The energy in the room was fading quickly. We were in the second day of a two-day retreat and we still had some important things to discuss. As a professional facilitator, I'm attuned to how the energy of the room impacts the quality of conversations, which in turn impacts the success of the retreat.
No one likes looking back on a retreat feeling like it was a waste of time. Yet, in the moment, when the gumption to be there is gone but you're not yet dismissed, it's easy to show up in a perfunctory fashion. In those instances, I often wonder, why even bother? I'm not a fan of doing things halfheartedly just so you can check them off the list, I prefer to do quality work.
I was determined to not make this moment one that would lead to regret. This was an important board retreat. It was our first time meeting as a board with our new Executive Director and I was not only facilitating, I was the board chair. Perfunctory engagement was not going to cut it. We had a lot of work to do. We were committed to transforming, to become a high performing board, that meant our retreats needed to be productive.
We needed engagement, buy-in and follow-through.
We reached a critical point in the meeting. It was time to make a motion for a vote. People were slumping in their chairs. There's nothing like following Roberts Rules of Order to put you to sleep.
"Can I get a motion?"
"Can I get a second?"
Silence. A yawn. Eyes glazed over. The tap, tap, tapping of the secretary taking notes.
I took a deep breath, sat up in my chair and said with enthusiasm, "All those in favor, can I got a woot woot!" as I pumped my arms up and down, raising the proverbial roof.
My heart was racing. I wasn't sure how people were going to take my direction. We were moving far away from the perfunctory, "Aye."
To my delight, there was a chorus of "woot woot" as everyone sat forward in their chairs and pumped their arms in the air, followed by joyful laughter.
It turned out that the unexpected twist on an old school method of running a meeting was the perfect antidote to bolster our waning energy. And what was even better, a tradition was born.
Over the last few years, we've raised the roof to vote in favor of numerous motions. It not only makes following Roberts Rules of Order fun, but it goes to show that we're an energized and engaged board that's not afraid to do something outside of business as usual. It's also a helpful way to get votes when meeting virtually, we can see people pumping their arms up in the air over zoom.
As our organization has been turned upside down by the pandemic, our nimbleness with doing business as UNusual may be one of our greatest assets!
Can I get a woot woot?
Managing an engaged team has never been more vital to organizational success. Would you like some inspiration and tangible actions to help your team thrive right now? Let's talk.