How to improve your team culture with workshops

The insights and breakthroughs that participants experience in a great workshop can have a big influence on the way they think about teamwork. An effective workshop demonstrates what can be achieved with focused and purposeful collaboration in a short space of time.

As Jake Knapp from Google Ventures said in “Sprint”, the book that outlines their 5-day workshop for building and testing new ideas:

“After your first sprint, you might notice a shift in the way your team works… you’ll build confidence in one another’s expertise and in your collective ability to make progress towards ambitious goals”

There are few principles you can adopt to make sure that workshops have an positive impact on your team culture:

Continue the feeling beyond the end of a workshop

To continue the energy and momentum after a successful workshop, make sure that you also do a great follow-up. See your workshop as the start of a conversation, rather than a standalone one-off event. Have further meetings, form sub-groups, make prototypes – whatever it takes to make ideas tangible.

When your team see that discussions were taken forward, they’ll feel more confident in their collective brainpower, and be encouraged to tackle challenges collaboratively more often.

Bring elements of workshops into your recurring meetings

Regular meetings that are too long, unfocused and dominated by a few people are mainly just frustrating in the short-term. But in the long-term they lead to people feeling unheard, overworked and undervalued.

You can make your meetings more productive and inclusive by taking inspiration from workshops:

  • Design your meetings: the workshop design process actively looks to avoid the problems listed above. When you create a workshop outline, you’re considering the purpose of the session, what the group needs to achieve and the activities that will ensure everyone contributes.
  • Use workshop techniques in your meetings: energise your regular meetings by introducing short workshop-style activities. This can be as simple as a “braindump”, where you pose a question, give people a few minutes to think individually, record their thoughts on sticky notes, and then post their ideas to a wall.
  • Have a facilitator: appoint someone who will stay objective, monitor time and progress, and manage contributions. This ensures the meeting stays focused and on track.
Use workshop facilitation practice to improve your team’s leadership skills

As a workshop facilitator, you get an insight into how to lead a creative team effectively. Your role is to bring out the best in people and build the right environment to encourage creativity. There will be times during the workshop when it feels messy and uncertain, and you’ll also learn when you need to step back and get out of the way.

Rotate the role of workshop or meeting facilitator around your team. You’ll all improve your ability to ask clarifying and difficult questions, listen effectively, exercise patience and synthesise different points of view. Facilitation is a valuable skill for working with and leading others.

Whether you use workshops to kickoff a deeper conversation, introduce workshop activities to make your meetings more engaging, or encourage your team to learn facilitation skills, workshops can be more than a one-off event. They have the potential to have a wider and positive impact on your team culture.


Effective Workshops Masterclass, London, 22 March

This March, I’ll be running my one-day masterclass on designing and facilitating effective workshops. The day covers tools and techniques to start using straight away, as well as the best methods that engage and motivate teams for creativity and innovation.  Find out more about the masterclass.

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