Fun office games for employees

Fun office games for employees

Albert Einstein might have summarized it in the best way: “Play is the highest form of research”. Office games create an informal atmosphere which helps to create trust at the workplace, boost morale and foster engagement among your staff. The more trust is present in a team, the more innovation will take root.

However, in our daily operation we often forget to play. More than ever we need to think differently as our reality is changing with a rapid speed. Time to bring in crazy ideas and to challenge our perspective on many topics.

So, how now to incorporate some play and fun challenges into your work?

This blog will give you and your coworkers concrete ideas to spice up your office fridays: from a quick 1-minute competition, word games to play from behind your desk to an indoor activity for all employees. Some games have a serious character, some of them are pure play. Pick one of them and see for yourself what works best in your office setting.

Can you already feel the innovation boiling?

Fun Games

Happier people work harder. So let’s get started!

Top 10 fun games to play in the office when bored

At Sendsteps we’ve selected a top 10 fun games to play in office. When bored on fridays then your coworkers will always be in for:

  • Guess who: Write down names on cards of famous people. Let employees pick a card randomly. Takes 30-second turns on interviewing the person that has a name. Answers can only contain “yes” or “no”. The one that has most names guessed correctly is the winner. One of the easy word games to play, but with a lot of fun guaranteed!
  • Escape room: Get out of the trusted office environment and challenge your team with visiting an escape room. There’s many types out there as escape rooms become increasingly more popular.
  • Pingpong: Prevent an after lunch dip and play a game of pingpong. The pingpong table will become a nice spot to socialize and over time a metaphor for fun in the office.
  • Circle of Questions: Formulate a list of unexpected questions. Let every attendee pick one question to address to their neighbour. Like: “What’s the best memory of your grandmother”, or “What do you find the world’s most beautiful place”?
  • Truth and lies: Let everyone come up with a truth and two lies. The rest of the group has to decide which of the three situations told is the truth.
  • Post-It Note Adventure: Hide an object indoors and let post-its throughout the office give clues on where to search next for the hidden object. And of course: make sure to think of fun prizes!
  • Tidy the place: As silly as it may sound, but cleaning and tidying together will create a crisp work environment and is an easy socializing activity.
  • Volunteer for a day: Some companies provide one day a year off to together work on a voluntary project. Do good for society and in the meantime bond with your work peers!
  • A movie, a story: What is your favorite movie and what does it say about you? Pick an online video trailer, show it and briefly share your thoughts with the movie.
  • Personality tests: There are hundreds of personality tests out on the web. From light to serious. Pick a test that fits best and discuss the outcomes with your team.

Interactive team building fun games for meetings

Want to break the routine in your weekly office meetings? Let coworkers conduct a 5 minute interview with each other about their last week’s project [on itself already a valuable team building exercise in still a corporate vibe.]:

When done, let everyone give a 1-minute pitch with 1] a summary of the story of the other 2] a compliment to the other and 3] a suggestion to improve. A simple, yet more serious intervention. Want to stick to more fun games to play? Simple and indoor? Then you might want to check again our previous blog on 5-minute team building activities and other interactive fun games!

Quick & small fun games, 1 minute games

Games in office don’t always need to take long. There’s many small fun activities that only take 1 minute of your time. Imagine when you can have a laugh for a minute in all of your meetings throughout the week!

One of these quick fun office games is to appoint someone in office who picks a fun yet inspirational quote that represents the theme of team building. Your team member has to prepare this in advance and the team can take turns per week. Either start or end your meeting with the quote and then boast that the indoors company vibe!

Indoor fun office games

Being in a corporate environment doesn’t mean adults can’t have fun! So time to bring in a classic. Maybe one of the most famous activities in the category group games – the helium stick!

Get yourself a helium stick, or otherwise a thin and light rod. Let the attendees stand up, face each other, stretch their arms and point out the index fingers. Now put the stick on their fingers and instruct them to bring the stick together to the ground. Sounds easy? Just wait and see!

Tip This is one of the simple activities that works great for small groups. Keep it light or add a dimension by evaluating the group process afterwards: what worked well and what could have been done differently?

Fun office competition games

Want to add some little team competition onto the office work floor? Then try this intellectual exercise:

Make two teams. One team defines a well-known phenomenon, person or object. For instance “pyramids”, “Mandela” or “the golden age”. Then define 5 words that relate to this pick. E.g. in the case of Mandela: “Robben Island”, “Apartheid”, “South Africa”, “ANC” and “Nobel Prize”. Now the other team gets to know the topic and has to mention within a set time all of the keywords.

