Are Your Weekly Team Meetings Weak?
By Victoria Del Frate
Do you ever find yourself at the head of that same oblong table in front of the same 10, 20 or more pair of glazed-over eyes, listening to yourself drone on about sales stats and production levels, asking if anyone has a topic that they’d like to discuss, knowing no one is likely to even hiccup?
Do you find yourself using worn out clichés like “At the end of the day…” “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team,'” or my personal favorite, “I think it’s important that we remember to look at the big picture?” Or have you long since given up on the vision of facilitating energetic, creative, engaging and productive team meetings and have opted to simply bring in donuts and coffee every Tuesday instead?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a Krispy Kreme I didn’t like, however, they’ve never wielded the power to inspire me to be more productive, brainstorm system efficiencies, or motivate me to set a stretch-goal for myself.
So what does a leader have to do to get his team to show up consistently to weekly team meetings and actually participate? The answer is simple…Make it fun! Yes, F.U.N.
There’s always going to be facts, figures, projections and corporate news that must be shared, but that doesn’t have to be the whole enchilada. What about the jalapenos, black olives, extra cheese and sour cream? These “extras” can be added into your weekly team meetings in the form of connection, vision, sharing, creativity, empowerment, vulnerability and encouragement.
The following are ideas and activities that some of my clients have implemented with their teams that have reported having boosted morale, strengthened the team bond, and increased productivity.
Introduce the idea of developing one’s own vision. Explain to the team that by creating their own Vision Boards they can keep their focus on exactly what they aspire to be and do. By keeping that vision clearly in front of them every day, they will be reminded of the “why” behind every project, task and choice they take on. Have them cut out pictures of their dream home, vacation destinations and words that inspire them. These cut-outs, plus photos, drawings and anything else that visually motivates them can then be glued onto a poster board. Instruct the team to complete the project at home, and then schedule the next meeting to have each person share their vision board with the team.
What you need: -Your own vision board to share, first. Being a Leader means walking the talk and blazing the trail. -20 or so used magazines. -Poster boards -Scissors
One of my clients starts off every meeting with a standing ovation. They clap and cheer for a job well done for the week. Select one person from the group who exhibited excellence during the previous week. Perhaps your Administrative Assistant went above and beyond in helping to calm an irate client or maybe, one of your team members came up with a processing efficiency or new marketing tactic. Once you have described the “deed,” then announce the individual and have them rise to receive their own standing ovation. Lastly, ask the team if there is anyone that someone would like to recognize or thank personally. Receiving kudos from one’s peers can have a powerfully positive effect on the team dynamics.
What you need: -To be conscious. Look for excellence and make sure to note it so that you can easily recall it later. -Lots of energy. Lead by example by clapping and cheering in a boisterous manner. Act self-assured and make it safe for your team members to feel that they can follow your lead.
The Art of Positivity and Possibility
Integrate positivity and possibility into the team culture by making resources readily available. Bring in your favorite motivational/inspirational books, CDs, movies, podcasts, presentations, website resources, etc to share with your team. Perhaps you will set aside one meeting a month to watch a movie like “The Secret.” Or you could start a book of the month club and hold one meeting a month at a local restaurant to facilitate a roundtable discussion of the book. I used to start off my team meetings by asking one person to share their favorite quote for the week or passage from a book. I would give them the opportunity to share why the selected verse held meaning for them. Just think, you may be giving people the only opportunity that they will have all week to think in terms of positivity and possibility, and THAT is the gift of true leadership.
What you need: -A variety of books, CDs, movies, podcasts and website resources on topics, such as, goal setting, life planning, self-confidence, self-awareness, manifestation, vision, personal growth, etc. -A “Keeper” of the resources. Select one team member to be the Librarian, so to speak, for your resources. -A set of engaging questions to kick-start discussion around the book, movie or CD.
