Top tips for putting the spark back in your team

All teams go through it. It’s the natural stage where the spark of fun has given way to the daily trudge of delivery of work. 

Too many people focus on just work processes and forget that as human beings we have social needs. The science shows that the social cohesion of a team ensures it works like a team instead of a group of individuals and that work doesn’t just become all about finishing the next piece of work. Leaders have an important role to play to ensure that relationships, well-being and motivation receive attention (Foresyth, 2010; Bass, 1990).

Want to get that spark back? Here’s our top tips for re-energising the team.

Invest time in creating experiences

A 20-year study by a Cornell University professor highlights that investing time to build shared experiences increases happiness. Enduring happiness comes from breaking out of our every day routine and trying something new.

Try a new place to eat

Try a new restaurant for the team lunch. Rotate the duty amongst the team members as to whose job it is to choose the location, with the rule that it has to be somewhere the team hasn’t gone before.

Pub vs club?

Has the team gone to a traditional speakeasy? Or a gin joint? Choose a different place to have an end of week drinks together and try something together that is new.

Time out with an online game

The whole team might not be “gamers”, choosing an online game that’s fun, collaborative, or even an equivalent to “steal the flag”, can be a great timeout. Spend time finding something that everyone can install and play regardless of their level of experience. Wii Bowling and Wii Boxing were great for this type of activity.

Try a card game or board game

I’m a big fan of Cards Against Humanity. It’s definitely NSFW, but there are other variations including Exploding Unicorns and Bears Against Babies that are just as fun.

Go out for a coffee for your next Retrospective

A Retrospective focuses on people, process and tools. Many Scrum Masters forget the “people” aspect. Sometimes, a walk to the coffee shop and mug of hot chocolate or cappuccino is all the team need to unwind after a busy Sprint. 

Attend a conference together

Many people find a yearly trek to a favourite conference helps stimulate them with new ideas. Some conferences are large and expensive and others small and intimate. What ever your fancy, finding the right conference is key to a new perspective.

Try different patterns for your Retrospectives

When agile teams start out, they seem to always adopt the “stop doing”, “start doing”, “keep doing” pattern. It gets old very quickly.

What’s the latest great ways to run a Retrospective? We’ve got a whole blog post on it and video from PST Mia Horrigan on her favourite patterns.

Tasty Cupcakes has a great website full of different types of Retrospectives. Some are designed to be fun and engaging, some more serious in tone to help you deep-dive into problems and issues.

LEGO® Serious Play® is a whole framework for visualisation and problem solving. Build how you felt about the last Sprint in LEGO and then use it to frame ideas and build a conversation about what to do next.

Explore the cultural diversity of your team

Everyone has a story. And today, many teams have a rich cultural diversity.

  • Ask a different person each week to bring a plate of food to share with the team that reflects their personal story. 
  • Turn a Zoom team meeting into a theme.
  • Is there a cultural holiday coming soon? Let’s celebrate together in the style of that culture.

Celebrate holidays together

You might be surprised as to the number of fun days on the international calendar. Here’s just a few of my favourites.

Popcorn Day
19 January

Valentine’s Day
14 February

Pi Day
14 March

World Penguin Day
25 April

Chocolate Chip Day
15 May

Superman’s Birthday
30 June

International Joke Day
1 July

International Left-Handers Day
13 August

Talk Like a Pirate Day
19 September

31 October

America Recycles Day
15 November

Mini Golf Day
14 December

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