Interesting Not only is it a challenge for the other team, it also forces the first team to dive into “nice-to-know-stuff”. This isn’t only a competitive game, it’s also one of the words games that can teach you a lot!

Fun team office games

Competitive coworkers might not add to the vibe at the office. It’s a different cup of tea when you’re about to play a game with them. At work “listening” is a skill that cannot be practised enough. One of the activities fostering this skill, is back-to-back drawing:

Divide your team in pairs. Let everyone sit back to back. One partner has an illustration, the other partner has pen/pencil and paper to draw. From here the partner with the illustration has to tell the other partner on how to draw the illustration. This requires not only careful explanation, but also clear questioning from the other person who is drawing the picture.

Tip Done with explaining and drawing? Now turn around and face each other again. See how accurate [or not] the drawing has become. And of course compare the result with other pairs. Who of all the artistits seems to have the most accurate drawing? Maybe one your competitive coworkers or maybe one of the least expected colleagues…!

Fun group activity games

Why stay in the office? Leaving the workplace and finding yourself with your coworkers in unexpected non-corporate places, can easily sparkle new energy and ideas! Browse the web for just 10 minutes and see the big offer of great outdoor activities.

Surprise your office staff and go kayaking on a river, build a hut in the forest or plan a horse-whisperer session! Depending on your budget, you can find a lot of fun things to do. Some of the activities have a clear team building element to it. Others are simply good fun!

Tip To make everyone feel involved and engaged, you might want to consider to let employees vote on what activity to choose. It’s not easy to satisfy everyone, but at least you can try to steer it somewhat as such.

Few more Games

There’s many fun games out there [as the previous section shows]. Yet, there are also games with a more serious character. In this last section we’ll deal with a few of these games:

Management games for office

Ever thought of what your staff is really thinking about their work conditions? How do they experience the food in the canteen, are they happy with the setup of their office workplace and do the value either more money or more free time when it comes to it?

These or very different subjects can easily be addressed with an online questionnaire. For instance to be composed through the Sendsteps Audience Response tool. As soon as the results are gathered [let’s say over the course of a week or so], then a non-management member can present the results to the management. Before showing the actual outcomes, you can build in a moment to let the managers discuss amongst each other of what they think the outcome will be. The more serious questions don’t leave much space to call it a game any longer, but you can vary with the depth of questions and see how it best relates to the setting of your discussion. As such its either one of the more serious management games or in the end, a strategic session.

Motivational games for employees

When presenting to your employees you can easily turn a serious presentation into an element of fun. Something to think about and to play at work. Consider a question within your presentation with which your office team can decide on the next subject to discuss. Or test their knowledge about the theme you’re addressing.

One of the other nice word games, is to ask colleagues to come up with words representing their feelings about a certain theme. Words that you can than turn into a word cloud. E.g. “What is your biggest motivation to work at this project?”. Attendees can send in words like “sustainability”, “teamwork”, “profit” or “challenging”

Tip For work ethic purposes you might consider to print the word cloud and to hang it in your hallway, canteen or reception area. A nice memory to a fun game and important subject!

 

Kuehne + Nagel gives voice to all employees

Kuehne + Nagel gives voice to áll employees

Text: Marjolein Brokkelkamp Bureau [De Redactie] | Photography: Zuiver Beeld

Logistic service provider Kuehne + Nagel has 27 branches in the Netherlands, and employs about 3,000 people. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life there is not always the opportunity for the team to discuss things with supervisors and management, about what could be done differently or better. Additionally, when the opportunity does present itself it is often not taken. Kuehne + Nagel see this as a missed opportunity, and so the organization was looking for a way to give employees a voice.
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“What employees think about Kuehne + Nagel is valuable to the company”, – says Caroline Tjan, National Communications Manager at Kuehne + Nagel Netherlands.

“Not only for the company, but also for work satisfaction and the development opportunities of its employees. This is why since 2015, we have organized a ‘Roadshow’ from May to September; a tour for the board members at all Dutch offices in order to make personal contact and share experiences.”

Honest, authentic answers

In order to give all employees the opportunity to express their views on the organization as a whole and their personal work environment, Kuehne + Nagel decided to use the second edition of the Roadshow Sendsteps. With this public interaction tool, employees are given an opportunity to actively participate in the presentation. They can respond to statements through their mobile phone and ask questions to management. Subsequently, vote results are displayed directly on the PowerPoint slide, while open comments can be filtered when they appear on screen.

