Dealing with emotions is among the most challenging things when working with your team.

There are so many reasons to work with emotions. As leaders, it’s our job. One of the basic agile leadership principles says, “Lead yourself first!” We can’t deal with other people’s emotions if we don’t understand our own emotions. Only when we truly understand our triggers and what makes us respond in a certain way can we support other people in expressing their emotions and explaining why and how they behave.

However, there is a fantastic way to speed up this process and support team members in sharing what they truly feel in the moment. We can do faster and express our feelings in a “more accurate” way with Management 3.0 Improv Cards.

I worked as an external coach with a company. I led an agile sales team of six enthusiastic people who loved their product. That passion helped us overcome some initial struggles and achieve our goals for Q1, the first quarter of the year.

The next quarter, Q2, was the hardest one because of seasonality. The goal for the Q2 was even more significant, though. We knew this was a challenging target, but we stayed positive because this is who we are. But we failed our target. My favorite sentence, “There are no failures, there is only learning,” didn’t help this time. My team was demotivated. At the end of Q2, we had our sprint retrospective. I constantly repeat this, but Retrospective is the most important meeting for a team because this is where magic happens.

At that particular meeting, my team was disappointed and sad.

They shared many frustrations at the check-in, and I realized we were going in the wrong direction. We want this meeting to turn into something other than a vining session.

I opened my MURAL board, empty Canva, and said:

Hey, Team, let’s express our emotions through pictures!

I shared playing Improv Cards online from the Mng 3.0 website and split my team into two groups. I used Zoom breakout groups and gave the groups two tasks.

1) Choose three cards minimum to express your current emotions

Try to write one highlighting sentence.

2) Choose two cards minimum to explain what are your ideas for the next quarter

Try to write one highlighting sentence.

Finally, I said, “If you are sad, try to explain to me what your flavor of sadness is.

I give them twenty minutes for both tasks.

This is a print screen what we got from the Group 1:

Printscreen from the Group 2:

What did I learn? People find it easier to express their feelings through pictures. There is a saying: A picture tells us more than a thousand words. This exercise was a real example.

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