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Three Insights from Team-Building Exercises That Managers Can Use Right Away

A recent Barometer XP case study

You’ve heard us encouraging play in the workplace for many months now, and while it may sound intriguing, you still might be wondering what a play experience with Barometer actually looks like in real life.

Here’s a true story from a recent play experience I led with a group who wanted to check in with their team culture.

Team Profile:

  • 4 people

  • All virtual, all the time, since they live all across the US.

The team was from a small consulting company that works with startups in the biomedical field. They already took company culture very seriously and had a strong foundation before our game session. In the brief pre-session survey, all 4 team members reported feeling strong levels of trust and psychological safety within their team. They came in feeling confident and excited, and ready for fun.

Not surprisingly, they worked together seamlessly. In all 3 of the games we played, they communicated well, asked great questions, and listened to each other. We laughed a lot. As the facilitator, I could tell they all genuinely liked each other and loved being part of the group.

What was surprising to the team members was the depth of the insights that arose during the post-game conversation, where the real magic happens. The reflective questions I asked were pretty straightforward:

  1. How did you feel, think, and act during the game? How did you show up?

  2. What did you notice about how your teammates approached the game?

  3. What can you learn from the different ways each of you experienced the game?

Here were some of the key insights that came out:

  1. “I was [already] aware about the individual personality and work styles [within our team], but I had no idea how complementary [they] were.” By experiencing firsthand how the strength of the team equals way more than the sum of its parts, they were able to identify new ways to put each person’s strengths to better use.

  2. “I need to allow for more pausing for other voices when it comes to leading a group.” and “I tend to think internally and problem solve differently than others might. I am generally soft-spoken.” We don’t often have opportunities to compare how much space each of us individually takes up in a conversation as compared with others. By recognizing that you tend to do a lot of the talking, these 2 team members were able to reflect on whether they need to step in more or hold back a bit in order to get the best task outcome.

  3. “I learned that I value individuals who are able to take the lead while at the same time are aware enough to ask for contributions from others. I want to model these same things in working with others and when building a team.” Recognizing and articulating what characteristics are valued by a particular team is very important to hiring new people who are a good fit. This team can use this insight about what makes someone a successful team member to recruit and hire the right people.


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