“The anonymity offers the security of letting your voice be heard without someone listening and watching”, – explains Tjan. “This year, the Roadshow’s theme is ‘company-wide cooperation’. Questions that employees can easily answer with yes or no are, for example: “Do we have a culture that stimulates cooperation?” and “Are you satisfied with the cooperation within your team?”. There are multiple choice questions about options that can promote collaboration and, of course, there is also room for open questions and responses.”

Individual look & feel

In advance, Kuehne + Nagel thought carefully about the closed questions, because as well as unambiguous they also need to be applicable to all locations. In addition, managers can determine the content of the questions themselves. “Every establishment and every employee is unique”, – stressed Tjan.

“One of the main benefits of Sendsteps is that all employee responses are anonymous and remain so. Apart from the fact that it is technically impossible to find out who gave a specific answer, it is much more important for Kuehne + Nagel to create a safe environment in which employees feel heard.”

Caroline Tjan picture article-cropped“We use Sendsteps through a licensing agreement. This will enable us to get to work on the events and meetings of our choice. In addition to the Roadshow, this could equally be a meeting with international stakeholders in which an anonymous vote is desirable. One of the major advantages is the simple implementation of the tool. Sendsteps is integrated into PowerPoint, a program that almost everyone can work with. We work with master templates, where each PowerPoint-slide that is generated is automatically ‘branded’ in the look & feel of Kuehne + Nagel. This makes it more personal and this also plays a major role in the engagement.”

Seeing criticism as an opportunity

The meetings with employees are not optional for management; the feedback will launch projects to realize changes and improvements. Tjan: “This summer employees at a particular establishment made it clear that there is little time and space for departmental consultation, and that they would like to be informed of things more often, to make their job more effective. Reactions will be displayed on a large screen during the event. This makes the board members vulnerable because they need to respond to the opinions on the spot. On the other hand, this allows us to get honest, authentic answers. Not always easy, but it is a chance to create dialogue about the important matters of the workplace

We have respect and admiration for honesty and it gives us a way of addressing work processes differently. In other words: that we can accept criticism positively, and use this as an opportunity to address problems systematically. Together with the HR department and the division management, we have used this feedback to develop a training model that brings teams closer, with input from the Roadshow. Initiating practical change based on anonymous findings is an unusual method, but it works. The employees are our biggest asset and with Sendsteps they can literally and figuratively make their voices heard.”

Click here to find the original article from MarketingTribune.

 

How to run an effective meeting

How to run an effective meeting: 4 essential ingredients!

Imagine a meeting that you leave full of energy. Encounters with colleagues and talks that just greatly inspire you! Unfortunately, these kinds of meetings rather seem an exception than a rule. There are some worrying figures out there that underline the ineffectiveness of most of our meeting behavior. According to research conducted by American software company Altlassian:

 

  • … 31 meeting hours per month are considered unproductive
  • … 91% of the average meeting goers daydream
  • … 50% of the average meeting goers consider meetings a waste of time

Altlassian puts the cost of unnecessary meetings to US businesses, in terms of wasted salary hours, at $37 billion. In short, it seems your staff meetings are considered productivity killers.

We hear you thinking “Hold on, we can’t just stop having meetings then?”. Indeed, we can’t. Although, are you really sure? In most cases the answer indeed is no: we can’t stop hosting and attending meetings. We’ll therefore have to come up with different strategies. How to run a meeting that is an effective meeting on one hand and still a pleasant contact moment on the other hand? There isn’t a specific template to apply, but there are some pretty straightforward guidelines to follow. Start experimenting with a few of these ingredients and you’ll see your meetings change to the better!

1

Pre-meeting input: What to prepare in advance of the meeting?

Obviously, when there is more at stake, the more time you’d like to invest in preparing your meeting. And there’s more to prepare than you might have expected – and so, more to be successful at too!

  • Define your goal: An open door? Maybe, but in practice there aren’t many meetings that start with describing the goal of “why we’re here together”. As a meeting host, make sure to define your goal as concrete as possible and share this at the start of the meeting – or even better, enclose it with your meeting invitation. In it also describe the form of the meeting: is it a brainstorm, an informative session or do you want to have a debate?
  • Meet online or offline: Do you need to reserve a meeting room? What if the same meeting can be attended online via a conference call, Skype or a livestream? With help of Sendsteps, online attendees can vote on proposals or reply to questions during short presentations. If technology can be an alternative for your physical meeting, then think of the costs you can save in terms of time and travel!
  • Who’s joining?: Consider who is invited to your meeting. Select strategically and be aware of team member roles. Which colleagues have a large network? Who is a subject expert? Is there a good balance between introverts and extraverts? Our recent blog about “How to build trust in the workplace” might give you some more ideas.
  • Pre-meeting survey: Once your goals are clear, when you know who is joining and how your meeting takes place, then make sure to setup a short pre-meeting survey: this way you can collect expectations from all attendees. This will help you, in the days before your meeting, to further tailor the meeting to everyone’s information needs. For those with a [free] Sendsteps account – check out the Sendsteps Survey functionality and get started straight away.

