Team Reflections Activity: Highs, Lows & Lessons Learned

Taking time to reflect on shared experiences is a bonding experience for a team.  At at time of transition, this process can allow for meaningful closure.  Here are some times this activity would be very powerful:

  • At an annual team meeting
  • At the final meeting of a team before it disbands (for any reason)
  • As the closing activity of a conference/meeting/event
  • At any point in which a major change is occurring and the team needs to transition from the “old way” to the “new way”

Be sure you have at least an hour for this activity, even longer with a large team.  This is an activity that should not be rushed.  It should allow space when emotions need to be expressed.

When I first experienced this activity with facilitator Tierah Chorba of Veritas Visioneering, we were having our final meeting after five years in a President’s Round Table Group – which we affectionately called our Mastermind Group.  Both work related and very personal high and lows were shared.  It was a very cathartic and powerful experience allowed us the opportunity to recognize all our team had been through together.

Supplies Needed:

  1. 6 Command™ Damage Free- Removable Plastic Hooks
  2. String (or yarn) – at least 30 feet, cut into 10 feet lengths
  3. Mini-Binder clips – at least 12 per person
  4. 3×5 colored index cards (pink, yellow and green) – at least 3 of each color for each person
  5. Black Sharpie™ markers – 1 per person

Instructions:

Set-Up (Before the Activity)

Prior to the activity hang up three rows of the string (at least 10 feet across).  Use removable plastic hooks to stick to the wall and hang the string.  You may need a helper.  (allow 5-10 minutes)

1. Give the instructions. (3 minutes)

  • “Let’s reflect on [insert time period here] and think about our experiences together on this team.  I’d like you to think about and write down your personal highs, lows and lessons learned during this [insert time period here].”
  • “I’m going to pass out three colors of index cards and markers to write with. Please complete a minimum of one of each color.  If you have time, you can complete as many additional cards as you would like to.”
  • “On the green card, please write down your highs.”
  • “On the yellow card, please write your Lessons Learned.”
  • “On the pink card, please write your lows.”
  • “Once you are all done, we will clip them to these strings in approximate order of when they occurred.  Things from [define start time] will go to the far left, and [define ending time] to the far right.  Timing doesn’t need to be exact- just in the vicinity of where this occurred for you. I’m going to give you five minutes to create your cards, and then will start to clip them up.”

2. Pass out the cards and Sharpies.

3. Set the timer for 5 minutes.

4. Hang the cards. (5-7 minutes)

  • Pass out clips and they can hang their cards on the strings.
  • Encourage several people to hang cards at the same time to speed up the process.

5. Review each low moment. (10-15 minutes)

  • In order, read each card.
  • Ask:  Is there anything that needs to be discussed further?
  • If “Yes” – quickly decide if it is something that can be discussed quickly or if it should go on the Action List.

6. Review each lesson learned. (15 minutes)

  • In order, reach each card.
  • Allow reactions from the team.

7. Review each high moment. (15 minutes)

  • In order, reach each card.
  • Allow reactions from the team.

8. Wrap up the activity. (7 minutes)

  • Ask each person to think about how to describe the [meeting, week, year, etc.] using ONLY 3 words.
  • Give them a minute to think of their words.
  • Go in a circle and let each person to share their 3 words.

Facilitator Tips:

1. You can give each person a different color clip (they come in multiple colors) or ask people to put their name or initials on their cards so the team can ask follow up questions if needed.

2. Keep the debrief moving at a good pace so this doesn’t drag out, yet don’t rush anything that the team wants to discuss more or acknowledge.

3. Intentionally begin with lows and end with highs so you finish the activity celebrating and people leave on a high note.

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