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By Darryl Stewart

Breaking the ice

I made the choice to be in a management position when I chose to become an entrepreneur. I darn well wanted to get focused on the results of my employees, and not lose my house! Perhaps, for this reason, it has taken me longer to accept that to get the best results I must put the needs of people first and the needs of our organization second. Great managers focus on people first and process second.

I am saying all this because the subject of this blog might appear to be a bit light, a step down into the world of the trivial. It is not.

thick ice cracking
Photo by Ian Mackenzie

I am talking about starting meetings with an ice breaker. Take a few moments to open up the communication lines between people, to get to know each other a bit better, to recognize that each member of the team is a person first and a member of your team and the larger organization second.   It only takes a few minutes and it gets people open and involved. Put out a question, give people a bit of time to think about it, and then have each person answer the question without interruption.

We have this as part of our weekly management meeting at IBEX (the weekly grumpy goat meeting). Our standard “go to” is for each “grumpy” to report what their good news was, business or personal, for the last week.

Some other ice breakers:

  • What is the best thing that has happened to you in the last 30 days
  • If you won the lottery, what’s something you wouldn’t do?
  • If you could be one person for a day, who would it be and what would you do?
  • Who is the most important person in your life?
  • What is the best decision you ever made?
  • What is your favorite movie and why?

Of course always take the trust level in your group into account and beware of asking any questions that might alienate or embarrass anyone. The better you know the group, the more interesting the “safe” questions can be. If you are unsure, don’t use that question!

Adding an ice breaker to your meetings will set you apart from the pack. A great manager is not afraid to show they care about knowing their team and about their team all knowing each other.

IBEX Payroll extends our profound respect and immeasurable gratitude to all the ancestors and keepers of the land on whose traditional territories our work takes place. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. This land is sacred, historical, and significant. 

Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today. 

This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.