Navigating Icebreakers

February 20, 2024 00:22:23
Navigating Icebreakers
Side of the Desk
Navigating Icebreakers

Feb 20 2024 | 00:22:23

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Show Notes

Side of the Desk discusses ice breakers – those that work and those that don’t! Tune in for our tips on how to best “break the ice”. #FidelityAssociate

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Episode Transcript

Mark Leavens Welcome to the Side of the Desk podcast hosted by Fidelity Jobs and the Fidelity Women's Leadership Group. We are here to have deep discussions on the authentic experience of being a working professional in today's ever changing workforce. Mark Leavens Welcome to the Side of the Desk podcast. Today we're talking about icebreakers. Hopefully that don't suck. Mark Leavens It's a new year. We've got new introductions, new jobs, lots of career movement happening. Mark Leavens End of year. We're starting off with new teams and we really want to jump into how do you introduce yourself to the new team and really what comes with that are icebreakers. It's a great subject here for us to talk about as it's relevant to everybody who's starting a new job or on a new team. I really want to start talking about what our icebreakers and giving some funding examples of them. Mark Leavens For me, icebreakers are when you're going around talking about something about yourself, something personal that people may not know or something that might make everybody laugh, but they can be awkward, especially if you are virtual or hybrid, or Mark Leavens just a little anxious about talking Mark Leavens fire. I want to start with you. What is your favorite icebreaker? Farrah Qureshi that's a good question. Farrah Qureshi I feel like I've gotten a few really solid icebreaker questions that have made me think, Farrah Qureshi one of them being what is the favorite scar that I've ever had and how did I get it? Farrah Qureshi And that was always a really interesting question to ask because you got to hear about some of the like wildest adventures people had been on, whether they were children or older. Farrah Qureshi I also feel like another great one that I recently heard was, you know, if I was any kind of food or drink, what would I be? Farrah Qureshi I think that just, you know, gets you talking about your personality and who you are and convey that. Alicia Steere Yeah. I think the purpose of an icebreaker is to be a little fun, to give your new team or a new group that you might be working with, Alicia Steere an insight into who you are, what you like to do, and, Alicia Steere and just kind of Alicia Steere showcase of fun aspect of Alicia Steere question you might not think about all of the time. Alicia Steere So something like what kind of food or drink would you be? Or Alicia Steere like the one where it's like, what is your screen background and is there a story behind that? My screen background is a picture that I took of the Great Barrier Reef when I was visiting my sister while she studied abroad. And that always gets some questions sometimes when I share my screen and that's a nice thing for me to be able to share how I visited my sister. Alicia Steere I took this picture, Look at me, Alicia Steere my pictures are so good, Alicia Steere but then it invites, you know, more conversation about travel. And it's a really great way to open that door for more connection with a team. Alicia Steere Another one that I've heard is share too personal share to professional things. Alicia Steere that's less of an icebreaker, but Alicia Steere a little bit more structured than share a fun fact about yourself because I think everyone can agree sharing a fun fact is so hard. Farrah Qureshi But when we think about like we're just icebreakers as well. I know that's Farrah Qureshi one of the topics as well. Farrah Qureshi what's the differentiation between what makes a Farrah Qureshi icebreaker good or what makes an icebreaker bad? Mark Leavens feel like you have to take a step back and analyze your team for you can say that because if you've got a bunch of fun people, you can do fun icebreakers. Mark Leavens But if you've got a bunch of new people in, you're feeling them all out. You kind of have to play it a little bit safe, right? So you can't say, what kind of drink would you be if you were going to be a drink? Or what's the last meal that you could have on earth might be a safer option, right? Mark Leavens You kind of have to take it and mold it to the group as you know them, especially if you're introducing one new person to that team versus setting up a whole new team. So really what to avoid Mark Leavens depends on a lot of scenarios Mark Leavens except for Mark Leavens don't ask me just a random fun fact about myself. I don't I don't I don't want to sit there and just be on the spot like I'm in third grade about to read for the first time. Mark Leavens Right. Like, I don't want to feel that