It’s easy for any team to get stuck in a rut. People ‘hunker down’ and hold on to what makes them comfortable. But ‘comfortable’ is not going to motivate your team to perform.

Surprise: (verb) to cause someone to feel mild astonishment or shock.

Plan your surprises to achieve the desired results

We’re not advocating random or reckless. You first need to think through what you’re trying to achieve. Maybe you’re launching a new project, seeking efficiency improvements, looking for new revenue opportunities, or just bringing a diverse team together.

Make sure you’re clear about your goal before you take action.

Use these three questions to guide you:

  1. What’s the goal I want to achieve?
  2. What mindset shift do I require from my team, to better achieve my goal?
  3. What ‘surprise’ will achieve this shift in their mindset?

Surprising your team: the benefits

If you can create ‘mild astonishment or shock’ within your team, it can provide a great platform for achieving their goals. Here are the benefits:

Higher energy levels: astonishment or shock is an emotional response which brings heightened focus and energy to your team, you’re engaging with your team at a deeper level than just “this is what we need to do”.

Fresh perspectives: as a result you’ll stimulate creativity and new ideas. Make sure you capture, explore, select and nurture the ideas that are generated!

Clearer case for change: a shock inevitably creates a case for change. You’ve brought your team to a new realization and that is going to move them (as mentioned, make sure you’re moving them in the right direction!).

Stronger team dynamics: because it’s a shared experience, the surprise will bring the team together to address the issue at hand.

Enhanced reputation: and finally, (but importantly!) effectively surprising your team will enhance your reputation. People will talk about you, talk about the impact that you have, you’ll be seen as a stronger, bolder brighter leader.

5 ideas to successfully surprise your team

Here’s a scenario to illustrate how this works:

Your goal: encourage your team to identify and deliver improvements to the service they provide.

The mindset shift you’re aiming for: shake up your team to be more aware of the opportunities for improvement.

The ideas: you don’t have to deliver big surprises, it’s just about bringing a little freshness and energy to the challenge.

These all work better if they’re unannounced, just schedule a regular team meeting and take it from there.

  1. What’s the business goal you want to achieve?
  2. What mindset shift do you require from your team, to better achieve this goal?
  3. What ‘surprise’ will achieve this shift in mindset?

Refresh yourself, surprise your team, surprise yourself too!

  1. Throw in a new way of working. Take a look at www.drawtoast.com for a highly active and collaborative approach to process design. Or use a new brainstorming based on Disney’s creative brainstorming genius.
  2. Take the team out for an impromptu off-site. Go and visit competitor businesses, or do some online mystery shopping to find new ideas – all focused on service quality.
  3. Bring in an inspirational expert. Find an expert in the field (perhaps from a different industry) and ask them to join your team meeting by Skype. (Make sure you work with the expert in advance to make sure they’re ‘on message’).
  4. Create a competition or quiz. Find some way to make finding service improvement ideas a competitive activity within the team… not with big rewards or prizes, but some small or intangible reward.
  5. Invite them to switch roles with you. Invite your team members to switch roles with you… see if they can put themselves in your shoes and generate new ideas.

These are just initial ideas, you’ll know yourself what will work with your own team. Take the ideas and adapt or develop them to meet your needs. Or you could combine a number of the ideas to create momentum.

Practice and experiment until you know what works for you and have the confidence to be bolder.

Remember, this has to be planned to work:

  1. What’s the business goal you want to achieve?
  2. What mindset shift do you require from your team, to better achieve this goal?
  3. What ‘surprise’ will achieve this shift in mindset?

Refresh yourself, surprise your team, surprise yourself too!

Useful? Share it with your network.

They'll be pleased to hear from you!