Go, fight, win as a team

Go, fight, win as a team

Amidst the flood of polarizing hot topics these days that are draining us all, there is one place I’ve visited recently where it seems to cease. And instead, there’s a flood of agreement, positivity, determination, and—dare I say—love in the air.

Your work team needs this kind of cohesion and energy right now. Let’s learn from this example and take the challenge to give our teams a boost of energy and unity this week.


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Video transcript:

Well, in an increasingly polarized country where there is so much disagreement going on, there is one place where I am experiencing really amazing harmony. Can you guess where it is? It is at the Boise state football stadium.

We have season tickets; we have for a number of years. We’re big fans and no matter the tension that we experience in our communities today, when we show up to that stadium and we sit next to strangers—people we don’t know—suddenly we’re all best friends. We are high fiving after first downs and touchdowns; goodness, if it weren’t for COVID, we’d probably be hugging.

We are all rallied around this team, all in it, wanting the same thing. And it just brings this amazing cohesion and unity. How fun?!

Don’t we want that within our work teams as well—this sense of unity, this excitement to all be in it together, fighting for the same thing.

It’s challenging in our current environment to feel that sense of excitement as a team, truly it is. But I just don’t want us to underestimate the power of a shared team identity—all fighting toward something together and the new energy and progress and performance that that can bring.

And so I have an assignment for you this week. If you are a leader, or if you are a team member, not in a leadership role, either way you can do this. I want you to pick one shared goal that your team can drive toward this week. Make it something small, right? Not, anything huge, but one shared goal—either a challenge you’re all working toward resolving together or a shared outcome that you’re all marching toward accomplishing. Okay. So one shared team goal. And then I want you to set a shared outcome—you either all win together or you lose together. What is something that—if we reach this goal or resolve the challenge—we all get to celebrate in it together? Set the stakes a little bit high and then share it with your team; or better yet, establish this goal and the shared outcome together as a team.

See what happens for energy on your team this week. See how the motivation changes, see how we may link arms and rally together to drive toward this shared goal together.

May you experience within your workplace what I experience at the Boise state stadium during football games.

11 ways to boost your onboarding process

11 ways to boost your onboarding process

The competition for talent is intense right now. And with more companies than ever offering full-time remote opportunities, the competition is not going away.

So how do you retain that new talent that you worked so hard to recruit? It starts with your onboarding process. In fact, research from Glassdoor tells us that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82%! The bad news is that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organizations are doing a great job of onboarding new employees (source: Gallup).

We have work to do, folks.

How about—instead of focusing purely on paperwork and process—we focus on building connection during the onboarding journey? I believe it comes in three main forms:

  1. Connection to work: a strong sense of purpose and impact
  2. Connection to the team: a strong sense of belonging and genuine care
  3. Connection to self: a strong sense that their unique talents and ideas are welcomed, valued, and needed

Today I’m sharing eleven of my best strategies for building this kind of connection in your employee onboarding experience.

#1: Communicate early and often.

Before their first day, your goal should be to overcommunicate—to fill any possible gaps of uncertainty with assurance. Don’t assume they know anything. Here are a few specifics that often get neglected:

– The basics: typical work attire, expected work hours, what exactly will happen on Day 1 (provide a detailed agenda!), where to park, etc.

– Early team introductions: provide links to LinkedIn profiles or, better yet, a team introduction package so they can start matching faces with names and learning about their future teammates

#2: Personalize the welcome.

We are typically focused on promoting our company brand and value during orientation, but research shows that flipping the script to focus on elevating the new hire’s identity drives better retention and performance. Loudly communicate early on that you value them, and that their unique strengths and interests are wanted here. Here are two ideas:

– Show them that you were listening during the hiring process and welcome them in customized way. This could include a gift card to their favorite local restaurant, a jersey for their favorite sports team, their favorite coffee beverage sitting on their desk on Day 1, or a printed sign with their alma mater’s logo hanging in their cubicle.

– Ask the new employee to share their story during a staff meeting with photos showcasing their personal interests, background, and talents. Be sure the team is ready to demonstrate genuine interest and ask thoughtful questions.

#3: Use checklists.

You’re busy. Your team is busy. Everyone is busy! To ensure you offer a consistent, robust onboarding experience, create checklists for those involved to ensure nothing is missed in the hustle and bustle. Not sure where to start? Ask a few newer employees to take a cut at the first draft of the employee checklist—no doubt they’ll think of things you might miss. Then, to create a manager checklist, hold a quick meeting with a few managers to capture a brain dump of all the steps they take when integrating a new employee, then organize the ideas into a clean checklist. Check, check!

#4: Create a new employee cheat sheet.

