As a leader, no matter if you are a business manager, project manager or team lead your job is to improve the team spirit of those that you lead. This can be done in many ways, but I have 3 quite fun ideas that I use in my projects to lift the spirit of my team.
When working in a project you go through many phases with your team and as you grow in to your role as a leader you will start to see the signs when your team is in need of a little energy boost or just need a soft break to smile more. This is when you can do small things that takes only a few minutes, but have great impact on the team.
The three things described here are designed to get the team to smile because smiles release tension and release a lot of positive things in your body. They are designed to not disrupt the work to much, while at the same time engage the whole team in one way or the other. They are also quite fun for you to do as well, which makes it a win-win for everyone.
Number one - The Post-it.
The post-it is a super easy way to provide a short appreciation for the team. Simply write a post-it for every team member with a few words of appreciation and then walk over to each and every one and paste it on their screen. I usually do this in complete silence to let the post-it do all the talking and place a hand on the shoulder or do a fist bump to make the words connect on a more personal level.
A short message like "You are awesome!" or "You Rock!" are all it takes as long as you show that you really mean it as well. In most projects these post-its stay on the screen or get moved to the wall next to the person you gave it to, making it a constant reminder that you appreciate their hard work.
Number two - Let there be cake!
Nothing says I appreciate your hard work like cake. I try to always buy cake for my team when a new sprint is about to start. It's a great way to show that you appreciate the teams work from last period, regardless of what happened and combined with some well chosen words you can solidify the feeling that you as a leader really appreciate and trust your team.
It also lift the spirit right there and then and I usually have a sprint startup where we go through the work for the coming sprint. With a bit of cake the team become more active (not just because of the sugar) and discussions improve a lot as people feel secure to lift problems and come up with solutions.
Cake can be substituted with pretty much anything that the team like and I almost always pay for it myself to show that this comes from me personally. Sometimes the cake can come from the client or from the company if it is necessary to improve connection with them instead of within the team.
Number three - The water game
This is probably the silliest and most challenging thing of the tree things in this list as it require preparation or fast and creative thinking. What you do is that you get water and something to drink out of for each of the team members. I started this as I wanted the team to drink more water, but to make it a bit more fun and to make the water feel a bit more special I started to make up a story for each member.
So instead of just getting water they got frozen tears from a Tibetan Yeti that had been transported by blind monks to the far east where they got melted in a golden bowl at the top of the pyramids during an eclipse before it was bottled up in sacred flasks and shipped to the team.
The result of this game if you get it right is that people will not just stop working for a few minutes to listen to your stories, but they will drink the water with a smile and ask for more. Its a fun and challenging way to keep your team hydrated and make people smile and laugh for a few minutes.
If you can get your team to smile and laugh for just a few minutes every day with you that will lift the spirit of your team and you as a leader will get closer to the people you lead. It is one of many ways to get people to follow you instead of just doing what you say because it show them that you care about them.
These tree suggestions only work if you do it with genuine care for the people you lead, but as a leader that should not be a problem. Once the team feel that you care about them, any fun thing you do will be appreciated, but if you have not made that connection yet then focus on that first.
I hope you will find these suggestions useful and fun and if you have suggestions yourself, please share so we can become better leaders with happier and more productive teams that love to come to work with us!