A tool that I have been using my entire camp/challenge course career is the “Check-In Question.” Allowing team members to share how they are feeling and what is on their “plates” can contextualize their reactions, decisions, and responses and create more understanding among the team. For example, if I know that Robert didn’t get much sleep last night because of his newborn baby then his lack of participation in discussion is not a sign of disinterest, but of his fatigue. On the other hand if I know that most of my staff is stressed about a certain project, as a leader I might choose to hold off on assigning a new project until stress levels recede.
Check-in questions are simple and you can have some fun with them. At Camp Tilikum we have a standard check in question of: What was a highlight and lowlight from last week? Other check-in questions:
- If you could describe how your are feeling as a (mode of transportation, inanimate object, movie genre, etc.) what would it be and why?
- Rose-Bud-Thorn: “Rose” represents what is going well, “Bud” represents what is something new, “Thorn” represents a distraction or negative that has popped up this week.
- Happy-Crappy: What is something happy from the week and something crappy from the week.
- Google image search: have the team share a picture from Google image search that describes how they are feeling.
- Phone picture: have them search through the pictures on their phone and pick one that best represents how they are feeling.
Facilitation Tip: Some folks may give some shallow answers the first couple of times you do this exercise and that is okay. You can model the level of vulnerability you hope to see with your answers and as trust is built people will start to give deeper answers. You may also find that you’ll get more buy-in from your team if each meeting someone new chooses a check-in question.
I look forward to the day when the challenge course can be available to help your teams reunite. Until then stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected!