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4 Ways to Make Your Next Weekly Team Meeting More Meaningful

4 Ways to Make Your Next Weekly Team Meeting More Meaningful

In the sea of too-many meetings, a bad weekly team meeting is like a sinking ship. Why do we do this to ourselves every week? Why do we waste our time? Why are they so boring?

A bad weekly team meeting ends up leaving people feeling deflated and unenergised.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Weekly team meetings are a really powerful tool. As with many powerful tools, misused and misapplied it ends up being a waste of time.

How can you make your next team meeting more powerful, more inspiring and more energising?

Before diving in, it's worthwhile taking a little step back and thinking about what purpose weekly team meetings serve. Weekly team meetings should be used for more complex and more interactive items. Too often however they are spent sharing information one-way. Boh-ring. Save that for e-mail or the million other tools out there that better serve that function.

Weekly team meetings should primarily be used for:

  • Creating deeper connections with each other
  • Collective brain-power & collaboration
  • Connecting and aligning with the purpose and values

This means you can ditch a lot of your regular recurring standard agenda. It's not inspiring. There may be some items which stay fixed, but you should leave a lot more room for fluid items. Below you'll find four ways in which you can mix up your team meetings and keep them fresh. These jazzed up meetings will leave people feeling energised and inspired! And a bonus? All of these techniques work virtually or in-person.

Focus on Purpose & Values

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Purpose is a huge motivator for people. Yet we spend so little time connecting the work we do with our purpose. Values are a really useful guiding light for decision making and behaviour, yet we spend so little time going beyond the 'values on a wall'. Team meetings are a great opportunity to go deeper. A simple activity is to get your shiny purpose statement and values on a wall (physical or virtual) . Give everyone 4-5 minutes to individually jot down their thoughts to questions like the following:

  • Which of our values do you think we've most faithfully lived in the last month?
  • Which of our values do you think we've most struggled to live in the last month?
  • What stories do you have about seeing our purpose and values in action?
  • How closely do you feel the work you've been doing connects to our company purpose?

Then break people into pairs/small-groups to discuss further before coming together as an extended group to go through insights and takeaways.

Run a Show & Tell

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Your team are doing awesome work that you can't always be across or appreciate unless it's visible. Especially on bigger projects or if someone's workload is predominantly 'BAU', progress can become hidden in the avalanche of deliverables.

Enter the 'Show and Tell'. But instead of bringing your favourite pet lizard to a team meeting, people (either all or a rotating selection depending on team size) bring along something they are working on. This can be something that's finished, it can be a new concept/idea, it can be something that's 30% done and needs some feedback or a cool new article/research paper. Anything at all relating to that person's thinking or work. They then get 5-10 minutes to 'show and tell' and then and additional 5-10 minutes for group discussion. This is a really neat way of giving everyone air time and visibility, not just the loudest.


Solve a Problem


Every company at every maturity level and every level of success has processes and things which just don't work or are a major pain to deal with. Every single one. The good companies make time and energy to quickly prioritise and deal with these issues rather than letting them fester and grow. At a team level, using team meetings to solve real problems is a winner. 

Firstly, it's handy having a shared space for people to jot down problems during the week (I like Trello, but there are many other good tools out there).

Then you can use a great process like this to select, ideate and come up with implementable actions all in the space of an hour. High-level summary of the process:

  1. People look through the list of problems and jot down the ones which are bugging them the most
  2. The group votes for which problem to focus on tackling
  3. A mix of individual + group time to come up with ideas to tackle the problem
  4. Selection of which idea to test and implement
  5. Action plan

This is a great way of making problem identification and problem-solving a part of your rhythm, and showcasing a commitment to continuous improvement.


Play a Board Game

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I am biased, but playing games is an amazing way to spend a team meeting. Playing games and having fun increases all those good chemicals in your brain which help foster better connection and news ways of thinking. You can broadly split games you'd use in team meetings into two buckets. 'Games for pure fun' and 'games for the workplace' (which are still fun, but are designed with the workplace specifically in mind).

On the 'pure fun' side of the spectrum, party games like Codenames are really easy to play, accessible and need team collaboration to play effectively (trust me, I mistakenly once played against both my sisters and the telepathic clues they gave each other were frightening). You can also play for free online. There are great party games out there, just be careful you pick one that is appropriate for the workplace (Cards Against Humanity I'm not looking at you).

