Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Team meetings- What's on your agenda? (My experience of having fun with balloons)

Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

Whether your in Social Work or not, most of us have the pleasure of experiencing team meetings. Some of us dread it. The long slog of two, maybe three hours of listening to statistics, performance targets, lack of resources and how someone else from the team is moving on. Some of us on the other hand, probably enjoy team meetings, particularly if they are safe, interactive, reflective and supportive environments that offer a restorative approach as opposed to being preached and receiving metaphorical slaps on the wrist for missing that one deadline...... OK two, but we are only human right?

The purpose of this Blog is to share some of my experiences within team meetings and how adding a fun, simple but very effective game to the start of your meetings, can boost everyone's mood. I've included one of my favourite games below for you to try out.

I have mixed views of team meetings. There have been countless times where the meetings have turned in to heavy, uncooperative debates. I've been party to meetings where stats are out of time or Ofsted is due and we must work harder. I have however, been to team meeting where, we sit and talk about the "highs and lows" which Of course, is meant to be social work related. I can't help but try and lighten the mood by throwing something obscure and completely irrelevant into the mix. My best example is that of spending my entire turn talking about my new lunch box...... it soon had people smiling and laughing once again. That for me, was the key. 

The team I work in as a social worker, has been suffering of late. Low morale, higher case loads then we would like and a collection of deadlines that we somehow need to juggle. When in a team meeting, I could feel the tension and misery radiate off of the whole room. It literally bounced from one wall to other. 

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

In recent weeks, we have had a bigger emphasis on each of us in the team, taking it in turns to "chair" the meeting. Although I reluctantly agreed to go first, I did use this to my advantage and create a very different approach, one that would shake up the "norm".

Instead of the usual "highs and lows", I introduced the team to a surprise game..... with Balloons. 

I'm sure some of you have played before, I am not even sure it's got an official title but for now, we can call it "The Balloon Game". I learnt this game back in 2011 as a student social worker as an Ice breaker. Its quick (fairly quick) and is lots of fun.

How to play:

  1. Everyone needs a balloon. A bog standard, average Balloon. Preferably, everyone needs the same colour otherwise you'll know who's is who's. 
  2. Everyone needs a small piece of scrap paper and a pen. 
  3. One the paper, in secret, each person needs to write down a secret or something about them that, NO ONE else would know. (you have to be happy to share it, so be careful) 
  4. Place the paper inside the Balloon and blow it up a little. 
  5. Everyone then needs to spend 2-3 mins throwing the Balloons around the room- just like you did at your 10th Birthday party. 
  6. When your done, everyone needs to pick up a Balloon and hold on to it. 
  7. Go round the room taking it in turns to pop the balloon and read out the slip.
  8. Everyone needs to try and guess WHO that slip is about. 
  9. When your down to the last two people, pop both balloons at the same time and try to guess which is which. The two people the slips are about, must try not to give anything away. 
This is a fairly simple game and whilst it may seem like a child's party game, it brings a lot of joy to social workers in team meetings- I know because I've seen it in action more then once. 

If in doubt, try it for yourself. I'd love to hear your stories so feel free to drop me a line..........

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