2

Setting the meeting stage: How should you the ideal meeting space look like?

A comfy space helps us to concentrate and to get inspired. So, let’s see what’s there to improve in your meeting room.

The space: To start with, a tidy space gives space in your head too. In a number of studies, plants also have shown their positive effect on the work floor. According to US Professor Roger Ulrich: “They attract attention without effort and evoke positive emotions that can respectively promote renewal of the capacity to concentrate and interrupt the stress process”.

Did you ever consider the factor ‘color’ upon answering the question of how to run a meeting? Well, you can go as far as adapting the color scheme in your meeting room. Scandinavian hotel chain Radisson SAS took the factor color very serious in designing their hotel meeting spaces: “Each color has both a physical and mental influence on our wellbeing and general health”. Bright colors make us want to engage stronger, nature colors express harmony and reliability and green in all its tones stands for innovation and optimism.

Finally be aware of what impact your seating plan has on the meeting. If as a host you want to make a decision at the end of the meeting, you might want to sit at the head of the table. However, if you rather like to have a brainstorm, then it makes more sense to have somebody else take a seat at the head of the table. Or to make use of a round table. Or like in many Japanese meetings: don’t have a table and chair at all and have a standing meeting. According to Forbes, this will even cut meeting time by 36%!

The meeting space getaways: If your own office simply isn’t the most inspiring place, or if you don’t have the space to host larger groups, then there’s hundreds of alternatives. In larger cities you see more and more smaller meeting spaces being offered, that have the vibe of a living room. In Amsterdam, Singel 80 is a good example of a living room-style meeting space in an old canal house. Next to popular meeting centers like Seats2meet.com and Spaces, international hotel chains like citizenM and The Student Hotel also do a great job on offering creative and fun places to meetup. Go out of your office and leave the comfort zone!

3

Time management tricks: How to cleverly deal with the factor time during your meeting?

Now that you’ve prepared and organized both the content and the meeting venue, it is time for the actual meeting. Factor “time” is one of the most important influencers on the success of your meeting. That’s why we take a closer look on clever time management tricks:

When to meet: Pick the right moment of the week for your meeting. Mondays are often packed with “to-do’s” after the weekend and Fridays can be lower in energy. So, pick a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

Attendees tend to lose focus after 45 minutes, so plan an hour and try to squeeze it into 45 minutes. Also, the moment of the day matters. Early morning meetings often loose time on people catching coffee, colleagues running late because of the traffic or colleagues not awake yet. Yet late in the morning people are most alert and therefore are a good moment to meet. However, don’t schedule it too close towards lunch time; The meeting might become unnecessary long because of colleagues wanting to use the lunchtime as extra meeting time. It remains to be seen how effective this extra time is and how strong the decisions will be.

Manage speaking time: Delegate a timekeeper who makes sure to stick to your agenda time slots. Announce him or her upfront, so that attendees are familiar with the person’s role. You can prevent individuals to “monopolize the conversation” not only by strong chairmanship, but also by making use of technology. Sendsteps allows you to quickly collect data during a meeting. For instance, by letting attendees vote through their smartphone versus live reflections of individual attendees. Once the results are on the screen, you can spend time on a general discussion about the outcome.

In the same way, you can also let attendees send in questions, that don’t necessarily need to be answered during the meeting; but you can filter the most important ones and answer the rest at a later stage. You might even want to appoint a “sidekick”, a team member that monitors all incoming messages through the Sendsteps message filter and who interrupts once there is interesting content to share.

4

Post-meeting follow up: create ownership and activate team members

Once your well-prepared meeting has finished, you might want to follow up with a few last activities.

  • Evaluate: In your last agenda item, briefly make a round and ask attendees “what went well and what’s there to improve in the next meeting”? Alternatively, you can do the same by asking your attendees to fill out a short online questionnaire [e.g. via the Sendsteps Survey functionality]. When asking to evaluate within the same meeting, you’ll not only get more responses [‘your attendees all have something else to do tomorrow morning’], but also higher evaluation scores.
  • Create ownership: Instead of creating your own work out of a meeting, make sure to assign activities towards individual attendees. This not only makes your work less, but you also easily create ownership over a project or activity. It also helps to distribute a short list of outcomes after your meeting. This is something else than minutes: more compact and to the point. Combine these notes with some of your poll- and evaluation results, and people will be eager to attend your next meeting. And, you’ve showed them how to run an effective meeting!

