Nearly everyone is working remotely in this virtual world & it gets harder and harder for teams - especially new teams - to get connected & build rapport with each other. I mean park the virtual thing aside, it can still be a challenge for physical teams to form strong relationships even when sat opposite each other. Reasons such as personality types, Work which doesn't encourage collaboration on a team, An assembly line work atmosphere where it's all about churn ....these examples do not focus on building relationships with team members.
If you prefer, you can watch the quick video version of this blog here
So much improvement is found through open discussion & spirited debate. But when we do not have that rapport & some level of trust - our connection, our rapport is weaker. This can effect the information we do & do not share & as a result improvement opportunities may take longer to spot or never actually come to light.
This is where a Secret Team Podcast is a game changer. I have only seen this concept twice, once many moons ago where it had partial success & recently in the last 3 months I have seen it bring together a group of strangers & create a real team. I gave it this name "Secret" because when this is an internal thing for the team - when it is home grow & kept alive at the grassroots level by the people, for the people -> it brings a great power to human connection.
Let me explain the concept.
You create a podcast which is only for the team. You make it clear this is confidential & emphasise that it's meant to be for fun. To help us get to know each other without it feeling forced!
So every week, there will be a new podcast (a max of 3 ) which can be an individual or pair a topic is discussed for no longer than 15 minutes. This makes The Secret Team Podcast sustainable & easy to create without no big overhead. Let me give you an example of the podcast subjects we created:
First 4 weeks, Who are you?
-Individual introductions from each team member & when we asked "who are you?" I encouraged people to make this feel look. For example, perhaps you'll tell us about your education, how you joined the company, your love of a certain sport ....or whatever else it is you want to share about yourself. Just tell us "who you are" :)
-What did this look like? Literally video and/or audio recordings of each team member put into a Dropbox.
Simple. That's it. That's the start! By the end of one month each team member would have listened to the "who are you" podcast from each team member. (We did two a week for a team of 8). What came next? Well we wanted to strike a balance of continuing to learn about each other through our work, interests & any other topics which could connect us. So let me show you how that looked:
One Podcast on work, one on a random topic!
The next 4 weeks would have 2 podcasts a week on the recipe above. For example one week we had a developer give insights into why they built part of a system in the way that they did with a video doing a chalk & talk. In that same week we had somebody sharing their thoughts on the power of home schooling! Remember these podcasts are only 20 minutes long.
We continued with this approach of every week 2 podcasts, one work related, one random subject & it was a great experience over 12 weeks. I can honestly say, even with different time-zones for some of our peers, not ever meeting physically & naturally -personalities which didn't immediately connect - a Secret Team Podcast expedited our rapport building journey.
It might not be for everyone but it is certainly an interesting option which can be worth exploring. Especially in what is becoming a remote first world.