way. I want something fun that's engaging and conversational. So, you know, one of the good ones I've heard is what was the last TV show you watched and do you identify with a character on it? And I thought that was really fun because you get people talking. Say you're referencing a TV show like The Office, and it's like, you're a Pam or a Jim or you're definitely Michael Scott. Mark Leavens Those type of things where you can say, there's no way you're a Pam, you're definitely this, right? So it's you can kind of feel out people's personalities through those type of questions. Mark Leavens Another example of one to probably avoid is making people do a project to come to this. Mark Leavens So a PowerPoint slide with tell me about yourself. Put this together, do this. It's another to do another task that is not a high priority to a lot of people. So that's definitely one that I would try and avoid. Even though it can be fun to see people's life in pictures, it's just one that just adds more to people's workload at the end of the day. Alicia Steere Yeah, I think Alicia Steere while someone might not want to feel like they have homework about themselves to bring to their new team a certain level of Alicia Steere preparedness or like ease of answer to a question also reinforces and strengthens an icebreaker. Like I can remember Alicia Steere in an interview Alicia Steere for a school when I was in sixth grade, they asked me what type of vegetable I would be, and I had never been asked a question like that in my life. Alicia Steere And I panicked because I was 12 and didn't eat vegetables yet. And I was like, I'd be a carrot because that was the only vegetable I liked. Alicia Steere then I was like talking to my dad afterward and he was like, well, you know, carrots grow in the ground, they're strong, they're hearty. And he like how these other things to say about it. Alicia Steere And I was like, I just picked it because it's the only vegetable I like. Mark Leavens Sometimes there's you can't read into it. It's just a panic call because, you know, you could have said strawberry and that's not a vegetable, right? Alicia Steere Yeah. Yeah. But I think having somebody feel competent in their answer without feeling like they have to rock their brain and come up with something like out there and really special and unique is, is another way to inspire confidence. Alicia Steere But I think what makes a and we echoed this earlier, I think what makes a good icebreaker is something that will open the door to more conversation. So Marcie said, What's the TV show you're watching? I love that one because I watch a ton of TV, but I've never been asked a follow up question of like, what's a character that you identify with that forces you to think a little bit more about it and opens the door to more conversation, which I think is really great. Alicia Steere It's not just a never ending list of show recommendations that people may or may not take. Farrah Qureshi I guess that brings up a really interesting question of how we can be mindful of people from different backgrounds, whether it's cultural, whether it's seen or unseen Farrah Qureshi disabilities, Farrah Qureshi people who may not necessarily have seen the same shows or listened to the same music. How can we make sure that we include people in some of these icebreakers? Alicia Steere I think that's a really good question for I think what I would also consider on top of being inclusive to those groups is just like different preferences and personality as well. And where my first thought takes me is Alicia Steere in my head the first person who likes an icebreaker is someone who's outgoing and confident and interesting. Alicia Steere And so for somebody who might be a little bit more reserved or introverted, they might do better in a smaller group. So instead of having a whole team icebreaker where all the eyes are on them, maybe working in pairs is a little bit more Alicia Steere inclusive for them and a little bit more their speed. Mark Leavens And I feel you're right there because I want to be in the big group. I'm an extrovert 100%. I want to be out there and I Mark Leavens I don't like it when you get split into small groups because it limits the amount of knowledge that I can gain about everybody and it also kind of puts more of a spotlight on those that don't know what they want to say. Mark Leavens And a lot of those, hey, let's split into smaller groups. You have to come back to the larger group and then talk about somebody else. So it's like, Hey, let's split the three of you into a group. And Alisha, you need to tell me three fun facts about fire and fire. You have to tell me three fun facts about Mark and Mark. Mark Leavens So, so that's really where I have issue with that. But I understand the value in it. Mark Leavens know that, you know, we've talked about TV shows, but one that actually keeps showing up in the last I don't even know how