The New Year provides you with a refreshingly clean slate, an opportunity to reset how you’ve been doing things and give yourself and your team a new start. This is a great time to re-think the rituals you and your teams rely upon and to establish some new habits. Start with your weekly team meeting.
If your team is slow to get started during those routine meetings, and you feel like you are doing all the talking, try this simple, yet powerful exercise to get things started.
Before jumping into the meeting agenda, go around the table and ask each team member to briefly share one thing that has happened to them since the last meeting that is new and/or good. The nugget can be of a personal or professional nature. The only rule is that no one can opt out. As the manager, you might want to begin the commentary with something new and/or good such as:
“You finally got the garaged cleaned out.”
“The team met its quarterly goals.”
“A customer called to say thanks for _______.”
Your contribution sets the tone for how the others will respond. This simple exercise has several positive effects on the group:
- It allows everyone to participate in the meeting—within the first five minutes. No one can just sit back and hide. This warm up requires active participation right up front!
- It begins the meeting on a positive note. In my experience, this is a great time to share the birth of babies, the marriage of children, and even the little accomplishments in life like, “My son scored his first goal in soccer.”
- It adds energy to the room. If your team meetings lack enthusiasm, this exercise has the potential to add some fun, humor, and personal connection right from the start. A few favorite responses I’ve heard from meeting participants are:
“My daughter finally got her driver’s license!”
“I booked vacation reservations!”
“We got a new piece of equipment for the team to use!”
It’s hard not to smile when a colleague reports something they are excited about. The enthusiasm is quickly contagious.
- It allows team members to form a stronger connection with one another. Many times during this quick warm-up meeting participants will share something of a personal nature that illustrates a similarity they have with someone else on the team. These flashes of connection (“Oh you are from Ohio too?”) allows otherwise individual contributors to better relate to one another.
Begin 2016 with an assessment of the rituals you use in team meetings. If a little boost is in order, try beginning each meeting with something new or good. When the exercise is repeated in each meeting, team members begin to look forward to sharing their “something new” and your meetings will begin to take on a positive, forward-focused tone.