I had an awesome day last Friday as the guest speaker at a staff retreat at Goodwin College. I was invited by their motivated leader, Sandra D Wirth, Dean of Students. Goodwin College is an open enrollment institution of higher education, and is located in East Hartford, Connecticut. Having been on campus twice now, I have to tell you this college has good Chi.
The theme of the staff retreat was COMMUNICATION and its link to team collaboration.
They studied the art of listening (by practicing the Six Habits of Highly Ineffective Listeners, adapted from the writing of Brenda Ireland).
They assessed their individual communication styles using a model from Pierre Casse.
I was invited to come in to share best practices in networking and public speaking and how they could communicate to connect in order to build a robust learning community.
We had a great time, with fun exercises, lively discussion, and good old fashioned team building.
Great idea for managers who want their teams to “gel”
It worked like this:
- She had a mini size Wheel of Fortune dry erase device that she found on Ebay. For $59, this high engagement tool has all sorts of applications (think Trade Show or Employee Fair)
- She wrote the names of each member of her team on the wheel sectors
- She invited them to come and spin the wheel. Excitement and energy were created with each person who came to the front of the room to spin to win!
- If that person landed on the name of a colleague whom they didn’t regularly interact with, they were given a gift certificate for lunch for two in the organization’s cafe. She put the specific names on the certificate to ensure that it happened.
- If they landed on one of “their buddies,” they were invited to re-spin the wheel
- She had enough gift certificates so that everyone in her department would be treated to a free lunch with a colleague.
Sometimes it takes a little creativity (and a little financial incentive) to encourage people on your team to get to know each other.
There is no better way to do this than to sit down with someone and break bread with them.
Of course, you don’t have to put on a show to connect people and build relationships. Fostering connection and deepening professional relationships is hopefully part of your organizational culture.
It also needs to be modeled by you – the boss. Or you, the co-worker. Or you – the entrepreneur. Or you – the parent.
Imagine what your career, business and organization would look like if you had lunch with someone you didn’t know well once a month? Or once a week?
This is one way to grow your professional network, increase your sphere of influence, and bring greater joy and connection to your life.
If you haven’t yet selected a New Year’s Resolution for 2015, how about claiming this idea?
“I will grow my professional network and enrich my life through the Unlikely Lunch Companion strategy.”
Now, who are you going invite to lunch this week?