many meetings lately that leadership's come out and been talking. They've all been talking about books. Right. So the last book you read, do you like it? And a follow up here, because we all are different is did you read it with your ears or your eyes? Mark Leavens Meaning, you know, did you listen to it or did you actually read it? I'm a tactile person. I like to read it with my eyes. And that's just a different way to kind of frame a question in a new light. And then you also get neverending book recommendations, which is great because you might be reading something that I've never heard of that Alisha loves. Farrah Qureshi So like, really great question asked people of like, did you like going back to the concept of how do people learn? Are they auditory, Are they written, are they verbal, are they kinesthetic? So that's a that's a really cool way to ask people that question. I'll take that back with me. Alicia Steere So I'm hearing there's ways for icebreakers to be incorporated with Alicia Steere diversity inclusion Alicia Steere to to kind of cater towards different perspectives. I'm hearing keeping things interesting for everyone that opened the door for more conversation, Alicia Steere we've talked a little bit about worst icebreakers that we've we've encountered. Alicia Steere Have you ever done an icebreaker with Alicia Steere a colleague or a new teammate, whoever it might be, Alicia Steere and been like, yeah, that's my person. Like, we are going to get along so well, or you just find out something completely unexpected about somebody that helps you see them in a whole new light and helps improve your working relationship with them or, or any type of story like that. Mark Leavens Yeah, absolutely. There's been numerous times where I've learned that someone has something in common with me which just helps us bond. So Mark Leavens the last year or so it's been, Hey, I didn't know you golfed. Let's talk about that or, you're really into skiing. Well, let's talk about that. I've got a trip coming up. Or just little things that help, I think solidify your network. Mark Leavens And it's not necessarily like, like you're going to be my work bestie, but like, hey, we actually have stuff to talk about. So there's Mark Leavens a little bit less of a lull in conversations to keep it moving. Farrah Qureshi Yeah, I have a teammate who also likes one of my favorite musicians and Farrah Qureshi we found this out and we became fast friends, even though we're not necessarily in the same site. Farrah Qureshi But it's bolstered our work relationship so much because we're able now to bring so much levity even from that virtual relationship. Farrah Qureshi And also just learning about people gives you such Farrah Qureshi insight into how to like coach people, how to mentor people. Farrah Qureshi And sometimes those icebreakers may not necessarily be done by you. They may actually be done by an intermediary who may say, hey, you and this person have this thing in common. Farrah Qureshi Let me bring you two together, because I think you could be be friends or you could have like a good mentorship relationship. And I've had that a lot in my ten plus years of being here. Farrah Qureshi And it's Farrah Qureshi a really cool way to be able to frame some of the advice that you may either give or receive to people because you understand certain parts of their background or you relate to things in a way that might be a little bit different than Farrah Qureshi other people that they've interacted with. Alicia Steere Yeah, I think that's really interesting and had a similar experience, likely with the same musician that Alicia Steere somebody on my team. We are located in the same Alicia Steere work location, so that's also made it a little bit easier for us to kind of bolster that working relationship. But that is interesting that you've been able to do that across different locations. Alicia Steere And kind of brings us to one of our next points is do we think virtual or in-person icebreakers are better or worse? Are they the same? Do they have positives and negatives on each side? Alicia Steere I don't know. For me, I think virtual sometimes helps me like Google what someone is talking about on the side. So I have more information and context, Alicia Steere but in person I'm definitely a lot more actively engaged. Alicia Steere You know, you're nodding at someone, you're making eye contact. You're right there listening only to them. And so I'm not sure I think I'm divided on that. Mark Leavens Yeah, I have to go with divide it. There's definitely some pluses to virtual. I feel like I would lean more in person because you can actually see their body language. How excited are they about whatever they're talking about? Mark Leavens And you know, you can feed off of that energy to really grow your network or however you're in person, be it a large group or a small group. So I feel like it's better to really understand