8 Questions To Jump-Start Your Team in 2014

ImageI had been on the hunt for a little inspiration for a team strategy meeting I was hosting at the public relations firm where I was employed at the time.

Since I was still new to the firm and to the client services team there, I wanted to kick off the meeting with something a bit more provocative than some of the traditional ice breakers. Some managers like to kick off a team planning session with ice breakers such as, “tell the group something about yourself that it already doesn’t know about you.”  And let’s not forget the “if you were a dog (or a car, or a fruit, or ???), what breed would you be?”

Jump starters like these certainly can help a group loosen up a bit before getting down to business.  But in this case, I was looking for a different kind of warm up.

In the days leading up to the meeting, I visited too many websites to name here in my quest for a provocative way to get the team engaged and the session off to a fast start. Finally, however, I settled on the following eight questions as a way to stimulate conversation among the team members (my gratitude and apologies to the author of these as I lost track of the original source).

  1. What needs to happen today to make this meeting worthwhile to everyone?
  2. What can I change to help this team function more smoothly?
  3. What is keeping us from keeping the main thing the main thing?
  4. Who needs to communicate more clearly or frequently?
  5. What is waiting around the corner that we need to prepare for?
  6. What can/should we do differently that our customers can’t get elsewhere?
  7. Why would somebody want to join this team?
  8. Why would someone leave?

All of any number or combination of these questions will get most any group talking, in my experience.  What’s really great about them is that they can be applied to most any type of organization — from a family run business with only a handful of employees, to an emerging company with a few dozen on staff as well as to the biggest of teams at a global firm.

And these questions are timeless.  But I think the greatest benefit of this list is the questions are structured to help get a team thinking as a team.

Many organizations are gearing up for their 2014 kick off meetings.  In one format or another, it might be a good idea to consider posing a few of these questions to help get the year off to a faster start by getting everyone engaged and on the same page.

What core questions would you add to this list?

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