Teachers have used assigned seats for decades to arrange and organize students in their classrooms, because it was convenient. In my classroom, I used to assign seats and would switch up those assignments at different points during the year to allow students to interact and build relationships with people that they otherwise likely wouldn’t have talked with.
But leaders in any field should find a way to assign seats to their people at meetings and events – and not just for organizational efficiency.
Assigned seats can be a powerful positive catalyst for building relationships and creating cohesiveness among coworkers!
They provide a simple and fun way to build trust and awareness in your team.
I used to pair up athletes with different partners to encourage competition – they would push teammates they weren’t as friendly with to go harder.
And that was helpful.
But one of the unintended but noticeable consequences of paring up different athletes for drills was that they talked to each other. First only a little. Then a little more.
So by the end of our season, they were more skilled, yes – but they were also far more aware of and friendly with each other.
And it is the same way for coworkers as it is for athletes… When you have a lunch, or a meeting, they will naturally sit next to people they ALREADY know and are comfortable with – but THAT doesn’t help you build relationships across departments or between strangers.
Connections are the most powerful thing you can build within a company – because you NEED your people to recognize and appreciate how what they do affects others within the walls of your organization. You want your people connected to a compelling common goal – but you also want them connected to each other!
The key to accountability is EMPATHY.
It isn’t just athletes or students that benefit from assigned seats – it is your people that can be encouraged and given an opportunity to grow as well…
Maybe you are having an ice cream social at the end of the month
Maybe you have a catered lunch coming up. Rather than letting your people come in and sit next to the person they already know – how about assigning seats so that they have to sit next to a new person.
And even more importantly, have them ask and answer a question that will open doors of conversation beyond their daily monotonous small talk.
That is a great time to have your people read and share questions with each other from a deck of connection cards.
Connection card activities, or just a set of effective questions that you might come up with for them to use with one another that encourages deeper discussion, can be a fun and effective way to spark a powerful new relationship.
Don’t just SAY that you promote a family atmosphere or that your people care about one another – find and design opportunities to encourage and inspire those connections and conversations that will build unity in your organization!
Assigned seats allow YOU the chance to place people next to each other who need to be more familiar with and comfortable communicating.
The more connections you can build among and between your staff, the more likely your people are to collaborate and share vital information, ideas, and advice that can make your company more productive and profitable.
If your team could use a full or half day team building event to create deeper connections or inspire a sense of shared accountability and dependence on others, consider contacting me to discuss how an event or motivational teamwork keynote can impact your group.
For more ideas on how you can lead your team, you can peek inside my toolbox!