From Activity to Action
Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions?
We have brilliant and creative ideas, but how can we follow through and execute them effectively?
That was a great workshop, but how do we actually apply the things that we learned to our team?
We set SMART goals, but how can we maintain energy and motivation for them throughout the year?
I know that I have! One of the most challenging aspects of being a good group member or leader is being able to take all of our ideas and turn them into significant actions. The best lessons are the ones that are meaningful and actionable in practice and application. While facilitation, activities, and debriefing are the backbones of strong teams and powerful lessons, at some point, your meeting or workshop will end. When this happens, if you haven’t devised some way for your group members to remember or refer back to the experience, you risk losing the lessons they have taken so much effort to learn. You can increase the impact and longevity of your sessions or workshops with a few handy facilitation tips and tools.
Activities, lessons, and experiences must somehow be captured so that they can be referred back to in the future. Provide tools for group members to record their notes and contributions during a session. You can use whatever is readily available to you: index cards, scratch paper, poster paper, a whiteboard, or tablets and computers. As the facilitator you should also make sure to summarize key points and learning outcomes on poster paper or in a Powerpoint presentation during your session. Keeping all of this work can be helpful when you need to look back on the lessons learned during your session. The group can also take pictures of these documents and easily share digital versions with everyone. By having this information organized and readily available, the group can utilize what they need in the future.
Facilitators can help to keep their groups motivated and involved by taking time to reflect on past learning experiences and then take actionable steps to influence the group’s current and future actions. This allows the group and its members to grow and evolve through what they have learned instead of falling back into old habits. Reminders and accountability plans are great tools to reinforce the group’s experiences and lessons. Conclude your sessions with reflective activities that solidify learning and provide meaningful context for your group to apply lessons and take action that moves the group forward.
A commitment statement is a promise or ‘pledge’ to some form of personal development or group initiative. Commitment statements have the group members actually articulate and/or write down an action or actions based on everything they have just discussed, learned, and experienced together. Commitment statements are a proactive way to have the group members capture their lessons learned and apply them to their role or organization
Start, Stop, Continue
Start, Stop, Continue’s are actionable steps that groups can take to not only reflect on their opportunities for growth, but also on the strengths that they bring to a group or effort. Group members will reflect on their most recent lessons learned or key takeaways from a session and write a three step ‘action plan’ detailing next steps:
- Start – An action that group members would like to start doing differently in order to improve or make positive change.
- I will Start putting my phone away during meetings so that I can engage more with my colleagues and give/get more ‘face time’.
- Stop – Something that the individual or group would like to stop doing that they feel is inhibiting their success or progress in some way. The Stop statement should not just be the opposite or reverse of the Start statement, or vice versa.
- I will Stop asking the same people to assist me on work projects, I will be more intentional in selecting my teams based on the strengths needed for each job.
- Continue – A behavior or work habit that has added value to the group and should be continued so that the group can keep developing.
- I will Continue to volunteer to help my teammates with their duties and responsibilities when I have time to lend.
Short, impactful activities such as these are helpful for taking everything that has been experienced through facilitation and translating it into actions for the future. Ultimately, these exercises should be used as the groundwork to set your group up for success when you work together!
After your next meeting, retreat, or teambuilding session, have group members write a Commitment statement or Start, Stop, Continue. Encourage participants to be specific and intentional when writing their action steps. If you write down your commitment then it is something that can be referred to in the future to see if you are staying true to your word. Have each person share their statements out loud, you can have the group read these statements aloud to everyone or discuss within pairs or small groups. Open and public dialogue makes these commitments a reality, this will help inspire and motivate the group towards a common purpose and shared vision. Then, collect their written statements, you now have an accountability tool that can be used to:
- Reference in future meetings to jumpstart an ideation session, to prioritize calendaring, or to flesh out action planning steps on a specific project.
- Have individuals check in regularly on what they wrote during group evaluations or when providing personal feedback.
- Foster a system of team accountability by asking group members to share this information with their Accountability Partners and to set challenging or motivating goals.
*Meet the Author*
Joe Pazmany works with Leadership Inspirations developing training methods and experiential content while he completes research for his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.