Are So Sorry for Any Inconvenience That We May Have Caused.” After all, it’s the place where dreams really do come true!

Why else would 16 million people a year visit the over 30,000 acres (the size of San Francisco) destination? Why else would an average family of four spend up to $476.00 per day for park hopper tickets? Why else would folks spend hard earned money for the airfare, lodging, costly food, and trinkets, without complaining? Disney World, one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, is a top-rated, first class, well organized, and well managed operation. Recently, we met my entire family and stayed in the park for the week and I was able to witness the magical place in action. We visited all four major theme parks, rode killer roller coasters and other rides, visited movie sets with drama and amazing dangerous stunts and explored an African Safari with live giraffes, hippos, elephants, monkeys and other exotic animals up close and personal. We entered the world of outer-space, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Fantasia, Nemo, The Muppets, and The Lion King. We swam in pools with giant dragon slides, joined thrilling character breakfasts, and watched over one dozen of Disney’s amazing high tech entertaining live stage shows. We had a blast, to say the least, and we’re already mapping out in our heads our next trip in a few years. We have not one complaint and the cost doesn’t compare to the euphoria and joy, the little and BIG kids had, during our Disney experience.

“Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings. Animation offers a medium of story telling and visual entertainment, which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world. We believed in our idea – a family park where parents and children could have fun- together.” Walt Disney
I mention all of this, because the adventure made me ponder a few things. I was just thinking, what if we all adopted the Disney philosophy? In other words, what if we treated all the components of our lives with this über mentality of quality, devotion, dedication and commitment? We would be giving our best to God, our church, our community, our spouse, our children, our friendships and ourselves. What if we approached leadership in this way? We would be giving our best to our employees or employers, our staff, our teammates, our co-workers, our clients and volunteers. We would be accepting nothing less than top quality in all aspects of our lives far greater and more important than theme parks. I’m motivated and challenged to want to reach for excellence rather than accept mediocrity. After all, God gives us his finest, his first fruit and new wineskins. My observation was a much-needed reminder of how I should try to strive to manage all avenues of my spiritual, personal and professional life with excellence.  Just a thought!