Three Ways to Get the Team on the Same Page
Everyone belongs to a group. Sometimes those groups are meant to be long term teams. Other times you are just meeting for a few times but you still could benefit from the feeling of being a team! Ah…
What will transform your group into the feeling of a well functioning, high-powered, unstoppable team?
Over the last couple months, I facilitated a couple of teams – company teams, task forces, a Board and a large team that meets once a year to do special things together. Each of these experiences gave me a new insight about how:
1. People like to be valued
2. Everyone wants a unique role
3. All want regular opportunities to offer really meaningful contributions
Let’s talk about how to do that. I am also going to offer some great tips for really powerful brainstorming because that will relate to the third point.
1. Everyone wants to feel valuable.
- Find out what gifts they bring. Questions you might ask of every member of the team is, “As you think about the mission, purpose or task before us, what is a unique perspective or gift that you could offer to this project or team?” Have them share in pairs for three minutes each, on the question you just asked them. Invite them one by one to write their gifts down on a large post-it. Then if they are willing, have them explain the gift and why or how they came to possess this gift with the whole group. That will have the impact of connecting everyone with each other and seeing each other in a new light.
- Honor those gifts by using them. If you are the chair of the group, it is your job to remember what gifts they talked about, and regularly invite them to contribute in those ways. You might also create a poster of those gifts and make sure they are visible to everyone at each meeting. You might start the meeting off by saying, “At this point in the meeting, we will be calling on Stephanie because she has the gift of…”
- Remind them of gifts they have that they did not know about. Often people don’t recognize their own gifts. Again, both as a participant or as chair of the group, you can notice things that the team member is contributing that they may not even realize is a unique perspective or gift. You can say, “Thank you, Dimitri for affirming our work. It is great to have someone who can regularly recognize the positive contributions of this group.”
2. Everyone has a role.
Again, the point of this is to make people feel valued as in the first point yet this is less like the gifts and more like the regular role that a person will play. You could ask them, for example, “What’s the one thing you could do that will make a difference to this project or team?” It should be something that they can consistently offer up. I often find my role is to listen really well, and then to sum up what I think the key points are. So I could play the role of synthesizer.
To be effective in identifying the most useful roles for the project or team, you might have the group brainstorm all the possible roles that this team needs to complete the task. Then each person can sign up for two or three of the roles. Typical and atypical roles might include: timekeeper, setting up space, snack provider, joke teller, note taker, appreciator, flipchart taker.
3. Everyone likes to contribute.
You want to find multiple ways to help people contribute. If you haven’t seen this video on Multiple Intelligences and easy ways to engage each intelligence in meetings, watch it here:
In point two above, we mentioned brainstorming. Brainstorming is normally a great way to get people engaged and feeling like they are making a contribution. However, there are many things we should pay attention to when we ask people to brainstorm. If you do not, you may end up with people feeling like their contribution is not valued. See below for best practices in brainstorming.
Brainstorming Tip 1: Give clear focus and instructions.
When undertaking a creative idea session, it’s a good thing to be very clear in your focus and instructions. Here are ways to ensure that:
1. Post the brainstorming or focus question and ensure everyone feels it is a good use of their time to answer this question.
2. Present a general description of the idea generating process – use visuals to help people understand.
3. Ask, “Any questions of clarity needed on what we are about to do?” Pause. Answer succinctly any questions. Keep your answers very short because you will tire people out before they start if you do not.
4. Let everyone know the timing of each step of the process. Start the process.
5. When they start generating ideas, give everyone a clear “5 minutes left” timing reminder. Tell them again in 2 minutes.
6. Thank them for their work and continue with your process.
Brainstorming Tip 2: Set the stage for creative brainstorming
Here are three ways to prepare the mind of participants to be creative in their brainstorm and access their deepest associations and experiences:
1. Lay out a variety of toys, rocks, markers and other props on each table to fire up their imagination. Have participants choose one object that appeals to them and tell their small group what this prop symbolizes and how it relates to the brainstorming focus. Visit your local party store, dollar store or explore the website for office toys.
2. Spread long white paper on tables available for doodling. Doodling means random sketching and symbol making by participants at their own leisure. Visit your art or restaurant supply stores.
3. Place multi-coloured markers & highlighters, post-it notes, stickers, etc. – Encourage participants to use various tools for their idea generation. You can tell them what to use for which process. Visit your office supply store for these or Neuland makes great recyclable markers.
Brainstorming Tip 3: Follow this sequence: individual – small group – whole group.
1. Individual: Give each individual time to think or her or his own. This uses their intra-personal intelligence. Give everyone 2-5 minutes depending on complexity of the question you are asking them to address. Ask everyone to remain silent so all can think. Play music at low volume sometimes as a background aid to creativity. This uses our musical intelligence. e.g., quick paced instrumental music.
2. Small group: Next, break the full group into pairs or triads. Ask them to share their best ideas with each other. Give them 10-15 minutes for this. This uses our interpersonal intelligence and builds understanding.
3. Whole group: Next, ask each small group to share their top 1-3 ideas with the whole group to resolve this issue. Write them neatly down on a flipchart, laptop with screen or other devices so all can see each answer. When you have your whole list of ideas, ask for questions of clarity. This uses our linguistic and visual intelligences.
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