that person potentially in person versus virtual, where you have the ability to check out a little bit when there's a bunch of boxes on your screen that you're just watching talk Farrah Qureshi Yeah, it would I would third that like I think there's definitely merit to doing virtual virtual icebreakers because you have an opportunity to really get to know your teammates, some of your peers, some of your stakeholders, and again, just Farrah Qureshi continue to try to relate to them. Farrah Qureshi Alisha I think like a great example actually was how we met. Farrah Qureshi We had been virtual friends for, I want to say, almost like two years before we met in person. But it was, you know, actually a third party who introduced us and we started talking about different icebreakers and now we became fast friends. Farrah Qureshi So, you know, I think it does go to show that, like virtual relationships can translate into real life and translate into becoming Farrah Qureshi stronger business partners, stakeholders. Farrah Qureshi But there is definitely a lot of benefit to having those one on one interactions where you're not experiencing those micro inequalities, where you are seeing different Farrah Qureshi pings from people, you're seeing different pop ups, Farrah Qureshi you're able to actually get that full one on one experience Farrah Qureshi and interact fully with a person. Farrah Qureshi I guess that's like an interesting point up, like, you know, in a hybrid environment, especially when some people may be in the office, some people may be co-located, some people may not be in the office at that time. Farrah Qureshi how do you manage to build relationships and to have Farrah Qureshi breakthroughs in getting to know people who may not necessarily be co-located with you? Mark Leavens Yeah, that's that's really tough. And I think part of that is just managing your own expectation of what the experience is going to be. You still need to bring the energy, bring the noise and be your authentic self going through it. Mark Leavens But you know, with tech issues or anything else, it might not shine through and you can still use that to go off and have those other conversations like we've talked about. Like, I think you said you were interested in this TV show. I've never heard of it. Let's talk about that later and you can just follow up. And and I think that's really where you're going to have to hit on is either virtually or in that hybrid model that follow ups just going to be the key. Mark Leavens Like I think I heard you say this, but Jody laughs really loud and I couldn't hear over you. Maybe not that example, but something of that nature where it's like there's a lot of noise going on and I really want to find out more about this video game that you play or, you know, it sounds like your kid might be the next Shohei Ohtani, right? Mark Leavens I don't know. But Mark Leavens it could be something really cool to find out about. Farrah Qureshi Do you have any tips as well? Alicia? Like, I know that you're a really good connector, both virtually and I IRL. Alicia Steere I a virtually or like the difference for me between being a 100% remote or virtual and being hybrid is sometimes I have like really terrible facial recognition, like truly so-so awful, but I'm really good with names. Alicia Steere And so for me, all of that gets reinforced when I'm seeing people on Zoom when I'm, you know, on conference calls with them and and I'm at home. And then sometimes I'll go into the office as a hybrid employee and Alicia Steere I'll see somebody walk by, like literally today I saw somebody walk by who is my sister's manager, and I had to double take for a second to be like, I think that's him, but I'm not quite sure. Alicia Steere And so in a Zoom call, his name would just be under his little box. And that's easy for me to identify. And I'm like, of course that's him. But then in real life, sometimes that's a little bit harder for me. Alicia Steere And you know, in person, I do find it very easy to connect. I'm not sure that I think it's harder to connect virtually about like personal topics. Alicia Steere It's just some of those Alicia Steere more minor Alicia Steere details that sometimes escape me. Farrah Qureshi I know I also go through that in person anxiety about social anxiety. Like I'm pretty positive that that's that person. Farrah Qureshi But I also don't want to deeply embarrassing myself. Farrah Qureshi Like, how do you manage that? Or like, do you have any like tips on like what you'll Alicia Steere today? Alicia Steere I simply asked my manager if this person was who I thought it was, and she said yes. So I was correct, which is great, but I didn't say anything until after I was sure. Mark Leavens So you went over and introduce yourself and had a little icebreaker moment there. It was recently his birthday, so perfect. We Alicia Steere made a quick personal connection, and it was it was