A Quick and Easy Ice Breaker Activity for Your Next Meeting

The name for this fun five-ten minute ice breaker activity is taken from a commercial that everyone on your team has probably seen at least a dozen times… It’s the “Capitol One Challenge…” But you don’t have to give me credit for the idea! (so punny!)   Okay – enough with the bad jokes. Here’s your easy ice breaker: Plan on investing just a few minutes at the beginning of your next weekly or monthly meeting to inspire a little laughter and enjoy a really quick and easy opportunity to build stronger bonds and relationships among your teammates.   Actually, the real name of this easy ice breaker activity is “What’s in your wallet?”  As you have likely read in one of my previous blogs (or heard in one of my conference teamwork keynotes), the two things that create team unity are:   Connecting to a compelling common goal, and   Connecting to the people on your team   This ice breaker activity works with new and established teams, because it allows them to share something that thy feel is important to them. That sharing – along with the conversations and future questions / interest and awareness that it will create – is a powerful catalyst for connection on your team.   Here’s how “What’s in Your Wallet?” works:   Have your people arrange themselves into groups of two or three. Partners is fun, but groups of three can sometimes make it an even more fun experience, as people learn and share more tan with just one person…   After they are in those groups, simply say the following:   “Your...

Cure Frozen Dinner Syndrome by Setting Clear Expectations

We’ve all been there… And it’s usually not a proud moment. Something inside you gave in, and you brought home a frozen dinner from the grocery store.  Then, refusing to order pizza or Chinese again, you actually cooked it…  And a few minutes later, as you pulled it out of the microwave, you probably experienced FDS.   FDS has become an epidemic… Today though, Frozen Dinner Syndrome is not only affecting kitchens across America (and Canada, eh!), but the businesses and organizations where you work.   Frozen Dinner Syndrome is the result of flawed expectations.   Remember looking at the box there in the freezer aisle, and convincing yourself that it looked appetizing… even desirable? Those expectations from the picture on the box are the reason for your disappointment when you pulled the serving tray out of the microwave! The two did not look the same.  They seldom do. That is because Frozen Dinner Marketers are liars.  The make bold promises and set our expectations high, and then deliver less than we had hoped to enjoy. In your kitchen, that is one thing.  But in your business, on your team, that can be more than unappetizing – it can be dangerous and costly…  So how do you cure FDS? I’m glad you asked!   1. Realize that Everything starts with Awareness.   FDS is caused by faulty expectations.  When you expect too much from a Lean Cuisine box, you are often disappointed and frustrated. But in your business, when you expect too much from your people, the frustration and disappointment can lead to lost clients or poor performance.  And...

Make Team Feedback More Effective With COIN Conversations!

One of the most difficult parts of any team leader’s job is to have positive and effective feedback conversations.   Whether you are a coach, a sales manager, a school administrator, or a medical staff supervisor, The COIN model provides you a template for having feedback conversations that work and include 4 essential elements of effective feedback. But before you attempt to apply the model to your situation, be reminded that feedback is something that is best delivered in a timely fashion, and should be intended to help your team members grow. Feedback is not punishment, it is information and encouragement to improve… (focus on the next play!) And ANY tough conversation topic will be easier to navigate if you have invested time in building a relationship beforehand (here is a ten-cent secret to doing exactly that!)  People are much less defensive and are much more coachable when they know that you are aware of their challenges, interested in their growth, and appreciative of their efforts.      So… here is the COIN feedback conversation model:   C = CONNECTION First, connect with them personally and connect to the issue or project that you would like to discuss.  Provide context for the conversation and an emotional link to the topic.   O = OBSERVATION Second, share factual descriptions of their behavior.  It is important to be as specific as you can and to the point.  DO not waste time with dancing… just give them the numbers.   I = IMPACT ON TEAM Third, you must clarify the impact that their actions had on the team or business to inspire...

Chick-fil-A and Delta and Three Leadership Lessons

My daughter plays beach volleyball. So she was very excited when she learned about a week-long camp at Hermosa Beach, in California, that would be run by college coaches.  And she and my wife both think this is a great opportunity for her to get better and build relationships… But it was expensive.  And it involved travel.  And when I explained this to her and her mother, I was very clear that I didn’t think it would be a good idea. So, you can guess what happened. That night I registered her for the camp. I got her airplane tickets so she was on the same flight as a couple of her friends, and for the next two weeks she couldn’t think about anything else. My wife and the other moms arranged the transportation, and I was chosen to pick the girls up at the end of the camp when they got back to Atlanta. Another girl’s mom volunteered to take the girls to the airport – and their flight was scheduled to leave at 7:20 am on a Saturday morning. So Emily is up and packed and ready to go at 4:30 am. She can’t wait.  This is a kid that you have to wake up 3 times and drag out of bed to go to school – who was up and alert at 4:00 am completely on her own. So a couple hours later I leave, because I have an event that day, and I am presenting at a conference.  Twenty minutes before I am supposed to present to the audience, I get a call from my wife....

The 5 Word Phrase That Dooms Team Interactions and Individual Improvement

There is a 5 word phrase that dooms your team interactions. I have written before about how to benefit from the working with a “sandpaper person” on your team, and have also discussed the conflicts that can arise if your people are not aware of the strengths and challenges that different team personality types offer. But there is an issue even more dangerous to your team than either of those circumstances, and it involves a specific set of words that some people on your team may have been thinking or even saying out loud. The good news is that the condition is treatable.  The bad news is that often the people who suffer from the effects of this condition often do not realize the negative effects of their affliction. Of course, the “condition” that I am referring to is a repeated use and belief in a 5 word phrase that absolutely dooms team interactions and individual improvement. It is a phrase that you must never allow to be spoken – unless it is followed by a swift and passionate rebuttal.  Your silence would imply consent, and that would be devastating to your organization’s future. The 5 word phrase you need to train your ears to catch and correct is “that’s just how I am…” Think about that for a moment. “That’s just how I am” is a disturbingly common comment that becomes an excuse for poor team interactions and destructive behavior. Maybe you know someone who has used that phrase following a particularly unprofessional moment, where they said or did something that could really have no rational justification. That...

The 12 Best Books for Coaches and Great Teammates

Coaches and great teammates both read books, because they know that readers are leaders. When I was a coach, I was a voracious reader. I was constantly seeking new titles that would help me to grow – whether it was from a leader in a different sport or even from a leader in a different industry. And when I found a good one, I liked to share it with coaches and athletes that I knew were working hard to be great teammates.  That is what led me to creating this list for you… Great Teammates and Coaches are Readers    But what does reading have to do with teambuilding? In locker rooms, in board rooms, and in classrooms, great teammates and leaders know that to grow and develop others you must first focus on growing and developing yourself! Over the years, when I would share books and give away copies of the best books that I had read to coaches and great teammates, it seemed that there were a few that I always kept returning to as the most impactful and instructive. So, for all of the great teammates and coaches who are seeking a list of the best books to add to their reading list or to share with others and study over the course of your next season, I have put together my list. The list is not exhaustive, but the titles below are the ones I have recommended and given as gifts over the years more often than others.   The 12 Best Books for Coaches and Great Teammates   Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off...