Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Why I am proud of a meeting that achieved nothing and took twice as long as planned

I am delighted to say that our team managed on Friday to achieve nothing in a meeting that took twice as long as planned. It was one of my proudest days as a leader. Those of you who read our blogs regularly may be surprised as we are normally not very tolerant of meetings that don’t achieve anything.

It was our team meeting, we organised an excellent improvisation workshop with Neil Mullarkey in the morning which was a lot of fun and had some useful learning for those of us who are trainers. Thanks Neil.

After that we just wanted to have some team time. At our normal face-to-face meetings we usually have lots of time around lunch, dinner and breaks to catch up with what’s happening in each other’s lives and frankly to talk absolute rubbish 😊

My idea was to try and replicate The British pub garden as best we could by sending people a hamper of wine and cheese and then breaking into subgroups for a chat. I scheduled 2 hours and was not sure if we would sustain that.

What actually happened is that by the time we had a bit of a warmup with the eleven members of the team, nobody wanted to go into breakouts, they just wanted to continue to chat. We broke out the wine and cheese and started on a series of random conversations (very much like a British pub conversation) we discussed holidays, things we did not know about each other, what we would do when we can get together, our worst lockdown haircuts and many other topics I cannot repeat.  We were joined at various times by passing family members and pets. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

The next thing I knew 4 ½ hours had gone by. After we hung up, I reflected on how positive an indication that was of the team that had so much time to offer each other just to chill and talk.

We see a lot of remote leaders working very hard to try and connect their people together and whilst it is often good to have some activities or a framework to work together as we did with the improv workshop, it is important not to over schedule things or to try too hard. Sometimes some feet up time with a glass of wine (or whatever works in your culture) is all it takes. In our workshops we call it “virtualising your socialising”. it almost does not matter what it is and anything is better than nothing.

What have you done to give people unstructured time to catch up?

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