Three steps to banishing apathy and replacing it with rich and useful feedback
Your team has been working hard in a difficult and novel working environment, and you’d like to reward them for their efforts.
In your next online team meeting you want to involve them in deciding on a treat. You ask them for ideas: ‘What would everyone like to do? How can we spend our budget?’
But it’s a struggle to get them to put forward suggestions and almost impossible to develop the proposals into a suitable plan. Despite it being a reward for them, it’s starting to feel like an extra task to add to their many.
You might deduce from the team’s apparent apathy that they can’t be bothered, or worse – they’re ungrateful. But what if it wasn’t the idea that was the problem but the way the discussion was structured that created a barrier?
Perhaps they appreciated your offer but didn’t know how to say what they wanted; they didn’t want to look greedy or they were new in the job and thought it best to wait and see what everyone else said.
With no clear system for the team to safely offer suggestions, give feedback, or build on each other’s ideas, the results are unlikely to meet the objective.
With purposeful facilitation, you can show appreciation and raise team morale. So instead of watching good intentions go to waste, apply ‘The Chat Shower’ technique to bring back energy, engagement and progress.
The Chat Shower is a useful three-step process in virtual meetings to turn individual talents into collaborations.
Here’s how it works:
1. You or one of the team puts forward a suggestion
2. Everyone comments on it – in the chat box anonymously and simultaneously
3. You process the comments – either with voting or further discussion
The technique is useful in many contexts. Let’s see how it might work with our meeting.
1. You put forward your idea – you’d like to reward everyone for their recent efforts, and want to know what treat they would like. If you feel it necessary, you may demonstrate to show what you mean and get the flow going.
You know you may not get complete consensus, but you want their input into a solid idea with a good degree of buy-in.
2. Now you use two neat techniques to accomplish Step 2.
First everyone types their response to the question into the chat box – without hitting enter. Everyone is going to reply at the same time, but only when you signal the moment to do so.
And before you give the signal, the second technique is to make the feedback anonymous. You can invite everyone to re-name themselves on the platform with the same neutral name.
When you give the signal, everyone sees all the suggestions in the chat box arriving rapidly in a chat shower, without knowing who said what. You allocate time to read through them and move to Step 3.
3. Here you can take a chat-based vote to narrow down the options and see which have the support of the group. Ask everyone to choose one option – other than their own – that they’d like to see taken into the next part of the discussion, by cutting and pasting it into the chat box. This is again simultaneous and anonymous.
It’s quick and easy to see which favourites are gaining prominence.
What are the wider applications of the chat shower technique?
One of my networks used it during a meeting of 15 people to arrive at a title for a global, 24-hour online conference: ‘SF24 – Building Hope, Empowering Change’. Ideas were put forward quickly and anonymously and we reached a consensus. We also exceeded expectations by attracting more than 3000 registrants to the conference!
More importantly, everyone’s original ideas, responses to those ideas, and our second opinions were equally represented, which fostered a sense of real collaboration and engagement as the project progressed.
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