On the 'games for the workplace' side of the spectrum, something like Quinks is designed specifically for better connecting people and teams. In a short space of time playing the game helps form a deeper understanding of teammates and strengthens connections. Workplace games range from the lighter/shorter to the longer/complex. The big plus of using a workplace-specific game is that they have been designed with some very clear outcomes in mind. So you can pick and choose a game based on the outcome you want to achieve.


Your Challenge: Jazz Up Your Next Team Meeting

That's four ways, but get creative, get playful and no doubt you can think up many more. So are you up for taking the challenge and adding some spark to your next team meeting? Your team will thank you, and everyone will feel more energised, connected and left without any doubt as to the value of the weekly team meeting!


Want to make your team meetings less boring?

At In the Game we create games, tools and programs you can use to get your team feeling more connected, more energised, more aligned and ready to perform. This can be long-standing teams, newly formed teams or temporary teams. We can help your team get that spark and cutting edge! If you're interested in finding out more get in touch: viren@inthegame.com.au.

This article first appeared on the In the Game blog: https://www.inthegame.com.au/post/4-ways-to-make-your-next-weekly-team-meeting-less-boring-and-more-meaningful

How A Feedback Culture Will Help You Avoid That Sinking Feeling

How A Feedback Culture Will Help You Avoid That Sinking Feeling

Have you ever had to deal with an issue that you should have known about…but didn’t? Did it give you that horrible sinking feeling? As a result, did you start to doubt yourself for not having seen the warning signs?

As the leader of a team or growing business, you can’t always be on the ground ‘doing’ or ‘executing’. But with too much distance you lose touch with what’s really happening. A break of just one link in the information chain causes you to lose all the transparency and relevant information that you need to be aware of what’s happening in your business. The ‘Iceberg of Ignorance’ study (Sydney Yoshida, 1989) showed that if you sit at the top of the iceberg then you will only be aware of 4% of the frontline problems within your company. Since then, advances in business analytics may have increased this figure, but in my experience, it still sits alarmingly lower than 100%. If that doesn’t scare you at least slightly, you should consider watching a documentary on the Titanic.

Micromanagement Is Not the Answer

To counteract this problem, some leaders will develop the habit of micromanagement. While it may seem like an effective short-term solution, micromanagement is never the answer. Micromanagement creates bottlenecks that effectively quash all the innovation and speed you crave from your team, while simultaneously destroying engagement. This is the road to a slow and painful death to your team's productivity, and probably to your company as well. It’s also exhausting and unsustainable, as you’re dragged down into a tangle of weeds and small-scale problems that prevent you from doing your real job – developing the team and operating more strategically.

A Feedback Culture Is Not for Muppets

Fortunately, there is a real solution to this problem: creating a feedback culture. More specifically, an effective and healthy feedback culture. I’m not talking about the kind of feedback culture which permits ‘leaders’ to be muppets. Where ‘leaders’ can yell offensive, unfiltered, obnoxious or inconsiderate ‘feedback’ at each other. A healthy feedback culture is one where people are encouraged to openly express their views in the spirit of healthy dissent and debate. It allows for genuine feedback to be delivered in a supportive and thoughtful way, with the intent of helping both the company and individuals, to grow and flourish. This kind of culture will encourage feedback to be shared regularly rather than allowing multiple issues to be bottled up for a once-in-a-blue-moon conversation (the kind of discussion that begins with a fear-inducing “we need to talk…”). And importantly, an effective feedback culture doesn’t rely on dishing out ineffective feedback sandwiches.

Feedback Culture in Action

Undoubtedly, one of the best places to observe a feedback culture in action is in sports - something I learnt while coaching a junior soccer team. Junior soccer is awesome; it’s all about growth, development and maximising enjoyment, with a pinch of results focus as you move up the age brackets. Coaching junior sports requires you to implement new techniques, tactics, concepts and strategies, week in and week out. If I observe the team or a player consistently making the same errors and mistakes during training or a game, do I wait until the end of the season to figure out what’s going on? No, that would be silly! You’d lose a whole season worth of growth and improved performance. Instead, we’d have an in-the-moment conversation to figure out a new and better way. Likewise, I want to genuinely praise the players often to build a great environment and culture and I want them to tell me what they are seeing on the ground during games so we can work on these things together.

