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Save your icebreaker, literally

Still feeling frosty after your team’s icebreaker? The problem may lie in the icebreaker itself.

  • Every team project starts the same. Team members gather in a room that slowly fills with the hum of small talk and the melody of typing on a keyboard. Silence passes over as the facilitator welcomes everyone and introduces the team project. Then it happens — the icebreaker. An activity that once was an effective tool to get people comfortable with one another has deteriorated over time into something that merely checks the box.

    Harvard Business school professor Amy Edmondson developed a way to save icebreakers and transform them into a practical beginning for any successful team project. The key lies in the quality of the questions team members are asked to answer. Pertinent questions feed into relevant and practical responses.

    Try this new productive team building exercise at your next meeting. Edmonson recommends having each team member complete the following sentences, each on a separate Post-it® Super Sticky Note:

    • My goal is:
    • I worry about:
    • I bring:

    Each team member then takes turns introducing themselves, sharing their responses, and posting their responses on a Post-it® Dry Erase Surface.

    These questions may look simple, but what they uncover is a game changer. Responses to these questions unveil why a team member is there, what their reservations are, what concerns they have, and what skills & expertise they bring to the table. This icebreaker jumpstarts a team’s understanding, both how they will work with one another and how they can use each other’s skills to advance the project, rather than merely learning everyone’s fun fact.

    Edmonson’s icebreaker tactic goes beyond making connections. It provides the right insight that ignites the team and sets the project up for success.

    To find more tips that can help your team, check out Post-it.com/Teamwork.

    Originally published by Fast Company, a unit of Mansueto Ventures LLC. Copyright ©2018. Mansueto Ventures LLC.

productivity teamwork super_sticky_notes dry_erase team_dynamics brainstorm collaboration fast_company