We love fun. We are all about not taking life too seriously, especially when it seems like bad news is all around us and we are clinging to our remaining sanity by a thread. But are you trying too hard to make Zoom meetings fun? If it involves an alpaca or a goat, the answer may be yes.
$100 for a goat? Seriously?
This article from Business Insider says that for a hundred bucks or so you can have a llama or a goat show up on your team’s meeting. While I am first in line to congratulate the creators of Goat 2 Meeting for their ingenuity in troubled times (when you can build an entire business model around a pun, props must be given), I wonder about the leaders who make that particular investment.
Let’s be clear, I completely understand the problem they’re trying to solve. The world is a serious and scary place, and some silliness is called for. In fact, it may be obligatory. That said, it’s possible that you may be actually making things worse.
Lighten the mood without wasting their time
I am not anti-goat. In fact, short of otter videos (about which we will tolerate no complaints) they are some of my favorite animals. But it may be that while trying to inject some levity you’re actually making things worse. Here’s what I mean.
- We are already pushing the limits of how much time people can spend in meetings without losing their minds. While meeting with each other is important, and keeping the mood light is helpful, there are members of your time that would rather have that time back. It doesn’t make them poor sports, but that’s time that could be spent home-schooling the kids or getting that last load of laundry done. Attempts at amusing people that end up annoying them defeat the purpose. Enforced fun can backfire.
- There are plenty of ways to lighten things up that also helps the team bond with each other and are more relevant to the task at hand. Letting the kids say hi, sharing pictures of pets, and even playing games that help you get to know your teammates in an appropriate way can serve the same purpose and save you some money.
Recently we had a virtual lunch that included a simple game. Each team member was asked to list a song and a movie that matter to us, and we had to match the song with the person. It was light-hearted, started some great conversation, and we learned something about each other. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume your teammates are at least as interesting as a llama.
Don’t skimp on the levity with your team, but don’t put strains on their limited attention span and good will either. Maybe check with some team members (and not always the same happy, peppy types that are starved for company!) before making that decision.
It’s all about being a good remote teammate. That includes you as the leader, too. Right now we’re offering an amazing discount on our 12 Weeks to Being a Great Remote Teammate learning series. Check it out for you and your team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.