Meetings can serve many purposes from brainstorming and problem solving to project management and collaboration. They can also provide an opportunity for you and your staff to strengthen your working relationships and improve your team dynamics.
You don’t have to be in person to engage in team building. By including small activities in your regular interactions you can help employees feel connected and cohesive from any location, which can enhance performance and employee engagement. As you plan your next virtual gathering, consider implementing any or all of the three exercises below.
Get your conversation started with a simple icebreaker. Depending on the goal for the meeting, you can ask about something that:
- Relates to the important topics you’ll be discussing (e.g., “When completing a project, what needs to be in place for you to feel it’s going well?”)
- Is totally tangential to get creative energies – and laughter – flowing (e.g., “What fashion trend are you glad went away?”)
- Provides practical advice for colleagues (e.g., “What is your top work-from-home tip?”)
- Encourages connection and helps you learn about your coworkers (e.g., “What is one interest of yours that the group may not know about?”)
I find it helpful for managers to share the first check-in question. Identify your thought starter, share it with the group and have individuals respond when they are ready. In big groups, you may also encourage staff to turn off their video cameras after replying so everyone can keep track of who still needs to share.
After modeling the check-in question activity, ask your team members to take turns bringing an inquiry for the group. If you need any ideas, there’s no shortage of icebreakers one Google search away. You can also try this question generator to rotate through creative, practical and reflective meeting openers.
To begin, ask every employee to have their video camera turned on. You will read a sentence, and if that statement resonates with a staff member, they will keep their video camera on. If it does not resonate, they turn their camera off.
Give colleagues a moment to notice who is still onscreen and who is not. Then invite everyone to turn their camera back on before reading the next statement. Again, employees who agree with the sentiment will keep their cameras on and those who do not will turn their cameras off. Repeat this exercise with five to ten sentences.
The goal of the activity is to recognize similarities and differences among individuals in the group as well as help them to get to know each other. To come up with the statements, consider using topics that are not business-related as well as ones that describe your working preferences to support team dynamics. Here are some ideas:
- I am a night owl.
- I am comfortable with silence.
- I prefer tea to coffee.
- I am usually the first to say something in a meeting.
- I enjoy a calm, steady pace at work.
- I have pets.
- I see decisions as rough drafts.
- I enjoy debating with colleagues.
- I like karaoke.
- I prefer to make a decision and stick to it.
For Emergenetics® Profile holders, you may notice that some statements in this activity connect to the Emergenetics Attributes. To ideate on additional sentiments related to the work styles of the various Thinking and Behavioral preferences, reference your Profile, Tip Sheet or the Emergenetics+ mobile app.
A check-out question can help summarize a meeting while also taking the temperature of your team members. One of the thought starters we like to use at Emergenetics is a sentence stem where we ask each attendee to respond to two phrases:
I came into this meeting thinking/feeling…
I am leaving this meeting thinking/feeling…
Allow for a minute or two of silence to give employees time to process their responses before asking each individual to share their answers when they are ready. By hearing each person’s response, your staff can gain insights into what their colleagues are taking away from the discussion, which may inspire ideas, new connections, further questions or additional thoughts to follow up with at a future conversation.
Team building activities do not need to take long to support cohesion. In fact, each of the exercises above should take no more than five minutes for a medium sized group. By spending a little time in each meeting to get to know each other, understand one another as well as connect on a personal and professional level, you’ll start to experience better working relationships.
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