I attended a function last night with friends, and one of them, Harry, shared a great strategy.
Harry has his own real estate agency in Melbourne and he fosters a very positive and happy working environment for his team.
Every week, Harry and his team start off their team meetings with a WIFLE session. WIFLE is an acronym for What I Feel Like Expressing. Team members are given the opportunity to express what is on their minds. It can be about business or be personal. The purpose is to encourage team members to open up about what is going on in their lives. It could be a concern, an idea or an opinion. It could even be what someone is thankful for. Establishing this kind of open communication helps in resolving conflict and dissatisfactions and avoids team members keeping things bottled up to later impact their performance.
I researched further into this process and WIFLE comes from the American Indian tradition of passing around a ‘talking stick’ during their tribe meetings. Whoever has the stick speaks freely, without interruption.
The process is to stand as a group and one by one, each team member turns to the person on their right and asks, “what do you feel like expressing?” This person then speaks of what is on their mind and the rest of the team listens respectfully without interrupting them. Once they have finished sharing, the team member then asks the next person what they feel like expressing.
If a concern is raised that involves a fellow team member, it is important to remember that people are sharing what their personal experience and perception is. As they say, there are always three sides to every story; yours, mine and the truth. In these situations, it is helpful to allow the other team member the opportunity to clarify what their experience was as well. However, this is only done after the speaker has finished sharing.
Communication is vital to a happy and high-functioning team. Incorporating strategies like WIFLE into your daily or weekly routine provide the space for this much-needed interaction.