Your new employees certainly don’t want to have to ask for help on everything, so give them a helpful resource guide covering the essential who, what, when, and where details. Here are a few examples of things you might include:

– Org charts, plus corresponding roles and responsibilities

– Department descriptions

– Recurring meeting schedules

– Key locations: physical (bathrooms, break rooms, nearby restaurants, etc.) and digital (server mappings, URLs, etc.)

#5: Hold regular manager-employee check-ins.

Nothing can substitute the important time spent between an employee and supervisor. How frequent should you hold these check-ins? I’m so glad you asked.

– During the first several weeks, I recommend scheduling more frequent 1:1s to build trust, comfort, and natural bi-directional learning. Surprisingly enough, this extra time spent actually drives efficiency. If a new employee knows they will get 15 minutes of dedicated time with their boss each day during their first few weeks, they will save their questions for that time and be prepared for rapid fire Q&A. This also means that they may actually find the answer or solve the issue on their own before that meeting (versus swinging by your office every time a question surfaces).

– After they are settled into the role, continue with weekly or bi-weekly 1:1s. This is one of the most important, yet underutilized management practices. Note: recurring 1:1s should be held with all employees at all levels, not just the newbies.

#6: Assign a buddy.

Why do we abandon the buddy system after early preschool? According to the Human Capital Institute, 87% of organizations that use an ambassador or buddy program during the onboarding process say it dramatically speeds up new hire productivity; yet fewer than half of all organizations implement such a program. Providing a buddy to a new hire gives them safety, belonging, and an easily accessible resource. It also boosts ownership and a sense of importance in your current employees who serve as buddies. Bonus: it’s free. Seems like a no-brainer here. Be sure to assign a single point of contact—general statements like “ask anyone for help anytime” feel much more daunting than knowing you have one person you can rely on who is committed to your success.

#7: Design a balanced first week: robust, yet bite-sized.

Don’t leave new employees twiddling their thumbs or wondering what to do, but also don’t overwhelm them. Here are a few ideas to consider:

– Have them start on a Wednesday or Thursday to make it a short first week.

– Provide them with a detailed first week schedule that loosely guides every hour of every day—while this would feel like micromanagement to an experienced employee, it provides comfort and direction for a new team member.

– Deliver training and information in small increments to promote absorption and retention of the material.

– Invite them to plenty of ride-alongs: meetings they can attend as a fly on the wall.

#8: Schedule 1:1s with each team member.

This one is inspired by one of my clients. They have every new employee schedule a 30-minute introductory meeting with each team member across the agency. Both new and old employees truly value the practice. It builds connection, belonging, and knowledge quickly. Obviously, depending on the size of your organization, you may not ask them to meet with every single employee, but I would encourage you to have them meet with more than just their direct team members.

#9: Provide customer exposure.

As illustrated in this Two-Minute Tip several months ago, one of the best ways to connect employees with the purpose of their work is to allow them to see the impact it has on the end user. Don’t wait to expose new employees to customer stories; let them experience and see the impact early in their journey.

#10: Ask for their input.

Just because there is a learning curve with any new job doesn’t mean new employees can’t start adding value right away. They don’t want to feel like dead weight, and you should be taking advantage of their fresh perspectives. Here are a few easy ways to solicit their insights without it feeling too intimidating:

– Invite them to attend a meeting and share their observations in a post-meeting private setting.

– Assign them to review a process and take note of steps that seem unclear, potential gaps, or fresh ideas on productive shifts in the design.

– Ask them to provide feedback on the onboarding process.

– Allow them to teach a mini-lesson to the team on any particular areas of expertise.

#11: Extend the process.

News flash: onboarding should not end after the first week. Designing and framing your onboarding program as a 90-day process tells new employees that they are not expected to have it all together after a few weeks—they have time to learn and grow. This extended timeframe enables them to feel a sense of safety in which they aren’t afraid to ask the ‘stupid questions’ or admit mistakes. Be sure to schedule specific milestones within the process, like formal 30-day check-ins where candid feedback is provided on both sides—it feels less intimidating to discuss honest feedback when part of a formal step in the process.


No doubt you have other ideas and best practices to share. What are they? Would you please put them in the comments so we can learn together? 

Here’s to designing human-centered onboarding processes that build meaningful connection in our workplaces.


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The best return to work plan

The best return to work plan

It’s the million-dollar question lately: what new policy should we set regarding remote work for our employees coming out of the pandemic?

You know I have a lot of thoughts to share on the topic when I just can’t keep the “two-minute tip” to two minutes. I hope you can stick with me for 3.5+ minutes on this one—there’s interesting statistic toward the end that you won’t want to miss.


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Boosting employee ownership

Boosting employee ownership

Have you seen “Yes Day” yet, the new Netflix movie? It’s the driver behind this week’s Two-Minute Tip.

Every leader’s dream is to have a team full of employees who take extreme ownership of their work and the team’s success. But how do you do it?

