On Having Fun and Keeping their Attention

leaves-smallIn order to lead effectively, you need the engagement and genuine interest of your people. It is your responsibility to warrant their full attention, it is not their responsibility to give it to you just because you sit at the head of the table.

I realized recently that I had become lazy in my training techniques and in life. Probably not in the way most people mean when they talk about being lazy, but lazy nonetheless. You see, when I am low on energy or stressed, I tend to fall back on working really hard until I push through a thing. I stop being able to see the merit of breaks or of having fun until I arrive on the other side of the stress I’m experiencing.It takes active effort for me not to fall into this pattern, and the lazy option is to just give into it, to give up my relaxation and fun until I get through it. Of course, I don’t learn nearly as much from the experiences I have when I’m in this mindset, and what I do learn, I often forget a week or two later.

The number of changes I’m making in my life right now actually number higher than I can count on two hands and I had fallen into the “push through” mentality. My stress was rising, I got the flu, and my relaxation time was less and less relaxing because I spent all my energy trying not to think of the things I wanted to accomplish, resenting what little time I forced myself to “relax.”

I didn’t even realize that it was happening.

That is, until an amazing group of participants in a 4-day train-the-trainer workshop I conducted reminded me of the importance of taking breaks and having fun. When I facilitate or host, whether it’s a workshop, meeting, or game night, I pay close attention to the engagement and energy of each of my participants. I switch up my approach or what we’re doing in order to keep things fresh and fun.

I got the flu on Monday night, early Tuesday morning and had to call out from work. Someone graciously covered for me and I got back to work the next day but I was still very low energy and was having trouble noticing the cues from people that normally make me an effective facilitator. I still got decent reviews, but getting the engagement I strive for felt like an impossible amount of energy to commit.

Day three of the workshop kicked off and we began practice sessions, where the new trainers practice facilitating the material they learned over the previous two days. Nearly every one of them chose a section that included an activity, and many brought insight and innovation to those old activities that I had not seen before. We had a genuinely good time, each of the activities they conducted or created really drove the lessons home that their sections were meant to emphasize, and I ended the day feeling refreshed.

When I conduct a training the way I strive to, I end my day ready for a good meal and a soft bed, but I also can’t stop talking about the lessons and highlights from the day. I want to tell my partner all about my day; I am emotionally energized by it, despite being physically exhausted.

The day after being home with the flu, it may be a high expectation, but it’s a standard I always hold myself to and it’s a standard each of my participants picked up and ran with. They reminded me of the importance of a conviction that had gotten lost in the daily grind. I went home that day refreshed and I slept like the dead.

Whether your breaks are actually time away, or simply breaking up learning or meetings with different types of communication, it is important to incorporate those moments in your daily life. Find a way to teach a lesson through a game. Recognize that the people in your 10am staff meeting are staring at you blankly, murmuring responses to your questions instead of participating, and put a stop to the whole thing for a 3 minute, 45 second “Eye of the Tiger” break, or “We Are the Champions” if you prefer. You’ll get some laughs at the very least, and probably get people talking.

In order to lead effectively, you need the engagement and genuine interest of your people. It is your responsibility to warrant their full attention, it is not their responsibility to give it to you just because you sit at the head of the table.

Advertisements

Leave a message at the beep!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s