I used to work at a company where our team used “safe words” – and no, HR was not called in to police our activities. There were six of us, all passionate about and engaged in developing sales enablement strategies. We would have intense meetings that sometimes became arguments heated discussions.
The head of our group decided we should each have our own “safe word.” These words were used by any team member when things were entering dangerous territory, for example, if “Joe” starting talking in-depth about things well outside his areas of responsibility and expertise, I would say Joe’s safe word so he could help get the meeting back on track.
What types of meetings were a good format for this approach? Brainstorming sessions and meetings where we were looking at innovative approaches to challenges we were facing. It’s not that we spent meetings shouting safe words at each other. We used them judiciously to keep conversations moving forward in the best way possible. It kept the atmosphere light so no one felt like they were being shut down or unable to contribute, but it also encouraged people to push the boundaries.
Contrast this approach to another company where I worked. Meetings were tightly run, always followed an agenda, and the conversations never pushed the envelope. We did not come up with game-changing ideas in our meetings because we did not have the latitude to truly be creative.
Bottom Line – we spend a lot of time coming up with innovative ways to help our sales reps. But we can also use inventive approaches to make our own work environment more fun and productive.