Let’s face it: most department meetings are lame. A lot of employees would rather have an hour to themselves than go to another boring department meeting. I have observed an unusually high number of urgent customer issues that seem to coincide with my department meetings.
Getting your department together in one place all at the same time for an hour or two is an incredible investment. Lots of money sitting around. You need to make sure your people enjoy the time, and that they are engaged. Typically I use a fun activity to get stuff started, do the awards & years-of-service recognitions, and then the project updates & boring stuff.
I have used these five fun things in department meetings over the years and they have never failed me.
Duct Tape Craft Time – Give a bunch of people rolls of duct tape and they are instantly turned into kids again. Duct tape comes in lots of colors & patterns and you can get it anywhere. You can put your employees into teams of 5 and ask them to build something with the duct tape that represents a core value of the department. I like to talk about the similarities of duct tape with IT professionals. Versatile. Strong. Needed in a pinch. Comes in lots of colors & patterns.
Paper Airplanes – There is something about making a flying machine that just excites people. Use heavy weight paper and ask them to build paper airplanes. Conduct contests for prettiest planes, farthest in the air, most accurate (land them in a hula-hoop). People can google paper airplane designs on their smartphones.
Egg Drop – Using only the materials you can find in the office, teams of 3 to 5 will figure out a way to make an egg survive a 10-15 foot fall. May need a stairwell for this one. Turns into a combination engineering exercise and treasure hunt. No parachutes allowed. Things get silly & messy and that is fun.
Jeopardy – There are powerpoint templates and programs that allow you to construct your own Jeopardy board. Use it as a way of illustrating the diversity of your customers, the projects in the department, trivia about your operation,etc. People become caught up in it. Cycle people through the game & give everyone a shot.
Skip the Meeting – And now for everyone’s favorite, just skip the meeting and go bowling! Or to the arcade, or the park, or the mall, or where ever. You can also schedule a community service event and clean up a park, paint a house or work on a trail. Schedule the meeting at 3pm, have some fun, and just send folks home after that. We took the department bowling earlier this year, and had a great time.
Having your entire department in one place is a great opportunity to get folks to mingle and interact in new ways with new people they don’t see everyday. If you want them to look forward to the meetings and not dread or avoid them, you need to find a way to make the meetings fun for them. You may also need to get out of your comfort zone a bit. As people see their leader having fun and loosening up, they will too!
Barry Condrey is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.