Okay, so a feedback culture is good? No, it’s better than good! You get better, faster decisions, greater innovation and create a place where people grow, develop and enjoy coming to work. Who doesn’t want all those things!?


Better, Faster Decisions

  • Issues raised promptly = fewer stupid things happening. If you have a strong feedback culture, people (especially those right in the thick of ‘doing’) will be more likely to raise issues as they occur. This increased visibility allows you to react faster, fixing things before they become real problems. You can’t fix what you don’t know.
  • Minimise the hesitation surrounding decision-making. A feedback culture creates a strong and continuous flow of information. A greater supply of useful, timely information means you’re fully equipped to make better decisions. Additionally, having all the relevant information on hand reduces the propensity to second-guess decisions once they’ve been made. Instead, you can move forward quickly and confidently.


    Greater Innovation

    • Uncover more great ideas. A feedback culture gives the individual members of your team a real voice. And all of those voices are usually jam-packed full of juicy gems and embers of ideas which you can help foster.
    • Shape and refine ideas. Ideas typically need a great deal of refining to help them flourish. A good feedback culture promotes healthy debate surrounding new ideas. That healthy debate is where the good stuff happens. Ideas will improve, take shape and grow into something really special. The ‘Build-Measure-Learn’ feedback loop is a great example of this in action. A healthy feedback culture supports each and every step in this iterative process.

      Create a Place Where People Grow, Develop and Enjoy Coming to Work

      • Increase autonomy and alignment. A feedback culture helps you move away from micromanaging others. It will enable you to provide your staff with aligned autonomy, and this is a darn good thing. Why? Because people love autonomy!
      • Engagement increases when people feel heard. In an effective feedback culture (where something actually happens with feedback, not where feedback rots away inaction) people will know their input and opinion matters, and who doesn’t like this?
      • Builds career development and growth. Well delivered feedback, that’s delivered as a conversation, not a statement, is a powerful tool for individual growth and development. Career development is one of the most highly desirable attributes people look for in a company and role.
      • A positive motivational climate. An increased frequency of high-quality positive feedback is one of the essential qualities of a positive motivational environment. This has a huge impact on building both team engagement and individual confidence.

        Don’t be one of those leaders that sits at the top of the ‘Iceberg of Ignorance’, totally unaware of the issues happening below the surface in your company. Create a healthy feedback culture. If you don’t, that sinking feeling will always be just around the corner.

        Want to make a start right away? Grab a copy of Quinks and start playing. Effective relationships, powerful questions and listening are at the heart of a feedback culture!

        If you'd like to talk more about creating a healthy feedback culture send me an e-mail at viren@inthegame.com.au – I’d love to talk more with you. We have a great approach that will enable you to build a healthy feedback culture in your company, using a mix of process redesign, game-based learning and coaching.

        This article first appeared on the In the Game blog: https://www.inthegame.com.au/post/how-a-feedback-culture-will-help-you-avoid-that-sinking-feeling


        Image Credits:

        The Origins of Quinks

        The Origins of Quinks

        I have run in excess of one hundred leadership development workshops and attended many, many more.  I’ve been subject to long tedious monologues from trainers and almost died a dozen deaths in front of a Powerpoint presentation.  In that time I’ve observed how different people learn, what they respond to in terms of training materials and what activities create lasting change.  What I know is that the introduction of game-based learning a few years ago into my own workshops gets an amazing response.  The feedback is always clearly that participants felt more included and engaged, they had more fun, and that they could retain the information better as a result.

        So I did some reflecting on this situation and my desire is to enable more leaders, more facilitators, more trainers, to bring the power of game-based learning to their training courses and workplaces.

        The best way to begin this journey was to amplify and box up one of the games I developed for my own training.  It teaches the key skills that leaders and coaches require: questioning and listening.

        What fuelled the fire was a reflection on great personal and professional conversations that I had had in the past.  I noticed they all had things in common:

        • The person asked great, open, questions
        • They really listened to my answers and then flipped back the conversation in a way that gave me new insights about myself
        • The other person was interested in me as a whole being, not just Viren-at-work or Viren-at-home.

        The game of Quinks replicates these attributes through both its structure and content, and the gamification makes it fun and accessible for everyone. And why the name Quinks? Questions that make you think :)