Submitted by Wizard on Mon, 02/27/2023 - 14:29
Hybrid Team Meeting

In 2021, I faced a challenge when I led a new work team consisting entirely of new members. Most of our initial team meetings felt one-sided, with me doing most of the talking. Although each team member was an expert in their respective areas, I knew that the team could benefit from more contributions from everyone.

Since we were working remotely mainly through Zoom and Microsoft Teams, we couldn't build relationships through casual hallway conversations. I suspected that this lack of familiarity might have contributed to the low engagement.

Having seen the benefits of icebreaker questions at conferences and retreats, I had an idea. Why not test it by starting the next team meeting with a one icebreaker question?

When I suggested this idea in the next virtual meeting over Teams, I sensed some reluctance. I reassured the team that answering the icebreaker question was optional, and then asked a question that was unrelated to work.

Although it felt a bit awkward to ask a casual question in a formal work meeting, the positive impact was nearly immediate. The meeting became more lively, and we spent about 10 minutes taking turns answering the question, including myself. After that, engagement soared throughout the rest of the meeting, and I heard more from everyone.

The positive effects of the icebreaker questions were not a fluke. We continued to start the next few meetings with an icebreaker, and the team's engagement remained high. As a nod to their recognition of the benefits, the team requested that I keep the icebreaker question as a permanent fixture of the team agenda, which I did.

The icebreaker questions became engagement grease at the start of each meeting. I viewed it as a 10-minute investment that produced dividends in the meeting and beyond. Outside of our meetings, team members grew more collaborative and supportive, which made me proud as their leader.

As the year progressed, I attribute no small part of my exceptional leadership survey scores I recieved from the team to the icebreaker questions and their benefits. Not only does the team thrive, but the leader benefits too.

Based on this positive experience, I strongly endorse that all teams, whether old or new, add icebreaker questions to each meeting, especially those that are virtual. To see the full benefit, make sure to add the icebreaker questions as the first meeting agenda item. It's a 10-15 minute investment with dividends in engagement and collaboration.


Try the Random Question Generator to increase engagment in your next virtual work team meeting >