It’s difficult to construct a cohesive workforce where each individual is committed to collaboration, effective teamwork, and collective progression. Even when you do form your dream team, there are still challenges attributed to bringing everyone together for a team meeting or brainstorming session. But some of the best ideas can come out of brainstorming sessions. So, it’s essential to lead them in a way that eliminates distraction and encourages engagement. Here are six tips for getting the most out of your brainstorming sessions with your employees.
Avoiding unproductive chaos and distractions in a brainstorming session is only part of making it as fruitful and creative as it can be. You also have to be intentional about adhering to productivity guidelines you set that gauge how constructive your session is. Let’s take a look at six ways to get the most out of your next brainstorming session with your employees.
Productive brainstorming sessions are organized brainstorming sessions. There is merit in hosting unstructured meetings that allow the conversation to go where it pleases. With that being said, you should still create a loose outline for your session to ensure you use your time productively and address all pertinent topics. Ensure your sessions stay productive by leaning on your facilitator to redirect conversations when necessary, reference your outline, and address everything on the agenda. Identify topics for your meeting and designate a specific amount of time for each subject. You can also set a general time limit for sharing so that everyone gets an opportunity to contribute.
Many business owners make the mistake of prepping for the brainstorming session last minute. Gathering information beforehand allows you to thoroughly prep for the session and enter it with poise and focus. You can collect information from your employees and about your employees that will help you get the most out of your brainstorming session. For example, you can ask them to prepare 2-3 questions to ask during the meeting.
As a manager, one of your duties is to use your own refined communication skills to identify those of your employees. You can then pinpoint the most dominant communication style among your team so that you’re ready to connect effectively with team members, whether they’re socializers, directors, relaters, or thinkers.
It’s common for teams to have multiple people vying for leadership roles and responsibilities. This can be wonderful for organizational performance but harmful to a brainstorming session because everyone thinks they’re in charge of leading the conversation. Take your brainstorming session to the next level by assigning a facilitator. Without a facilitator, your brainstorming session lacks focus and direction. They keep you mindful of time and meeting goals. Choose someone who isn’t afraid to guide the conversation and ensure everyone gets a chance to contribute.
You should be taking notes throughout the entire brainstorming session to ensure you don’t miss any critical information. Notes are also excellent for creating an accurate action plan for what each team member will do after the session. Brainstorming sessions can only be tagged as productive if session goals are achieved or an action plan is in place to achieve your vision of those goals in a specific timeframe. Wrap up every brainstorming session with an action for the team and individual responsibilities assigned to each team member.
In addition to creating an action plan for what was discussed during brainstorming, you’ll want to set up the next session before leaving as well. Be intentional about normalizing these sessions in your company culture by committing to a future meeting. Brainstorming sessions get better with time and practice. Ensure that you’re holding sessions frequently so you can collect data on how to tailor exercises to your unique team and get the most out of each meeting.
The session doesn’t end when everyone walks out of the office doors. The follow-up is one of the most important aspects of any brainstorming session. If you walk out without any intention to do something with what you learned, you’re doing a grave injustice to your company and employees.
Don’t rush research or results just for the sake of following up. Instead, focus on how quick and thorough your follow-up techniques are. When you don’t have results, let your team in how well they’re progressing. Communicate decisions quickly to everyone involved, even when an idea was rejected.
Your team’s enthusiasm leaving the meeting quickly declines the longer you wait to give them updates and feedback. If you want them to take concrete action, explain why specific ideas were rejected, offer feedback on their contributions, communicate how their ideas measure up to others, and let them know your expectations of them for the next session.
Brainstorming can improve the way you manage your business processes if they’re done right. If you want to get the most out of your brainstorming sessions with your employees, create a brainstorming session agenda, prep beforehand, assign a brainstorming facilitator, wrap up with an action plan and a date for the next brainstorming session, and make sure to follow up with intention.