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Team Reviews - Time, Energy & Fresh Air

I am just back from a week’s break in Portugal’s Algarve and blessed with good weather and great beaches to walk along, it was a real opportunity for me to ‘take a breather’ from the challenges of running my own business and of the various family and voluntary commitments that I have. I have come back refreshed and focused with a more clear plan as to how I positively move my various commitments forward. The break couldn’t have come at a better time following a pretty hectic year to date!

Whilst I was reflecting on things, it got me thinking about all those mid-year team reviews that I have been part of over the years, whether as a team member, a team manager or as a team coach, and in this edition of ‘The Successful Team Manager’ I would like to share some of the reflections that may assist you to ensure that your team reviews (particularly the key quarterly or mid-year ones) work for the team in terms of motivation, focus and clarity moving forward.

1. Take the Time! It is vital that teams take time out to review their performance, but also take time to review their team development plan and team charter. This takes planning and careful attention to detail to ensure each review meeting allows the team to develop their performance based on increasing levels of knowledge and skill, as well as ensuring continual development of team processes. Don’t get into the situation where the team (or the team manager!) is too ‘busy’ on the ‘plan’ and as a result, doesn’t organise review meetings or simply cancels them. Don’t be a victim to the ‘hamster wheel’!

2. Change is good! They say a ‘change is as good as a rest’ and as regards team reviews, I believe this is to be true, provided of course the change is designed to motivate and inspire! If you are used to having regular team reviews around a table in an office or hotel, or via a virtual platform, then where possible try to mix it up a bit. Whilst it is easy to book the same place every time, have the same structured agenda, with you, as team manager, always organising and chairing the meeting, try to be flexible and choose different venues, a varied agenda (keeping to priorities though!), a different organiser and chair, and different methods of fulfilling the agenda items. Delegating the organising and chairing of the meetings offers other team members the chance to develop their skills, as well as letting you, as team manager, experience the meeting from a different perspective. Just remember to ensure that you put in the right level of support for those taking on the leadership roles within the meeting. It’s not an opportunity for you to simply ‘have a rest’!

3. Fresh Air works Wonders! Whilst the weather may play a part, try organising the team meeting to allow time for the team (as a whole or in small groups depending on the size of your team) to get ‘out and about’. I have found that allowing the team to ‘walk and talk’ produces not only good discussion but also generates fresh debate, innovation, and new ideas. Team members are energised by activity and their surroundings, and some of the best team sessions I have been involved in over the years have been as a result of the discussions that have occurred as a result of a decent beach, riverside, or country lane walk with my fellow team-mates.

4. Build in Activities such as Business Simulations and Team Building tasks. For those longer full day or two-day meetings you may want to consider some ‘teambuilding’ activities. Now I am a great fan of ‘teambuilding’ as you would expect, and I have both experienced and run such events with good results. You have to be careful though, as many events branded as ‘teambuilding’ are simply ‘corporate entertainment’! Whilst they are great fun at the time, if there is no effective team coaching involved then the learning taken from them can be minimal or even non-existent! I have had great fun with treasure hunts, performing the ‘haka’, bridge building, synchronised drumming, cooking, go-karting, etc but in most of these events they were simply designed to get the team active and enjoy themselves. Very little learning was taken from them as regards how we actually worked and developed as a team. I am not saying ‘don’t consider these events’ but if you are considering such events then make sure you get as much as you can from them in terms of ensuring that the experience of taking part in the event is discussed and analysed in terms of what the team actually experiences in the workplace. If you organise events where the team have great fun taking part in them and can also relate their experiences of taking part to what actually takes place in the workplace then the team can then learn how to further develop their skills, behaviours and processes when back at work. A team coach or team facilitator should be in place to allow the team to reflect and learn from their experiences. I have a drawer full of shiny (plastic and dubious metal quality) medals won at various so called teambuilding events most of which were a ‘good laugh’ but with no real learning. You can actually achieve both if you plan the events right.

So, in conclusion, team review meetings are important if the team is to stay on track, achieve their goals and fulfil the team purpose. Remember:

· Dedicate the time for review.

· Structure your meetings appropriately.

· Vary location and format.

· Build in outdoor activities where possible.

· Make your events both enjoyable and ensure a true learning experience.

· Good team meetings produce motivation, enhance well-being, and build resilience.

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