 

Team building exercises for meetings

Team building exercises for meetings: combining content and fun

When looking into team building exercises for meetings, often the most extreme exercises tend to come up. From egg-and-spoon races to blindfolded indoor tent building. Games of which it remains to be seen just how effectively they contribute to better teamwork.

Obviously, it is important to have fun with your colleagues; Team building activities reduce stress from work and they help staff to get to know each other socially as well as professionally. Still, it is different from catching up in a café. Therefore, the best group exercises are those that balance both fun and content. These exercises are out there and we’re happy to share them with you!

Must-met conditions for a successful team building meeting

In order to come up with valuable team exercises for meetings, it is helpful when the following conditions are met:
Formulate goals: Considering that team building is more than “just fun” means that you need to formulate goals. A goal of a team building exercise can be, e.g.:

  • To become more aware of roles, types or communication styles within a team;
  • To learn about each other’s activities resulting in shorter communication lines;
  • To make new team members feel more welcome and part of the team.

Engage everyone: Team exercises should appeal to everyone. Sportive games are nice for those colleagues who are physically fit, but can be a nightmare for those that aren’t good at sports. The same goes for exercises where colleagues need to be very expressive or sociable; you’ll easily over-ask of your introvert colleagues. Make sure the exercise fosters engagement, rather than causing embarrassment or discomfort.

Experiential learning: In relation to team building exercises, Kate Mercer, writer of the book “A Buzz In the Building: How to Build and Lead a Brilliant Organisation” talks about a ‘learning gap’. Mercer explains: “It’s possible to draw parallels and bring out useful learning points, but it takes skilled facilitation to do this effectively and it’s especially difficult to ensure that people take the learning back into the workplace.” By defining and communicating clear goals, it will be much easier to learn from team building exercises.

Constant nurturing: Building a team and creating an inclusive and positive culture takes time. Team building exercises don’t stand on their own, but need repetition in order to pay off. This is especially true for organizations in which colleagues don’t see each other daily. Once you finish the first team building exercise, you might already want to plan the next one.

Cost- and time efficient team building exercises for meetings

Often-heard cons of team building exercises are that they are time- and cost-consuming. Therefore, we elaborate on only cost- and time-effective team building activities that are easy to integrate into existing meetings. We defined 10 exercises that cover the build-up of your meeting:

1

Exercises to Boast Team spirit!

  • Onboarding presentation: At Sendsteps every new employee presents him or herself with help of a PowerPoint. After a week or so everyone knows the new team member a little, which breaks the ice for a personal presentation. He or she can tell something about hobbies, family, travels etcetera. Add crazy and funny pictures to the presentation and close with a short quiz. Laughter guaranteed!
  • Celebrate success: Either start or close your meeting by letting everyone briefly elaborate on “one thing that makes you proud?”. The question is related to what has been achieved in the last week or month. Keep it short and simple. Experience the energy boast this gives!
  • Present work week: Share per person in three minutes what you achieved last week and what will you do this week. It forces everyone to measure his or her own effectiveness and it gives the team a good sense of what everyone is working on. Allow Q&A time after the three minutes and see if other colleagues can be of any assistance. Sendsteps Post feature will allow your team members to ask questions using their smartphones or laptops and show these questions live on the screen. A great way to kick-off the week!

2

Team effectiveness exercises

  • Roleplay brainstorm: Discuss a subject or issue from specific roles [e.g. manager, client, shareholder, competitor etc.] and challenge yourself to take on different perspectives. Set the timer for x-minutes and divide roles. Every participant starts off by introducing him- or herself in the role represented. In your wrap up ask yourself: “how [or not] did it change views?”.
  • Fish bowl discussion: Split up your team in two groups. Form two circles. The inner circle discusses; the outer circle observes. Either switch roles, then draw conclusions and decide. Or let the groups switch roles and then conclude and decide. Especially handy for large teams!
  • One-to-all brainstorm: Let a colleague pitch a challenge. Let attendees send in one-sentence solutions via Sendsteps and present them on the presentation screen. Let the colleague elaborate on those ideas from the audience that seem interesting to him or her. In a short time, you’ll receive lots of interesting content to elaborate on. A great approach to problem solving!
  • Discuss back to back: Discuss a statement [agree/disagree] and convince each other in pairs by leaving out body language; the stronger it now comes down to arguments and discussion techniques. Fun to watch your colleagues execute this exercise!

