How Talking About Wins and Struggles Helped Our Team Bond

Dasa Kasparova

When someone admits their weaknesses or mistakes, it makes them more likable in others’ eyes. In psychology, this phenomenon has been known since 1966 and is called the Pratfall Effect. Why is it important in the workplace?

The leaders may appear too distant and unapproachable to employees. They always seem to have the right answers and make the right decisions. But that’s mostly what they let on, on the surface.

In reality, they may have faced similar challenges or experienced the same fears as their fellow employees. Coming clean and showing their human face may actually help them connect better with their employees and inspire them not to be afraid to fail.

This doesn’t just apply to leadership. You can leverage it in the same way across your whole team. And that’s what we set off to do the other day in June.

In this article, we share how we designed a session that helped our team bond by sharing their personal learnings and challenges.

Celebrating the season and the people

After a tough and tiring season, it was the perfect time to bring the team together for a reflection. During our half-day season wrap up, we wanted to celebrate both customer and personal successes and the challenges that we’ve overcome.

“So often in business, we recognize the tangible achievements (closing deals, product releases, web traffic) but the personal ones fall by the wayside. I wanted to create a safe space where we brought the latter to the forefront of the conversation,” said our Success Team Lead Jo Massie, explaining the reasoning behind this session.

This is how it looked in practice.

1. Start with a motivation booster

During the season, we’re often so caught up in the operations of helping our customers that the stories of Slido’s impact don’t get back to the team as much as they should. That’s why we wanted to start with showing our customer facing teams in the HQ the real impact of their work on our customers’ businesses.

For this to happen, we invited on stage four of our Customer Success Managers working in different regions to share the learnings from their client meetings and the conferences they collaborated on.

To make sure the panel hit the mark and addressed what our colleagues wanted to hear, the moderator encouraged both onsite and remote audiences to ask their questions via Slido. He integrated them into the discussion alongside the questions that he had prepared, and aimed to draw the best insights from the ladies on stage.

From the feedback poll at the end of the session, it seemed we had managed to achieve our goal:

“I loved that the panel wasn’t necessarily the big exec. people but ladies from the region who do the legwork and have so many great stories to share!”

“Amaziiing! Thank you so much for sharing these stories; lots of people don’t have firsthand contact with clients and don’t feel the impact as much. It is so important to come back to why we are here and if/how it is working.”

2. Have people share their stories in small groups

Having set a motivating tone for the session, it was time to share personal success stories.

To get the discussions flowing and make people feel comfortable sharing their challenges and achievements, our Team Lead Jo led by example. She started by telling her own story of how scared she was to lead a team, oversee complex projects and deal with all the challenges that came with it.

Encouraged by her openness, people were asked to share their stories in small groups, no bigger than 5-6 people. To ensure diversity, we split the teams into groups with mixed experience levels and avoided putting direct coworkers together.

Each group had a dedicated facilitator that had been briefed in advance and everyone had five minutes to share their proudest accomplishment from the season with others.

What added to the experience was the informal setting. The groups spread around the office, some sat on beanbags or directly on the floor. Moving away from traditional boardroom-style arrangement created a relaxed atmosphere and allowed the team members to open up and connect on a more personal level.

At the end of the group discussions, we used Slido Ideas to collect all the stories so that they could be shared with other groups as well. We asked people to include their names so that other team members could approach them for more information or help at a later date.

Then we called everyone back into the meeting room and displayed all the submissions on the screen.

Share stories in small groups on Slido

3. Review and celebrate all the stories together

With everyone in the room, we asked our colleagues to upvote the stories in Slido they’d most like to hear more about.

Then we went from the top down and asked the authors of the most upvoted stories if they’d be willing to expand on them.

It was the most powerful moment of the day: seeing some of our team members taking the stage and admitting their weaknesses or learnings in front of everyone. It reminded us that no one is perfect and that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about our failures.

The final activity for the day was to activate the feedback survey in Slido to find out the team’s perceptions on the session. Here are just some of the thoughts our colleagues shared with us:

Feedback survey at the end of the day

Takeaway for your team

To foster experience sharing in your team, you need to create a safe atmosphere where the co-workers can talk to each other like friends. And when designing this opportunity, don’t forget to be human. Admitting your struggles and weaknesses in front of others helps you build stronger connections, motivate people to fight their fears and help them grow both professionally and personally.

To organize a similar session, here are a few points to consider:

  • Start with a motivation booster program
  • To get people to open up, start with yourself
  • Keep the groups small to provide a safe atmosphere
  • Don’t forget to give people visibility and acknowledgment
  • End the session by asking for feedback

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