Garfield isn’t the only one who struggles on Mondays. Despite studies showing that Mondays can be the most productive day of the week, it’s most likely a “catch-up” day, and employees can really struggle to find motivation. For me, as a manager, I noticed that after a long weekend, it could be especially difficult to get my staff sharp and focused during our 9am Monday morning meetings. Especially with a younger, Millennial-aged staff, Monday mornings were definitely filled with more yawns and blank stares than active participation and productivity.
So I developed some activities and exercises for my team’s morning meetings in order to get them focused, energetic, and excited to start the week off strong. Check these exercises out and apply them to your own Monday meetings to make them as productive and efficient as possible.
1. The Concentration Exercise
Objective: Stimulate the participants’ minds, challenge their concentration and memory, and increase collaboration and communication.
Have your team form two equal lines facing each other. One line goes into a breakout room, while the second line gets 60 seconds to change three to five things about themselves. This can include anything, so long as the change is visible to the other group.
After the 60 seconds is up, the first group returns and tries to find all the changes made by the second group. Each person in the first group gets two guesses, and they can either collaborate with teammates strategically or fly solo. Once the changes have all been recognized or the second team has exhausted all their guesses, the groups switch and repeat.
This is a fun exercise that makes individuals work together, tests their memory and concentration, and helps with focus. Add a little incentive to make it extra rewarding.
2. The Pitching Exercise
Objective: Get participants to listen, process, and respond to information, while also honing their selling skills.
Get your team into groups of three and task them with pitching you. Give each group five minutes to think of any idea that would improve their workplace. Ideas can include things like a happy hour to reward the team for hitting monthly objectives, catered lunches, coffee and donuts on Monday mornings, or early outs on Fridays, etc.
Have each team write down the value props and benefits for each idea, asking them to think about how their ideas will help you, the manager. Once the five minutes are up, have them each pitch their best ideas to you as if they were on a sales call.
This exercise can get those creative juices flowing. It forces individuals to think creatively, while also coming up with objective reasoning behind their decisions.
3. The Friendly Debate Exercise
Objective: Get your team communicating, listening actively, and responding to information in a courteous and productive way.
Separate your crew into four teams and then separate each team into two groups, so that it’s a one-on-one. For each debate, instruct each person to get on their side, meaning that it could be three people in the group debating one or two on two. It doesn’t matter. Each group will debate each topic for three minutes each.
The debate topics are super mundane. Which is better – pizza or tacos? Would you rather go on a hike or see a movie? What is more valuable – creativity or logic? The point is to get your people involved, thinking creatively, listening actively, and having some fun.
4. The Problem-Solution Exercise
Objective: Help your team feel they can trust each other and increase confidence through problem-solving.
Have someone on your team present a problem or something with which they need help. After the issue is presented, have your entire team work together and collaborate to come up with feasible solutions.
This exercise really helps increase overall team confidence. Everyone has problems they can’t solve independently, and this exercise lets the team gain confidence in being vulnerable and admitting when they need help. It encourages collaboration and a willingness to help and support each other, which is especially helpful with younger or newer staff.
Don’t Forget About the Classic “Scrum”
The above exercises are great ways to get your team actively engaged and are especially helpful after a long holiday weekend, but it’s not all fun and games. There is work to be done and, sometimes, your meetings need to be straightforward and to-the-point.
On days like that, I stick to the classic “scrum” meeting type. I actually like to conduct these meetings for the first 10 minutes of each day to get everyone on the same page. Before the meeting, the team prepares answers to the following questions:
- What did you accomplish yesterday/last week?
- What are you doing today?
- What do you need help with?
- What are some key collaboration points with other members of the team?
- What is your timeline of deliverables and SMART goals?
After we go around the horn, it’s time to get to work! Quick, efficient, and simple.
Thinking Outside the Box
Mondays are tough, but they don’t have to be unbearable. Use these four unconventional exercises during your Monday meetings to spice things up and get your team excited for the week ahead.
But make sure you don’t forget about the importance of your typical daily check-in. Monday shouldn’t be the only day you’re checking in with your team to ensure everyone is staying on track.