3

Team Socializing Exercises

  • Office trivia Quiz: Funny facts and figures about team members, clients, the office or past field trips. Formulate silly quiz questions, play a quiz using Powerpoint Sendsteps Audience Response System and bring back these sweet memories!
  • Two truths and a lie: Let a colleague tell the team a 5 minute story with two facts and one lie. Let the team decide which of the three concepts is the lie. The story around your colleague might get a whole new dimension.
  • Memory Wordcloud: Define a few general work-related topics, like: “My first day”, “Work travel” or “Teamwork”. Choose a topic and give everyone a think-break of a minute. Then start posting your memories via Sendsteps onto the wordcloud. Did you ever think of printing the wordcloud to canvas and hang it in your office?

Your next team builiding exercise?

Use Sendsteps to gather replies on all your [quiz] questions. Setup an interactive PowerPoint session and add multiple choice, open- and wordcloud questions to your slideshow. Questions that address the subject that you like to discuss and on which you’d like to receive feedback. Do you dare to start the team building experiment 2.0? Good luck!

Start the experiment and build your team culture

Experiment with a combination of exercises – see what fits best with your team. Obviously, there are hundreds of other team building exercises for corporate meetings out there. As long as you set goals, have balance between fun and content, if you can learn something from your team building and if you repeat it on a regular basis – then team building exercises become a powerful instrument for building a great team culture!

Learn how your team can run a productive meeting in the morning


How to build trust in the workplace

How to build trust in the workplace by having better meetings

In business, the word ‘trust’ can easily be perceived as a hallow term. It can be difficult to grasp the real meaning of it. Trust might not be easy to quantify, but everyone will agree that it is worth spending time and resources on. British employee engagement specialist Susan Jacobs, known from the Jacobs Model, defined the following 8 drivers of trust on the work floor:

 

 

 

  1. A sense of belonging: the feeling of an employee being part of a team
  2. Voice and recognition: the possibility to speak up and have a say in decision making
  3. Significance and position: the extent to which an employee feels valued
  4. Equal treatment: the understanding that everyone is treated equally
  5. Learn and experiment: the experience of being able to experiment, make mistakes and learn
  6. Choice and autonomy: the empowerment to make individual choices for the organization
  7. Security and certainty: the sense of being save due to confidence in the team
  8. Purpose: the understanding of how an individual contributes to the whole

Creating Trust | How to organize business meetings?

At Sendsteps we often relate to trust, since the audience interaction tool is used in settings where trust is such an important ingredient: during all kind of meetings. Think of team building exercises, strategic board room sessions or shareholder meetings. Clients often ask us questions on how to:

  • … encourage an open dialogue
  • … address anonymous feedback
  • … be certain of data security

Before answering these questions, it helps to get a better understanding of the different roles and characteristics of your individual team members. What is their influence on trust within the team? Obviously, there are many ways of looking into this. At Sendsteps there are a few perspectives that we believe give an interesting view on trust within your team. We cover three aspects;

  1. Karen Stephenson’s theory on trust within office networks. Her theory helps us understand how trust steers information flows within an organization.
  2. A second aspect is that of introvert and extravert team members and how both have different influences on the experience of trust within a team.
  3. And finally, the stage for trust, namely the actual work floor, is of influence for creating a safe and positive atmosphere. We’ll discuss the so-called “open workspace”.

Creating Trust | The roles team members play

Karen Stephenson is an American professor and corporate anthropologist who does research into “the anatomy of networks”. Stephenson especially focusses on how information flows within a network. For instance, she helped U.S. Defense to identify the weak spots and key connections of the Al Qaeda terrorist network. But her research covers all kinds of networks: from family, to social, to office networks. With it she contributes to a better sense of community and even helps to monetize trust. In her theory, Stephenson defines three roles that are present within every team and that dictate how information flows [or not, with a lack of trust!]. Keep your own organization in mind, when reflecting on the following roles:

  • Hubs: The hubs are the social butterflies of your team. They know a lot of people, are talkative by nature and bring people together. Tell something to a hub and soon everyone will know.
  • Gatekeepers: The gatekeepers play an important role in passing on information to a next level or to block it. They can either use or abuse power.
  • Pulse takers: The pulse takers can be found on the edges of the network. They might not be the center of attention, yet they have sufficient overview, and enough relationships to get a good sense of the picture.
Karen Stephenson claims that innovative companies have a large sense of trust. There are many connections between the individual team members.

