March 11, 2020

Innovation Dis-ease? 3 Team Meeting Steps for Greater Vitality

We’re facing scarcity head on these days, and our emotions and reactions are up and down like a roller coaster up.

We’re facing a lack of energy, a lack of focus, a lack of resources and with an ever-changing landscape with an urgent need to do less with more.

While this environment can encourage innovative solutions, the intensity of the demands right now are also draining and depleting.

Now more than ever we need to increase trust and safety (psychological safety) on our teams to stimulate innovative solutions.

And, yes, there is ample opportunity to accomplish this with your teams – onsite or remote. Because wherever your team resides, scarcity is a trigger for innovation dis-ease.

Do you recognize any of the symptoms listed below? Now or in the past? Following are some specific suggestions to increase trust, safety and sharing on your team or within your culture.

Of course, these suggestions are not a magic bullet. This shift begins with you. Because teams and systems don’t change, you do – I do. However, if you are sincere in wanting change, you will be pleasantly surprised at the positive impact on your team and collaborative solutions.

Symptom One: Crises Emerge Seemingly Out of the Blue

Okay, there are a lot of crises emerging out of the blue right now. But look back a couple weeks ago. Have you been startled that problems arise out of nowhere?  Does it seem like there wasn’t a glimmer of a warning—and that no one else on your team seems surprised?  Even more frustrating, do you feel like they are waiting for your instructions on what to do next, instead of initiating solutions?

Most everyone in your organization is an expert at something, and you want them fully engaged to apply their skills to the solution. Chances are a lot of them saw the crisis emerging, but the warning signs didn’t make their way up to you.

For Better Health: Team Meeting Take Away

Problems are solved when you make it safe for people to speak up and communicate openly. This requires their trust in you and one another.

At the end of team meetings, invite everyone to say a word or phrase that sums-up their takeaway.

Be sure to lead the way and share your own word or phrase in a way that helps others speak up and take risks. For instance: I am excited – concerned – puzzled – hopeful – encouraged – confused – surprised…This will help increase the feeling that it’s safe to express feelings and concerns – even when it is bad news.

Symptom Two: You’re Hearing Crickets in Your Team Meetings

Is everyone nodding politely, to almost everything, almost all of the time?  At first this might feel awesome, like everyone’s on board and in alignment with your thinking. But suddenly you realize there’s a notable lack of ideas, debate and disagreement—despite your best efforts. No one is offering new solutions, and the accountability keeps ending up with you instead of your competent and well-paid staff members.

For Better Health: Assign a Devil’s Advocate

If you want people to take risks and speak up, whether or not they agree, then assign the role of Devil’s Advocate to a different person for each meeting.

Their sole job is to ask the WHY-WHY-WHY behind the ideas, decisions and discussions. This will give everyone in the meeting permission to speak up. 

As this becomes more comfortable, your staff will perceive that alternative thoughts are welcomed, and the voices that do not represent the majority are heard, needed and valued.

Symptom Three: There’s No Love 

Do you sense an overall apathy or malaise in your team meetings—or performance in general?
This often is a symptom of a feedback drought—specifically, a lack of feedback from you to your team members. Your feedback is a gift of data to motivate positive behavior forward.
High-performing teams provide more positive feedback to their peers – nearly six times more positive feedback than average teams. (Harvard Business Review)  
This has to be a priority of yours, despite everything else on your plate. Because positive performance deserves positive feedback, or eventually the behavior will not be repeated. This applies to our personal life, too. (5:1 Feedback Ratio Rule )

For Better Health: 5 to 1 Feedback Ratio

If you want to spark innovation, begin by thinking of a colleague, business partner, board member or direct report with whom you’d like to have a better relationship.

Now, once a week, for the next three weeks, provide this person ONE piece of specific and positive feedback about something they’ve done that you appreciate, admire or value.

I’m nearly certain you will be positively surprised by the results.

E-mail me at for some practical handouts to use with your team. Visit our website, too. We love online learning and workshops. It’s even easier for you to arrange than onsite trainings and they’re equally engaging and enriching.

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Innovation, Leadership Development, Psychological Safety, Resilience, Team Building , , , , ,
About Deene Morris
Engaging Emotional Intelligence | Team Think Generator | Psychological Safety & Inclusion | Moving Positive Change Forward

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