So you’re convinced of the transformative power of workshops, and can’t wait to start implementing them in your team...There’s just one hurdle in the way–your organization has no workshop culture, and your teammates are less than excited about the idea of committing their time and effort.
What now? Should you just give up and go back to the way things have been done before? Or run a workshop anyway, without paying much attention to what the people say?
Here’s the thing:
Convincing your team to run a workshop is as important as the workshop itself!
You can have the coolest idea in the world, but if you can’t get your team on-board with it, it’s no use. Dealing with skeptics and trouble-makers in the room will take the wind out of your sails and derail the focus of the whole workshop.
But not to worry, today we’ll share some simple, actionable steps you can take to convince your team to run a workshop.
Introduce workshops gradually and reframe them to fit your company
Don’t scare off your team by storming into the room blurting out all of the trendy workshops you'd like to try out.
When implementing a new strategy into a company that is established, you want to start slowly to avoid alarming anyone. Change can be really hard for people - especially if they’ve been working the same way for years. Going all in with a new innovation initiative will most likely just create resistance. And that’s completely OK! Instead of feeling discouraged by this, use it to your advantage. Mention that you’ll be trying out a new style of meeting that’s a little more structured. Ease your team into this new way of working, by letting them experience the value of workshops first-hand. This will get you internal buy-in and pave the way for bigger initiatives.
Pro tip: Learn from the companies who are already championing innovative ways of working! What worked for them can work for you as well, and it’s a nice way to get fresh ideas. For starters, you can check out how H&M Group, Zurich Insurance, and Wayfair foster a workshop culture.
“All or nothing” is definitely NOT the motto for starting a workshop culture in a company. Let’s face it, getting a sign off for a week-long workshop right off the bat is going to be hard (very hard). Your best bet is to start small and frugal. Run a smaller initiative first and make sure to follow through with the learnings and their implementation.
Keep in mind that if you force people to do workshops, they’ll hate them! So start with something small first. Volunteer to be the person in the room who captures information as other people speak and facilitate the discussion by including workshop-features like timeboxing or ideating ‘together alone.’
Pro tip: starting small is probably a good idea even if your organization is fully onboard with your innovation initiatives. Smaller scale means less financial risk, more room for experimentation, and easier team management. Once you get more familiar with the methods and how to utilise them you can ramp up and reap the benefits on a big scale.
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Show, don’t tell
The best way to convince your team of the value of workshops is to let them experience first hand how effective this way of working is. Run a smaller workshop and tackle a small but annoying challenge that has been on your team’s agenda for ages. After they see how much work can get done within an hour, they’ll inevitably want to experience more of that.
Set the right expectations
Letting your team know exactly what to expect will take their edge off and will set your workshop up for success. Don’t declare workshops to be the transformation vehicle that will change your entire company. Realistically, that is not going to happen.
Emphasize to your team that workshops are NOT a process change for your company. They are a plug-and-play tool to solve problems. This will ease some worries and tensions and will make your team more receptive to running workshops.
Reframe your offer
One of the main push backs against running workshops is taking the time out of a team’s busy schedule for something that potentially doesn’t work. No one likes to waste time and energy, and if your organization has never run workshops before, you’ll need to reframe how you talk about them.
Instead of presenting it as a big, complicated, annoying, schedule-destroying event, present it like the time-saver it is.
Explain to your team that workshops help frontload all of the decision-making processes into one day. All strategically important details get decided on, and the team can go into full execution mode, as opposed to spreading out the decision-making process over several weeks, with team members constantly being pulled away from their work into meetings.
Make the process enjoyable for the team
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had one of these thoughts before:
Should I talk now? Oh no, the team extrovert has already started talking, I guess I’ll wait.
I actually know the answer, but I know that this person will talk over me.
Uhh, pretty sure that’s NOT the correct answer, but they’re more senior than me, so I probably shouldn’t say anything.
We can guarantee most of your teammates have thought something along these lines as well. So acknowledge it and let them know that with workshops, they won’t have to worry about all of this stuff.
Emphasize that you’re turning a meeting into a workshop to make it more enjoyable and smooth. Tell them that you’re not going to be imposing your solutions on them, but instead help them tap into their expertise. All they will have to do is provide their skill, and follow a predefined process, which will take all the heavy-lifting off their shoulders.
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Celebrate your wins
You’re trying something new and it’s getting everyone out of their comfort zone - that is definitely worth celebrating. Positive reinforcement can really help make a team feel united and make them more open to change. Most offices have a tendency to do a lot of work and then not attribute the successes to the right people. Achieving goals is big and everyone deserves a mention. So create milestones along your journey that you can celebrate!
Acknowledging the progress will give you the motivation to keep the momentum going.
So after every small session, take time to zoom out and go through all the things you have learned as a team, the direction you’re planning on going in now and let everyone know that you’re happy with their hard work. This really helps add closure and leaves everyone feeling positive and willing to try this way of working again.
BONUS TIP: Start before you’re ready!
The fastest, most effective way to learn is by rolling up your sleeves and actually doing it! So just run that first workshop, assemble the first taskforce and give it a go. The learnings you’ll get out of it will serve as signposts for your journey and will inspire your team to experiment further.