How do you advocate for one of these types of programs where we’re receiving feedback from attendees that they are already over-programmed during the meeting, and that what they would really like is free time?
They want free time because they do not see the value of the team building session over the other sessions. We need to do an amazing job of aligning our program with the entire meeting so that it does not feel like a disconnected session that is unrelated to business. It should feel like an interactive session that complements the existing message and builds on the overall dialogue. I do not believe that the solution is to cut the “team building” or “connection time” from the meeting.
NOTE – I am currently conducting a survey to determine the top 10 desired outcomes from company meetings. My assumption lines up with the early data, which shows that people attend meetings with the goals of connecting with co-workers, getting a personal sense of the leadership, and developing their network. Most of the presenters talking about financial stuff, company strategy, future products, and other nuts and bolts items, end up just reading from their PowerPoint. These elements can be delivered in an informational email or webinar previous to the face-to-face time. The biggest value of the face-to-face meetings is not the sharing of data and details, but making an emotional connection to the data and one another.
We have a few meetings weekly, and so far none are really productive, resulting in a huge emotional response from several folks. How can we change the emotional memory so that these meetings become productive?
Research has shown that physiology is critical to our state of mind and that the complexity of the human condition requires us to address the physical self in addition to the mental state. Some suggestions and things to try — these are very simple and they will work. I have seen this work for 23 years EVERY TIME.
> Do not let people sit in the same seat for each meeting or for more than 30 minutes at one meeting. They become territorial of their seat and their ideas. Standing is preferred when brainstorming or when you would like to have open dialogue. Be sure ALL seats feel like they are just as important as the next, and that each person can see and be heard. If you are going to allow sitting, then every 15 minutes have people move to a new seat. I am not joking… this will work, and they will smile, move, engage, and feel better without you even trying. They might resist this the first time, but then they will begin to prepare for the switch and move past the resistance.
> Never promise to have the meeting over in “X” amount of time so that we can all get back to work. WHAT?! I have seen so many meetings start this way. Start each meeting with a STAND. Make a strong stand for what you expect the value from the meeting will be and why you need them engaged. Example: “Thanks for being here team. I am thrilled we have this time together and hope we have enough time to fully understand the value of this presentation to our success. We will be going over the financial today and you all know how important this information is to our ability to project the next business move and make our life easier. I value each of your input and perspective and I invited you to be here because I am convinced we can grow our business if each of us fully understand this data.” You get the idea. Make it sound good to be at the meeting and make a big promise and then deliver. If the leader is not passionate about the meeting then the team will follow.
> Listen very carefully to the “Beliefs of your team.” When you hear a negative belief, you need to identify the belief in a non-threatening way and then go to work to change it. Example: I am… People are… Life is… This meeting is… This team is… My boss is… This project is… and so on. Beliefs influence focus, and that creates reality for people. If people say, “My boss is great,” then they will see things that support that belief. If I love the rain, then when I hear it raining in the morning, I am already happy and my mood is up. If people believe this meeting is a waste of time, then they will be very slow to see anything else.
> The huge emotional response is actually a good thing. Change your belief about it. They have emotion because they still care and they want it to be better. If you get to a point that you no longer see emotion, then people are becoming apathetic and they will not work to improve the situation.
How does Odyssey incorporate meaningful activities prior to the build in particular? I struggle with people just wanting to build a bike for hours and then are underwhelmed by donation numbers.
Do not let them know anything about the building element going into the event. The philanthropic impact should be a surprise and the cherry on top. If the session is only seen as a CSR give back program, then the focus is on giving, and they will measure the value based on how much they gave. That seems normal to me. If the session is focused on learning outcomes and value to the participants, then they will be looking for the value to themselves and their team. The value that is given to the greater community is only a wonderful addition to an already valuable training session.
We start with the intellectual part of the session, incorporating simple activities or interactions simply to build on the concepts. The focus is not on activity. The activities build in complexity, and the concepts also build. We make EVERY action have a purpose to help the participants see how the entire program is connected and relevant to their everyday life. The culmination with a CSR element or climactic activity should be when the participants are fully engaged in the learning and understand the connections between the two. They should be seeing the learnings for themselves, and need very little spoon-feeding of the lessons at this point.
Updates from your favorite Leadership, CSR, Teambuilding company that offers Life Cycles (the original company where you’ll build a bike for children), Helping Hands (Build-a-Hand), Playhouse Challenge and so much more.
I travel quite a bit as a lead facilitator for Odyssey Teams, Inc. On my route to SFO (San Francisco International Airport), I drive by a church in the City by the Bay that has a sign out front with an ever-changing quote or phrase. It’s now like my fortune cookie that I look forward to as I’m heading off to lead our programs or returning home to be a husband and father.
A few weeks back, the phrase on the sign read, “Never pass up a good opportunity to remain silent.” What a good reminder. Do I really need to say what I am thinking? If I am already planning what I am about to say, am I really listening to who is speaking to me? Am I speaking to be right, out of defense, or to raise my own ego a bit?
In our programs we often speak of A.R.T. (Aware of our Reflexive Tendencies) and of shifting our patterns to get a different/better result from whatever situation we are currently facing. Sometimes this requires stepping out of our comfort zone at some level. I think that for the majority (myself included), keeping quiet, listening for a moment longer, or pausing to reflect before speaking, is not typical behavior and thus is indeed outside of our comfort zone. We will never know the benefit gained to our goals, family, partners, relationships or self from remaining silent unless we do so more often. What do you have to say about that?
When I was around 8 years old, my father purchased 644 acres of California land from my great uncle. It was located an hour drive from our house, and we made the trip every weekend. The land has since become a lifelong passion for my father—and rightly so, for it truly is an incredible piece of acreage. But as a kid, it looked a lot more like a ton of work. The parcel was utterly unfinished. With only a jeep road running through it, we had nothing but a blank canvas and some real family teambuilding ahead.
Over the course of the next 5 years, my father developed ten miles of roads with his D9 tractor as we spent countless hours following him with a chainsaw. My brother and I stacked brush to burn in the winter as he cut the fence line or developed and manicured cleared areas. One summer, my father decided that we needed a barn to store materials and protect the tractor. I can recall my mother, sister, big brother, and I pulling on a rope as we lifted the beams into position and stood the timbers that would act as the primary supports. To this day, I still do not understand how we managed it. The barn still stands after 40 years, and I remain amazed.
I was reminiscing with my father about all the things I learned through the work. I recalled the way that we came together as a family, a team, and a work crew to bring his vision to reality. I learned so many things as we raised that barn. As I hugged my father goodbye today, I realized that the biggest thing I learned from that barn was that I could do anything I put my mind to. My father was a great leader and he firmly believed that we could do anything if we were willing to work hard and believed in ourselves. As we raised our barn, I could feel myself being raised right alongside.
We spent many years fishing in the pond that we constructed, innumerable hours working in the barn, and I even asked my wife of 20 years to marry me on the exact place where my parents’ house now stands. I have grown to love that land, that barn, the work. My kids are now fishing in the pond and extending the boundaries of their potential as they explore. Thanks Dad for making me work, for helping me face my childhood with a healthy balance of responsibility and play. But most of all, thanks for building that barn with only your wife and three small children. You showed me I can do anything and that the possibilities are endless with great leadership and enough trust, teamwork, and confidence.