One Challenge area directors (AD) meet once per year at the U.S. Mobilization Center (US-MC) in Colorado Springs. These meetings are a valuable opportunity for face-to-face interaction and collaboration, not only among the directors but also with the US-MC staff. The ADs traveled in from various places in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America…
At the end of these meetings, David, Vice President of Global Ministries, shared his thoughts on the important relationship between the US-MC and our field workers.
What are some unique positives to meeting at the US-MC that may not be present in the meetings that take place on the field? What are the benefits of having the Area Directors and Board members together in one place?
The most significant positive of meeting at the US-MC is being able to include other US-MC workers in the AD meetings. These meetings invariably cover subjects that touch on different aspects of the US-MC operation – finance, communications, personnel, etc. Having US-MC leaders working directly with the AD’s is a real positive. What could otherwise be simply policies and directives become mutual discussion points that enrich decision-making when considered from both the US-MC and overseas perspective.
Beyond that, it’s even more of a blessing when the AD meetings coincide with a meeting of the Board of Directors. The word that comes to mind is ‘connection.’ Connections happen when names on paper become real people, real people in meetings and sharing meals together. Connections happen when written reports are verbally discussed, bringing issues to life in a unique way. Connections happen when Area Directors and Board members roll up their sleeves and work together on policy issues…mutual understanding and affirmation take place, and collaboration happens.
Can you provide examples or details of how face-to-face connection builds a relationship of trust between US-MC staff and our teams on the field?
Organizations like ours, with workers across the world, face unique challenges, one of which is building and maintaining a sense of ‘we.’ It could be easy to have a corporate sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ given our geographic spread. There’s no denying that we have many more communication tools available to us now than we’ve had in the past – between email, internet-based video calls, social media and more. We’ve never been more connected than we are now. However, even with all these communication possibilities, nothing beats face-to-face connection and relationship-building – especially when it comes to building trust between our home office and our overseas workers.
When we’re face-to-face, we dig deeply into issues (especially complex ones). Being together in the same room helps us make better decisions, as we have better communication. We pay attention to nuances (such as body language). We have sidebar conversations that enrich specific meeting discussions. This helps us build trust with one another – as well as when we simply spend time together, not discussing ‘business’ but rather engaging one another as people.
As someone who is based here at the US-MC, can you offer any insight into how interacting with AD members brings a sense of value to your labor here in the office?
It could be easy to slip into the mindset of ‘in the building’ thinking – not always remembering that our US-MC efforts are in support of people we don’t see very often. Having the ADs on campus brings a tangible reminder of people, and the broader picture of why the US-MC exists. The AD presence provides a reminder of the bigger picture, which automatically increases the sense of meaning and value connected to our work!