3 tips to make clever use of different team roles:

So what to do with this information in regard to your office meetings?

  1. Define the roles in your team: Take a minute and think of your colleagues: who is a typical hub? Could John be a pulse taker? Let it be clear that these roles are informal and not necessarily related to function levels [e.g. a receptionist can be more of gatekeeper than a CFO].When exploring these roles within your team, it might not come as a surprise that most of the speaking time is consumed by hubs. Now think of all the pulse takers among your meeting attendees; actively engage them by asking them questions, or by letting them pitch ideas.
  2. Spend a team session on roles: Why not spend a team session on defining these roles together with your team? It can be interesting to do so, because the knowledge of these three roles can be a strategic tool for controlling and building the communication within your team.With a clear team awareness about everyone’s role, you might find a new dynamic in your meetings and group interaction. Do gatekeepers speak up more easily? Can hubs count to 10 before replying? Make it a little challenge and see what happens. Experimenting is the first step towards innovation!
  3. Rethink your internal and external communication activities; communicating change traditionally is executed by the communication professionals within your team [hubs]. But in some occasions, there might be other colleagues in the office network that have a much stronger, strategic position within the network [pulse takers for instance]. Can you think of someone else to do the next communication job?

Creating Trust | Introvert and extravert employees

The next trust aspect we’d like to explore is the difference between extravert and introvert team members. Whereas extraverts can often be found in the role of “hub”, introverts are typical “pulse takers”. Let’s zoom in on our introvert employees – one out of two or three of our colleagues!

Introversion is easily mistaken by shyness. But be aware, “introversion is more about how you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation”, says Susan Cain [an American writer, speaker and former Wall Street lawyer]. Introverts are quietly listening and reflecting. They need time to answer. They like substance over chitchat. They’re often overlooked during a meeting or even on a broader scale; when a new management position needs to be fulfilled. Yet, introverts create brilliant work, are thoughtful leaders and only speak during meetings when things are overthought. But, also here; trust is essential in the communication between both groups. Extraverts trusting the work of introverts and vice versa.

4 tips to engage extravert and introverts during meetings:

When organizing a meeting, keep in mind both type of employees and create a setting where both experience trust;

  1. Don’t rush: Take time for your meeting, but stick to the point. Rather spread a longer meeting over two dates, rather than quickly skimming over agenda items in order to fit them in.
  2. Introduce think breaks: Let attendees have a think-break, so that everyone can process information before answering;
  3. Limit group work: “Stop the madness for constant group work” [as Susan Cain puts it] – quality can also come from solo time and activities. There isn’t always a “need to discuss in pairs”!
  4. Facilitate follow up: Organize a clear follow up; what will be discussed, will be further investigated and processed? Introverts, especially, appreciate their input being taken seriously.

Creating Trust | Open or closed workspaces?

Did you know that 70% of all U.S. offices use open workspaces? Since the mid 2000’s the concept was introduced by many Silicon Valley companies. There are many advantages to having an open workspace. The most important being stronger collaboration. Yet, there are also critical remarks to be made.

In 2005 Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear from the University of Sydney conducted extensive research into differences in employee experiences between those working in an open workspace and those working in private offices. They compared 303 offices. Noise, disruption and sound privacy were the most frequent mentioned negative experiences in open workspaces. At the same time, the ease of interaction was valued most. Interestingly, that aspect was not experienced differently by private office workers.

In short and according to the researchers, the open workspaces are not necessarily the engines of collaboration. For extravert hubs it might work better than it does for introvert pulsetakers. Don’t forget also that the currency of friendship is sharing confidence. Funny enough, this is less easy to achieve in an open workspace. So, it seems there’s no one-size fits all and it comes down to finding what works best for your team.

4 tips to engage with your team in different office spaces

When you want to foster interaction in your team then an open workspace seems like the logical step. Yet, when keeping in mind all the different roles we discussed [introverts, extraverts, hubs, gatekeepers and pulsetakers], you’ll need to do some clever thinking of your floor plan so that everyone feels comfortable and experiences the trust to share or to work quietly;

  1. Spread seats for different roles: Seat your hubs in the middle, then your gatekeepers and let the relatively more quiet spaces belong to the pulsetakers.
  2. Create your quiet spaces: A place to focus, to maybe even re-charge; ready for more and better interaction! Solitude is a crucial ingredient for productivity.
  3. Go out! Studies show that business trips boast creativity, social cohesion and interaction in the team.