As usual, I learn my best leadership lessons through parenting. Here’s a glimpse into our family’s recent “Yes Day” experience and how it boosted my girls’ sense of ownership and responsibility. 


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Share the stories

Share the stories

We may clock in each day to earn a paycheck, but the amount of energy we choose to exert during those work hours is influenced by much more than a salary. One of the biggest drivers of performance and engagement is the ability to know and see the impact of our efforts. 

Let’s test this on your team. Can your employees readily answer the question below? 

“I know how my work influences people (or places, processes, etc.) for the better.” 

And do they frequently hear customer stories that illustrate the impact of their efforts? If not, you have an opportunity to leverage a powerful force that will boost employee motivation and commitment. 

Watch the video to learn from an example of how sharing customer stories dramatically impacted performance and results at a university fundraising call center. Plus, as usual, you’ll hear a personal example from me as well.

P.S. Have you experienced great service recently? If so, tell them! Share your story with the business, the service provider, or their manager. 


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5 activities to make Zoom meetings fun again

5 activities to make Zoom meetings fun again

Zoom fatigue is real. Can I get an amen?! Connecting through screens is beginning to wear on us, and yet it’s often the only way to connect. 

Do you dread team meetings right now? If so, it’s time to inject some fun—time to creatively build team connection. Without thoughtful connection, team dynamics become transactional, not relational. Let’s ensure you’re creating space for employees to connect.

Here are five simple activities guaranteed to make your virtual meetings fun again. They don’t take long—simply devote the first 10-15 minutes of your meeting to facilitate one. I promise, people will be more engaged and productive in the ‘business part’ of your meeting after participating in one of these activities. Joy and connection breed productivity.


All you need to play this game in your hand! Each person holds up five fingers. One person at a time shares something they have never actually done (i.e., “Never have I ever gone skydiving…”). If a team member has done that thing, they put a finger down. Take turns sharing until someone has all five fingers down. You decide if that means they’re the winner or loser. I personally prefer “winner”—let’s celebrate their adventurous side.


This one takes a little prework, but it’s worth it. Solicit an interesting fact from each team member before the meeting. Read each fact and have folks write down their guesses. It’s like a quiz…the fun kind, though. The person who gets the most right wins. Perhaps the winner should receive an Uber Eats gift card or something similar? 


Ask each team member to email you a childhood picture. Hopefully you get a good blend of cute ones and the awkward ones that we all have stuffed away. Complile the pictures on a slide and, just like Team Trivia, have team members guess who is who. If you need some inspiration, check out the amazing side-by-sides used to introduce team members on the Stoltz Marketing Group website. Best team bio page ever. Don’t you just feel connected to them already? I already have a lot of love for Stolz, but their team page takes it to a new level. 


I learned this one from my Next Level Women Leaders cofounder, Stacy Ennis. Team members take turns sharing a statement about themselves. It could be a true statement or a fib. After a person shares, the facilitator counts down “3, 2, 1” and everyone simultaneously guesses if it was true or false—votes can be submitted through chat or using thumbs up/down buttons. Then, of course, the person fesses up. Prepare for laughs, gasps, and ‘tell me more’ moments.

#5 // PAIR & SHARE

This activity can be used in every meeting for the rest of your life. Bonus, it actively engages every team member. Some people shy away from speaking up in a full group setting, but they light up in one-on-one conversations—this is for them. Using the breakout room feature, send pairs into randomly selected breakout rooms with a prescribed prompt for 90 second increments. Let me explain.

    1. Share a prompt with the full team (see suggestions below).
    2. Send pairs to breakout rooms for 90 seconds.
    3. Bring everyone back to the main room and have a few people share what they learned.
    4. Give a new prompt.
    5. Send pairs to new breakout rooms with different partners for 90 seconds.
    6. Bring everyone back to the main room and have a few people share what they learned.
    7. Repeat as many times as you’d like. Three times is my go-to.

Here are a few of my favorite prompts.

Please steal them shamelessly.

    • If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing and why?
    • What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
    • If you could bring back any fashion trend, what would it be and why?
    • What was your very first job?
    • You’re a professional wrestler. What’s your entrance theme song?
    • If you had one superpower, what would it be and why?
    • What’s your favorite season and why?
    • What was your least favorite food as a child? How do you feel about it now?
    • You’re a talk show host. Who do you invite as your first guest and why?
    • What is one vacation spot on your bucket list?
    • If you had to delete all but three apps on your phone, what would you keep and why?
    • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
    • If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
    • Who was an influential person in your life as a child? How did they impact you?
    • What is your favorite holiday tradition?
    • What is your least favorite holiday tradition?
    • If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose and why?
    • What is the best dish you can cook?
    • Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    • If you could change your name, what would you pick?

Other suggestions? Please share them in the comments! And after you spice up a team meeting with one of these activities, would you let me know? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers to making virtual meetings fun again…



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