The Gratitude Box
It wasn’t long after one of my clients watched the movie, The Secret, that this idea was born. The gratitude box is today’s new and improved version of the suggestion box. Anyone who has worked in a corporate environment will recall the ever-present, colorfully decorated shoe box that sat in the middle of a desk in a conference room rarely holding more than one or two secretly written suggestions, generally both from the same individual. Being the great Leader that you are, I’m sure that you have elected to maintain an “open door policy” whereby suggestions are made freely and openly. Therefore, instead of a suggestion box, christen a prominent place to keep your own gratitude box. Encourage your team to write down one thing that they are grateful for every day and drop it into the gratitude box before they leave. Select one person each week to end the meeting by reading all of the gratitude notes. This is an excellent way to end every meeting on a positive note and to help your team focus more on each day’s gifts.
What you need: -Shoe box, hat box, Tupperware or other container -Designate someone on the team to be the Gratitude Box artist -Pen (attached to box) and paper
Dream Big…Reward Big
Gaining “buy-in” from your team as it relates to new system implementations, software enhancements, new product introductions, setting goals and other important growth initiatives is the single most important endeavor that all good leaders must champion if they are going to succeed. Whatever goal you’ve got your eye on, make sure that the entire team is brought in to help you dream big, agree on individual target goals and most importantly to brainstorm and vote on a team reward. One client’s team decided that when they hit their target goal they are going to embark on a team shopping spree at the mall with a handsome budget and lunch included! Another client’s team showed off their adventurous spirit by deciding that when they hit their goals they would take to the clouds for a team sky diving trip. It’s important to post the goals where everyone can see them and to update them weekly. Remember, set the bar high and let the Team celebrate BIG.
What you need: -A team stretch goal -Individual goals, including your own -Designate someone on the team to create the Goal Board -Post Actuals on the Goal Board at the end of every week.
Share the Stage
Is there anyone on your Team who seems to share more often than the rest, shares opinions openly, asks a lot of questions, or seems to be limitless in their creativity, or has strong organizational skills? Then move aside and let someone else drive for a change. Look for the opportunity to have one of your team members facilitate the Team meeting once a month. Give everyone on your team a chance to share something that they are passionate about as it relates to the business, your specific industry or a particular function or process improvement that they would like to pitch. Be sensitive to the fact that public speaking is what the majority of the population fears the most, so don’t press the issue if someone on your team has a fearful reaction to your request. Sharing the stage can help you to identify your next team leader, expose talents that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, and provide another platform for individual growth.
What you need: – To be conscious. Be aware of your Team and their passions, attitudes and skills. – Less ego. Don’t horde “the stage.” Remember that you can’t get to where you are going alone.
Spicing up your next team meeting by implementing one of the ideas above can put the shine back into your employees’ eyes, kick-up communication a notch and help to establish a positive team culture. Remember, it’s your responsibility to lead by example, so don’t just talk about team spirit, creativity and positive energy, stand up and be the first to applaud a fellow team member TODAY.
Victoria Del Frate is a Business Coach working one-on-one specifically with Mortgage Professionals. She is the Owner of I CAN Coaching Company http://www.icancoaching.net and creator of I CAN Plan, a mortgage-specific business planning web-tool. http://icanplan.biz
Victoria has successfully coached hundreds of mortgage professionals whose needs have ranged from systems implementation, business plan development, marketing, lead generation, team building and customer service platform improvements to accountability, time management and life balance concerns.
“My passion is working one-on-one with highly motivated professionals to maximize their personal effectiveness as they develop their vision, define their goals, take action and build strong foundations to ensure their continue success”-Victoria Del Frate
“Coaching is a calling, a passion, a way of life. Each victory, each level you help another human being achieve, to me, is the most worthy contribution one can make in a lifetime. Through coaching, I help others and myself to live “on purpose” every day.”-Victoria Del Frate
Victoria’s mortgage business planning website, I CAN Plan has been showcased on Mortgage Girlfriends and has been touted as, “The best, on-line, mortgage planning tool” by industry leaders. She was also recently interviewed by Karen Deis as one of the industry’s, top business planning experts.