great. Alicia Steere So, yeah, I think I think that that is an important part of, of navigating the hybrid environment Alicia Steere and something that my team did in-person at one of our offsite meetings, which is not necessarily an icebreaker, but it was a cool activity. It was it was called The Best of Me. So each person wrote down like a couple of fun facts. I know we just said that those are so annoying, but they did. We compiled a couple of fun facts and nothing overwhelming too. Like I'm talking three fun facts and Alicia Steere you put a picture of yourself and then Alicia Steere somebody printed all of them out and we put them on a wall. And during our downtime in the offsite, we had little sticky notes and everybody would go up as we had breaks and add some on to each person's little sheet. Alicia Steere And so at the end of this meeting, I had this little sheet that had all these like really nice compliments about why somebody likes working with me or how my personality is is great to work with or fun to be around or what types of qualities that they value. And it was just like a really nice way to connect. Alicia Steere Because while people may think those things very regularly, I find that often it feels weird to express it and maybe even weirder virtually, to be like, Hey, I really love how you run that meeting, or I really think you're so positive and so great to be around. Like, you really bring the energy every time that we're meeting. Like sometimes that can be a little Alicia Steere tricky to Alicia Steere find the confidence to say that in person to somebody like, I really like how you were in that meeting. Or you always bring the energy or you're so fun to be around. Like, sometimes I can feel a little awkward to say in person to somebody and some just like virtually sometimes there's even less of an opportunity to say it. Alicia Steere So I think that having like a dedicated time where everyone was focused on doing that and then having that little take away piece at the end that has all these really nice things about you, it was a really nice collaborative team moment that wasn't necessarily an icebreaker. We don't have very many new members of my team right now, so we all know each other kind of well. Alicia Steere But Alicia Steere it was just a really nice activity. Similar to an icebreaker. Mark Leavens Yeah. They don't all have to be icebreakers. Yeah, Farrah Qureshi I remember Farrah Qureshi I did do a, a non icebreaker icebreaker with, with my team, but it's not necessarily the team that I work with every day. Farrah Qureshi It's just part of my bigger project area. Farrah Qureshi But we were a smaller group and as we kicked off Farrah Qureshi our week long Farrah Qureshi project that we were on, we started out the day by doing this essentially like a trivia they'd give you essentially like a Google Maps image of like somewhere, and you'd have to figure out where this location was. Farrah Qureshi So like, the team would be looking at the signs and they'd be like, I think this is Hungarian, this is an Icelandic. So okay. And then you have to try and guess where on the map it was. So it was like really interesting because everyone was like gathering their contacts. Clues are like, This looks like this time I went on this vacation. Farrah Qureshi This looks like this time that I traveled here, all this looks like this language. No, it doesn't. So it was I think the Farrah Qureshi existing team non icebreaker icebreakers are also incredibly valuable. Definitely. Mark Leavens You got your icebreakers and your icebreakers. And I think that's that's about it. And I'm pretty similar to it. So Mark Leavens In summary, icebreakers don't have to suck. You want to start off by making sure it has a purpose? What is the meaning behind this? You don't want to put everybody on the spot all at once. You don't want to give them too much time. But you also don't want to overwhelm them with a lot of things to do. Mark Leavens You want to make sure that you're not giving them a bunch of homework. You don't want to push projects on them. Give them stuff to to worry about later. In really importantly, you want to be inclusive. Be cognizant of other people's backgrounds. Mark Leavens Seen and unseen disabilities. Mark Leavens and know your people. And this is just a way to get to know those people. Mark Leavens You've got your existing team and then there's also first time meeting people. They're activities that you can do and they can be fun or they can be terrible. It all depends on you and your attitude. Mark Leavens Thanks for tuning in to side of the desk. Mark Leavens Don't forget to like and subscribe. Mark Leavens Thank you for listening to the side of the desk episode and thank you to a recording studio and editors who make our episodes possible. For more information about working at Fidelity, check out Fidelity Careers dot com.

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