When teams work together for longer periods of time, they need to be encouraged to take periodic energy breaks to keep their ideas flowing. This exercise helps to increase their energy levels. It also includes other practical tips on the use of snacks, water, and physical activity to achieve this goal.
- To present ways to reenergize and keep the ideas flowing.
- To try some of these ideas in an informal setting.
- Fresh fruit for snacks
- A flipchart for each group of four to five (or sheets of paper on the wall for small groups)
- Sticky notes
- A variety of CDs and a CD player
Leave space along the walls so the small groups can stand next to the flipcharts.
Our energy tends to recede and flow. The tasks at hand might be critically important, and we as leaders must pay attention to our ability to maintain focus and keep going. Workers, as well as learners, need breaks, exercise, energizing activities, and proper food. Plan to incorporate the ideas outlined here throughout your training.
Prepare to use this activity at some point in your team building event, but keep in mind that it needs to be used when you realize that people need to be motivated in order to go on.
Step By Step Instructions
- Introduce the topic by saying, “Our energy tends to recede and flow when we’re working on something wonderful or critically important. Leaders must be prepared to step in and revitalize their people”. This activity is best when participants look (overwhelmed, fatigued, tired) and need a break. First, ask participants to bow down their heads while you dim the lights and play some quiet music. Instruct them to take a short power nap.
- How can you help participants get reenergized as the facilitator/leader? Ask them to stand in groups of four to five next to one of the flipcharts or a chart paper on the wall. Give each person a pad of sticky notes. Ask them to write down all of the ideas (one per note) they can think of that will help re-energize people who work together for hours on end. They are to first write all of their ideas down, and then together try to group the ideas under similar categories. While they are still standing, put on some lively music and lead the group in a few stretching exercises or dance movements (or get a volunteer who’s adept at this to do it). In the whole group, review the suggestions and merge ideas into similar groupings. Then have everyone take a piece of fruit for a snack and find a place to sit down.
- Share a few other ideas, such as these: Variation of activities and even change of location can help increase energy levels. No one can stay awake doing the same activity all the time, so prepare a sequence of tasks and topics that provide variety.
For instance, combine discussion of a serious issue with something lighter or humorous. Or use part of a work session to solve a problem and another portion to evaluate how the group is working together. Regroup team members regularly. If you form sub-groups to work on a problem, be sure to mix people up once in a while. If they do not know one another, encourage them to sit with different people occasionally. Our metabolism dictates when we will have the most energy. Half of your group will be alert in the morning, a large number will perk up in the afternoon, and a small number will wish you could meet in the evening. Vary the time when you meet so you can draw on the energy of the group members.
Also, vary where you meet. By meeting in different parts of a large organization, people get to see where their colleagues work. Try to occasionally meet in a setting away from work. Variety provides a fresh perspective.
Research shows that people can sit still and concentrate for approximately forty-five minutes to one hour at a time. Take a break every hour so that people can go to the restroom, make a quick phone call, get a breath of fresh air, or network. Provide for some physical exercise to re-energize the group. When they seem tired, do some yawning and stretching together. Have a set of easy exercises that can be done in your meeting room. Often there is someone in the group who would be glad to conduct these exercise breaks.
Schedule walks, even if it is only around the building. The whole group could walk together. Sometimes pair people up and give them something to talk about while they take a ten-minute walk. Food and beverages can help a meeting; however, the wrong ones will hinder it. Many people drink too much coffee because that is all that is available, but the extra caffeine tends to make them irritable and wired. So, if there are to be beverages, provide a variety: tea (including herbal), coffee, diet, and regular soft drinks, juices, mineral water, and milk. The same holds true with food: The traditional donut or danish has so much sugar that it leaves people with a quick high and then a drop in energy. Select bread or muffins with less sugar, and provide yogurt or fruit; you’ll find your team members sustaining their energy longer.
This is also true of snacks. Keep that bowl of fruit available (or energy bars, nuts, etc.) throughout the session so those who need something can get it easily. If you all eat lunch together, try to pick a lighter menu or at least take time for a walk after the meal.
- Summarize what was presented, and ask each person to select 2–3 of the ideas and commit to using them in the next meeting they lead. Call for a break!
Take time shortly after conducting this activity to reflect on how it went, how engaged the participants were, and what questions they raised. Then, make notes that include how much time you actually spent on the activity.