Give them something to talk about…

Every now and then you just need to mix things up a little. That’s why I recently did something at work that got everybody talking! Before you jump to any conclusions, let me tell you what I did . . .

After the addition of a few new staff members, I knew it was time for the team to regroup and reconnect. I wanted to introduce the staff to our newcomers – to make them feel welcome and part of the team. And I wanted to spark fresh conversations among our extended staff.  So I pulled up my email box and sent a simple request to the entire staff. Here’s what I wrote:

As we continue to add staff and clients, it’s important that everyone gets to know each other and the uniqueness each brings to the mix.  As a starting point … I ask that each of you take a minute and reply to all with something about yourself that others may not know.  I’m not looking for deep dark secrets … just something light or interesting. … I’ll go first … While some of you know me well … none of you know that my all-time favorite musical artist is ….. Van Morrison!

Within minutes, replies were pouring in. By the end of the day, nearly everyone had responded (some more than once). Some kept answers brief. Others had much more to say.  Every response was unique, interesting and honest. Most important: we all learned a lot of new things about each other and enjoyed the opportunity to connect on a more personal level – even if it was electronic.

The response was so good in fact; I decided to send out another request about a month later. This time it was more for mentoring than socializing. I asked everyone to share a fact or principle from their area of expertise. Our newer staff members had the opportunity to glean some great information and encouragement from our more seasoned pros.

If you want to mix things up with your staff and this kind of exercise would be appropriate, go for it! You can give them an open-ended question, like I did. Or you can gather quick, short answers by getting specific: “When you were a kid, what job did you think you’d have when you grew up?”, “What movie can you quote word for word?”, “If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?”

It’s too easy to slip into task mode and miss out on opportunities to connect with the people working around you.  Knowing your team, and feeling like you are a relevant part of that team, goes a long way toward creating job satisfaction.

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