Working with troublemakers & what async work actually means
September 6, 2023
This week is about working with troublemakers during workshops, what async work actually means, and achieving more with less.
Three Workshop Tips
Handling "difficult" participants in a workshop can be challenging. When one person dominates the conversation, it can feel awkward to interrupt.
Here are 3 ways to work with troublemakers and stop them from killing engagement and creativity👇
1: The "Parking Lot" 🅿️
Park off-topic or disruptive questions and comments. This keeps the workshop on track without ignoring the participant's input.
Create a clearly visible Parking Lot area on your (digital) whiteboard.
Ask the troublemaker to write down their topic (or do it for them).
Explain that you will revisit the topic at the end of (or after) the workshop.
Encourage all participants to share their thoughts by going around the (virtual) room. This allows for deep thinking and a richer conversation.
Give everyone a minute or two to think silently and note down their idea (on a sticky note or piece of paper).
Take turns and give everyone 3 minutes to share their idea. What did they write down and why?
If someone interrupts, guide the conversation back to the person speaking.
Pro tip: I usually pick someone who hasn’t been vocal yet.
Optional: Ask everyone to vote on the idea they like the most — simultaneously.
Optional: Pick the winner, have a short group discussion, and move forward to the next topic.
3: Time-Out Card
Provide each participant with a "time-out" card. They can raise it if they feel the discussion is being dominated or derailed. This allows for a neutral way to intervene without calling someone out directly.
Alternative 1: Make a T with your hands,
Alternative 2: Some teams use an E.L.M.O. toy 🧸 (Enough Let’s Move On) instead of a time-out card.
Two Async Examples
1: Async work is about slower response times.
Being busy ≠ being productive. The stress of context-switching and replying to every message instantly affects your health and mental well-being. Async work allows you to give thoughtful, considered replies.
Three reasons why slower response times are preferable:
More time to think and plan your next move.
Room for more creative & thoughtful decisions.
Freedom to work when you are most productive.
Async work allows us to think through our decisions, consider all options, and do our best work.
2: Async work is about documentation.
You might think: "Documentation is boring 🥱".
But is it more boring than searching for hours for that thing you need right now? Or waiting for hours for an answer from your teammate?
A knowledge base is like your team's second brain. 🧠
This way of documentation makes communication smoother because it's easier to keep track of important conversations, discussions, and decisions.
Plus, onboarding new team members was never so seamless.
Companies like Gitlab, Doist, and Basecamp are even attracting new talent with their knowledge bases.
One Question For Your Team
That's all for this week. If you enjoyed today's issue, please reply (it helps with deliverability). If you didn't, you can unsubscribe via the link👇.