Conclusion | Meetings with trust

When there’s trust in the workplace, there’s trust to connect. Space for positive team member relationships from where innovative ideas are born. Keep in mind your team’s DNA and in what kind of setting they feel most trusted. Foster a culture where it is good to ask questions and keep it personal. To make it a bit more concrete:

  • Discuss statements [agree/disagree] in which the word “I” is used. E.g. “I believe our team communication style is effective”. Give your introvert team members a think break, let your gatekeepers speak up.
  • Facilitate anonymous feedback to get to the core. Sometimes it doesn’t matter who says what, but the fact that an issue is addressed by itself is positive. Don’t ask “who said that?”, but ask “who likes to elaborate on this issue”? Maybe initiate such a talk during a team field trip – in a relaxed setting.
  • In very strategic meetings it is helpful to know that anonymous is anonymous. Sendsteps technology is ISO compliant and used by Fortune500 companies because of its data security settings.

In short, cultivate an atmosphere where employees’ questions come from a desire to grow and learn. As employer, you can create a perfect setting with proper insight in factors that build trust and with the intention to grow and innovate as a team. Meetings that express trust!


Anonymous audience feedback? 3 Ways to enrich meetings!

Anonymous feedback

In an era of tranparent company cultures, anonymity isn’t always considered an asset. Still, it can facilitate trust and with it a starting point of a more open way of communicating. At Sendsteps we’re regularly involved in the setup of meetings in which anonymous feedback is considered: a must.

3 Reasons to welcome anonymous feedback

There’s multiple occassions in which it is whise to allow your audience to contribute anonymous:

1. Strategic discussions | Measure sentiment:
Decisions with a great social impact need proper change management. Imagine a reorganization in which multiple employees will lose their job. Prepare your management (the carriers of the difficult message to the rest of the team) by measuring the sentiment and to reply to anonymous feedback. This makes it easier to steer expectations during the more complicated phases that your organization can go through at times.

2. Co-creation sessions | Erase hierarchy:
In co-creation sessions you’ll need trust to share ideas. An idea can easily be judged on its feasibility or on its sender. Especially within organizations with a strong hierarchy it is more challenging to share ideas. Especially the crazy ones! By allowing anonymous input during your brainstorm,  all ideas make an equal chance. No matter if the idea is coming from the CEO or from the receptionist!

3. Team coaching | Stay objective:
Foster an open conversation around themes like work satisfaction, effective collaboration or leadership by allowing anonymous feedback. Challenges between two departments can much easier be discussed if issues are clearly formulated on the presentation screen; No need to ask ‘who said this?’, rather ask ‘who want to elaborate on this comment?’. Or first ask your team to rate their job live. And then via Sendsteps. There can be a discrepancy between the live and the anonymous digital input: a great starting point for a dialogue with your team!

Your next anonymous feedback session?

Sendsteps audience response system allows you to setup an interactive PowerPoint session. Simply add multiple choice and open questions in your slideshow. Questions that address the subject that you like to discuss and on which you’d like to receive anonymous feedback. By default all the input received is anonymous [but this can be changed via your dashboard settings]. Do you dare to start the experiment?


 

Meet Nandi, your Customer Success Manager!

nandi2The assistance of a Customer Success Manager has helped many organizations to quickly adapt Sendsteps and to use it in a valuable way. Nandi Schrama recently took on this role. She’s there for every organization that uses a Sendsteps License. Whether you use Sendsteps for the first time, or if you’re already familiar with it for years. We’re happy to introduce you to our new Customer Success Manager…who can help YOU too!

Follow an Online Training: Sendsteps is easy in use. Still, we understand that anything new on your computer can use some explanation. Ask Nandi for a short online training on the use of the PowerPoint software, the online dashboard that comes with it and the audience response website. Feel free to already signup via the form below for one of her upcoming “Refresher Webinars”!

Design Meetings: Some meetings simply require more attention than others. This might have to do with audience size, the sensitivity of the subject or the planning of limited time. Simply give a call to our Customer Success Manager and she’s there to share some best practises and give tips on the practical use of the tool!

Apply Branding: Apply the branding of your organization to your slide deck, dashboard and response website. The Customer Success Manager helps you to turn Sendsteps into a fully branded experience! Your stakeholders will be blown away!

Company-wide roll-out: Several banks, ministries and consultancies assigned Sendsteps to many of their inhouse laptops and desktops. The Customer Success Manager is there to help in the process of organizing full data security, the communication towards individual departments and to think along as inhouse use evolves over time.

Did we get you excited to dive into the use of Sendsteps again? Great! Nandi loves to see you on one of our Sendsteps Refresher Webinars in the coming two weeks. Grab your agenda and sign up soon via the form below!